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God kills a lot of Israelites in the desert. I don’t like this.

Neither did they, but they kept complaining and telling God they had a better plan. So God made and enforced penalties that involved death.

Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. Exodus 19:12

And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made. Exodus 32:35

As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. . .And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense. Numbers 16:31-32, 35

But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. Number 16:49

Death had a cleansing effect. God made a clear point in the desert with his people—gossip is a destructive cancer and it must be stopped. Remove the cancer. Don’t try to treat it over time and hope it gets better. These people were seeing God (in the pillar of smoke and fire) every day and yet they doubted. They didn’t seek help for their faith. They complained and made others doubt too.

Remember, God’s reaction to these things was for this nation only, at this time in their existence. God does not strike down people because of malicious gossip today. If that’s the case, how many radio talk show hosts would be dead?

God couldn't put them in jail for their offense.  They were nomads, on the move!  God couldn't fine them.  They were all poor with no property and very little belongings.  Death was the only practical punishment.

God judged the Israelites in these situations as a defense, also, against Moses, Aaron and the priests. When people rose up against them, God rose up and protected them from mutiny. This speaks a lot about how God supports leadership.

Fearing God is good for us. If we don’t fear God, we elevate ourselves. If we don’t fear God, we don’t have faith in him. We have hold a healthy respect for his power if we are going to follow him.

God created a precedent for future generations – trust God, don’t complain. It’s a principle we understand today, not a practice God does today.