It's payday, and soon--God's Decree!--this place will no longer be known as Topheth or Valley of Ben-hinnom, but Massacre Meadows. . . I'll turn this city into such a museum of atrocities that anyone coming near will be shocked speechless by the savage brutality. (Jeremiah 19:6-9, MSG)
"Massacre Meadows" instantly brought to mind my daughter Jolene's poem, "Hope in Black and White, in memory of the Sand Creek Massacre."
The website of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site describes the events of November 29, 1864 as "8 hours that would change the Great Plains forever." The date strikes me because it echoes my grandmother's birthday of November 28, 1894. It is possible that my greatgrandparents were alive at the time of the massacre, and I wonder how they reacted as the news spread across the United States.
A 700-man militia attacked and killed the majority of a friendly village of Cheyenne & Arapahoe--mostly women and children. Colonel Chivington insisted he had valid reason for the attack, and that many warriors were killed. Eye witness accounts differed, describing the torture and mutilatioGon of women and children. As news spread, public outcry grew.
Sand Creek, Little Big Horn, Wounded Knee became symbols of the ugly wars between white and native Americans. The same thing happened at Topheth and Ben-hinnom, turning them to Massacre Meadows" (the origin of "Gehenna," one of the words used for "hell.")
The ugly truth here is that God allowed the destruction of this place.
We hold God to a higher standard. We expect Him to step in and prevent genocide and massacres. If God is real, or if He cares, the words Auschwitz, Sand Creek, 9-11, and Gehenna wouldn't evoke feelings of horror.
But God does allow them to happen. At times, such as the occasion in Jeremiah 19, He chooses the atrocity to punish wrongdoing.
When we hear of such events, we are right to be shocked and speechless. We should be horrified by the evil which causes it to happen. Perhaps we should also view the brutality as a wake up call, to examine our own behavior.
I'm not saying that the depth of human depravity always strikes a society which has turned away from God.
But perhaps we should always reflect on our shortcomings.
About Jolene's poem? I can't find it. I would have posted it here. She wrote the truth much better than I just did.