I woke up on the Labor Day holiday in the USA (September 4) to hear the news that the famed “Crocodile Hunter,” Steve Irwin, died in Queensland, Australia.
Because of his well-known daring encounters with crocodiles and other dangerous animals, his death received headline news. People all over the world are expressing their shock and grief.
When I was in my early 20s as a high school teacher in Queensland Australia, I took my biology classes on excursions to a small reptile park—run by Steve’s family—near the Glasshouse Mountains and north of Brisbane. At that time, Steve would have been a little boy—preparing for his life ahead. At that time, I never envisaged that this reptile park would become one of the world’s most popular and well known zoos.
That such a well-known, active and young man (44) died was such a shock to all hearing the news today. However, the fact that anyone dies should be a reminder to us that ultimately everyone will die. And it can happen when you least expect it. So many of us thought Steve might get killed by a crocodile or by being bitten by a poisonous snake—after all, he interacted with these creatures in ways the rest of us would not dare to! Instead, he was killed swimming alongside a sting ray—something many people do today—killed in a way that is rare; it wasn’t considered very dangerous as he was filming underwater off the Queensland coast earlier today.
Sadly, Steve Irwin wasn’t a creationist. He mentioned evolution and the concept of millions of years many times in his television programs. For example, he once told Larry King on CNN’s Larry King Live cable program that crocodiles had been around for 200 million years, and if you weren’t careful they would kill you.
Over the years, I’ve had people tell me they sent Steve Irwin some of our creation books—who knows if he ever read any of them. At least these AiG supporters tried to witness to this very famous and brave man. Our hearts and prayers go out for his wife (an American, by the way) and their young children.
At Answers in Genesis, we have written many articles about why death and suffering exist in this fallen world. We explain in clear terms how to understand how there can be a God of infinite mercy—of infinite love—yet we see death all around us. We, in Adam (Genesis 3), committed high treason against the God of creation; and as a holy and just God, He must judge sin (with death). But at the same time, because He loved us so much, He stepped into history 2,000 years ago, and in an act of infinite love, paid the penalty for our sin by dying and being raised from the dead. While we are separated from God because of our sin, our loving God offers us a free gift of salvation.
This month, AiG began a special campaign to let the world know that answers to life’s tough questions exist—and most of all, to know that the ultimate answer to life’s problems, salvation in Christ, is free. Throughout September—the anniversary month of when thousands died in the World Trade Center five years ago—this website will feature a special emphasis on the death-and-suffering issue.
Why did Steve Irwin die at such a young age? In one sense, his death seems so unjust—he wasn’t a bad man! Steve was so friendly—so entertaining. As a conservationist, he did so much to help the environment. He made people laugh—and he brought much awareness to people about animals and how we can care for them. I’m sure many around the world—with this news making headlines—will question how Christians can believe in a loving God when they see death all around us. The Bible does answer this question though—and I encourage you to read the answers on this website and watch Dr. Tommy Mitchell’s video A God of Suffering?
Christ faced objections in Luke 13 about the seemingly unjust death of people. Someone had brought up an “unjust” situation after Pilate had killed Galilean citizens and mixed their blood with his sacrifices (a hideous atrocity for sure). Jesus cut to the real issue, however, with this response:
Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:2-5)
Issues of “fairness” and supposed “injustice” may pester us all our lives, but the core issue that Jesus focuses on is the one we teach through our messages at AiG: they died. It was their time. And you are going to die. Now is the time to repent and turn to the Lord. Make sure you have committed your life to Christ, for death is a reality, and what happens beyond the grave depends on your choice today.
For all Steve Irwin’s popularity, for all the worldly goods he may have obtained, none of this could save him from the penalty that we are all under as children of Adam—death. And as the Apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:8-10:
Therefore, I consider all things loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to his death … .
What does the death of Steve Irwin mean for us? It’s a reminder that we all need to repent of our sin so that we can be saved for eternity—because we all face death. As a witnessing opportunity at this time, point more of your friends/relatives to AiG’s website for answers to this important question—one that affects everyone’s eternity.