QUESTION: Hi Teacher Scott, bet you can't guess who? I have a problem. I don't think its an actual question. And I'm not sure you're even going to have an answer but I'll give it a shot anyway since you're pretty smart.
My problem is Ezekiel ch 9 I don't quite understand why the Lord said to go and kill all those people. It just sounds odd that the God I love would even WANT such a thing?
ANSWER: Hi Joyce! :^)
If you read Ezekiel 8, you will see that many of the inhabitants of the city, including many of the leaders, were abandoning their faith in God and turning to idol worship. God was carrying out His judgment on these people in order to purify Israel and send a strong message regarding the error of their ways.
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QUESTION: exactly. That part I understand. What I don't understand is that today when people mess up, the Lord doesn't go around killing them... even for those who do abandon their faith.
Good point, Joyce. Often in the past, especially in the period of the Old Testament, God's judgment was more visible and extreme. There may be several reasons.
Over time, God has chosen to deal with mankind in different ways. These periods are what some theologians call "Dispensations." In the dispensation of the Mosaic Law, God made a covenant with Israel and promised to bless them abundantly for their faithfulness and judge them harshly for their disobedience. God revealed Himself to the nations--to the world--through Israel. So their behavior and God's response were on display for the world, to show everyone what kind of a God Jehovah is.
And what is that? He is a God of holiness, judgment, and wrath, which He has every right to be when His creatures disobey Him and refuse to acknowledge His lordship. Also, He is a God of mercy, grace, and love. None of this is deserved.
We call the current dispensation The Dispensation of Grace. In this age, God is not as quick to unleash His anger and execute judgment, though He often reserves judgment for a later date for those who are deserving of it. In this dispensation, it is His grace and mercy that are highlighted.
Perhaps another reason for the difference is that past history is there for all of us to see. We don't necessarily have to witness God's intense wrath firsthand to understand His holiness. We need only to learn of this by reading the Biblical account.