The Paris Attacks

Wisdom's Friend

The Paris Attacks

The terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015 . . . what are we to make of them? We know how many of the world view them, even those present at the music concert which was attacked. One such attendee, in a television interview afterward, spoke of them as just “more terrorism”. Really? Such an attitude reveals a total lack of comprehension about why such terrible tragedies take place. To see the true reason for such events, we must look to what God says about such things, not what man says. This was more than just “more terrorism”.

While pondering the Paris terrorist attacks, I was surprised to hear the Holy Spirit bring two words to my mind: temple and covenant. Why these two words? I did not know at the time. What did they have to do with this terrible tragedy?

But then I began examining what Scripture says about these two words, temple and covenant, in relation to our body, mind, and spirit. Then I realized that I should not be surprised by what had happened in that city, for a clearer picture began to emerge and it helped make some sense out of such a horrible, seemingly senseless tragedy.

What I found through such a Spirit-directed search is the focus of this article, which begins by going back to the beginning of who God created us human beings to be, and which ends with a look at the final destiny of those who choose not to accept the glorious destiny which God has prepared for them. First, the beginning, back to the basics.

We will never understand disasters such as happened in Paris if we look at them only from a human perspective, for the roots of such tragedies are spiritual in nature and must be understood upon a spiritual basis. That spiritual basis is this: God created the human soul to be a temple where the Holy Spirit of God can dwell (1 Cor. 6:19). God made a covenant with his chosen people (Dt. 4:13) to be their God and they his people, a people wherein this Holy Spirit could dwell. That covenant was established with the ancient Hebrews, but is now extended and open also to all who will accept the terms of that covenant (Ex. 12:48-49) which is now offered freely (Rev. 22:17) to all who accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of that covenant (Heb. 9:15), the new covenant of God with his people (Jer. 31:31-34).

In this new covenant between God and his extended chosen people (Col. 3:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:13)–that is, all who believe in Jesus Christ–God offers the same blessings which the old covenant brought, plus many more. One of those blessings is the promise of protection from the onslaught of enemies. In ancient times of the record of God’s people, the Lord made a covenant with them that if they would obey his laws and be faithful to him, he would protect them from their enemies (Dt. 11:25-28, Dt. 12:29-32). But if they failed to abide by his laws, he would remove his protection and allow their enemies to attack them (Dt. 28:15, Dt.. 28:25).

When a human being rejects the covenant of God, to be one of his people, and fills the temple of his being, his soul, with sinful thoughts and desires, then the covenant is broken wherein God promises to protect all who obey his laws and commands. The protection of God is removed from those who thus rebel against God. They thus become open targets for the enemy and his attacks.

The same principle or law applies to a nation. This is what happened in Paris, both to a nation and to individuals. If you doubt this, take a look at a few of the signs pointing to this defilement of God’s temple, the human soul, which was created as a dwelling place for God’s Spirit and meant to glorify God and the precious life he gives to all.

The first sign is simply the name of the musical group performing that night in the concert hall. It uses the word death in its very name. This alone should raise red flags of warning to any potential listener to its music. We are supposed to be concerned about life in Christ, not death.

Then there is the music it plays. According to reports, the musical group with death in its name was, at or near the time of the attack, playing a song with the despicable title of “Kiss the devil”, while many in the audience were making the devil horns sign with their hands. This is a defilement of the temple of God, the human soul (Mark 7:20-23). It is ironic, then, that those who flocked to take part in this presentation experienced it to the full. They discovered that to “kiss the devil” is to receive the kiss of death.

God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7). When people choose to break the covenant of God to be their God, and disobey his laws and commandments, they step out from the protection of God from the enemy. They have deliberately disregarded the warning posted in God’s Word that says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV).

There was a lack of self control in the concert hall that night, at least in spirit, as was evidenced by the admissions of some in attendance in their interviews afterwards. The devil had easy prey because of this. Those in the audience of the performance that night of the group with death in its name were devoured; they experienced the horrible nature of what they had so blithely sought out. Death came to them in more than in song.

It is not God’s will that such tragedies should take place. God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone, but would have all repent of the wicked ways which bring down such suffering and death upon them.

“Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23 NIV).

God would have all turn from their sinful ways and heal them. But they bring about their own destruction by refusing to repent of those ways. They bring it upon themselves.

“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help” (Hos. 13:9 KJV).

Those who want to take over the world through religious violence have said in various places and times that they despise the decadence of the western nations and feel justified in killing those who participate in such a lifestyle. This is not the way of God and his covenant. Rather, he warns people to abandon their wicked ways so that they can escape such deaths. Listen to the chilling words of the angel pronouncing warning and judgment to all who will listen:

“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. . . . Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues'” (Rev. 18:2-4 NIV).

