Achan, Uzzah and Sam Harris
We need a good helping of common-sense when we're interpreting scripture; it'll help to keep us from believing and talking nonsense.
It's too easy to find someone who has sinned and suffered under God's hand in a public way and to move from that truth to some generalisation about the way God works. Let me illustrate what I mean.
Under severe pressure Moses becomes momentarily trustless and angry and God won't let him into the Promised Land (see Numbers 20). Achan (see Joshua 7) steals what is claimed by God and he and his entire family are slain. Nadab and Abihu (see Leviticus10) ignore ceremonial protocol (their motivation isn't made clear) and are slain by God on the spot. Ananias and his wife (see Acts 5) lie to God and (it appears) withheld what they had committed to him and both fall down dead. Uzzah (see 2 Samuel 6) touches the Ark of the Covenant and God kills him then and there. A crowd of youths from Bethel follow Elisha, God's prophet, jeering and insulting him as they go and God kills forty-two of them (see 2 Kings 2:23-25).
A series of sermons follows on how God hates unbridled anger, lies, stealing, ignoring God's precise instructions and failure to keep our promises.
And why not? We can hardly believe that God rejoices in these things, can we? Hardly! But it isn't helpful to give the impression that God is always on the verge of destroying or severely punishing every wrong—is there no forgiveness in him, no patience with people who sin?
In any case, we're not to pretend that the central thing in the punishments mentioned above is the simple fact that somebody sinned and that God hates sin. There is a context to all these occurrences and it would serve us well to look for it so that we won't reduce the message of the events.
Hanging verses together as if we were putting beads on a string is dabbling with scripture (it's the kind of thing ignorant Sam Harris the atheist does but it's hardly excusable for serious Bible students, teachers or preachers).
It wouldn't be hard to write a book of 10,000 pages about the oppression of black people by Europeans and Americans. Every page could truthfully rehearse some outrageous cruelty and yet the book as a whole might well be an instrument of injustice. It would ignore all the many white people who sacrificed wealth and reputation, peace and comfort, in war and otherwise, to aid the sufferers and bring the cruelty and injustice to an end.
Similarly, it isn't difficult to hang together all the punishing passages of scripture and give the impression that God is high-strung and obsessed with his reputation and like flint when it comes to his commands.
That isn't the God of the Bible or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.