I did not know about the massacre in Las Vegas until this afternoon. I read about it on my lunch break, and I was absolutely crushed. It is the worst mass shooting in US history, surpassing the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando that occurred in June 2016, that killed 49 people and wounded 58 others.
Below, the windows of the hotel room from which the shooter blew out in his rampage against humanity…and God. (Psalm 51:4).
Photo credit: John Locher/Associated Press
Staying for an extended time at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, man named Stephen Paddock has been named by officials as the Texas man who apparently or allegedly used one of a number of available guns in his possession to massacre 58 people attending a concert below, and injuring 515 others. He shot out his hotel room windows and rapid fired into the crowd. Terror reigned for 10 long minutes, while people dropped all around. Others huddled behind makeshift shelters, while others lay motionless on the ground wondering if this was their last moment on earth.
Inevitably, after a mass shooting or terror incident like this, there is outcry and perplexity as to the nature of evil. Why do these things happen? Why are some people so evil? Why does God allow this? These are common questions bounced around on the interview shows, pews, or dinner tables subsequent to events like this.
I came across a tweet by a woman recently wondering about a fictional character named Thulsa Doom that appears in stories, comics, and movies. She wrote:
I know the author of the tweet and her husband, neither of them believe in Jesus as savior.
If one is not a believer, they are still led by satan, the father of lies, who was a murderer from the beginning. If one is saved and believes in Jesus, they have come to the light and are no longer evil, but holy. There are only evil people, and holy people. They might be totally nice people, but they are evil because they are rebelling against God and they refuse to believe on His Son. (John 6:29).
However, the unsaved never, ever, ever understand the nature of evil. Rejecting evil would be rejecting their very selves, their nature, and their worldview. But people still wonder. The big question of evil is ever-present.
After 9/11/2001 John MacArthur delivered a sermon addressing the issue of that terrible day when Muslim terrorists attacked the United States by flying planes into buildings and killing many thousands of people. There is a justified and mournful anger we feel when sin has reached a level of such evil. MacArthur said at that time,
But all of that frames up a kind of anger that is, I guess, what we could call “holy anger,” or “righteous indignation,” as it’s been called. I think…I think we have to be angry at what sin has done to this world. I think we have a right to be angry at the wretchedness of sinful people. I think we have to be angry when…when life is taken because murder…that’s murder…all of these are acts of mass murder, we certainly have a right to be angry with a mass murderer. We have every right to be angry with a man who shoots up and kills his family, as we’ve seen in the last few days out here on the west coast, a couple of places, one in our own area. We have every right to be angry with a man who walks laden down with bombs into a pizza parlor in Jerusalem and blows up 21 people. And it isn’t that our anger is reserved just for the man himself, although it is certainly right to have a righteous anger against one who violates the command of God not to kill, one who is so wicked and so wretched as to take life. It’s a bigger anger than that. It’s anger with the whole of the unrighteous reality that exists in our fallen world.
But … the wages of sin is death. Death exists and it is going to happen to each and every person (save those who are glorified in the unique forthcoming event of the rapture). Hebrews 9:27 says it is appointed to man to die once, then the judgment.
Four years ago a shooter entered an elementary school and shot 20 small children and 6 adults. It was terrible. Pastors all around the world tried to help their congregants understand this evil, an evil so foreign that it defies comprehension. Pastor John MacArthur made some remarks prior to beginning his sermon that Sunday, and his comments are biblical and helpful then and they are the same today in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. The clip is five minutes and I have transcribed much of it below. A Pastoral Response to the Newtown Massacre
It’s important to be able to answer the questions when they come to us about why things like this happen. I’ll give you some things to think about.
But first, understand that to a severe degree this was a young man whose life was given over to satan. Satan is a murderer from the beginning. He is the ultimate killer who, in effect, brought temptation to Eve which killed the entire human race. So he [the shooter in Newtown] is an agent of satan in every sense.
You also know from the New Testament that God has turned over to satan the power of death – but only within the limits within which God will allow him to operate. So yes, this is a satanic act.
At the same time we know from Genesis verse 50:20 that man meant it for evil but God meant it for good. The good in this is that very one of those little children entered the presence of Christ in the eternal. Such is the kingdom of heaven. God gathered them to himself’…
The other message is this. Everybody is going to die and you don’t know when. You better be prepared. You are not in charge of when your death will take place, necessarily, and you need to be ready by putting your trust in Lord Jesus Christ. No one died who was not going to die. Everybody faces that. The only salvation is in Jesus Christ.
The lesson here is that sin in the world means those who are enemies of God are evil, and they do evil things, like murder.
However, God means it for good. Some good, somewhere or some time, will occur. If any of those who died were saved, the good is that they are now are enjoying eternity with their Groom. Salvations might occur. Other Good will come about we are not privy to as yet. However, God meant it for GOOD.
The next lesson is that everyone dies. It might be in a horrific shooting or cancer or a freak accident, but death happens to us all. Therefore the question is not ‘why do these things happen?’ The question is, ‘after these things occur, what happens next?
Jesus is our only hope. He IS hope. He welcomes those who repent of their sins and turn to Him in faith. May this horrific event be used for GOOD in your life and your heart and your mind. May it result in a holy GOOD in ways we will later find wondrous. Meanwhile, God’s wrath is upon the ungodly because sin still reigns in this world. Jesus is the hope.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)