When President Obama spoke at the prayer vigil at Newtown, Connecticut on December 16, 2012 he began by referring to Scripture. His words were meant to provide comfort to survivors by pointing out the transitory nature of earthly life and the eternal nature of heaven for those whose lives were taken. The following was taken directly from the transcript of his address.
“Do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away…inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1
To address the calamity in Newtown, it would be well to follow the example of the president and refer to the Bible for understanding. Much can be learned about God’s standard of righteousness and justice and His dealing with His people from both the Old and New Testaments. There are those who believe the Old Testament is now irrelevant; however, the New Testament definitely affirms the Old Testaments’ relevance in the present age.
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning…” Romans 15:4a
When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth he described the major events that happened to the Jews during the forty year period beginning immediately after the Exodus to just before entering the Promised Land. As Paul recounted those events he stated:
“Now these things became our examples…Now all these things happened to them (Israelites) as examples, and they were written for our (present age) admonition (instruction), upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:6a, 11-12
In other words, the standard for God’s righteousness and justice is the same today as it was for Israel 3,500 years ago.
Just before entering the Promised Land of Canaan, Moses gave the Israelites very explicit instructions on how to obtain blessings by choosing obedience rather than curses for choosing disobedience.
“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.” Deuteronomy 28:1
“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you…” Deuteronomy 28:15
During the lengthy discourse describing the curses for disobedience, reference was made to the future besiege of Jerusalem which would begin approximately 800 years later.
“The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar…They will besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land…” Deuteronomy 28:49a, 52
Notice the significant wording, ‘The LORD will bring’. In other words, the LORD would be more proactive in the impending disaster than simply allowing it to happen. Notice further the reference to ‘your high and fortified walls, in which you trust’. The people, having strayed from God’s instructions, placed their trust in what they themselves devised and built instead of trusting God for their protection.
The attack and besiege would be so terrible that both fathers and mothers would resort to cannibalism. The victims would be their innocent children.
“You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you. The sensitive and very refined man among you will be hostile toward his brother, towards the wife of his bosom, and toward the rest of his children whom he leaves behind, so that he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he will eat…” Deuteronomy 28:53-55a
Such desperate behavior as cannibalism is described in four books of the Old Testament. Note the most unlikely type of man, i.e. ‘the sensitive and very refined man’ would resort to such a horrible practice. The participation of the wife and mother in such a practice is then described in verses 56-57 which is even more graphic.
There didn’t seem to be a clear cut direct cause and effect relationship between the curse and the offense resulting in confusion as to why innocent children would suffer so hideously.
The seriousness of disobedience is then described further.
“If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book… then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues…also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in this Book of the Law, will the LORD bring upon you until you are destroyed.” Deuteronomy 28:58-61
Notice again the words, ‘observe all the words of this law’ and ‘the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants’. The LORD would also bring on Jerusalem ‘every sickness and every plague’ that men had not imagined i.e. ‘which is not written in this Book of the Law’.
History subsequently recounted the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian king and the deportation of the Jews to Babylon for seventy years.
Near the end of the seventy year captivity the prophet Daniel sought understanding of Israel’s profound suffering.
Then Daniel fell on his knees before God and confessed the sin of Israel.
“And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, ‘O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments…O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face….” Daniel 9:4-7a
Daniel confessed that the sin of Israel was they had rebelled and departed from God’s precepts and judgments. He acknowledged that God was righteous while Israel was to be put to shame for their behavior. The Hebrew base for ‘righteous’ is the same as the base for ‘just’, i.e. that which is right and just according to God’s absolute standard.
“…Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice, therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses…have been poured out on us…” Daniel 9:11
Then Daniel acknowledged the curse that had befallen Israel was exactly as had been announced previously by Moses centuries earlier.
“And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us… by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:12
Daniel acknowledged several significant issues, i.e. God confirmed His warnings relative to the curse that would follow disobedience; God brought on the disaster; and the disaster was of a magnitude never before experienced.
Daniel continued praying:
“As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.” Daniel 9:13
Daniel realized that Israel had not previously acknowledged nor confessed their sin which would open the door for them to turn from disobedience and pursue the truth.
Then Daniel asked God to forgive and restore His people.
“O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem…O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations…for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive…” Daniel 9:16-19a
Daniel asked God to forgive all Israel for their sin of departing from God’s word. Daniel acknowledged that forgiveness would be based on God’s mercy and not on Israel’s ‘righteous deeds’.
Was Daniel’s prayer received and acknowledged?
“Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God…yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel…being caused to fly swiftly… And he informed me… and said, ‘O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand…for you are greatly beloved…’” Daniel 9:20-23
Then Gabriel explained to Daniel exactly what would happen to Israel in great detail from that time forward because Daniel sought wisdom and was loved by God.
The foregoing should aid in not only understanding the disaster in Newtown, Connecticut but should also shed light on the disaster of 9-11-2001.
There are many suggestions being offered relative to the Newtown tragedy aimed at preventing a repeat of such a great disaster. Three proposed remedies include legislating new and stricter gun control laws; recognizing behavior in an individual which might be construed as potentially dangerous; and addressing the new culture/environment which is seen as conducive to violence.
Such myopic ‘solutions’ can be likened to Jerusalem’s ‘high and fortified walls, in which you trust’. Then, as well as now, people relied on their own perceived defenses for any possible attack instead of simply trusting and honoring God by obeying His instructions.
One contemporary writer drew attention to the inconsistency of America’s societal rationale by stating: “The tragedy of the events at Newtown is that twenty of their precious innocent children were taken without their mother’s consent while millions of innocent children are taken under the protection of Roe vs. Wade with the mother’s consent.”
Recall this article began by proving via Scripture that God will deal with His people in the current age in the same manner as He dealt with Israel in centuries past. That doesn’t mean that people will necessarily resort to cannibalism, but it does mean that continued disobedience to God’s laws and precepts will result in unspeakable disasters.
Is there anyone in leadership in this great nation who like Daniel would publicly acknowledge and confess America’s sin of disobedience to God’s word and pray for forgiveness and restoration? Or does anyone in leadership even recognize how far we have strayed as a nation from God’s word? And in sad reality, is there any leader in the ‘church’ that has the boldness to stand up and proclaim the truth?
Sadly, it appears that political correctness i.e. the desire to please men instead of God, has taken its toll and silence will be the rule of the day.
This great nation provides the freedom to accept or reject Biblical teachings even while considering the Bible’s proven historical record of prophetic accuracy and warnings of the future.
Does America really know her righteous and just God? Or has America’s ‘new norm’ replaced confidence and trust in the very source of her blessings.
Will America choose life, or…