Will the Killing Never End?
Though difficult to even think about it, I’m compelled to write about the savage slaughter in Las Vegas this past Sunday. Never before in the 220 Eye of Prophecy articles to date have successive posts begun with the same sectional heading. Especially one as grim as: Will the Killing Never End?
Last week’s article, The Real Reason for Palestinian Terrorism, was about the murder of three Israelis on September 26th by a 37-year old Palestinian who, by means of his Israeli issued work permit, had a good job and above average income from working in one of the Israeli communities in the West Bank. Neither his age nor his economic status fit the profile of Palestinians who murder Jews. Nor did the 64-year old financially well-to-do killer who ruthlessly snuffed out the lives of 59 fellow Americans, with an unprecedented number injured … over 500.
Not since 9/11 do I recall sitting in front of the television for hours over a single event, flipping between news stations; watching the deadly details of this malicious massacre in silent and solemn disbelief. Occasionally mouthing the words along with millions of Americans … unbelievable, incredible, shocking, and inconceivable. And mostly, “Why?”
Our hearts ache, our minds numbed, our spirits distressed, and our eyes and ears repulsed by the horror of it all.
There are not adequate words in any language to describe such cruelty. I suppose that President Donald Trump said it as well as could be said: “An act of pure evil.”
Every moral and spiritual fiber of our being cries out: “This is wrong, this is so very wrong.”
The sheer number of victims is staggering. It is the worst mass shooting in United States history, exceeding the 49 killed in the Orlando night club in June, 2016. The only other atrocity committed by an American that resulted in more deaths was the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City (1995 … 168 dead) by another malevolently evil man.
Twenty times as many Americans killed in Nevada on October 1st, than the three Israelis murdered in Israel just six days earlier. I don’t make this observation just for the sake of comparison. Anyone with any sense of morality, human decency, and respect for life knows full well: The murder of just one person (especially indiscriminate acts of terrorism that have become all too common, to the appalling point of normalcy) is one too many.
Rather, I make the connection between America and Israel because both Americans and Israelis have been affected by these brutal crimes on a national level. We, the people, are seriously shocked, righteously outraged, and deeply grieved by the deaths of our fellow Americans and Israelis, respectively. Both Americans and Israelis are intensely saddened at the devastating effect that the loss of loved ones (particularly at the hand of a random killer) has on their immediate family and friends.
In the context of this week’s subject, I only want to point out that the Jews have suffered many more of these arbitrary acts of terrorism in the last thirty years or so than have Americans. In that regard, killing of the three Jews was a greater loss (in numbers) to Israel than the fifty-nine Americans—mercilessly struck down before their time—were to America. With 320 million Americans and 6.5 million Jews in Israel, the United States population is approximately 50 times larger than Israel. Which statistically means that the death of three Israelis is 2 ½ times proportionally more than the loss of fifty-nine Americans.
Yet, it bears repeating: Even one innocent person randomly stabbed, shot, bombed, or run over by a vehicle is one too many. Whether it be in the United States, Israel, Norway, Germany, France, Spain, Great Britain, or anywhere. Reliable statistics show that 89% of such mass killings are committed by Muslims in general and/or those with actual or ideological ties to Islamic militants in particular. The Las Vegas massacre falls into the remaining ten per cent.
(Shows Body Covered on Ground … One of Two Woman Killed at Marseille, France Train Station by Muslim Terrorist–Also On October 1st)
Motive for the Law Vegas Bloodbath
Most Americans seem to be stunned at the Las Vegas massacre more than previous attacks for two reasons: (1) the frightening number of those killed and wounded. (2) Not knowing why … motive of the butcher.
Not just the leaders of our country and other nations who have condemned the Las Vegas atrocity, but celebrities and ordinary Americans have heard and probably uttered the word, senseless, or something similar. In a USA Today article entitled, Celebrities mourn a senseless act: ‘Why?’ posted on 10-3-17, some 30 celebrities (mostly country western singers and musicians) were quoted with such phrases as “stilled and speechless” from Keith Urban. Or Brad Paisley: “There are no words right now that suffice.” Blake Shelton said: “I don’t even know anymore … Why?” Thomas Rhett couldn’t, “fathom what happened.”
