Do You Shake Hands With the Devil?

Youths gather behind the fence of a refugee camp May 3, 1994, at the border of Rwanda and Tanzania.
Scott Peterson/Liaison

Do You Shake Hands With the Devil?

The consequences of compromising with evil

Never again. Those were some of the first words that came to my mind after seeing the barbaric attack by Hamas on Israel. Families murdered, citizens executed, infants beheaded or burned to death, an unborn child ripped from its mother’s womb, women raped and then dragged by a rope attached to a truck until they died, a trophy for the demonic murderers. We have failed never again—again.

Following the nightmare of the Holocaust, the entire world vowed never again: Never again would Jews be systematically murdered and left defenseless. Never again would we stand idly by and allow genocide to happen on our watch. But it has happened again and again in the 80 years since Adolf Hitler was stopped.

These images from October 7 brought the tragedy of Rwanda to my mind. Just before going to college, I read Gen. Roméo Dallaire’s firsthand account of the horrific genocide in Rwanda. The similarities between what happened in Central Africa and in Israel are unnerving.

Dallaire recounts how young Hutu men would systematically round up Tutsis and machete them to death, competing over who could kill more. Hutu men and women would snatch infants from their dead mothers’ arms, throw them in the air, let them hit the ground, and mash them into the ground under their feet. Women were raped on street corners and left to die. Driving through the remnants of small communities, Dallaire once came upon a 5-year-old boy in a small hut, sitting next to the rotting corpses of his parents and siblings who were murdered days earlier.

This was pure, unrestrained evil. This explosion of violence and barbarism was planned, premeditated and methodical. It is hard for our minds to accept that this happened. Yet it happened again in Israel. We let it happen.

Dallaire writes in the preface to his book Shake Hands With the Devil:

The following is my story of what happened in Rwanda in 1994. It’s a story of betrayal, failure, naivety, indifference, hatred, genocide, war, inhumanity and evil. Although strong relationships were built and moral, ethical and courageous behavior was often displayed, they were overshadowed by one of the fastest, most efficient, most evident genocides in recent history. In just 100 days, over 800,000 innocent Rwandan men, women and children were brutally murdered, while the developed world, impassive and apparently unperturbed, sat back and watched the unfolding apocalypse or simply changed channels. … We could not find the political will nor the resources to stop it. … The genocide in Rwanda was a failure of humanity that could easily happen again.

These shocking, emotional, gut-wrenching events are proof that evil exists in this world. It proves humans are capable of unrestrained evil, no matter what age of history we are in, what race or religion we are, or what technological advancement we possess.

Sadly, we often forget this truth and deceive ourselves that humanity is inherently good. Is there anything really good in this world? Even if we didn’t personally commit genocide, we let it happen over and again.

One of Dallaire’s experiences in particular holds a monumental lesson for us today. The preface of his book concludes:

After one of my many presentations following my return from Rwanda, a Canadian Forces padre asked me how, after all I had seen and experienced, I could still believe in God. I answered that I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him, I have smelled him, and I have touched him. I know the devil exists, and therefore I know there is a God.

Dallaire discovered the Hutu government was using a militia group named the Interahamwe (which means “those who attack together”). He wanted to transfer as many civilians as possible out of Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, the epicenter of the war, so he agreed to meet with the leaders of the Interahamwe.

On May 1, 1994, Dallaire met with the three Interahamwe leaders. He removed the bullets from his pistol in case he couldn’t resist the urge to shoot them. As they shook hands, he noticed one of them had blood splattered on his white collared shirt. For 25 minutes, Dallaire negotiated with the perpetrators of the genocide, trying to find a solution through diplomacy. He writes:

On the way back to the Force HQ, I felt that I had shaken hands with the devil. We had actually exchanged pleasantries. I had given him an opportunity to take pride in his disgusting work. I felt guilty of evil deeds myself since I had actually negotiated with him. My stomach was ripping me apart about whether I had done the right thing.

Dallaire later said in a radio interview that although he shook hands with a human and looked into human eyes, he was talking with the devil, not a human being.

Dallaire is right: There is no doubt these murderers were demon-possessed. When individuals surrender to the devil, they become vessels of evil. That is how genocide happens.

Have you ever shaken hands with the devil? Most of us have not had contact with a possessed genocidal maniac, but have you ever compromised with what you knew was wrong? Have you ever tried to appease a problem or live with sin? When we compromise with evil, we are shaking hands with the devil. This has destroyed people and nations.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain shook hands with the devil in his negotiations with Hitler. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and nearly every Israeli leader have shaken hands with the devil trying to make deals with Hamas. When you try to make a deal with evil, it will destroy you. Compromising with evil always backfires.

This is also true of sin on an individual level. The Bible defines sin as the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). Our human nature is naturally tuned to sin (Jeremiah 17:9), and we need God’s Holy Spirit to change that (Romans 8:9).

Jesus Christ said: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). We can’t serve God and sin—we have to choose one lifestyle or the other. We must confront evil in our lives before it becomes a tragedy. Sin brings curses (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28). If we refuse to confront sin, we will reap the consequences of our actions.

Sin and evil have a specific author: Satan the devil. He is the father of all lies and murder (John 8:44) and the father of sin (1 John 3:8). When we try to live with sin, we are shaking Satan’s hand instead of confronting sin and relying on God to fight our battles.

This principle applies to people and nations: If we confront evil and obey God, He promises victory: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:7-8).

This is one lesson we should learn from the gruesome attacks of demon-possessed terrorists. Stop shaking hands with the devil; reason with God instead. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 1:18-20).

In this world, we see acts of the darkest evil, but the opposite of that, the Creator God, does exist. God is actively working out a master plan that will forever stop genocide and barbarity. God’s solution will humble mankind so they will finally drop to their knees and reason with their Creator. Even those who have already been the victims of evil will live again and have a second chance.

Through this master plan of correction, resurrection, repentance and education, God will change the nature of man and eradicate evil from civilization.

God does not shake hands with the devil. Christ is returning soon to banish Satan forever and confront all evil. That is the day we hope for—the day when we can finally say never again.

To learn more about this inspiring solution, read Mystery of the Ages.