Does God Kill – The Character of God

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“He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.” (Exo 22:20)

If there is anything that is worth study in the bible or in the Spirit of Prophecy, it is the character of God.   The bible tells us that “…the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”  (Rom 2:4)  In the book of Exodus Moses exclaimed “Shew me thy glory” (Exo 33:18) and the Father answered and said “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.”  (Exo 33:19)

The context of these verses tell us of a people who had just been given the judgments of God. (Exo 21-23) One judgment which included the following “He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.” (Exo 22:20) Only a few chapters later Moses was on the mountain receiving the law in tables of stone, as well as the instructions to build a sanctuary, and the Levitical priesthood.  (Exo 25-31)

Following this, the people were doing the very thing that deserved the judgment God had given to Moses.

Exod 32:4-6 … he(Aaron) had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy godsAnd they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

Here they were guilty of the very thing that would pronounce utter destruction upon themselves, only weeks after receiving the instruction not to do such a thing or else.   This just after they had been led out of Egypt by miraculous power.  Yet they had no confidence in the word of God.   The devil had them deceived and they were believing the very first lie of the serpent.   “Ye shall not surely die.” (Gen 3:4)

Paul the apostle explained regarding the Israelites that “…their minds were blinded:” (2 Cor 3:14) And he continued a few verses later by giving more detail saying that “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”  (2 Cor 4:4)

Why is it important to behold the glorious image of God?

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  (2 Cor 3:18)

As Moses who said “Shew me your glory” (Exo 33:18) this should be our desire, that our heavenly Father will shew us His glory, so that by beholding His glory we might be changed into the same image from glory to glory.

Ellen White wrote the following concerning the glory of God.

The glory of God is his character, and it is manifested to us in Christ. Therefore it is by beholding Christ, by contemplating his character, by learning his lessons, by obeying his words, that we become changed into his likeness.”{ Ellen White SSW July 1, 1894, par. 5 }

So therefore, when studying the bible and looking at the word “glory” we can understand that this term refers to His “character”.  And so we can logically conclude that by beholding the character of God, we can become changed into the same character.  And therefore to understand the issue of the character of God is an infinitely important subject that should not be overlooked.

Execution of Justice

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“In the name of “the Lord God of Israel,” Moses now commanded those upon his right hand, who had kept themselves clear of idolatry, to gird on their swords and slay all who persisted in rebellion.”

Does God kill?  Does the bible answer this question?  Before we answer this question, we need to understand something about our Father in heaven.   He is a merciful and gracious God.   And mercy and love are attributes of His character that we need to see when examining this topic.   There are some that take a view that our Father is arbitrary, waiting to smite, and ready to execute wrath on those who have violated His law.   May Father help us to see past this veil.

If this is the case then why did Moses beg for God to show His glory, character, goodness, grace and mercy to the Israelites when they had committed a sin worthy of being destroyed?  God suffers long with His creatures and that is an absolute fact that we need to see in every story of the bible where we see judgment executed.

2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Imagine a man on the street cursing God.   The very God that gave that man his lips to utter those words. The very God that loved that man so much that he gave him a tongue that if it wasn’t for the grace of God this man could not even speak those words of blasphemy.   Not only did The Father do this, but He suffers with this man, pleads with this man to turn from His wicked way.  Not only that, but the Father has paid an infinite price by giving to this wicked man His only begotten son.  How many good people would offer their son for someone who hates them?  Yet this is the character of God.

Some might say why does God allow sin to continue?  Why didn’t He just end it long ago?  Why does He allow rape, murder, etc?  What kind of God would do this?  These are all good questions and the bible answers them when we read it carefully.   The bible tells us that in the beginning God created man in His image.   And that he gave man “dominion” (Gen 1:26) Dominion implies that you are the owner.   It’s your world.  You are the King, and you can do with this world whatever you want.  And when God said it, he really meant it.   He wasn’t playing around.

