Some or All Destructive Judgments Not Directly from God?

If we read our bible alone we would understand that Satan is not the sole destroyer.  There are far too many texts that say otherwise. If you use the writings of Ellen White than you have even more writings that talk about how it is not always Satan who is the destroyer.   For instance, regarding the destroying angel in the book of Exodus she writes:

“Moses then told the king that the ***angel of God*** would slay their first-born.” – (Ellen White Story of Redemption 118)

Certainly the destroying angel is not Satan in this case.  We have the Levites executing judgment on the mixed multitude, Nadab and Abihu, Korah, Dathan and Abiram, the destruction of Jericho, Elijah being directed by the Lord to execute the prophets of BAAL. David and the 185,000 Syrians.  , as well especially as the second death, which can alone be attributed to God.  We are told in Matthew 10 that we are to “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt 10:28)

This verse which Christ gave to us tells us that only God can kill the soul and body.   But we have a quote from Ellen White that says the following:

“I was shown that the judgments of God would not come directly out from the Lord upon them.” { Ellen White 14MR 3.1 }

Let’s stop the quote right there for one second. When quoting the Spirit of prophecy, context is very important.  Context includes this document as well as all of her writings.  If I left you with just this, I would be leaving out the context.  You would not know who the “them” is in the context of this passage.  The word “them” at the end of this quote refers to a certain people, and certain judgments that fall upon these people.

The people referred to in this quote are people who have had “great light” but not “corrected their ways”. It is a written letter to Elder Stone who was at the time walking contrary to the light and counsel that he has been given.  Notice the qualification to who the “them” refers to:

I was shown that the time was in the near future that these whom God had warned and reproved and given great light but they would not correct their ways and follow bdebcf03829e8aa19707c6202935982fthe light, He would remove from them that heavenly protection which had preserved them from Satan’s cruel power; the Lord would surely leave them to themselves to follow the judgment and counsels of their own wisdom; they would be simply left to themselves, and the protection of God be withdrawn from them, and they would not be shielded from the workings of Satan; { Ellen White 14MR 2.3 }

The quote does not refer to every situation as we shall see but she is specifying a certain type of people. (Them)

“But [from] those who have no sense of the goodness and mercy of God, [those] who refuse His merciful warnings, who reject His counsels to reach the highest standard of Bible requirements, who do despite to the Spirit of grace, the Lord would remove His protecting power. I was shown that Satan would entangle and then destroy, if he could, the souls he had tempted. God will bear long, but there is a bound to His mercy, a line which marks His mercy and His justice.”

Here we are told “Satan would…destroy”.   We will notice as we continue that it is not always the case that it is by Satan’s hand that all are destroyed and this is not an all pervading unbroken rule.

“I was shown that the judgments of God would not come directly out from the Lord upon them, but in this way: They place themselves beyond His protection. He warns, corrects, reproves, and points out the only path of safety; then if those who have been the objects of His special care will follow their own course independent of the Spirit of God, after repeated warnings, if they choose their own way, then He does not commission His angels to prevent Satan’s decided attacks upon them. It is Satan’s power that is at work at sea and on land, bringing calamity and distress, and sweeping off multitudes to make sure of his prey. And storm and tempest both by sea and land will be, for Satan has come down in great wrath. He is at work. He knows his time is short and, if he is not restrained, we shall see more terrible manifestations of his power than we have ever dreamed of. {Ellen White 14MR 2, 3 }

Is this referring to the “them” identified in the context of the quote or is it completely left to Satan to execute all judgment?  Is it an unbroken rule that Satan executes all judgments?  Certainly it is not always Satan and his angels as will be clear.  And therefore the quote is only referring to a certain class of people.  We will see this more clearly as we continue.   Satan himself had no part in the judgment executed at the flood.

Gen 6:7   And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth;
Gen 6:13  …I will destroy them with the earth.
Gen 6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

It is certainly God who took credit for the flood.  We know this much.  Was Satan at work here in sea?  The quote does not read “all of the judgments of God would not come directly from the LORD.”  Nor does it say they are all through “Satan’s power.”

