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Beyond Redemption

September 23, 2008 Radio

I have heard it said that the Nazi war criminals were convicted and hanged because of the testimony of Jews against them.


          It’s not true, you know. The testimony of the survivors of the death camps was important, but it was not the most damning testimony.


          The most damning evidence at Nuremberg was the Nazis own meticulous record keeping.

Robert E. Conot, who wrote “Justice at Nuremberg:

“No one who experienced the trial or has become familiar with the evidence and record can doubt that the case was proved conclusively; that despite all the horrors that were brought to light, it was, if anything, understated. None of the defendants attempted to refute the evidence. They sought instead to explain away their own participation and to shift the blame onto others.

“Not only were the documents the prosecution introduced the Nazi’s own words, but the witnesses–both for the prosecution and for the defense–included some of the highest officials in Hitler’s government. Far from denying what had taken place, each contributed additional information to the litany of murder. Dieter Wisleceny, one of Eichmann’s half-dozen deputies, provided a detailed accounting of the 5,250,000 Jews who had been exterminated. Otto Olendorf, the chief of Himmler’s internal intelligence division and commander of an einsatzgruppe in Russia, testified to the slaughter of the Jews in the east. Rudolf Hoss, comander of Auschwitz, related the three million people, most of them Jews, had perished in this concentration camp–and he, most assuredly, was an authoritative witness. Erich von dam Bach-Zelewlsky, the chief of the antipartisan forces, confessed to the indiscriminate extermination of the innocent.

“It was not as if the evidence was circumstantial or depended upon secondary witnesses. It was direct and damning.”


          I’m not sure what it is about such evil that the men who do it seem to maintain such good records. They weigh the violence of their hands.


          Having taken a good, hard look at the evidence, I find myself seething with anger when people try to deny it ever happened.


          I have NO patience with holocaust deniers.

Justice Jackson, in his opening address to the Tribunal remarked, “What makes this inquest significant is that these prisoners represent sinister influences that will lurk in the world long after their bodies have returned to dust.”


          What a fascinating thing for a judge to say. Could he have been right?

Conan remarked, “These influences, in fact, have regenerated like a poisonous weed.”


          And I must add, they always will in this world, under this system.

Failure to recognize this is dangerous in the extreme.

The 12th Psalm concludes.

“The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted."

All this came to mind when I was reading the 58th psalm

Psalms 58 KJV) "Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? {2} Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.

Two things were striking.

1. They weigh the violence of their hands. I think that is what the Nazis were doing with their record keeping.

2. They work wickedness “in heart.”

But then, the psalm goes on to say:

Psalms 58 KJV) {3} The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.


          This is one of the most disturbing things about this subject.


          And not because it is counter to experience, but precisely because it is not.


                      I can’t just say that David was having a bad day when he wrote this Psalm.


                      In the first place, I believe this was written under inspiration.


                      But regardless of David’s mood, it seems to be true.


          I can’t explain it, but the die seems to be cast on some children almost from the start.


          It is that poisonous weed that Robert Conot described–and the psalm takes a similar tack.

{4} Their poison [that of the wicked] is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; {5} Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.


          The frightening thing that comes to me as I read the psalms —and it is all through them— is that the wicked are irredeemable.


          Once the die is cast, they are bound for destruction.


          I don’t like this, but I have to face up to it.

Now let me stop and make something clear.


          When you find the words “the Wicked” in the Bible, it is not talking about sinners.

          It is not talking about weak willed, heavily tempted, people who fall short.


          It isn’t talking about difficult children or rebellious teenagers.


                      In fact, the wicked often seem quite ordinary much of the time—even smooth.

                      M. Scott Peck described them in his remarkable “People of the Lie.”


                                  They tend to be rather banal.


          It is not even talking about people who do wrong even when they know better.


          No, the Wicked are something altogether different.


          And unless we understand something about this, we will find many things in the OT incomprehensible.

Still in Psalm 58.

{6} Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD. {7} Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces. {8} As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun. {9} Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath. {10} The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. {11} So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth."


          This is one of those psalms that some people have a hard time reconciling with their image of God and man.


          We want to believe that all men are redeemable.


          That there is no such thing as one who is incorrigibly wicked.


                      It is one of the rationales of those who are opposed to the death penalty.

The problem is that Bible is remarkably single minded when it comes that category of men they call, “The Wicked.”

