Cruelty In The Bible?
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 other examples we
looked at God was wiping out Israel's enemies. But, here in Ezekiel it's Jews
who are being killed. What is going on?
To begin with, it is wrong
to say 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 had been faithful
to God. What God is doing is saving them from death. The mark identified the penitent...
those who were weeping over sin. And they were marked to protect them.
did they need protection?
We need to know the context... what has going
God had told Israel what they needed to do and how they needed to live.
But Israel had continually turned away from God, ignored His laws, and turned
to other gods (idolatry). Israel had even been directly warned through Jeremiah
the prophet (Jeremiah 25:11-12). But Israel continued in her idolatry and rebellion
against God... and finally God needed to judge Israel. This judgment included
70 years of captivity by the Babylonians.
Keep in mind Ezekiel is
seeing a vision (Ezekiel 8:1). God is showing him what will happen. Ezekiel
is "caught up in the spirit," so he is seeing things in the spiritual
realm. Here's what he sees: verse 9:2 describes six men who come from the direction
of the upper gate, with weapons for slaughter in their hands. These men represent
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had come for that protection to be withdrawn.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 even left the temple (Ezekiel
9:3), showing that Israel now had exactly what they wanted, total freedom from
God. They no longer had God's blessings nor His protection.
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
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. But,
eventually there must be justice. God cannot overlook sin,. even when it is His
chosen people who are sinning. Evil must be punished. So judgment comes on Israel,
with God protecting those individuals who did not deserve judgment.
judgment (aka. punishment) does not involve God killing people. What
God does is give Israel what they want, He withdraws from Israel. Without His
protection things happen as they naturally would... Babylon invades, kills many,
and carries off the remaining Jews into captivity.
That is what Ezekiel
is seeing in his vision. The verses in question, 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:
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
of the conduct of the people of Israel, God is bringing this judgment on them.
It is a just and fair judgment.
Conclusion: God is not cruel, but just.
Those who do evil will receive justice, even His own chosen people.
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.