Would God Really Do That?

A friend recently told me that he didn’t believe that God would destroy the planet due to our lack of repentance. Let me first say that this guy really is one of the most thoughtful and intelligent people I know. That doesn’t mean I think he’s correct.

Having read the book of Revelation, which I believe is the divinely inspired word of God, I naturally have to disagree with my friend on this point, and certainly enough prophecy points to the present as being the season of some much-deserved discipline. 

Before I point to the numerous times that God has destroyed something with His great wrath, let me switch gears to the months just before parenting began for me.

When I was first diagnosed with acute, progressive pregnancy, I had female co-worker with whom I would spend time and sit next to at church. This was shortly after I had declared my official position of accepting the gift of salvation, but before I knew precisely what I was getting myself into; I’m speaking of both Christianity and parenting. 

Because I was completely obsessed with the idea of a tiny person growing inside my womb, I started to view everything through that filter. I walked around, holding my (vaguely) swelling belly, sat as gingerly as possible, and lectured others about not drinking sodas (Oh! The horror! How could you do that to yourself?) I was obnoxious, especially to the female co-worker, who was divorced and had no real prospects for getting married or having children of her own. And I was not sensitive to that.

I answered my pregnancy questions with a copy of What To Expect While You’re Expecting, loaned by my sister-in-law. Problem solved.
Besides buying a Bible, what could I do to figure out how to be a Christian? Well, I attended a convenient Christianity 101 type of class, where I really started to work out my relationship with God. It was during that class that I slipped into the abyss of self-centered revelation. 

“Hey, did you realize that God gives us free will just so that we can choose whether to love Him, or not? And that it’s just like us wanting our kids to freely choose whether to love us, but deep down we are just dying for them to love us…? Wow, you guys! I’m totally thinking that because I’m pregnant! Did I tell you I’m pregnant? Oh, I did? Twice? I must have forgotten. They call that Pregnancy Brain. Well anyway, it’s amazing that God showed this important relationship to me through this tiny child the size of a peanut in my womb this very moment!”

Yes. I talked like that. And that’s when my friend snapped and told me that just because I was pregnant didn’t make me smarter than her. She was Christian, and yet, somehow, still bitter. I was Christian, and yet, still obnoxious. We didn’t talk for several months. 

As usual, I digress. I was being a jerk, but I had a point. God is very much like a parent to us. He creates, he helps, he disciplines, he provides...and he hopes we turn out OK and remain in relationship with Him.

Have you ever heard that your understanding of God is initially formed by the relationship you had with your own earthly father? A brilliant man, named David Smith, of the ministry Theodyssey, postulated that and my goodness, did it ever make sense.

For example, if I had a long-suffering, patient, loving, indulgent dad (like I had), I might view God as the same kind of being – and not take His admonitions as seriously as I ought.

Hypothetically speaking, of course. 

OK, that one’s not hypothetical.

If I had instead been dominated by an unforgiving and punitive father, I might have understood God as a being who just can’t wait to deliver Divine Retribution, smiting to-and-fro throughout the pages Old Testament style. A lot of people see God that way.

If I had been unfortunate enough to have an emotionally distant father, or had I been abandoned by my father, I might not even believe God exists at all.

Does your perception of God work this way? If you’re a non-believer, does your perception of a hypothetical God work this way? Does it matter?

It matters because we need to know how to balance the principles of love and discipline, not only to understand the Bible, but also to understand how to parent our own children in such a way that they have a head start on understanding the character of their Creator.

Let’s take a quick look at the balance of love and discipline in a parent/child relationship. The first two are extremes.

All Discipline and No Love
This type of parent sets rules, doesn’t offer praise, limits free choice, and is quick to punish, often responding with inappropriate, domineering anger when standards or expectations are not met. If the child is meek, they will submit and likely become withdrawn, insecure, and depressed. They’re but a shadow of who they were created to be.

If this was your kind of parent, did you respond by keeping your head down, overachieving, or rebelling?

All Love and No Discipline
This type of parent croons over every crayon scribble, doesn’t offer consequences, indulges their child in each whim, and sets a false expectation that the world is there just to make the child feel special. There are very few boundaries set, and the child runs the household. Rules, if made, are seldom enforced and the child knows it. (It's not even called love at this point.)

I this was your kind of parent, did you respond with manipulating, rebelling, or taking them for granted?

God’s Way - A Balance of Love and Discipline
Very early in the story of Genesis, God showed love to His creation, but He still had a rule to follow which was subsequently broken. God offered consequences: pain during childbirth, an out-of-balance relationship between man and woman, and having to work the soil for produce. They also got kicked out of the perfect garden. Note that God didn’t beat them, or smite them, or give them a vein-popping lecture. He just gave the consequences for their actions, so that they would understand the seriousness of the transgression. Remember, God is Holy and we can’t be in His presence as sinful beings or we die. Kicking them out of His presence wasn't His goal, but it kept them alive.

In Genesis 6:5-8, most of mankind was a mess. "The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.' But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD."

But Noah…there was someone in the midst of all that transgressing who still followed God faithfully. God could have pulled the plug on all of humanity (that’s the discipline part), but he rescued Noah and his family (that’s the love part).

And there was Sodom and Gomorrah, much later, where the men ran amok throughout the town, raping whomever they pleased, in addition to many other sins. God understood how quickly and completely that kind of corruption would spread to everybody, so He decided to completely destroy the town by fire and sulfur (discipline, mixed with an element of protection). But Abraham pleaded on behalf of the inhabitants of the town, and Lot – plus his daughters – were rescued (love and protection).

And there’s the nation of Israel, who started worshiping statues instead of the living God (who rescued them), and engaging in immorality, so God allowed them to become captives in Egypt for a period of time (discipline), and then offered them a means to a rescue through Moses (love), and then drowned a group of Egyptians who were chasing them (protection).

Yes, God will discipline and God will destroy. Make no mistake about that. Just because it hasn’t happened in a while doesn’t mean we can ignore the vast amount of prophecy in the Bible which all says it's coming. And there's still a remnant he wants to protect.

  • If God offered nothing but discipline, we’d have given up long ago and killed ourselves with wars, or depression, or depravity.
  • If God offered a perpetual indulgence of our desires, we’d take His mercy for granted and then kill ourselves with war, depression, or depravity.
Either way, we lose. Right now, we're in the midst of prolonged grace. It's been a while since Jesus began his ministry.

But make no mistake - God is still in charge. And given how far each of us as individuals, or humanity collectively, has come from God's great plan, it would be hard to blame Him for fulfilling the discipline (and preservation) that we read about in books like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, Revelations…the story isn’t over yet. Skulls are going to get cracked when he pulls this car over (discipline) in order to preserve the faithful (love).

Ask around to find out how many people identify as Christian. Then ask them if they're living a life that reflects that. Salvation isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card. It's a calling.

Repentance, and acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Messiah is the only way our butts are going to get saved. That’s all over the pages of the Bible, too – even the Old Testament if you look closely.

Luke 12:54-56 says: 54He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Compare the prophetic books to the current physical state of our planet, the watering down of our morality, and the political climate. 

Be ready. Keep watch.