Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Remembering Sandy Hook

One year ago, this Saturday, the community of Newtown, Connecticut was devastated when a 20 year-old man opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School brutally murdering twenty young children and six adults. The children who lost their lives were between the ages of six and seven. Prior to the shooting, the gunman shot and killed his own mother and after it had ended, he took his own life.

Below I have listed five scriptural truths to keep in mind as we remember the one year anniversary of Sandy Hook. I pray that these will help us process and think biblically about this tragedy.

1) Human evil is real.
The Bible tells us that evil was not always a part of our world. Instead, it entered as a foreign agent when Adam rejected God and attempted to live contrary to his rule. One of the consequences of man's sin is that humans are now bent towards evil and are capable of committing unspeakable atrocities. Scripture could not be more emphatic or clearer about this. 
“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
There are many people who deny that evil exists because they believe right and wrong are merely a matter of preference. This is contrary to what the Bible teaches about morality. There is a fixed, objective standard of good established by God, grounded in his character, and when people break his standard evil occurs.

Moreover, if morality is relative then what took place at Sandy Hook was not objectively wrong. This, of course, is absurd. Moral relativism flies in the face of what every human knows by experience. A quick reflection of the events on December 14, 2012 clearly demonstrates that real human evil exists in our fallen world.

2) God’s perfect justice is impending.
As we think about the fate of the gunman, we recognize that human justice is pathetically inadequate. In light of his actions, the punishment he received on this earth falls miserably short. However, we know that our God will eventually bring recompense, to pay back and punish all those who do evil. At the end of this age we are told:
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it...And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened...And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” (Revelation 20:11-12)
The killer may have escaped a jury of his peers, a government instituted punishment, and a sense of human justice, but he has not escaped the divine courtroom, eternal punishment and the justice of a holy and righteous God. Although we may not see it now, we know that God’s perfect justice is never thwarted.

3) The little ones are in the presence of God.
The Bible does not state explicitly the fate of young ones who pass before reaching adulthood. However, it does allude to their final destination. One example of this is found in the book of Deuteronomy. The adult Israelites disobey the Lord and as a consequence are told that they will not enter the land of Promise. However, the Lord reveals a different destination for their children.
“And as for your little ones...and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in [the promised land]. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.” (Deuteronomy 1:39)
I believe the children involved in this massacre are like the children of Israel who, “have no knowledge of good or evil”. Although they were born in sin like the rest of us and have Adam for their father, they were too young to have willfully sinned against their Creator. Therefore I believe it is appropriate to conclude that God made provision for them on the cross, atoning for original sin and like the Israelite children will be ushered into God’s presence, the place of promise and rest.

4) Pray for the grieving families.
The second chapter of Matthew reports that King Herod murdered all the male children two years old and under in the small town of Bethlehem. Approximately 10 to 20 innocent babies lost their lives that day. Following this tragedy Matthew quotes the prophet Jeremiah.
“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)
Like Rachel, there are many parents and family members who are still weeping inconsolably because they have lost their children. As Christians, our most appropriate response is to pray for these families because our Heavenly Father is the only one able to console them. We cry out to him on their behalf knowing that he too has experienced the searing loss of having his one and only child brutally murdered at the hands of evil men. 

5) Look forward to the ultimate Restoration. 
We know that our world is corrupt and broken. Sin, evil, and death are prevalent. Injustices are regularly committed. Unfortunately, there are no gun laws or psychological counseling that can resolve the curse of sin.The only solution for our fallen world is Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became a man in order to solve the problem of evil.

On the cross, Jesus finally and decisively handled the sin problem that plagues our world. His substitutionary sacrifice alone redeems and reconciles sinful people to a holy God. And this comes through faith alone. Jesus' triumph over Satan, sin and the grave was vindicated when he was physically resurrected from the dead. One day soon, he will return and completely eradicate evil and restore our fallen world to its original state. The end of the book of Revelation paints a picture of our restored world:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.'" (Revelation 21:1-4)
This Saturday, as we mourn let us also renew our hope and look forward to the ultimate Restoration found in Jesus' return. This hope is summarized in the last verse of the hymn “Come Then, Lord Jesus
The whole creation groans,
And wait to hear that voice
That shall restore her comeliness,
And make her wastes rejoice
Come, Lord, and wipe away,
The curse, the sin, the stain
And make this blighted world of ours,
Thine own fair world again
Our Lord, come!

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