Author: Thomas Cosmades
The jarring savagery witnessed at Virginia Tech University devastated people everywhere, even those with just a little sense of pity. Once again, an educational institution – this time a college, was violated by a deranged criminal. Americans and multitudes of others worldwide were catapulted into shock. Crime, murder and bloodshed are burgeoning in staggering proportions throughout our tormented planet. Many are asking the questions: “Where are we going? Where will all this uncontrolled terror and bloodshed lead?” Wide-ranging views and comments are being heard and will continue to be aired about this new tragedy. The same procedure follows every act of mass violence in schools and other places. A vital element, however, among all opinions and comments is not heard: the root of violence and its ultimate sequel. Jesus Christ, the only person who walked on earth and knew the end from the beginning enunciated certain signs which were to precede the end of these troubled times. Among them he said, “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37). Then he went on enumerating in verse 38 certain acts common to man in all times and places: “For as in the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day when Noah entered the ark.”
The original account immediately draws our attention to the shocking human behavior thousands of years back: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence… and God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold I will destroy them with the earth’” (Genesis 6:11, 13). With this notification the observant reader is furnished with the clue that the chief villainy during Noah’s generation was murder, bloodshed, homicide and manslaughter – in brief, violence. The writer of Genesis tells us of the astounding iniquity of the antediluvian man. The Lord Jesus Christ informing us with absolute authority and knowledge reflects on the repugnant moral depravity expressed in the horrendous behavior of postdiluvian man. Equal judgment is hanging over him.
Shedding of human blood by humans is a repulsive offence before the mighty Creator who placed the principle of ‘life in the blood’. He condemned it in the Old Testament (cf. Proverbs 1:16; 6:17; Isaiah 59:3a, 7a) and again in the New Testament (Romans 3:15). The divinely-ordained retribution for shedding blood is unequivocal (cf. Genesis 9:5, 6). God’s esteem of the principle of life is unalterable (cf. Psalm 72:13, 14).
In spite of all reminders, from the dawn of human history shedding of blood has been the most audacious transgression. From the day Cain shed his brother Abel’s innocent blood, there has always been an obnoxious connivance of executing this crime with unimaginable schemes contrived by the depraved mind. The appalling concoction behind the September 11 brutality stumped the most intelligent minds. Behind this dark design the absolute reward of paradise for these warped criminals struck universal abhorrence in the conscience of normal people. This notorious act of mass murder and destruction brought a turning-point in the course of history. During these turbulent times no one is immune from becoming victim of some attack of violence.
Brute force, especially in our times, has several accomplices: violent scenes on TV or Internet, aberrant films and CDs, contortion by a small segment of the media, grotesque pedophilic scenes and other bizarre exposures of sexual deviation. Add to these the religiously ordained jihad, fateh (religious conquest), shahadat (martyrdom for religion), and subservience to sharia. Behind this obnoxious list there is a repulsive image of hell which ‘has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure’ (Isaiah 5:14a).
The Apostle James poses an apropos question: “What causes wars and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members?” (4:1). The viciousness in the heart of the antediluvian man was not any better or worse than the picture of humans in our appalling times: hatred, spite, greed, jealousy, sexual perversion and I dare say, pleasure in shedding innocent blood just for its own sake. All these can be summarized with one short word: sin. But alas, while psychiatrists, sociologists, crime and terrorism experts are adept at offering a series of definitions of violence they miss this basic impasse.
Our age is distinguished by its ‘de-sinning’ sin. So it was in the days of Noah (cf. Genesis 6:35; I Peter 3:20; II Peter 2:5). The parallelism and it sequel are appalling. The question repeatedly comes to mind: Why do the pundits, experts and specialists miss or fail to observe the role of the merciless adversary of our race, called ‘sin’ by Christ. James, the inspired writer, draws our attention right to the epicenter of truth on which everybody must concentrate: “Do they not spring from the aggressiveness of your bodily desires?” NEB (4:1). While thoughts come to mind about mental disturbance, drive for vengeance, social injustice and many other explanations, contemporary experts are unwilling to consider the universal malady of sin. This ravaging reality mobilizes man’s members to produce horrifying consequences. After every insane carnage people gather for a vigil, seeking solidarity and comfort. The picture of the victims is before everybody’s eyes. However, the twice-repeated admonition by the Lord Jesus Christ is always missing in these vigils: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (cf. Luke 13:1-5). The Lord Jesus Christ dealt precisely with the sad reality of crime and natural disasters and their cause. His word may be considered too harsh, too shaking, too narrow, too discriminating. It contains the element of pointing to the living, the reality of sin in their lives and what the consequence will be if they don’t repent.
We can ask what the impact might have been if prospective killers at some point were reminded to examine their sin-governed heart. But in our age, Christ has been excluded and along with him all moral and ethical standards which he articulated for all to observe and live by. These have been relegated to the realm of no importance. The consequences of this deliberate departure are what we are woefully and lamentably witnessing in these disturbing times.
But the end of these woeful times is not far distant. After the deluge, God ‘remembered Noah’ (Genesis 8:1), ‘blessed him and his sons’ (Genesis 9:1). He reassured them of a second creation following the dreadful destruction of the first. Sadly, men still refuse to repent, always leaving open the possibilities of more Iraqs, Afghanistans, Columbines, Virginia Techs and other calamities too numerous to mention. Those of us who believe in God’s sovereign design and intervention rest assured that he has not forgotten our race. He who remembered Noah and his sons following that great disaster will remember our world at his ordained time and will create his new world through the mighty architect, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. He is extending his genuine comfort to the bereaved and salvation to sinners.
Thomas Cosmades – 2007