Horror in Sri Lanka

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted April 22, 2019

The Easter Sunday attack on worshipers in at least three churches on the island of Sri Lanka left nearly 300 dead and hundreds more injured. Bombings took place during Sunday morning services, as well as at several luxury hotels in the capital city of Colombo.

World leaders have rightly decried the attacks, credited to a little-known militant group called National Thowfeek Jamaath, which some reports have linked to an international terror network.

“We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told the Reuters news agency. “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”

According to Reuters, “International anti-terrorism experts said even if a local group had carried out the attacks, it was likely that al Qaeda or Islamic State were involved, given the level of sophistication.”

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the Easter bombings is that they might have been prevented. As many as ten days earlier, police in the Indian Ocean nation had received word that the National Thowfeek Jamaath, described as a “domestic Islamist group,” might attack.

Political Dysfunction

According to USA Today, “Seranatne said the country’s prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet were unaware of the intelligence until after the attacks due to political dysfunction.”

While the thoughts and prayers of billions of people are with the victims, living and wounded, their families, and the nation of Sri Lanka, it’s worth noting that this is not the first time that warnings about impending tragedies have been ignored by those whom the warnings were timed to help.

On December 4, 1941, three days before the deadly attack that wiped out hundreds of aircraft and killed 2,459 U.S. personnel at the Pearl Harbor base in Hawaii, President Franklin D. Roosevelt received a top-secret memo warning Japanese forces were preparing to attack. The memo, declassified decades after the attack, said that Hawaii, the Panama Canal (then a U.S. territory), or the West Coast of the United States could be prime targets.

Although there’s little evidence of an active conspiracy to ignore the warning, Roosevelt’s administration was responsible for a “failure of imagination” in not foreseeing the very real threat on the horizon. Years earlier, Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell of the U.S. Army warned Congress that Pearl Harbor could be attacked by the Japanese “on a Sunday morning,” which is what happened.

The January 1986 explosion of the Challenger space shuttle shortly after liftoff was a surprising shock to many, but not to Bob Ebeling, an engineer at Morton Thiokol, the company that made the O-ring seals for the shuttle’s rocket boosters. Ebeling warned that cold weather would prevent the rings from sealing properly and would lead to an explosion. Told this was “not his burden to bear,” Ebeling saw the explosion and spent decades dealing with feelings of guilt over the tragedy. He was vindicated in the investigation following the crash, but it was only toward the end of his life that he could find peace.

There are dozens of other incidents from history where people have known a tragedy was coming but failed to heed the warnings. In January of 1994, Belgian general Romeo Dallaire, commander of U.N. forces in Rwanda, warned of an impending genocide but was denied permission to seize the weapons being stockpiled for the assault. Some 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus perished in the ensuing bloodbath.

And perhaps most famous in history is the story of the Italian city of Pompeii. Days before the August 24, AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius that wiped out the entire population, there were warning signs of impending tragedy. Both ignorance of what tremors in the earth meant and blindness to warnings, such as a suddenly boiling sea and the drying of local wells, led to the population being taken unaware by the volcano.

The Bible’s Warnings

In Matthew 25:1–13, we read about the parable of the Ten Virgins, five of whom were prepared for the return of the bridegroom and five who were not. The unprepared were shut out of the wedding feast by a Lord who said, “I know you not.” 

As Pastor Doug Batchelor notes in his presentation The Ten Virgins, the parallel between those wedding feast virgins and the church is clear: Complacency and a lack of understanding can be disastrous to otherwise well-informed believers. This parable exists as a warning to help us understand the need to stay close to Jesus and to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in understanding the Scriptures—as well as the hour in which we are living.

If you're seeking a fuller understanding of Bible prophecy, and what it signals for this moment in history, check out our FREE Storacles of Prophecy Bible lessons. These informative yet easy-to-understand lessons, which include audio and video presentations, will take you from the prophecies of Daniel through the Bible’s last book, Revelation, leaving you grounded in the knowledge of what God has in store for this world, before and after the end of days.

Whatever you do, don't miss the warning signs. Be sure to study the Scriptures and see what lies ahead!

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