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Chapter 4On June 1, 1962, Adolf Eichmann was hanged to carry out the sentence against him from his 1961 trial by the state of Israel. Eichmann was a lieutenant serving Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany until their fall in World War II. He disguised himself and fled the country until he was later found and arrested in Argentina in 1960. Eichmann was credited, and took credit himself, as the chief designer of “The Final Solution,” the plan for ridding Europe of all Jews that resulted in the torture and death of over six million Jews in the 1930’s and 40’s. He was tried, found guilty, and executed as a murderer of millions of Jewish people.
A few days before his execution, Eichmann made an appeal for pardon to Israeli president, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi via a hand-written letter in German. He based his appeal on different rationale. He asserted that the Jewish court could not possibly be sympathetic or understanding to the time and place he was in during the holocaust. He claimed that differences in judgment should be made between responsible leaders and underlings who were merely carrying out orders. His self-assessment concluded in this chilling sentence: “I was not a responsible leader, and as such do not feel myself guilty.”
Though Eichmann had an objective, historical record against him in the deaths of millions of Jews, He still did not think himself to be guilty, or worthy of death. He referred to outside forces influencing his actions. He claimed to be just doing his job as though one could not be morally responsible for obeying orders to commit abominable acts. Finally, as he thought on what many others had done, which was worse in his estimation, he did not feel himself to be guilty. History has proven Eichmann to be a poor judge of himself, and the Bible proves him a poorer judge still along with each of us.
We are all heading for a great judgment before God’s throne (Revelation 21:11-15). Eichmann’s appeal simply revealed the human nature that is in all of us and the tendency we have to rationalize and justify our sins until we are not guilty, or worthy of just punishment no matter what we have done. Even if we were allowed to stand before God and sort out all our works so that we cast out what we thought was bad and only presented what we thought was good to God, we would still be guilty. We’ve seen in the previous chapter how we would mess this up. Without faith, even our good works stand against us and are enough to condemn us (Isaiah 64:6).
The other problem here is that we do not get to judge ourselves. God is the judge. We will stand before Him. The books will be opened and we will be judged out of them. Everyone who stands before Him without faith will be condemned to everlasting punishment. When we die in unbelief, our sins stand against us before God (John 8:24). So it doesn’t matter whether or not you feel yourself to be a good person and not guilty.
Death does not end our problems, even an earthly execution. We will all be called from the grave one day to be judged by God.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
– John 5:28-29
Whether we go into damnation or into everlasting life is the judgment of God and He has given us revelation about this in His word. Damnation is also described as eternal torment in the lake of fire, or punishment with everlasting fire.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
– Revelation 20:15
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering vengeance of eternal fire.
– Jude 1:7
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels
– Matthew 25:41
Damnation is called the second death (Revelation 21:8) and there is no escape from it. It is the result of unpardoned sin. Remember, the essence of sin is falling short of God’s glory. It’s not just about whether or not you’ve told a lie. It is an issue of whether or not you’ve lived on God’s earth and breathed His air without faith and without glorifying Him and therefore have fallen short and sinned against Him. The issue of judgment is not about judging against others to determine better or worse. The issue in judgment is whom your sin is against (James 2:10; 4:12).
There is a greater day of reckoning coming than even what Eichmann faced in the early 1960’s. Sin has consequences and our case is desperate if even our good works are going to count against us. Surely there must be a solution. Surely there must be some way out.
This is a portion of a book that I have been writing. I have decided to post it here in serial form. It is intended to be evangelistic. If the book has merit, I may seek to publish it in some form. Please feel free to share it and I welcome any feedback.