The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Behind the Scenes with God: Mass Casualties

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In this post, we are going to discuss the topic of humans being mass slaughtered on earth. We are not going to be discussing this subject from the typical horrified human perspective, but rather from the Divine perspective. The goal of this discussion is to try and appreciate the vast complexity of Divine strategies at work in situations of mass slaughter.

Now if this is a sensitive subject for you and you’re looking for guidance in how to deal with a traumatic experience you have undergone, this is not the right post for you to be reading. We’re not going to be discussing how to cope with these situations as human beings—that’s a topic for a different lesson. This post is for those of you who are wanting to get behind the scenes with God in times of mass slaughter and gain a better understanding of the positive things He is accomplishing.

God is an absolute Genius, and it’s always thrilling to get a glimpse into His world, however brief. Such glimpses free us up from common theological stalling points and help us develop soul attitudes that are even more honoring to God. For example, the common human response to situations of mass casualties is very negative. We tend to view such events as Divine blunders or evidence of God’s limitations instead of appreciating them for the incredibly brilliant maneuvers that they are. So now let’s get into it. And just to help us connect with the kind of situation we’re talking about, let’s review some real life examples of some epic slaughtering events which God has done in the past.

mass casualties

This is just a tiny sampling of some of God’s most shocking killing events in recent history, and He’s used a variety of methods. Now we Christians tend to get squeamish about saying that our good God could be at all responsible for this list of horrors. Well, God is not squeamish about such things. In fact, if we were to pay more attention to the contents of those Bibles we’re always toting around, we’d discover that God has always said that He is the One ultimately responsible for everything that goes on in this world. We would do well to add the following gems to our list of memory verses:

“I kill, and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.” (Deut. 32:39)

“The One forming light and creating darkness; causing well-being and creating calamity–I am Yahweh, who does all these.” (Isa. 45:11)

“I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction. And I have created the armies that destroy.” (Isa. 54:16)

When God talks about slaughtering people in the Bible, He emphasizes that such events are quite purposeful and planned from the Divine point of view.

“This is what Yahweh says: Those who are meant to die will die. Those who are meant to die in war will die in war. Those who are meant to die from hunger will die from hunger. Those who are meant to be taken captive will be taken captive.” (Jer. 15:2)

When God decrees mass destruction for some nation in the Bible, He takes full credit for being the One to carry that destruction out.

“It is I who carries out the words of My servants and fulfills the predictions of My messengers.” (Isa. 44:26)

In the Bible, we find God using a wide variety of methods to kill people. He bludgeons them with hailstones, He throws them into a crack in the earth, He drowns them in water, He has them mauled by wild animals, He torches them in fire, He chops off their heads—and that’s just for starters. In the Bible, God’s victims range from the elderly to the infant. He orders women to be raped and men to be castrated. He has pregnant women’s stomachs ripped open with swords. He drives people into cannibalism by starving them to death. He has babies’ heads bashed open on rocks. He oversees the barbecuing of countless infants, children, and young adults who are ritually sacrificed to demonic idols. Don’t like it? Of course you don’t. This is the side of God that we like to pretend doesn’t exist. But it does exist, and trying to ignore God’s brutal side only erodes our reverence of Him to dangerously low levels. You really don’t want to have a God with this kind of power mad at you. He doesn’t flinch at how gruesome and violent His methods are. Instead, He brags about it.

“I trampled the nations in My anger; in My wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.” (Isa. 63:6)

“I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them.” (Jer. 19:9)

“I will bring more and more famine upon you and cut off your supply of food. I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will leave you childless. Plague and bloodshed will sweep through you, and I will bring the sword against you.” (Eze. 5:16-17)

“I will attack you like a lion, like a leopard that lurks along the road. Like a bear whose cubs have been taken away, I will tear out your heart. I will devour you like a hungry lioness and mangle you like a wild animal!” (Hos. 13:7-8)

This is some pretty disturbing stuff, isn’t it? Well, those Holocaust concentration camps were very disturbing as well. When we see millions of people starving to death in a nationwide famine or dropping over with flu-like symptoms, it’s disturbing. When we see whole cities being bombed off the map and men massacring each other on the battlefield, it’s disturbing. In the Bible, God tells us that He’s the One responsible for all of it. So now we get to that million dollar question: What’s His point?

