by David Dann
The psalmist poses the following question: “Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide in times of trouble?” (Psalms 10:1). As he describes the wicked man in the same passage, the inspired writer goes on to say, “He sits in the lurking places of the villages; in the secret places he murders the innocent; his eyes are secretly fixed on the helpless” (Psalms 10:8). The same questions as those posed by the psalmist often come to mind each time the wicked perpetrate unprovoked acts of violence against the innocent.
In recent weeks we have been bombarded with multiple accounts of seemingly random acts of mass murder in different parts of the country. The first of these involved a man shooting people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in northern California, killing three and wounding twelve, before being shot and killed by police officers. The second incident involved a man shooting people at a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas, leaving twenty-two dead and dozens injured before being apprehended by the authorities. The third incident took place in a crowded part of Dayton, Ohio, in which a man shot twenty-six people, killing nine of them, before being shot and killed by police officers.
Why were wicked men allowed to carry out such horrific acts of violence? Where was God as these tragedies of wickedness were unleashed upon these unsuspecting people? Could not the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth have prevented such atrocities from ever taking place? While we may not have detailed answers to these and other similar questions that arise, please consider the following
biblical response to these questions concerning God and the tragedy of mass murder:
God Created Man Upright
According to the Genesis account of the creation, “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them,” and at the conclusion of His work of creation, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:27, 30). God did not create man as depraved, wicked, and destined to commit mass murder. Instead, as the inspired wise man writes, “Truly, this only I have found: that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). God created man upright with the ability to choose right from wrong. Unfortunately, men often choose to do wrong, rather than live up to God’s intentions and expectations. Sadly, each of these acts of mass murder stands as yet another monument to the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
God Has Given Man Instruction that Would Prevent the Tragedies of Wickedness
God sent His Son into the world, in part, to show and to teach His creation how to live acceptably before Him. Along these lines, Jesus said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12) and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). The Savior’s own example demonstrated this principle in that He “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (I Peter 2:22). While God never promised to forcibly prevent the violence of the wicked, He has lovingly provided instruction through His word that, if followed, would prevent all senseless acts of violence and every single instance of mass murder.
God Will Judge Man for His Sins
Of the judgment, the apostle Paul writes, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10). While we may question why a murder was allowed to happen, we are not left with any questions as to what will become of those who have committed murder, should they refuse to repent. The apostle John clearly states: “you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (I John 3:15). Furthermore, “murderers” are listed among those who “shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). These episodes of mass murder serve as reminders that God will deal with the wicked in the final judgment.
So, where was God during these recent shootings? He was where He has always been, for, “The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God” (Psalms 14:2). These recent mass murders simply show that our loving God and His perfect will have been ignored and pushed aside by a rebellious world. And yet, God still “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4). Have you submitted yourself to His will?