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You Shall All Likewise Perish

 

You Will All Likewise Perish

By Trevor Trokey

 

"Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

- Luke 13:4-5

           

The bloodiest attack on American soil is remembered in such reverence, we assign it to the entire date and simply call it “9/11” – a name only paralleled by “The 4th of July”. August 23-31, 2005 saw New Orleans and surrounding areas tortured by Hurricane Katrina. This year we have already had 979 terrorist attacks with 5,668 fatalities worldwide. In terms of natural disasters, severe flooding in China between January and July has killed at least 144 people. An August landslide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo killed 174 people, leaving 280 children as orphans. Landslides in Columbia have killed more than 300 people so far, this year. Between Bangladesh, India and Nepal over 1,200 lives have been claimed in floods, landslides, and monsoons, not to mention avalanches in the middle east killing more than 155 people, mostly Afghani women and children. This does not even begin to consider the lives lost and perhaps still to be lost from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and whatever more may hit land this year. Whether by accident, disaster, or cold-blooded murder, millions of lives have already been lost, and it shows no signs of stopping. Is it the end times? Is the apocalypse upon us? Is this the “great tribulation”? How should the Christian process these catastrophes? Well, seeing as “the last days” encompass the entire time from the resurrection of Jesus until his second coming, it’s safe to say the death toll since then is not by any means a “sign”; There won’t be a sign. So, what then?

Is this God’s vengeance on evil people? What with New York City being the epitome of American corporate greed, and New Orleans being infamous for liberal politics, Mardi Gras, and a capital for Voodoo practitioners and witch doctors, it seems all too easy to point the finger at unbelievers and say, “See! God is angry!” But then, we must remember that this is exactly the conversation Jesus was having in Luke 13. Jesus’ disciples looked to worldly catastrophe and thought that surely, the victims must have been “greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate”. (verse 3) It’s exactly this kind of fallacy that they – and by extension, those who would do this today – were rebuked: “I tell you no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” It is inappropriate to use catastrophe to speculate regarding what the victims did to deserve it. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Is there no spiritual application to be made considering these current events? By no means.

We ought to use every opportunity to remind ourselves and our neighbors that “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14b) Whether by disaster, accident, disease, or long life, each of our steps are numbered and only God knows which will be our last. So then, instead of finding fault in those who have died, let us be diligent to thank God for another breath, look to ourselves and see to it that if any such tragedy should befall us today, tonight, or tomorrow, it will be a “Welcome home,” and not an execution