Why would God withhold miracles?


Matthew 11:21-24

"Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."

Ezekiel 33:11

"'As surely as I live,' declares the Sovereign LORD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.'"

1 Timothy 2:3-4

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.


If the people in Tyre, Sidon and Sodom would have repented if they had seen miracles, why didn't God perform those miracles? Wasn't that unfair to them?

The sins of the people were egregious ones that they would have known were wrong, including rape (Gen 19:4-5) and violence (Ezek 26:17, 28:16). Though their consciences should have been enough, God also warned them and gave them time to repent. Prophecies against Tyre and Sidon (Ezek 26-28) were delivered directly to the people (27:1-3) and the king of Tyre (28:1-2), and they could have repented at any time and still been forgiven (Jer 18:7-8). (The city of Ninevah responded to similar prophecies by repenting, and was spared (Jonah 3:4-10).)

Since the people knew they were doing wrong, they were responsible for their actions, but also could have repented of them. The prophecies were an extra, unnecessary revelation; miracles would have been yet another extra revelation, not something God was required to provide them with. God takes into account the knowledge and opportunities people have been given (Lk 12:47-48); since they would have repented had they been given the extra sign of a miracle, they will receive less punishment than those who received warnings and saw miracles and still refused to repent.

But wouldn't God want them to repent, and hence provide them with the miracles? It could be the case that God used the punishment of these cities as examples to others, who would themselves be led to repentance as a result (2 Pt 2:6, 1 Cor 10:5-6). It may also be that the people would have repented and avoided destruction, but later would've backslid into some of their former sins (not enough to again merit destruction, but enough to be in a state of rebellion against God) and thus would not have fully turned to God.


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