Was 9/11 Judgment From God For America’s Sins? Part 2

Title: Was 9/11 Judgment From God for America’s Sins? Part 2

Text: Isaiah 5:5-6, 24-25, 40:1-2, John 5:13-14, 8:1-3

Time: September 19th, 2011

 

Last time, if you remember, I talked about 9/11 being a judgment of God upon sinful America. I also spoke about how most Americans will not accept that analysis of 9/11 because they will refuse to admit or confess to their sins, and they will also refuse to recognize that God judges sin in this way. But as I also pointed out, the Bible is full of just such examples of God judging and punishing the sins of his people. So in speaking of America under God’s judgment for sin, and by seeing that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were part of God’s judgment upon the nation for it’s sins, I realize that I’m going against the grain of popular American thinking. How dare I or anyone – it started with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson a few days after September 11th, 2001 – to speak of America in such a way? How dare anyone speak of God in such a way either? Well, first off, I’d like to say that nobody is saying the innocent victims of 9/11 – the people in the World Trade Centers who died, or the first responders who tried to save them and died, or the people who died in the Pentagon or in Flight 93 that crashed – nobody is blaming them, or saying that their sins brought upon the 9/11 attacks. Whenever one discusses God’s judgment upon America or America’s sins, no doubt someone will raise the objection, “Those innocent victims cannot be blamed for the tragedy of 9/11. To blame them is unconscionable. You should be ashamed of yourself for even suggesting so.” I want to say in the strongest terms, I’m not blaming any of the innocent victims who died for the attacks or saying that their sins brought the judgment of God upon them or the nation. I’m saying the corporate sins of this nation, it’s abortions, it’s embracing of the gay lifestyle and gay marriage, it’s turning away from God as a society and nation – these are the things that bring God’s wrath down upon a people. Just as one wouldn’t want to blame any individual or individuals in the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, so too, one wouldn’t want to blame any individual or individuals alone for any judgment that comes upon our nation. But having said all that, the Bible clearly outlines that nations are judged by God for their sins, and so, when we look at the nation of the United States, we must say sin brought about and brings about God’s wrath upon a people. A nation is the combined beliefs and activities of its people. If America is judged by God it will be because of what it has done together. Is there any question that America as a nation has moved steadily away from the will of God as outlined in the Bible? Are there no consequences for a people moving away from the will of God? Yes, there are consequences, and I’m saying that 9/11 is an example of God bringing negative consequences upon our nation for its sins – sins it still has yet to acknowledge as a nation. But in case someone is still not sure about this way of thinking, let me explain further.

 

First, the Bible makes such judgments and so have God’s prophets in every age. Isaiah 5:24-25, “. . . They have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the Lord’s anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down. . . .” If we only take one prophet and one book of the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah and his book, we see the kind of thinking about sin, judgment and God’s wrath I’m talking about. It’s all throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament as well. Only a person who doesn’t know the Bible, or one who wishes to forget it, will deny this kind of thinking. In the verse I’ve quoted above, it clearly shows that God’s wrath is coming upon his own people because of their sins. God is God and has the right to treat his people in any way he chooses. If he chooses to bring judgment upon them for their sins, that’s his right to do so. It’s still his right to treat his people in such a way. Now I’m not claiming that America is the exact same as the ancient Israelites or that we are the new chosen people, but because of the unique history of Christianity in the founding of the United States, and because of the Christian and biblical foundations America started from in its beginning, I’ve got to agree with President Abraham Lincoln who once labeled America as the “almost chosen nation.” What he was saying is that America, while not the same chosen people as the ancient Jews of Israel, we are still special in our founding and our faith, and so “almost chosen” is an appropriate classification for Americans. It doesn’t claim too much, but it doesn’t claim too little either. What this means is that we can’t expect to apply every biblical reference directly to our status as a nation or as a Christian people, but we can apply many references whenever they clearly fit. For example, here’s another verse from Isaiah that clearly has application for America, Isaiah 5:5-6, “Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed. I will break down its wall and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.” Just as God threatened to do and did to the Jews, so too God can threaten and do this to modern day America also – if it fails to repent of its sins and follow after the ways of God. How dare we talk about the United States falling under the judgment of God for its sins? Because the Bible talks about nations, including even God’s favored nations, facing God’s wrath for sins. But the Bible not only describes God bringing about judgment for the sins of the nations it also shows God using foreign invaders to carry out the destruction. “He (God) lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he whistles for those at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily!” Isaiah 5:26. God uses evil nations as instruments of his wrath against even his own people the Jews. If this is so in ancient times, couldn’t God today use foreign enemies of America to carry out his judgments for the sins of the nation? Certainly. People who know anything about the Bible, and especially people who read it and believe it, should know that to wonder and to reflect upon the 9/11 terrorist attacks in light of God’s past activity in the Bible, and if that reflection leads to the conclusion that we are experiencing God’s judgment for our national sins, this conclusion shouldn’t surprise anyone. That such a conversation should surprise anyone says more about our national biblical ignorance or more so about our blatant unbelief.

