16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others." When they heard this, they said, "Surely not!" 17 But he looked directly at them and said, "What then is this that is written:
"'The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone'?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him."
How can God who is both merciful and kind "destroy" those who reject his salvation?
God uses the harsh word destroy to accomplish a few things.
One, his words are used to wake up those who are currently on the path to destruction. If he used words that were any less truthful of the coming consequences, then he would be guilty of sugar-coating the utter ruin that is coming. God loves everyone and to allow even his enemies to suffer unwarned would be against his nature.
Two, since God is a holy God he cannot permit into his presence those who oppose him. The unjustified people who try to, on their own, come to meet with God will be rejected as they rejected him. Each of us, without Christ are the same, exactly the same. We don't have clearance to enter into the presence of a righteous and holy God. Sin is a pestilence that God cannot come into contact with.
Three, Christ justified us, there is no other substitute. God can not continue trying forever to get someone to accept him. People will either follow God or follow themselves and eventually they will follow themselves into destruction.
It's harsh sounding but what else would you have God do? Would you have him create an entire other universe, separate from God, to go on sinning to your hearts content? Maybe that is just what he did, with hell.
God must separate, not only himself from those who oppose him, but also those who oppose him from those who love him. He must do this for the same reasons he must separate them from himself. Because his people are holy, because of Jesus. Because his people are justified and therefore in right standing with him. Once this life is over, we can't be with those God has not justified. Because they can't be with God, they can't be with us.
It is hard to grasp, emotionally and mentally, in fact the very reason I'm writing this is to help me understand God's reasoning. I think God gives everyone, every chance he can to accept him and in the end he judges us based on what we did with all those chances.