by Shawn Brasseaux
Where were you on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, when you heard the news that three hijacked passenger jets had been used to destroy much of the World Trade Center and a portion of the Pentagon, and that courageous passengers prevented the fourth hijacked plane from reaching its intended target? I was in junior high, returning from physical education class, and going to—of all places—American history class. Now, some 10 years later (!), we reflect on the events of that dreadful day by addressing some associated questions in the following Bible study.
WHERE WAS GOD ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001?
Bible critics ask, “Where was God on September 11, 2001?” Usually they do not ask this question in faith; oftentimes, this is a question asked contentiously and smugly. The Bible gives us a clear answer to this question.
Once Jesus Christ had died for our sins, had been buried, and had been raised again the third day, He returned to His heavenly Father in glory. “And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51). In Acts 1:11, angels declared: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament promise of Psalm 110:1 by ascending to His heavenly Father’s right hand: “The LORD [God the Father] said unto my Lord [God the Son], Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
Today, and for the past 2,000 years, Jesus Christ sits at His Father’s right hand, waiting for the day when His enemies will be made His footstool (Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43; Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 1:13). This is when God will pour out His wrath on the unbelieving, wicked world.
“Which he [God the Father] wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,” (Ephesians 1:20; cf. Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22).
God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ) were in the third heaven on September 11, 2001. God the Holy Spirit was indwelling Christians here on earth (Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Galatians 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:14).
God was here on earth. Yes, God allowed 9/11 to happen, but He was not responsible for it. He could have stopped it, but He did not. Until Jesus Christ returns for us the rapture, and ultimately to return at His Second Coming to set up His kingdom on earth, sinful men will continue to operate in this fallen creation, wreaking havoc to Satan’s delight.
WAS SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 “GOD’S WRATH” ON AMERICA?
Ten years ago, before I came to understand dispensational Bible study, I was of the persuasion, like most church members, that the events of 9/11 were God’s wrath. Amidst the heartache, I recall many preachers piously screaming, “God’s judgment and wrath has come upon America!” God’s promise to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14 was flippantly quoted as though it were God’s message to America. (This is not “rightly dividing the word of truth” like 2 Timothy 2:15 says!!!)
Indeed, the United States abounds with greed, dishonesty, unbelief, violence, and fornication. But, it abounds in every other country too. That being said, God did not “single out” the United States for judgment. All nations, not just America, deserve God’s wrath. Let us turn to the Holy Scriptures and see what God has to say about it. As we shall see, sinful men, not God, orchestrated the events of 9/11.
In Deuteronomy 28:1,2, the LORD told the nation Israel: “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God….” Verses 3 through 14 speak of God blessing Israel’s harvests, her battles, her physical health, her economy, and so on.
However, in verse 15, the LORD says: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:” From verse 16 to the end of the chapter, God promised to curse Israel’s crops, her economy, her physical health, her battles, and so on.
The LORD and the nation Israel entered into a covenant agreement. We know it as the “Mosaic Law,” or the “Old Covenant.” This contract had conditions. If Israel obeyed God, then God would bless Israel. But, if Israel rebelled and broke God’s laws, then God would curse Israel.
It is important to note that we are not under Israel’s performance-based acceptance system (Judaism, Law-keeping). People are using these Old Testament verses and applying them to us as if they were written to us. God does not punish us when we disobey Him; He does not bless us when we obey Him. Our performance is not the issue today.
When we “rightly divide the word of truth,” as 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV teaches, we understand that God’s dealings with man have changed over time. Israel’s passages belong to Israel, not to us. God tells us something different today. The Apostle Paul writes that we live in “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2). Israel’s “prophetic” program is temporarily suspended as God is forming the Church the Body of Christ in the “mystery” (secret) program (Romans 16;25,26).
Paul writes that we are under grace, not law (Romans 6:14,15; Colossians 2:14; Galatians 5:1; et al.). God has no covenants with us as members of the Church the Body of Christ. In Paul’s epistles, we find no references to God giving any covenant to us (by the way, the New Covenant is not given to us either; Jeremiah 31:31 and Hebrews 8:8 make it very clear the New Covenant will be given to Israel).
Our performance (or lack thereof) is not the issue today. By virtue of the Mosaic Law, God has already proven us sinners, damned from birth. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). However, 2 Corinthians 5:18,19 KJV says: “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
The Bible says that, in this the Dispensation of Grace, God is “not imputing [applying] their trespasses unto them [the world].” Today, God’s attitude toward the world is “grace and peace,” not wrath and war. This is why Paul’s epistles open with the words “grace and peace.”
Currently, God is not condemning the world for their sins. Rather He extends His grace to all the world through Jesus Christ, His shed blood, His death, His burial, and His resurrection (Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of Grace; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Through Christ’s shed blood, God in His grace offers His forgiveness to everyone (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). But, only when we trust in Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour does God apply (“imputes”) His righteousness and salvation to us (see Romans 4:1-8).
This brings us to our final point.
WE KNOW NOT OUR LAST DAY
Over 3,000 people never expected September 11, 2001 to be their last day on planet earth. The only individuals who foresaw their death were the 19 hijackers. How many of those people had the assurance of salvation in Christ? While we know not their hearts, we realize that most of those people probably died in their trespasses and sins, and were escorted off to hell. How sad.
We have each been given a limited amount of time on earth. Some are given over a century, others but a few minutes of life. We, from birth, are destined to face God’s wrath, which is brought about by our sin. This includes the ultimate penalty for sin, the lake of fire, eternally tormented and separated from God (Matthew 13:40-42; Matthew 25:41; Mark 9:42-50; 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9; Revelation 20:14,15; et al.).
There comes a point in life where we begin to understand right and wrong, our sin and our need for the Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. Once we arrive at that point, God expects us believe His Word and what it says about out lost condition and our need for salvation. Today, I want to make you aware of your need for the Lord Jesus Christ.
God is not asking you to join a church, walk an aisle, say a prayer, do good works, give a tithe, speak in tongues, confess your sins, turn over a new leaf, make Jesus Lord of your life, light a candle, partake of the Eucharist, get water baptized, turn from your sins, or live a life of self-denial and self-abasement. What God wants is your faith resting in His Son Jesus Christ. You can do nothing to please God. Faith is the only thing that God’s grace will accept, for faith is not based on what you do for God, but what Jesus Christ did for you!
Do not put off salvation; you are not guaranteed tomorrow. Please trust in Jesus Christ today.
The victims of 9/11/2001
All those affected by 9/11/2001