"Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle...And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth." --Zechariah 14:3, 12
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war...And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh." --Revelation 19:11, 21
"What a DIVINE RETRIBUTION against armies that will fight against Christ! What a demonstration of the Divine Power with which the glorified Christ will rule all nations! REBELLION against God's LAW and God's RULE must, and speedily will be put down!" --The Wonderful World Tomorrow: What It Will Be Like by Herbert W. and Garner Ted Armstrong (1973)
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works...And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." --Revelation 20:12, 15
Those who are familiar with the Armstrong Church of God culture can probably remember a sermon or two where the speaker would work himself up almost to the point of orgasm describing just how horrible God's wrath was going to be when Christ returned to this earth. There was a gleam in their eyes as they described God's justice, and how wicked mankind will finally get his just deserts. I remember Herbert Armstrong thundering from his desk: "This world is rotten, it's corrupt, it's damnable; and it's going to go!" Wiped out by Divine retribution. Of course, all of this was based on a very literal interpretation of the prophecies being quoted. There could be no doubt that God intended a real blood bath, and it was absolutely certain that it was going to happen in the near future.
For the sake of argument, let's say they were right about that literal interpretation of these passages. They were still wrong! It is now clear to me that they made the same mistake that the prophet Jonah made (along with many others). They had their own notions about fairness - about what was just and what was not just. However, unlike Jonah, they projected their own anger and thirst for vengeance onto God. Jonah ran away from his assignment to prophesy against Nineveh; because he knew that God was gracious, merciful, slow to anger and prone to great kindness. (Jonah 4:2) In other words, he knew that God wouldn't do all of the horrible things which he had prophesied against the citizens of Nineveh if they repented of their sins. In modern language, "God doesn't have enough backbone - He's too soft on these sinners - He's too quick to forgive - Kill them God! Give those miserable b-st-rds what they deserve!"
Hmmm, maybe it's a very good thing that "His" thoughts are not our thoughts, and "His" ways are not our ways. (Isaiah 55:8) What do you think?