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©Copyright 1997 Randall D. Hughes

God is truly awesome! His ways are above our ways as high as the heavens are above the earth! How unsearchable is his wisdom. He is great and greatly to be praised! As we search to know God and try to understand him, we will always find puzzling aspects to his character and attributes. God is the giver of life. He is the author of life. One of his greatest attributes is love. And yet as we look back in time, we will find that throughout the years he has been the primary one to destroy life. As you read the Old Testament you will literally be astounded at the number of individuals he chooses to destroy. Reasons often that we would deem insignificant. Why? God is sovereign. He answers to no one. However, as we review the many instances where he takes a life we will almost without fail, find that the individual(s) were willfully disobeying his commands, even when they seemed trite. While God is love, he also is holy. His righteousness cannot tolerate sin and disobedience. We will now view God’s response to these actions. God is the Judge. We will look at the number killed in each instance, followed by a running total in bold.

The greatest act of God destroying mankind occurs with the flood. Genesis 6:5 tells us, "And God 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." God determined that he would eliminate this wickedness by flooding the earth. Only Noah and his family escaped. Eight souls remained. It is impossible to put an exact number on how many lost their lives in this tragedy. It was very possibly millions. Thus God cleansed the world of wickedness.

What is possibly the second greatest destruction of man takes place just a few chapters later. Again, the cry of the wickedness of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah was "great," "and their sin is very grievous," God said (Gen. 18:20). Therefore God rained down fire and brimstone upon these twin cities and consumed them. Only Lot, his wife, and two daughters escaped alive. And as they were fleeing this destruction, Lot’s wife looked back disobeying the command of God and became a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26). So only three people escaped with their lives. It is also impossible to know an exact number. But it is possible that it was anywhere from 1,000's of people up to millions of people that perished in this judgment of God.

1 / 1  

In Genesis 38:7-10, we find that two of Judah’s sons are killed by God for their evil. The Bible is unclear as to why Er was killed, it only tells us that "he was wicked in the sight of God." Onan refused to raise up seed to his brother and displeased the LORD, so the LORD slew him also.

2 / 3   

Thus in the book of Genesis it is possible that millions of people were destroyed by God’s judgment.

In Exodus God judges the Egyptians with ten plagues. It is possible that there were those who died in or because of the first nine plagues God sent. We do not know. The water turned to blood, Ex. 7:20. Frogs in abundance, Ex. 8:3. Lice, Ex. 8:16. Swarms of flies, Ex. 8:24. Murrain upon the cattle, Ex. 9:3-6. Boils, Ex. 9:10. Hail stones and fire, Ex. 9:23-25. Swarms of Locust, Ex. 10:12-15. Darkness, Ex. 10:21-23. After these nine plagues had destroyed the crops and cattle of Egypt, possibly taking some lives along the way. God sent the Death Angel throughout the land and killed every firstborn of man and beast (Ex. 12:29-30). So Pharaoh let the Israelites leave Egypt. How many died? Once again a VERY large unknown number?

The Children of Israel did not go far before Pharaoh decided he wanted them back. God parted the waters of the Red Sea and then returned the waters upon the armies of the Egyptians (Ex. 14:26-30) destroying the host of Pharaoh’s armies. Again the number is impossible to know as to how many God destroyed.

So God destroyed the Egyptians and gave deliverance to the children of Israel.

Next we find that God kills those of the Children of Israel that disobeyed him. In Ex. 32:19-35, the Children of Israel made the golden calf and worshiped it in an indecent manner. When Moses returned, the Children of Levi slew twenty-three thousand (1 Cor. 10:7-8). Also a plague was sent from the LORD upon the people.

23,000/ 23,003    

Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the LORD and there went a fire out from the LORD and devoured them (Lev. 10:1-2).

2 / 23,005         

 Lev. 24:10-16, the son of an Israelitish woman blasphemed the name of the LORD and cursed so he was stoned by the congregation.

