Why is there Evil and Suffering? really conclude from the argument is that God must have had a good reason
A. The Problem for allowing evil and suffering.
Non-Christians almost always raise the question: If God is good and God is C. Pantheism says:
great (all-powerful) then how can there be evil in the world? Since there is If everything is God and God is everything, then you can’t have opposites
evil, there must be no God. Or if there is a God, he must not be good or he like good and evil. Therefore evil is an illusion.
must not be all-powerful. So, when pantheists try to use the ―problem of evil‖ argument against
I think we need to deal with a couple of issues: Christians, they are being inconsistent with their world view.
Is this a good argument against the existence of God? D. Naturalism says:
How do the other world views deal with the problem of evil? Since a naturalist doesn’t believe that there is anything that transcends the
What is the answer to the problem? natural world. They really can’t believe in an objective ―Good.‖ And therefore
B. The Logical Answer in a naturalist’s world view there really is no ―good and evil.‖ Evil is relative
For many years, the problem of evil was seen as a way to show that and just a matter of subjective preference.
Christianity was logically inconsistent. If Christianity could be seen to be The naturalist/atheist is also being inconsistent when he uses the problem of
logically contradictory, then it had to be false. The atheist is using the same evil as an argument against the existence of God. But few, if any, recognize
approach that we’ve been using as we discuss the answers the various world that they are disqualified from asking the question.
views have to our world views questions. This is a very important point. We’ve talked about how one’s world view
There is no logical fallacy in that statement of the problem of evil… must be logical, practical, etc. At every turn in the discussion we need to be
able to recognize and point out where they are bailing out of their system
· God is good. and appealing to the Christian system to make their arguments. This the
same thing we talked about when we said that if a pantheist calls the police
· God is all-powerful. when their car is stolen, they are borrowing from the Christian world view.
E. A Legitimate Question
· God created the world. However, once we’ve pointed out that they don’t have the right to ask that
question, it is a valid question for a someone to ask because everyone has a
· The world contains evil. built in conscience and a concept of good and evil, even if they deny it. So,
what are some possible answers/reasons for the existence of evil and natural
Where is the contradiction? What they really mean is this: disasters?
1. Necessary for free-will to work –
· God is good. If it was impossible to disobey God, then we’d never have to choose to obey.
We would be like robots and that wouldn’t bring glory to God.
· God is all-powerful. And related to this …
· God created the world. 2. Necessary for human growth and virtue –
If there are no dangers, difficulties or disappointments in life, how can we
· The world shouldn’t contain evil. gain character traits such as patience? If everyone is nice to you, then you
never have to display selfless love. If life is easy, you don’t have to learn
· The world contains evil. patience, or endurance. Being honest wouldn’t be a virtue if it was
impossible to steal.
There is only an assumption on our part that there shouldn’t be any evil in
the world. People assume that God must want to eliminate all evil. One · Matrix – Morpheus explained to Neo that when life was perfect, mankind
would have to be omniscient (i.e. God) to know that there was actually evil rejected that make-believe world, so the computers had to create a world
that occurred that had no ultimate good purpose. Christianity doesn’t teach with crime, problems at work, etc.
that there shouldn’t be evil. So there really is no logical problem. All we can
· The Island – when they tried to grow human clones, they didn’t survive 6. God is in Control
until they gave them a world with conflict and hope (the lottery). How do we deal with passages like this: Isa 45:7?
45:7 I am the one who forms light and creates darkness; the one who brings
3. Necessary to promote the greater good about peace and creates calamity.
Could God allow a tidal wave or earthquake to kill thousands of people Amos 3:6
because the disaster will give Christians an opportunity to minister to the 3:6 If an alarm sounds in a city, do people not fear? If disaster overtakes a
victims and as a result many come to faith in Christ? If spending eternity in city, is the Lord not responsible?
hell is the ―ultimate evil,‖ then allowing a lesser evil to occur to reduce the Does this mean God causes it? Or just uses it. The word ―creates‖ and
ultimate evil is in fact a good thing. But it might appear to some as senseless ―responsible‖ in those two verses is a generic word for do, make, act, create,
evil. fashion or shape. I think it means that God uses the evil in this world to work
4. It is too complicated for humans to understand. out His purposes. God is in control, but He is not controlling. He is in control
Even if we can see some possible purpose in some evil/suffering, there are of events and shapes them to His purpose. We have to reconcile statements
events which we can’t understand and we just have to recognize we are like these with the rest of scripture. For example, if God was the cause of
finite creatures who can’t know God’s purpose in allowing those things. As evil, then He could not be the judge (Rom 3:5-6).
