At least 84 people were killed Thursday night when a truck careered through crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city of Nice. French President François Hollande has said the attack, which also left dozens of people injured, was likely an act of terrorism. He said later that there were 50 injured people “between life and death.” The driver was named as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, a resident of Nice, by French authorities.
According to eyewitness accounts, bodies were sent flying into the air as the heavy-duty white transport vehicle hit them on the Promenade des Anglais at about 10:30 p.m. local time, where people had gathered to watch fireworks by the Nice seafront. Videos taken by bystanders show the truck zigzagging as the driver apparently sought to hit as many people as possible as he drove along more than a mile of crowded road. Images from the scene show bodies sprawled along stretches of road. Local paper Nice-Matin reports the drive lasted 45 seconds.
The driver reportedly also opened fire on the crowd, and was killed in a shootout with police. Photographs show the windshield of the truck riddled with bullet holes after it was brought to a halt.
France is in schock, the world has once again been traumatised. What does the future hold? How do we tackle this type of extremism?
We have lots of questions but very few answers!
One word that keeps cropping up is the word 'prayer'.
Lady Gaga tweeted to say 'I am praying for you France'. Simon Cowell said the same, so did Justine Timberland. Paul Coelho asked in a tweet 'is prayer enough', Kim Kardashian said 'God the world needs you'.
I believe, and the bible teaches, that the man who perpetrated this crime is evil. He is wicked! My prayers are for those who have been bereaved! My sympathy goes out to the families of the dead and injured. May God comfort them and strengthen in these days of grief, fear, anger and trauma. God is the God of all comfort and he can meet the needs of each of us in all the dilemmas we face in life. Will Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel be punished? Indeed the Bible teaches that he will be accountable for what he did! Sin never goes unpunished. Men may fail to implement justice but God will both in this life (at times) and in the next. But is all evil the same, in other words are there degrees of sin and wickedness! Although the Bible is absolutely true when it states that 'all have sinned and come short of the glory of God' I have no doubt that we all agree that violent acts such as this extreme wickedness should be dealt with appropriately.
Be in no doubt that 'the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death' - Revelation 21. 8.
I repeat, evil will not go unpunished! God has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead - Acts 17. 31.
But before any of us sit back and conclude that we will not face God's judgement (of course God must judge the terrorist and evil men but there's more to it than that) we should re-read these two passages of scripture.
Please read the other definitions in the list in Revelation 21 verse 8 - 'the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death'. God is duty bound to deal with all forms of evil not just the ones we don't like.
Please read Acts 17. 31 again.
How does God go about judging the world. Just as a Premier, President or Prime Minister selects the right person to take public office so God has selected the right person to be Judge - His name is Jesus.
What is the basis of his assessment? - 'he will judge the world in righteousness'.
Can we be sure that the right person has been selected? - God has 'given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead'. The judge in the future will be the same Jesus who came into the world to save sinners. He lived on earth, he knows the human mind, he died for our sins and God brought him back to life to prove once and for all that he, Jesus, is God's Son and that he is the Saviour of the world.
Is prayer enough?
One of the questions in the tweets I read was 'is prayer enough'. The answer is that prayer is enough to change the sinful heart of the individual. We must come to God one by one. We acknowledge our sin as individuals and we trust Jesus personally as we repent of our sin and trust Him to save us. Prayer will not be enough if it is prayer without confession of sin or exercising faith in Jesus. If it's just a 'save our world' prayer or a 'preserve my comfortable life' prayer it won't have any effect but if it is a prayer of confession of sin and guilt then God hears and answers.
God the world needs you!
O how true these words are! If we had not turned our back on God the evil we have seen perpetrated in Nice would not have happened. If only we had not sinned then there would be no death, no tears, no abuse and no violence.
But - by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin - Romans 5. 12 and we find ourselves in an increasingly evil society.
What is the answer?
The answer is in turning back to God. By coming His way. By receiving his salvation, by trusting his well beloved Son - Jesus.
I leave you with the words of John chapter 3 verse - it is the key and provides the answer:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.