Vandalism is the crime of intentionally defacing or destroying property belonging to someone else. Vandalism may include robbery, but its intent is not theft. The purpose of vandalism is to destroy and, in the destruction, to shame, take vengeance, or make a malicious statement. However, vandalism is theft, even if property is not removed from the premises, because when a vandal tears up someone’s home or business, the value of that property is lessened. Vandalism is the theft of equity. In the Mosaic Law, God commanded that a thief repay with interest what was taken (Exodus 22:1). Vandalism could be seen as deserving of the same penalty.
Satan is the ultimate vandal of that which is God’s. The whole earth belongs to God, and we are all part of His creation. In Genesis 3, Satan “vandalized” what God created as good (Genesis 1:31) by introducing sin into the world. Satan has continued his rampage of destruction ever since. He attempts to deface all that God has made: his vandalism twists the gift of sex into fornication, the gift of speech into cursing and falsehood, and the gift of justice into bribery and oppression. Jesus said of him, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Those who steal, kill, and vandalize are following in the footsteps of our enemy, Satan.
Vandals who senselessly destroy the property of someone else are immature and lacking in wisdom (Proverbs 11:12). Because vandalism is a form of stealing, it is always wrong (Exodus 20:15; Leviticus 19:11; Mark 10:19). Several times throughout the Bible, God’s temple suffered vandalism from invaders who stole some things and desecrated others (2 Kings 25:9; Psalm 74:3; Isaiah 63:18). However, God set a pattern of restoration in each instance, reminding us that He can renew what vandals have destroyed (Amos 9:11; Isaiah 58:12). God’s ultimate promise is to restore the whole earth and abolish Satan’s vandalism (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1).
In New Testament times, the hearts of Christians are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). What Satan vandalized with sin and sorrow, God restores in Christ. We are made new creations when we place our faith in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Psalm 23:3). While vandalism is always wicked, restoration is made all the more glorious by comparison, because only a great God can bring life from death, strength from ruins, and beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3; 2 Corinthians 12:10).