Burning coals

Episode 6 – Heaping Burning Coals (Part 1 of 3)


Burning coals

Welcome to the episode number 6 of Traditores Higher Frequency. This week we have the first of three parts connected to the horrendous December 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and 21 wounded.

When such inexcusable evil is perpetrated, how should we react toward the evil-doers?

To answer that question, over the next three episodes I’ll be playing a sermon I preached on the 10 anniversary of the 9/11 attacks called, “Heaping Burning Coals on 9/11.” As I pondered the most recent atrocity from radical Islam, that talk seemed apropos.

With that short intro in mind, let’s join the brothers and sisters in the Antrim Church of Christ in Antrim, New Hampshire…

Heaping Burning Coals on 9/11 (Part 1)

[ These are quick broadcast notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. Complete sermon available here. ]

Ten years ago today I was sitting in my office at Tickets.com in Fairfax, Virginia. I was on the phone with my boss, and she was doing my yearly review. As we were chatting, she mentioned she saw a report on TV that a plane crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. She and I both assumed it was pilot error with a small plane…until…of course…a second aircraft hit the other tower. At that point, she couldn’t continue.

And, of course, that wasn’t the end of that day’s havoc…a third airliner was used as a missile into the side of the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania thanks to brave passengers who weren’t going to allow their flight to be used to victimize anyone else.

  • We all saw the images of the planes crashing into the sides of those buildings.
  • We all saw the flames and smoke coming from the upper floors.
  • We all saw people who decided it was better to jump then to be burned to death. I saw one article that said it was around 200. 200!
  • We all saw the unimaginable collapse of both buildings…as if someone had carefully set explosive charges to bring them straight down.
  • And we all knew that not only were many of the buildings’ occupants killed by the impact of the airliners, the heat of the inferno, and the the massive weight of the structures’ concrete and steel falling on top of them…but that that final result of the evil acts also killed firefighters, policeman, and other emergency personnel.

Over 400 hundred first responders who…like every other victim…started that day just like any other day…

Altogether between the four terrorist attacks almost 3,000 died, including the 19 hijackers.

Rot in Hell

It almost seems blasphemous to count the 19 perpetrators of those crimes in the same number as their innocent victims. If anything, many Americans probably got satisfaction out of the idea that instead of being greeted by 72 virgins in the afterlife, those villainous jihadists all were “thrown into hell, where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:47-48).

I’m not saying that we all felt that way…but I do suspect we all generally get a sense of satisfaction when an vile wicked people get their “just deserts.”

No, it doesn’t actually make things better…but boy, it make us feel better.

Heaping Coals

Last week, as we chatted about how we would respond to a cranky and sharp-tongued Sylvia, we looked at Romans 12:18-21…although we also added verse 17 after the fact. Let’s look at Romans 12:17-21 again:

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

  • As you remember what you saw that day.
  • As you think of the poor people on the receiving end of a call from the doomed just before they died.
  • As you think of all the fatherless and motherless children those followers of the “religion of peace” caused.

Do you hope that those 19 men, right now, have plenty of coals being heaped on their heads right now…and for all eternity?

At least a little bit?

Is it it wrong if you do?

When I shared Paul’s advice I said “if you overcome evil with good because you want him or her to face God’s wrath…for our Lord to get vengeance…or to heap burning coals on his or her head…then again you aren’t getting the point. :-)”

Am I wrong? Is it okay to want evil people to suffer?

Imprecatory Psalms

I mean, it’s not just the 12 chapter of Romans that wishes ill on enemies…for instance:

Make them bear their guilt, O God;

let them fall by their own counsels;

because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,

for they have rebelled against you (Psalm 5:10).

Not too much praying for those who persecute you in that, is there?

9 The LORD has heard my plea;

the LORD accepts my prayer.

10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;

they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment (Psalm 6:9-10)

Not a whole bunch of loving your enemies in that one, is there?

And how about scripture I’ve shared before…one I read to my family when I decided to open the Bible to a random section:

8 O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,

blessed shall he be who repays you

with what you have done to us!

9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones

and dashes them against the rock! (Psalm 137:8-9)

Ignoring the fact it was a regrettable selection for a family devotion…it is yet another case of what is referred to as an imprecatory psalm…a psalm that wishes ill on the psalmist’s and/or God’s enemies.

I didn’t actually count, but one book I looked at listed at least a few dozen scriptures that are imprecatory.

If the Bible is our handbook…the only place we look for how to act and how to live…

Then can I say there is anything wrong for you to wish ill on those who mistreat you, mistreat those you care for, or mistreat any other victim for that matter?

Wrapping Up

Well, on that note it’s time to wrap up this episode of Traditores Higher Frequency. We’ve laid a foundation and have gotten as far as the biblical precedent for imprecatory prayers toward those who wrong us. As you can imagine, however, there is much more to be said…

For now, I will wrap up by thanking you for listening to Traditores Higher Frequency and encouraging you to contact me either by looking for the “Contact Us” menu item on our website at thf.fyi or e-mailing me at alan@thf.fyi. Again, that’s the “Contact Us” menu item at thf.fyi or e-mailing alan@thf.fyi.

Until next week when we meet again…

Love and grace be with you as we tune into Jesus’ higher frequency.

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Alan is an ordinary guy, living in a small, high plains Colorado town...and humbled to be a minister of God...

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