If I gave you a car, and said it’s a gift to you and you wrecked that car.  Who would be at fault if it got ruined?  The one who gave the gift, or the one who wrecked the gift? Why does God get blamed when all He ever did was give, give, give, and continue to give.  And for this generosity He is at fault for what we did to the world.  Ultimately the sinner destroys himself as we will see.

Sin is so serious that it destroyed the world.  If you are offering your children on the altar of the world, then God is not going to step in and force you not to.   He pleads with you through the cross, but yet gives you the right to do with your children what you want.  Children are a gift of God.   Did God destroy the child or did we?   And this is the government of God.  Free will.    We must however note that sometimes in order to have mercy on others, execution of judgment is necessary.

And so as we study this, we must keep His mercy in the back of our mind or we may have a view of God that is extremely rash, an executioner of those who do not do as He says.  I pray that we may truly come to see God in the light of the cross of Christ.

I believe that many have went to certain extremes because of a misunderstanding of the judgments and mercy of God.  This is where the devil seeks to blind our minds.  I believe that God desired mercy and this was the case with the Israelites.   Moses begged God to have mercy on them, and the Father did have mercy on them.   Yet we read the following from Patriarchs and Prophets:

“Though God had granted the prayer of Moses in sparing Israel from destruction, their apostasy was to be signally punished. The lawlessness and insubordination into which Aaron had permitted them to fall, if not speedily crushed, would run riot in wickedness, and would involve the nation in irretrievable ruin. By terrible severity the evil must be put away.”  (Ellen White Patriarchs and Prophets Page 324)

Be careful not to rush past what that quote just said.  It is important to chew on that for a moment.   This sin was running riot, and nothing would stop it from destroying all of the people.  In order for mercy to be had in this situation without the nation being completely “irretrievable”, the evil must be put away.  And how MUST it be put away?  By men with swords.  She continues:

“Standing in the gate of the camp, Moses called to the people, “Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me.” Those who had not joined in the apostasy were to take their position at the right of Moses; those who were guilty but repentant, at the left. The command was obeyed. It was found that the tribe of Levi had taken no part in the idolatrous worship. From among other tribes there were great numbers who, although they had sinned, now signified their repentance. But a large company, mostly of the mixed multitude that instigated the making of the calf, stubbornly persisted in their rebellion. In the name of “the Lord God of Israel,” Moses now commanded those upon his right hand, who had kept themselves clear of idolatry, to gird on their swords and slay all who persisted in rebellion. “And there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” Without regard to position, kindred, or friendship, the ringleaders in wickedness were cut off; but all who repented and humbled themselves were spared. {.ibid}

Who ultimately had commanded this sentence?

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“Yet even here God’s mercy was displayed. While He maintained His law, He granted freedom of choice and opportunity for repentance to all. Only those were cut off who persisted in rebellion.”

“Those who performed this terrible work of judgment were acting by divine authority, executing the sentence of the King of heaven. Men are to beware how they, in their human blindness, judge and condemn their fellow men; but when God commands them to execute His sentence upon iniquity, He is to be obeyed. Those who performed this painful act, thus manifested their abhorrence of rebellion and idolatry, and consecrated themselves more fully to the service of the true God. The Lord honored their faithfulness by bestowing special distinction upon the tribe of Levi. {.ibid}

This was God’s commandment.   A violent act that was executed under the authority of God.   Now some might call this forceful.  But we are told in the next paragraph that even this was an act of mercy.

“The Israelites had been guilty of treason, and that against a King who had loaded them with benefits and whose authority they had voluntarily pledged themselves to obey. That the divine government might be maintained justice must be visited upon the traitors. Yet even here God’s mercy was displayed. While He maintained His law, He granted freedom of choice and opportunity for repentance to all. Only those were cut off who persisted in rebellion.” {.ibid 323, 324}

How necessary was it that the command of God to slay these men be obeyed?  If they had not executed the judgment of God, then what would have transpired?  We are told the answer in the next paragraph:

Had their life been spared, the same spirit that led them to rebel against God would have been manifested in hatred and strife among themselves, and they would eventually have destroyed one another. 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.” { .ibid}

Take your time to digest these quotes.   The spirit of prophecy says that this terrible punishment by the sword of these men obeying the commandment of God, which was the judgment of God, we are told was “love to the world” and “love to Israel”.   Be careful to understand that sometimes love involves punishment and execution of justice.

