Vegas, Tom Petty, and the Real Tragedy

Posted on October 3, 2017


By David Ettinger

A Terrible Day
griefMonday, October 2, 2017, was a terrible day here in the U.S. On this day, 58 innocent people were slaughtered and another 527 injured when a gunmen decided to cut down as many people as possible at a country-music concert in Las Vegas. It became America’s largest mass killing, surpassing the 49 murdered at the Pulse Nightclub here in Orlando on June 12, 2016.

On a secondary level, we also lost one of our finest home-grown rock/pop musicians, Tom Petty (whose music I enjoyed) at the age of 66. Naturally, Mr. Petty’s death, caused by cardiac arrest, was much overshadowed by the Vegas massacre.

What Ultimately Matters
The media covered these two events from all possible angles. There is no need to repeat what the pundits already addressed other than to say that as far as this life goes, men and women should, ideally, have the good fortune to live out their years into old age.

Of course, sin, which brings death, has something to say about this, and therefore multitudes die before reaching old age. When this happens, we often lament the fact that life has been “cut off” at far too young an age, and our tendency, as it should be, is to mourn those so afflicted.

As a Bible-believing Christian, I empathize with this viewpoint, therefore I also mourn for those who either die at far too young an age, or meet their demise through horrific means. On the other hand, I am well aware of a particularly somber scripture which confirms the fact that we all must die. Hebrews 9:27 says: “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”

cloudsThe first part of this verse assures us there is no such thing as reincarnation or any other form of reliving one’s life. Each individual has but one life to live, and when it is over, it is over. And when it ends, the second part of the verse tells us what happens next: we go on “to face judgment.”

In light of what occurred on October 2, this – facing judgment – is what ultimately matters.

Following Death
On October 2, we know of at least 59 people who left this mortal life – the Vegas shooting victims and Tom Petty. The question now is: Following their deaths, where did they go?

The answer depends entirely on what they did during their lives when confronted with the reality of the deity of Jesus Christ. Regarding Jesus – the second Person of the Godhead; the Son of God; He who came to earth to give His life as a ransom to take away the sins of men and women (Mark 10:45) ­– the Bible tells us:

  • “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36).
  • “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).
  • “… a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:27-29).

We are all born under condemnation. Psalm 51:5 tells us: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Isaiah 53:6 says: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way …” And Romans 3:23 says: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

cross-newOnly Jesus can take away this sin which, if left unforgiven, will lead us to an eternal afterlife separated from God in what the Bible describes as a “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14). According to the above verses, those who accept Jesus’ free gift of forgiveness will have eternal life in paradise with God; those who reject it will spend eternity in torment separated from God in the lake of fire.

The Real Tragedy
This is the reality for all human beings. But while the media dissects the Vegas massacre, or praises the life of Tom Petty, they are missing what ultimately matters, and that is, What became of those who died on that tragic day? What becomes of ALL who die on any day?

No, the media never asks this question and, tragically, neither do multitudes of the world’s 7.6 billion residents. And this is the real tragedy.