Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Tragic Death of an Officer and the Sovereignty of God

Late on a cool spring evening the two police officers responded to a dispatched call of shots fired at an often problematic motel. The officers arrived one right after the other. A bystander was contacted and directed the officers towards the subject who had been firing randomly, awaking all who lived nearby. The officers moved in unison and climbed the stairway to the second level of the motel where the suspect was thought to be.

There he was, scraggly and unkempt. The fidgety middle aged man was agitated. The officers took up tactical positions as they made contact with the suspect and began to speak with him. Something was wrong and both officers sensed it. The first officer grabbed a hold of the suspect in order to safely detain him until the investigation was complete. The other officer stood nearby watching the suspect’s every move. Then it happened. The suspect reeled with a gun in his hand. The gun seemed to come from out of nowhere. One second the suspect’s hands were empty and the next the gun appeared and fired almost instantaneously. A shot rang out. The first officer was hit in the right shoulder, his weapon still seated firmly in it’s holster on the right side of his body. The second officer responded immediately. There was not a moments hesitation, instinct took over and the second officer grabbed hold of the suspect in order to defend his partner at any cost.

The suspect now physically entangled with the second officer. More shots fired, sounding like the quick explosion of firecrackers on the fourth of July. The wounded officer miraculously drew his weapon with his wounded right arm and fires. The suspect goes motionless. The rounds found their intended target. The suspect was dead. Romans 13:3-4 “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.”

The first officer immediately attended to his partner who was also wounded and laying on the floor. Now starting to feel the pain from his wounded shoulder, the first officer knew that his partner gave his life in order to save him. John 15:12-13 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” The second officer departed from this earthly realm. His appointed time had come. Ecc. 3:1-2 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.” This brave officer was now seeing for the first time with eyes that are not limited to the sights of this physical world.

Many people consider a tragedy such as this and immediately conclude that this isn’t God’s will. And in one sense they are right, but not entirely… God does not delight in evil, but God is absolutely sovereign. That is to say that He is in absolute control of everything. According to God’s sovereign plan sin and evil are permitted to exist, but they have only a limited time and scope in which to reap their destruction. Nothing escapes His view, nothing remains outside of His control. Statements like these make some cringe with the obvious thoughts like; how could God be good and still allow something so terrible to happen?

To consider the absolute sovereignty of God is not an easy endeavor, not something that can be comprehended too quickly. An example that might help with an understanding of the absolute sovereignty of God is found in the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth. God came to this world that He created, in the form of a man named Jesus. This same God-Man lived 30 plus years on the same earth that we do – with all of it’s sinfulness, and then died, bearing our deserved punishment to bring us to God. 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” The very fact that the God-Man, who created the earth and all who live in it, would suffer to die a tortuously painful death at the hands of sinful men – demonstrates the greatest example of how God arranges for good to come out of tragedy. Isaiah 46:10 “declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose. ” This verse declares God’s ability to orchestrate the end from the beginning. Nothing takes Him by surprise.

The greatest good in all the world was accomplished when Jesus, the Son of God, the Word made flesh, came to live among us and die for us as a sacrifice bearing the wrath of God upon our sins. God, according to His sovereign plan, still allows suffering, trials, and tragedy to accomplish His purposes. Do not dismay at the sight of such difficulties but rest assured that God is Just and will render punishment where it is due. We will see much injustice here on earth, but justice will absolutely be served in eternity. We see glimpses of God’s justice in His creation. An example is seen in the immediate response of the first officer to the lawless and self-full acts of the suspect who was instantly ushered into the presence of the God-Judge who is entirely Just. Hebrews 9:27 “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

Considering the justice of God, set no vain hopes of escaping God’s wrath against your sin. Set your hope in Jesus Christ, the God-Man who alone can bear your unrighteousness and your just deserved punishment and impart to you His holiness. John 14:6 “Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Romans 10:9-10 “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

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