Heb 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Did the Levites break the Sixth Commandment “Thou Shall not Kill”?

According to the bible the Levites had executed the sentence of the King of heaven, and in the Spirit of prophecy we read that this execution was “love to the world” and “love to Israel”.   The bible tells us in the book of Romans that “he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (Rom 13:8)  So how was it love to Israel and the world if it was breaking the law?   Or was it a violation of the law? Well as she said “Had their life been spared…they would eventually have destroyed one another” and “if not speedily crushed, would run riot in wickedness, and would involve the nation in irretrievable ruin.”  So to severely punish these transgressors was considered an act of mercy.

God just gave them the ten commandments from Mount Sinai.  In the rebellion they broke the second and were guilty of the penalty of death.   God gave them a chance to repent, but those who refused the mercy were to be mercifully put to death by the sword of the Levites.  When God commanded execution of the judgment was He now commanding them to break the sixth commandment after the others had just broken the second commandment?  Is this God?  Was God commanding murder?  Was God having His people do something that He had commanded them not to do?

But the argument could be made that this is a violation of the sixth commandment which reads “Thou shall not kill” (Exo 20:13) Does the bible really teach that?” { .ibid}

"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."

“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.”

The Hebrew for “kill” in this verse here is the word “ratsach” and the strongs concordance tells us that it means “especially to murder”.   That same word “ratsach” is used also in the following verse.  Notice what it says:

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)

This verse clearly distinguishes the difference between “murder” (heb: ratsach) and “put to death” (heb: muwth).   The bible justifies killing (muwth) sometimes as in the instance we read earlier regarding the Israelites, but it does not justify murder (ratsach) which is violation of the sixth commandment.

The Hebrew word “muwth” is also used in the following verse describing an attribute of God.

Deut 32:39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, (muwth) and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

This verse plainly says that God kills.  But notice the word here is actually the word (muwth) which means to “put to death”.   So if we are to believe the bible, then we can understand 2 things here:

1.  God does not murder (ratsach) or violate his law.  (Exo 20:16)
2.  God does kill (muwth) which upholds his law.  (Num 35:16)

Our Father in mercy upholds His law.   He does not violate his law.  And sometimes in order to uphold the law, he must withdraw his “spirit” or the “breath of life” from the soul.  If He withdraws His life from you, then what is the logical conclusion?  He killed you.  christians-monotheism-10-728

If the law of the land is the death penalty for the crime of murder.  And the judge declares that the penalty must be executed.  Would the executioner or the judge now be guilty of murder for upholding the law? No, the law is being upheld, not broken.
But let’s continue to look at this deeper.

The bible says the following:

Matt 10:28  And 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.

In other words, it is only God who can truly give life and take life.  It is only God who can “kill the soul”.

Many have received the free gift of temporary life because of what Jesus did on the cross.   But also, through that cross, our Father offers that life for eternity as a free gift to anyone who will receive it. (John 3:16)  However, our Father will eventually withdraw it should they ***choose*** not to accept it.

In the law, it is written that we have the choice of life or death.

Deut 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

And our Father pleads with us to accept the free gift saying:  “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”  (Eze 33:11)

God does not force us to accept it because He is not a God of force, and this principle is contrary to His government.  Some might say “it is force to put to death.”  No, to withdraw the spirit of life is an act of mercy in order that all may not be destroyed.   And for someone to persist in sin is to force death upon themselves by rejecting His infinite love.   Notice the following, that the sinner has FORCED God to do this.

