Cruelty In The Bible?
God kills His own people, the people of Jerusalem
THE HUMANIST CLAIMED CRUELTY: Ezekiel 9:4-7 has this harrowing account: And the Lord said unto him, Go through . . . the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark. . . .
We know from answering similar objections that God is not cruel or unjust. The question in this case is: What is the context? Why is God doing this? In the examples we’ve looked at so far God was delivering justice on people who did evil. Howev-er, here in Ezekiel the Jews are being judged. What is going on?
To begin with, it is wrong to say that in these verses God is commanding that people be killed. That is not what He is doing. Who are the "men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations?" They are the men who have been faithful to God. What God is doing is saving them from death. The mark identified those who were peni-tent... those who were weeping over sin. These men were marked in order to protect them.
Why did they need protection?
To answer this question, we need to know the context. What was going on in Israel at this time?
God had instructed the people of Israel sin how they needed to live. However, they continually turned away from God, ignored His laws, and turned to other gods (idolatry).
Israel had been directly warned through Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 25:11-12). However, the people of Israel continued in their idolatry and rebellion against God... until finally God needed to judge Israel. This judgment included 70 years of captivity by the Babylonians.
In the scripture the humanist references, Ezekiel is seeing a vi-sion (Ezekiel 8:1) showing him what will happen if Israel does not change their ways. Ezekiel is "caught up in the spirit," so he is seeing things in the spiritual realm. This is what he sees: verse 9:2 describes six men who come from the direction of Jerusalem’s upper gate. They have weapons for slaughter in their hands. These men repre-sent Babylon.
Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful empire of that time. No army could stand against them. God had protected Israel, but the time had come for that protection to be withdrawn. God had even left the temple (Ezekiel 9:3), showing that the Israel-ites now had exactly what they wanted; God was out of their lives. This also meant they no longer had God's blessings nor His protec-tion.
However, not every Israelite had turned against God. So God protected those who still sought righteousness and had turned from idols, by placing a mark on their foreheads.
As we saw in other examples in which God was dealing with Israel's enemies, God allowed those who were sinning time to correct their behavior. However, eventually there must be justice. God can-not overlook sin, even when His chosen people are the ones who are sinning. Evil must be punished. Therefore, judgment comes on Isra-el, with God protecting those individuals who did not deserve judgment.
The judgment (aka. punishment) does not involve God killing people. God gives Israel what they want. He withdraws from Israel. Without His protection, things happen as they naturally would... Babylon invades, kills many people, and eventually carries off nearly all of the remaining Jews into captivity.
That is what Ezekiel is seeing in his vision. The verses in ques-tion, Ezekiel 9:4-7 are describing part of that vision, which shortly would become reality. It is a vision showing how God will protect the righteous.
If we keep reading, we see how Ezekiel responds to this vision. He pleads with God over the vast size of this judgment, and God replies, giving the reason He is doing this:
Then He said to me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood and the city is full of perversion; for they say, The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see! But as for Me, My eye will have no pity nor will I spare, but I will bring their conduct upon their heads. - Ezekiel 9:9-10
Because of the conduct of the people of Israel, God is bringing this judgment on them. It is a just and fair judgment. He will with-draw His protection, giving them what they want, and the result will be conquest by the Babylonians. God is telling them in advance, through Ezekiel, that this will happen, and still they do not turn away from their wicked ways.
Conclusion: God is not cruel, but just. Those who do evil will receive justice, even when they are His own chosen people.
How can people today, especially humanists, know whether a nation is under God’s judgment? What about America today? The signs indicate we currently are under God’s judgment… that God is, as described in Romans chapter one, withdrawing His blessings. How can we know that? When things start happening that make no sense. When people are doing things, and approving of beliefs and actions, that defy logic.
Another indication comes from the fact that Satan is a liar, and the father of lies. As God withdraws, Satan has more opportunities. That means when a culture or country is increasingly basing what they do and believe on lies, you know that God is withdrawing and the father of lies is moving in.
Why would God withdraw His blessings from America? For the same reason He did Israel. Disobedience and idolatry. When we turn away from God, God gives us what we want… less of Him. The result is lies, chaos, violence and evil rule, and people suffer.
Next example: Hosea 13:16 describes a punishment from the Lord: Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
Is God's punishment of Samaritans unjust. Click here for the answer.