Does God Take People’s Lives?

by Bill Pratt

Clearly, yes He does.  Many people express shock over the fact that God took human life in the great flood or that He commanded Israel to kill Canaanites.  There are many other instances in the Bible where God either directly or indirectly takes lives.  There is no getting around this fact.  It makes us uncomfortable to read these passages in the Bible and some of us try to avoid these passages altogether.

It’s not just an Old Testament issue either.  Anybody remember Ananias and Sapphira?  Have you ever read the book of Revelation?  No, we can’t escape the reality of God taking human life by fleeing to the New Testament.

So, as Christians, how do we deal with this fact?  Is it wrong for God to take life?  Do we have to cringe every time a critic of Christianity raises this issue?  No, we don’t.  If we truly understand who God is, then we shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that He takes people’s lives.

The Bible teaches two things about God that helps us understand why He takes human life.  First, He is ultimately just.  He hates sin and evil.  God is perfect in righteousness and goodness, so the existence of sin and evil repulses Him.  As the ultimate judge of the entire universe, He must punish sin.

If God did not punish sin, then what kind of God would He be?  A God who winked and nodded at sin would be like a deranged trial judge who lets every murderer, rapist, and child molester go free, regardless of their guilt.  Is that really the God you want?  Every single person yearns for justice, and if the ultimate Being never administered it, there would be no ultimate justice.  We’ve all sinned.  If God is going to judge sin, then all people come into His court.

Many people say that they want a God who doesn’t punish sin, who is a big, cuddly, teddy bear in heaven.  But what they really mean to say is that they don’t want a God who punishes their particular sin.  As soon as they are wronged, they immediately call for justice!  They think God should let them cheat on their taxes, but they are outraged if they are ever cheated out of money…

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