“Does God Take Human Life?”

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.  We all want justice, so don’t believe anybody who says they don’t.

Fine, so God has to punish sin, but why does He sometimes punish sin by ending lives?  Isn’t that murder?  Isn’t God breaking the sixth commandment?  “Thou shalt not murder.”  The truth is, God created all life, and therefore it is His right to also take life.  When you couple God’s right to take life with His justice, you start to see what is going on with those “difficult” Bible passages.  In each instance in the Bible, when God ends earthy lives, He is always punishing heinous sin.  He is meting out justice to those who are reveling in evil.  As Judge and Creator of life, He is doing what only He can do.

Here are a couple other things to remember.  First, God takes every person’s life because every person dies.  The only question is when, where, and how a person dies.  These things are in God’s hands, as they should be.

Second, when God takes life, He can bring it back.  In fact, the Bible promises that we will all be given resurrected bodies.  God can bring life back, but humans cannot.  Therefore, you cannot apply the command to not murder to God.

God is just, and He must punish sin.  God creates all life, and so it is His right to take it.  If you remember these two things, then you’ll understand how to deal with God’s command to kill the Amalekites, or the great flood, or Ananias and Sapphira.  In the end, if humans weren’t constantly producing evil, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.  Let’s take a look in the mirror instead of criticizing God for cleaning up the mess we make.

About Dr. Mike Harmon

Dr. Harmon began preaching at the age of 15 while living in southern California. He has conducted over 600 revivals and evangelistic campaigns nationwide, and has served as Senior Pastor at seven churches. Dr. Harmon has degrees from Central Baptist College, the University of Central Arkansas, and a Ph.D. From the Christian Bible College and Seminary. He has served as trustee for Southeastern Baptist College and Chairman of the trustees for the BMA Theological Seminary. He also served as Chaplain for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas State Senate. His many sermons and articles on Christian Apologetics are widely published. He is married to one wife of 43 years; has two sons, and seven grandchildren. He considers the simple pleasures of cooking, dining with family and friends, and liesurely rides on his Harley through the Texas Hill Country to be some of the most enjoyable blessings from the Lord.
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