God has, in many regards, received a bad rap in today’s world. We increasingly hear about a God who destroyed a city because He did not agree with it’s inhabitants sexual orientation and a God who flooded the earth because He was displeased with the conduct of some. We hear God discussed of in this manner, as though He were a tyrannical dictator of the universe arbitrarily picking and choosing things that angers Him. Such a view is misguided by a partial reading of several accounts in the Bible.
At the time of Noah, God flooded the earth. At the time of Abraham, God destroyed Sodom. It is from these two accounts that most attacks are levied against God, claiming Him to be a tyrant. Such cynical recounting of these time honored Biblical accounts is shallow, to say the least.
From Genesis chapter six, we read about a world rife with violence, one in which all flesh had become corrupted because man’s “every imagination of his heart was only evil continually.” They had corrupted “his [God’s] way upon the earth.” So, what did God do? He warned the righteous about the impending crisis because of the wickedness of man:
“And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark.” (Genesis 6:13-14).
In Abraham’s time, Lot lived in the city of Sodom. Angels came into the city to seek out the righteous within. Lot welcomed them into his home and gave unto them all they asked. As they were with Lot, men who had seen the angels within the city circled Lot’s home and demanded the angels come out so they could rape them. Lot refused and was nearly raped himself. This, apparently, was not an uncommon occurrence in that city.
So, what did God do? His messengers, the angels, warned Lot of the impending destruction of the city and told him to leave:
“And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and they sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place; For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it; And Lot went out.” (Genesis 19:12-13).
There is a common thread within these two stories that is often overlooked in the half-read cynical view. God is merciful unto the righteous. Consider what the Lord said to Abraham concerning the pending destruction of Sodom:
“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city; wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? And the Lord said, if I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. […] I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.” (Genesis 18:23-33).
This is what the tyrannical view of God fails to recognize. They fail to recognize the wickedness of those destroyed (widespread violence and rape) and the long-suffering of the Lord to seek out the righteous and warn.
Noah was one man among a land full of wicked and the Lord sought him out to warn. Lot was one man amongst an entire city and God sought him out to warn.
God never forgets His people. If that were not enough to prove God’s mercy, we must not forget that His Only Begotten Son went and preached to the spirits of those wicked men that lived during the time of the flood and others that had not heard the gospel message in the flesh:
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. […] For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18-20, 1 Peter 4:6).
Belief or non-belief in God, when the entire story is taken into account it becomes dishonest to claim God is an evil tyrant. He is a merciful shepherd who will always lead His sheep to safety.