Contrasted to, for example, the Orlando and the San Bernardino (December, 2015 … fourteen killed) mass murders that were committed by a single man and a married couple with religious ties to Islam and/or political affiliation—at least ideological—to ISIS. Thus far, the Las Vegas assassin has no known religious or political connections to anyone or anything. Killing with absolutely no reason except to kill is, indeed, pure evil.
That’s what makes the Las Vegas attack even more gut-wrenching and mind-boggling. We want to know why, but we don’t. We want to process it all, but we can’t. Some think or say: even if there was a reason, it’s reached the point where it’s too much. Enough is enough.
If we just knew the reason, then maybe we could do something. Or can we? Where do we start? What could or should we do different? Should we deal just with the surface of the problem? In the case of mass shootings, do we eliminate altogether the constitutional right for American citizens to bear arms? Do we increase our security to the brink of becoming a police state in America? Do we give up going to indoor or outdoor stadiums and arenas to watch basketball, football, baseball, soccer; or listen to open-air concerts or attend conferences in a crowd of thousands?
Or is the problem much deeper than what can be addressed on a social or political or law enforcement level?
When all is said and done, is there really any way we can make sense of the senseless?
(Fort Hood Mass Shooting in Nov., 2009. Shows one of the 31 Wounded on Stretcher. Twelve American Servicemen and One Civilian Killed By Major Nidal Hasan, Who was a Practicing Muslim and Described Himself As, “A Soldier of Allah.” Thus, in This Case, the Ultimate Motive Was Clear).
Only Through God and His Word Can We Make Some Sense of It All
God’s Word, the Bible, does give us hope for the future, knowing that God knows why and that he cares more than we can imagine. How much does he care?
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (I John 4:9-10).
Jesus understands pain and death. He, too, was murdered. Though his death was unique—the just for the unjust, the righteous for the unrighteous—his blood was just as real, just as red. His agony was so great that the word excruciating comes directly from crucifixion.
Many inevitably ask the question: “Why did God allow this to happen?” That is a question that could be asked of any tragedy on a personal, city and state, national or international level—such as two World Wars that resulted in a combined death of some 90 million people.
Except for Messiah Jesus, no one who has ever lived knows all the relevant reasons why God does or doesn’t preemptively do certain things for certain people or cities or nations at any given time.
Yet, both general and specific principles can be found in Scripture … starting at the beginning when God allowed mankind to choose between good and evil. Including the realization that if God intervened in (prevented) every sin that every person or group of people were about to commit, then he would be revoking the free will that he has given us to choose between right and wrong, between light and darkness, between life and death. Which means that we would not choose to love, respect, and worship him for who He is—our Creator and Savior. We would become puppet robots with a deep-seated desire to rebel against God even more than we already do. What parent doesn’t want their child to love them willingly? What child wants to be forced to love and respect their mom and dad? In that sense, God has given everyone the freedom to determine his or her eternal destiny, depending on what they do with his Son.
Throughout the people, places, and events of Scripture—as borne out in history in the context of such things as terrible tragedies—if there’s one thing that stands out above everything else it is this: God sometimes allows bad things to happen to get our attention, including man-made disasters. When it comes to natural disasters, the Lord may even cause them from time to time. He allows things to happen in order to jolt our individual attention because our attention span is so short when it comes to focusing on God as the giver of all good things. He gives us life, then he gives us life again (everlasting) by redemption through his Son, Messiah Jesus. Or the principle as applied to entire nations so profoundly stated in the following passage:
And, “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Inevitably and invariably, the only way to make sense of these senseless acts is by seeing things in the broadest and best perspective possible. And there is no other bigger or better source that God, himself. Moreover, the Lord’s divine perspective of his creation, of all things, is portrayed powerfully through His Word, the Bible.
For example: In last week’s article we looked past the presumed reasons why Palestinian Arabs continue to kill Jews on a regular basis. Motives such as alleged Jewish occupation of Israel (what Arabs still insist is Palestine) or non-existent apartheid propagandized by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to their own people and erroneously believed by millions all over the earth. As opposed to the real reason which goes back thousands of years; one that is explained explicitly in Scripture—the ancient rivalry between Ishmael and Isaac, ancestors of the Arabs and Jews, respectively.