1 / 23,006      

A unique judgment of God occurs in Num. 12:1-15, Miriam is smitten with leprosy for speaking against the man of God, Moses.

In Num. 14:26-39, because the ten spies brought back an evil report they (the ten) died of a plague. And all the Children of Israel above the age of twenty wandered in the wilderness for forty year until they all died.

10 / 23,016        

In Num. 15:32-36, a man picked up sticks on the Sabbath Day, breaking one of the Ten Commandments for which he was stoned to death.

1 / 23,017         

In Num. 16:35, two hundred and fifty men (Korah, Dathan, Abiram) were swallowed up by the ground for withstanding Moses. The next day another 14,700 died for murmuring against God about the incident.

14,950 / 37,967   

In Num. 20:7-12, because Moses disobeyed God by smiting the rock when the LORD said to speak to it, he was not allowed to enter the promised land of Canaan.  Deut. 34:7 lets us know that, "his eye was not dim, nor his natural forces abated."   So it appears that God took Moses before he "otherwise" would have died, because the time had come for the Children of Israel to enter the promise land!

In Num. 21: 4-9, the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people that bit the people and "much of Israel Died" for murmuring against God.  How many died is unknown?

In Num. 22:22-35, Balaam is almost killed by an angel with a sword, but his donkey speaks to him and he is spared.

In Num. 25:1-9, the LORD killed 24,000 with a plague because they disobeyed the LORD by joining themselves with Baal-Peor by inter-marrying.

24,000 / 61,967        

In Num. 31:13-20, the men of war brought back the women of the Midianites alive. So Moses commanded all the women to be inspected to determine if they were virgins or not, and all those who were not virgins of the women of Midia were put to death.

Because Achan disobeyed God by keeping a Babylonian garment, a wedge of gold, and 200 shekels of silver, 36 men of Israel died at Ai. And then Achan, his family, and all his animals, everything he owned was stoned. Joshua 7:22-26.

36 / 62,005       

In Joshua 10:11, God rained down great stones from heaven against the enemies of Israel and there were more that died from the stones than the sword.

When the Ark of the LORD was taken by the Philistines in 1 Sam. 5:1-12, the god of the Philistines Dagon fall on his face before the ark and was broken. The LORD sent a great destruction where ever the ark was and smote the men with emrods. There was "deadly destruction throughout all the city."

In 1 Sam. 6:19, the LORD smote 50,070 men of Bethshemesh because they looked into the Ark of the Covenant.

50,070 / 112,073  

In 2 Sam. 6:6-7, Uzzah put his hand out to steady the Ark and God smote him and he died.

1 / 112,074             

In 2 Sam. 6:20-23, Michal, David’s wife did not bear children because she spoke against the way David worshiped the LORD.

In 2 Sam. 24:15, 70,000 men died because King David disobeyed God by numbering Israel.

70,000 / 182,074    

1 Kings 13:1-24, a young prophet from Judah prophesied against the altar of Jeroboam, the LORD caused Jeroboam’s hand to wither when he put forth his hand against the prophet. The prophet prayed and the LORD restored the King’s hand. But then the young prophet was deceived into eating and drinking in Bethel, disobeying the word of the LORD, and a lion slew him on his way home.

1 / 182,075

1 Kings 16:34, Hiel laid the foundation to Jericho at the cost of his firstborn, and hung the gates at the cost of his youngest son fulfilling the curse of Joshua in Joshua 6:26.

2 / 182,077

2 Kings 1:10-12, Elijah rained down fire from heaven twice and it destroyed fifty men each time.

100 / 182,177

2 Kings 2:23-24, there were 42 children who mocked the prophet Elisha, so God caused a bear to "tare them."

2 Kings 5:27, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha was smitten with leprosy because of his greed and lying.

2 Kings 19:35, when Hezekiah was threatened by Sennacherib and the Assyrian army, God sent his angel who slew 185,000 Assyrians.

185,000/ 367,177

2 Chron. 26:16, King Uzziah was smitten with leprosy for going into the Temple to burn incense, and died a leper.  These were duties reserved for the Priest.

