A time to kill, And a time to heal; Ecclesiastes 3:3 NKJV
Years ago, I was having dinner with a friend from church, at the Olive Garden restaurant not far from the church. She was explaining some new and “wonderful” things she was learning about hell from a Christian website. She explained how God does not destroy people in hell, they actually destroy themselves. To an extent I believed much of what she said, but not everything. She said it was very important for me to agree totally with her because if God is love He cannot kill. After all that would be breaking one of the commandments based on love. Here is where she and I disagreed. In my opinion her claim that God does not kill was based on a false premise. To me, God killing does not conflict with Him being love. I believe in order for God to be love He has to kill. Please let me explain why I believe this.
Many years ago my late mother had a friend who I will call Jane, who had a very abusive husband. After years of abuse and threats on her life and even the lives of their children, Jane finally left her abusive husband. She then met a very mild-mannered, quiet, easy-going man we will call Joe. Joe was a Christian, and though he was not an Adventist like Jane, they fell in love and married. Joe moved in with Jane and her children.
Jane’s abusive ex-husband still continued his harassment. Joe, being a very meek and mild Christian took it all patiently until one night when, as a loving husband, he had no choice but to act. Jane’s abusive ex-husband drove by the house and fired gunshots into the home, including his own kids’ bedrooms! The police were called, of course, but that night something happened, and we all saw another side of meek and mild-mannered Joe. When the ex-husband called the house after his rampage, Jane answered the phone. But when Joe realized who was calling, Joe took the phone, and calmly, yet clearly and boldly, said what no one dreamed such a quiet, easy-going man would ever say. He told the abusive ex-husband, “If you ever come near my family again, I. WILL. KILL YOU.” The abusive ex knew Joe was a hunter and as meek, mild, quiet and easy-going as he was, the ex knew Joe was not making empty threats. Jane says that was the last time anything like that ever happened. The children felt secure with their new daddy in the home because they knew he loved them enough to kill in order to protect them.
Many years later, when the abusive ex-husband died, the doctor told his now grown daughter he was dead. The daughter broke into tears. When the doctor tried to console her, the mother explained to the doctor that those were not tears of grief. They were tears of joy! For the first time in her life the daughter no longer had to worry about threats being made on her life. Just a few years ago, Joe finally died at a ripe old age. This time the children cried tears of actual grief. Their “daddy,” their “protector” was now gone. It was a playful, mild-mannered loving daddy who proved his love when he told someone who was threatening their lives, “I. WILL. KILL. YOU.”
While the Adventist church supports those in the military who refuse to bear arms, like Desmond Doss, some Adventists are surprised to learn that the church does not condemn those who choose to bear arms. Exact policies may vary from country to country, but. while the Adventist church encourages members not to bear arms, the church does not condemn Adventists who choose to bear arms. After all, it would be illogical for Adventists in free countries to celebrate their freedom and then condemn those who have fought to protect it.
Some say that if God kills then He would be breaking the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” But that demonstrates a misunderstanding of the sixth commandment. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clarifies the spirit of the law. Concerning the sixth commandment Jesus says,
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” Matthew 5:21-22 NKJV
While Jesus condemns murder, which is an act of hate, Jesus is not condemning killing in self-defense or in defense of others, which is love. After all, the Jews in the book of Esther were allowed to defend themselves. See Esther 8:13. In Nehemiah they worked next to their weapons. See Nehemiah 4:16. And while Jesus chastised Peter for defending Him with the sword, that was because Jesus was already on the path to sacrifice Himself in behalf of humanity, as foretold by Scripture. Jesus still encouraged the disciples to have swords for their own sake. See Luke 22:36-38.
I agreed with much of what my friend said at Olive Garden. The wicked pretty much hang themselves, and self-destruct. Yet, making the point that a God of love would never kill, appears to me to be both inaccurate and an unnecessary point to try to make. My friend’s premise was based on the “fact” that a God of love can’t kill. To me, that is a faulty premise not found anywhere in Scripture. I believe a God of love can kill, and furthermore I believe there are times God shows His love by killing. Just like a quiet, meek, easy-going, mild-mannered daddy proved his love by being willing to kill so his family would feel loved and secure. If my friend’s daddy had not been willing to kill to protect his family he would not have really loved them.
The Bible does not say there is a time to let the wicked self-destruct. The Bible says there is a time to kill. See Ecclesiastes 3:3. I see absolutely no contradiction between God being a God of love and God killing those who threaten the peace and safety of the universe.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.