|The World Trade Center minutes after the September 11th attack
The greatness of the people of New York has been witnessed by the entire world. On that fateful day, in the face of sudden death, thousands of people began descending several hundred, even several thousand, steps. Many were on fire - their hair in flames, their clothes burnt off. In a world given to shameless sexual abuse, men running for their lives tore off their jackets to cover their neighbors' nakedness. No one was trampled to death; valiant men bore up those who were falling along the way while other rescuers rushed up in the opposite direction into the fiery furnace to perish.
God made man in His likeness. That great truth shown brightly, extravagantly on that day of calamity in New York as many gave their lives to save others. Yeshua, the manifest representation of God, explained the Divine nature."Greater love has no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."
These great people gave their lives to rescue unknown people. Some would be living today had they not remained to try to save others who also perished.
The pain creates an abyss in the soul: The hardnosed, extremely successful Chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, the colossal stock firm, who is alive because he first dropped his son off on his opening day of kindergarten, wept because he lost every last one of his 730 employees who were on the 101st-105th floors in the WTC.He cried bitterly on Larry King Live; he no longer had money even to pay the salaries of the deceased to their widows and orphans. He wept, begging his former clients to each give him a little business and he vowed to put 25% of all future profits in a fund for the survivors.
A firefighter told how he could no longer look up at the burning building because of the dozens of people jumping out of windows. A tough New York reporter broke down on CNN as she interviewed those coming out of the burning building.
Larry King interviewed attorney Ted Olson, widower of the famous TV personality, Barbara Olson, as he described his last conversation with his wife on United Airlines before it crashed into the Pentagon. Larry King wept loudly off screen as Ted told how, at the end of that horrible day, he walked into his bedroom and found a note on his pillow from Barbara. It said, "When you get this note, I'll be thinking of you. I'll see you on Friday. I love you."
Lisa Beamer, soon to deliver a child, received a phone call from a 911 operator who told her that her husband Todd had called 911 from aboard a highjacked plane. Todd Beamer, a strong man of faith, asked the operator to repeat the Lord's Prayer with him. He called on Jesus to cleanse him, and then led an attack on the suicide terrorists and foiled their attempts to fly the plane into another strategic target. He gave his life for the many.
For the first time, we have begun to truly understand Jeremiah's words, "Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!"(Jer. 9:1)
I do not believe there is greater love nor is there greater bravery among the human race than that which was displayed by some of those who perished on September 11, and a few who escaped.
Yet, in our sorrow, we must not forget to ask the critical question: Is God trying to say something to us?
ISRAEL - GOD'S EXAMPLE
We are at war. Will we win or will this be a war without end? The Bible says wars are not won by chariots and horses, but by the power of God. What, then, causes a nation to win or to suffer great loss in war?
Having lived for 34 years in Israel, a nation that has existed with terror all of its modern life, we have been sensitive to the Scriptures that describe the causes of war. The Old and New Testaments are for those who lived in the past, for those who live today and in the future. The entire Bible has relevance for life and death today. It is our firm belief that God's dealings with Israel, both past and present, is His model, His pattern of how He deals with nations in general. The God who says, "I change not," said of Israel: "How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them."(Deut. 32:30)
ISRAEL AND GOD'S ANGER
Now here is the issue. Israel was severely punished by God when she drifted away from her Redeemer. Ancient Israel had light as no other nation of her time. God judged Israel according to the righteousness he had revealed to her. The Bible is so repetitive, so black and white about this subject that it would seem difficult to miss.
An example: "There arose another generation who did not know the Lord…And the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies."(Judges 2:10,15)
When trouble came, repentance followed: "And the sons of Israel said to the Lord, 'We have sinned…only please deliver us this day.' So they put away their foreign gods…and served the Lord; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer." (Judges 10:15-16)
With repentance came redemption. The Lord bought Israel back from the enemy to which He had sold her. And then the cycle began again…and again…and again. The books of Judges, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles are essentially the recording of these cycles of judgment and redemption.
