Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 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? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Back in the day, after 9/11, I applied this passage in reply to someone wondering why this could have happened. I pointed out that there were doubtless some who’d been swept away who were living in the faith just as there were those were not. The idea that bad things happening somehow makes them seem like they should be out of control is as you know based on the references you gave hardly a new one. You wonder where was the Lord in the plagues or the Holocaust, the answer is that He’s exactly where He is tonight while numerable someones die in their sleep and where He’ll be when many more wake up to face another day.
We are told that the Lord sets boundaries for our lives, the times and places in which we may live, that we may look for Him, which though He is said to be near is described as groping for Him.
No one who has ever died, for whatever reason that they died, did so apart from His at least permitting it. That doesn’t mean the He stepped into time to cause them to die at such and such a moment and for this we could turn to the book of Job to understand some of the implications of Him permitting things … as has been pointed out by another poster there is a spiritual kingdom operating in this world that is opposed to God.
But the Son did step into time to die, to suffer unjustly, and all that the Gospel describes so that, just as the prophet Isaiah related “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.”
Is it really so unbelievable that for any who are in fact accountable to believe in this that it really is required for them to believe to see life?
We are not in this country, to borrow from Mel Brooks, dumb scum who are so spiritually poor that all we’ve got is outrageous accents? No, we live in a land awash in awareness of Scripture or at least in knowledge of what has been done for us. Just a few days ago many marked a day that bears witness against us all that we know these things. We are not those who have never heard, who might have an excuse, nor are we children too young to know our right hand from our left that we should have an excuse.
Earlier someone spoke of being good enough, well I too have had visions and dreams and these gave a different witness. In one (I have referenced it before) I found myself in a massive atrium to a banquet hall. Before the doors to the hall there was an attendant and tables overburdened with documents but in the atrium there were great spools of paper on poles forming giant scrolls where you could wind up on one as you unrolled from another. On some of these men were writing furiously a record of all their worth but on others there were no writers and the scrolls had been sealed where they’d stopped. Having looked over these I went to examine the documents on the tables. The first one I reached for was in character like a birth certificate, an ordinary sheet of paper, it was filled out in red ink by someone else, and it was actually the one with my name on it. There was nothing on it to say I was worthy, only that I was alive. I asked the attendant that since I had this why shouldn’t I go into the banquet? The response was that I could.
All those spindles where people were trying to fill out something in place of their own forms provided and filled out for them … how many had written till they had been taken away as Ignorance was in The Pilgrim’s Progress, taken away from the foot of very gates themselves?
So would Christ say in parable of many Americans, who have free access to the Gospels, as he subsequently said in Luke 13:
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 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?’
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”