The tragic shooting deaths of 19 young school children and two teachers in the south Texas town of Uvalde left us all heartbroken.
The gunman was an 18-year-old troubled teen who shot his own grandmother before entering Robb Elementary School and killing innocent fourth graders who were only two days away from the end of the school year.
Not surprisingly, the conversation in the media and in the political realm quickly turned to gun control. Ban certain weapons, is the thinking, and these kinds of tragedies can be averted.
Sadly, they’re looking in the wrong place.
“The closer we get to the return of Christ, the more heightened and prevalent evil will become.”
Evil lurks not in a weapon, but in the human heart. “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19).
We see such wickedness at work around the world.
The secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, made recent visits to Russia and Ukraine to speak with both heads of state. While in Ukraine, he spoke to reporters in a town just outside Kyiv. Behind him were buildings that had been destroyed during recent shelling. He said the scene made him think about what it would be like for his own family to live in the midst of the deadly conflict.
He then called the war in Ukraine “an absurdity in the 21st century.”
Guterres, a native of Portugal, was echoing the same sentiment that I have heard numerous times — how can we explain such horror and devastation in this enlightened age in which we now live?
I have an answer that most in our elite and enlightened cultures probably don’t want to hear or believe, but it comes from the sure and authoritative Word of God. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
From the time of the first family on planet Earth, when Cain murdered his brother Abel, to the return of Christ one day soon, evil has been the plague of mankind. Wars and conflicts are but one manifestation of such evil that comes from sin — mankind’s ongoing rebellion against God.
Sin is the source of all evil through the millennia, since all of mankind is born in a sinful state — alienated and separated from God. “There is none righteous, no, not one; … They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10, 12).
And here’s the sobering truth — the closer we get to the return of Christ, the more heightened and prevalent evil will become. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:7-8).
As the pain intensifies for a woman in labor, so the effects of evil will accelerate and amplify as the day of the Lord draws near, and Christ returns to establish His millennial Kingdom.
The most important question we can ask is: “Are we ready for Christ’s return?”
So while we hear growing or renewed threats of nuclear war, or the possibility of another Cold War, or the chance that another plague like COVID descends on the globe, the real focus of every believer in every age should be living for Christ and expectantly hoping for His Second Coming.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13).
This expectant hope and pursuit of holiness in our daily lives is in stark contrast to a world that drifts further away from Biblical truth and refuses to repent of sin and turn to Christ. Wickedness grows more evil, and sin grows more vile.
The Book of Revelation, written by the aging Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, gives penetrating insight into the heart of mankind as God’s wrath and judgment is poured out ahead of His return. Incredibly, despite the plagues that God sends from His throne to earth, people simply grow more hardened in their evil hearts.
As the plagues are poured out, the response is the same. The people curse the Name of God and do not repent of their deeds and give Him glory (see Revelation 16:8-11). When great hailstones weighing 100 pounds fall from Heaven, unrepentant man curses God.
“The real focus of every believer in every age should be living for Christ and expectantly hoping for His Second Coming.”
How can this be? We run for cover when hail the size of golf balls falls from the sky. Why would they not repent and turn to God? Because they hate God, they hate His Son, Jesus Christ, and they hate Christians. They are rebels all the way, even as they descend into hell.
The only hope for our rapidly decaying culture is repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The only cure for wickedness and sin is salvation. That alone will transform hearts and minds, and perhaps, by God’s mercy and grace, bring a fresh season of revival.
As believers, committed followers of Jesus Christ who love the Lord and abide in His Word, we must be vigilant in prayer and steadfast in obedience. We are to keep our wicks trimmed and burning brightly in devotion to Christ, not yielding to the wayward drift and allures of the culture.
Somehow, in some way, the believer who makes it a point to grow in holiness and purity in the midst of an evil age can even hasten the return of the Savior. “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:11-12). That’s quite the incentive to live righteously!
And when that day comes, it won’t be like Christ’s first advent, when He came to die on a cross for sin, and be raised from the dead on the third day. This time, He will come as a Conquering King and Mighty Warrior.
No one will miss it.
The Bible tells us the heavens will be filled with lightning from the east to the west for all the world to see. It will be spectacular, the moment we as His children have been longing for.
I say along with John in the last lines of the Revelation: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. ©2021 Samaritan’s Purse ©2021 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. BGEA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Used by permission decisionmagazine.com