Paul makes a strong point that the disastrous judgments that came on Israel apply to us today. "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our insruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come."(I Cor. 10:11)
WAR COMES AS A RESULT OF SIN
The Bible reveals that war comes to a nation because of her sins. Indeed, the Bible clearly delineates what are blessings and what are curses:
Blessings: "The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways."(Deut. 28:7)
Curses: "Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart for the abundance of everything…The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young.
"They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land which the Lord your God has given you."(Deut. 28:47,49-50,52)
In war, innocent people die. Remember that 36 innocent people were killed in war because of one thief (Achen in the battle of Jericho). (Joshua 7:1-5) But in comprehending God's ways, we must not miss the purpose of God's judgments, which is to turn people back to Him. Isaiah said, "When the earth experiences Thy judgments, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness." (26:9) This, then, is the merciful objective, the redemptive purpose of God's judgment: to bring about revival.
HOW TO WIN A WAR
Solomon, in his prayer of dedication of the Temple of God, petitioned the Lord: "When Thy people Israel are defeated before an enemy, because they have sinned against Thee, if they turn to Thee again and confess Thy name and pray and make supplication to Thee in this house, then hear Thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of Thy people Israel." (I Kgs. 8:34 )
"When your people go out to battle against their enemies, where You send them, and when they pray…then hear from heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy…yet when they come to themselves…saying, We have sinned, we have done wrong, and have committed wickedness…then hear from heaven…."(II Chr. 6:34-37,39)
When an evil power attacks a nation, it will ultimately be defeated if God's people pray and confess the sin that besets even the people of God. (Incidentally, Solomon understood that natural disasters such as drought, famine and plague are also a result of the sins of a nation that can be healed if the people repent.)(II Chr. 6:26-31)
DOES GOD STILL JUDGE IN AN AGE OF GRACE?
Some say that since Yeshua came into the world and died for the sins of the world, God no longer judges nations as He did in the past, especially "Christian" nations - at least until the time of the Great Tribulation. Therefore, they conclude, using Israel as an illustration of God's ways is no longer valid.
Yet the New Testament declares that "All Scripture is…profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.... (II Tim. 3:26)
Secondly, Yeshua the Messiah Himself pronounced judgment against cities in His day that had had opportunity to receive salvation but did not.
In so doing, Yeshua reconfirmed another element in God's reckoning as to the severity of punishment to be administered: The cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum would be judged harsher because of the tremendous light that they had received and rejected. Their judgment would be greater because, said Yeshua, if other pagan lands had seen what they had seen, the latter would have repented and turned to God.
We are aware that there are considerable differences of opinion among the people of God as to whether the catastrophe of September 11 was God's judgment or correction, or His allowing Satan to bring disaster, or an unadulterated attack of the devil.There is no question in our minds that it is all of these.
Really, God is saying different things to different people through this event. For the sinner, it is a definite call to repentance. To the lukewarm or casual believer, it is time to get serious with God. To the person miraculously delivered from the disaster, it is a revelation of God's mercy. To the saint, it is a call to even greater intercession for the Church and for the lost, to stand in the gap for the nation against the attacks of Satan, and to labor more intensely in the harvest as time grows short.
But the one most vital factor here, we believe, is that unless there be nationwide prayer, repentance and confession of sin, resulting in massive revival in the cities, towns and countryside of the U.S. and the "Christian nations," further disaster awaits America and the free world - just as it did for Israel.
GOD GIVES WARNINGS
When God began to deal with the sins of Israel, He did not, in one fell swoop, destroy the nation. He gave warnings that could be seen by the wise. He lifted his hand and allowed an incursion here, an attack there. Sometimes the Philistines. Sometimes other local tribes. Then larger invasions came. Only after the people of Israel refused time and again to believe the prophets' warnings that these calamities would continue and increase unless the nation repented - only after the cup was full - did total destruction come.
Israel's second great capitulation to a disastrous invasion in 70 A.D. came forty years after Yeshua told the religious leaders of the people of God that they were not discerning the signs of the time.
