When an Evil Person Dies
21 April 2021 Hits:1158
Earlier this week, Scott Alan Murdoch died.
Murdoch was found dead in his cell at a maximum-security prison. He was sentenced to life behind bars for stabbing two women:
- He murdered Kylie Blackwood in her Pakenham home in 2013. Kylie was a mum-of-three who Murdoch left to die on the couch where her twin girls (11) found her.
- He was also jailed for hammering a knife into the throat of a defenceless grandmother. He did this while on parole for attacking another woman. He had a history of violence against women.
At trial, the judge noted, “Murdoch was unlikely to be rehabilitated in jail, and the community must be protected from him.” She also said Murdoch was a coward who had shown little remorse. However, he did write the following statement: “I know I’ve destroyed her [Ms. Blackwood’s] husband and kids’ life. I’m sorry. If I could take it back, I would. I hate myself for what has gone on.” He was given a life sentence with a non-parole period of 36 years and would have been 78 when released.
When we hear of an evil person dying, our natural tendency is to think, “well, good riddance. Nothing lost. Society is better and safer for a monster like that to be removed from it.” But is that a Christian response? How does God feel when an evil person dies?
What God Says
The Prophet Ezekiel provides the answer: “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23; cf. 33:11). Contrast that with Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”
What Jesus Says
Jesus gave some insight into this during his arrest. Remember the story? The always impetuous Peter “reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.” Jesus’ response, “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Jesus was quoting from a 5th century BCE play called the Agamemnon, based on the first book of a trilogy of tragic dramas by the ancient Greek playwright, Aeschylus. One scene in the play details how the queen kills her evil husband, the king, in an act of vengeance. This scene contains the quote, “live by the sword, die by the sword.” It emphasises the irony or appropriateness of the death of the evil king.
And that’s how many people feel when an evil person dies. How ironic and appropriate that a violent person would meet a violent end. That’s our initial response to the death of someone like Scott Alan Murdoch. However he died, “he got what was coming.” “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” It’s the law of reciprocity. People reap what people sow.
It fitted that Murdoch was found guilty and punished. As I write this blog, Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of George Floyd’s murder, and rightly so. There’s a collective sigh of relief in our world today. We can breathe again! Justice has been served.
The Judgement of God
Finally, it’s important to stress that an evil person’s death or suffering is NOT the judgment of God. Murdoch’s death is NOT the direct judgement of God. God is not the source of evil and does not exact evil upon people (James 1:16-17). God is the life-giver, not the life taker (John 10:10).
It concerns me greatly when I hear Christian people state that this or that event is God’s judgment. Remember when a Christian pastor declared that the awful Black Saturday bushfires were God’s judgement on Victoria because of the State Government abortion laws? No, they weren’t. Occasionally we hear of a Christian leader ascribing a hurricane or earthquake to God’s judgment in the US. But this is just plain wrong. It’s also blaspheming – attributing to God something that he has not done!
The wrath and judgement of God in Scripture is more about God NOT intervening in the normal flow of life. Consider Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Notice that sin automatically pays a wage – death. God is not killing people. We naturally reap what we sow. God DOES intervene when it comes to life though, “but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And so, the wrath of God is when God hands people over to sin’s consequences. The apostle Paul had this revelation and outlines it in Romans chapter one:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness.
Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts.
God gave them over to shameful lusts.
God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what ought not to be done.
God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death.
We clearly see that God’s wrath gives people over to the natural consequences of their sinful actions. The wages of sin are death. Scott Alan Murdoch died. Derek Chauvin is guilty and will probably die in prison. God’s desire is for all people to repent of their evil ways and inherit eternal life as a free gift in Christ Jesus our Lord. That’s the good news. That’s the Gospel!