What is the wrath of God?

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There have been times, throughout history, when the wrath of God has been manifested by him executing an individual or two (see our article on the subject). There are many other times, however, when he is moved by his wisdom to kill a large group of people. This article discusses the times when God and his wrath has chosen to perform a mass killing.

The first display of the wrath of God against a mass of sinners occurred when he caused a great flood to cover the entire earth (Genesis 6:7, 7). Except for those inside Noah's Ark, the entire human race is killed.

The cataclysmic event of the great flood, where approximately one billion people received the death penalty, was brought miraculously by God. They deserved his wrath because ". . . every imagination of the thoughts of his (man's) heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5, HBFV).

What were the plagues of Egypt?
Is Jesus in the Quran (Koran)?
What does the Lord's Prayer mean?

The second great mass event that revealed the Lord's wrath against sin happened when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. These cities were located in a place that was like the Garden of Eden (Genesis 13:10). They were "great metropolises, with large populations and complex cultures" (Biblical Basis for Modern Science, chapter 10). Their destruction, by heavenly fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:13, 24 - 25), is a testament that God and his wrath can come upon anyone.

Aaron and sons compete with Korah
Aaron and sons compete with Korah
Sandro Botticelli, 1481 - 82, Sistine Chapel

In Egypt, after nine plagues have no effect in causing Pharaoh to release his Israelite slaves, the wrath of God produces one final miracle that finally gets him to act. A death angel is sent, at night, to kill all the firstborn humans (mostly Egyptians) who do not have lamb's blood around their doorposts (Exodus 12:7, 21 - 23, 29). A short time after this mass killing, the entire Egyptian army is miraculously drowned in the Red Sea as they are pursuing the fleeing Israelites (Exodus 14:27 - 28).

The price of whining

Many Israelites, as they travel to the Promised Land, are killed when fire from the Lord consumes some who are complaining (Numbers 11:1). A short time later, the Israelites' whining about manna, miraculously provided each day (except Sabbath), is answered not only by quail sent to them to eat but also a plague that kills many (Numbers 11:31 - 35).

Ten of the twelve spies Moses sent to scout out the Promised Land are struck dead soon after their return (Numbers 14:36 - 37). They are the recipients of God's wrath for their report that it would be near impossible (from a human perspective) for the Israelites to take control of Canaan.

Korah, Dathan, Abiram and 250 of their followers directly challenge the responsibilities God has given to Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:1 - 3). The Lord's wrath is kindled against this rebellion and he kills the three men (and their families) through the earth opening up (verses 28 - 33).

The day after the punishment of Korah and those involved in his rebellion, many Israelites blame Moses and Aaron for what happened. Their protests are answered with a rapidly spreading plague that ultimately takes the life of 14,700 (verses 41 - 49).

Continuing their whiny ways, the Israelites complain yet again about the manna they receive and their lack of water. The response from God is a swarm of deadly snakes that kills many (Numbers 21:6). After camping in Shittim for a period of time the people begin to intermarry with the pagan Moabites. This leads them to indulge in immorality and idolatry, which arouses the Eternal's wrath. As punishment he sends a plague that kills 24,000 (Numbers 25:9).

Mass punishment in Canaan

Many men of Beth-shemesh, including several who were leaders in the community, are killed by God when the Ark of the Covenant is pried open and its contents viewed (1Samuel 6:18 - 20). King David foolishly takes a census of all his fighting men and incurs the Eternal's wrath. He and the nation are punished by a death angels executing 70,000 Israelites (2Samuel 24:10, 15).

The angel of the Lord, sent by God to fulfill his wrath, kills (in a single night) the entirety of Assyrian King Sennacherib's army that surrounds Jerusalem. In the morning, instead of seeing 185,000 troops gathered to attack, those in the city gaze upon a vast field of corpses (2Kings 19:32 - 35).

Articles in Bloody Bible Series
Who has God personally executed?
Where is mass murder in Old Testament?
Who are Israel's bloodiest kings?
What is the wrath of God?
Mass killings in the New Testament!
Who was saved by grace from death?

Series References
Complete Book of Who's Who
Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings
Willmington's Complete Guide to Bible Knowledge

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