We were learning about the attributes of God in Gospel Principles and loving, mercy, omnipotence all mentioned. I mentioned vengeance and was told that God was not vengeful. So I asked if God was not vengeful how does he kill every man woman and child on the earth with the flood? Surely the children under the age of accountability should have been spared right? The same for the children in Sodom and Gomorrah. We believe children below the age of accountability cannot be wicked, yet millions upon millions were drowned in the flood or burned in the Sodom and Gomorrah destructions. Is this not the Lord’s vengeance?
One of the principles Joseph Smith taught, in order for our faith to have power and efficacy, is to understand the true character and attributes of God. As mentioned, we know He has many attributes: love, mercy, omnipotence, charity, grace, forgiveness, and so forth in their perfection. One of these attributes mentioned in scripture and by past prophets…vengeance.
Joseph Fielding Smith declared, “But, when Christ comes the second time it will be in the clouds of heaven, and it shall be the day of vengeance against the ungodly” (Doctrines of Salvation, Book 3, pg. 11).
Joseph F. Smith once shared, “God will curse and will exercise his judgment in those matters. ‘Vengeance is mine,’ saith the Lord, ‘and I will repay.’ We are perfectly willing to leave vengeance in the hands of God and let him judge between us and our enemies, and let him reward them according to his own wisdom and mercy” (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Words, pg. 408, iPad ebook).
In scripture we are informed:
Mosiah 17:19, “Thus God executeth vengeance upon those that destroy his people. O God, receive my soul.”
Doctrine & Covenants 3:4, “yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.”
Doctrine & Covenants 97:22, “For behold, and lo, vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly as the whirlwind; and who shall escape it?”
Thus we see, in light of these scriptures, we are told that God will exercise vengeance upon the ungodly, upon the unrighteous who pursue after their carnal desires, and upon those who murder His saints.
However, what do the scriptures mean that God is vengeful? As a young boy/man, I always heard my father say when I would mete out mine own justice against my siblings, “It is not your responsibility to punish your siblings…it is mine.” As an adult I realized my father was saying, “The right to discipline your siblings is mine as the father, not yours as the son.”
God is a God of discipline, of mercy and justice. He will exercise his right to discipline as he sees fit according to his perfect knowledge and understanding. Some might actually share that God killing the firstborn and killing the children within the flood was actually an act of mercy for the children (although an act of discipline (vengeance) for the adults) who had not reached the age of accountability…for they were taken straight way unto their Father in heaven in his kingdom.
I would venture to state, that God is saying “[discipline] is mine.”