I walked down the sidewalk toward a class and one of the young men lounging against a building said, "Babykiller." It was 1971 and no secret that I had been in the Marines or that I had not been to Vietnam. The insult stung for all the buddies I had lost in that useless conflict and my step hesitated for just a second and then I went on. The class was the book of Hebrews and it would have been a shame to miss for a fight. But, I have recently decided that he was right.
Often people ask, "How could a good God let babies die," or "suffer horrible diseases." One answer is that man sinned and sin and death are in the world and since disease and death are indiscriminate, sometimes the innocent suffer. It does not seem fair to me either that the baby should suffer because some adult sinned. It is clear that sin and disease and death are not on a one for one ratio in our lives, but there is little question that death rules the world because we keep on sinning. It is not only a result of Adam's sin as Paul clearly states, "and so death spread to all men because all sinned"-- (Rom 5:12). Death and sickness and pain and loss because I sinned, because you sinned.
A situation in David's life illustrates how one man's sin brought destruction on others who were innocent of what he had done. David numbered the children of Israel over the protests of Joab. God offered him 3 choices for the punishment of this sin (lack of trust in God).
So Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Take your choice: three years of famine, or three months of devastation by your foes with the sword of your enemy overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the LORD — a plague on the land, the angel of the LORD bringing destruction to the whole territory of Israel.’ Now decide what answer I should take back to the One who sent me.” (1Chr 21:11-12). David chose number three because he trusted that God was merciful. Then, as 70,000 Israelites died in the plague, he appealed to God, "And David said to God, “Was it not I who gave command to number the people? It is I who have sinned and done great evil. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand, O LORD my God, be against me and against my father's house. But do not let the plague be on your people.” (1Chr 21:17). God stopped the plague. Whoever the 70,000 were, men, women, children, they were innocent of the sin that brought the plague.
If nothing else, we must learn that God is holy and even our "little sins" bring great consequences. Further, the consequences of sin are all around us in this life as well as awaiting us in eternity. Trust God's mercy and escape the eternal consequences though disease and death will haunt us and prefigure them all our days.
So, all have sinned and we are all responsible for the ugly diseases and unfair deaths that strike innocents and guilty alike. I am a baby killer and so are you. When will we recognize the "exceeding sinfulness of sin" and stop sinning through the power of the grace of Jesus Christ?
Jeremiah stood among the ruins of Jerusalem where many children had died in the siege by the Babylonians and exclaimed, Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins? (Lam 3:39).