In the Megiddo literature the teaching is that not all of us are the children of God. We believe we are. We will always love our child no matter what, and we believe God does the same. God will punish out of love.
I would appreciate your comment. –from J. & D. J., Indiana
Jump To:Does God Punish Out of Love?
When we say that all are or are not children of God, we must be careful to define our terms correctly. The entire human race lives by God’s design, by His creative genius, by laws which He has set in motion. He “gives to all life, breath,’ and “in [his] hands is the life of every living thing” (Acts 17:25; Job 12:10). He makes the sun to shine on the evil and the good, and gives rain and fruitful seasons to all (Matt. 5:45; Acts 14:17).
Yes, all members of the human race are the result of laws which God set in motion. But does this mean that He has fatherly concern and love for each and all? The apostle Paul says of a certain group that “these are not the children of God” (Rom 9:8). How can this be?
he question comes down to determining, first: does God love all simply because they are living beings–does His love extend to all who breathe, or does He love only some among them? And second: if God loves only some among them, what determines whom He loves? Is His love based upon happenstance, or is it selective? Is it whimsical, or is it based upon their character and qualification?
We find no evidence in the Bible that God’s special, providential love and concern extends to all who breathe. On the contrary, entire nations are in His opinion “like a drop in a bucket,” “as dust on the scales”,’ they are “counted to him less than nothing, and vanity” (Isa. 40:15, 17, NIV). “Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity” (Ps. 62:9) not a very flattering evaluation. Although they may think themselves great, they will die and be forgotten as the animal creation. Says the Psalmist, “Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them;…their beauty shall be consumed in the grave far from their dwelling” (Ps. 49:14).
Second, we find much evidence in the Bible that God’s love is selective, that He judges His human creation on the basis of individual character, obedience and virtue. “The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed” (1 Sam. 2:3). Accordingly, we read why He loves certain individuals, why He does not love–even hates–others; why He is near to some, far from others; why He blesses and “knows” some, and totally ignores others.
If God loves all equally, why is it written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated”? (Rom. 9:13).
Or why do we read, “I love those who love me; and those that seek me diligently will find me” (Prov. 8:17)?
Why do we read of God’s attitude in Psalm 5:5, “You hate all workers of iniquity,” if God loves everyone? Or that “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Ps. 7:11)–if He loves everyone? Or why do we read, “The Lord tests the righteous: but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates” (Ps. 11:5)?
If the Lord regards all alike, why is He “far from the wicked,” but “he hears the prayer of the righteous” (Prov. 15:29)?
You say, “We will always love our child no matter what,…” Is this a valid basis for believing that God does the same? Human parental love and Divine love may have some points in common, but when the Bible tells us that God’s thoughts are as much above ours as “the heavens are above the earth” (Isa. 55:8-9), we cannot be too surprised if there are also vast differences.
Pick up just about any religious periodical or listen to a popular evangelist, and it is not long before you are hearing how much “God loves you,” and that love is seldom qualified. “God loves us unconditionally,” says one current writer, “He even allows us to make mistakes, to fail” — but the conclusion is–“His love never fails.” Sometimes the implication is that no matter how “bad” we are, how evil, how sinful, God’s love for us is just that much more.
Aside from the point that God loves all the human race in giving them this mortal existence, the Bible says not one word about loving everybody regardless of character, uprightness, or obedience. We read how God looked down upon the sons of men to see if there were any who were seeking Him (Ps. 14:2)–He was looking, not to see if any were living, but to see if any were living who were seeking Him.
The prophet Amos, speaking for God, wrote concerning the nation of Israel, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2)–how could He make such a statement if He loved everyone alike? In the next chapter He says, “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” (Amos 4:11)–how could He make such a statement if He loved them?
You state that “God will punish out of love.” This is surely true in many situations. But is it always true?
It seems that God’s punishment (judgment upon individuals) always has one of two aspects: 1) when He punishes to discipline and train those in whom He sees useful material;
2) when He punishes to remove those who are offending/sinning/contaminating, for the relief and benefit of those remaining.
There certainly were times when God punished out of love. This was the situation with David when he numbered Israel, and God sent punishment in the form of a “pestilence upon Israel” (2 Sam. 24:15). God was not punishing the innocent for the guilty. David had sinned in numbering Israel, but the nation also had gone astray from God, for we read in 2Sam. 24:1 that “again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.’ God was punishing, but He was preserving those who would be loyal to Him, who were of worth in His sight. And David himself was penitent, as he clearly acknowledged unto the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done” (2 Sam. 24:10).