we said before, one would have to be omniscient to know for certain that an Examples:
―evil‖ event was so evil that no good could come from it. Hardening of Pharaoh’s heart
F. The Bible Says: God predicted that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart (4:21; 7:3). Then
1. God created the world and it was “good.” during the first five plagues, Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Ex 7:13, 14,
2. Satan Fell 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7). Then God hardens Pharaoh’s heart (9:12), then
Satan was created as a good being but with free will to follow God or not. He Pharaoh and his officials harden their hearts (9:34-35), then God does the
chose not to. Angels and people were not created as robots. They were rest.
created with free will because if they chose to worship and obey God, that I think the principle here is that just like in Rom 1:18-32, which we’ve read
would bring Him glory. several times in this series. God gives people over to what they want.
John 14:30; 1Thes 3:5 and the story of Job all teach that Satan is the ruler Gen 50:20 – God used the evil act of Joseph’s brothers to preserve the
of this world. He causes pain and suffering and tempts man to sin. In Job’s family and nation of Israel. He used the Egyptians’ disgust towards
case, Satan caused physical illness, natural disaster, financial ruin, etc. But shepherds to keep Egyptians from inter-marrying with Israelites to keep the
we can’t blame all natural disasters on Satan. Our biblical example is of Jewish nation pure.
Satan causing disasters on a godly man (Job). I don’t think Satan would Rom 8:28-29 – God causes all things to work together for good for those
cause natural disasters on ungodly people. Why would Satan destroy an who love Him. It doesn’t say that causes all things to work together for good
group of people who are totally opposed to Jesus Christ? for everyone. So, those people killed in the earthquake that never got
3. Man Sinned around to believing in Jesus don’t qualify. But it would include those that
4. Man’s Nature was corrupted came to faith as a result of the disaster.
Man’s corrupted nature is the cause of much evil. So, the Biblical explanation of evil is this:
James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, ―I am tempted by God,‖ for God created everything good but man rebelled. Nature, Satan, Men were
God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. 1:14 But cursed. There was no death before the fall – even in the animal kingdom.
each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. 1:15 God does not cause the evil, but He does control the outcome when evil
Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, happens. How He can do this is beyond our understanding, but that doesn’t
it gives birth to death. make it untrue.
5. Creation was cursed G. Summary
Gen 3:17-18 shows that there was a curse placed on creation because of the All other philosophies can’t explain the problem of evil in the world. If you
fall. God removed man from the protective garden of Eden and forced him to don’t have a good creator, and a fall – then what’s running the universe is
live in the world where animals now ate people. random chance or an evil being. People in rebellion against a good God
Romans 8:22 says, ―For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers explains the evil acts of men. And a fallen creation explains disasters.
together until now.‖ What are the causes of suffering?
A. Sinful people cause some suffering directly (lying, anger, divorce, drugs, The answer is that He does. That is the gracious, loving response of God to
crime, etc.). B. Sin causes suffering indirectly (because of sin this earth is the evil condition of this sinful world.
corrupted, deteriorating, painful and evil – Genesis 3:14-19; 4:1-15; Romans A. God has provided for personal salvation – the promise of eternal life in
8:20-22). heaven where there is no suffering (Revelation 21:4). One must simply put
C. Conclusion: God is not the cause of suffering; He is the author of good his trust in the payment for sin God provided through Christ’s death on the
(James 1:13-17). cross (John 3:16-18; Acts 10:38-43: etc.).
Some people conclude that since God made everything, He made evil too. B. God has provided for the earth’s redemption (Romans 8:18-23; 2 Peter
But St. Augustine’s reasoning seems to be correct: 3:10,13; Revelation 21:1).
1. God is the author of everything in the created universe. VII. Why can’t we get out of this evil world of suffering immediately?
