Answers to "Ask Mike"
1. Some of the people in the Old Testament were immoral and violent. They killed a lot of people in neighboring groups. Were they really in touch with our God of love?
Specifics would make this question easier to answer. A broad answer will not satisfy. The Bible presents God's people "warts and all." God freely justified by faith all those who placed their confidence in Him. God's people always fail Him in many ways, but faith and repentance restored them to fellowship. Perhaps David is the best illustration. Guilty of sexual sin and murder, he repented and confessed his sin. God restored him to a place of favor.
As Israel entered Canaan, God ordered Joshua to completely eliminate the Canaanites. Could a loving God actually order racial genocide? Yes, and He did. Love is not God's ultimate quality, nor is it His highest or greatest quality. Holiness is God's ultimate character quality. God's love originates in his holiness because He offers a holy love. Another equally significant character quality stemming from God's holiness is God's justice. Because of His holiness, God's love and justice must both be satisfied. God's just nature requires exacting judgment on the deserving. At times, God's people because instruments of justice. Today God exacts justice through a moral government as "an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer" (Romans 13:4 NIV). As Paul says, "[Government] does not bear the sword for nothing" (Romans 13:4 NIV). An act of righteous wrath - even a violent one - reflects God's holiness. It could even be the most loving thing to do. Joshua disobeyed God and allowed some of Canaan's inhabitants to live. Those spared became Israel's "thorn in the flesh" for generations.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.