Is the God of the Old Testament warlike?

Our Bible Study group is having a difficult time with the question of - Not long after Moses came off the mountain with the 10 commandments (which included - Thou shalt not kill), God commands his people to COMPLETELY eliminate those peoples who worship multiple gods (Numbers). We have trouble with God ordering or permitting ethnic genocide.
We feel maybe we are interpreting these incidents in light of our current standards and not looking at it historically. We would appreciate any of your comments.
Thank You
PAX and Blessings
Armand

Dear Armand,

I dare say, you are definitely interpreting these incidents according to standards that are less the adequate. For God to take human life is NOT evil—as it is for us.

The Ten Commandments are commands by God to us, His creatures. But God is not one of His creatures; He’s God, the Creator of His creatures! So often we make the mistake of forgetting just who God is and begin to measure God by human standards. “Thou shalt not kill” applies to us; not to God. He kills off generations every day! He is the author of human life and has dominion over human life. He ALONE has the right to take human life—any time He so chooses. And it is always the right time!

“You alone are the Holy One. You alone are the Lord. You alone are the Most High” – from the Gloria.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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