1 / 367,178

New Testament

In John 2:14-16, Jesus cleansed the temple with a scourge (whip) over turning their money tables.

Acts 5:1-10, Ananias and Sapphira were killed by God for lying about an offering.

2 / 367,180

In Acts 13:6-11, Elymas the sorcerer was blinded for a season for trying to prevent others from believing the gospel.

In Acts 19:13-16, seven men tried to cast out evil spirits in the name of Paul, and the evil spirit leaped on them and overcame them, so that they fled naked and wounded.

In 1 Cor. 11:27-30, one who partakes of Communion with an "unworthy" attitude, does so eating and drinking "damnation to himself." "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." The word sleep here is similar to when Jesus said Lazareth was asleep, but was actually dead. This lends itself to possibly still taking place today!

Rev. 9:15 "The four angels were loosed… for to slay the third part of men." That would be around 2 billion people!

Rev. 20:14. "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."

Of the incidents mentioned above where a number was given, the total comes to 367,180. Plus the flood, Sodom and Gommorah, Egypt's plagues and the firstborn, the Egyptian army at the Red Sea. The fiery Serpents, the Philistines while they had the Ark.  Also the enemies of Israel who God slew.   Not to mention the deaths from the plagues that will happen when Revelation is fulfilled. The number is very clearly in the Billions! That God will kill! It is well in the millions to date, no doubt! 

But, God is love.

We live in a vast universe. God fills it all! We are on a planet that is just a spec in the universe. And yet, God looked down on this earth. He, knowing our need of a Savior. He came and joined himself to the human race so he could make the sacrifice for our sins. So one day we could be like him. Yes he does love us!

He has set forth a plan for us to follow. The way to salvation. We are currently living in the Dispensation of Grace. During this dispensation we only know for certain of Ananias and Sapphira death by God. Although Paul mentions there are other who take communion with the wrong spirit. Some possibly even today are sick and may have passed because of this judgment. And it is certain there is a pending judgment awaiting this world and all who forget God.

"The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Pet. 3:9.

If you noticed, some of the largest number of deaths (recorded numbers) mentioned above were because of the leaders sin. David numbered the people and displeased God costing 70,000 peoples death! And David was a man after God's own heart. A little before that Uzzah died while following David's way of returning the ark. Following a man after God's own heart, with pure and honorable motives, yet died. Does this imply that no matter how pure our motives, or how seemingly close to God the man we are following is, it is still imperative to follow closely to God's plan.

In Bethshemesh, in 1 Sam. 6:19, it is difficult to believe that 50,699 men had just filed past the Ark of the LORD and taken a look at it and then died, and that you were number 50,700, you just watched the previous 50,699 die and then you were also going to take a look also. It is possible the leaders of Bethshemesh were the ones who looked in the Ark and God punished the people of the town much like God punished Israel when David numbered the people. So it is important to follow men of God. Ones you can trust to always follow God's calling. But it is important to know that they are following God's Word!

In light of the judgments God has already handed down, are we to think our actions do not matter? Jesus said that, "every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Mt. 12:36. Just think of that! Jesus speaking in the New Testament!

If our very words are important, then do they matter when baptized? Does a "Name" really matter? Is it worth the chance? When there is Salvation in NO other Name? Does God pay attention to details? The answer is found in the many judgments we have considered. Pick up sticks on the Sabbath? An idle word against God? Rebuilding a cursed city? Touching the Ark of the Covenant? Or looking in it? Or numbering people?

Or what about the first death? Over eating a piece of fruit? This death has passed upon all men. All over a small rule disobeyed! Because of this disobedience every living person has one thing in common. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Rom. 3:23. And when we sin we earn death, Rom. 6:23. Much like the more than 367,180 people earned in the above mentioned Scriptures. But we have an opportunity to find life in Jesus. "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 

It matters to God!

©Copyright 1997 Randall D. Hughes


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©Copyright 2001 Randall D. Hughes