“To our merciful God the act of punishment is a strange act. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Ezekiel 33:11. The Lord is “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, … forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Yet He will “by no means clear the guilty.” Exodus 34:6, 7. While He does not delight in vengeance, He will execute judgment upon the transgressors of His law. He is forced to do this, to preserve the inhabitants of the earth from utter depravity and ruin. In order to save some He must cut off those who have become hardened in sin” {Ellen White Patriarchs and Prophets Page 628)

Notice it says that this is an act of mercy.  She says “In order to save some He must cut off those who have become hardened”.   Consider that prayerfully.   It is mercy to destroy some in order to preserve some.   We’ll look at a few bible examples of this.   But consider:

Who is “forced” in this situation?  God is forced to “execute judgment”.  What a truly sad thing to say that God is forceful when He is the one forced into this after all of the grace and mercy He has offered to the created being.   God wants nothing but to see His creation enjoying the works of His hands, and He desires nothing less than to give it to them for eternity and He has paid the price and expressed that love in giving His only begotten Son.

Does He want to destroy the sinner?  No.   Does He have to?  Yes.   The law requires death.   And we are told that “The law of God, being a revelation of his will, is a transcript of his character,” (Ellen White Great Controversy Page 434)

“Though God is strict to mark iniquity and to punish transgression, He takes no delight in vengeance. The work of destruction is a “strange work” to Him who is infinite in love.” { Ellen White Patriarchs and Prophets Page 138}

I understand that there is a question that continues to arise in the hearts of many.  And that is the following:  “How could God kill if He is a God of love?”  I believe this question is answered in the cross of Christ and the magnification of mercy to the transgressor.  Ultimately the judgment does not come directly from God since God has not forced it on them.   His perfect law being rejected, they have forced it upon themselves.  And in this the judgment comes indirectly “from God”.   It comes from Him, the bible is clear about this.   But the sinner has brought it upon themselves.  In a sense, it is not God who destroyed them, they have destroyed themselves, however, when all is said and done, it is only God who can destroy them because only He has the power to give life and take life.

Jas 4:12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

Noah and the Flood

Just before the flood we are told that God would plead with them through Noah to repent.  And Noah preached for a hundred and twenty years to them before God withdrew His spirit. (LIFE) Amazing that in that amount of time instead of some accepting the preaching of Noah that the earth was so corrupt that it had come to the point where in order “to preserve the inhabitants of the earth from utter depravity and ruin. In order to save some He must cut off those who have become hardened in sin” {Ellen White Patriarchs and Prophets Page 628)

To let them continue on for a few more years would have left not one righteous person.  So therefore in order for any more seed to be saved we are told in our bible that God had to destroy them by a flood.

Gen 6:7   And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth;download-2
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.

“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 that God was evil and that a good God was too loving to destroy the earth.  This sin was idolatry, creating a God in their own mind that fit the thoughts of their own mind.  A violation of the second commandment.

“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)

Is the Message that God Doesn’t Kill the Character of God Message?

Now, this is important, and I must explain a great concern.  Some are teaching that God doesn’t kill or destroy because it is contrary to the character of God.  Not only is this being taught but this doctrine that “God doesn’t kill” is actually called “the character of God” message and if you believe the plain reading of the bible that God does kill, you are not reading correctly, or you have misunderstood His character and by beholding you will not become changed into the same image.

Now I want you to consider something.   Let’s say you are witnessing on the street, and you meet someone and share the gospel with them, and you share this apparently most important doctrine as some consider it that “God doesn’t kill”.   And so they are all excited, they go home, open their bible, and many open it from the beginning.  And they read only 6 chapters into the book and come to the part in Genesis 6 where God says “I will destroy them”.    Now, if you are considering this carefully, what will this do to the faith of that person in the word of God?  It plainly states what it states.  The difference is as follows.   God’s word said “Ye shall surely die” the devil said “ye shall not surely die.” But again please remember:

“Although God had been provoked to destroy the earth by the flood, yet his mercy still encompasseth the earth.” (Ellen White The Signs of the Times 03-06-1879)

When God said to Eve “Ye shall surely die” the thought went through her mind that God was too good to ever destroy or kill her.   This was Satan’s first deception.  She said

 She created a God in her own eyes saying “God doesn’t kill, or won’t destroy, or execute his judgment.” Idolatry, and after this we are told that she completely discarded the plainest statements of the word of God, her new view of God distorted to her eyes....