The origin of 20th and 21st century terroristic-style killings can be traced primarily back to the Palestinian massacre of eleven Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics. Followed throughout the years by plane hijackings, then suicide bombings, and now lone-wolf attacks. Then largely beginning with 9/11, Muslim mass murder of anyone they considered infidels, which are Christians (including “Christian nations”) and Jews. And more recently Muslim Sunni and Shi’ite sects killing each other.
With one or two exceptions, such as the University of Texas student/sniper who shot and killed fourteen and wounded thirty-two in 1966, this perverted pattern of terrorism began in Munich, Germany. It then spun off into copy-cat massacres that have taken place all over the world, but mostly in the United States. The deadliest, in terms of numbers, took place near Oslo, Norway, with the lone gunman bombing and shooting to death 77 people in 2011. Although fewer in numbers (fortunately) than the Las Vegas massacre, the killing of twenty Sandy Hook Elementary school children and six staff members by a 20-year old man—who also didn’t have any political or religious motivation—was as gruesome as it gets. He also shot and killed his own mother.
For sure Palestinian murder of Jews is terrorism. But as developed in last week’s article, it has a much deeper root than just excuses created through political or religious conflict and opportunities. These are just branches of the tree. The tree itself is that of sheer hatred traced all the way back to Ishmael’s animosity towards Isaac.
(Isaac, not Ishmael was the Child of Promise. God Spared Isaac. But God Did Not Spare Isaac’s Descendant, Messiah Jesus–Who Is the Ultimate Child of Promise to Save Us From Our Sins)
The Depravity of Mankind … How Terrible Sin Really Is
Thus, there is a known reason for Palestinians in particular and Muslims in general committing acts of terror or BDS against Jews and (in some parts of the world) Christians. Whereas, the reprehensible massacre of so many in Las Vegas seems senseless and even more maddening because of an apparent lack of motive, the end result is the same. Whether serial killers over a period of time or a single act of mass murder, these killings actually do have a common denominator—the ultimate reason given to us by God:
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Then immediately we read:
“But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10).
Then painting an even broader picture in order to show us that the universal divine standard from which we can make sense out of the senseless, and by which our eternal destiny is determined can be found in such verses as:
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standards” (Romans 3:23).
Also, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a).
That’s right: everyone has sinned. And the “reward” (wages) for that sin is death—eternal separation from God throughout eternity.
The Apostle Paul went on to emphasize:
“…So we can see how terrible sin really is…” (Romans 7:13).
But here’s where so many people make such a huge mistake. Nearly all unbelievers (and sadly even some Christians) have a wrong impression of what sin really is, thinking that sin consists of only the worst of the wrong things people do. They compare themselves to others and customarily conclude that there are many people worse than they are. So we hear them say such things as, “Well, I’m not that bad.” Really? Where do they draw the line? What’s their definition of bad? Or for that matter … good? Do they wonder how many others have said the same thing about them? Is there anyone, anywhere who could make that statement about every other person in the world?!
In order to make such a distinction, they have to set up their own personal standards, which makes the whole thing totally relative … no absolute or fixed reference point. Actually, that’s what most people do. It’s a cafeteria style morality: Choose only want you want to be or think is sin.
Many equate this relative standard (of acceptance by or right standing with God) only to criminal violations of statutory laws. Others view sin as no more than a lapse in judgment, with a mindset that, “we all make mistakes.” Or, “no one is perfect.” They’re correct on both accounts, but so very wrong that only some of the sins (the ones they choose) listed in Scripture are actually transgressions against God. If we think that so many of the bad things we do are not really sin, then why do we lie about them so often? Why cover them up? Why hide them? Rhetorical questions, wouldn’t you agree. And then there are those who boast about their transgressions.
“If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts” (I John 1:10).
In terms of redemption—accepted by faith as a free gift from God as opposed to good works leading to salvation (Ephesians 2:8)—there is no difference between say a few small sins or even one small sin and one huge act of evil such as murder.
The Bible is absolutely clear: Concerning our need for redemption through Jesus Christ and him alone, God does not grade or measure us on a curve or sliding scale of little and big sins. All who die without Christ will be separated from God forever. Only their degree of retribution in hell (punishment fits the crime) is determined by the severity of their wrong thoughts and actions while on this earth. In that regard, Stephen Paddock might not be that far behind such infamous characters as Joseph Stalin or Adolph Hitler concerning the degree of their eternal punishment.
Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, A Trilogy of Terror, posted 12-26-15:
The gospels and epistles are replete with his words of truth, life, and hope; but also words of warning of the great tribulation and coming judgment. As do most of the Old Testament prophets. What many preachers and teachers have said is true: Jesus and Scripture talk more about hell than heaven. More about sin and its awful consequences than the salvation that will forgive those sins and pardon the penalty imposed by God. But for a purpose: To demonstrate that, as awesome as God’s love is for every individual and for the Jewish nation as a whole, God’s justice must be administered or the world as we know it would inevitably self-destruct….
For example: “O God … you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked … You will destroy those who tell lies. The Lord detests murderers and deceivers” (Psalm 5:4-6).
This passage, like so many others, speaks of unbelievers whose entire life is lived apart from God, doing their own thing, going their own way.
Notice that the Lord detests not only murderers, but also deceivers. Deception is as bad as or worse than the sin itself … lying to cover up wrong things we’ve done. We even lie about lying.
Because Scripture is replete with all kinds of sin and also many stories of people who have sinned, I’ll refer only to Galatians 5:19-21, that begins with: “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear…”
The Apostle Paul goes on to list fifteen specific sins in that passage plus, “other sins like these.” He makes it clear that Scripture is referring to: “…anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21). As opposed to those whose life (and lifestyle) has been changed from the inside out by trusting in Messiah Jesus for forgiveness of their sin.
We have absolutely no right to deliberately take someone’s life unless its self-defense (including justified wars) or the Biblical mandated right of society to administer capital punishment. Concerning “lesser” sins: although not dead as such, how many lives have been ruined permanently or for long periods of time by adultery, loss of life savings through fraud, selfish indulgence of alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, molestation, and a host of other offenses that devastate the offended and sometimes even the offender. To the point of wishing they were dead … some even tragically acting on that wish.
Eternal Life or Everlasting Death
There is, in fact, a fate worse than physical death. It is spiritual death—which the Bible classifies as eternal separation from God. As opposed to eternal life in heaven. But thanks be to our great and glorious God; there is a remedy.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).
Yes, the wages of sin is (eternal) death. But the second half of that verse gives us wonderful hope:
“….but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).
“And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (I John 5:11-13, italics for emphasis).
Not think, not wish, but we can know (beyond any doubt) that personal trust in Messiah’s death, burial, and resurrection will guarantee everlasting life with our Lord and the host of heaven. Along with a complete pardon for all the wrong things we’ve done.
In light of the unspeakable tragedy that took place in Las Vegas, it is also imperative that we highlight another feature of the above quoted passage. Which is: Whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.
The Apostle John also wrote: “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment” (John 3:36). These and many other Bible passages tell us that all who die without accepting Jesus as personal Savior will sadly end up in hell, awaiting final sentence because they remain under God’s angry judgment.
Jesus said to (of all people) the religious leaders of Israel: “…You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins” (John 8:23-24).
Jesus claimed not only that he was the anointed Messiah; he also said in no uncertain terms that he was God (the Son). He applied the name of God to himself—the same sacred name (Yahweh … I AM) that God gave to Moses at the burning bush.
Without personal belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and God the Son and his finished work on the cross, a person will “die in their sins.”
“Then death and the grave (all those in hell) were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15, parenthesis mine).
Is Eternal Separation From God Too Harsh of a Penalty?
Though I am so very grateful for my salvation and eternal destiny in heaven, I have sometimes wondered whether the second death is an inordinately severe penalty for those who die in their sins because they have refused to personally accept God’s invitation to, “…Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31).
Scripture is unequivocal: If we commit one sin, if we break one of God’s laws, we’ve broken them all. But it’s more than that. The fact is we were born with a sin nature that has to be dealt with. The sins we commit are merely symptoms of the disease of sin that we’ve all inherited from Adam and Eve. Even King David recognized that fact when he said to God:
“Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:4-5).
But then I think about the enormous price that Jesus paid to save us from our sins and the eternal penalty for all the wrong things we’ve done. As I’ve said in a couple of prior Eye of Prophecy articles: God’s grace freely given to us through the death of his son is, the greatest sacrifice ever made by the highest price ever paid.
Or as the words of the song go: I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sins upon that cross.
