NOTE: This book is provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
A work that is accessible for a lay audience on the problem of the righteousness of God as He is revealed in the Old Testament. Although the author G.K. Beale focuses specifically on the genocide of the Canaanites and the imprecatory Psalms in this work, the principles Beale employ would apply to other similar dilemma people might have with the Old Testament. Beale appeals to the fact that the Canaanite genocide was a specific redemptive historical event that cannot be repeated again, as a special suspension of the second table of the Ten Commandments that foreshadows the final Judgment Day. While I agree with Beale that the imprecatory Psalms and elimination of the Canaanites points ahead to the final Judgment of God, I think Beale’s argument is rather weak when he said “such brief behavioral suspensions do not occur during the era of the church age because God has designed no events during this time as foreshadowings of the future” (Location 348 onwards). There are I believe, New Testament events that foreshadow the future such as the Lord’s Supper which points towards a future return of Christ (1 Corinthians 11) where we will dine with Him one day, the Holy Spirit’s manifestation at Pentecost pointing forward to a future release of the Spirit, etc. Beale’s stronger argument is the one in which he draws parallel between the ceasing of miracles after the New Testament era likewise there is a ceasing of the mandate for war against Canaanites and imprecatory Psalm for right now as well. I think Beale’s position could have also benefited from noting the difference between the institutions of the Church versus that of the state of national Israel. Ultimately, I think the best defense of the morality of God in the Old Testament is the Ex Lex approach as advocated by Gordon Clark and Jay Adams. I see this approach employed in the pages of Scripture such as in Job 38-42, Habakkuk and Romans 9: God is the source of morality; he has not many any laws forbidding Him to judge the wicked, so therefore there really is no rational ground to charge God for immoral conduct. Beale does appeal to God being above the second table of the ten commandments but he could have capitalized on this more and made it the centerpiece of his thesis. After all, the issue seems to be not whether it’s applicable today but the fact that God even allowed imprecatory Psalms, killing of Canaanites, etc. I think appealing to Ex Lex goes to the heart of the issue. What I most appreciated from this work is the excursus in the end by Beale which gives a solid exegetical argument for why we must take the Canaanite killings as literal and not just a hyperbole. Here Beale does an excellent job interacting with Paul Copan’s position and the scholarship behind Copan’s arguments. I definitely recommend this work but believe this can be supplemented by other works.