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Why does God kill people?

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Why does God kill people?

by James McBride
The writer is editor of New Horizons magazine, published by the Churches of God Outreach Ministries. Write Mr. McBride at P.O. Box 2525, Lincoln LN5 7PF, England. This article is adapted from a "ministudy" in the March-April 2009 issue of New Horizons.

LINCOLN, England--We live with death. It is inevitable. But isn't it a puzzle that a loving God claims to kill His creation? How can we reconcile that with Jesus' claim that he came to save the world?

Note the following two familiar passages of Scripture. Are they contradictory, or at least paradoxical, in their approaches?

  • "Don't you understand? I am the only God; there are no others. I am the one who takes life and gives it again" (Deuteronomy 32:39).

  • "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Plain record

  • The Old Testament record makes clear that JHVH did indeed kill, sometimes on a massive scale. All mankind but one family of eight, for example, was destroyed in the Flood (Genesis 6). Why?

In short, God has a set purpose for the pinnacle of His creation, mankind, and is not disposed to jeopardize that plan. He will remove all obstacles--human or spirit--that knowingly oppose it

  • Having created man and instructed him in the Way of Life, the Creator had initiated His plan, having made it plain (Romans 1).

We blew it. Rather than follow the Manual, we devised our own operating system, and, as with any misused device, it didn't work.

Over the centuries man deviated further and further from the Way, to such a degree that eventually "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5).

The result? All of mankind but for one righteous family was purged in a worldwide flood--to save the plan.

Saving the plan

  • Lessons were not learned, and before long the different families were scattered (chapter 11), again to save the plan.

But corruption once more set in. The "righteous" became ever sparser, and the Lord again had to work with one family, that of Abraham.

In Abraham's days the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah had become degenerate: "... This was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and prosperous ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me" (Ezekiel 16:49-50).

They were clearly a corrupting influence, "therefore I took them away."

  • God had given ample time for the nations to embrace the one true faith. The Amorites--perhaps the leading Canaanite tribe in occupation of Palestine--sank deeper and deeper into lawlessness, despite the righteous witness of Shem, Abraham and Melchizedek.

The Amorites continued four generations before Israel expelled them (Genesis 15:16). There may well be parallels in our day.

Nothing can thwart

  • Nothing will stand in the way of the fulfillment of God's loving purpose.

Here's what the psalmist tells us: "... You [God] warn the nations and destroy evil people; you wipe out their names forever and ever" (Psalm 9:5).

And "the Lord preserves all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy" (Psalm 145:20).

Solomon quotes God as saying, "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me" (Proverbs 8:17).

God will, when necessary, remove individuals, communities, nations that stand in the way. He warns, He is patient, He is merciful. God is love. But, when we persistently throw a spanner in the works, He acts.

The real Jesus

  • Jesus is generally perceived as expressing love for all mankind (John 3:16, etc.).

He is not, however, the gentle Jesus of childhood's bedtime stories. In the days of His flesh He was fearless when opposed, courageous in face of death, and He told it like it is:

"... The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:42).

Those are the words of Jesus Himself! Through the apostle John we learn that the kings of the earth will complain: "Hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 6:16-17).

Protecting and advancing

  • God's purpose is that not one of us should ultimately perish, that we should change, and He patiently gives us time to so do (2 Peter 3:9).

Some flatly refuse, preferring their false faiths and corrupt lifestyle (Revelation 9:20-21; 16:9-11). They will experience the "wrath of the Lamb." That's Jesus.

  • In both Old and New Testament the Godhead is presented as loving, gracious, merciful (2 Chronicles 30:9, for example). When the Father and Jesus kill, it is to protect and advance Their master plan (Romans 11:36).

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