Nevertheless the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. And the Lord said, “I will also remove Judah from My sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, ‘My name shall be there.’ ” (2 Kings 23:26-27)
Will God Punish Those Who Disobey Him?
The love of God is an incredible gift of mercy, grace, pardon and joy. There is nothing man can imagine that equals the depth of forgiveness granted by the Lord. His longsuffering describes the immense patience of His character. From the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, the Lord God repeatedly illustrated His willingness to set aside the sin of man if he would repent. Sadly and more often than not, man refused to change. The terrible flood that came upon the whole world in Noah’s day confirms that God will save those who are righteous but destroy those who are not. Israel is a powerful example of the blessings of God and the curse for those who rebel. The Lord brought Israel out of Egypt and exalted them among all the nations. He established a house with His name in the city of Jerusalem calling upon the people to worship Him in truth. There were many good years of the nation following the will of the Lord but ultimately the complete destruction of Israel came because of sin. First, the Assyrian Empire took the ten tribes of the north away. As a warning to the remaining two tribes, God reminded the children of Israel His wrath was sure and true. It was not long before they also fell under the hand of a foreign army and taken captive. Israel would never regain its glory.
In the final days of the once great nation of Israel, a stern warning is given that will reflect the goodness and severity of God. Judah will be removed from the sight of the Lord and the house of the Lord will be abandoned. The Babylonians burn Jerusalem and destroy the temple built by Solomon. All of the instruments, furniture and utensils of the temple are taken away by the Babylonians. How could this happen? No one could enter the temple without the blessing of God; especially Gentiles. The Holy of Holies contained the dwelling place of God where He communed with His people but that is now destroyed. In 586 B.C., Jerusalem falls and the Temple destroyed. God’s wrath was complete and His word true.
There is a great lesson in this story that should resonate with the hearts of all men. God is a loving and compassionate God. He is also a demanding and fierce God who will bring His judgment of wrath on those who disobey Him. Everyone believes in Heaven but few accept that there is a place of eternal torment. The thought of Hell is rejected because of a misunderstanding of who God is and what He has shown through the history of Israel. The hand of God, because of the incessant evil of Israel, annihilated the ten northern tribes. He warned Judah repeatedly to look what happen to Israel and repent. They refused and now the most incredibly words of God are spoken to a rebellious people. The Lord God will abandon His house that is called by His name. He withdrew His glory from that place. There will come a day when the patience and love of God will end and He will take away His glory from men. Standing before the judgment bar of a righteous God, most men will be cast into the darkness of eternal fire. God is not willing that any should perish. He desires for all of His creation to worship Him and glorify His name. Jesus said that most men would refuse. The broad way of destruction is where those who live for themselves will find the wrath of a loving God who did everything He could do to save them. If God will take away His glory from Israel and Judah and from the house that is called by His name; He will punish evil men with eternal torment.
Jesus came to offer hope. Through the blood shed on a cross two thousand years ago, eternal life can be found in the obedience of those who seek Him. God’s grace is found in the horrible picture of the cross as the penalty for sin. His wrath will be taken away when men do His will. Calling on the name of the Lord will not save alone; keeping His commandments is how we show our love for Him. God’s grace is offered. He is a wrathful God but He wants you to be saved. Now that is a great story.