Why did God judge entire cities?

Doug from Tennessee asks: “Why did God allow entire cities and nations to be destroyed in the Old Testament? It seems unjust to judge whole nations instead of individuals.”

To begin answering this question, we must first look at God Himself, and then look at humanity—the subjects of his judgment.

One of the attributes of God is His justice. God is at all times just, and he cannot do anything unjust, because doing so would violate the nature of who He is. Wayne Grudem wrote it this way: “God’s righteousness means that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is himself the final standard of what is right” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology).

Anytime our human understanding of God leads us to believe that God is acting unjustly, actually it is our own understanding of justice that is flawed.

Moses said to the Israelite people, “All his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

Turning our attention to humanity, we must understand that God never punishes an innocent person, because all people are sinful. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Only the mercy of God, demonstrated through Jesus Christ, can save us from the eternal justice of God.

In many instances in Scripture, when God chooses to destroy an entire city or nation, every citizen of that city was willingly engaged in idolatry and sin, and every person in that nation was equally guilty before God.

When God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham interceded to God for the salvation of those cities, God promised Abraham, “For the sake of ten [righteous people] I will not destroy it” (Genesis 18:32).

But God could not even find ten righteous people between these two cities, and so they were devoted to destruction, not because of the sins of a few, but because of the sins of the entire cities.

We are all just as guilty before God as Sodom and Gomorrah back in the Old Testament, and the only hope we have is through placing our faith in Jesus Christ, and trusting in Him alone for salvation. If you haven’t accepted that gift, I would encourage you to learn more about how you can be declared innocent before God today.

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