The Tender Mercies of the WICKED are CRUEL– The Character of God


There is a tendency today it seems to call that which is right wrong, or that which is good evil, or that which is justice cruelty. However, sometimes because of our misunderstandings, we might believe that we are tender and merciful, when in fact the opposite is true. For instance notice the following quote:

“How carefully God protects the rights of men! He has attached a penalty to wilful murder. ‘Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed’ (Gen. 9:6). If one murderer were permitted to go unpunished, he would by his evil influence and cruel violence subvert others. This would result in a condition of things similar to that which existed before the flood. God must punish murderers. ***He gives life, and ***He will take life***, if that life becomes a terror and a menace. Mercy shown to a wilful murderer is cruelty to his fellow men. ” (Ellen White, Manuscript 126, 1901)

In some situations, to show mercy, would be cruelty to others. That last part of the quote reminds me of the following verse:

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10)

You see, sometimes man wants to save a beast, and let’s use for instance a lamb that has a deadly and contagious disease that would infect the rest of the flock. The man has made every effort to save this beast, has exhausted every option. So in mercy he takes the life of that beast in order to save the rest of his flock because he realizes that to keep that beast alive would be cruelty to the fellow beasts.

Misunderstanding MERCY

Some however see it as mercy to save that beast which would have infected the rest of the flock. And see it as heinous and murderous, and cruelty to take the life of the infected sheep. There is a doctrine sometimes entitled “the character of God” or “God doesn’t kill” which teaches that if God would take the life of another it would be cruel. But the opposite is true. “God must punish murderers. ***He gives life, and ***He will take life***, if that life becomes a terror and a menace. Mercy shown to a wilful murderer is cruelty to his fellow men.

God gave them life as a gift and He can take it. As is written in the scriptures…

“To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence;…I kill and I make alive” (Deu 32:35, 39)
“And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword;” (Exo 22:24)

God does destroy in order to save. The Bible is very clear, God said “behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh.” (Gen 6:17) And we are told that “Another storm is coming. The earth will again be swept by the desolating wrath of God, and sin and sinners will be destroyed.” {EGW PP 101.1}

Some would have us believe that it is contrary to the character of God to destroy sinful humanity. When they see the effects of the flood, they believe them to be CRUEL, and UNMERCIFUL rather a God of love and salvation. You see the problem is that “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” and they don’t understand, so they can’t see a God of love, who in order to preserve and save, must sometimes protect.

“To our merciful God the act of punishment is a strange act. …While He does not delight in vengeance, He will execute judgment upon the transgressors of His law. He is forced to do this, to preserve the inhabitants of the earth from utter depravity and ruin. In order to save some He must cut off those who have become hardened in sin” {Ellen White Patriarchs and Prophets Page 628)

Some have the perception that God is up in heaven high fiving Jesus and the angels because they do this. But the Bible says that God does not delight in it at all, and He so badly does not want to do this, that He turns His back to us. He is FORCED into it. And then the blame is tossed on him.

Some have blamed God saying “You made this world… then you want to destroy us.” Well, really He doesn’t WANT to. He IS FORCED TO. God didn’t make the world this way. He made it and the Bible says it was “Very Good”. He gave dominion and ownership to his creation, man. Man with his free will ran it into the ground and then gave it to Satan to rule and destroy.

BUT God gave man the plan should something like this ever happen that it could be restored. But in order to restore it, he must destroy what man made and give His own life. Again, let me be clear, man made what we see today, not God. God created it perfect. The price was paid to redeem it back for man, but part of this redemption includes destroying the earth and the works thereof in the same way that God destroyed the earth with a flood. Sometimes man thinks that they have a better plan. But God doesn’t work on that plan.

“God’s love is represented in our day as being of such a character as would forbid His destroying the sinner. Men reason from their own low standard of right and justice. “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself” (Psalm 50:21). They measure God by themselves. They reason as to how they would act under the circumstances and decide God would do as they imagine they would do. The plea may be made that a loving Father would not see His children suffering the punishment of God by fire while He had the power to relieve them. But God would, for the good of His subjects and for their safety, punish the transgressor. God does not work on the plan of man. He can do infinite justice that man has no right to do before his fellow man. Noah would have displeased God to have drowned one of the scoffers and mockers that harassed him, but God drowned the vast world. Lot would have had no right to inflict punishment on his sons-in-law, but God would do it in strict justice.