She created a God in her own eyes saying “God doesn’t kill, or won’t destroy, or execute his judgment.” Idolatry, and after this we are told that she completely discarded the plainest statements of the word of God, her new view of God distorted to her eyes….

“I see God as too loving to execute his judgment.”  She created a God in her own eyes saying “God doesn’t kill, or won’t destroy, or execute his judgment.” Idolatry, and after this we are told that she completely discarded the plainest statements of the word of God, her new view of God distorted to her eyes she saw God through her own foggy “God does not kill” glasses and “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes” she destroyed herself, and thus forced the judgment of God upon herself.

The preachers before the flood were saying the same things we are told.  That God is too merciful and good to execute the judgment.

“As sin became general, it appeared less and less sinful, and they finally declared that the divine law was no longer in force; that it was contrary to the character of God to punish transgression; and they denied that His judgments were to be visited upon the earth.” (Ellen White Patriarchs and Prophets Page 99, 100)

It is the same message today.  Attributing to Satan what is God’s character, and attributing to God what is Satan’s.   Notice the following from the Story of the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, when the earth swallowed them up.

“God had given overwhelming evidence that He was leading Israel. But Korah and his companions rejected light until they became so blinded that the most striking manifestations of His power were not sufficient to convince them; they attributed them all to human or satanic agency. The same thing was done by the people, who the day after the destruction of Korah and his company came to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Ye have killed the people of the Lord.” Notwithstanding they had had the most convincing evidence of God’s displeasure at their course, in the destruction of the men who had deceived them, They dared to attribute His judgments to Satan, declaring that through the power of the evil one, Moses and Aaron had caused the death of good and holy men. It was this act that sealed their doom. They had committed the sin against the Holy Spirit.” { Patriarchs and Prophets Page 404, 5}

They dared to attribute His judgments to Satan, declaring that through the power of the evil one, Moses and Aaron had caused the death of good and holy men. It was this act that sealed their doom. They had committed the sin against the Holy Spirit.

“They dared to attribute His judgments to Satan, declaring that through the power of the evil one, Moses and Aaron had caused the death of good and holy men. It was this act that sealed their doom. They had committed the sin against the Holy Spirit.”

They had committed the unpardonable sin. (Matt 12:32) The very sin of attributing the power of God to Baalzebub when they accused Christ.   In the same sense we see that this sin of attributing the judgments of God to Satan.   This is a serious sin.

Does God leave Satan to Destroy Always?

A greater question now since we know that the bible plainly teaches that God destroys is not whether or not He does, but rather “How does He destroy?”

Since Satan was afraid for his life during the flood, then we can assume that it certainly wasn’t Satan doing this work.  The bible talks about how God gives people up to the devil, and that it is the devil who does all of the destroying.   Yes, it is certainly true that the devil does destroy humanity.  But the bible tells us that the devil is not able to destroy the soul. (Matt 10:28)

Nor does God always leave it to the devil to destroy.   As we’ve seen earlier, the Levites were commanded to destroy people.   We also see other examples of this in scripture such as when Phineas put a sword through Zimri and Cosby.  A plague was running through the Israelites.   And this is what we read of how the plague was stopped.

Num 25:2-4 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.
Now, I would not want to be in Moses situation when he was commanded to do this.  But as we read earlier “when God commands them to execute His sentence upon iniquity, He is to be obeyed.” (EGW Patriarchs and Prophets page 324)

What did Phineas the son of Aaron do with the command?

Num 25:6-8 And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.

We are told the following about this passage that “Phinehas “hath turned My wrath away from the children of Israel,” was the divine message; “wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him My covenant of peace: and he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.” {EGW Patriarchs and Prophets pages 455,6}

"...they dared to attribute His judgments to Satan, declaring that through the power of the evil one, Moses and Aaron had caused the death of good and holy men. It was this act that sealed their doom. They had committed the sin against the Holy Spirit."