2. Evil is not a thing or a substance; it is a privation or lack in things We don’t know why God’s timetable is what it is. We can see why He
(blindness is lack of sight, pain is lack of health, hate or murder is lack of couldn’t deliver Adam and Eve immediately – God first had to provide
love). redemption through Christ. The world continues today in part because there
3. Therefore God did not create evil. are more people yet that will come to have eternal salvation.
II. Why doesn’t God end all evil immediately? We do know that God is causing all things to work together for good to those
To end evil God would have to destroy the cause of evil – people. In His who love God (Romans 8:28).
good plan for people (see below), it is therefore not good to end all evil VIII. What are some good reasons for suffering?
immediately. A. It enables us to cope in a sinful world.
III. Why doesn’t God make people unable to cause suffering? 1. Pain can keep us from a greater physical evil. A burnt finger warns us to
To do that, God would have to take away our ability to choose. But choice – avoid worse danger.
free will – is a good thing. In order to love, you must be able to choose to 2. Pain can keep us from greater moral evil. A spanking does that.
love. Forced love is not love. So to have a universe that included love, God B. It teaches us to turn to God for solution.
had to make us with choice, which includes the choice not to love – and that 1. For eternal deliverance from evil – Heaven 2. For temporal deliverance
makes sin, evil, pain and suffering possible. from evil – Safety or holiness
IV. Why does God allow natural disaster and disease? 3. For spiritual strength to endure suffering (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
It is a part of a sinful world. God lowered the perfection of creation (from the C. It produces character improvement (holiness, maturity, etc. James 1:24)
perfect garden of Eden) to match the spiritual state of those who live here which in turn produces eternal rewards (crown of life – James 1:12).
(Romans 8:20-22). God graciously has sustained people on this earth D. It gives God the opportunity to show His grace, love and care for our
(allowing them to reproduce, to develop governments and systems to deal sinful condition.
with the effects of sin). He has graciously sustained the fallen creation 1. Through Christ’s life and death for our sake (Romans 5:6-8).
(providing sun and rain for food to sustain life – Colossians 1:17). But the 2. Through providing a place where there is no more suffering, sin or death (1
natural effect of a fallen creation is that even good things can have evil Corinthians 15:51-55; Revelation 21:4).
byproducts (water can drown someone; gravity can kill someone; lightening
can burn and kill).
V. Why doesn’t God stop evil acts that cause innocent people to suffer? Why
doesn’t God miraculously intervene to stop evil acts if He is all-loving and all-
powerful? Why doesn’t He catch the drunk driver’s car that is going to crash
into a bus? Why doesn’t He deflect the murderer’s bullets? The person
asking doesn’t actually want God to stop all their evil acts. They don’t want
to be invisibly gagged every time they’re about to say something hurtful;
they don’t want to stub their toe when they try to kick the dog. They just
think it would be good if God stopped certain evil acts or just the evil acts of
others. But that would make life impossible. There would be no freedoms, no
regularity and no personal responsibility.
VI. Why doesn’t God let us choose to get out of this suffering?
Do You love me? Jesus showed me the depth of His love for me,
over and over. He had left heaven to live as a human, experiencing
everything we live through. He knew grief, He knew pain, He knew
Suffering: If God is good, why is there so much evil in the loneliness. One of his friends, Judas, had committed suicide. He
world? knew. He understood. He had died for me. He was committed to
spending eternity with me. I was his sister, His Father’s child.
My father’s suicide catapulted me into a time of deep grief, a time Forever. But I was struggling with believing in His love because I
when I questioned all I thought I knew about God, while clinging to Him was focusing on the pain of the moment, while He was focusing on
daily for the strength to get through the pain. eternity. Just before going to the cross Jesus told His disciples: ―As
the father has loved me, so have I loved you.‖ The Father’s love
In those first shock-filled days after I heard the news that my father had was allowing pain and suffering in Jesus’ life. How could
hung himself in the basement of our home, my heart would scream: "NO, Jesus be so sure He was loved, when He was facing such
NO, don’t think about it! It hurts too much!" agony? In Hebrews, a book I read so often I nearly memorized it, it
says: ―… for the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross,
despising the shame.‖ He endured the pain, because of what He
After the funeral, when I left to return to university, I felt so alone
would gain. And if God allows pain in our life, it is so we can gain by
and overwhelmed. Whenever I had time to think, I would think of Dad,
it. He promises that in Romans 8: ―All things work together for the
and I would cry.
good of those who love him.‖ God wants me to be like Jesus, and if
He allows pain in my life, it is because He will use that pain to make
Questions and doubts started to fill my mind: me more like Him.