There are two ways that Christians act utterly absurd when it comes to discussing God’s role in mass killings. First, they try to deny that He is even involved—that is the height of lunacy. But once they finally do acknowledge that He’s involved, they act like the whole affair can be simply explained with some trite statement like, “He must have been mad at the people who died.” Here is more lunacy. You can’t be sure of God’s reasons for one soul dying, let alone millions. God has a long list of reasons for why He kills souls when He does. You can be familiar with some of the items on that list, but you can’t ever pinpoint which reason was motivating God’s actions in a specific event unless you receive explicit clarification from Him. For the most part, God just isn’t going to tell you why He’s doing what He’s doing with another soul, because He considers it none of your business. God doesn’t even sit down and fully explain why He does what He does with you, so it’s more than a little absurd to stand around declaring that you know exactly why certain souls were gassed to death in Nazi concentration camps while others were not. The reality is that you don’t have the first clue. What you do know is that there is never any “one size fits all” answer in these scenarios. The best we can do is talk about probabilities.

The vast majority of souls in this world will never submit to God’s Authority while they are here, therefore they will end up in Hell. This is a reality that has been true since the very beginning: most humans reject God. Now once we die in a state of spiritual rebellion, God’s feelings towards us become intensely negative. “Unconditional love” is an utter delusion that we’ve invented to please our egos. God has always taught that His love is extremely conditional. We all start off being loved for free—we’ve done nothing to earn it. God chooses to love us just because He wants to. But He then says that this period of generosity will come to an end if we don’t treat Him with a certain level of respect. He also promises that our time on this planet will be extremely brief, yet none of us will know exactly how much time we have. Some of us will only be here a matter of days or hours. Others a few years, others will live to a ripe old age. But from the eternal perspective, even living to be a 110 is a mere flash in the pan. These facts put all of us in a rather urgent situation. If we defy God for too long, we might suddenly find ourselves struck down by Him and out of chances to repent.

How does God feel when He is killing off defiant rebels? Angry, disgusted, vengeful—it’s a very negative combination of passions. How does God feel when He is killing off souls who sincerely care about pleasing Him? He’s very delighted with them and eager to bring them to their reward. What are the chances that every soul who got gassed in Nazi concentration camps was sincerely seeking God? Zilch. The far more likely scenario was that there was a blend of defiant rebels, hardcore believers, and carnal slackers. We could say the same for all the casualties of both World Wars and for all of the groups that we listed previously. Once we’re talking about high numbers of casualties, it is quite unrealistic to suggest that everyone had the same spiritual attitude towards God, therefore it is ridiculous to paint God as having one emotion towards the whole group.

God never loses track of individuals in a crowd. If you scoop up some sand on a beach, you see a handful of sand, but God sees a mass of uniquely shaped sand crystals which are each interesting in their own way. In the same way, when you read about mass casualties in the news, you start lumping all the souls together under some irrelevant label like “the Jews” or “the plane crash victims” or “the soldiers.” But God sees individual souls and His feelings towards each of those souls vary widely depending on how each soul is currently responding to Him.

Understanding that God always views us as unique individuals helps you to understand how personal His actions in each life are. It simply doesn’t work to say “all the Jews in that town were dragged off to the Holocaust,” because in real life certain Jews were hidden away in basements by people who were trying to take the high moral ground. How do we explain these anomalies? How do we explain why some survived the concentration camps and others did not? How do we explain why some were able to forgive and move on, while others were permanently crippled? The answer is that God’s care of each of us is extremely personal and strategic.

Picture yourself standing a few feet away from a friend of yours. You toss a small ball to your friend. Your friend catches it and tosses it back to you. You catch it and toss it back. We film the two of you doing this for an hour, then we play the film back at a very high speed. What do we see? That ball is rapidly flying back and forth between the two of you. This is what is happening between your soul and God right now: He says something to your soul, and your soul says something back. Then God responds to what you said and you respond to what He said and on and on it goes. The world is filled with humans who are having constant spiritual exchanges with God. What’s being said in those conversations has a lot to do with how God decides to order each life every day.

