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Two days after the worst school shooting massacre in U.S. history, President George W. Bush addressed a memorial service at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Mr. Bush said, “We meet at a time of sorrow for our nation. Our flags fly at half-mast in memory of 32 souls whose lives were taken at Virginia Tech on Monday morning.
“That day we saw horror, but we also saw quiet acts of courage. We saw this courage in a teacher named Liviu Librescu. With the gunman set to enter his class, this brave professor blocked the door with his body while his students fled to safety.
“On the day of remembrance, this Holocaust survivor gave his own life so that others may live. And this morning, we honor his memory and we take strength from his example.”
Dr. Librescu’s example of selflessly putting the lives of his students before his own is reminiscent of Jesus Christ’s words to His disciples: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack, people across the nation and around the world witnessed countless acts of heroism, bravery and self-sacrifice, as authorities and ordinary citizens alike put their lives on the line to snatch as many as they could from the jaws of death. For the first time in generations—perhaps ever—firefighters, police officers, medical officials and other emergency response organizations were publicly and universally respected and appreciated, hailed as heroes.
Sadly, the passage of time has a way of bringing people to no longer value what they once highly esteemed.
Such was the case with ancient Israel. After witnessing awesome signs and wonders in their miraculous deliverance from Egypt, the former slave nation was on track to inherit the Promised Land. Their Deliverer, “the Rock” of the Old Testament (I Cor. 10:1-4), gave them laws, statutes and judgments that would serve to be their wisdom (Deut. 4:5-6)—setting Israel apart from all other nations (vs. 7-8).
But receiving the laws of God and entering into a special covenant with their Deliverer also came with a warning: “Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life” (vs. 9).
The Israelites did forget. God’s laws were put aside for the “convenience” of every man living as he pleased, doing “that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Oh, the people put on a show of religious interest; they maintained an appearance of being godly and God-fearing. They fasted. They prayed. They offered sacrifices. But their lives—how they conducted themselves in business, in the halls of government and behind closed doors—were leavened with immorality from head to toe.
Despite Israel’s great show of piety, God said, “He that kills an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrifices a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offers an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burns incense, as if he blessed an idol” (Isaiah 66:3).
Why? Same verse: “Yes, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations.”
That was Israel then. And this is the state of their modern-day descendants today, the birthright nations, beginning with the American and British peoples.
Whenever national elections draw near, there is much talk about religion, God and the flag. Even secularists maintain their own form of “righteousness,” under the guise of political correctness. Yet in both cases, moral conduct and standards have quickly eroded—and are on the verge of disappearing entirely! Just as it was in the days of the house of Israel and the house of Judah, before they fell to military invasion, deportation and national slavery.
Ezekiel chapter 22 addresses the widespread depravity of the modern house of Israel: corruption among government leaders (vs. 12-13, 27), twisted sexual behavior within the family (vs. 10-11), oppression of the weak and helpless (vs. 6-7, 29), mass deception from the religions of men claiming to represent God and His ways (vs. 25, 28).
It takes bravery to, on a moment’s notice, sacrifice one’s physical life to save others, as was done during the Virginia Tech massacre.
Likewise, it takes courage to be different, day after day, when society’s institutions are failing—marriages, families, religions, educational systems, governments. It takes determination to not “go along with the crowd,” when mass entertainment rushes to reduce itself and bring its audience to the lowest common denominator of perverse images, sounds and ideas. It takes strength to be an exception, to “stand in the gap,” when corruption abounds throughout the social order.
But such courage, such determination, such strength is profoundly lacking. And so God declares, “but I found none. Therefore have I poured out My indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, says the Lord God” (vs. 30-31).
If only the courage displayed in the tragedies of 9/11, Virginia Tech and other events could be found in the day-to-day character of the lives of descendants of Israel…