I got asked this question by someone who wanted me to say yes. They wanted me to say yes, because they wanted the opportunity to mock me for claiming that God loves us, while being forced to admit that God also wanted to gas millions of people.
How do you reconcile a good God… with stuff like this? If it’s OK with you, I’d like to avoid for now, the tedious philosophical arguments and just look at the big picture. By that I mean, if the God of the Bible exists, then understanding Him requires understanding what the Bible says is going on with God and the world in general. Calling God “good” or “loving” sends people off on tangents because we think of various depths of meaning when those terms are mentioned. It’s better just to stick with the source without getting sidetracked.
So back to the Jewish holocaust, was it God’s wrath?
Go back to the Old Testament, and in there you’ll find that when God made Israel into a nation and brought them into the land of Palestine, He made them some promises, and He gave them warnings. I’m not trying to sound flippant, I’m just saying it’s in there. Anyone can read it.
In several places, including a large passage in Deuteronomy 28, God warned the nation that if they rejected Him, He would scatter them all over the earth, and they would be persecuted. Here’s an excerpt:
Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. -Deuteronomy 28:65-66 [NIV]
And starting in 70 A.D. when the Romans wiped them out, and dispersed them all over the world… I think this Scripture, and others like it, were fulfilled. The Holocaust, in my view, was part of that. It wasn’t a good thing, and I don’t think Hitler is off the hook, but since the Bible said that sort of thing would happen, it appears God let it happen because of their rejection of Him and His Son.
In that sense, you could say it was part of God’s wrath, but it is incumbent upon us not to stop there, because…. the Bible doesn’t stop there. That’s only half the picture. If that.
The same Bible didn’t leave the nation of Israel under that curse forever. The same Bible also promised that they would be regathered from all the places where God had scattered them. So the ultimate plan wasn’t wrath, but restoration. You and I might question why God would allow so much pain and suffering before restoring them. In fact, I think there are lessons to be learned by asking, and contemplating on the “why.” But ultimately, the fact remains that God seems to be keeping His word here.
Just 2 chapters later, the same book said this:
Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. -Deuteronomy 30:4-5
And that Scripture, and many others like it, started being literally fulfilled with the re-birth of the nation of Israel in 1948.
The point I’m making here is simply this: In the big picture of things in the Bible, God does allow evil, but only for a time. The nation of Israel would be scattered and persecuted harshly for a time, and after, God brought them back and began a restoration. (I don’t think its over)
In life itself, God has allowed evil in the world, and allowed each of us to occasionally suffer from it as individuals. Sometimes, the suffering is horrific. Much like with Israel, evil and suffering are tied to our rejection of God and sin. Sin brought death to humanity according to the Bible, and every consequence that comes with it.
But just like with Israel, the problem of evil and suffering is temporary. Just as there would be a day when God would bring Israel back from all the places where He had scattered them, God also promises a day when He ends all suffering and all evil for all of humanity. Or as the Bible says in one place:
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” -Revelation 21:4
So, to be fair, the purpose, the ultimate design of the God of the Bible was not to condemn and destroy the world and leave it at that, but to restore humanity. That’s where the God of the Bible has things headed.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. -Jesus (John 3:17)
“For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” -Romans 11:32
After writing that, Paul exclaimed:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! -Romans 11:33
See, any time we ask why a “loving” God allows bad things to happen, I think the Bible is saying that He’s not going to -not forever. We’re are sort of in mid-process here as the Bible describes the things God is doing. The ultimate plan is an eternity free from things like the Holocaust. So if that’s the plan and purpose of God in general. I guess the real question starts to become whether or not we put our hope in that promise?