Whenever an act of terrorism or violence perpetrated by followers of a specific ideology is denounced by Christians, someone inevitably claims that “The Old Testament is just as violent as [insert insane ideology here]!!!”
Those claims are patently untrue.
Violence/war in the Old Testament was only authorized against very specific targets, and only for a limited amount of time.
In contrast, violence/war in [various whack-a-doodle belief systems] is an open ended command.
Simple. The world of the Old Testament was a violent hell-hole. God’s purpose was to preserve His chosen people and guide them through that nightmare. Sadly, amongst a world of fallen men bent on their utter and complete destruction, sometimes the survival of the Jewish people required going to war.
Other points to consider:
- The Old testament is a historical document. Recounting acts of violence and approving/authorizing/encouraging them are two different things. King David had the husband of his mistress whacked. God was not cool with it.
- Violence/war is sometimes justifiable. No one in their right mind would not defend their family against a someone bent on their murder, or their country against bloodthirsty barbarians raping, pillaging and plundering their way across the countryside. In such a scenario lethal force is not only justifiable, but likely necessary.
- God is omnipotent. Therefore, we must trust that His commands are always just. He is eternal, existing at the end and the beginning of time simultaneously, knowing completely the hearts and minds of every person – who will be saved and who will forever reject Him. If God determined that war must be waged against a person or people – David behead-bubbing Goliath, for example – we must trust that it was not an act of cruelty or whim, but in defense of those whose hearts and minds and souls belonged to Him.
- Finally, Jesus Christ commands His followers to love their enemies, bless those who curse them, and pray for those who mistreat them. God expects warfare to be a last resort when all other options have been exhausted, not on-going, open-ended march across the globe in His name.