* God’s mercy keeps us from complete destruction
Jeremiah saw one ray of hope in all the sin and sorrow surrounding him: “The unfailing love of the Lord never ends. . . . Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.” God willingly responds with help when we ask. Perhaps there is some sin in your life that you thought God would not forgive. God’s steadfast love and mercy are greater than any sin, and he promises forgiveness. God’s mercy keeps us from complete destruction. (NLT)
Lamentations 3:21-23 – Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.
* Destructive consequences of sin
Reuben’s sin was costly, although not right away. As the oldest son, he stood to receive a double portion of the family inheritance and a place of leadership among his people. Reuben may have thought he got away with his sin. No more is mentioned of it until Jacob, on his deathbed, assembled his family for the final blessing. Suddenly Jacob took away Reuben’s double portion and gave it to someone else. The reason? “You slept with one of my wives; you dishonored me in my own bed.”
Sin’s consequences can plague us long after the sin is committed. When we do something wrong, we may think we can escape unnoticed, only to discover later that the sin has been quietly breeding serious consequences. (NLT)
Genesis 35:22 – While he was there, Reuben slept with Bihah, his father’s concubine, and someone told Jacob about it.
* Evidence of Sodom’s destruction
God promised to spare Sodom if only 10 innocent people lived there. Obviously not even 10 could be found, because the angels arrived to destroy the city. Archaeological evidence points to an advanced civilization in this area during Abraham’s day. Most researchers also confirm some kind of sudden and devastating destruction. It is now widely thought that the buried city lies beneath the waters of the southern end of the Dead Sea. The story of Sodom reveals that the people of Lot’s day had to deal with the same kinds of repulsive sins the world faces today. We should follow Abraham’s example of trusting God. His selfless faith contrasts with the self-gratifying people of Sodom. (NLT)
Genesis 19:13 – “… For we will destroy the city completely. The stench of the place has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it.”
* Destroying evil in your life
God told Moses that before the Israelites settled in the Promised Land they should drive out the wicked inhabitants and destroy their idols. In Colossians 3, Paul encourages us to live as Christians in the same manner: throwing away our old way of living and moving ahead into our new life of obedience to God and faith in Jesus Christ. Like the Israelites moving into the Promised Land, we can destroy the wickedness in our lives, or we can settle down and live with it. To move in and possess the new life, we must drive out the sinful thoughts and practices to make room for the new. (NLT)
Numbers 33:50-53 – While they were camped near the Jordan River on the plains of Moab opposite Jericho, the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: ‘When you cross the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must drive out all the people living there. You must destroy all their carved and molten images and demolish all their pagan shrines. Take possession of the land and settle in it, because I have given it to you to occupy. . . .’”
* Why Israelites were told to destroy Canaanite people
Why were the Israelites told to destroy the people living in Canaan? God had several compelling reasons for giving this command: (1) God was stamping out the wickedness of an extremely sinful group of nations. The Canaanites brought on their own punishment. Idol worship expressed their deepest evil desires. It ultimately led to the worship of Satan and the total rejection of God. (2) God was using Moses and Israel to judge Canaan for its sins in fulfillment of the prophecy in Genesis 9:25. (3) God wanted to remove all trace of pagan beliefs and practices from the land. He did not want his people to mix or compromise with idolatry in any way. The Israelites did not fully understand God’s reasons, and they did not carry out his command. This eventually led them to compromise and corruption. In all areas of life, we should obey God’s Word without question because we know he is just, even if we cannot fully understand his overall purposes. (NLT)
Numbers 33:50-54-56 – “‘. . . You must distribute the land among the clans by sacred lot and in proportion to their size. A larger inheritance of land will be allotted to each of the larger clans, and a smaller inheritance will be allotted to each of the smaller clans. The decision of the sacred lot is final. In this way, the land will be divided among your ancestral tribes. But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in the land where you live. And I will do to you what I had planned to do to them.’”
* – How could a merciful and just God order the destruction of entire population centers? He did this to protect his people from idol worship, which was certain to bring ruin to Israel. In fact, because Israel did not completely destroy these evil people as God commanded, Israel was constantly oppressed by them and experienced greater bloodshed and destruction than if they had followed God’s instructions in the first place. (NLT)
Deuteronomy 20:13-18 – When the Lord your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the Lord your God has given you. But these instructions apply only to distant towns, not to the towns of nations nearby.