If God loved me, why had He allowed this disaster? Did You love my dad? God showed me Jesus crying over
Jerusalem, pleading with His people to turn to Him and put their
If God was all-powerful, why hadn’t He stopped my dad? trust in Him. He showed me passages that spoke of His desire to see
all people come to repentance, and I slowly discovered the broken
If God was all-knowing, why didn’t He let me know how despairing heart of God. He used my pain to help me understand His pain. I
my father was? Why hadn’t He shown me how to reach him? understood in my heart now the passage in Isaiah 53 which declared
Jesus to be a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. God loves us,
If God was there, why hadn’t He done something? and wants us to know Him, but has wisely given us true
freedom to choose Him or reject Him.
Was God there?
Is my Dad in hell? This was the worse question of all. I had never
I asked: really thought about hell before. But I had no idea were my dad
stood with God, and the question of hell was now very real to me.
And as God and I talked about it, I realized that I had to leave
Are You really there, God? And He showed me that the universe
my dad in God’s hands, knowing that God’s love for him was
in all its complexity and beauty declared His glory, and that Jesus
infinitely greater than mine could ever be. I realized God hates
was the invisible God made visible. His life, His death, His
hell as much as I do. That was the very reason why Jesus came: to
resurrection and the prophecies He fulfilled were all compelling
die for each of us so we wouldn’t have to go there. God doesn’t send
evidence of God’s existence. As I read books on apologetics and as I
us to hell. We choose to go there by refusing to accept the love and
studied the prophecies, my doubt was replaced by a deeper
forgiveness He offers us in Christ.
faith, a more reasoned and fact-based belief.
Could I have done something to stop this from happening?
The famous ―what ifs?‖ haunted my thoughts for months. What if I
had prayed more? What if I had known the answers to his 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of
questions? What if I had gone back home? God showed me I had Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ
two problems. The first one was that I was taking responsibility for and the glories that would follow.
another person’s life. I was playing God. My dad was responsible for
his actions. I wasn’t. The second problem was that although I had 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves
accepted God’s forgiveness, I wouldn’t forgive myself. One day, as I but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by
read a verse in Romans 8 that says, ―It is God who justifies, who is it those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from
that condemns?‖ I realized that by not forgiving myself, I was heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
basically telling God I was more just than He was. Talk about pride! The Trouble with Christianity: Why It’s So Hard to Believe It
I fully accepted His forgiveness that day, and every time the guilt SCRIPTURE | 1 Peter 1:3 –12 (NIV)
would return, I would just return to that passage and say, “I will
not make myself out to be more righteous than God. He has
forgiven me, and I forgive myself, too!” One of the most difficult things for any human being to wrestle with is
the reality of human suffering. Many have challenged Christianity with
the argument that, if there is suffering and evil in the world, then
God is either good but powerless or powerful and not good, but certainly
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great not good and powerful. However, the truth is that not believing in
mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the Christianity makes dealing with suffering even more difficult. Without a
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, God, there is no hope that evil will one day be corrected or that suffering
will one day disappear. Violence and suffering are simply a normal part
4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in of the world, not an alien intrusion that will one day be wiped out
heaven for you, forever.
5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of In the passage above, the apostle Peter writes to the Christian church
the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. during a time of intense suffering. His purpose is to provide the
resources they need to deal with that difficult reality. These verses
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have acknowledge that being a Christian doesn’t mean a person won’t suffer.
had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. However, the suffering will have some meaning and redemptive effect.
Christians will experience suffering in this life but they have been given
7 These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, resources to deal with it in hope when it comes.
which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine
and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1. Verses 3–5 talk about one specific resource the gospel
provides to help a Christian endure suffering. What is
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though that resource? Pick apart the verses a bit, and consider
you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an why this is an appropriate resource during suffering.
inexpressible and glorious joy, If the resurrection means that all things will be made
new or that all evil will come to an end, how does that
9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. help during an experience of suffering?
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that 2. Verses 6–9 describe some of the redemptive
was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, outcomes that result from suffering. How does
suffering refine the Christian; that is, how does it
change his or her character and faith? Are there
ways your character has been shaped by suffering?
Is it similar to Peter’s teaching or different? and survival of the fittest contradict human values that oppose
3. Verses 10–12 discuss the writings and teachings suffering, discrimination, and the victimization of the poor and
of the prophets (which have been recorded in the powerless?
