Most folks today do not believe that a loving God as described in John 3:16 will really punish them because of their sin! In 2 Kings 17:7-18 the northern kingdom of Israel had become so corrupt and sinful that it was said of God, "Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only" (2 Kings 17:18). Judah continued somewhat more faithful than Israel, but they pushed His patience as far as they could, God finally punished them with seventy years of captivity in Babylon. Zedekiah, king of Judah when Babylon conquered Judah was forced to watch his sons killed before him, and then they put his eyes out and bound him and took him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:7). It is very significant that in Leviticus 26:27-45 God gave them a stern warning concerning the consequences of disobedience! Even in the New Testament, Jesus warned that we should fear Him "...which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). Judah's seventy years of Babylonian captivity was a punishment for their abuse of the poor, idolatry, and disobedience in general. It should be noted that the main reason God did not utterly destroy them was to fulfill the promise of the Messiah that he had promised about a thousand years before (Genesis 3:15; 49:10). However, the punishment was so severe that He permitted Judah to be devastated, including Jerusalem and the temple of God itself. Most of the population of Judah were deported to Babylon where they became slaves, much like the last years of their sojourn in Egypt. Many of the royal families suffered the same torture as described in the story above of King Zedekiah who was forced to watch his sons killed, and then blinded! Daniel and his three relatives (Daniel 1:3-7), of the royal seed and noble, were without doubt made eunuchs. That was very common then, and this was simply a way for Nebuchadnezzar to keep their numbers down so that they would not be a danger to the Babylonians by taking over that kingdom by force of numbers. Obviously also, they did not want any of the "seed royal" to survive and be able by their children or grandchildren be in a position to lead opposition! Any people would be humiliated, not to speak of the physical pain and indignities by being enslaved to a foreign power. However, when you consider the strong nationalistic attitude of the Jews, the pain and suffering would be very intense. After all, they were "the people".


The fact is that God has always threatened to punish those who are evil-doers and the disobedient. Deuteronomy 28:36-57 describes the extreme suffering Israel would endure if they forsook God. Many today have invented an image of God that probably seems more like a loving grandfather or even a Santa Claus that loves so much that He wouldn't punish evil! Jesus' suffering on the cross was an example contrary to this. One of the statements He made in the midst of His suffering He cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). What parent wouldn't act to save their child from such horrible suffering if it was in their power? God loved us so much that He permitted Jesus to die, Judah to be captured for 70 years, and He will punish all who either do not obey, or are rebellious (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).


EdRodgers, De Leon, TX