So, right off the bat, you know that there is a lot in the Old Testament that would seem to contradict the title of this particular blog. If God is not a destroyer, He certainly has a lot of explaining to do... because it seems like He has gone around and done (or condoned) an awful lot of destruction in the Bible.
This is an aspect of God that I’m still studying and learning about, especially now as I’m reading through the Bible slowly, one chapter at a time. Of course, I know the stories that make God look like He’s out to destroy anyone who disagrees with Him, but is that really His plan?
No matter what, I certainly don’t think it’s His ultimate plan. No matter how we may "die" on this Earth the first time around, I’m thoroughly convinced — by examining the death of Christ — that God does not execute or destroy unrepentant sinners. However, in the less "ultimate" sense, is God responsible for putting some of us "to sleep"? For "killing" us on this planet? Perhaps. At least in places, the record would seem to indicate that He does this at times. And one of the problems many people have with God is that He apparently authorized the Israelites to thoroughly destroy whole nations of people.
We will encounter these stories of "annihilation" as we continue along in our Bible journey. However, at least for now, this is not what we find in Numbers 33. Where God is talking to the Israelites about going in to take the Promised Land from the Canaanites, He said this: "When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess." (vs 51-53)
Here, God makes it clear that His intention is not that the Israelites should wipe out the Canaanites. The Israelites weren’t supposed to destroy them. They were supposed to destroy their idols and places of worship, but God wanted them to evict the Canaanites, not kill them. This was God’s Plan A. Why? Because God intended for Israel to be a light to all the other surrounding nations. Eventually, they were supposed to teach the Canaanites about God.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way. But, at the outset, I think it’s important to note that God had no plans of destruction for the Israelites or the heathen nations. He doesn’t have plans of destruction for any of us! On the contrary, He is trying to keep us away from destruction. That is the message borne out by the 66 books of Scripture. If we ultimately face destruction, it will be at the hands of our own sin, not at the hands of God. He is not the destroyer.