In an important sense, after the previous three posts in this serious (which I kicked off back HERE), there’s really not much more to be said to wrap up. It shouldn’t be that hard to john the dots between what we’ve seen so far about passages like 1 Samuel 15 and the New Testament proclamation of what God has achieved in the resurrection of the crucified Messiah Jesus.
Let me briefly sketch out how I would see the dots joining:
First, in Jesus God has decisively done what we saw he was on about even in this dark corner of the Old Testament — that is, he has vindicated himself and his Messiah, redeeming and perfecting his good creation in the process and proving himself just in his judgement.
Second, he’s done this by definitively dealing with evil. God has gone to its root in person — both through Israel and in Israel’s place as her truly obedient and representative king. And he’s graciously turned evil’s own momentum against it, breaking its deadly circuit of violence on the cross.
And third, as a consequence of this, he’s opened up to us participation in his sin-uprooting and creation-renewing work. Yet he’s done this in a fundamentally theologically distinct manner to the manner in which he called Israel to participate in his work in 1 Samuel 15.
As such, the slaughter of the Amalekites is not some awkward — and preferably forgotten — part of our past that we’d best keep hidden in the deep recesses of the cupboard. It’s a necessary component in our history — and the history of God’s surprising ways with his creation — that God has himself brought to completion. And he’s brought it to completion in a way that (a) goes far beyond even what we see in passages like 1 Samuel 15 and (b) nevertheless does so graciously, working in the midst of, with and through human agency in doing his work. Or as Paul summarises God’s long-term project in and through (and in spite of) Israel: God has finally condemned sin in the flesh by the power of his Spirit in the crucifixion of the Messiah…