God’s Mercy and Wrath: A Lesson from Hazor, Israel

God’s Mercy and Wrath: A Lesson from Hazor, Israel

Did God really order the total destruction of entire cities in the Old Testament? Did He really tell the Hebrews to kill “every man, woman, and child”? These are sobering commands that alarm many people.

Case in point: Hazor was the largest city in ancient Israel when Joshua invaded the land. It was a massive city for its day. We visited this site a couple years ago when we were in Israel. Current estimates place it at just over 200 acres—and this was in 1300 BC. The population is estimated to have been more than 30,000. Most cities of this time were a few dozen acres in size at most.

According to the Bible, this is one of the few cities that Joshua not only totally destroyed, but also burned to the ground. Several times in Joshua, God stresses that everything with breath was to be destroyed. You can read about this in Joshua 11. According to Deuteronomy 9:4, God wanted these people driven out “because of their wickedness.” While this may be difficult for us to comprehend in our tolerant Western culture, God nevertheless meant business. Apparently, these cultures were unusually wicked and evil.


We know from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah that God is very patient when it comes to judgment. The fact that the city of Hazor lasted so long is a powerful reminder of God’s patience, mercy, and love. God is the One who gives life and breath to the wicked and the righteous. He is, indeed, longsuffering and full of compassion.

The story of Hazor is also a reminder that God is a God of judgment and wrath. After sufficient warnings, God will indeed step in and unleash His wrath. Unfortunately, His wrath will also fall on the “innocent” as well as the guilty. There is a principle in the Bible that when God’s judgment falls on a city, it falls on everyone in that city.

The whole reason God was giving the land of Canaan to His people was for them to be a light to the nations. This ties into the Story of the Bible; namely, God’s promise to become famous among all peoples for His Glory and our good. Ezekiel 5:5 says “This is Jerusalem, which I have set at the center of the nations…” This all goes back to the missionary heart of God.

by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor