Why do criminals use God’s house to hide?, or, how a murderer became a deacon

Jehovah warns us in his word through his prophet Moses in Numbers 32 “…be sure your sin will find you out.” A 78-year-old Texas man found that out earlier today when the U.S. Marshals arrested him on a warrant for a murder dating back to 1981. Joseph Lewis Miller was a very violent young man who lived a life of crime. He was tried, convicted, and served time in the 1960s for killing a man in Pennsylvania and for shooting the man’s wife. Although given a life sentence, Miller made several appeals to have his sentence commuted and was successful in those efforts in 1971 when Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shafer commuted Miller’s sentence to time served and had him released from prison.Handcuffs

Miller returned to his life of crime and eventually shot Thomas Waller to death in a hotel parking lot in 1981. In the midst of the police investigation and subsequent arrest warrant for Miller, he became a fugitive and eventually settled down in Mineola, Texas, where he changed his name to Roy Eubanks, got married a second time, became a church deacon, and was fraudulently collecting social security disability benefits. The U.S. Marshals arrested him early this morning at his home where he confessed to the crime and was taken into custody after three decades on the run.

What is it about criminals like this that drives them to run to God’s house to hide as if they will not have to face the consequences of their actions? Do they see God’s house as a good luck charm? Is it because they want to present themselves as truly good to distract from the fact they are truly evil?

This type of behavior has gone on for centuries. When I read this story, it reminded me of Joab, King David’s right-hand man and nephew, who fought alongside David through thick and thin and became a trusted advisor. But Joab had a huge problem that David chose to overlook for decades. Joab was hot-headed and became a murderer several times over. Not only did he murder Absalom against David’s direct order, but when David made a peace treaty with Abner, the late King Saul’s uncle, Joab chased Abner down and murdered him in cold blood when Abner was on his way home.

So when Solomon became king, Joab’s murderous presence was something that had to be dealt with. Solomon was left with no choice but to issue the death penalty for Joab, his cousin, if he wanted his reign to truly be blessed by avenging innocent blood. When Joab found out, he ran to God’s tabernacle and clung to the horns of the golden altar (1 Kings 2:28). The men sent to execute him ordered Joab to come out, but he refused to let go of the altar. They reported back to Solomon, not wanting to kill Joab there, but Solomon ordered them back to the tabernacle to finish him, and Joab found out the hard way that the altar of God in the tabernacle of God would not magically or miraculously absolve him of the consequences of his unrepentant actions.

This church in Texas should rejoice that God saw fit to use the authorities to purge a murderer from their midst. These incidents should remind us that Christ will “present [] to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish,” (Ephesians 5:27) which means that “the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).

Source: Mineola church deacon arrested, connected to 1981 homicide. KETK news. Monday, April 21, 2014.

2 thoughts on “Why do criminals use God’s house to hide?, or, how a murderer became a deacon

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  1. There are those who believe (not in the Lord Jesus, mind you) that one day when they meet the “guy upstairs,” the “main man,” or whatever term they use to refer to God, that their sins will have been “forgotten” by Him. Nah, if you’re not a born-again believer, sins do not “disappear,” no matter how long ago they happened. So, good luck meeting the “guy upstairs” without knowing Jesus Christ.


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