We are not told of God's many faceted considerations as to why one person is cut off in his prime while another lives. But Yeshua did declare a fact far more important: When He was told of the tower of Siloam that collapsed and of the 18 who were killed in its rubble, (Luke 13:4) Yeshua clearly stated that these people were not worse sinners than others. But what was His main point? Unless the living repent, they too will perish.
What did He mean? The greatest death, called the second death in the book of Revelation, must be paramount in the minds of everyone. NOW. Those people are gone. But the living STILL HAVE A CHANCE TO HEAR THE GOSPEL AND REPENT.
This is the description of God's conditions for relationship with man that Ezra shared with the king of Persia:"The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him."(Ezra 8:22) This is a Gospel that is not usually preached in the West.
IS AMERICA A SINFUL NATION?
Who is not aware of the righteous acts of the American believers - sending the Gospel around the world, supporting world missions, feeding the poor, standing with Israel as that nation fights for its life.
But here is the $64,000 question. Is America filled with sinners who have turned their backs upon God? And a second question. Are many believers lukewarm? Has America been given more light than perhaps any nation in history outside of Israel? If so, America is in danger.
Is America aware that one of the things that bother extremist fanatical Islamic sects is the loose sexual and materialistic lifestyle of the American people as exported by movies, videos, TV, music and magazines and books? And now Internet! America has introduced the world to hi-tech sin.
Many Muslim regimes do not allow Western television in their country. They explain to their people they do not want them exposed to the West's degrading morality. None other than the New York Times (Sept. 23, 01) reported that on illegal satellite dishes Iran receives a distortion of America through TV, quoting NYT: "That means that for many Iranians, America is a country full of the scantily-clad, available women of Baywatch and MTV. First-time visitors to the United States are often shocked by the more spiritual and socially conservative side of America. 'What surprised me the most when I came to the United States was how many churches there were,' said Mohammad Atrianfar, the head of Teheran's town councils and editor of the daily newspaper Hamshahri. 'I certainly didn't know how religious Americans are.'"
The U.S., founded by people of faith and commitment to God, is exporting filth as no other nation has since the beginning of man's history. And many Christians partake of this filth and think nothing of it. Certainly, Daniel, whose country had been devastated by the enemy, knew that it had been caused because of the sins of his people. He humbled his heart and asked God to forgive him and his people, fully believing that God would then heal his land. (Dan. 9)
No, those who were working in the WTC and the Pentagon were almost certainly not worse than the rest of Americans. The people in the WTC were only a mini-snapshot of this generation. And Yeshua is saying, unless America repents, it, too, shall perish. But the final word is, it is NOT God's will that any should perish.
God's judgments in this age, as they were in the Old Testament, are for redemptive purposes. God wants to wake us up, to bring us to repentance. God chastises those He loves. By this catastrophe, He wants to bring America Eternal Life. How can any disaster, no matter how despicable and shocking, be compared to a person spending eternity in hell? There can be no comparison. God wants to bring His people to Eternal Life. Have you ever counted how many times Yeshua spoke of Eternal Life? The people of this generation are every single day falling into eternal hell.
Are we to despair? Is God going to beat us because we just will never be righteous enough? That's exactly what the devil wants us to believe. To cower in discouragement and wait for the worst.
All we have to do is REPENT! We will search our hearts, we will check our speech, our thoughts, our eyes, our motives. We will serve God. We will preach the Gospel to America, to Canada, to Europe, to Israel and to the Moslem people. God NEEDS us to bring in the harvest of the lost! When we, the Body of the Messiah, repent of our own sins, we will have power to call the world to repentance.
