The Earth was Corrupt Before God, and the Earth was Filled with Violence
The senseless violence in Las Vegas that gripped the United States once again tells us we are living in the time of the end.
Saturday, October 07, 2017
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This past weekend terror stuck the United States again. Home-grown terror was sparked as 64 year old retiree, Stephen Paddock, opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel with 24 guns. 59 people were killed, and 527 were injured when thousands of bullets were unleashed into the crowd gathered for a country music concert.
What was supposed to be a 3 day concert weekend of music, partying and revelry turned into a massacre on Sunday night.
This massacre follows an increase of massacres and violence throughout the world.
When describing the “coming of the son of man” Jesus likened those days to the days of Noah and Lot.
“And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” (Luke 17:26–30)
The immediate context of this passage is the destruction of AD70, for the end of the chapter describes the gathering of the Roman eagles:
“And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” (Luke 17:37)
However, as indicated earlier in the discussion, there would be several “coming of the days of the son of man:”
“And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.” (Luke 17:22)
These would be the days when the son of man would be “revealed” or apocalypsed. The character of these days is common, whether they be Christ’s coming in judgment in AD70 or his second coming which we believe to be imminent.
In this age, everyday life goes on without reference to God, just as it did at critical points of judgment in time past, whether the flood of Noah’s day, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. Society was wrapped up in “marrying, giving in marriage, planting, and building.” Nothing wrong with these things by themselves, but conducted completely without reference to the existence of God or a higher purpose with the earth. Society today can be described by the word hedonistic, which is defined by the dictionary as:
Engaged in the pursuit of pleasure; sensually self-indulgent. "A hedonistic existence of drink, drugs, and parties." Synonyms: self-indulgent, pleasure-seeking, sybaritic, lotus-eating, epicurean, good-time; unrestrained, intemperate, immoderate, extravagant, decadent.
That pretty much describes the society that we live in, and especially the culture of Las Vegas, also known as “Sin City”. It is a society wholly given to the self-indulgent pursuit of pleasure and a “good time.” Known for the motto, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” the city advertises itself as a destination for indulgent behaviour without consequence.
While the world is given over to the pursuit of pleasure, as believers in a greater purpose with the earth, we need to be sure that we don’t get pulled up in this lifestyle in any way. It can choke spiritual growth like the thorns in the parable of the sower:
“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18–19)
We cannot let the pursuit of riches or the lust of other things to choke our spiritual growth. We need to leave the worldly lifestyle behind, as Peter comments (using the ESV translation):
“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;” (1 Peter 4:1–4)
The world may be surprised that we will not join them in the same “flood of debauchery” but this is who we must be. Separate from the world:
“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (ESV conduct); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13–16)
In Christ’s warning in Luke he specifically mentions two time periods, the days of Noah and the days of Lot.
The days of Noah were characterised by the evil imagination of men’s hearts, and the violence that ensued:
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (Genesis 6:5–6)
The evil imagination of mankind was seen in the corrupting result – violence:
“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:11–13)
God hates violence. Ironically, the Hebrew word is Hamas, (Strong’s #2555), meaning wrong, cruelty, malicious injustice, or sinful violence. God’s view of it is made clear in the fact that he overthrew the evil society of Noah’s day because of their wickedness.
When the Apostle Paul was on one of his missionary journey’s years ago, he stopped in Athens while waiting for his travelling companions to reach him. It states of him there:
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.” (Acts 17:16)
This could easily be said of Las Vegas, a modern city that is wholly given to the idolatry of today. The idols are different, but they are still idols of silver and gold, and men and women music performers who are idolized by the masses. It is a city that never sleeps, and that runs with an excess of riot seven days a week. When travelling there for a work conference we were struck by the idolatry that is made to mimic the Babylonian and Roman empires. The Venetian with the winged lion, Caesar’s palace with huge sculptures of the Roman Emperors, the Poseidon fountain, statues the Greek goddess Fortuna, and many others adorning its streets and hotels. Paul’s message to the people of Athens is one that would be well heeded today:
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30–31)
The Lord will soon return to judge the world. It will catch the world in complete surprise, as the flood did, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Not that there wasn’t sufficient warning in those times either. However, our age is very similar to the age the Apostle Paul lived in. The words he penned writing to the Romans sum up his day and ours:
“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (Romans 1:28–31)
It could easily be said that our age is characterized by a debased mind, and all manner of unrighteousness, murder, strife, maliciousness, heartlessness and ruthlessness. That is what we saw in Las Vegas. The violent outworking of a debased mind. However, it was in an environment that is steeped in all kinds of evil, where covetousness, envy, foolish and faithless activities thrive. Violence is just another manifestation of the debased mind.
