Prophets at various times are raised up by God to warn us to turn from our evil ways. When God issues a warning, he also explains outcomes: Repent and be blessed, but disobey and receive discipline, judgment, punishment.
Moses warned Pharaoh but he ignored Moses and suffered ten plagues: water turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the killing of firstborn children. Ultimately, Pharaoh’s army was destroyed, allowing the Israelites to escape 400 years of slavery in Egypt (Hebrews 10:31).
Moses warned the children of Israel several times. They disobeyed and sinned against the Lord and they were consequently disciplined in severe ways. God issued the standards contained in the Ten Commandments, but the Jews disobeyed, just as we do, and suffered for their disobedience, even the captivity in Babylon.
Jonah grudgingly preached repentance to the vicious Ninevites. They turned from their sins and were saved, but 120 years later they returned to sin and were destroyed.
More than any prophet, Jesus warned of punishment and hell, offering his own body as the perfect sacrifice to save us. He volunteered to die in our place to fulfill perfect justice since our sin deserves death. As we approach the end of the age, and the coming of the Lord, Jesus warned we will see more terrible judgments upon the earth (Matthew 10:24).
The Scriptures teach us God is loving, merciful, slow to anger and righteous in all his ways. We learn from the Scriptures that God does not want anyone to suffer. He wants everyone to come to him in love. God is described as exceedingly patient and forgiving, that it is not his will that anyone perish or go to hell (2 Peter 3:9).
The Scriptures also teach that God is perfect, that his justice is perfect. We are told he rules the universe; his judgments are perfect. Though it breaks his heart, there are times that judgment descends upon the earth. God hates sin. He hates evil. They kindle his wrath.
Is this virus a form of his judgment? Who can know for certain? We do know that God has warned us for decades, even centuries. If we are honest we will admit we have increased in rebellion.
God appears often to move in the interests of the greatest good for the greatest number.
When a shepherd has a ewe that disobeys endlessly, putting the other sheep at risk, eventually the shepherd is forced to kill the disobedient ewe or break her leg so she will not lead others off into dangerous places. Sometimes for the sake of the flock the disobedient must be disciplined.
God ordered the ancient Jews to kill off entire cultures in the Promised Land because they were hopeless and filled with disease, sin and violence. His justice played out for the greatest good for the greatest number.
And then we have the question of eternity. Our limited human vision cannot fully appreciate God’s offer of eternal bliss in paradise.
If we could appreciate paradise, we would not be so bound to this mortal coil. With a greater appreciation for eternity we might see more clearly from God’s perspective that it is better to execute judgment to save the many rather than withhold justice and condemn even more.
For if I must be punished in order to see the truth, repent and gain heaven, then I would rather be punished than remain sinful and lost only to suffer eternal hell.
Finally, the most difficult question: Does God kill innocent people? Ultimately, the answer is an emphatic “No!”
Humans en masse rejected God in the Garden, siding with Satan, throwing all creation into sin and death. God warned us, but we rebelled and joined with the enemy. From eternity past God had a plan to save us from Satan and from ourselves.
That plan depended on Jesus, his perfect sacrifice, and his intervention to fulfill perfect justice, at the same time providing our complete pardon. The sinless man who was God, innocent and pure, took our punishment upon himself to accomplish our salvation.
He saves us and forgives us so long as we accept his gift of salvation by faith and repentance.
Meanwhile the creation remains under judgment. No one is innocent, for “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
“And the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
So did God send this terrible pandemic?
He may have, and if so, it is entirely within his right, for we have no standing to judge the ways of the Almighty.
On the other hand, he may have allowed us to do this to ourselves, to teach us he alone is God; that our lives, here, and in the hereafter, are his, and not our own.
Finally, what about people, especially little children, who never hear the Gospel and die because of this virus, or any number of other causes resulting from our rebellion?
The God of perfect love and justice will treat every individual justly, we can be sure.
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