Sunday, October 28, 2018
Evil visited the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, October 26th, 2018 when what is supposed to be sacred ground became a killing field. A heavily-armed gunman, 46-year-old Robert Bowers burst into the Synagogue shouting, “All Jews must die!,” killing 11 worshippers and wounding six other people, including four police officers. He traded gunfire with police and was shot several times. He is in fair condition at a hospital.
He was charged late Saturday with 29 federal counts, including 11 counts of homicide, six counts of attempted homicide, six counts of aggravated assaults and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation. He was taken into custody after being wounded in a shootout with police at the scene of the "horrific" mass shooting, according to law enforcement officials.
Bowers was active on “Gab,” a two-year-old social network that bills itself as a “free speech” alternative, that has become a haven for white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other extremists.
Bowers regularly posted racist and anti-Jewish sentiments. His biography on the site said: “Jews are the children of Satan.”
The massacre Saturday was at least the third mass shooting in a house of worship in three years. Last November, a gunman killed 26 worshipers at a church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., and in 2015, a white supremacist killed nine congregants in a church in Charleston, S.C.
As Evangelical Christians we grieve with the people of the Squirrel Hill community of Pittsburgh in their great loss. Also as Evangelical Christians we collectively condemn the evil anti-Semitism that prompted this act of terrorism. But we know John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That includes every Jew and Gentile on earth!
Our world is broken, but God isn’t. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). The evil of racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Christianity that provokes violence is not always on the other side of the sanctuary doors, tragically, it comes inside, but God still in control. “God has taken charge; from now on He has the last word” (Psalm 22:28 MSG). People who love God are harmed sometimes and even killed, but God is with us. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
God forbid that some crazed anti-Christian radical should come into your place of worship. But are you ready to meet your Lord face to face? That’s exactly why it is so important that, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). Does God’s Spirit live in you? “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)” (Romans 8:9 NLT).