2King 8:12 Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep?” Then he answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the sons of Israel: their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword, and their little ones you will dash in pieces, and their women with child you will rip up.”
Isaiah 13:16 Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces Before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished.
Jeremiah 13:14 “I will dash them against each other, both the fathers and the sons together,” declares the LORD. “I will not show pity nor be sorry nor have compassion so as not to destroy them.”‘”
Before I say anything about all the bloodshed as described in the Scriptures, need I say it didn’t have to be this way? [Ezekiel 18:23 “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live? (Also Ez. 18:32 and 33:11)] Compare the initial description God gave His people prior to bringing them into the Promised Land, of the blessing and the curse. Starting in Deuteronomy 7:11 wonderful blessings are promised if they obey; but also that curses will follow if they turn away and forget His loving-kindness. Gee, what to choose, take the blessings or the curse? “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known. Deut. 11:26-28
So after reading all the history of Israel’s life with and without God as a developing nation through the books of Joshua, Judges, Kings and Chronicles, from the beginning of the nation to its deplorable downfall, the reality is they ultimately chose the curse. We see in the prophets descriptions and visions all the horrors with which God will inflict them. Of course it takes a while to come to pass, He’d rather relent from this and scare them into making a more sober choice. He paints the picture through Ezekiel like this: “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head.” EZ 33:2-4 So many warnings were given, countless warnings, spanning hundreds of years, sadly all to no avail.
But it is the horrifying descriptions of the punishments that lay in store that take the breath away. Some of them are listed above, but the most chilling is the Isaiah description, starting in chapter 13 part of which reads:
Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold And mankind than the gold of Ophir.
Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger. And it will be that like a hunted gazelle, Or like sheep with none to gather them, They will each turn to his own people, And each one flee to his own land. Anyone who is found will be thrust through, And anyone who is captured will fall by the sword. Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces Before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished. Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them, Who will not value silver or take pleasure in gold. And their bows will mow down the young men, They will not even have compassion on the fruit of the womb, Nor will their eye pity children.
Reading the warnings of the atrocities that lay ahead make me wonder at the barbarity of these nations in times past and present. Who wins the most barbaric nation award? There are so many candidates, not only in distant history but also in current times. Bosnia comes to mind. Or Syria pulled from today’s newspapers is another. Too many to list here. But in modern times Nazi Germany surely stands out. In his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Shirer summarizes (page 5) “It lasted twelve years and four months, but in that flicker of time, as history goes, it caused an eruption on earth more violent and shattering than any previously experienced . . . during which it instituted a reign of terror over the conquered peoples which, in its calculated butchery of human life and the human spirit, outdid all the savage oppressions of the previous ages.”
One might argue whether Nazi Germany would beat out Babylon or Assyria, or the Meads and Persians, or the Vandals and Visigoths, for their brutality, all of whom left horrifying carnage and waste in their wake as they conquered other kingdoms and cast them in the gutter. Let’s face it, there is certainly no lack of candidates for the gold medal of national malevolence.
It does make me wonder though. Is the depth of depravity more extensive today than it was thousands of years ago? From so many readings of the prophets constantly trying to awaken God’s people to make rational decisions by telling them in precise terms, leaving nothing to the imagination, of the terror to come, that maybe those nations God used to discipline His people were pretty the same as those committing genocide on their neighbors today. Man’s nature really hasn’t changed much since the Fall. Only his technological innovations have made his tools more interesting.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a History of Nazi Germany, William L. Shirer, Simon & Schuster, 1959
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]