Yet, annihilation was not the common command given by God. The main emphasis was to have the inhabitants leave the land (Ex 23:27-30). Only if they stayed did destruction follow. Yet, even then, total annihilation only applied to the cities within the land which God had given the Israelites for an inheritance (Dt 20:16-18). During any other engagement, the Israelites were to first make an offering of peace (Dt 20:10). If the people accepted the offer, everyone would become a labor force for Israel. However, if they refused, then all of the men would be killed while the women, children, and livestock would become plunder (Dt 20:11-15).
The command for annihilation was also two-fold. First, the people’s evil had become so widespread it was like a cancer spreading throughout the region to larger and larger areas and they had resisted God’s opportunities to repent, which included the following: God supplied the godly influence of Melchizedek (Gn 14:18-20); God supplied the godly influence of Abraham (Gn 12:6); and God caused the destruction of other Amorites as a wake-up call (Gn 14:1-12). These all seemed to go unheeded. Second, in order for Israel to be a light to the rest of the world, they had to eliminate all elements which were ungodly. Israel was to become the standard for the world. A standard has to be flawless, or else it is not a standard. This was the reason Israel was held to a higher standard than other nations. Israel was not to exclude outsiders from their land – after all, three main trade routes connecting three continents went through this area: Way of the Sea (also called Via Maria), Ridge Route, and King’s Highway. All three of these routes would bring Gentiles through Israel so they could be taught the ways of God. However, they would be required to exclude wicked practices. Non-Israelites had to abide by the same laws of the land as did the Israelites (Ex 12:48-49, 20:10; Lv 16:29, 17:12, 15; Nu 15:14, 16). It seems God has always expected mankind to understand and follow what he knows is right (Ro 1:18-20), whether being his “chosen” people or not. Thus, this sin of ignoring one’s conscience is what led to the flood (Gn 6:5). Justice seems to always follow a failed response to the love of God’s longsuffering.
God often put the alien living in the land in the same category as the poor, orphan and widow. They were to be taken care of in a loving way: allowed to glean the corners of fields and left-overs following olive and grape harvests (Lv 23:22; Dt 24:20-21), treated fairly judiciously (Dt 1:16; 24:17), should not be taken advantage of (Dt 24:14), and part of the third-year tithe would be for the alien (Dt 26:12). This was because God stated He loved the alien (Dt 10:18), and the Israelites were to remember they were once slaves in Egypt (Dt 24:22).
Yet, those Gentiles living in the land had to obey the laws of the land (Ex 12:49; Lv 24:22): allowed to glean the corners of fields and left-overs following olive and grape harvests (Lv 23:22; Dt 24:20-21), had to observe the Sabbath (Ex 20:10), had to not work on the Day of Atonement (Lv 16:29), could not eat blood (Lv 17:10) but had to drain the blood from the animal before preparing and eating (Lv 17:13), had to cleanse themselves when encountering anything dead (Lv 17:15), would be put to death if they offered their children as a sacrifice to any god (Lv 20:2) or if they blasphemed the name of the Lord (Lv 24:16), had to abide by the rules of redemption and of the Jubilee (Lv 25:47-50), and had to abide by the decisions of the judges of the land (Dt 1:16). They were to be taught about God and His Law, just as were the Israelites (Dt 31:12-13). If they decided to become a proselyte, then all of the Mosaic laws applied, and all males had to be circumcised before they could celebrate Passover (Ex 12:48).
All of this helps us to see that faith has always been God’s plan, even in the Old Testament (Gn 15:6; Ps 31:1; Ho 6:6; Hk 2:4). Judaism as a whole was not exclusive, but inclusive, of Gentiles. So, our God has always cared for everyone. This helps to see how and why he also cares for us. He cares for you. Don’t you want a God like that?
Before Abraham was Born, I Am
Fall Jewish Holidays - Part 4: Salvation & Faith