Many of you have already heard about the horrific shooting that occurred on Sunday night, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
For those of you who have not, on Sunday night, a man shot at a crowd of 22,000 people who were attending a Country Music Festival from his hotel window. 59 people and counting passed away, while over 520 were injured according to the New York Times.
This shooting is the deadliest in US history. But just a week ago, Brunette Chapel Church of Christ suffered a shooting in Antioch, Tennessee, caused by the gunman wanting to seek vengeance for the Charleston, South Carolina shooting that happened in 2015.
It reminds me of the passage found in Luke 21.
“And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately.” Then he added, “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.”
(Luke 21:9-11, NLT)
The fact that the Bible is clear about increasing violence– and violent people, as seen in 2 Timothy 3– does not make its reality any easier to bear.
The “dog-eat-dog,” “eye-for-an-eye” vengeful attitude of this world is not new; in fact, the idea of getting vengeance is as old as sin nature, itself.
In the Old Testament, this idea of justice is found in Exodus 21:23-27, where any injury is told to be recompensed by inflicting the same injury onto the criminal who committed the crime.
“But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”
(Exodus 21:23-25, NASB)
Isn’t this how all of us think, in our sinful flesh?
And, if I may suggest it ever so carefully, it is the way we feel about any personal or social injustice we experience.
Especially ones like these– where the victims were innocent, and the perpetrators calculated their attacks in a cold-blooded, evil way. What are we to do, when our hearts become nothing short of smashed to pieces, and we are forced to live with the baggage that such trauma brings?
This is the state that mankind was in after the Fall of Genesis 3; and this is the state of affairs Jesus stepped into. Mankind dealing ruthlessly with one another, getting both mad and “even” with those who wronged them.
What did Jesus say to His Followers?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
(Matthew 5:38-42, NIV)
What is Jesus saying here? Is Jesus commanding His followers to be wimpy doormats, wearing contrived smiles as they are deeply hurt by others? Not so. The Amplified Version of the Bible gives a little more insight:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth [punishment that fits the offense].’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person [who insults you or violates your rights]; but whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other toward him also [simply ignore insignificant insults or trivial losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity, your self-respect, your poise]. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also [for the Lord repays the offender]. And whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”
(Matthew 5:38-42, AMP)
Jesus was not talking about letting oneself stay in a dangerous, abusive situation, all in the name of Forgiveness and Peace. Jesus is commanding, as God Himself (as He is not saying “Thus saith the Lord,” but rather, “I say to you”), that His Disciples be ones that leave the vengeance and retaliation to Him.
Please listen. I am not at all trying to diminish the demonic, terrifying event that forever changed thousands of lives Sunday night. I am not trying to say that, because Jesus asks His followers to forgive and put vengeance in His Hands, that the church, school, club, and festival shootings in America, as well as the violence going on in Northern Nigeria, are somehow less heinous. These are not “small offenses.” That would be nothing short of insanely inconsiderate. The blood has spurted. The tears have flowed. And millions, even billions of people on this earth are going through all sorts of trauma that is not their fault.
But instead of trying to get even, I pray that we would look to the cross.
A place where the most innocent, perfect man’s blood, spurted (John 19:34).
Where cold-blooded, evil men, blinded by their own self-righteous pride, planned to kill this most innocent of men (Matthew 26:3-4).
Where the sins of you and I fell upon Him (Isaiah 53:5)–
And where Christ did not recant, or come down off the cross, like He could have (Matthew 26:53).
Instead, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots” (Luke 23:34, NIV).
I don’t think Jesus asks us to somehow lessen or justify the hurt we have gone through, in order to forgive and let go. That would not be true forgiveness.
Jesus looked EVERYTHING that was done to Him, in the eye, and chose, in obedience to His Heavenly Father, to forgive.
The pain and heartbreak is overwhelming right now. I can’t help but look at the blood being spilled in Northern Nigeria, where little girls are being used as sex slaves and human bombs, without being outraged… and I can’t look at the pictures of the carnage in Las Vegas, or Charleston, or Florida, or Antioch in Tennessee without crying, knowing that these people now must live with what they have experienced.
But, followers, vengeance is the LORD’s. We are not to retaliate, even against the most heinous abuses. We are to lay our arms down, and do our fighting in prayer– prayer for the victims, and, if I may be so bold, for the perpetrator, as well (Ephesians 6:12; Luke 6:28).
I get it. Everything within us wants the man who shot these people to burn in hell, as we do those who have perpetrated such evil and violence in Nigeria, for good reason.
But, I pray, in all of this, that we would choose to turn in our pain, not to violence, but to Jesus.
Because, only He, this Mighty, Compassionate God, can render true justice– and heal the wounds.
“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
(Romans 12:19, NIV)
“[Jesus] did not recant; [He] didn’t take it back.” — “Loved My Heart to Death, by Shane & Shane. Watch the music video here.
This blogpost is in tribute to every person who passed away in the Las Vegas Mass Shooting. Our prayers, love, and support are with them and all of their loved ones. To support the victims of this shooting, please donate to this GoFundMe Page (not at all affiliated or set up by ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY.)
Do you know Jesus?
When talking about the wrath of God, many people today would say, “How could a Loving God dish out wrath on humankind?”
But, in light of such horrific events as this mass shooting, or, in the horrific event of Boko Haram kidnapping and abusing young women, it becomes clear that the wages of sin– even the smallest of sins– is death (Romans 6:23).
Jesus didn’t begrudgingly go to the cross, to pay for your sin. Hebrews 12:2 says that, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…”.
But the joy was NOT hanging on that cross; we, those who are able to have a personal relationship with Jesus, God Himself, were that Joy.
Jesus didn’t have to die for your sins, and take on the just wrath of God the Father– but He did it, willingly. That is how much He Loves you.
Learn more about the One and Only True God, wrapped in Human flesh, who is crazy about you, here.
Please pray with me…
“Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for forgiving us. When we were against You, You were So Loving to us that You died the worst death possible, and took on the wrath of God that we deserved. Jesus, we pray over ourselves. Each and every heart that is hurting, to some to degree, as they have watched the violence, injustice, and sorrow unfold: Jesus, You see it all, every tear, every sigh, every scream.
We pray over these people, who have lost their beloved friends, husbands, wives, lovers, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers. We pray over each survivor of this attack. Lord Jesus, please comfort these hearts with the fact that true Justice belongs to You– and that You are near to them, in this time (Psalm 34:18).
We want this man to pay, and pay eternally. We want those who have done such incredulous things to pay heartily for what they have done. Thank You, Jesus, for giving us the emotion of anger– but it becomes sin so quickly, Lord Jesus. Jesus, we know that You do not want us to retaliate, or let this anger become something sinful. Help us to take our pain to You, and to not let it burn over into sin, our own lives and the lives of others.
Lord Jesus, we pray against anyone who somehow wants to commit similar actions as these men have. We pray against the demonic powers and principalities in this world that drive such evil and violence in these last days. Dear Jesus, please help us to be faithful Peacemakers in a world that loves violence. Help us to be real, and to offer real, lasting Hope to others that can only be found in You.
Dear Jesus, we pray against the corruption going on in Nigeria. In Your Name, we pray that You would bring perpetrators to the ground, and humble them. May the perpetrators of all of these crimes come to You, Jesus.
Please come back, soon.
In Jesus’ Name we pray,