Today marks the greatest natural disaster in Australia's history with 130 people confirmed dead in ferocious bushfires that ripped through Victoria at the weekend. At least 750 homes were destroyed in the fires and more than 330,000 hectares burnt out. Authorities say some fires could take weeks to contain, and warn that the number of fatalities is likely to rise even further.
A young lass, Kinchy, blogged away on the day, placing a tribute . . .
". . . to those who tried to flee but were unlucky enough to . . be caught in the flames themselves; to the residents of Marysville who not only lost everything they own, but their whole town to the horrific fires. And lastly but CERTAINLY not least, to those who lit the fires in question, may you burn slowly in the holocaust you created forever in the depths of hell.”
Kinchy justified her extreme remarks by explaining that when she was younger (2006) they almost lost, not only the whole town of Junee through fire (thanks to someone throwing a cigarette out the window), but almost their lives.
Forensic investigators have begun work, suspecting that arson was involved. A clearly shaken Kevin Rudd told the Nine Network that if firebugs lit some of the bushfires then they are responsible for "mass murder". “What do you say about anyone like that? — there are no words to describe it, other than mass murder. The nation should brace itself for a very challenging time ahead."
The deep feeling created by such outrageous behaviour helps to explain the words of Jesus in Mark 9, where he says: 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (KJV)
Notice just how many times the Received Text of Scripture repeats these words in the Markan passage. The point is: we are very reluctant to take such words seriously, and need to be able to reflect on them: “Did Jesus really say that? – read it to me again!” Yet some would rather use the word “hell” as a mere throw-away swear word. So wrong! For if we take any of the words of Jesus seriously in the Gospels, these should not be left out, nor doubted. Hell is real, especially for the arsonist, who seems to love watching people’s homes burn down, yet knowing some inside will for ever be scarred by fire!!