God is very clear in His Word that He deals with people, individually or as groups (cities, nations, etc.) according to how they honor, or refuse to honor, Him. The biblical record tells us that God pronounced judgment on quite a few cities and nations.
We are taught about God’s judgment in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. The first judgment we see is the one pronounced on Adam and Eve, and the entire human race by virtue of our connection to them, when they chose to sin against God.
Later in Genesis, we read that God judged the entire human race living at that time, with a worldwide flood. The reason for this judgment was once again due to humanity’s rebellion against God (Genesis 6:5).
Sodom and Gomorrah
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonymous with wickedness and evil. These cities received God’s judgment for their wickedness also, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD” (Genesis 13:13 ESV).
God judged Israel’s enemies
God repeatedly brought judgment against those who opposed His people, Israel. The Bible tells us that God judged the Amalekites, the Moabites, the cities of Babylon and Sidon. Exodus 34:11 tells us that God would drive many nations out of the land to make room for His chosen people, “…Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites”.
God’s judgment was fierce and final
God gave each of the people groups He judged plenty of opportunity to turn from their sinful ways and follow Him, therefore, when He finally executed judgment, it was a mighty display of His power. When God pronounced judgment on Babylon it included some intense elements. The Bibles says that their enemy’s, “…bows will slaughter the young men; they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there” (Isaiah 13:17-20 ESV). Sin is incredibly grievous in God’s eyes and it must be punished. These judgments are examples of God’s judgment of unrepentant sinners.
God’s judgment on Egypt was similar to that of Babylon, with an added curse on the Egyptian land. He dried up the waters of the sea and the rivers. He made the canals foul and stinking. The Nile was cursed to dry up and the reeds and rushes that grew there were cursed to rot away. The land would stop growing produce and there would be no fish to be caught in what waters remained (Isaiah 19:5-9 ESV).
Even God’s chosen people were not exempt from His judgment if they rebelled against Him. God instructed Moses to warn the people of the nation of Israel that He would rain down judgment on them if they were disobedient (Deuteronomy 29:24-26 ESV). God warned His people that He would make an example out of them, to the rest of the world, if they turned from Him (2 Chronicles 7:19:22 ESV). Jeremiah 18:9-10 tells us that God said that disobedience would bring God’s wrath, even on His chosen people.
However, God also reassured them that, as long as they were faithful to Him, He would forgive them and be their God, “If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it” (Jeremiah 18:7-8 ESV).
God would rather people, and nations, turn to Him and be saved
God does not judge people and nations because He is some kind of ogre who likes inflicting pain. The Bible tells us that it grieves His heart when people refuse His love, “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live…” (Ezekiel 33:11 ESV, see also Ezekiel 18:23, 32).
In the New Testament, we read that although God gives us the power of choice, He would rather we all choose Him, “…it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4 ESV, see 2 Peter 3:9). The Bible also tells us that He has done everything it takes to provide a way for us to have our sins forgiven and to be reconciled to Him.
God’s promise to people and nations
The message of God’s offer of forgiveness is to be found all through the pages of the Bible. One of the clearest Old Testament presentations is found in Second Chronicles, “…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV). We are given a choice.
God has given us warnings that He will judge sin. He has given us examples of where He has judged sin. However, He has also provided the way that we can be judged righteous and have eternal life. Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins when He died on a cross for you and me. Whether we face God’s judgment as so many of the people of the Old Testament did, or are forgiven of our sins and inherit eternal life, the choice is ours. Will we choose to come to Jesus Christ and gain eternal life, or reject Him and be judged with eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46)? We each must choose and now is the time to choose (2 Corinthians 6:2).
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The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”