Summary: A sermon following the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Facing the Giants

Isaiah 58


A. This past week has confirmed to us once again that there are giants in the land. We often forget about them until they raise their ugly head and shout out to us from the street.

a. Like Goliath starred down the Israelites in the valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17), there are some enemies that seem unbeatable. They are well armed with the weapons far too advanced for shepherds.

b. This past week it was the giant of violence that voiced her hatred in the hallowed halls of Virginia Tech University. Video tape revealed the underlying evil, a young man full of rage systematically orchestrating the worst act of gun violence in our nation’s history.

i. After killing two people in a Virginia University dormitory — but before he slaughtered 30 more in a classroom building — the gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, mailed NBC News a long, profanity-laced diatribe and dozens of photographs and videos Monday morning, boasting, “When the time came, I did it. I had to.”

ii. Cho, 23, a senior English major at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, killed 32 people in two attacks before taking his own life.

iii. We’ve always heard the old adage, “violence is a weapon of the weak.” But after events like the Virginia Tech massacre, it’s easy to think that violence has ultimate power. After all, most of us have learned history through the lens of war. And we read the news through acts of violence rather than the hidden acts of love that keep hope alive.

iv. But there is a common thread in many of the most horrific perpetrators of violence that begs our attention – they kill themselves. Violence kills the image of God in us. It is a cry of desperation, a weak and cowardly cry of a person suffocated of hope. Violence goes against everything that we are created for – to love and to be loved – so it inevitably ends in misery and suicide. When people succumb to violence it ultimately infects them like a disease or a poison that leads to their own death.

1. Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus with a violent kiss, ends his life by hanging himself with a noose.

2. After his notorious persecutions, the Emperor Nero’s story ends as he stabs himself.

3. We see the same in the case of Columbine, the 2007 Amish school shootings, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and this recent Virginia Tech massacre – each ends in suicide.

B. Violence is suicidal. Violence becomes societal. It kills a society. It can take over a culture to the point of no return. Witness God’s commentary in Genesis on the reason for the flood. (Genesis 6:5)

a. One of the activities that Este and I thought of doing while in Brazil was visit Rio de Janiero. I would have loved to see the Christ our Redeemer stature standing over the city.

b. The missionaries at Palavra da Vida talked us out of this visit because the city is so violent.

i. Sure enough, it was news worthy. In Thursday April 19th News Herald there was a small clip entitled “Bloody Daylight Clash in Brazil”.

ii. Gangsters with automatic weapons had a shoot out with police in broad daylight near downtown.

1. Parents used their bodies to shield their children on the way to school. Passengers on buses stuck in traffic hit the floor as bullets shattered windows.

2. Brazilians are grappling with a shocking image of how far Rio has sunk into violence.

3. Violence has begun the suicide of a great city.

C. Of course events like these will spark all kinds of debate about who is to blame, the availability of guns and the influence of violence in our culture. The conversations will probably produce more smoke than light. The debate will spark more anger than comfort, blame than healing and division than love. Increasing violence is just one of the many giants we face.

a. Depending on the latest news cast we could highlight such giants as:

i. Disease

ii. Starvation

iii. Poverty

iv. corrupt leadership

v. the breakdown of the family

vi. racial division

vii. greed

viii. terrorism

ix. environmental problems

x. unemployment

xi. substandard education

xii. fair trade

xiii. abortion

xiv. human rights violation

xv. alcohol and drug addiction

xvi. sexual addictions and gender confusion

xvii. spiritual darkness

xviii. Teenage pregnancy, depression and suicide

b. While these problems are fresh fodder for drive time talk shows, the giants extend back to the very soul of mankind from the beginning of time. There is something deeply wrong within the spirit of man. The heart is desperately wicked. (see Isaiah 57:20-21)

i. Most of our problems come from within. All we really care about is ourselves. My needs, my wants, my goals, my fears, my opinions and my demands.

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