Your life is not a series of random events and challenges. Your life is being carefully orchestrated by God, who is controlling every nuance of your existence at all times. God is the reason your heart is currently beating instead of suddenly stopping and pitching you into a major health crisis. God is the One causing you to trip on that crack in the sidewalk and then deciding whether you are going to have the option to regain your balance or not. Now before you start viewing yourself like some puppet on a string, realize that God is constantly giving you options in life. The options are limited in number, but they are real. God is constantly creating dilemmas for you and then presenting you with a limited number of options. The chicken you were going to have for lunch is spoiled. Should you get fast food or drive to the market for another bird to roast? You can’t find your car keys in the morning. Should you spend more time looking or just use your spare? You can see traffic slowing in front of you. Should you try to find a way around it or wait it out? You are constantly making decisions in life, and many of those decisions seem to have nothing to do with God. But the reality is that they all have to do with God, for every time you make a choice, you are responding to God’s arrangement of your circumstances. He makes a move, you make a counter-move. But while He has infinite options, you are extremely limited.

So how does God decide when and how He is going to kill you? Let’s say you’re a citizen of the Roman Empire in the 6th century AD. You don’t know that the rat you just killed has fleas that are carrying the bubonic plague. Those fleas are now hopping on you: a convenient new host. God could have warned you to stay away from the rat, but He didn’t. Now you’re infected. Are you going to be one of the 25 million who die? It’s entirely up to God. When He looks at you, He sees an individual soul who He has very specific plans for. There are certain spiritual lessons that God wants you to learn through your experiences on earth—how are you coming along? Are you way behind because you keep refusing to listen to Him or are you staying aligned with His ideal plan for you? If you’re right on schedule, He now decides if there will be any further benefit to keeping you on earth. God’s primary reason for creating you is to develop a personal relationship with you. But while you are on earth, you are also having an impact on many other lives. God is able to instantly evaluate what the ramifications would be on the entire globe if He kills you tonight in your bed. Your tiny mind can’t begin to handle those kinds of calculations, but for God it’s a cinch. He assesses your progress, and your potential to learn more from this spiritual training ground. When He is satisfied that His purposes for you on this earth have been completed, He kills you. You die, and your soul is taken on to eternity. But how should you die—should it be some long drawn out affair? Should there be witnesses? Should you experience suffering? There are a gazillion decisions that need to be made for each individual case, and God makes them all effortlessly. His decisions are driven by a clear set of priorities: He wants to develop a positive relationship with you. But that goal has limitations attached to it. God doesn’t need you, nor is He desperate for your company. If you’re going to insist on defying Him, then He will reach the point of deciding that He’s done trying to motivate you to submit to His Authority. Once He reaches that point, He kills you, and transfers your soul on to Hell.

Once you understand what a vastly complex decision process is going on behind the death of a single soul on earth, you can begin to be properly impressed by the sheer brilliance on display in cases of mass casualties. Given how many billion factors are involved in God deciding when the ideal time to remove a single soul from earth is, how mind-blowing is it that He should geographically cluster millions of souls who are all at the ideal dying point together in a small geographical area? Take the plane crash that kills 300 people. It isn’t “bad luck”, it’s a masterpiece of Divine pre-planning and ingenuity. Suppose we selected 300 citizens who were all located in different sections of New York City and assigned you the task of ensuring that they all ended up on a single flight together. How do you accomplish this? How do you persuade 300 totally different people who don’t even know each other to fly to the same destination on a particular day of the year? To accomplish this task, you’d have to gather information about who these 300 people are, what they do for a living, what their finances are like, and what their interests are. You’d have to invent 300 reasons why all of them should actually want to spend the money and time to travel to the location you have chosen on the specific plane that you have in mind. Oh, and by the way, you’ve only got one week to do this. It’s a daunting task, isn’t it? And we’ve made it so simple by giving you 300 people who are all in the same city. God accomplishes this kind of feat all the time, only He collects His passengers from all over the globe and gets them in the exact seats that He wants at the exact time that He wants with the exact luggage that He wants them to lose. Then He crashes their plane and neatly transfers 300 souls on to eternity at a point that is ideal in each of their lives and in the lives of everyone who will be impacted by their deaths. It’s really mind blowing when you think about it. Then you try to contemplate the same mechanics at work for the 72 million people who died in six short years during World War II, and your brain just blows a fuse. How can God make death such a personalized, purposeful event in every individual’s life? Because that’s how huge He is.