Who will say God will not do what He says He will do”?—(EGW 12MR 207-209; 10MR 265 (1876)

You see many are reasoning from their own low understanding of right and justice saying it would be wrong for God to do what He says He is going to do. Just as Lucifer when he attacked God as unjust should God destroy the transgressor of the law, so also does man believe that they might have a better way. A better plan. But the plan, the plan of salvation was thought out, and sometimes because of not understanding right and justice, man has thought they had a better plan.

At one time the Israelites were led into idolatry, and Phineas was used as God’s instrument to put an end to the apostasy by putting a Javelin through a couple. Some have at times felt that this act was an act of cruelty. But usually it is from not seeing the entire picture. Some have tried to make it out to sound as though God was a large scale murderer guilty of genocide. But let me explain why some of these situations had to happen.

#1. The only way the world could be saved was through the seed, which is Christ. (Gal 3:16)
#2. That seed was promised through Abraham, so therefore that seed was to be preserved until that seed should come in order to fulfill the promise.
#3. If God had not destroyed in certain situations, they would have all eventually destroyed themselves.
#4. So in order to save some, he must destroy some. Notice this next quote and the principles in it.

“Moses commanded the men of war to destroy the women and male children…The Lord is regarded as cruel, by many, in requiring his people to make war with other nations. They say that it is contrary to his benevolent character…God has borne with them until they filled up the measure of their iniquity, and then he has brought upon them swift destruction. He has used his people as instruments of his wrath, to punish wicked nations who have vexed them, and seduced them into idolatry….Some can see only the destruction of God’s enemies, which looks to them unmerciful and severe. They do not look upon the other side. But let everlasting thanks be given, that impulsive, changeable man, with all his boasted benevolence, is not the disposer and controller of events. “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.“”(1SP 328-330)

Destroying women and children. “Little babies” some might say. To be honest with you, I give “Everlasting thanks” that men who believe that God would be wrong to do this aren’t the ones who came up with the plan. Though they may boast in their benevolence showing themselves to be kind, loving, gentle, peaceful, and even more merciful than God. We can realize the truth that their so called “tender mercies” are “cruel”. “Cruelty to their fellow men.”

Sometimes when a fire is out of control, certain areas are burnt in what is called a “controlled burn”. Some trees have to die in order to save many trees. The same is true with the body. Sometimes when a hand is infected, the doctor has to act quickly in order to save the rest of the body. This same illustration could be understood with the body of Christ, which is called his church or house. The house of Israel in the Old Testament. And when you understand it, you will understand why sometimes in acts of mercy, the Creator has destroyed some. Because He wanted to save some.

In another illustration from a book called God is Love by GI Fiefield, we read the following:

“When Fort Sumter was fired upon, if in a sickly sentimentality the United States had said, “Now we do not want to hurt these men; we will let them all go free, rather than punish them and cause misery to their families,” our laws, our government, would have been dishonored and disgraced. Men would have said, “The Americans have no respect for their laws; they will not defend their government.” Our unity would have been lost. Other nations would have come in each for his share of our territory, and untold misery and slavery and death would have been the result. Instead of this, we sent forth our noblest sons. They shed their life’s blood, they gave themselves a living and dying sacrifice to put down the rebellion. When the rebellion was put down, and the seceders surrendered, then we manifested out disposition to pardon. We pardoned everyone who would lay down his arms. Even leaders in the rebellion were freely forgiven. This we could do now, and no one would say that we did not respect our laws. This we could do now, and not have it lent to more misery.”(GI Fiefield God is Love Page 64)

And when we understand this, then we can understand why God steps in sometimes in a way that to some might seem forceful, unkind, unjust, and even unmerciful. However, if we really understand the matter, he is the one being “forced” in this situation, and it isn’t unmerciful at all, but rather, love and salvation.

Let everlasting thanks be given that we have a God of love, who is willing to pardon those who have even come against His government, His laws, and His judgments not understanding the truth and instead have become criticizers of our Creator not realizing that “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” And understanding that what we’ve thought was mercy and love, has been nothing more than “sickly sentimentalism.”

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