Judgment in the New Testament
1.Paul speaking to the believers, said, "Do not be conceited, but fear: For if God did not spare the natural branches [Israel], neither will He spare you [the Gentile believers]. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off." (Rom. 11:20-22)
2. Peter said, "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?"(I Pet. 4:17)
3. Ananias and Sapphira, believers in Yeshua, but with lack of integrity, were judged - before the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.(Acts 5)
4. Paul explained that judgment has fallen on "many" New Testament believers - even to death - for taking the Lord's supper without judging themselves and the Body of Messiah correctly. The purpose was in order that believers not be condemned along with the world. (I Cor. 11:29-32)
5. Five of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation were warned that they were fast heading towards judgment. Whether or not these churches are foreshadowings of future events, the fact is all of them were real congregations existing during the Apostle John’s life, the Times of the Gentiles.
a. To the church in Ephesus Yeshua cautioned: "Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place-unless you repent."(Rev. 2:5)
b. To the church at Pergamum: "Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them (the Nicolaitans, part of the church) with the sword of My mouth."(Rev. 2:16)
c. To the church in Thyatira: God says he will cast a false and immoral prophetess in the church into a bed of sickness, and kill her children with pestilence.(Rev. 2:22-23)
d. To the church in Sardis: Yeshua rebukes them because they are asleep and He had "not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief…"(Rev. 3:2-3)
e. To the church in Laodicea: "I will spit you out of My mouth…Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent."(Rev. 3:16,19)
DOES GOD CAUSE EVIL?
God is not evil nor does evil comes out of His being. He is total light, total love. But when the sins of a nation waft up in His nostrils, He has only to lift his hand, a little bit, a little bit more, or all together, and Satan goes to work.
We see the way it works in the book of Job when God lifted His hand against what He calls a “blameless and upright man.” God told Satan, “You incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” (Job 2:3) And indeed, Satan asked God to “put forth Thy hand, now, and touch his bone and his flesh…” In turn God said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life
.” Job 2:5-6(Although the Book of Job holds great mystery into God’s dealing, we can see that (1) God took responsibility for the evil, (2) it was His sovereign decision and action, and (3) the evil came straight from Satan himself.)
IS ALL EVIL JUDGMENT?
Is every evil that comes upon a believer judgment from God? Clearly foolishness. We have the Book of Job which says this is not the case. In fact, God was furious with the three “comforters” who preached that theology to poor Job. Instead, the Lord told
them, “My wrath is kindled against you…” They themselves received correction from God until Job prayed for them. Paul’s Epistles record repeated attacks from the devil upon Paul because he was preaching the Gospel and bringing havoc to the kingdom of darkness.
Whether we see September 11 as judgment, correction, the lifting of God’s hand of protection, a warning, a wake-up call, or an attack of Satan because of the righteous things America is doing, if we can agree on this next verse and I believe we do then we can call on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to come and rescue, redeem and help us.
“If My people who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and heal their land.”(II Chr. 7:15)
PRAYER AND VISION, August 28,2001
On August 28, 2001, our son-in-law, Ya’acov, was attending a meeting in Bible school in the U.S. In the middle of the service, to his great embarrassment, his cellular phone rang. We will let him tell the story: “I pulled the phone out of my pocket and the voice on the other end said ‘911 emergency?’ Confused, I apologized to the operator and hung up, wondering if I could have inadvertently dialed 911, although I was sitting still. Before I could close the phone, the minister who was speaking said, ‘I want the 911 prayer group to come up for special prayer.’ I am a part of that group. I knew then that something was up.
“Later that day, I had a visitation from God. I felt judgment was coming upon us. I even called a respected minister and told him that I felt some specific act of judgment was coming really soon upon America. I then took a huge world map on my wall and was led to turn it upside down as a symbolic act. I was hit with three days of agonizing travail over the state of the Body of Messiah. I had never experienced anything like this before.
“I now know that this was an agony for the reality of the state of the world and the reality of the state of the Bride of Yeshua that is mixed in with the world. I could feel the world being turned upside down.
“When the terrorists hit our nation on 9-11-01, I began to travail. God showed me a man in the World Trade center, in a bathroom looking at lusting over printed pages of pornography when the event occurred. I also saw a man and a woman who came to work early to engage in their adulterous activities before others arrived to work. Dozens of people were looking at Internet pornography when the event occurred. And the outward activities of many businesses in the buildings fueled and funded sin all over the world. I am filled with grief, so I do see how this could sound harsh, carnal and uncaring. But could this be a word from God?”