by: Gary L. Hutchens
I remember watching, some years ago, the execution by lethal injection of Timothy Mc Veigh. He was executed under the authority of the federal government for killing nearly 170 people in a terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City.
Accounts of his crime that led to his arrest and conviction were broadcast continually during the final weeks leading up to his execution. Both opponents and proponents of the death penalty made their cases in support of their respective positions. Survivors and family members of victims of the bombing were interviewed and photographed.
After he was pronounced dead, various reporters described every detail they could notice about Mc Veigh’s final few moments of life on this earth; eye contact, nods of his head, body movements, the appearance of anything and everything. So much attention to the death of one man.
Did that execution, and all of the reporting that surrounded it, bring closure? Not for Timothy Mc Veigh! His physical body died, but his spiritual being still exists. He must one day stand before another judge, Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). There he will have to give account for all of his deeds done in this life, not just that for which he was executed. If found guilty in that setting, he could find himself facing eternal death (Rev. 21:8).
I sensed a certain smugness on the parts of many people in regards to Timothy Mc Veigh. Many people believed he got what he deserved. More than a few were glad to see him dead, and some would have liked for him to have suffered more in death. The idea of him burning in Hell probably brought a smile to the faces of some.
But, it’s time for a serious reality check. Each one of us is going to die, unless the Lord comes again first (Eccl. 3:1-2), and the reason we will die is sin (Rom. 6:23). We will all stand before the same eternal judge before whom Timothy Mc Veigh will stand. We will have to give account for the way we lived our lives, just as he must do. Lest we get too haughty, there are a whole lot of sins, besides murder, listed in scripture that will keep people out of Heaven and put them in Hell for eternity (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8). Unfaithfulness can bring us face to face with the fires of Hell (Rev. 2:10).
What difference does it make if a person ends up in Hell for bombing a building, resulting in the deaths of 170 people, or for not obeying the gospel (2 Thess. 1:7-8), or just for not serving the Lord faithfully? Should we gain some sense of satisfaction that we would not be there for murder? Hell is Hell! The coolest corner will be too hot.
Death here is a sobering thought, but after death comes the final judgment (Heb. 9:27), and that is even more sobering. That reality ought to motivate us to be faithful every day for the rest of our lives (2 Pet. 3:10-11).
How is your faith right now? Do you worship with the Lord’s church each Sunday? Regular, weekly worship and Bible study are vital to the development of strong faith. Are you paying attention to your soul? It will be that part of you that will either be with the Lord in Heaven, or that will spend eternity in Hell. The choice is yours, the time to choose is now…
Gary L. Hutchens