“Satan himself, who was compelled to remain in the midst of the warring elements, feared for his own existence.”  (Ellen White Patriarchs and Prophets Page 99)

Notice that Satan was even afraid for his life.  He definitely was not the destroyer here.  But then after seeing the judgments of God, he started to try to use this to impress on the minds of the other angels that God was evil and that a good God was too loving to destroy the earth.

“He now uttered imprecations against God, charging Him with injustice and cruelty. Many of the people, like Satan, blasphemed God, and had they been able, they would have torn Him from the throne of power.”  (Ellen White Patriarchs and Prophets Page 99, 100)

It certainly wasn’t Satan doing the destroying since he was charging God with “cruelty”.

“The men of Noah’s time, in their philosophy and worldly wisdom, thought God could not destroy the world with a flood,…God had his weapons concealed in Noahs+Arkcropthe bowels of the earth to compass her destruction.”. {ST January 3, 1878, par. 8}

Yes, by violation of the law of God, His judgments do fall upon the wicked.

In mercy to the world, God blotted out its wicked inhabitants in Noah’s time. In mercy He destroyed the corrupt dwellers in Sodom.” (Great Controversy Page 543)

The idea of some is that God does not do it by his own hand because this is a violation of the sixth commandment, “thou shall not kill”.   Some have said that ALL killing is a violation of the commandment if it is done with their own hand.   This implies that those who execute justice are guilty.  But the bible distinguishes between judgment and Murder.   Murder is killing done under the motive of hate.   For instance, in the book of John we read:

1 John 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

The context refers to Cain murdering his brother.  But yet Abel had just killed a lamb.   Abel was not considered guilty of violating the sixth commandment, however Cain was.   The Levites also executed the judgment of God when by the sword under the commandment of God, they put to death the mixed multitude that were rebelling against God.  Notice that this execution was not done in “hate” but rather “love”.

“It was in love to the world, in love to Israel, and even to the transgressors, that crime was punished with swift and terrible severity.”  (Ellen White PP 324)

Judgment is done in love when executed or commanded by God.   The bible clearly distinguishes between violation of the commandments, and upholding justice by using two different Hebrew words for “killing”.   Notice both are used in the following verse.

Num 35:16  And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer (heb: ratsach): the murderer (heb: ratsach) shall surely be put to death. (heb: muwth)

The word (ratsach) is the word used in the commandment.   It is properly translated “murder”.  The Levites did not “Ratsach” or “murder” since this is motivated by “Hatred” and since what they did was done “in love to the world, in love to Israel, and even to the transgressors.”

Even if God were to leave the judgment to Satan, and it was murder as some say, God would be an accomplice in the murder since He himself takes credit for the death of the wicked.   But since it is judgment and not murder, we can assume that with respect to that accusation, God is “Not Guilty”.

During the flood, would it have been more merciful to leave one to the hands of Satan, or perhaps when knowing God, you would rather “fall into the hand of the LORD” (2 Sam 24:14)?  Which is more loving?  Some say to fall into the hands of Satan?  And this some consider the character of God message and what they perceive as a true blessing to know that God would never execute judgment Himself.

Do God’s Angel’s Exercise Destructive Power?

It is considered by some a violation of the sixth commandment for God’s angels to exercise destructive power.  Yet we see even Jesus himself having part in the destruction of the walls of Jericho.

“…angels of the Lord encamped about the children of Israel; for the trained army of heaven had come to fight for the people of God, and the Captain

Walls of Jericho

Walls of Jericho

of the Lord’s host was there to command. When Jericho fell, no human hand touched the walls of the city, for the angels of the Lord overthrew the fortifications, and entered the fortress of the enemy. It was not Israel, but the Captain of the Lord’s host that took Jericho.” {Ellen White 2BC 994.5 }

Did you catch the last part?  Israel didn’t destroy all of those people in Jericho.   We are told that “the Captain of the Lord’s host” destroyed them.

Joshua 6:21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

God’s angels exercised destructive power in this warfare, including the Captain of the Lord’s host (Jesus).  Jehovah ordered it (Deuteronomy 7:2), and Joshua took part in it (Joshua 6:21).  Was God commanding His people to violate the law?  Or was He commanding them to uphold the law, executing the judgment on iniquity.   Surely the people would have been confused had they been commanded to break the sixth commandment.

Could you trust a God who was telling you to break His own law?  We are commanded not to listen to spirits that speak not according to this word. (Isa 8:20)  Regarding the Levites we read of when they were commanded by God to destroy the mixed multitude.

