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God was justified to punish Israel however He saw fit when they disobeyed Him during His old covenant with them. He would also reward them with earthly blessings when they obeyed. Thankfully we live during God's dispensation of Grace today (Ephesians 3:2), where we are not under covenant law or subject to God's wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9), but have been gifted all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).
This is a fair question; Moses and Aaron asked the same question: O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins? Numbers 16:22 Then Moses said, "This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: if these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt." (vss 28-30). As soon as Moses finished saying that, it happened exactly the way he described; the earth swallowed them and their households. Then fire came out from the Lord and consumed 250 men who were illegally offering incense. They were bent on proving that neither Moses nor Aaron were in any way special. Then the plague began; and before Aaron could make atonement for the people, 14,700 of them died from the plague. Then God had each tribe to write the name of their tribe on a staff for the head of each tribe. The staffs were placed in the tent of meeting in front of the ark of the covenant law. God said to Moses: (here it is) "I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you (Moses) by the Israelites." (Numbers 17:5) He punished them indiscriminately because they needed to realize that they would win and lose as a team. (I should say that again) Not only them, all the people of the earth still live under the same life verdict: we are all in this as a species. Just as condemnation came upon all people through one transgression, so through one righteous act of Jesus' sacrifice, the perfect righteousness that makes us right with God and leads to a victorious life is now available to all (Romans 5:18). That is God's standard operational procedure (sop) for us. It's one of the lessons we refuse to heed, to our everyday downfall. We'd rather complain of how "unfair" we consider it to be than to try to learn to comply. We aren't told to pray for (love) our enemies just to make us scratch our head in wonderment! (here it is again) We're a team! Mankind wears the same uniform, the same colors, under the same Head Coach. Regardless of who or what we worship, we are all subject to the same outcome. It just seems that there are so many of us (the human species) who refuse to acknowledge truth. Case in point: Elijah summoned the people from all over Israel to meet him on Mount Carmel to have a showdown between him alone against the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah. (1 Kings 18) He asked the people a question that's still on the table: "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." (here it is) But the people said nothing (vs 21) After God answered by fire falling from heaven and lighting the altar, the people fell prostrate and cried, "The Lord is God! The Lord is God." (vs 39) So what happened? Why was it not settled for once and for all? Because Israel had an immoral king named Ahab and his first lady Jezebel, who threatened to kill Elijah for destroying the false prophets and teaching the people the truth about the sovereignty of Jehovah. Evil leadership... But a better day is coming: The watchmen shout and sing with joy, for before their very eyes they see the Lord returning to Jerusalem. Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song, for the Lord has comforted his people. He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has demonstrated his power before the eyes of all the nations. All the ends of the earth will see the victory of our God (Isaiah 52:8-10). Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand (Romans 15:21).
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