The wise person pays heeds to such warnings and avoids the haunts that proffer them. If such warnings are ignored, those ignoring them open themselves up to all kinds of harmful attacks and risks.

Jesus used two examples from his own day that hold lessons for us in our day who have witnessed this horrible tragedy in Paris:

“1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.
2 Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.’
6 Then he told this parable: A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down'” (Luke 13:1-9 NIV).

This is a parable for our day and time, for us who have witnessed the killings in Paris. Those who died there were no more deserving of death than any who are reading this (or writing it!). We are all sinners in need of the forgiveness which God offers to us in Jesus Christ. God has given us a figurative “one more year” to abandon our sinful lifestyles instead of abandoning him, to repent and bear fruit worthy of the name of God.

But time is short. There should be no more “business as usual”, no more indulging sinful passions and mockery of God (1 Peter 4:4). The time is upon us when God allows the enemy to attack, just as it was the hour of darkness for Jesus in the Garden when he was arrested and attacked (Luke 22:52-54). Many are they who do not recognize the darkness of the present hour or the shortness of the time left to repent. Even some of those who survived the attacks in Paris, when interviewed, refused to acknowledge that there was a spiritual or religious aspect to the attacks, as was mentioned previously by their describing it as just “more terrorism”.

But the terror of that moment is nothing compared to the ultimate terror when one is unprepared to stand before God in the final judgment (Mt. 25:1-13). Today, as in Jesus’ day, crowds gather around many who offer diversion or interesting and stimulating words, whether in song or sermon (Acts 17:21). But listen to the condemnation which Jesus pronounced upon those who simply flock to the signs without discerning their source or heeding them but continue to live as they have, with no repentance, no putting away of their wicked lifestyles:

“As the crowds increased, Jesus said, ‘This is a wicked generation. . . . The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here'” (Luke 11:29-32 NIV).

I do not want this generation to be condemned for its wicked ways and refusal to put those ways aside for the one way which God has provided to come into his covenant of peace and salvation, the one way of Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6). Therefore this piece has been written as a call to heed the warning of the Paris attacks: Cast away this clamoring after the devil and his pleasures and allow the Holy Spirit to bring you to Jesus for cleansing and new birth.

“Snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” (Jude 1:23 NIV).

Those who seek out this world’s offerings of corrupted flesh, be it musical entertainment or any other, open themselves up to attack by the devil. They can go on for quite a while with no apparent damaging repercussions. But that is an illusory perception. The time inevitably comes when that illusion is shattered and the truth sets in. And when it does, the collapse is overwhelming. Scripture describes such collapse from persistent sin in these terrifying words:

“This sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly. . . . This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it'” (Is. 30:13-15 NIV).

If only those who so glibly go to such worldly offerings were aware of the terrible danger they are in by doing so. Truly, they must be snatched from the fire. That is the picture that is given us by God concerning such situations as that which took place that night in Paris. If we are to understand the deeper meaning of what took place, we must not settle for our normal, human assessment of “just more terrorism” but must look not within ourselves for understanding but within the pages of Scripture.

“When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary (temple NET) of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies” (Psalm 73:16-20 NIV).

Notice how so much of what is said in this Psalm fits the tragic events of the Paris attacks. There is sudden, ruinous, complete (death), terrors, surreal or nightmarish. All this false worldview of there being no God and no consequences for indulging in sin (Ps. 73:9-12), is suddenly swept away in raw terror according to this Psalm written ages ago.

The same scenario held sway in Paris. The people of this world go about blindly indulging in its many pleasures, never considering the danger to their souls. What harm, after all, can there be simply in going to a concert of music? Yet when that music and lyrics treat lightly the deep mysteries of life and death and God and the devil, there is great danger. That danger can, at any time, spring forth and devour those participating in it. Then sheer terror shatters the illusions so many have, especially the youth, about their seemingly invincibility to ever dying. They think they can go their pleasure-seeking way forever, with no accountability to God, thinking, as many young people do, that they are invincible, will not die. But God says:

“Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. . . . The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror. . . . The LORD will rise up . . . to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task.

“Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier; the Lord, the LORD Almighty, has told me of the destruction decreed against the whole land” (Isaiah 2:18-22 NIV).

Now, in this current age when terror is increasing rapidly, this passage holds new relevance for us. The question is, will we pay attention to God’s warnings to protect us? Or will those warnings be ignored, much to the harm of both individuals and nations who persist in refusing to honor God’s laws by replacing them with their own immoral laws? That is the question of the day. Therefore, I plead with all who read this:

Fulfill the destiny for which God has created you, to be a temple where his Holy Spirit can dwell as you live out your life here on earth in covenant relationship of love and obedience to God in Christ. Apply the words of Jesus to yourself and the Paris tragedy:

“Do you think that these . . . were worse sinners than all the other(s) because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:2-3 NIV).

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