By Hal Lindsey
Over the weekend we again saw unthinkable acts of human terror in the United States. I grieve with the victims’ families and friends. I hope lawmakers can work together to find ways to make everyone safer while maintaining an open and free society. But we as a nation can only achieve this with God’s help.
In all the horror, Christians can take comfort in the fact that Jesus told us about these things far in advance. We live in an era when people want to define us and divide us by our ethnicity. In Matthew 24:7, Jesus said that in the last days, “Nation will rise against nation.” Nation is a translation of the Greek word “ethnos.” That’s where we get the English word “ethnic.” It means “people group will rise against people group.”
Today, we give it names like “white supremacy” and “identity politics.” Many people work hard every day thinking up new ways to divide us along racial lines. These people range from radical extremists to political and media elites. For the United States, such divisions are especially dangerous because we are a land of many ethnicities. Our motto is E pluribus unum — Latin for “Out of many, one.”
The El Paso shooter apparently wrote a manifesto, and it illustrates the Lord’s warning about the last days. If you’ve ever driven across Texas, you know that a trip from Dallas to El Paso is an extremely long one. But this young man apparently made that trip because El Paso is home to so many Mexican Americans. And he wanted to send them a message in blood.
Wikipedia’s history of US mass shootings with 10 or more fatalities starts with the “Camden shootings” in 1949. Thirteen people died at the hands of a man later pronounced “criminally insane.” The next mass shooting took place at the University of Texas in 1966. Some suggest that a tumor near the shooter’s amygdala — a part of the brain that deals with decision-making and emotional responses — might be behind the terrible actions. People at the time were somewhat relieved to again call it madness. They were not yet asking why madmen had begun to go on shooting sprees.
Only one of these mass killings took place in the 1970s, then 5 in the 1980s, 2 in the 1990s, and 4 between 2000 and 2011. Since 2012, there have been 13 of them. Think about that. In the last seven years, there have been more mass shooting in America than in the entire 20th century.
At such a time in our nation, many things need to be considered. But the biggest one is this. What changed?
Here are some possibilities. A recent poll found that 22% of millennials (defined here as Americans between the ages of 23 and 38) have “no friends.” One of the big reasons is that so many of them spend all their free time on video games. Then there are the video games themselves. Most of the mass shooters have been radically addicted to violent video games. We might also consider the absence of fathers, the absence of discipline, or drugs (including the prevalent use of mind-altering drugs to control ill-behaved children).
Like the shootings themselves, these things are symptoms of something far bigger and far deeper. As a society, we have actively turned away from God. Sadly, many churches have been willing accomplices in this turning away.
And now we live in a time of wounded people. In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus read a prophecy about Himself from the Old Testament. It powerfully expresses His mission.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
His message must become our message.