Today, September 24, 2015 the world is shocked by the death toll outside of Mecca at the observance of the Hajj pilgrimage. As worshipers moved to go to the place where they were to “stone the devil” by throwing stones at pillars, something happened to cause a stampede. It was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and people were suffocated to death. The count at this moment is 717 dead and over 800 wounded. Horrible!
It’s not the first time.
On July 2, 1990, 1,426 people died doing the Hajj.
May 23, 1994—270 died.
April 9, 1998—118 died and 180 were injured.
March 5, 2001—35 died.
February 11, 2003—14 died.
February 1, 2004—251 died and 244 were injured.
January 12, 2006—364 died and 289 were injured. 1
Other religious pilgrimages result in horrible death tolls, as well.
Hindu festival-goers were involved in these stampedes:
October 14, 2013—115 died and 110 were injured at a bridge near the Ratangarh temple.2
July 14, 2015—27 were killed at a bathing festival in the Godavari River.3
These statistics are shocking! In fact, they only scratch the surface. Each year, people all over the world pass away while performing religious rites. It’s so very sad. The death toll today can be added to those who died just thirteen days ago, when a crane fell on the mosque in Mecca. 118 were killed and 394 were injured.4
My heart goes out to those families who have lost their loved ones. It’s horrible! No one would dream that when he goes to do what he believes is right, he will meet death.
One of the greatest tragedies about this is that these religions are all about doing works. The worshipers believe that if they perform a specific act in a specified place, they’ll win some kind of favor with their deity. What their god(s) requires is this rite: this washing, this throwing of stones, this circling the Kaaba, this visit to this shrine, this walking miles on this path, this going up the steps on one’s knees, this . . . work.
The Bible says the opposite. Consider these verses about good works:
- But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
- For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
So, if people’s good works aren’t good enough, what hope is there?
We’re all sinners. That means that everyone has broken God’s law at one time or another. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Most people would admit they had lied, stolen, or broken one of the Ten Commandments at least once. We’re all sinners.
The penalty for sin is spiritual death, separation from God. For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).
Here's the good news!
Here's the good news!
The wonderful news is that salvation is a gift: But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23b). It is a gift because Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sin—as a substitute. Jesus did this because He loves us. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened (made alive) by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).
A gift can be received. But as many as received him (Jesus), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).
Have you received Jesus Christ?
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:11-13).
Only Jesus saves. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
Not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to his mercy he saved us,
by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.