Sermon #94                                                          Luke Sermons


     Title:            A Word From Our God

                        About Human Tragedy

     Text:            Luke 13:1-5

     Subject:       Understanding Divine Providence

     Date:            Sunday Evening – February 9, 2003

     Tape #         X-44b

     Readings:     Bob Pruitt and James Jordan



On April 19, 1995 Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols bombed the federal building in Okalahoma City, OK, indiscriminately murdering 168 people. Our nation was shocked. Just a few days after that, Shelby and I were in Oklahoma City. I drove by the site of the bombing. I cannot describe the sense of numbness, rage, and frustration I felt as I reflected upon the cowardly act of those murderers and their crime against our nation. Even more than that, I was (and still am) filled with hurt for those families so devastated by the crime.


On April 20, 1999, two teenage boys walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, CO and murdered twelve other students and a teacher. Again, our nation was shocked.


On September 11, 2001, our nation suffered the mass murder of over 5000 people. Across the United States, citizens watched in horror as terrorists in hijacked planes crashed into the Pentagon., World Trade Center, and a field in Pennsylvania. What hurt the families of those who died in that assault of religious maniacs must live with for the rest of their lives.


Added to the pain caused by such senseless slaughters is the insinuation by many that these acts of inexplicable human cruelty were also acts of divine judgment upon those who died, as though they were sinners above the rest of us.


In the light of these events, events brought to pass by the wise and good providence of our heavenly Father, and in the light of the fact that our nation is on the brink of war with Iraq, and very probably other middle eastern nations, I have a message from the Word of God for us. I hope it will be blessed of God to our souls. You will find it in Luke 13:1-5. The title of my message is – A Word from Our God about Human Tragedy.


Luke 13:1-5  There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.


Not only are such events as these, which are so much on our minds as a nation, so alarming that they make our blood boil, they are horrors that so astound the mind that (try as we may) we have no ability to explain them. The sudden death which has fallen on the sons of men baffle human reason. We have, in recent years, almost come to expect another report of such barbaric deeds every time we turn on the news or open a newspaper.


Yet, we must not imagine that such things are new. We must not imagine, as many do, that these things are the inevitable consequences of our racially and culturally diverse society, or that they are events beyond the reach of divine wisdom and the control of divine providence.


Look at the chapter before us. The Galileans, like those in the terrorists attack of 9/11, were slaughtered by the senseless rage of a cruel man with the power, money, and means to commit mass murder. Remember those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell were suddenly ushered out into eternity by the crushing weight of a falling tower.


These events may seem much less significant to us; but you can be certain they were not less significant to the families who lost their loved ones, than the events in Oklahoma, Colorado, and New York. These things are written in the Book of God for us, that we may learn to walk with our God in the face of woe. Let us never imagine that God's providence has become lax. Sudden death is a part of life in this sin cursed earth. There always have been and always will be (for as long as the earth shall stand) such tragedies for men to face. As God’s children in this world, in the face of such events as shake our society to its very foundations, we must not be shaken, or even appear to be shaken. Our God is still on his throne. Let us, therefore, walk through this world of woe, even through this valley of the shadow of death, confident and free of fear. God has not given up the reins of the universe. He has not taken off his hand from the helm of the ship. He is still in total control of all things, at all times, in all places. I want grace to trust him and honor him. Don’t you?  This is his promise to  those who do.


Psalms 25:12-14  What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. 13 His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. 14 The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.


It matters not who or what the instrument may be (Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, street thugs, or desert thugs), that which takes men, women, and children out of this world is the hand of our God. It is God and God alone who kills and makes alive as he will. Sometimes he does so in such a sudden, glaring displays that the whole world is shocked by his work. I want us to hear the voice of our God as he roars from heaven, and in hearing, I want us to do two things. First, a word of caution – we must not be so foolish as to draw the conclusion of self-righteous religionists about the things we observe—that that those who are suddenly destroyed are sinners above the rest of us. And, second, a word of warning – "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."


A Word of Caution


I.                   First, I want to give you a word of caution.  We must never assume, as self-righteous men always do, that those who experience great tragedy and suffer great loss are being punished for their sins, as though they were greater sinners than we are.


Such arrogant, self-righteous assumptions are as inexcusable as the deeds of wicked men by whom such acts of terror are executed. I say to you, as our Master did to those who made such a proud assumption, “Suppose ye that those who have suffered such tragedies are sinners above all the rest of us, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.


·        Without question, God does judge men for sin, visiting the iniquities of men upon them, their families and their nation.

·        Without question, ours is a nation and a generation under the judgment of God, judgment we have heaped upon ourselves by willful rebellion.

·        But it is not within the realm of our ability to know when or for whom sudden death comes by divine judgment.

·        Often God brings death to his people suddenly, unexpectedly, as an act of great mercy and grace.


Isaiah 57:1-2  The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. 2 He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.


I know this—For the believer, death is never an act of divine judgment, an act of God’s anger. The believer’s death is always precious! It is totally irrelevant how I die, where I die, when I die, or what the instrument of my death may be. The only thing that matters is that I die “in the Lord.


·        Redeemed!

·        Forgiven!

·        Justified!

·        Accepted!


Psalms 116:15  Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.


John 14:1-3  Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.


2 Corinthians 5:1-9  For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.


Revelation 14:13  And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.


When I have breathed my final breath

And dropped this robe of flesh in death,

When my appointed work is done

And my allotted time is gone,

Don't stand around my grave and cry.

I'll not be there. I did not die.


My Savior came to call me home,

And I with Him to heav'n have gone!

Now I am free from sin and pain;

And with the glorified I reign!

Don't stand around my grave and cry.

I'm glorified! I did not die!


Seated with Jesus on His throne,

Glorified by what He has done,

I am a trophy of His grace.

Rejoicing, I behold His face:

Don't stand around my grave and cry.

I am with Christ! I did not die!


My body lies beneath the clay

Until the resurrection day.

In that day when Christ comes again,

Body and soul unite again!

Don't stand around my grave and cry.

Rejoice with me! I did not die!


A Word of Warning


II.                Now let me give you again this word of warning—“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise persish.


A.   You and I shall soon be cut off from the earth and ushered into eternity.


B.   Are you prepared to die? Am I?


There is but one way for you and me to be prepared to die, to meet God in judgment. We must repent. Should you ask me, “What is repentance?” I would answer briefly that true repentance involves at least these three things:


1.     Holy Spirit Conviction.


John 16:8-11  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.


2.     Faith in Christ.


Romans 10:9-10  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.


3.     Turning to God.


1 Thessalonians 1:2-10  We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. 9 For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.


Philippians 3:3-14  For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.