For the following post I can take no credit. My sister shared with me something she learned in her Bible course at Biola that relieved many of my own wrestling thoughts as I read through the Old Testament.
Her professor discussed the way God wipes out groups of people in the Bible.
Now, I've made my peace with many aspects of this. I discussed some of my thoughts on March 28. I see in Scripture how God grafts Gentiles into Israel, sparing their lives, like Rahab and Ruth. I've already begun to understand that God is gracious even in the hard-to-read passages.
But what my sister's professor said made God's grace that much more apparent, and I am inclined to believe it as so far I don't see any biblical contradictions. Please forgive my rocky regurgitation as it is not a second-hand retelling but a third-hand retelling.
When God told the Israelites to go take a city, there are implications in the Hebrew texts, that there was a procedure. The Israelites would enter a city and offer them two options: give us the land, become our servants, and follow the one true God OR we will kill you all.
When the Israelites took servants it was not demeaning, it was humane and graceful as outlined in the Mosaic Law.
And the invitation to follow and serve the one true God is the absolute most gracious and fulfilling thing anyone could offer.
For each city there must have been people who took them up on the former offer. We see that with Rahab, at the very least. And for most cities, yes, the people refused to give up their gods...and God is very righteously jealous.
While all of this does put me at ease, the final note is most applicable to what I am reading now.
What God did was not "genocide," it was never racial. We know this because He invites peoples of all nations and ethnicities to Himself. We know this because we know God is seeking what is best for mankind and that is Himself. We know this because God does not show favoritism even to the Israelites...here in Judges we see God using other nations to cut down and oppress the Israelites whenever they start to serve other gods.
The Lord is One, we owe Him our allegiance, and even know we have the choice. What a graceful, beautiful, victorious life it is to serve Him.