“As for the towns of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession, destroy every living thing in them. You must completely destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Kivites, and Jebusites, just as the Lord your God has commanded you. This will keep the people of the land from teaching you their detestable customs in the worship of their gods, which would cause you to sin deeply against the Lord your God.
* – Why did God demand that the Israelites destroy almost everyone and everything in Jericho? He was carrying out severe judgment against the wickedness of the Canaanites. This judgment, or ban, usually required that everything be destroyed. Because of their evil practices and intense idolatry, the Canaanites were a stronghold of rebellion against God. This threat to the right kind of living that God required had to be removed. If not, it would affect all Israel like a cancerous growth (as it did in the sad story told in the book of Judges). A few people and some items in Jericho were not destroyed, but these were special cases. Rehab and her household were saved because she had faith in God and because she helped the Israelite spies. The silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron were kept, not to enrich the people, but to beautify the Tabernacle and its services.
God’s purpose in all this was to keep the people’s faith and religion uncontaminated. He did not want the plunder to remind Israel of Canaanite practices.
God also wants us to be pure. He wants us to clean up our behavior when we begin a new life with him. We must not let the desire for personal gain distract us from our spiritual purpose. We must also reject any objects that are reminders of a life of rebellion against God. (NLT)
Joshua 6:21 – They completely destroyed everything in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, donkeys—everything.
* – Why did God order the Israelites to drive the Canaanites from their land? Although the command seems cruel, the Israelites were under God’s order to execute judgment on those wicked people. The other nations were to be judged for their sin as God had judged Israel by forcing them to wander for 40 years before they were allowed to enter the Promised Land. Over 700 years earlier, God had told Abraham that when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the gross evil of the native people would be ready for judgment. But God wasn’t playing favorites with the Israelites because eventually they, too, would be severely punished for becoming as evil as the people they were ordered to drive out. God is not partial; all people are eligible for God‘s gracious forgiveness as well as for his firm justice. (NLT)
Judges 1:17 – Then Judah joined with Simeon to fight against the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they completely destroyed the town. So the town was named Hormah.
* Destructive force of jealousy
Saul’s appreciation for David turned to jealousy as people began to applaud David’s exploits. In a jealous rage, Saul attempted to murder David by hurling his spear at him.
Jealousy may not seem to be a major sin, but in reality, it is one step short of murder. Jealousy starts as you resent a rival, it leads to your wishing he or she were removed; then it manifests itself in your seeking ways to harm that person in word or action. Beware of letting jealousy get a foothold in your life. (NLT)
1 Samuel 18:8 – This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!”
* Destroy what takes God’s place in your life
Often the soldiers wanted to keep souvenirs from the battle, but David ordered them to burn the idols. The only proper response to sin is to get rid of it completely. You cannot be a follower of God while continuing to hold on to parts of your life where God is not the center of your thoughts and actions. Eliminate whatever takes God’s rightful place in your life, and follow him with complete devotion. (NLT)
1 Chronicles 14:12 – The Philistines had abandoned their idols there, so David gave orders to burn them up.
* Confidence in the face of global destruction
The fear of mountains or cities suddenly crumbling into the sea as the result of an earthquake or a nuclear blast haunts many people today. But the psalmist says that even if the world ends, we need not fear. In the face of utter destruction, the writer expressed a quiet confidence in God’s ability to save him. It seems impossible to consider the end of the world without becoming consumed by fear, but the Bible is clear—God is our refuge even in the midst of total destruction. He is not merely a temporary retreat; he is our eternal refuge and can provide strength in any circumstance. (NLT)
Psalm 46:1-3 – God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!
