Answering Objection #2:
“How can a loving God send judgment that brings destruction and even death?”
Many are asking the wrong question “how can a loving God send judgment?” The real question we should be asking is “since God is so loving, how can He not bring judgment (another word for justice) to confront evil and sin?” Should not a loving and just God eventually confront those things (evil and sin) that corrupts, bring destruction, and ultimately lead to eternal death?
“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity [disaster].” Joel 2:13 (NIV)
In the words of Abraham – “Will not the judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25. We must remember God operates in perfect and divine justice. Also that His ways are far higher than our limited human reasoning. Can we presume to know all details behind the scenes. Can we Judge God? Who are we in our limited knowing and understanding to look at God’s judgments and say that was not fair or not right?
ANSWERING A KEY QUESTION
How Could A Loving God Allow Deadly Disasters?
Many struggle with the concept of a “loving God” allowing such deadly disasters with and seemingly innocent people killed? The following is one aspect to understanding why God would allow 9/11, deadly natural disasters. and other tragedies as the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings.
First, we know evil exists because man made a choice to rebel against God, allowing sin, destruction and death into the world. God will not violate free-will, and as we shared in Chapter 3 (of God’s Answer For America), spiritual and moral laws when broken have consequences (cause and effect). Sin and unbiblical choices affect nations, even the innocent. The destructive nature of sin is such that it not only negatively affects the people partaking of it, it also affects the people and things around it.
Second, as previously shared, when a nation rejects God and His righteous ways that bring life and blessing, that nation instead opens the door to a curse, destruction, and death to invade. Great sin and rebellion always create an atmosphere for demonic forces to operate and even thrive in. The more we rebel and go deeper into sin individually and as a nation, the more God’s goodness and protection lifts, causing these demonic forces to be strengthened, emboldened, and demon-strate evil. Thus, we will witness such horrific scenes such as public shootings. The later part of the “America. America!” prophecy declares this truth.
Tragically, America is witnessing the fruit of her own rebellious ways as a nation, and it is even affecting our children. The tragic news of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary is just one example of this.
God’s Divine Wrath
When Jesus cleansed the temple, it was with a righteous anger out of zeal and love. It was divine. In fact, all of God’s attributes are divine. His wrath is divine:
“Others harbor the delusion that God’s wrath is not consistent with His goodness, and so seek to banish it from their thoughts the wrath of God is as much a divine perfection as is His faithfulness, power, or mercy.” — A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God
We have seen that the anger and wrath of God is really an expression of His love. But why does His wrath come?
Why God’s Wrath Comes
Since the fall of man allowed sin and death to enter the world, sin has been a destructive force upon mankind. Sin may bring temporary pleasure for a moment or season, but it pollutes souls and the hearts of people and nations, eventually leading to deeper sin—it corrupts, it steals, it kills, and it destroys. Sins tentacles and negative affects eventually spread like a cancer to surrounding people, cities, and even defiles the land (Leviticus 18:24-25). The wages of sin is ultimately permanent separation from God and eternity in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10-15). God’s laws were set in place to protect mankind from the harm and destruction of sin! And so it has been rightly said:
“Sin is not bad because it is forbidden—sin is forbidden because it’s bad!” (Sin is bad for us!)
Would a loving God just stand back forever and let His beloved creation, mankind, self-destruct? That’s one reason Paul stated several times that sin incurs the divine wrath of God (Romans 1:18). As you will see soon, God’s judgments often come at certain times in response to sin and injustice, and to also help limit the expansion of sin. In Noah’s day God’s great judgment saved mankind from extinction.
The Hero of History
Like in a movie, with a villain killing people, or an evil force trying to destroy cities and mankind, we expect to see a hero rise to conquer the evil, for justice and good triumph in the end. Actually, this is exactly what we are witnessing play out throughout the history of the world. The script is already written (Genesis to Revelation). The hero has already risen (Jesus Christ), and both the villains and evil will be done away with in the end (Revelation 20-22). It’s just not packed into a two-hour move. Instead this astounding story will span over 7,000 years. It is God’s story. It is His-story. History in the making. It’s amazing that God has given all His people a key role to play in the greatest story ever told. You have a part to play!
At this point of the story sin continues to corrupt, destroy, and spread. And so God’s wrath against sin remains (John3:36).