“…they dared to attribute His judgments to Satan, declaring that through the power of the evil one, Moses and Aaron had caused the death of good and holy men. It was this act that sealed their doom. They had committed the sin against the Holy Spirit.”

Phineas “turned” God’s wrath away.  Twenty four thousand died from the plague.  What would have happened had the immorality been allowed to continue?  As with the idolatry at Sinai the entire nation would have destroyed themselves.  God wants salvation for the people.   We need to understand that the final judgments are about to fall on this earth and instead of asking questions of why God? God’s people need to understand saying “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments”  (Rev 16:7)

Sometimes God uses people who will obey His commandment to carry out His judgments.

“Under God the angels are all-powerful. On one occasion, in obedience to the command of Christ, they slew of the Assyrian army in one night one hundred and eighty-five thousand men.”—The Desire of Ages, 700 (1898).

What angels obey “the command of Christ”?  It is Holy angels not Satan or his angels.   Notice the following.

“A single angel 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 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

I’ve heard some say that the Holy angel exercises destroying or destructive power by giving people over to the evil angels. God permits evil angels to exercise destructive power, yes.   But he commands His own angels to do it on occasion. Evil angels do not do all the work of destruction.   God will have angels in the form of men of war in this time, and they will at times exercise destructive power.

Acts 12:7And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

Notice that this angel of God is the same angel that smote Herod in the same chapter according to Ellen White.

The same angel who had come from the royal courts to rescue Peter had been the messenger of wrath and judgment to Herod. The angel smote Peter to arouse him from slumber. It was with a different stroke that he smote the wicked king, laying low his pride and bringing upon him the punishment of the Almighty. Herod died in great agony of mind and body, under the retributive judgment of God.“—(Ellen White The Acts of the Apostles, 152)

Though it is true, it is not a consistent rule that God always leaves the sinner over to Satan to destroy.  The bible tells us that holy angels have executed the wrath of God.  It tells us that His own people in acts of mercy have executed the judgment.  It also tells us that He is the only one who can destroy both soul and body.

Acts 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

Acts 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

Some say it is more merciful for God to turn His back and allow you to fall into the hands of Satan.  I don’t think this necessarily makes God more merciful.  Satan has invented some wicked forms of torture.  If you had a child, and he had turned from God and you had the choice of whether your child could fall into the hands of God who could remove his life from him mercifully, or God giving him over to Satan who could take his time and torture your son for a while, which would be more merciful?

King David definitely knew who would be more merciful.

2 Sam 24:14 And David said unto Gad, 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.

The following quote talking about the character of God tells us what it is that leads us into believing that God doesn’t kill or destroy?  Notice what we are told in the following paragraphs:

God’s love is represented in our day as being of such **a character as would forbid His destroying the sinner.** Men reason from their own low standard of right and justice. “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself” ( Psalm 50:21). They measure God by themselves. They reason as to how they would act under the circumstances and decide God would do as they imagine they would do….

In no kingdom or government is it left to the lawbreakers to say what punishment is to be executed against those who have broken the law. All we have, all the bounties of His grace which we possess, we owe to God. The aggravating character of sin against such a God cannot be estimated any more than the heavens can be measured with a span. God is a moral governor as well as a Father. He is the Lawgiver. He makes and executes His laws. Law that has no penalty is of no force.
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.

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“And to sustain his charge of God’s injustice toward him, he resorted to misrepresentation of the words and acts of the Creator.”

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

Some might say.   Well, Jesus didn’t kill.  Yeah, that wasn’t His mission, but “God drowned the vast world” If Noah would have killed he would have displeased God. Jesus didn’t come to destroy men’s lives, but those who refuse the mercy of God according to the bible “…him will God destroy” (1 Cor 3:17) Sometimes because we can’t see His justice in destroying the sinner, we try to fit God into our own box of what we think God should be like.   As we were told above, that this is from our own reasoning and our own low standard of right and justice.  We try to make God out to be such a one as ourselves, rather than believing that God will destroy the sinner as the word plainly states.   We need to believe the word of God as it reads.