Man wants to able to practice all kinds of evil without fear of consequence. The problem is you cannot departmentalize a debased mind. One evil will lead to another. Selfishness, covetousness, and envy might drive the gambling industry, but it also is the root cause behind murder, strife, maliciousness, heartlessness and ruthlessness.
This is man’s base nature, as the Lord Jesus Christ described it:
“And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”” (Mark 7:20–23)
If we create an environment that caters to evil thoughts, sexual immorality, coveting, wickedness, sensuality, envy, pride and foolishness… we cannot be surprised if murder pops it head up too. If we legalize the rest of the list, regulate it, and condone it, and tax it, we cannot be surprised that we cannot suppress evil thoughts that express themselves in murder. We live in a time similar to the days of Noah and Lot where violence and immorality run rampant.
It isn’t that those “innocent” people who were savagely gunned down in Las Vegas were any worse than anybody else. The Lord makes this point when talking about the Galileans who were killed by Pilate:
“There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”” (Luke 13:1–5)
The point is that we need to take stock of our lives. What are we living for? Is it simply for the pleasures of sin for the short season of our lives? Or are we trying to make something better of ourselves?
We might smugly think that we do not participate in the evil of this world. We thank God that we were not at the concert in Las Vegas, we would not be found in its casinos or establishments. However, we need to ask the question, “are we entertained by its vices vicariously.” Paul ended his condemnation of the vices of society in his day with these words:
“Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:32)
Do we take pleasure in those that do these things? Are we entertained by their actions? Do we spend our time watching TV shows and movies about the vice and crime in Las Vegas, or Miami or other places? The entertainment industry thrives on satiating the appetite men have for violence through TV shows, movies, and video games. This is something we need to assess in our own lives. Do we have an appetite for violence? Do we like to watch violence, or engage in it vicariously through video games?
Often we think of sexual immorality as the worse vice, outworking in fornication and adultery, and practiced vicariously through pornography. However, the violence in movies and video games today is so graphic that it has become the “pornography” of violence. Society holds viewing pornography as shameful, yet watching violence on the screen or engaging in it vicariously through video games isn’t viewed as scandalous or dishonorable. Awards are handed out for films that are pornographically violent. They are critically acclaimed. It can be easy to think, well at least there is no sexually explicit content in a movie. Really?
The Psalms make clear God’s assessment of a wicked and violent society.
“The LORD is in his holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men. The LORD trieth the righteous: But the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. (Psalm 11:4–5)
God’s ability to see the hearts of men allows him to assess their motives. He hates those who engage in immorality, described in this passage as “the wicked.” He also hates those who “love violence.” The Hebrew word for ‘love’ is Ahab, (Strong’s #157), and carries the idea of having an appetite for something. God hates those who have an appetite for violence.
His judgment is spelled out in the rest of the Psalm:
“Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, And an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; His countenance doth behold the upright.” (Psalm 11:6-7)
God destroyed the world because of its violence in Noah’s day:
“And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:13)
While God promised never to destroy the world again the same way, Peter tells us that the corrupt society will be removed again:
“knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 3:3–7 ESV)
That was true in AD70 of which Peter is writing: the society was stored up for fire against the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. It is also true of the society of today as Jude writes:
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14–15)
Peter tells us the corrupt administration of society today is going to be replaced by a holy and righteous one:
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” (2 Peter 3:9–14)
We look forward to the time when the senseless violence of this world is put to a end. This will involve the destruction of Hollywood and its violent and immoral movies, of video games that teach violence, of the internet that promotes vice of every kind.
We need to develop the love of the Bible which “does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
After all, the society we long to be involved in will not be one where violence is taught, learned, or practiced any more:
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, That the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; And he will teach us of his ways, And we will walk in his paths: For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, And shall rebuke many people: And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruninghooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, And let us walk in the light of the LORD.” (Isaiah 2:2–5)
So as we watch violence erupt throughout the earth let us remind ourselves of what manner of people we ought to be. Let us purge ourselves of any impurities so that we can be vessels fit for our masters use:
“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:20–22)
For the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.