WHAT DOES TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, MEAN?|
Posted: September 11, 2006
[Please note: This article was originally written in September, 2001. It was based on the message that I preached on Sunday morning, September 16, 2001, following the horrific September 11 attacks. -Pastor Al]
On September 11, 2001, the world as we know it changed. The ugly realities of terrorism and Islamic fanaticism shocked America and the world as three jet airplanes flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and into the side of the Pentagon, outside of Washington, D.C., while a fourth jet crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania. Horrified, we watched in our living rooms and offices, in our shops and schools as smoke and flames billowed out of the twin towers and the Pentagon. We continued to look on in unbelief as the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed into the heart of the city as thousands fled in panic. While our government and military went into war status, taking unprecedented emergency precautions and actions, we looked into the very face of evil itself.
Thankfully, in the midst of immense tragedy, we can see God's hand preventing the death toll and destruction from being much greater. Thousands of office workers, military personnel, and travelers were spared through unusual-some might say miraculous-chance occurrences. Alarms that did not go off, cars that did not start, trains and buses that were running late, unexpected delays, and last minute changes of plans kept many from certain death and injury. Then, there were the buildings themselves. Instead of toppling to the side they went straight down, crashing inward upon themselves, sparing many more lives. A death toll that should have been in the tens of thousands was only in the several thousands. The face of evil was present, but so was the hand of God.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a call to reality. It was a wake-up call to remind us that we live in a real world full of life and death, compassion and callousness. A world where evil exists and people hate us simply because of who and what we are. Until then, terrorism was something that happened elsewhere, not in America.
During the 1980's, while serving in the U.S. Air Force, I read about terrorist activities around the world constantly as a part of my job. It did not take long to realize that America had a false sense of security. While terrorists had targeted and killed many Americans overseas throughout the 80's and 90's, the FBI had an extremely good track record preventing attacks on American soil.
Islamic zealots are among the worst of terrorists. They are, in their minds, the defenders of Islam locked in a spiritual battle against the ultimate expression of evil in the world: America-the Great Satan.
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, America woke up. Now it is time for Christians to wake up as well. As the Bible says in Romans 13:11, "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
For too long we've snuggled down in our cozy Christian cocoons, insulated from the harsh realities of the spiritual battle raging round about us. Where the Bible says that we should "...endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3)" we have instead become "...at ease in Zion (Amos 6:1)".
Wake up Christian! "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8)".
As Paul told the Ephesians in Ephesians 6:10-12: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was also a call to repentance.
During the dark days of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln observed, "We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which which preserved us in peace and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined that all things were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us."
Since then we have booted God out of our schools, taught our children that they came from monkeys, and legalized baby killing as a form of birth control. The godless ACLU, supported by liberal courts and judges, terrorizes private individuals, schools, and whole communities in their brazen attempts to stamp out all vestiges of Christian symbolism, expression, and heritage from the public arena.
Like Israel of old we have turned our backs on the very One who has protected and prospered our nation. Jeremiah 3:20-21 might well have been written to America: "Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD. A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God."
We have forgotten that, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD... (Psalm 33:12)." America needs to repent and turn back to God if she wants God's blessing and protection.
Thankfully, remembrance of God seems to be stirring across America. After all, when is the last time you saw notifications of prayer meeting times and locations crawling across the bottom of the television screen? Churches have been seeing an increase in attendance and "God Bless America" is sung throughout the land, and Americans seem to be welcoming God back into the public arena with open arms-but for how long?.
National repentance starts with Believers. "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)"
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a call to retribution as well. Though the Bible says in Romans 12:18, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men", it does not teach pacifism.
In fact, the Bible identifies three situations in where God allows the use of deadly force. First is the defense of one's home. "If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. (Exodus 22:2)" Second is the defense of one's community. "And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. (Genesis 9:5-6)" Third is the defense of one's country. "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (Romans 13:3-4)"
Vengeance may belong to the Lord (Romans 12:19) but God sometimes uses armies and police forces "to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil". Fortunately, God has blessed our country with some impressive swords to bear.
Finally, Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a call to redemption. It reminded us of the fragility of life and the certainty of death in graphic fashion as thousands of souls went out into eternity before our eyes. They did not plan to die that day, but they did.
How many of them knew Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour? Only God knows. Their eternal fates, however, were sealed the moment they passed from this life and there is nothing-despite all the good intentions and religious traditions to the contrary-that we can do to change that.
We can do something to for those who yet live, though, by reaching them with the gospel message. We can give them gospel tracts, invite them to church, witness to them, and pray for them. We can pray for and support pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and other Christian workers so they can reach those we cannot.
And, we can ask ourselves where we would be if we had died September 11. If you honestly don't know, visit the Bible Baptist Church or give us call. Let us show you from the Bible how you can have your sins forgiven and know that you will have a home in heaven by trusting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour today.
God bless America!