Chapter-7.1   Final Three Guidelines For Interpreting Events

The Day The Tower Fell

[The following fictional account has been created to portray the ever true statements hilighted in Luke 13:1-5 (King James Version) *1*, into a News Broadcast dialogue. I articulate this story so that we can arrive at our third and final Biblical guideline for interpreting catastrophic events].

Good Afternoon, welcome to the WUMC Lunch Hour News, I’m Wendy Johnson. Earlier this morning, there was a moderate earthquake (5.2 on the Richter Scale) in the Southeast corner of Jerusalem, in the township of Siloam. While there were many buildings shaken, and moderate damage, the favorite tourist attraction, the famed “Tower of Siloam”, built by those who returned from the exile in Babylon came tumbling to the ground, killing eighteen people. Let’s go to correspondent Eric Cobb in the field.

Wendy: “Good evening Eric – what is it, 7:00pm in Jerusalem?”

Eric: “That’s right, Wendy, the sun is just starting to set on the horizon – it has been a day of horror and shock here in Jerusalem. People have been visiting this tower for hundreds of years, and who would have thought that at 3:20 this afternoon, it would come tumbling down.”

Eric continues: “And the people, eighteen of them had their lives snuffed out – crushed in an instant.”

Wendy: “That’s horrible, Eric, were there any eye witnesses?”

Eric: “Yes there were, Wendy. In fact, I’m standing here with Michael, a Rabbinical student in Jerusalem. Michael, can you share what you saw today?”

Michael: “Eric, I’ve never seen anything like this. There was a large crowd of people making their way into the tower when the ground started to shake and before you know, the tower was down on the ground and on the people who couldn’t escape. It’s really a miracle that people were not trampled to death when the crowd started to panic and run!”

Eric: “Where were you, Michael, when this all happened?”

Michael: “I was sitting in the shade across

the street having some figs with some friends. The screams were horrible, I will never be able to forget this dreadful day!”

Eric: Thank you Michael, oh, Wendy, here comes Jesus, let me see if he might be willing to comment for our viewers.” [Eric moves quickly to Jesus’s side]. “Jesus, would you be willing to share your thoughts about today’s tragedy?”

Jesus: “Sure, many people have asked me if this disaster happened to these people because they had sinned more than everyone else in Jerusalem? And I said, absolutely not! But unless all of you repent of your sins, you will all perish!” *1*

Jesus continuing: “I also added that the Galilians who were offering sacrafices in the Temple (that Pilot had executed and then added their blood to their sacrifices) had not sinned any more than the rest of the Galilians. But likewise, if Galilians everywhere do not repent of their sins, they will all perish!” *1*

Eric: “Thank you, Jesus, have a nice day.”

Eric, turning away from Jesus, faces the camera and continues: “Well, Wendy, that just about wraps it up here – back to you at the studio. This is Eric Cobb for WUMC Good News TV, with today’s not so good news from Jerusalem.

Wendy: “Thanks Eric, a very difficult day in Jerusalem. One other relevant note on this incident, a spokesperson for Pontius Pilot said that Roman Engineers would examine these ruins, and the other towers in Jerusalem to be sure that this never happens again!”

Wendy: “Turning to news around the corner…”

Key takeaway: The individuals whose lives are shattered by such tragedies are not necessarily ‘worse shinners’ than the rest of the people in their community.

So, based on our review of the account of Job (chapter 3), and the accounts of Jonah and Pharaoh (chapter 5.2), we now have our three guidelines for interpreting catastrophic events:

Three Interpretation Guidelines :

  1. You cannot look at disasters and accurately conclude that the people who suffer in these tragedies have sinned.
  2. If you see someone persisting in sin, it is reasonable to conclude that suffering is in their future unless they have a change of heart.
  3. The individuals whose lives are shattered by such tragedies are not necessarily ‘worse shinners’ than the rest of the people in their community.

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