In the aftermath of the recent massacre of students and teachers in Newtown Connecticut, I found myself particularly irritated with the same old questions in the news reporting. Time and again, reporters, parents, politicians and anchors ask… “Why does this continue to happen in America? This seems like an honest inquiry, but I found myself very angry this time around, especially after the supposed random acts of violence in our nation this last year. In the past year we have had four major mass killing situations. In Aurora Ohio three teens lost their lives’ one cold winter morning in their school cafeteria. Mid-summer’s heat served as the backdrop of one of the deadliest mass killings on record as a deranged man interrupted the opening night of the “Dark Knight Returns” by wasting twelve lives. In the middle of November a Kansas City Chiefs football player killed the mother of his child and himself. Just a few weeks ago an armed gunman killed two in an Oregon mall. It is by God’s grace that his gun jammed or he would have taken more lives. Finally to cap a particularly sickening year in the way of violence we have endured another “How could this happen” event with the murder of 20 beautiful six and seven years olds and six courageous adults, made in the image of God.
Bob Costas, famous sports reporting personality, made the laughable comments that if the Chiefs football player had no guns, both he and his girlfriend would be alive. Really Bob? I guess nobody is just ever violently killed or raped, or assaulted. I guess we as a society are civil except for the whole gun issue, right? On the other side of the agenda, the head of the National Rifle Association continues to double speak about caring about the lives of all the victims, yet doing nothing to assist in removing guns from the streets that make a human body look like a deer hit by a mac truck on the highway. I am personally in favor of the second amendment, but really everyone, assault rifles? Psychologists are yet again telling us that we as a nation, our fixation on violent media, is frying the circuit of our society (they are absolutely right). These violent events expose our complete weakness to transform human behavior with psychology, medicine, education and politics. This is the biggest blessing we receive in the aftermath of these painful tragedies for they serve to illustrate the result of telling God we don’t want Him in our lives. In their 1999 song, “Say I”, the band Creed vividly paint an answer to our, “How could this happen question”…
The dust has finally settled
On the field of human clay
Just enough light has shown through
To tell the night from the day
We are incomplete and hollow
For our maker’s gone away
Who is to blame?
We’ll surely melt in the rain
Say I, say I, say I, say I, say I, say I
The stillness is so lifeless
With no spirit in your soul
Like children with no vision
Do exactly what they’re told
Being led into the desert
For your strength will surely fade
Who is to blame?
We’ll surely melt in the rain
Say I, say I, say I, say I, say I
Say I, say I, say I, say I, say I, come on
Because we have turned from God’s moral law our children are incomplete and hollow… having not spirit or soul… and when evil comes calling they do exactly what they are told. We as a society have rejected our Maker and worshipped ourselves so He has left us to our own just desserts. We have no one to blame but ourselves. SAY I!!! So you will forgive the raw and insensitive nature of my remarks in the wake of all the hundreds of times we have asked these questions since April 1999 at Columbine High School… How could we not know? How dare we ask the question yet again? We live in a “civil society” where we are for the advancement of our children, right? Is it possible we dishonor the dead and mock their surviving loved ones as well as the One who made man in His image? Yes we mock God with our questions, for if we search for just a few moments, our hearts would tell us the answer. We are void and empty and in our pushing God out of our life, our Maker has left us to collapse in on ourselves.
A NATION THAT TURNS ITS BACK ON THE LORD
Psalm 33:12 serves as the launching point of our deterioration in to our current culture of death. It reads… “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance”. In the first place this refers to Israel, who will always be His chosen people, but it applies to any nation who has a collective heart after His Commandments and precepts. I will spare you the history lesson, but for a time this was a nation (America), not perfect, but having a sensitive heart toward God’s ways. When wrong we attempted to make it right. In our last fifty years we no longer seek right but search and hunt for what is antithetical to God’s leading. A nation who turns their back on God’s way incurs His wrath. Israel found this out as they rebelled and became like Sodom to God. In Isaiah 63:10, we see their rebellion grieved the Holy Spirit of God and He turned against them and fought them as an enemy. This fighting against them began with their bearing the consequences of their wicked pursuits as He was calling them to repent. It ended with their nation being destroyed. In our prideful American heart we have rejected God’s law and we are paying dearly. It has been said that the foundation of this nation was settled first by those who had a heart after God. We are seeing what happens when those foundations are destroyed. Psalm 11 reports… “What can the righteous do?”
