Why are certain people punished immediately for their sins, and the rest are not?
It is true and obvious that certain people are punished immediately
for their sins, and the rest are not. If we look at the Biblical
evidences we see a systematic pattern in the judgments of God.
God is a righteous and a great Judge. Sometimes He executes
His Judgments immediately, but most of the time He waits. But none
escapes the final judgment of God. Whether one likes it or not:
We shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ.
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to
God. (Romans 14:10, 12)
Yes, there is a day of reckoning for all.
Adam and Eve were supposed to die the same day they sinned.
For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely
die. (Genesis 2:17)
But why didn't Adam and Eve die that same day? A substitute stood
in their place! Jesus, the Son of God, declared that He would die in
their stead. Their punishment was deferred. They could even escape
it according to the provision devised in the plan of salvation.
God gave humanity another chance to come in-line with the
divine precepts. He would help them by His grace, and the power of
the Holy Ghost.
The life we now live is a life of probation. It is during this
period we either qualify or fail for Heaven. The Bible declares:
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
There is none righteous, no, not one. (Romans 3:10)
In God's sight, we are all on the same platform. Therefore His
kindness will extend to all, equally, for all are in the same boat of
sin; some are at the top of the boat, and some at the bottom of it!
Talking about the attitude of our Heavenly Father, Jesus said:
He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. (Luke
Again Jesus said:
For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew
That is the reason why we see both-the righteous (believers) and
the wicked (unbelievers)-being protected, and provided with many
good things. Not because we are good, but because He is good!
The Psalmist understood the longsuffering and goodness of
God, and gratefully declared:
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded
us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10)
He is giving us so much time to repent and turn back. This is
where many are making a fatal mistake. Solomon wrote:
Because sentence against an evil work is not executed
speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully
set in them to do evil. (Ecclesiastes 8:11)
Many have come to believe that God has now accepted the ways
of man, and has become more gracious, not knowing what could be
the reason for His longsuffering and goodness. Paul cried out:
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance
and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness
of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)
Yes, because God wants all to come to repentance, He holds back
the due judgments. Nevertheless the natural course of every evil act
shows up in the fruits. What is sown is reaped. Paul wrote:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man
soweth, that shall he also reap.For he that soweth to his
flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption. (Galatians 6:7, 8)
There have been cases, however, where God executed His swift
judgment, and there is a reason. If you notice these cases, it was
either because under great light they sinned, knowing what they were
doing, or it was an important person defying the God of Heaven.
Look at the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10). They
had seen the mighty outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the day of
Pentecost. In all probability, they would have seen Christ while in
His public Ministry. They had witnessed and heard of the miracles
the disciples performed by the power of God. In spite of having all
the evidences before them they dared play a fatal trick. This was a
sin under great evidence and great light, and God had to execute a
speedy judgment. That act of God would be a reminder and an
example for the rest not to sin against great light.
Look at David's case when He took Bathsheba, Uriah's wife
(2 Samuel 11, and 12:15-19). The child that was born outside
wedlock, died soon after birth. But there are many children today,
too, who are born outside wedlock, and they are allowed to live.
Why was it different in David's case? He was a prophet of God, the
king of God's own country, and a man who had great light-therefore
the swift punishment!
Look at Nebuchadnezzar when he proudly declared in the
palace of his kingdom:
Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house
of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the
honour of my majesty? (Daniel 4:30)
God struck him, and for seven long years he was like unto a beast
eating grass as oxen. "His hairs were grown like eagles' feathers"
and "His nails like birds' claws" (Daniel 4:33).
Aren't many people like Nebuchadnezzar today? But why did
God strike him at once? He sinned under great light. God had given
him a special privilege. He had the great dream (in Daniel Chapter
2), and he had Daniel, the great prophet, interpret the dream. And
God had told Nebuchadnezzar through Daniel:
Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven
hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and
glory. (Daniel 2:37)
And Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged it:
The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is,
that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and
a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this
secret. (Daniel 2:47)
So God had to punish him swiftly when he made that proud statement.
Look at what happened to Herod in Acts Chapter 12. People
attributed his voice to that of a divine being, saying:
It is the voice of a God, and not of a man. And immediately
the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave
not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave
up the ghost. (Acts 12:22, 23)
This man, Herod, had the evidence of God's power in the lives and
works of the apostles. Having all these proofs, he took the glory that
belongs to God to himself, and therefore the swift judgment.
Also we have the two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, who
offered strange fire in the sanctuary who were at once consumed by
God's judgment. They were priests that God directly appointed
while His visible presence was with them. They dared sin in God's
awesome physical presence and paid the price at once, right before
And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange
fire before the LORD. (Numbers 26:61)
Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament God acted
swiftly whenever He saw fit. When people in high positions and
those who have had great light commit such grave sins, God will act
swiftly, if not, their bad example will influence many under them.
It does not mean that we, common people, can do those grave
sins and yet escape judgment. If God decides, the judgment can
come down swiftly, as seen in the cases with many we know, even
But one thing is for sure: There is a final day of reckoning, and
each one will give a complete account to God. Listen to the wise
man in Ecclesiastes:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear
God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole
duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment,
with every secret thing, whether it be good, or
whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14)