The God of love does not want to destroy men even though they are evil. But the Bible pictures some incidents where God destroyed evil people. This shows us God’s justice embedded in His love. When reading the Bible thoroughly, we can realize not only His justice according to which He had to destroy evil men but also His love that forgives and has endlessly shown mercy towards people as well.
- God of love wants to forgive people by all means
Genesis chapters 18 and 19 describe the cities called Sodom and Gomorrah whose evilness and sins were serious to an extreme. The people’s sins were great and unforgivable, but God didn’t destroy them immediately. He sent His angels and let them look around the cities in an attempt to find some evidence that might preserve them from their destruction until the final moments. Moreover, God let Abraham know this in advance.
Abraham knew the heart of God better than any other man at that time, so he said to God carefully, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?” Then, God said that if He could find fifty righteous people within the city of Sodom, then He would spare the whole place on their account.
But there were not fifty. Abraham did not give up here, and he asked God whether He would forgive them if there were forty, thirty, twenty, and then ten righteous men. Unfortunately, however, there were not even ten righteous men in Sodom. Furthermore, they were about to do harm to the angels who were looking around the cities. It showed that their sin and evilness had gone beyond the limit that destruction was irrevocable. That is why God destroyed the city.
God knew that Abraham was worried about his nephew, Lot. God wanted to save Abraham’s family. However, Lot’s sons-in-law didn’t take Lot’s words seriously that God was going to destroy the city and they chose to remain there. They ended up dying there. Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt because she didn’t take heed of the angel’s word telling her not to look back and turned her back towards Sodom. In brief, God wants to save people and gives them many opportunities. But, if their sins become too grievous to be forgiven, then God cannot help but judge them.
- When the sin and evil became too full to turn from, then God eliminated those people
The same applied when God destroyed the Amorites in Canaan. With great patience God endured them and waited for them to change for a long time. That is, He endured them for four hundred years when the Israelites were under the bondage of Egypt (Genesis 15:13-16). Nevertheless, they didn’t turn away from their sins and piled up their sins upon sins. Finally, the nation was filled with sin and evil and there was no chance that they could turn away from their sins. Then, God gave their land to the Israelites.
When just one evil man turns from his evil ways, God remembers his sins no longer. Such a heart of God is described well in Ezekiel 18:21-22, “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live.”
Then, why did God of love and forgiveness make the Israelites utterly destroy all the Amorites without sparing anyone? This is because in following the people in the land, the Israelites might begin to worship idols, practice enchantment and play the harlot in unfaithfulness. However, from among them God saved Rahab and her family and her relatives in the city of Jericho.
Rahab heard about the amazing works God manifested before the Israelites and believed God and had reverent fear of God. She also did good by hiding two spies sent by Joshua (Joshua chapter 2). In this way, God forgives others with patience and doesn’t destroy the righteous. He does everything in love and justice, and if one practices goodness and seeks God, even if he is a Gentile, He will come to him and offer him salvation.
- When they repent, God forgives even evil people
What kind of love and forgiveness did God show to the people of Nineveh? Nineveh was a major n city of Assyria. It was a nation that was an enemy of Israel and caused great hardship for Israel. Their corruption was so great that their wickedness had come up before God. Nevertheless, God didn’t destroy them immediately but sent His prophet Jonah to give them one last opportunity to repent.
Jonah disobeyed and rose up to flee to Tarshish since he wanted Nineveh to fall. Then, he fell into a crisis when the ship he boarded met a great storm on the sea and was about to break up. The sailors cast lots to learn on whose account this calamity had struck them. The lot fell on Jonah, and he was thrown into the sea and entered the stomach of a great fish that swallowed him. He repented there of his disobedience and cried out in prayer.
God heard his prayer and forgave him and God commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto dry land. Then, Jonah went to Nineveh and shouted out, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” This means that their sins and evil had become too great to be forgiven. Then, the people in Nineveh believed God with humbleness, fasted, and repented. As a result, God didn’t destroy them. In this way, if they repent of their sins God forgives even those who are evil.
- He removed our transgressions as far from us as the east is from the west
Some people say, “Why doesn’t God punish evil people?” But, as written in 1 Timothy 2:4, God is different from people and desires all men to be saved. We can reach salvation because of God’s love.
King David also committed a great transgression, but he repented immediately after realizing it and God forgave him. King Manasseh the son of King Hezekiah worshiped idols and did evil, and God let the army of the king of Assyria capture Manasseh with hooks and take him to Babylon binding him with bronze chains. But when he humbled himself and repented, he was able to regain his throne.
Psalm 103:12 reads, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” However, it doesn’t apply unconditionally to just everybody. God does as written for those who turn from their evil ways and live according to the Word of God. Some people remember others’ faults for a long time and talk about them frequently. But God removes our transgression so far from us as far as the east is from the west. God hates the transgression, but He does not hate the man who commits it. When a person turns away from sins, God forgives him and recognizes him as righteous.
Luke chapter 15 shows such a heart of God well. If one had a hundred sheep and lost one of them, would he not look for the one which is lost until he finds it? The heart of this shepherd who looks for the lost sheep with yearning is the heart of God. When the shepherd finds the lost sheep, he feels great joy and gathers friends and neighbors to celebrate.
Since the heart of God is similar, Luke 15:7 reads, “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” This is the heart of God, so we must not make enmity with others or hate others with hard-feelings. We must forgive, love, and have peace with one another so that God’s answer can come upon us.
- When we make peace in love and forgiveness, we can receive answers
Matthew 5:23-24 reads, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” God can accept us with joy and bless us only after we repent of our hatred towards brothers, turn from our ways, and give offerings.
While living on the earth, we are sometimes faced with things against our thoughts and something unfair. It may cause us to have conflict with others and hate them. But if you don’t forgive others of their transgression and sins, how can you receive forgiveness from God? The Lord’s prayer says, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Thus, only when we forgive others of their transgressions, will God forgive us of our sins.
God wants us to love, forgive, and make peace with people. God showed His love for us by giving His only begotten Son to save mankind, who were all sinners. Since we received such grace, we should love, forgive, and make peace with all. So, we have to check ourselves, cast off every form of evil such as hatred, jealousy, judgment, and condemnation. I hope that by casting off evil, forgiving each other and loving one another, you can be filled with God’ answers and blessings