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Bible verses about Innocent Victims
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ecclesiastes 8:14

The righteous seem to receive all of the bad things, and the wicked seem to go through life unscathed, untouched. They have the big cars and the nice houses on the hill. They can take fancy vacations. Nothing bad ever seems to happen to them.

A main reason that I Peter 2:18-24 was written is to warn us that sometimes the innocent are caught in God's justice. They will have to suffer for something that they have not caused. The test for us is whether we will be able to accept God's justice, His judgment, and take it in the same spirit that Christ did. If anyone could ever cry out, "Unfair! Unfair!" Jesus Christ would have to be the One.

How about us? What trials have we gone through, in which we did not cause the trial but became caught in somebody else's sin? It is very easy in such cases to cry out to God, "Unfair! Unfair! God, why are You allowing this to happen to me?" The implication of our complaint is, "After all the good things that I've done for You, God, You treat me like this." We are, in effect, trying to vindicate ourselves. We become frustrated and accusative, never even stopping to think that, if we received truly fair treatment, we would get what happened to Nadab and Abihu and Ananias and Sapphira!

God wants to see if we have faith in His judgment, in Him as an absolutely perfect Judge. Do we trust Him, or do we only trust Him when the going is good?

John W. Ritenbaugh


 

Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

The Word of God clearly acknowledges that men, even those seemingly well-deserving, will meet with unforeseen, chance setbacks, including death! This may not seem just. It may be worrisome to contemplate and very painful to experience, but we are admonished through Solomon that such things will occur. Such possibilities must be part of our thinking if we are going to face the trials of life in a mature manner that will glorify our Father in heaven.

A closer examination of this in God's Word, however, reveals that in reality there are no innocent victims! There are victims who did not trigger the tragedy that brought about a sudden and unexpected death. In that sense they are innocent. But who can stand before God and say, "I am pure and do not deserve death"?

Earlier, Solomon says, "For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin" (Ecclesiastes 7:20). His father, David, writes in Psalm 14:2-3:

The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one.

These verses are a stinging indictment of each of us! The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and God, as the Sovereign Ruler of His creation, has every right to execute that penalty—or allow it to occur—on anybody at any time He deems appropriate. And in so doing He is perfectly just.

On some occasions in the Bible, God executed the death penalty with dramatic and terrifying suddenness. He struck down the sons of Aaron, probably with bolts of lightning, when they offered profane fire on the incense altar (Leviticus 10:1-7). God cut Uzza down when he stretched out his hand to steady the ark, which David was bringing to Jerusalem on a cart (I Chronicles 13:5-10). In the New Testament, Ananias and Sapphira fell dead at Peter's feet after lying about their offering (Acts 5:1-11).

In each case, their sin was directly and quickly connected to their death, giving vivid testimony of what God has every right to do. The only difference between these events and other seemingly random occurrences is the time lag. God can claim our lives for any unrepented sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Innocent Victims?


 

Luke 13:1-5

In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus took advantage of two local tragedies to make the point that, in a major way, all sins and all sinners are equal. The incident of the collapsed tower was in all likelihood a time-and-chance accident. However, Jesus alluded to those who died as being sinners, and He implied that those in His audience were also sinners who deserved to die—and would, unless they repented.

What is interesting is a possible reason why Jesus responded as He did to their report of Pilate's action. He seems to have detected in their attitude that they thought that those killed by Pilate deserved to die! The victims were sinners who "got what was coming to them," implying that they themselves were righteous. Jesus' replies that they were just as guilty as those who died! Someone's sudden and violent death is not proof that he is particularly more wicked than others.

Jesus' point is that, while it is not our responsibility to judge the degree of sinfulness of those who die suddenly and violently, it presents us with a golden opportunity to meditate on the state of our character and standing before God. We may be in just as much danger as those we regard as being very wicked!

We live in a world that is given to extremes of judgment. One extreme is to call victims of a random tragedy "innocent," when the Bible shows no such human being exists. They are only innocent of causing the calamity that brought about the sudden end of their life. The other extreme is that human nature has a propensity to judge that those killed in such a circumstance were in reality great and wicked sinners who got what they deserved. This suggests that those making this determination are in good standing with God.

Ours is a topsy-turvy world. We desire with all our being for things to go "right." We want good to be rewarded and evil to be punished. But we find in places like Psalms 37 and 73 that evil men often prosper, live in peace in lovely homes, wear fine clothing, are surrounded by their families, receive acclaim and honors within the community, and die at a good old age. Conversely, the righteous suffer afflictions, are unappreciated, persecuted, demeaned, dishonored, reviled, scattered, and perhaps even cut off in the prime of life!

Some things involving life, judgment, and the out-working of God's purpose are simply beyond our knowing. We also have a very difficult time correctly judging the intent of another person's heart. Thus, God cautions us to be careful.

But He expects us to be able to judge the intent of our own heart correctly. We should know what is going on inside. So often, though, even in this we allow ourselves to deny the evil of our own motivations. We proudly justify ourselves by thinking, "God won't mind. It's just a 'little' sin that won't hurt anybody. And, besides, I need to do this." Is there really innocence in this kind of thinking?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Innocent Victims?


 

 




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