 

Second, we must be careful but not fearful about making such judgments. John 8:1-3, “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither his man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Here is an instance in the life and ministry of Jesus where his disciples automatically assumed that because something bad happened to this poor blind man that sin had caused it, someone’s sin, either his or his parents. But Jesus reminds them that it was neither his nor his parent’s sin that caused his problem, his blindness, but instead, it was the sovereignty or providence of God for the purpose of giving glory to God through Jesus healing him. So here is a refutation to everyone who automatically thinks that every disaster or tragedy or catastrophe is judgment from God for sin. I know of no Christian who makes the claim that every bad thing that happens is the result of sin, or that God’s wrath is displayed in everything that goes wrong on the earth. Could the 9/11 terrorist attack that so disrupted our country and changed our world so quickly have been simply an event in the providential or sovereign will of God with no direct cause/effect relationship to the sins of our nation? Yes, that is a possibility. For most Americans the attacks have nothing to do with anything connected to sin or the judgment of God. And there is the possibility that this view is correct. But on the other hand, there is the possibility that when something goes bad, when a tragedy or catastrophe strikes, it could be the judgment of God for sin. That is a real possibility also. To give another illustration from the life and ministry of Jesus, a crippled man is healed by the power of prayer. John 5:13-14 explains, “The man who was healed had no idea who it was (who healed him), for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’” In this instance, it was sin that had caused this man’s physical problem, because Jesus warned him to stop sinning or something worse might happen. So we see, in some instances sin is the cause of trouble. This is perfectly consistent with the Old Testament description of sin bringing judgment either directly or indirectly from God. What this shows is what most Christians know if they think about it and are willing to be consistent in their faith, and that is, sometimes tragedies and troubles are simply what happens for no moral reason, but at other times we bring trouble upon ourselves, we provoke God’s wrath on ourselves because of our sins. This means we have to be careful in judging something as God’s judgment for sin, but we shouldn’t be afraid to do so when the evidences point in that direction. We shouldn’t do it for no good reason, but we should be willing to do it if there are good reasons.

 

Third, America needs the prophetic voice more than it needs the sympathetic voice today. Isaiah 40:1-2, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for her sins.” Everyone is familiar with these famous lines because they are heard in Handel’s Messiah every Christmas season. But what people don’t realize is that the words come from the Prophet Isaiah and they are addressed to Israel before judgment for a time after the judgment of God for their sins has been accomplished. God speaks through the prophet to comfort the people for after the judgment has passed, after they had learned their hard lesson, after they had repented of their sins, after they had turned back to God. It’s certainly not a message God would send to any prophet to tell the people to warn them to turn away from sin and turn back to God. Most of the time prophets warned the people to turn from their sins and turn back to God before the Day of Judgment comes. But sometimes God also sends the prophets to comfort the people who will going into or who are coming out of judgment, in order to encourage them and give them something to look forward to. God won’t hold their sins against them forever, once the judgment has passed they are welcomed back into his good graces. Now in respect to our nation today, it seems the only emotion that is permitted is one of sympathy. Instead of our nation examining itself and doing individual soul searching, the only permitted expression in the aftermath of 9/11 is sympathy. When Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson tried to express something different from sympathy, when they tried to be prophetic, the nation turned against them and wouldn’t stand for it. But contrary to national sentiment, their instincts were correct – America needed and still needs a prophetic voice more than it needs a sympathetic voice. That’s not what people want to hear, but it’s what they need to hear. About the only mood people were in at the time and in the aftermath of 9/11 was sympathy for the victims, for the families, for everyone involved who suffered. This is appropriate because these victims were innocent and tragically met their deaths in a horrible way. But as a nation, as a people, we don’t need sympathy as much as we need prophetic warning and rebuke. Our sins, our individual and national sins, contributed to the national tragedy of 9/11. We have turned away from God in the last few decades. We have neglected and rejected God’s laws, with abortion and homosexuality as only two very visible examples. We as a nation have invited and provoked God’s wrath upon us.

 

What America needs is not sympathy – as if a psychologist’s couch or therapist’s listening ear could supply us what we need. No, what America needs is for prophets to arise who speak the hard, painful truth – America is heaping up judgment for itself because of its sins. That truth shouldn’t comfort anyone, it should scare us and frighten us, yes, terrorize us, into repentance and rededication to God. But unfortunately ten years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the prophetic voice still isn’t permitted to speak because of the public censors and media gatekeepers in our country. The minute someone begins to talk about national sin, God’s judgment, the need for national repentance or rededication to God, the secular establishment turns off his microphone. If the prophet owns his own microphone, as in the case of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, then his voice is drown out by criticism and scorn. The prophetic voice never is permitted to sink into the public consciousness. Even in churches, few pastors dare speak on such things publicly, even if they believe them privately. But what happens if Americans don’t get the prophetic message to repent of their sins individually and nationally? What happens is that they don’t repent, they don’t turn away from sin and they don’t turn back to God. They keep going down the wrong path in the wrong direction that will eventually lead to total destruction. But how many people today take seriously the idea that America could fall, fail as a nation, dissolve, break up and totally collapse? Few Romans believed that their vast Roman Empire could fall, but it did – and for many of the same reason that we now see at work in America. After ten years, after a whole decade of reflection on the attacks of 9/11 I think it time for Americans to hear the hard and painful truth – God is growing impatient with our failure to confess and repent of sin, God is offended by our turning away from his laws, God is bringing upon our nation trouble, yet we fail to see this for what it is – God’s judgment. Unless we stop treating ourselves as innocent victims and start taking responsibility for our own sins, we won’t ever get to the place where we repent and turn back to God. And if we never get to that place, we’ll never save our nation from total judgment and destruction. I’d like to say that things have gotten better morally and spiritually since 9/11, but in reality things have gotten worse. Abortion still continues, the number of unborn children murdered increases every year. Homosexuality is worse today than ten years ago, because now we not only have the gay lifestyle promoted legally throughout the land, we also have gay marriage gaining popularity. The very state that was most effected by the 9/11 attacks, New York, just this year approved gay marriage. Are we challenging God? Are we provoking his wrath? It seems so. Until we deal with our own internal moral corruption in this nation, no fighting or defending against external terrorist threats will save us. How will these save us from God’s wrath?

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