* Destructive intent of demons
When the demons entered the pigs, they drove the animals into the sea. The demons’ action proves their destructive intent—if they could not destroy the men, they would destroy the pigs. Jesus’ action, by contrast, shows the value he places on each human life. (NLT)
Matthew 8:32 – “All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
* Destruction not the purpose of God’s judgment
God’s purpose for people is not destruction but re-creation. God will purify the heavens and earth with fire; then he will create them anew. We can joyously look forward to the restoration of God’s good world. (NLT)
2 Peter 3:13 – But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world where everyone is right with God.
* No fear of destruction when it comes
Eliphaz’s words show a view of discipline that has been almost forgotten: Pain can help us grow. These are good words to remember when we face hardship and loss. Because Job did not understand why he suffered, his faith in God had a chance to grow. On the other hand, we must not make Eliphaz’s mistake. God does not eliminate all hardship when we are following him closely, and good behavior is not always rewarded by prosperity. Rewards for good and punishment for evil are in God’s hands and given out according to his timetable. Satan’s ploy is to get us to doubt God’s goodwill toward us. (NLT)
Job 5:17-27 – “But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the chastening of the Almighty when you sin. For though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal. He will rescue you again and again so that no evil can touch you. He will save you from death in time of famine, from the power of the sword in time of war. You will be safe from slander and will have no fear of destruction when it comes. You will laugh at destruction and famine; wild animals will not terrify you. You will be at peace with the stones of the field, and its wild animals will be at peace with you. You will know that your home is kept safe. When you visit your pastures, nothing will be missing. Your children will be many; your descendants will be as plentiful as grass! You will live to a good old age. You will not be harvested until the proper time!
“We have found from experience that all this is true. Listen to my counsel, and apply it to yourself.”
* Wickedness leads to destruction
Chaff is the outer shell (or husk) that must be removed to get at the valuable kernels of grain inside. Chaff was removed by a process called threshing and winnowing. After the plants were cut, they were crushed, and then the pieces were thrown into the air. Chaff is very light and is carried away be even the slightest wind, while the good grain falls back to the earth. Chaff is a symbol of a faithless life that drifts along without direction. Good grain is a symbol of a faithful life that can be used by God. Unlike grain, however, we can choose the direction we will take. (NLT)
Psalm 1:4-6 – But this is not true of the wicked. They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.
* God will not permit the godly to slip and fall into the pit of destruction
God wants us to give our burdens to him, but often we continue to bear them ourselves even when we say we are trusting in him. Trust the same strength that sustains you to carry your cares also. (NLT)
Psalm 55:22-23 – Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. But you, O God, will send the wicked down to the pit of destruction. Murderers and liars will die young, but I am trusting you to save me.
* Destruction of evil and evildoers
At times it seems that God has let evil run rampant in the world, and we wonder if he even notices it. But God sees everything clearly—both the evil actions and the evil intentions lying behind them. He is not an indifferent observer. He cares and is active in our world. Right now, his work may be unseen and unfelt, but don’t give up. One day he will wipe out evil and punish the evildoers, just as he will establish the good and reward those who do his will. (NLT)
Proverbs 15:9-11 – The Lord despises the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue godliness. Whoever abandons the right path will be severely punished; whoever hates correction will die. Even the depths of Death and Destruction are known by the Lord. How much more does he know the human heart!
* Pride goes before destruction
Proud people take little account of their weaknesses and do not anticipate stumbling blocks. They think they are above the frailties of common people. In this state of mind they are easily tripped up. Ironically, proud people seldom realize that pride is their problem, although everyone around them is well aware of it. Ask someone you trust whether self-satisfaction has blinded you to warning signs. He or she may help you avoid a fall. (NLT)
Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.
* Careful plans for their destruction
Four powerful symbols and sources of security were lost: The protection of the gates, the leadership of the kings and princes, the guidance of the law, and the vision of the prophets. With those four factors present, the people were lulled into a false sense of security and felt comfortable with their sins. But after each was removed, the people were confronted with the choice of repenting and returning to God or continuing on this path of suffering. Don’t substitute symbols, even good ones, for the reality of a living, personal relationship with God himself. (NLT)
Lamentations 2:8-9 – The Lord was determined to destroy the walls of Jerusalem. He made careful plans for their destruction, then he went ahead and did it. Therefore, the ramparts and walls have fallen down before him. Jerusalem’s gates have sunk into the ground. All their locks and bars are destroyed, for he has smashed them. Her kings and princes have been exiled to distant lands; the law is no more. Her prophets receive no more visions from the Lord.
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