IS GOD CRUEL?
An In-Depth Analysis of God's Apparent
Acts of Cruelty in the Bible
After His visit to Abraham and Sarah to assure
them of a child, the divine messenger, and his angels “looked toward Sodom”
(Genesis 18: 16). Abraham accompanied them to a certain point where God
revealed to him His plan to annihilate both Sodom and Gomorrah. The reason
for the coming destruction of the two cities was the fact that their sins
and their evil deeds were “grievous” (V. 20).
attempted to convince God to spare the two cities, but their wickedness was
so pervasive that not even ten righteous could be found in them. Thus, God
“rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah”(V. 24), and “He overthrew
those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and
that which grew on the ground” (V. 25).
was, no doubt, radical. Because it was radical, some find it difficult to
understand why a God of love would do something so seemingly cruel and
destructive. After all, the entire population of the two cities was
eradicated -- and that included the old, women and children. To skeptics,
such an all-encompassing destruction appears unnecessary and capricious. But
is that really the case?
What if God had simply
punished the people of Sodom and Gomorrah in some other way, so as to get
them to change? What if God had just destroyed one city and had allowed the
other to behold the consequences of sin, and perhaps repent?
understand the extent of the wickedness prevalent within the two cities. God
describes the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah as being “very grievous” (Genesis
18: 20). One quickly understands how grievous their sins were, by reading
the story very carefully. The Scriptures tell us that, when the angels went
down to the city of Sodom, Lot invited them into his home. We read that,
upon entering Lot’s house, “the men of the city…both old and young, all the
people from every quarter surrounded the house” (19:4). They then demanded
that Lot bring out his angelic guests so as to “know them” (V. 5). Lot,
instead, offered to them his two young virgin daughters, but the men of
Sodom refused the offer and arrogantly tried to force the two angels out so
as to abuse them sexually.
reveals a level of depravity that is difficult to conceive. Let’s note that
“all the people” of Sodom, “from every quarter,” that
is, rich and poor, young and old, were lusting after the two foreigners
and craved to rape them. Their lurid lust was also accompanied by both
aggression and arrogance.
From this picture
alone, we may safely infer that the Sodomites were a totally brutal bunch,
without conscience and self-control. We can also safely infer that within
those two cities violence abounded, as did other sinful acts such as lying,
cheating, stealing, adultery and all kinds of sexual depravity.
Sodom and Gomorrah were the
nest of a virulent, evil virus that was spreading quickly through the area
and onto other cities. Evil has a way of spreading far and wide, when left
unchecked. The two cities had to be dealt with, not only because their evil
deeds could no longer be tolerated by the God of righteousness but to also
prevent their debauchery from spreading.
The New Testament tells us that
another reason why God overthrew the two cities was because He wanted their
destruction to be “an ensample to those that after should live ungodly” (2
Peter 2: 6). God’s intervention was meant to be so powerful, and so drastic,
that all would hear and tremble. He wanted generations to come to know that
His will is supreme, that He will not forebear evil forever and that, though
He is longsuffering, the day will come when He will extirpate evil in very
dramatic ways. Jude warns that “Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about
them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after
strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of
eternal fire” (Jude 7).
If God had not
intervened, the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah would have continued, and it
would have actually become much worse. As a result, the suffering that
invariably accompanies evil would have multiplied; the influence of the two
cities would have increased, and it would have affected a great many near
and far; God would have been perceived as distant and uninvolved and,
lastly, the great lesson of God’s ultimate punishment of evildoers would not
have received the powerful emphasis that it received.
was, therefore, timely and appropriate. It shouts to all generations that
God is a righteous God, that he will not endure depravity forever, and that
He will finally punish evildoers by using, if necessary, very drastic means.
IS GOD CRUEL?
Michael Caputo, 2013
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