Bible). What was the central teaching of the prophets Why or why not?
according to these verses? What was the purpose of
this teaching? Most significantly, what resources are Here's a summary of the many ways God killed people in the Bible.
available to a believer in the midst of suffering? (Numbers in parentheses are the number of killing events, not the number of
people killed. My very rough estimate of the total number of people killed by
4. Verse 12 talks about the fact that ―even angels long God is 33 million.)
to look into these things.‖ If angels long to look into the
truths of the gospel, what might that imply about the 1. The edge of the sword: God-assisted genocides and
gospel? What might that imply about how we should massacres (32)
―look into‖ the story of the death and resurrection of
Jesus Christ? Okay, it's gets a bit boring reading the same words over and over
In chapter 2, Keller responds to the contention that a loving God could
And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we
not allow suffering. He states: “Just because you can’t see or imagine a
good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all
there his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and
can’t be one” (p. 23). Do you buy the argument that the absense of a the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to
clear answer doesn’t rule out the possibility that a plausible — but remain. Deuteronomy 2:23-24
hidden — explanation exists?
Reader’s Guide for The Reason for God And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy
Why or why not? Do you feel that claiming that God has reasons for his God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon
actions that are beyond human reasoning is a cop-out? Or is this a them. Deuteronomy 7:16
valid argument when the topic is God and his transcendent ways of
doing things? And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man
and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass,
As he continues to examine the problem of pain, Keller writes: “…
with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:21
though Christianity does not provide the reason for each experience of
provides deep resources for actually facing suffering with hope and But if you are going to read the Bible, then you have to get used to
courage rather than bitterness and despair” (p. 27). Have you ever it. There are 32 separate God-assisted massacres and genocides that
experienced the hope and/or courage that he refers to? If so, describe are recorded in the Bible. And God is proud of every one of them.
your experience to others in the group. (See The Bible's top 10 massacres for some details.)
Paraphrasing C.S. Lewis, the author states: “… modern objections to Here is a list of the massacres.
God are based on a sense of fair-play and justice. People, we believe,
ought not to suffer, be excluded, die of hunger or oppression. But the 1. God and Moses help Joshua kill the Amalekites (Exodus
evolutionary mechanism of natural selection depends on death,
destruction, and violence of the strong against the weak — these things
2. "The LORD ... delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly
are all perfectly
natural. On what basis, then, does the atheist judge the natural world to destroyed them and their cities." (Numbers 21:1-3)
be horribly wrong, unfair, and unjust” (p. 26). How would you respond 3. Bashanites: " I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his
to Keller’s question? Does an allegiance to the laws of natural selection people ... So they smote him, and his sons, and all his
people, until there was none left him alive." (Numbers time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of
21:34-35) valour; and there escaped not a man." (Judges 3:28-29)
4. Midianites: "And they warred against the Midianites, as the 15. Canaanites: "And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his
LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males ... chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword ... and
And Moses was wroth with the officers ... And Moses said there was not a man left." (Judges 4:14)
unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now 16. Ammonites: So Jephthah passed over unto the children of
therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every Ammon ... and the LORD delivered them into his hands ...
woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the And he smote them ... with a very great slaughter." (Judges
women children, that have not known a man by lying with 11:32-33)
him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers 31:1-35) 17. "And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he ... slew
5. Anakim: "A people great, and many, and tall, as the thirty men." (Judges 14:19)
Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them." (Deuteronomy 18. Benjamites: "And the LORD smote Benjamin before Israel:
2:21-22) and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that
6. Heshbonites: "And the LORD our God delivered him before day twenty and five thousand and an hundred men:"
us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And (Judges 20:35-37)
we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the 19. More Benjamites: "And the men of Israel turned again upon
men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of
left none to remain." (Deuteronomy 2:33-34) the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and
7. Bashanites (again): "So the LORD our God delivered into our all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that
hands ... and we smote him until none was left to him they came to." (Judges 20:44-16)
remaining.... threescore cities ... And we utterly destroyed 20. God delivered the Philistines to Jonathan: "the LORD hath
them ... utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of delivered them ... And that first slaughter, which Jonathan
every city. (Deuteronomy 3:3-6) and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within
8. Jericho: "And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, as it were an half acre of land. (1 Samuel 14:12)
both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, 21. God orders Saul to kill every Amalekite man, woman, and
and ass, with the edge of the sword." (Joshua 6:21) child (1 Samuel 15:2-3)
9. Ai: "Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched 22. God delivers the Philistines: I will deliver the Philistines into
out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the thine hand ... So David ... fought with the Philistines ... and
inhabitants of Ai." (Joshua 8:1-25) smote them with a great slaughter." (1 Samuel 23:2-5)
10. 7 cities: "So Joshua ... left none remaining, but utterly 23. God delivers the Philistines to David: "And David enquired of
destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou
commanded." (Joshua 10:28-42) deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David,
11. Hazorites: And they smote all the souls that were therein Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine
with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there hand." (2 Samuel 5:19, 25)
was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire. 24. Baasha killed everyone in the house of Jeroboam "according
(Joshua 11:8-12) to the saying of the Lord." (1 Kings 15:29)
12. Anakim: "Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities." 25. Zimri killed everyone in the house of Baasha "according to
(Joshua 11:20-21) the word of the Lord." (1 Kings 16:11-12)
13. Canaanites and Perizzites: "and the LORD delivered the 26. Religious leaders killed in a prayer contest (1 Kings 18:22-
Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand ... and they 40)
slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites." (Judges 1:4) 27. God delivers the Syrians into the Israelites' hands (1 Kings
14. Moabites: "For the LORD hath delivered your enemies the 20:28-29)
Moabites into your hand ... And they slew of Moab at that 28. Jehu killed "all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria ...
according to the saying of the Lord"(2 Kings 10:16-17)
29. God delivers Israel into the hands of Judah (2 Chronicles 1. God sent "a very great plague" for complaining about the
13:15-17) food. (Numbers 11:33)
30. "The Lord smote the Ethiopians." (2 Chronicles 14:9-14) 2. For murmuring (Numbers 14:35-36)
31. Judean soldiers killed for forsaking God (2 Chronicles 28:6) 3. For complaining (Numbers 16:49)
32. God delivered the Israelites into the hand of the Chaldeans. 4. For "committing whoredom with the daughters of Moab"
(2 Chronicles 36:16-17) (Numbers 25:9)
2. Burning people to death (5) 5. To punish David for his census (2 Samuel 24:15, 1
Most people that I know are opposed to this sort of thing, but it's 5. Forcing people to kill each other (3).
one of God's favorite ways to kill people. He did it himself (or
commanded others to do it for him) 5 times in the Bible. I'm not talking about war here. Yes, God often inspired or forced
(See Is it wrong to burn people to death? for more on this.) people to kill each other in war (see the 32 massacres above). But
that's not what this is about. In this method God forces friends,
1. Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24) family, and community members to kill each other.
2. Aaron's sons for offering strange fire before the Lord
(Leviticus 10:1-3; Numbers 3:3:4, 26:61) 1. For dancing naked around Aaron's golden calf (Exodus
3. An unknown number for complaining (Numbers 11:1) 32:27-28, 35)
4. For offering incense without a license (Numbers 16:35) 2. Midianites soldiers (Judges 7:22, 8:10)
5. For worshiping the wrong god (2 Kings 1:9-12) 3. Philistine soldiers forced to kill each other (1 Samuel 14:20)