…when God commands them to execute His sentence upon iniquity, He is to be obeyed.” (EGW Patriarchs and Prophets page 324)

Would it have been okay for Jesus to destroy or execute judgment during his earthly life?  No, no.   We are told that “the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:56)  We understand that Christ’s earthly life was a representation of the character of God.

“Christ came to represent the Father. We behold in him the image of the invisible God. He clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to the world that the erroneous ideas Satan had been the means of creating in the minds of men, in regard to the character of God, might be removed.” (Ellen White ST Jan 20, 1890)

Some have used this passage to say that we can only understand the Father through the earthly life of Jesus, and the assumption is that this implies that judgment or destruction could not be executed by God.   But consider the following:

“The plea may be made that a loving Father would not see His children suffering the punishment of God by fire while He had the power to relieve them. But God would, for the good of His subjects and for their safety, punish the transgressor. God does not work on the plan of man. He can do infinite justice that man has no right to do before his fellow man. Noah would have displeased God to have drowned one of the scoffers and mockers that harassed him, but God drowned the vast world. Lot would have had no right to inflict punishment on his sons-in-law, but God would do it in strict justice.

Who will say God will not do what He says He will do?”—Ellen White Manuscript Releases 12:207-209

So what do we see in this quote? That it wasn’t okay for men, but it was okay for God to execute justice.   And we are told that God did it.  “God drowned the vast world”.  Noah couldn’t do that.  Could Jesus do it?  Lot would have displeased God.   Could Jesus do it? No, it would have displeased God.  God “can do infinite justice that man has no right to do.”  However, this does not take away from the execution of judgment by God, but this quote tells us that God does do it.

Some have said that this is executing iniquity with iniquity.  That is confusion and God is not the author of confusion.   Judgment is not iniquity (violation of the law) Judgment is upholding the law.  However, we should be careful to understand if it is the voice of God.

Moses the Ten Plagues and the Hand of God

There is a quote in the Psalms that talks of evil angels being sent to the Egyptians.

Psalms 78:49 He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.

This quote is often used out of its context to say that all the plagues were from Satan, and he is the one who did all the destroying.  But does the bible really teach this?   The Hebrew word for “sending” also means “release, discharge, allow”.   I believe “Allow” is a much better translation.  The bible does teach that God allowed the evil angels among them.   However, something that we must notice here, and that is the following.

The Hand of God and Destroying Angels

It was the hand of God, and no human influence or power possessed by Moses and Aaron, that wrought the miracles which they showed before Pharaoh. Those signs and wonders were designed to convince Pharaoh that the great “I AM” had sent Moses, and that it was the duty of the king to let Israel go, that they might serve the living God. The magicians also showed signs and wonders; for they wrought not by their own skill alone, but by the power of their god, Satan, who assisted them in counterfeiting the work of Jehovah.” { Ellen White Patriachs and Prophets Page 261, 2}

Only God could do all ten of the plagues.  Satan and his angels had no power to do all of them.

Pharaoh called upon the magicians to do the same, but they could not. The work of God was thus shown to be superior to that of Satan. The magicians themselves acknowledged, “This is the finger of God.” But the king was still unmoved.” { Ellen White Patriachs and Prophets Page 261, 2}

So therefore though “evil angels” were allowed among them.  They only had so much power, and could not replicate the power of God.

After destroying and killing many animals, the destroying angel was finally allowed to destroy the firstborn.  There are quotes in the Spirit of Prophecy speaking of the destroying angel as Satan.   HOWEVER, we must remember that it is not always Satan that is the destroying angel in scripture.   Notice the story of David when he numbered God’s people.

“The next morning a message was brought to David by the prophet Gad: “Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed1280px-Foster_Bible_Pictures_0062-1_The_Angel_of_Death_and_the_First_Passover before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore,” said the prophet, “advise thyself what word I shall bring again to Him that sent me.”

The king’s answer was, “I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for His mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.” { Ellen White Patriachs and Prophets Page 747, 8}

Notice, the destroying angel is the “angel of the Lord”.  Some have said that this is Satan.  But Satan is not referred to as “the angel of the Lord” in scripture.   David actually does not accept falling into the hands of enemies when asked, but rather chooses the destruction by the angel of the Lord.  We are told a couple paragraphs later that this angel of the LORD is called “the destroying angel”.

