Saturday, November 29, 2008

Talking Turkey About Wrath, Justice, and Mercy

O Lord, how patient and merciful you are to us.

When I think upon our greed, selfishness, lack of pity, and stubbornness illustrated in this tragic trampling death, I reflect that God is just in his seething wrath against such sins, and merciful and longsuffering in calling people to repentance:

NEW YORK (AP) - Police were reviewing video from surveillance cameras in an attempt to identify who trampled to death a Wal-Mart worker after a crowd of post-Thanksgiving shoppers burst through the doors at a suburban store and knocked him down.

Criminal charges were possible, but identifying individual shoppers in Friday's video may prove difficult, said Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, a Nassau County police spokesman.

Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers stepped over him and became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

At least four other people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries. The store in Valley Stream on Long Island closed for several hours before reopening.

Police said about 2,000 people were gathered outside the Wal-Mart doors before its 5 a.m. opening at a mall about 20 miles east of Manhattan. The impatient crowd knocked the employee, identified by police as Jdimytai Damour, to the ground as he opened the doors, leaving a metal portion of the frame crumpled like an accordion.

"This crowd was out of control," Fleming said. He described the scene as "utter chaos," and said the store didn't have enough security.

Dozens of store employees trying to fight their way out to help Damour were also getting trampled by the crowd, Fleming said. Shoppers stepped over the man on the ground and streamed into the store.

Damour, 34, of Queens, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 6 a.m., police said. The exact cause of death has not been determined.

A 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to a hospital, where she and the baby were reported to be OK, said police Sgt. Anthony Repalone.

Kimberly Cribbs, who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like "savages."

"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" she said. "They kept shopping."

Such selfish disregard for others, such manic obsession with material things. You and I might never stand in the cold hours before store opening on Black Friday, but the same disease grows in our hearts and manifests in other ways, provoking the just wrath of God, which he is storing up on the last day, when he shall be the one trampling the vintage of his foaming wrath against lawlessness and sin (Rev. 14):

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. [2]

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

The Harvest of the Earth

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia.
Woe to us! We worship the beast everyday in American society. We worship wealth and influence, we worship sexual dominance and debauchery, we worship status and power. We worship the passing things of this world and the promise we can have it all and at falling prices too.

How it must grieve God on any day, but especially the day after we claim to celebrate thankfulness at His mercy and grace that we cram into stores and push and shove and clamor for the latest must-have thing to sate our flesh. We'll find it doesn't satisfy and yet we'll yearn next year for more of the same.

Father God, have mercy on us. May you bring us to repentance. I pray that in the midst of this trampling tragedy you help your ministers of the Word to preach Christ more boldly this Christmas season, to prophetically challenge people in pulpits across the land to trust not in earthly treasure, but in Heaven's greatest gift to man. Jesus Christ, our Immanuel, God with us.

Thank you Jesus, that you chose to step down from the glories of your heavenly throne to clothe yourself in frail human flesh, live the life we could not and would not live because of our moral deadness in sin. Jesus, you died the death we deserve, drinking in God's holy wrath. You died the death these tramplers deserve, being trampled by wave upon wave of the fierce white hot anger of God against sin. You died for these tramplers' sins. Lord, I pray that you show them your mercy. Awaken their hearts by the power of your Holy Spirit unto repentance. I pray each and every one of them may be preached the Gospel and that you may pierce their hearts through, burning their consciences with conviction and godly sorrow unto repentance and new life.

Lord, forgive me for any self-righteous judgment I've shown these tramplers. Forgive me for my selfishness, for my impudent demands to be god of my own mini universe. Forgive me for failing to hallow you in the holidays. May I always walk in humble repentance, recognizing that but for your grace I would still be dead in my sins, if not eternally lost in the burning wrath of your judgment in Hell.

Lord grant me your heart of compassion and mercy. While I long for justice, may my heart not be deafened to the pleas of mercy that you cause in the hearts of sinners you are regenerating by your saving grace.

Thank you Lord for your patience towards us. Thank you for not lashing out in your justified wrath but holding off in patient forebearance. I pray you help me do the same, Lord, and I pray your people in America and the world over would be imitators of you particularly in showing mercy.

In the name of your Son and my Savior Jesus I pray, Amen.

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