It is Satan who is attempting to have us disbelieve the plainest statements.  Spiritualism, spirits of devils that come to us saying “Hath God said”?   What this doctrine and new method of interpretation will produce will be nothing short of a rebellion against God and the plainest statements in His word.

“Spiritualism is now changing its form, veiling some of its more objectionable and immoral features, and assuming a Christian guise. Formerly it denounced Christ and the Bible; now it professes to accept both. The Bible is interpreted in a manner that is attractive to the unrenewed heart, while its solemn and vital truths are made of no effect. A God of love is presented; but his justice, his denunciations of sin, the requirements of his holy law, are all kept out of sight. Pleasing, bewitching fables captivate the senses of those who do not make God’s word the foundation of their faith. Christ is as verily rejected as before; but Satan has so blinded the eyes of the people that the deception is not discerned. {Ellen White Spirit of Prophecy Vol. 4 Page 405}

Spiritualizing away the scriptures is what Satan would have us do.

“But none need be deceived by the lying claims of spiritualism. God has given the world sufficient light to enable them to discover the snare. As already shown, the theory which forms the very foundation of spiritualism is at war with the plainest statements of Scripture.” (Great Controversy Page 556)

This is where the Great Controversy started.  With Satan misrepresenting the justice of God and perverting the plainest statements in scripture.  In a book I recently looked at concerning this topic, I read the following concerning the statements of Ellen White on the angels destroying.  The writer wrote the following:  “A plain reading of these statements strongly suggests that the angels of the Lord killed 185000 Assyrian soldiers.”  And then in the booklet the writer goes on to spiritualize away these plain statements.

Over and over throughout the booklet, I read statements like these.   This subtle deception leads to people discarding their bibles, questioning the word to the point where all trust in it is lost.   There are web pages from some of these people proposing that “God doesn’t kill” that are making charts that go over scriptures telling us what is inspired and what is not.  Apparently only those who have these glasses on can understand the bible.  Regarding God’s justice, it was Satan who misrepresented it.

“And to sustain his charge of God’s injustice toward him, he resorted to misrepresentation of the words and acts of the Creator. It was his policy to perplex the angels with subtle arguments concerning the purposes of God. Everything that was simple he shrouded in mystery, and by artful perversion cast doubt upon the plainest statements of Jehovah. His high position, in such close connection with the divine administration, gave greater force to his representations, and many were induced to unite with him in rebellion against Heaven’s authority….” {Ellen White Great Controversy Pages 496, 497}

The character of God is seen in Him being a God “who cannot lie” (Heb 6:18) His word is everything.

Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

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.

The Hebrew word for “sending” also means “release, discharge, allow”.   The bible does teach that God allowed the evil angels among them.   However, something that we must notice here, and that is the following.

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}

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.   Yet, we must remember that it is not always Satan that is the destroying angel.   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 destroyed 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.”

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“I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt”

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}

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)

In the same sense we read of the tenth plague in the same book on page 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.  So we know that this is not Satan here that is referred to as “the destroying angel”.  We read concerning the Passover angel:

“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)

She also says it plainly:

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

And finally we are told:

“The Lord declared: “I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment…. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” { PP 274}

There are other examples in the bible we are told of, such as Elijah the prophet which we are told executed the prophets of BAAL at the Lord’s command.   Was God commanding Elijah to break His commandment and law?

“That repentant Israel may be protected from the allurements of those who have taught them to worship Baal, Elijah is directed by the Lord to destroy these false teachers.”  (Prophets and Kings 154)

God wrought through Elijah when He destroyed the prophets of Baal which kindled the fires of hell in the heart of Jezebel to avenge the blood of the priests of Baal. ” (Ellen White 1888 487)

Was God an accomplice of murder?  God did this through Elijah.  Elijah is directed by the Lord to do so we are told

They were worshiping a false God in violation of the first commandment, then God was telling them to violate the sixth according to that teaching.  How much respect can we have for the law or God if He is commanding us to break the law after telling us it is wrong to break the law?  That is not God brothers and sisters. This is another god that is working at making the law of God void.

