One of the most frequent ways in which the bible is misunderstood is by misreading God’s warnings as God’s desires. When God warns us of the consequences of following our own imaginations, it is because God loves us and wants us to turn away from our self-destructive ways. So many convoluted theories about God and distorted views of God’s character are rooted in this misreading of scripture. People want to say God destroys people when it is more fitting to say we destroy ourselves by failing to following God’s instructions on how to live.
A good rule of thumb to employ when reading accounts of bloodshed and violence in the Bible is to keep in mind the underlying message of repentance that runs throughout the whole Bible. Every horrible tragedy is the result of following our own evil imaginations instead of following God’s instructions that were given to us in the beginning. And at every turn, God’s message is the same: to return to God and to live by faith and God will save us from our own imaginations. God’s way is the way of life; every other way is the way of death. God gives us this choice, as it says in Deuteronomy 30:19, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” God has always wanted us to repent and live and does not delight in anyone perishing (Ezekiel 18:23, 2 Peter 3:9), yet we must stop following our own imaginations and return to God’s instructions. God is love and God’s ways are love (1 John 3:8, 16).