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murder at the tree of life

The attack Saturday upon worshipers at Tree of Life Synagogue was another broadside from evil. Mass shootings and the murder accompanying them have become horribly common. Many immunize ourselves against the deadly toll. In small yet dangerous ways we begin to resemble people living in a war zone—seeing the suffering but blind to the evil.

Jesus challenges us to not be blind.
The final book of New Testament is packed with bizarre imagery, descriptions of out-of-this-world things revealed to the author. Here’s my edited paraphrase of one of those visions:

I received another vision from heaven. In the sky was a woman clothed with the sun, she was located above the moon and wore a crown of twelve stars. This woman was very pregnant, crying out with birth-pains. Then appeared in the sky an enormous red dragon. It had seven heads and wore seven crowns, strangely it had ten horns. The dragon readied itself to devour the child as soon as the woman gave birth. She gave birth to a son, destined to rule all the nations with an iron scepter. Before the dragon could pounce, the child was snatched up to God upon His throne. … The dragon became enraged with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold onto their testimony about Jesus.

While it’s easy to mis-identify the symbols of the Book of Revelation, the author himself identifies the
dragon with Satan. The newborn son destined to rule all the nations who was snatched up to God’s throne sure sounds like Jesus the Lord. The woman could represent Jesus’ mother Mary, or more likely the culture into which Jesus was born.

If so, this vision claims that Satan is at war with Christians and Jews.

The murderer in the Tree of Life synagogue announced, “All Jews must die!” He is a sick, warped person. He may be more than that.

There exists an evil in our world. The Bible personalizes this evil, identifying him as The Adversary—Satan. Jesus described him as a
thief who desires to steal and kill and destroy. Evil makes killing and destroying into a virtue, warping the weak and damaged to its deadly purposes.

Beginning even before Jesus’ birth there has existed a force at war with the Jews. “All Jews must die,” was first recorded in the book of Esther. It was repeated during the late Roman empire, and again in the Byzantine empire. The killing flared repeatedly during the European dark ages, and later through Russian
pogroms. “Jews must die” was state policy in Nazi Germany, and can be a popular slogan among Muslim fundamentalists.

“All Jews must die!” Dreadful words. Regardless of who is speaking, I hear the voice of Satan. ~

Dan Nygaard