My reason for writing this is so that we can have confidence in God’s word.  I believe we all desire this.  I pray that we might have a right understanding of God’s standard of right and justice.  And that behind all these stories that seem like they promote killing and suffering that we might see a God who seeks to save, to relieve suffering, to have mercy.

In mercy to the world, God blotted out its wicked inhabitants in Noah’s time. In mercy he destroyed the corrupt dwellers in Sodom. Through the deceptive power of Satan, the workers of iniquity obtain sympathy and admiration, and are thus constantly leading others to rebellion. It was so in Cain’s and in Noah’s day, and in the time of Abraham and Lot; it is so in our time. It is in mercy to the universe that God will finally destroy the rejecters of his grace.” (The Great Controversy p. 543)

If anyone would like to study this issue with me, feel free to contact me at dbarron@gmx.com and I will be happy to go over this issue with those who are willing.

Leave a comment

  • Deinse

    Interesting you have put together a lot of the same scripture and SOP I did on these things. I know that Father is leading as I hear the truth given by many who have not conferred with each other but are seeking to walk in the light of scripture without man’s interpretation of this subject. This deception is a strong one and appeals to the flesh by using harsh words to make the mind adverse to the acts that are done in mercy and judgment. We cannot rewrite scripture to make us feel better and these harsh exaggerations force the mind to reject truth. May the spirit of truth guide us into all truth and protect us from deception as He promised.

    • Look forward to reading what you’ve written sister Denise. I just added another quote that someone else shared today.

      “Moses then told the king that the ***angel of God*** would slay their first-born.” – Story of Redemption, p. 118

      • Deinse

        What about the account of God commanding Abraham to “take now thy son, thine only son Isaac…and offer him there for a burnt offering”? PP148 says, “Satan was on hand to suggest that he must be deceived, for the divine law commands, “thou shalt not kill, ” and God would not require what He has once forbidden.” “Darkness seemed to shut him in; but the command of God was sounding in his ears… That command must be obeyed and he dared not delay.”
        So many accounts that are clear that we dare not put God in a box and try to explain His mind or words. Giving credit to Satan for “killing Uzzah” or “killing Nadab and Abihu” or “killing the Egyptians” or “causing plagues and flood” etc. is a form of blasphemy and very serious.
        The 1st killing would have been the lamb(s) to cover Adam and Eve. Whether God himself killed them or told them to for their sacrifice ,I don’t know, but He definitely set up that sacrificial service and it had to have blood, that is why Cain’s offering was rejected.
        ” In the judgment men will not be condemned because they conscientiously believed a lie, but because they did not believe the truth, because they neglected the opportunity of learning what is truth. Notwithstanding the sophistry of Satan to the contrary, it is always disastrous to disobey God. We must set out hearts to know what is truth. All the lessons which God has caused to be placed on record in His word are for our warning and instruction. They are given to save us from deception. Their neglect will result in ruin to ourselves. Whatever contradicts God’s word, we may be sure proceeds from Satan.” PP55

        • Hi Denise, I understand that with Abraham’s Son murder would be different than judgment. When Christ took the cross, he took the judgment. The bible says that God smote Him. Why? Well, it was supposed to be us, but Christ stood in the way so we didn’t suffer the judgment. If it was murder and God smote Him, then this makes God a murderer, and Satan is the one who suggests that the judgment is murder.

          This is where the test is coming for those who believe “God doesn’t Kill”. Satan is suggesting to their minds that God is a murderer by executing judgment. This is Satan’s lie and the same suggestion he suggested to Abraham when Abraham was about to give his son.

          Is it possible that the suggestion may have been: “Abraham, in order for sin to be paid for your seed must pay the redemption price.” Perhaps Abraham was seeing Isaac as the seed. But we are told:

          Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

          Abraham perhaps was seeing Isaac as the seed, and understood that there was a difference between murder and giving a Son to suffer the judgment to save others.

          • Deinse

            My point was not to differentiate between murder and judgment, but to show that God does command to kill and it is not ratsach or against the commandment.

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