The destroying angel had stayed his course outside Jerusalem.”  (PP 748)

So therefore God’s angel is sometimes called “the destroying angel”.  In the same sense we read in the same book Patriarchs and Prophets by Ellen White on page 269 concerning the plague of the hail:

“Ruin and desolation marked the path of the destroying angel.” (PP 269)

It wasn’t Satan that did these plagues because we were told already that he could not counterfeit all of the plagues.  So we know that this is not Satan here that is referred to as “the destroying angel”.  It is not only Satan and his angels who exercise destructive power in scriptures. We read concerning the Passover angel that also angels of God excercise destructive power.

“Moses then told the king that the ***angel of God*** would slay their first-born.” – (Ellen White Story of Redemption 118)

Notice that the plagues of Egypt as well as the incident just mentioned concerning David’s numbering of Israel.   We see “destructive power exercised by holy angels”.   The destroying or destructive angels can sometimes be Satan’s angels and sometimes they are God’s angels.  Notice the following carefully with brackets added from quotes above concerning the two stories we just talked about for clarity sake:

A single angel (of God) destroyed all the first-born of the Egyptians and filled the land with mourning. When David offended against God by numbering the people, one angel (of the LORD) caused that terrible destruction by which his sin was punished. **The same destructive power exercised by holy angels when God commands,** will be exercised by evil angels when He permits. There are forces now ready, and only waiting the divine permission, to spread desolation everywhere.”—The Great Controversy, 614 (Brackets added from quotes above)

Sometimes the angel commanded to destroy is a Holy Angel.  Satans angels are not “commanded” they are “permitted”.  It would not be in Satan’s interest to destroy the wicked when God commands.   Such as in Ezekiel 9 where we read of the final Passover.  An angel in fine linen, an angel of God is commanded to destroy.   Similar to the Passover.  God does destroy, and it is not a rule that all judgments does not come from the Lord, or all judgments come from Satan.  We need to be very careful when we quote the Spirit of Prophecy or else we can come off with doctrines that are completely contrary to hundreds of the plainest statements in scripture.

“Sprinkle its blood on “the two side posts and on the upper doorpost” of the house, that the destroying angel, coming at midnight, might not enter that dwelling.” (PP 274)

Who is the “destroying angel”?

“Moses then told the king that the ***angel of God*** would slay their first-born.” – (Ellen White Story of Redemption 118)

Here we are told clearly that the destroying angel is an “angel of God” and not Satan’s angels.

Satan and his angels are not always those who exercise destructive power.  Nor are they always called the destroying angel.  Nor is Satan always working through storm and tempest, land and sea to cause all destruction.

What have we learned in this study:
1.  It is not always left to Satan to execute the judgments of God
2.  Not all judgments are directly from God and not all are directly from Satan
3.  Satan and his angels are not responsible for all destruction
4.  Destructive power is sometimes executed by holy angels
5.  The Bible sometimes refers to Satan as the destroying angel and sometimes to holy angels
6.  The Angel of God destroyed the firstborn and is called the destroying angel
7.  Sometimes we must acknowledge that destruction or destroying is at the hand of God
8.  Jesus would have displeased God to exercise destructive power while in the form of a man

Leave a comment

  • Jessica

    Here is something else to look at with that verse in Pslams

    The KEY word here is ANGEL. . .
    In Strongs we find that this term ANGEL is not Angelos as we are most commonly used to seeing, but Malawk and specifically means, “messanger, or deputy, OF GOD”. . . (H4397)

    Something else you might want to look into is that there is now a large group saying that God did not ordain animal sacrifice, and that Christ death was not substitutionary and therefore is not a payment for sin. Also go on youtube and you will see that there are baptist Pastors that are preaching this same message.

  • Jessica

    I think it’s important to understand that this doctrine has gone far outside of the SDA church. Here is just one example. If any make claims that they are not saying these things, that’s fine. . .But there are more than just them that teach this and many of the ones that I have seen do flat out say God does not kill at all. This is why it is so important to understand. I believe that this is the peace and safety message, and I believe it shows that we are that much closer to the end than we think. Here is just one example.

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