God’s Heart For Humanity
In the light of the more severe side of God, we must always remember the most important thing on God’s heart are souls. He sees and cares for broken lives, the deceived, the bound and broken, for the prodigals who have lost their way, and for those who have never known Him – and are held captive by the enemy. He came to seek and save the lost, no matter what the cost (Luke 19:10). His heart is for the nations.
Biblical Examples: God’s Justice, Wrath and Judgment Saving Man
God’s judgment sometimes involved a surgical like removal of certain cities or societies before their corruption and great sin spread like a cancer to others. Sometimes, He allowed these to continue for hundreds of years for His purposes, or until it reached a specific level that justified a certain type of judgment. Following are three examples:
1. Noah and the flood. For certain reasons we do not have time to go into here (see Genesis 6), great sin and wickedness had spread throughout the earth. There was only one righteous man and his family left, who God saved and setup to replenish the earth. God’s judgment saved mankind.
2. The wiping out of Sodom and Gomorrah. Not only was there great perversion, rampant homosexuality (Jude 1:7), and wickedness, but there was also great pride and injustice (Ezekiel 16:49-50). This could have also spread to surrounding cities, but God’s judgment stopped it here.
3. The destruction and removal of the Canaanites. Many critics point to this is as barbaric. They cannot believe that a “loving God” would order the total annihilation of certain cities including children and animals. But we need to remember two things. First, God sees it all and knows exactly what was going on (much more than man does!), and what would end up happening if things were allowed to continue. Second, as previously stated, we must read scripture in light of all other scripture to get a fuller picture of what was happening and why.
Briefly, the Bible referenced the Canaanites several times about what kind of people they were. God had given the Canaanites over 400 years to repent. The Bible refers to their wickedness, cruelty, perversion, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, child sacrifice, and more. It is also said that archaeologists confirmed this civilization was rife with sexual disease, even the children were infected, no doubt resulting from their wicked practices. They also lived at the crossroads of the world, and if not dealt with at a certain point, it could have spread much further. These are some of the many very good reasons God had some cities wiped out. For “Will not the judge of all the earth do right” (Genesis 18:25)?
We also need to remember, that God has given everyone a choice. He doesn’t want the love of robots or love out of duty, any more than we would. And so part of God’s wrath being revealed is allowing insistent sinners to progress deeper into the depravity of sin and destruction, as is described in Romans 1:18-32.
We have looked at how God’s amazing love for mankind and His intense hatred for the destructive affects of sin stir up His wrath against sin and wickedness. But, there is another foundational factor that brings God’s wrath and eventual judgment — His Justice.
God’s Divine Justice (and Judgment)
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.” Psalm 89:14. Young’s Literal Translation says “Righteousness and judgment are the fixed place of Thy throne.”
All of God’s attributes are based upon His righteousness and justice. God’s throne has not changed, He has not changed. (Malachi 3:6). For if God did not do what was right and just His throne would diminish. But, His ways are perfect and it is His divine nature to always do what is right and just. Just as He put inside all of us a natural knowing of right from wrong, and justice from injustice. Justice is defined as making something right.
Justice and judgment are linked, as we cannot have one without the other. Just as in a court of law you cannot have justice without a judgment. This then results in an act of justice being carried out in numerous ways. This is why, biblically speaking, there are many levels and forms of Judgment. The Bible shows many examples such as God lifting His hand of blessings and protection from unrepentant people, also from the effects of sin itself, to His wrath being poured out.
Jesus cleansing the Temples was a form of judgment. He observed what was happening and became very angry because of His love for God’s House, for people, and hatred for wickedness. Then at the appointed time, the gavel came down and He responded with action, and cleaned house.
One reason judgment comes is so we can learn to do what is right. “For when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9. Again, just as in a court of law, judgment comes to make right and then discourage the kind of behavior that caused the judgment to come in the first place.
The Tipping Point
Almighty God who sees all and knows all extends great mercy, love and truth, but there is a tipping point when sin or injustice becomes so great for so long that His justice must respond. Otherwise He would not be just.
“The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” Numbers 14:18
God in His great mercy and goodness allows more than enough time for repentance so there is no excuse when judgment does come. This is actually what Romans 2:4 is saying, that it’s “the goodness of God that leads men to repentance.”