Opponents of Christianity often point out how bloody the Old Testament is. There’s no getting around it: it is. (For that matter, the New Testament isn’t as serene as most people assume.) Israel often participated in and celebrated the victory of God over other nations, victory that usually meant military conquest. As Deborah says, “So may all your enemies perish, Lord! But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength” (Judges 5:31). Israel savored the stories of God’s deliverance—even God’s vengeance—like a fine wine, sip by sip.
Celebrating God’s vengeance seems out of place to most modern readers. In my experience, stories like this draw out two different objections.
Objection 1: We don’t always see justice served.
Like the end of many action movies today, the violent conclusion to Old Testament stories were meant to illustrate just retribution. The “bad guys” get what’s coming to them, and all the wrongs are righted.
But that’s not the experience of most people. We certainly long for God to right every wrong, but there are simply too many stories out there without happy endings. Not every rapist or murderer is brought to justice. The corrupt seem to frequently get off scot free, while the innocent suffer.