Infidels.org asserts a contradiction exists with Jeremiah 13:14 (and doubtless other Bible verses where God executes harsh punishments) with the query, "God good to all, or just a few?"
|“||Psalms 145:9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Jeremiah 13:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.
However, both verses are equally correct and valid. God is good to all, and sends His rain on both the just and the unjust. (Mt. 5:45) However, evil warrants punishment from a just God, and while God is longsuffering, such punishment must inevitably result for God to be a good God. A critic cannot question on the one hand why evil exists in the world, and then on the other hand criticize God for punishing evil to stop it from spreading; you cannot have your cake and eat it too so to speak.
In the case of Jeremiah 13, God had been sending prophets warning Israel to change its ways time and time again, yet they insisted on performing such evils as child sacrifice, stealing from the poor, and idolatry - just to name a few of the more egregious. God sent them into captivity again and again, but when they'd cry out to Him, the merciful God would pity His people and save them, time and time again.
Finally, an extremely annoyed God told the Israelites,
|“||Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation." (Judges 10:11-14)||”|
In the end, a tender-hearted God chose to save His people once more.
In short, God is good and merciful. God is also just and punishes evil. The Bible repeatedly says, however, that mercy comes after repentance, turning from one's evil ways; and that God punishes evil. Rather than a contradiction, this simply involves the logical conclusion of a God who is both just and merciful, good to all. God is good to all, indeed if He were not He would not give all men a chance to come to salvation, and call all to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) However, that does not contradict His just punishments on evil. Indeed, the very concept of goodness requires destruction of evildoing.
It is no contradiction for a person to do good to all around them yet still stop evil when they see it, for example a murderer trying to kill someone, while using violence, than it is for a just God to do good to all but still intervene as a last resort to stop particularly heinous evils. God can be good and still punish evil, thus this is not a contradiction.
Verse 9, Again
Jim Meritt of Infidels.org claims the Bible contradicts itself here and asks "Cruel, Unmerciful, Destructive, and Ferocious or Kind, Merciful, and Good"?
|“||Jeremiah 13:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.
1 Samuel 15:2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
1 Chronicles 16:34 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalms 145:9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
First of all, for a full explanation of how God could be justified in His destruction of the Canaanite nations and punishment of Israel, see 'Destruction of Canaanites where it is pointed out that both were being punished for widespread practice of the horrible crime of child sacrifice. Meritt in quoting Jeremiah 13:14 here ignores the fact that the Israelites were being so horribly punished by God for sacrificing their own children by burning them alive.
|“||Jeremiah 7:30 For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it.
31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.
32 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place.
33 And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away.
34 Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate.
Jeremiah 32:34 But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it.
Concerning Amalek, God wanted to destroy the nation that had cowardly attacked the women and children of Israel. (Exodus 17:16)
|“||Deuteronomy 25:17 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;
18 How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God.
19 Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.
Ultimately, the answer to this question of whether God is cruel or kind is both. God is cruel to the wicked and unrepentant and kind and merciful to those who turn from their wicked ways. This answer is reinforced throughout the whole Bible. Making this an Either/Or ignores the truth of the Bible.
- Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.