Mass murder on a vulgar scale – those are the words used by a law-enforcement official to describe what happened in Las Vegas, Nevada, last Sunday night (10/1/17) when a lone shooter began unloading large caliber weapons into a crowd of 22,000 people at a country music concert. For more than 10 years the slogan, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” has been one of the most quoted tag lines in tourism marketing. Vegas is indeed a major tourist attraction in the U.S. But news of the terror let loose on that city last Sunday sped around the world. The sights and sounds of the suffering and death 64 year old Stephen Paddock’s wanton violence unleashed on that huge group of people quickly spread to millions of homes via cell phones and TV news broadcasts, etc. His senseless violence set a grim new record for mass shootings in America – 58 dead and more than 500 injured.
Every time one of these kinds of mindless, murderous, violent events occur, people ask, “Why did he do it? What on earth could possibly cause anybody to do such an evil and heinous thing?” It’s a good question. We should all pray law enforcement investigators and other professionals and experts can identify factors that might trigger such murderous and miscreant behavior. If for no other reason, in hope we might know better how to prevent it or at least make it less likely to happen again. But I want to suggest an answer to the “why did he do it” question that won’t get much ink as the investigations continue. This past Monday morning, less than 12 hours after the Las Vegas incident, Alvaro Earlington, a brother in Christ and preacher for the Hispanic congregation of the church of Christ at Philippi near Smithville, Tennessee, dropped by my study for a visit. The Las Vegas violence quickly came up in our conversation. Alvaro cut to the chase and summed it up in words I have yet to hear any professional newscaster or reporter use. His analysis took all of four words – “The devil is loose.” I couldn’t argue with that when he said it. I’ve thought about it all week, and still can’t argue with it! The devil is loose. I don’t mean to over-simplify, and I’m well aware millions of people deny the devil’s reality. Be all that as it may, the Bible warns us that the devil is loose and also that he is on the prowl – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Russian–American novelist Ayn Rand once observed, “You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” I would only change that to say you can deny reality but not the consequences of denying it. The world denies the devil is loose, but can’t deny devilish things happen. If a tornado sweeps through, you don’t have to be there and see it to know it was real. The proof is plain to see in a trail of twisted destruction and devastation and even death. So, too, the evidence says the devil is loose. But don’t forget – Christ is loose, too! They killed Him and buried Him and made it as sure as they knew how (Matthew 28:65). But death and the devil couldn’t win in the end. Keep faith friends – God is greater than the devil and good is greater than evil. The word of God promises someday the devil and his crowd will get their due. Meanwhile, be sober and vigilant – the devil is on the loose.
By: Dan Gulley, Smithville, TN