The Old Testament testifies that God commanded communities, even countries, be wiped out--men, women, and children; no exceptions. Usually this was done through His chosen people, the army of Israel.
But even within Israel itself, God caused some to be killed when they were disobedient. I'm thinking of the wilderness earthquake He caused that swallowed thousands; and of the two sons of Aaron struck down for using strange (common) fire instead of holy fire in their priestly duties. There are many more examples that can be mentioned. And critics of God often do in painting Him as a monster.
But the way I see it, God has the right to take life. I say this not because the idea of life originated from and is manifested by Him, but because of an aspect of His character--His righteousness. He abides by the Law. Therefore He cannot do anything that is not just.
When God formally gave the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, it was an explanation in transcript form of that which He is and how the universe is governed. He, by His nature, is the Law of life, life the way it's supposed to be and will be after the demise of this world.
The reality now, though, is that because we all have fallen short of His righteous character, due to our sin nature and our sinful acts, we are broken away from original life. The life in which we now live, in this fallen world, is an aberration that leads to death; that too being unnatural, but at the same time a natural conclusion to being cut off from the Source of life. In fact, for those living, but who don't believe in Jesus, they are dead already, spiritually.
Consequently, when God caused those people in the Bible to physically be killed, their deaths can and is seen as justice according to the Eternal Law; according to original life. They weren't innocent. They like all of us are guilty of being lawbreakers.
Had they been righteous -- believers who were faithful, having been credited with God's righteousness -- they would have been spared. I base this thought on Moses questioning God about His intention to destroy the people of Sodom (Gen. 18: 23-32). In that conversation, God's method of operation is revealed. We learn that if there had been just one in the city who was righteous, the city would have been spared.
This then must have been the case in all other instances in which God caused people to be killed. They were not righteous people, and their sins were great and spreading. And because God knows all -- judging the thoughts and intentions of the heart, and knowing the future -- He knew they never would come to repentance and be righteous. This He knew about the babies too, who like all of us are born into a sinful nature.
In my mind, the blatancy of God's acts during those times is also meant to impress upon us the lesson of how serious it is to commit sin. It is said in 1 Corinthians 10: 5-12 that the Old Testament killings are an example to us. The example is set early on in history -- in this case, in ancient Biblical times -- in order to get the attention of the rest of history, especially during these end times. In other words, a few among earth's guilty were made an example for the benefit of the rest of humanity. God, being fair, has warned us. The fatal consequence of sin is made plain.
Again, I see God's actions as being just, as being justifiable. He had no one killed who wasn't guilty of breaking the eternal, self-existing Law that cannot change. The Law of life declares that death, whether of natural, accidental or divine causes, is the penalty for sin.
But God, we've come to know, is also a merciful God. So much so, that His mercy trumps judgment (James 2: 13). His greatest desire is that no one perishes. It is because of His mercy that the plan of salvation was conceived before the foundation of the earth. Jesus, at the proper time, was incarnated as part of God's will to satisfy and meet all the demands of the eternal Law. Because He did -- as humanity's representative, the second and last Adam -- all who choose to believe in Him are saved from the Law's penalty of eternal death--the second death (Revelation 2: 11; 20: 6, 14; 21: 8).
The first death that all temporarily die -- both believers and unbelievers -- remains as a testament to the serious power of sin.
God killing sinners, did so within the letter of the Law. God's actions, exercising the Law's penalty, stand on solid legal ground. Therefore His killings are just.
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