YHWH is the holy God of love (1 Jn. 4:8,16; Rev. 4:8) yet He has another attribute which very few seem willing to contemplate or address - that he is a killer. He has an intense wrath for wickedness and has slaughtered many people because of sin. Ponder the following seldom quoted verses:The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished ... (Nahum 1:2,3).Scripture clearly states that God puts people to death:
But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath (Jer. 10:10).See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand (Deut. 32:39).The holy God has killed people over their sins:
The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up (1 Sam. 2:6).But Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the Lord's sight; so the LORD put him to death .... What he [Onan] did was wicked in the Lord's sight; so he put him to death also (Gen. 38:7,10).
"If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?" His [Eli's] sons, however, did not listen to their father's rebuke, for it was the Lord's will to put them to death (1 Sam. 2:25). (This occurred in battle, 1 Sam. 4:11.)
God's anger rose against them; he put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel .... He prepared a path for his anger; he did not spare them from death but gave them over to the plague (Psa. 78:31,50).
"I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to me," declares the LORD (Amos 4:10).
Nabal, Uzzah And OthersAbout ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died (1 Sam. 25:38).Since God has killed people for their wickedness, He should be obeyed out of the fear that is due him. Beyond being feared, He is also to be dreaded:
The Lord's anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God (2 Sam. 6:7).
After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill .... On the seventh day the child died (2 Sam. 12:15,18).
But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them (1 Sam. 6:19). (See also 1 Sam. 15:3.)The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread (Isa. 8:13).God has killed sinful people in various ways:
FloodSo God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth" .... The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. Every living thing that moved on the earth perished - birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark (Gen. 6:13; 7:20-23).
Rained Down Burning SulfurThen the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah - from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities - and also the vegetation in the land (Gen. 19:24,25).
Along with those killed in Korah's rebellion were "250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council" (Num. 16:2):
The Ground Opened, Swallowed Them And Closed Up"But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt." As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah's men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community (Num. 16:9,10,30-33).
FireAnd fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense. The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to take the censers out of the smoldering remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy - the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the LORD and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites" (Num. 16:35-38).
Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Moses then said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: ‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.'" Aaron remained silent (Lev. 10:1-3).
PlaguesAnd the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made (Exo. 32:35).
But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague .... these men responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the LORD .... They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the Lord's people (Num. 11:33; 14:37; 31:16).
Then Moses said to Aaron, "Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the LORD; the plague has started." So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah (Num. 16:46-49).
The LORD said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the Lord's fierce anger may turn away from Israel" ... but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000 (Num 25:4,9).
LionsWhen the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it. Some people who passed by saw the body thrown down there, with the lion standing beside the body, and they went and reported it in the city where the old prophet lived. When the prophet who had brought him back from his journey heard of it, he said, "It is the man of God who defied the word of the LORD. The LORD has given him over to the lion, which has mauled him and killed him, as the word of the LORD had warned him" (1 Ki. 13:23-26).
So the prophet said, "Because you have not obeyed the LORD, as soon as you leave me a lion will kill you." And after the man went away, a lion found him and killed him (1 Ki. 20:36).
When they first lived there, they did not worship the LORD; so he sent lions among them and they killed some of the people (2 Ki. 17:25).
A Randomly Shot ArrowAnd the LORD said, "Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?" One suggested this, and another that .... But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told the chariot driver, "Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I've been wounded. All day long the battle raged, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot facing the Arameans until evening. Then at sunset he died" (2 Chron. 18:19,33,34).
Though not fatal, God has afflicted some with leprosy:
God Afflicted Kings With LeprosyIn the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign .... The LORD afflicted the king with leprosy until the day he died, and he lived in a separate house ... (2 Ki. 15:1,5).
Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the LORD had afflicted him (2 Chron 26:19,20).
God clearly warns His people of sin which would result in Him sending curses, confusion, diseases, drought and other things:
Curses, Confusion, Diseases, DroughtThe LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. The LORD will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The LORD will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed (Deut. 28:20-24).
I will destine you for the sword, and you will all bend down for the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me. Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says ... the Sovereign LORD will put you to death (Isa. 65:12,13,15).
If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God (Deut. 8:19,20).
