London Bridge Has Fallen Down

Sitting in the airport today I watched newscast after newscast about the I-8 bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed three days ago. Five people were crushed to death, and thirty more are missing. If they haven’t turned up by now, they are most likely dead. Everybody knows the stories—the twenty year old school counselor who heroically helped a schoolbus full of children to safety, the man in the wheelchair who rolled to safety out of his van, the unconscious woman who woke up underwater and managed to escape. And now there is intense scrutiny of bridges and their safety classifications. Congressional studies will be done, money will be spent, jobs will be created, and funerals will be officiated. I drive across bridges almost every day. Most Americans do. Within a month—probably less—the I-8 tragedy will be all but forgotten.


I wonder what the safety rating of the Tower at Siloam was. Luke 13:4-5 describes another tragedy which killed innocent people and shocked many more. Jesus is asked what the people had done to deserve being crushed to death by debris. He responds by saying “[D]o you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” This answer would have surprised the audience. There was a general cultural expectation that when evil befell someone, it was because of a specific sin that God was avenging. Before healing the paralytic in —– Jesus was asked who sinned, the man or his parents. It was an assumption of the culture that those who were untouched by tragedy were not the sinners to the degree of the suffering.


Engineers have conveyed their surprise at the sudden collapse of the bridge. “It wasn’t supposed to do that” they say. Neither was the Tower of Siloam. The Tower of Siloam fell as a reminder from God that all men are but dust, and all deserve to die. This was Jesus’ response to his inquisitors. Were they worse culprits than you? God’s message hasn’t changed in the last 2000 years. The message of the 1-8 Bridge is this: Repent and devote your life to the God who created you for His glory. Why did the bridge fall? Because God removed His hand from underneath it.


I’m sitting in a plane as I type this. Looking out the window makes me realize how fragile life is. But I’m as safe up here as I am on the ground. God governs all life and death. Not a sparrow will fall without His knowledge, and not a person will die without His will granting such an event. Time and again the question is asked “How could a good God allow…9/11, Hurricane Katrina, a tsunami which devastates Southeast Asia, or a bridge collapse which kills thirty-five people.” God allows such for the reason presented in verse five. “[U]nless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” The message thirty-five people died to proclaim is this: Do you know the Savior? Are you passionately living for the glory of God? Or are you wasting your life on trivial things?


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