A NATION LIVING IN THE LAST DAY WITH DEAD CONSCIENCE
We have to honestly considered that we happen to be living in the days before the return of Jesus. This is also another factor in answering why these things have happened. 1 Timothy 4:1-2 reads, “ Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…” Of interesting note is the language of departing the faith, giving heed to doctrines of demons, speaking lies and being hypocritical (lacking integrity) and having a conscience that is turned off to God. This passage describes our day perfectly. Consider the following statements as evidence. Less than fifteen percent of the population attend worship services or are affiliated with Christianity. We live in a nation where the occult, witch craft and worship of the human being are the faces of our new national spirituality (these are doctrines of demons). In this atmosphere, the church has lost its hold on its mission and we fight for the few remaining sheep. Our daily lives are awash in relativism and situational ethics are accepted as honorable. Integrity and honesty are words long forgotten, left aside as outdated and weak. Can we deny our conscience is seared?
A NATION PURSUING ITS LUST AND CARNAL DESIRES
Seared consciences leave hollow children who are left trying to appease their base nature apart from God and His standards. In this emptiness they pursue their lusts and sow to their flesh unchecked. Is it any wonder we are reaping corruption and death (Galatians 6:7-8). Look at our media, look to what Americans spend their hard earned money on. Is media an issue, for sure, but its unmitigated violence and sexual perversion are only presented as product because it’s what most Americans want. Today we want more and more shock to please our flesh and our kids are paying for it. Our current way of living in this nation is a playground for Satan, and with glee, he fills the hearts of the young with violence and mayhem. We need to look no further than the habits of almost every violent primary school killer in the last 13 years. Their private lives were filled with first person shooter games and on demand Internet access. For as often as we have heard the statement from shocked neighbors, “he was a quiet kid, I could never imagine him doing this”, we have found those lost boys lived in a violent fantasy world right under their parents noses. Often times with their parents’ permission. It is time for America to stop asking questions, we have the answers to and cry out to God for mercy in the midst of judgment we deserve, perhaps He will give us an opportunity to find national redemption through repentance.
TRAGEDY CAN LEAD TO A TURN AROUND
Recently I have been reading in the Book of Judges. I have found God’s testimony on His people’s behavior in this period to be remarkably sad and disconcerting. This book covers a sad period of time of about 480 years, from the time of Joshua’s death to the establishment of the ministry of the first prophet of Israel, the man Samuel. The book tells the unproductive cycle of the people of Israel as they forgot God and His ways, were summarily oppressed by the pagans around them and in the midst of terrible conditions saw God bless them with undeserved deliverance. The judges were flawed people at best and no matter what kind of supernatural rescue God provided the people would fall right back into trouble. Two verses stand out in the Book of Judges serving as a lesson for us in our day. In Judges 17:6 and 21:25 we read… “In those days there was no king in Israel, everyone did that which was right in their own eyes”. What a terribly sad statement in a nation where the Law of the Lord was to be a lamp unto their feet and a light for their path. We find that Israel became very relativistic, which is where we as a nation find ourselves. In the midst of this relativism they experienced very little national unity. Need I say more as our nation is barreling toward another economic nightmare, with the whole nation at odds with one another? It seems we are destined to repeat Israel’s error, but in the midst of their rebellion a very vile event occurs that actually wakens the nation. In the last five chapters a man of the priestly calling, who was not really following God’s ways himself, was returning home at night with his concubine (his female property). While seeking shelter in Gibeah, the two stayed in an elderly man’s home. In the middle of enjoying each other’s company, perverse men banged on the door and demanded the elderly man send out the priest so they could rape him. Yes you read it rightly. The old man refused and they sent out the concubine. The wicked men then assaulted her to death. After this episode, the priest cut her body into twelve parts and sent a piece to each of the twelve tribes. As I write I pause because this is such a terrible and inhumane episode in human history. How could anything good come out of it? The people of the nation were so sickened and outraged that they came together to take care of business. The result was people began to realize they needed a ruler who was the King of the universe. They got as far as thinking they needed a human ruler under God, but that was better than what they had, which produced abject wickedness and rebellion against God. The last acts of the book of Judges laid the groundwork for their second and greatest king, David. In his time they experienced national revival and favor as never experienced before or since. The whole point of this retelling is emphasizing our opportunity. We have just experienced an outrageous act in our land, the culmination of years of terrible slaughters. We are all asking the questions and know we need a massive change.
We who are in Christ must seize this time to fill heaven with our prayers for God’s mercy and powerful conviction through the Gospel we preach, for only Jesus can make the radical heart change this nation needs. We must be bold to preach this Savior of ours pleading with others to listen. We must live our lives as Jesus did, staying above the political debates of our time, which are as useless as those who questioned Jesus as to whether they should have paid taxes to Caesar. We must prepare for the results of a country that may in pride yet again turn off God’s merciful voice calling, that we may live the redeemed life Jesus died and rose for us to have. We must be God’s voice crying in the wilderness saying, “Prepare the way of the Lord.