No doubt one of the biggest errors the new atheists have made, regarding the persona of the God of the Bible that they paint for their readers, is their assumption that, because the Bible mentions a thing, that thing is automatically approved by God. This, of course, is not true, and their argument is even denied in Scripture, itself. David, the man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), power raped Bathsheba, and then had her husband, David’s close friend, killed in order to hide what he had done. Did God approve of what David had done? Of course not! He sent his prophet Nathan to confront him about his sin (2Samuel 12:1-7a).
The hero status given some Biblical characters, such as Moses, Joshua and David, is not grounded in their moral perfection. Rather, the Scriptures hold them up as examples of their great trust in God. On this point they show themselves as uncompromising, and they express their dedication to God in a manner that refuses to blend in with their idolatrous neighbors.
On the morality issue, the Scriptures show us that God had to settle for something far from the ideal that is expected in the New Testament. While the ideal is presented in the Old Testament (Genesis 1 & 2), the people by the time of Moses no longer wished to hear God (Exodus 20:18-19). And, this is not taken into account by the new atheists who are apt to blame God for all the unethical behavior recorded in the Old Testament, as though its entirety was approved by him.
Nevertheless, one might claim that God commanded war. He told Israel to destroy the Canaanites and take their land. How ethical is that? Such statements are simple enough but hardly include all of the facts about what God did. For instance, if God is our Creator, this gives him authority over what he has created in the same manner that building a shed in my back yard affords me the right to destroy that same shed, if and when I desire to do so. The question is not, did God have the right to do as he did, but rather, since we are dealing with people and pain, did God act ethically or morally? In other words, what kind of God would do the things we find written in the Old Testament? Is he evil, or is he able to vindicate his actions, according to the moral standards he placed upon us in the New Testament? I believe he does, and I intend to go into more detail concerning this in later blog-posts.
For the present, however, we may ask why God would cause / help Israel to destroy the Canaanites and give their land over to his chosen people. Is God a racist? No, and I believe this question is answered in the fact that the pages of the Old Testament also record how he judged his own people for what they did. Therefore, God did not show any partiality by replacing the Canaanites with the Israelites, any more that he showed Assyria or Babylon partiality when he used them to judge his people. The point is that God has the right to judge whomsoever he wishes, if they are not complying with what he desires. The Scriptures show that God is very patient with the nations and gives them ample time to repent of their wrongdoing (Genesis 15:16).
The world had rebelled against God from the time of Adam. Where does one begin to solve that problem or cause that rebellion to end? Could God logically begin by causing the world to behave in a moral way which would end all war and needless suffering? That approach would be illogical. Why would the world do what God wants or begin acting in a manner that expressed God’s ideal (Genesis 1 & 2), if they remained in rebellion? The world doesn’t recognize God’s authority, but instead chooses to understand good and evil on its own (Genesis 3:22). Morality is what God says it is, but the world chooses to conclude that morality is what man says it is? God cannot have his way, as long as we continue in our rebellion.
The first logical step, therefore, must be to embrace God as Lord. Why would anyone wish to obey God, if he didn’t consider God the rightful authority? Morality, **must** take its place behind trust in God. If we don’t trust God, we’ll never submit to him. If we don’t submit to him, why would we ever agree to do what he says? Therefore, the logical foundation of redemption or peace between man and God—i.e. ending man’s rebellion, cannot be one’s moral behavior. God **must** meet us where we are and settle for something less than moral perfection. Rather, redemption must begin with trust—faith. This is what makes the Biblical heroes what they are. It isn’t their outstanding moral behavior, but their uncompromising trust in God that needs to be embraced. This is where God begins with man—he gives us the freedom to become who we are, and we allow God the freedom to be who he is.
 As I said HERE, this current theme about “making sense of the Old Testament God” is based upon the book: Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan. These are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Paul wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read concerning defending our faith.