Another example of God punishing out of love was His statement to David that he would have trouble for the rest of his life as a punishment for His sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:10). It came to pass. David did have trouble in his kingdom, and his family, as long as he lived, and he recognized that it was from God as a punishment. But David was humble, penitent, and reverenced and thanked God for His mercy and love.
We read in the book of Proverbs that the Lord “disciplines the man he loves” (Prov. 3:11-12; see also Ps. 94:12-13; Heb. 12:7).
Another example of God’s punishing out of love was His treatment of Israel as a nation at the time of the captivity. Those who were sincere believers were spared, and allowed to live out their lives in a foreign land. The Lord fulfilled His promise: “I will correct thee in measure” (Jer. 30:11)–a limitation upon His justice.
There were many other times when God punished but showed no love for those punished. For example, take the multitudes who perished at the time of the flood in Noah’s time, when “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5). God was not punishing these people out of love–they had no love for Him, and He had no love for them. He gave them no blessing, only removed them quickly. We read, “God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Gen. 6:12-13)–did He have any reason to love them?
The same was true of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God removed them because of their iniquity. There was no love in His punishment, only a desire to remove them from the scene of life and action. The record in Genesis shows the dire state of iniquity when not even ten righteous persons could be found in Sodom (Gen. 18:22-33). Abraham was pleading for God’s mercy, and God was open to be merciful and show His love, but there were none deserving except those for whom He made a way of escape. Sodom and Gomorrah were punished as a lesson to others, as we read elsewhere in Scripture: as Peter writes, how God, “turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example unto those who afterward would live ungodly” (2 Pet. 2:6). God showed no love for those whom He destroyed; however we might say that He was showing love for others by pointing to Sodom and Gomorrah as a lesson of a punishment which they could avoid.
Did God show any love in directing Elijah to slay the 850 prophets of Baal, after Elijah’s dramatic victory on Mt. Carmel? Again, God was removing the wicked element, so that they could not contaminate more people. Doubtless others were impressed by the lesson.
In a number of Jesus’ parables, the wicked are punished, overthrown or destroyed and there is no indication of any love of God for the wicked. Take, for example, Jesus’ conclusion at the end of the parable of the pounds. We read, “But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27). Is there any indication that God is punishing these people out of love? He is only removing them because of their wickedness, to silence them in their opposition, and to make room for those who are worthy to live.
Jesus makes this same lesson in Luke 13:24, where His disciples asked Him, “Lord, are there few that be saved?” And He replied, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate: for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” And Jesus goes on to mention the fate of the disobedient, to whom He says “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.” (Luke 13:22, 28)–is there any evidence of love for those who are “thrust out”?
In the Book of Revelation, is the picture of Christ conquering the incorrigible element of earth when He comes the second time. They will resist His rightful jurisdiction, and He will forcibly subdue them, as we read, “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings” (Rev. 17:14). Is there any evidence of His loving those He overcomes?
The removal of the wicked element is the only sure means of opening the way for universal, unrestricted, unhindered progress. As long as those who refuse to change and refuse to allow others to change are allowed to live, the state which we see today will continue.
When one’s life is gone, there is no more opportunity to repent, and no way of receiving God’s love–how, then, could God punish any with death and at the same time be punishing them “out of love?” It is a contradiction of terms.
The only “loving” side of God’s punishment when those punished must die is the impression upon those who remain. It is not unusual that we read that when there was a punishment, “great fear” fell upon all who heard of the incident. This was true at the time Ananias and Sapphira were stricken dead because they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:11). It was a mandate in Israel that in the event of a public punishment, “those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you” (Deut. 19:20).
When God removed the wicked nations from Canaan, through His instrument Joshua and the armies of Israel, when they conquered the land before settling it, God was not punishing out of love in removing these people. He was simply removing the poison, so that His people could live safely. Though God’s will did not totally prevail, the nation was certainly better for what they removed, and they suffered for what they did not remove. God’s love was for those to whom the land was given, not for the idolatrous nations whom He removed.
It is impossible to read the Bible with an open mind and to believe that God loves everyone indiscriminately or unconditionally. If God has love for all, then He does not truly love righteousness and hate iniquity. If He loves the wicked as much as the just, then we will never have a Kingdom of righteousness and peace, where righteousness will be free to flourish and the earth be filled with the glory of the Lord (Isa. 32:17-18; Num. 14:21). But such is His promise, and to fulfill it He must show His disapproval of the wicked element–by removing them–so that the good may live and flourish.