It’s far too high a price to trivialize or flippantly ignore, or certainly to scorn and reject. The price of Messiah’s precious blood and very life makes it clearer to me how terrible sin is … and its consequences. That the final verdict on those who have refused a complete pardon for their sins is as the Bible declares:
“…Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, your judgments are true and just” (Revelation 16:7).
Would you agree with the following statement about the Las Vegas mass murderer, especially if it were made by say the wife of a husband who was one of fifty-nine shot and killed:
“May he burn in hell!”
What Stephen Paddock did was, in fact, pure evil. And he will eternally suffer more for this horrible act than most who end up in hell. But just how much comfort will that be to millions upon millions of others who will also be eternally separated from God for far less grievous sins?
Yet the Bible is crystal clear when it tells us that (ultimately) it’s not our individual sins that will condemn us. We’re already under condemnation the moment we’re born. We’re not sinners because we sin. We sin because we’re sinners. What will keep us under that verdict of guilty and the penalty that goes with it is one thing only: refusal to accept the pardon God has already provided by believing and receiving the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He satisfied God’s justice, and in doing so expressed God’s great love for us.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:8-9, NASB).
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:21).
Listen to the true and living God:
“…At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked … I warned the proud, Stop your boasting! I told the wicked … Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens or speak with such arrogance. For no one on earth … should raise a defiant fist. It is God alone who judges…” (Psalm 75:2-7).
Scripture is explicit: The wicked are all those who have not been pardoned by believing and receiving Christ as Savior. They, at one time or another, have raised a defiant fist toward God, figuratively … even literally. Every sin ever committed is in defiance of God’s holy laws. Some are wicked and more defiant than others, such as the Stephen Paddocks of the world. But all hearts, good and bad, need God’s salvation.
We are shocked over the deadly results of such evil as witnessed in Las Vegas this past Sunday. As well we should be. It is a time to grieve and a time to heal. But it is also a time to take stock of ourselves and this once great land we call home, the United States of America. There is no doubt whatsoever: This country is not what it used to be, just one generation ago. Nor is the world at large. What has happened to us? What have we done? What can be done about it? Have we gone too far? Is it too late to turn it around? Will God still bless America? Why should God bless America?
Things to Ponder
I’d like to close with an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, America the Beautiful is Getting Ugly, posted 7-9-16.
Scripture is exceedingly clear on the following: God normally deals with sin on an individual basis for those who have rejected the Lord’s only remedy for sin and its penalty—the once for all redemptive substitutionary sacrifice of God’s Son, Messiah Jesus. But when the leaders of a nation (in today’s society … presidents, prime ministers, legislative officials, celebrities, and especially judges) and many of its people corporately and blatantly defy and distort God’s truth as found in His Word, then God’s punishment is applied to the entire nation.
It’s one thing for individuals within a society to abort babies; participate in same-sex behavior; individually mock and despise God, Christ, born-again Christians, and Jews; engage in hedonistic lifestyles; and privately wish there were no vestiges of Biblical Christianity (prayer, Ten Commandments, Christian emblems) in our courts, halls of government, centers of education, and any public place whatsoever. That’s between the individual and God.
However, from God’s vantage point, it’s altogether a different matter when governments and nations and organizations openly condone, publicly flaunt, then legislate and fund these practices. Please understand: neither I nor by brothers and sisters in Christ are judging individuals for their sins. Because I/We have all sinned (Romans 3:23). We all need the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.
Then in conclusion of that article:
Though I am, like many Americans, passionately patriotic about my country, the truth must be told.
Some reading this article might question the premise that America the Beautiful (based on the song) is getting uglier by the day. Others could even be offended by the word, ugly as applied to America … especially its people.
First, my reference point and context is the condition in which the United States has fallen. One of many definitions in Webster’s Dictionary for condition is: “State of being.”
Secondly, let’s also defer to Webster’s Dictionary for some of the definitions of ugly: “Morally offensive or objectionable; repulsive … neither pleasing nor beautiful.”
For those things that begin in a perfect or near perfect state, then deteriorate to the point of demise, it is good if we can come full circle. As it was in the beginning in the Garden of Eden, so will it be again when Christ Jesus returns to set up his Kingdom of truth, justice, and peace.
As it was when the United States of America gave birth to freedom of worship and pursuit of life, liberty, and well-being through adherence to the timeless truths of Scripture and reliance on the Triune God of the Bible, we can only hope and pray that we will come (at least close to) full circle before it’s too late.