Rev. Angus Stewart
The world still remembers those who died in the
terrorist attacks upon the United States on 11 September, 2001. Who can
forget those images of the World Trade Center—planes flying into two
skyscrapers, people jumping out of windows dozens of floors up, and
finally the Twin Towers crashing to rubble with the loss of thousands of
lives? Many of us relived that sad day by watching the commemorative
ceremony in New York one year later when friends and relatives descended
to Ground Zero to lay flowers and to shed yet more tears over their
loved ones so tragically torn from them.
What ought the church think of this terrible event?
And what does God think of it all? Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham
Lotz states, "I believe that God is deeply saddened by this just as we
are. But for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to
get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the
gentleman that He is, I believe that He has calmly backed out." But can
the ever-blessed God, who is infinitely joyful in His own perfect
covenant fellowship in the Trinity, really be "deeply saddened?" Is it
true that when men sin, God "calmly back[s] out" like a "gentleman?" Is
September 11 really to be explained by saying that while God vacated His
providential government over the nations, Satan stepped in and sent
murderous terrorists to wreak havoc, so that God was "deeply saddened by
this just as we are"? We must ask with the apostle, "what saith the
scripture?" (Rom. 4:3).
God declares, "I form the light, and create darkness:
I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things" (Isa.
45:7). All earthly calamities and troubles—including death and
destruction, disease and famine, that is, all the events that we call
"evil"—come from the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth "who worketh all
things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph. 1:11). Jehovah
sent the world-wide flood (Gen. 7:4), and rained fire and brimstone upon
Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24). He slew the Canaanites in Joshua’s day
(Ps. 44:1-3), and He sent the evils of sword, famine, disease and wild
beasts upon Jerusalem (Eze. 5:7-17). He brought slaughter and misery
upon the cities of Babylon (Isa. 13), Tyre (Eze. 26) and Nineveh (Nah.
3), and even upon whole nations (Isa. 13-23; Jer. 46-51; Eze. 25-32;
Amos 1-2). Thus Amos asks the rhetorical question, "shall there be evil
in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos 3:6).
Now what ought we conclude about September 11? Shall
there be evil in the city of New York and the Lord hath not done it? The
sovereign God ordained the destruction of the Twin Towers and brought it
to pass in His providence. Just as all things were created by God, so
all things are governed by Him, so that nothing happens contrary to or
outside of His sovereign purpose.
None of this in any way detracts from God’s holiness.
The God of love loves righteousness, and abhors and hates the
bloodthirsty terrorists who hijacked the planes and flew them into the
World Trade Center (Ps. 5:4-6), and He is currently punishing them with
fire and brimstone in Hell (Ps. 11:6). Moreover who can deny that many
of those in the World Trade Center were driven by covetousness, which is
idolatry (Col. 3:5)? Fallen man is not only "shapen in iniquity"
(Ps. 51:5) but he lives in iniquity and "drinketh iniquity like
water" (Job 15:16). "God is angry with the wicked every day" (Ps. 7:11),
and He judges in this world as well as in the next. We must not only
confess that September 11 took place in God’s sovereign plan but also
that it was God’s judgment upon sin and sinners.
The media said nothing of God’s sovereignty on
September 11 or of His judgment upon the wicked. It was as noticeable as
it was deliberate that there were no references to the true and living God during the
commemorative ceremony in New York last year. The response of a large
part of the church world, including Anne Graham Lotz, was even worse.
The ungodly media ignored the sovereign Jehovah but many church leaders
lied that He had nothing to do with it. The Scriptures tell us that
events like September 11 are signs of Christ’s second coming (cf. Matt.
24:6-7) but few church leaders would dare to say this. When a tower in
Siloam fell killing 18 people, Jesus used the opportunity afforded to
call men to repentance (Luke 13:4-5). But many Christian leaders,
instead of referring to September 11 to warn the ungodly, tried to
"defend" God by presenting Him as a "gentlemanly" idol that does not
reign in the heavens. The Bible gives the reason why people, even church
leaders, teach lies: "it is because there is no light in them" (Isa.
8:20). Let us hold fast to the confession of the psalmist: "our God is
in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased" (Ps. 115:3),
and let us trust in Jesus Christ who delivers us from the wrath to come.
"It is with great agreement I read your clear
[article] ... concerning September 11, 2001—the bombing of the Trade
Towers in New York. I do not read many papers, etc., but yours is the
first biblical answer I have read concerning this happening ... Thank
you. I have lived in this evil world for 85 years and am mercifully kept
from newspapers, TV and radio and since late childhood have been ‘kept
by the power of God.’ Thank you for your bold stand." - England