God's Compassion Has A Cut Off Point!... This is what the LORD says: "Those destined for death, to death; those for the sword, to the sword; those for starvation, to starvation; those for captivity, to captivity. I will send four kinds of destroyers against them," declares the LORD, "the sword to kill and the dogs to drag away and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem. Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem? Who will mourn for you? Who will stop to ask how you are? You have rejected me," declares the LORD. "You keep on backsliding. So I will lay hands on you and destroy you; I can no longer show compassion. I will winnow them with a winnowing fork at the city gates of the land. I will bring bereavement and destruction on my people, for they have not changed their ways" (Jer. 15:2-7). Notice how the humble pleas of righteous Moses to this holy killer God saved the lives of some of the people, but the guilty ones were still put to death:
Moses Pleads With GodIf you put these people to death all at one time, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, "The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath; so he slaughtered them in the desert" .... Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times - not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it .... So tell them, "As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: In this desert your bodies will fall - every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But you - your bodies will fall in this desert" (Num. 14:15,16,21-23,28-32).
King Abimelech could have been killed as others were, but he took God's warning seriously and obeyed:
King AbimelechBut God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, "You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman." Now Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, "Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,' and didn't she also say, ‘He is my brother'? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands." Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die" (Gen. 20:3-7).
There are two sides to the faithfulness of God yet many people seem willing to only contemplate what they believe to be the "good" promises regarding his faithfulness. But God is faithful to carry out his threats too:
God ThreatensSo be very careful to love the LORD your God. But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the LORD your God has given you. But just as every good promise of the LORD your God has come true, so the LORD will bring on you all the evil he has threatened, until he has destroyed you from this good land he has given you (Josh. 23:11,12,13,15).
Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah. I will take away the remnant of Judah who were determined to go to Egypt to settle there. They will all perish in Egypt; they will fall by the sword or die from famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by sword or famine. They will become an object of cursing and horror, of condemnation and reproach. I will punish those who live in Egypt with the sword, famine and plague, as I punished Jerusalem. None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives (Jer. 44:11-14).
Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, "Do not let your hair become unkempt, and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the LORD will be angry with the whole community. But your relatives, all the house of Israel, may mourn for those the LORD has destroyed by fire. Do not leave the entrance to the Tent of Meeting or you will die, because the Lord's anointing oil is on you." So they did as Moses said (Lev. 10:6,7).
Mighty Kings Did Not Escape From GodHe struck down many nations and killed mighty kings - Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan and all the kings of Canaan (Psa. 135:10,11).
Through Ahaziah's visit to Joram, God brought about Ahaziah's downfall .... He was brought to Jehu and put to death (2 Chron. 22:7-9).
Jeroboam did not regain power during the time of Abijah. And the LORD struck him down and he died (2 Chron. 13:20).
Thus we see that God himself killed multitudes of people under the Old Covenant. Has God killed anyone under the new covenant? Few people would hasten to answer "yes," but consider the New Testament evidence:
New Testament Examples And Warnings
Ananias And Sapphira"Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened .... Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also." At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events (Acts 5:4,5,9-11).
HerodImmediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died (Acts 12:23).
Unnamed CorinthiansFor anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep (1 Cor. 11:29,30).[Paul uses the term "fallen asleep" in that passage the same way Jesus used it to refer to the death of Lazarus, Jn. 11:11-14.] Let us therefore heed these solemn warnings:
Warnings For UsWe should not test the Lord, as some of them did - and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did - and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! (1 Cor. 10:9-12).
Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe (Jude 5).
More To ComeI will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds (Rev. 2:23).
I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth (Rev. 6:8).
The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water - the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter (Rev. 8:10,11).
And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind .... A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood - idols that cannot see or hear or walk (Rev. 9:15,18,20).
If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die .... At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven .... "The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great - and for destroying those who destroy the earth" (Rev. 11:5,13,18).
Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe." The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia (Rev. 14:18-20).
The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh (Rev. 19:21).
They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them (Rev. 20:9).
On a more hopeful note, was it not YHWH Himself who handed his own Son over to death, though not for His sin but ours, in an act of love and mercy for our salvation:
Jesus Died For UsThis man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him (Acts 2:23,24).It was God's will for this to happen:But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed ... By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken ... Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand (Isa. 53:5,8,10).Finally, let us all be quick to repent of all known sin and walk in holiness and humility before God, working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:28,29, KJV).
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1, NRSV).
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