3. Lions and serpents and bears, Oh my! (5) 6. Drowning (2)
1. The big one -- the flood of Noah (Genesis 7:23)
Remember how the Romans used to kill Christians by throwing them 2. The drowning of the Egyptian army (Exodus 14:27-28)
to the lions? Well, God thought of it first! 7. Hailstones (2)
1. God chases the Amorites along the way, throwing hailstones
1. A lion is sent by God to kill a prophet for believing another at them (Joshua 10:11)
prophet's lie (1 Kings 13:1-24) 2. The seventh Egyptian plague -- fiery hailstones killing man
2. God sent lions to kill a man for not killing a prophet (1 Kings and beast (Exodus 9:25)
20:35-36) 8. Stoned to death (2)
3. And he sent lions to kill some foreigners for not fearing him 1. For blasphemy (Leviticus 24:10)
enough (2 Kings 17:25-26) 2. For picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32)
4. Sometimes God made special creatures to kill people on 9. Famine (2)
special occasions. Like the time he sent fiery serpents 1. A three year famine for something Saul did (2 Samuel 21:1:)
(maybe even flying, fiery serpents!) to bite and kill people 2. A seven year famine for God knows what (2 Kings 8:1)
for complaining about the lack of food and water. (Numbers 10. Eaten by worms
5. And then there were the bears. God sent two bears to kill 42 Herod for not giving God enough glory (Acts 12:23)
boys for making fun of Elisha's bald head. (2 Kings 2:23-24)
4. Plagues (5). 11. Buried alive
What would God be without his plagues? They became his Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (and their families) for criticizing Moses
trademark after the ten plagues of Egypt. But he didn't use them as (Numbers 16:27)
often as you might think. I can only find 5 times that God used
plagues to kill people. 12. Burned and stoned to death
Achan (and his his sons and daughters) for taking the accursed thing 21. Bowels fell out
(Joshua 7:10-12, 24-26)
God kills Jehoram by making his bowels fall out (2 Chronicles 21:14-
13. Falling wall 19)
God makes a wall fall on Syrian soldiers killing 27,000 (1 Kings 22. Thrown off a wall and trampled to death
(It was a very big wall. After the wall fell, they built a new one and Jezebel (2 Kings 9:33-37)
put up a sign, "Watch out for falling wall". It hasn't happened since.) ("And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the
14. Hacked to pieces before the Lord
23. Trampled to death
Samuel hacks Agag to pieces before the Lord (1 Samuel 15:32-33)
For not believing Elisha (2 Kings 7:17-20)
15. Hanged before the Lord
24. God-inspired act of terrorism
The seven sons of Saul (2 Samuel 21:6-9)
Samson's suicide attack (Judges 16:27-30)
16. Killed with the jawbone of an ass
25. Turned into a pillar of salt
Samson kills 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass (Judges
15:14-15) Lot's wife for looking back (Genesis 19:26)
17. Killed and hung on a tree 26. Scared to death
Joshua kills 5 kings hand hangs their dead bodies on trees (Joshua Ananias and Sapphira for not giving all their money to Peter (Acts
18. Killed by an angel 27. Unknown methods: "The Lord smote them." (10)
1. Er for being "wicked in the sight of the Lord" (Genesis 38:1,
Sleeping Assyrian soldiers (2 Kings 19:35, Isaiah 37:36) 1 Chronicles 2:3)
("When they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead 2. Onan for spilling his seed (Genesis 38:10)
corpses.") 3. Every Egyptian firstborn child (Exodus 12:29-30)
4. For looking into the ark of the Lord (1 Samuel 6:9)
19. Forced to committed suicide 5. Nabal so that David could marry his wife (1 Samuel 25:38)
6. Uzzah for trying to keep the ark from falling (2 Samuel 6:6-
Saul because he didn't inquire of the Lord (1 Chronicles 10:4-6, 13- 7, 1 Chronicles 13:9-10)
14) 7. David and Bathsheba's baby boy(2 Samuel 12:14-18)
8. Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 13:20)
9. Ahaziah for talking to the wrong God (2 Kings 1:2-4, 2
20. A message from God (knife in the belly)
10. Ezekiel's wife just for the heck of it (Ezekiel 24:15-18)
Ehud gets the message (Judges 3:15-22)
Here's a handy chart you can put on your wall.
Here is a list of massacres from the Bible, in ascending order by the number
of victims. The list includes only those with a single killer where the number
of victims is specified.
1. Elisha (with help from God) sent two bears to kill 42 children for
making fun of his bald head. 2 Kings 2:22-23
2. Abimelech killed 69 of his brothers on a stone. Judges 9:5, BT
3. Doeg the Edomite killed 85 priests and all the men, women, children,
infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep with a sword. 1 Samuel 22:18-19,
4. Elijah (and God) burned to death 102 men. 2 Kings 1:10-12
5. David killed 200 Philistines to purchase his first wife with their
foreskins. 1 Samuel 18:25-27, BT
6. Abishai killed 300 men with a spear. 2 Samuel 23:18, 1 Chronicles
7. The chief of David's captains killed either 300 (1 Chronicles 11:11) or
800 (2 Samuel 23:8) men with a spear. (Sometimes it's hard to
correctly count the number of dead bodies in a massacre.)
8. Elijah killed 450 religious leaders in a prayer contest. 1 Kings 18:22-
(The total in this massacre may have been 850 if it included the
priests of the groves.)
9. Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad. Judges 3:31, BT
10. Samson killed 1000 men with the jawbone of an ass. Judges 15: 14-
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