Some Christians today want to pity the wicked. But they’re as ignorant of God’s true character as those they want to take pity on. These people think God is soft and kind, a doting grandfather. They don’t know the fierceness of his wrath against sin, his righteousness and justice. If these Christians appeared in a John Wayne movie, they would not last. Wayne would find and kill all the evildoers, while they would be left behind – injured or dead.
The word “pity” means “to have” or “look upon with compassion.” It means to “spare” someone pain, suffering, or righteous judgment for sin. Sinners who seek God for pity will find it. He is the righteous Judge and he alone can pardon and redeem. This is why Jude says, “Of some have compassion, making a difference. Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (22-23, KJV). If sinners repent and believe, they can be pulled from the fire and saved. Other sinners do not want to repent. They seek man instead of God for pity, but they will not find it. The wicked will be cut off.
God laughs at the wicked (Psalm 2:4, 37:13, 59:8). He knows their day is coming, his day of vengeance (37:13). The greatest day appears in Revelation: “And I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings and … captains and … mighty men and … horses and” their riders “and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great” (19:17-18, KJV). What a feast!
God told Israel to kill, not pity, idolaters – whether among their brethren or the foreign nations they conquered (Deuteronomy 7:2, 16, 13:6-10, 19:11-21, 25:11-12). For Jewish idolaters, God’s words are stark: “Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him” (13:8, KJV). When Israel later committed idolatry, God told them through his prophets that he would not pity them; instead, God would deliver Israel into the hands of foreign rulers (Jeremiah 13:14, 21:7; Ezekiel 5:11, 7:4-9, 8:18, 24:14). Before his presence left the temple in Jerusalem, God told his angelic servants to mark the foreheads of the righteous and then kill, not pity, those not marked (Ezekiel 9:5-10).
Old Testament believers understood the wrath of God against sin and evildoers. They knew they were fighting a war. After losing a battle against Israel Sisera, captain of King Jabin’s army, thought he would find pity and rest in the home of Heber the Kenite (Judges 4:16-17). “There was peace” between Heber and King Jabin (4:17, KJV). But Sisera was wrong. Heber’s wife Jael gave him milk instead of water to drink so he would sleep soundly (4:19). Then she killed Sisera by driving a tent peg through his skull (4:21). Jael took no pity on her enemy and that of Israel.
The Amalekites fought Israel after they left Egypt weary (Exodus 17:8-16, Deuteronomy 25:17-19). God recorded this evil deed. He promised Moses he would remove the remembrance of Amalek from the earth and war with them each generation (Exodus 17:14, Deuteronomy 25:19). In all their history, the Amalekites would find no pity with God. Four hundred years later, to keep his promise God told King Saul to kill everything pertaining to Amalek – men, women, children, and livestock (1 Samuel 15:2-3). Saul disobeyed by taking pity on and sparing King Agag, as well as the livestock (15:9). When Samuel heard of Saul’s disobedience, he killed the wicked Amalekite king himself. “As your sword made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women. Then Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord” (15:33, KJV).
Unlike Sisera and Agag, when Gad asked King David which divine punishment he desired after he foolishly numbered Israel, David said, “Let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:14). When the people of Nineveh heard God’s judgment against them through the prophet Jonah, they humbled themselves, put on sackcloth, and fasted (Jonah 3:5-9). The city looked to God, not man, for pity – and they found it (3:10, 4:11).
Likewise, after King Ahab heard God’s judgment against him after he possessed Naboth’s vineyard, he put on sackcloth and humbled himself before God (1 Kings 21:27). Ahab found pity as a result. God spared him the vengeance he would take on Ahab’s descendants (21:28-29). Queen Jezebel, however, hired the murder of Naboth (21:8-10). She never repented and found no pity. Jehu asked some eunuchs to throw her from a window (2 Kings 9:32-33).
A world war is coming soon, but war cleans out the weak. God’s got an army marching through the land (Carman). Will we join the army of God or that of his enemies? Will we destroy God’s enemies at his direction or will we pity and spare them? For those of us who have sinned, will we seek God for pity – or man? Only with God will we find mercy. The choice is ours.