When a terrorist chucks a bomb into a crowd, he doesn’t care who lives or dies. He just wants numbers. But before the terrorist arrives on the scene, God is way ahead of him. God has hand selected every person in that crowd. It’s not a random group of shoppers, it’s a group of individuals who God has unique purposes for. God then brings the terrorist into it at the exact right moment. God controls the trajectory of the bomb and He controls the force and extent of the blast. He controls every molecule of shrapnel. There is no factor left to chance. So when you wake up half a world away, see the headlines that yet another bomber has struck, then sigh over the fact that evil has run amuck, what are you saying about God? You’re saying He’s some indifferent, uninvolved Creator who can’t be depended on. When you call the bombing a “pointless loss of life”, you’re insulting God. There is no such thing as a pointless loss of life in this world. Certainly we humans set out to do all kinds of evil to each other and our plans are often utterly pointless and wrong. But what we plan to do and what we actually end up doing are two very different things. It is always God’s plans that happen in this world. Our plans only succeed in the moments when they align with His. Throughout human history, many evil human schemes have perfectly aligned with God’s Divine purposes for certain individuals, so He caused those evil schemes to go forward. The humans acted out of evil intent, but God used their carnality to accomplish many productive things in countless lives. God is an absolute genius in all things. The way He so effortlessly micromanages every aspect of the human creation is utterly astounding.

So then, how should we be viewing events in this world that result in large numbers of human casualties? We should be viewing them as yet more evidence of God’s awesome power and brilliance. We should be marveling at His intimate involvement in every human life and finding comfort in knowing that He is in absolute control of all things at all times. There are no accidents. There are no mistakes. Nothing that God does in this world is pointless. The more people any one action affects, the more lessons there are to be learned. As an individual soul, you need to be asking the Holy Spirit to help you learn the lessons that He wants to teach you through these kinds of events. If God has involved you, then it is partly about you. The more emotionally impacted you are by an event—perhaps because you were personally injured, or you knew some of the victims who died—the more important it is that you choose to be receptive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your life. God uses shocking events all the time to drive us closer to Him. It’s when we refuse to see His involvement in these affairs that we start stagnating and circulating ridiculous rumors about Satan ruling the world or God taking some passive role in world events. God is never kicking back watching humans run amuck. He doesn’t sit around fretting over how evil we are and hoping that one day we’ll learn how to play nice. God is always in control and He doesn’t share that control with any created being.

While we bombard Heaven with our endless instructions and advice and criticism, God presses on with what He has decided is the best course of action. God is never led by us, nor does He ever mistake our foolish babbling for wisdom. While we tell Him what He ought to do, He knows that we don’t even have the first clue about the complexity of the problem at hand. We’re like bossy children who can barely do simple arithmetic, yet they insist that a calculus professor is setting up the wrong formula on his white board. We seriously have no idea what we’re talking about when we sit around judging the quality of God’s work and constantly finding fault. We need to stop bossing and start listening to the Holy Spirit telling us that He is infinitely wiser than we are. The more we listen to God, the less fearful we become, and the less we feel the need to understand every move He makes. We just need to know that He is truly good, that He is always in control, and that He can be absolutely trusted to give us what we really need, even when what we need is something that we really do not want. These are the truths that calm our troubled, anxious souls. These are the truths that take the fear and horror out of mass casualties.

FURTHER READING:
Behind the Scenes with God: Human Variation, Lifespans, and the Mechanics of Salvation
Putting the Death of Children In Perspective
Questioning God’s Methods: Is this really the best He could do?
God’s Will vs. Human Choice Q&A
Overcoming Survivor Guilt
Emergency Responders & the End Times: The Lines of Responsibility

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