Maybe we should think about how the Bible defines “the Wicked”?

(Psalms 10 KJV)

 "Why standest thou afar off, O LORD?

why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

{2} The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor:

let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.

{3} For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire,

and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.

{4} The wicked, through the pride of his countenance,

will not seek after God:

God is not in all his thoughts.

{5} His ways are always grievous;

thy judgments are far above out of his sight:

as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.

{6} He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved:

for I shall never be in adversity.

{7} His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud:

under his tongue is mischief and vanity.

{8} He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages:

in the secret places doth he murder the innocent:

his eyes are privily set against the poor.

{9} He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den:

he lieth in wait to catch the poor:

he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net.

{10} He croucheth, and humbleth himself,

that the poor may fall by his strong ones.

{11} He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten:

he hideth his face; he will never see it.

{12} Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.

{13} Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God?

he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.

{14} Thou hast seen it:

for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand:

the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.

{15} Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man:

seek out his wickedness till thou find none.

{16} The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.

 {17} LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble:

thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:

{18} To judge the fatherless and the oppressed,

that the man of the earth may no more oppress."


          So now we know. This is what the wicked is, and this is why he deserves everything he gets.


          (Jeremiah 48:10 KJV) "Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD negligently, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood."


          When God sent Saul to completely destroy the Amelekites, it was because they were irredeemably wicked.


          Saul fell under this curse.

This expression, “The Man of the Earth” evokes another passage:

(2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 KJV) "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, {2} That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

{3} Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;


          The man of sin, the son of destruction, he is called.

{4} Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. {5} Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? {6} And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. {7} For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. {8} And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: {9} Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, {10} And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. {11} And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: {12} That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."


          And the people who are going to fall are the people who refuse to recognize the wicked for what he is.

(Psalms 36 KJV)

 The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart,

that there is no fear of God before his eyes.

{2} For he flattereth himself in his own eyes,

until his iniquity be found to be hateful.

{3} The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit:

he hath left off to be wise, and to do good.

{4} He deviseth mischief upon his bed;

he setteth himself in a way that is not good;

he abhorreth not evil.


          There is a finality about this.


          As though the wicked are set in their ways and will not return.


          It is not that they cannot. They will not.


          There is such a thing as fixed wickedness.


          And there is no remedy for it but destruction.

This is the only way I can understand some of the events of the OT.


          God told Israel to wipe out entire tribes of people, man, woman, and child.

We are not talking about good people who just went bad.

We are talking about settled evil.—the poisonous weed.

(Exodus 20:4-5 KJV) "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: {5} Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;"

(Proverbs 22:6 KJV) "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

The Story of Ahab

(1 Kings 21:17-29 KJV) "And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, {18} Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. {19} And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. {20} And Ahab said to Elijah, hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee; because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD. {21} Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, {22} And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin. {23} And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. {24} Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat. {25} But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. {26} And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. {27} And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. {28} And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, {29} Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house."


          Now here is where we must pause to consider the psalm that says:

          {3} The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.


          It may be possible that a child is under a curse from his parents and grandparents.


          But think about this:


          Even Ahab was able to repent. So his sons also could have done.

There is one more element in this that has to be considered:


There is a very real evil in the world that is human evil, BUT


There is also a very present evil in the world that is not human.

(Daniel 10:4-21 KJV) "And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; {5} Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: {6} His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. {7} And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. {8} Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. {9} Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. {10} And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. {11} And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. {12} Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. {13} But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. {14} Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days. {15} And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. {16} And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. {17} For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. {18} Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, {19} And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me. {20} Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. {21} But I will show thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince."


          It is hair raising to think about, but there is probably spiritual warfare going on right now.


          We can get on with our lives because we don’t know about it.


          But it does break through on us from time to time.


          (Mark 9:17-27 KJV) "And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; {18} And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. {19} He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. {20} And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. {21} And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. {22} And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. {23} Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. {24} And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. {25} When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. {26} And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. {27} But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose."

(Revelation 12:7-12 KJV) "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, {8} And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. {9} And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. {10} And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. {11} And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. {12} Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."

When you read the Bible and come across the words, “The Wicked,” realize that you are reading about something inexpressibly evil.


          Something irredeemable.


          Something that can only be dealt with by complete destruction.


          And don’t let yourself become timid if you ever have to deal with it.


          And don’t ever try to do it on your own authority.


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