Lord, in trouble have they visited thee,

they poured out a prayer when thy

chastening was upon them.

Isaiah 26:16

  

     

    T his question has been asked thousands of times by Americans since that tragic day. After all if God really does exist He could have prevented this horrible carnage. The big question is: Why didn’t He?

 

    This page of our site explores that question and provides an extraordinary answer. It reveals how God sees evil and why man seems totally incapable of escaping it. This article is an excerpt from  It Came Without Warning, a book that examines the events of 9-11 in the context of the scriptures. This particular chapter provides evidence that this tragedy was not only about the presence of evil, but also the absence of deliverance.

~~~

Where was God?

   When the events of September 11 unfolded, there was tragedy everywhere. Great sadness filled the heart of every corner of America. But through the sorrow, stories involving tremendous acts of courage began to emerge. One such story involved the passengers and crew of United Airlines flight 93.

             

    When these courageous men and women realized the gravity of what was taking place that day, they determined to re-take their hijacked aircraft. To many, what they did may have seemed futile. But to them it was the greatest of causes. They were freedom fighters in every sense of the word and this was their defining moment. Not because they sought it, but because it sought them.

             

    These heroes knew all to well that the odds of winning this struggle were heavily stacked against them, but they were Americans, and on that day UA flight 93 was Valley Forge, Bunker Hill, and Normandy. Their fight was a gallant one filled with courage and is a source of inspiration to millions of people around the world.

             

    Virtually everyone knows what happened on that flight. The plane would ultimately crash in a wooded area in southern Pennsylvania. Furthermore, the crash was so intense that the plane actually plunged fifty feet into the earth and was almost totally disintegrated.

 

A Great Sacrifice

             

    The passengers and crew aboard that aircraft willingly gave the last precious moments of their lives in order to prevent  further devastation. No one knows for sure where that plane was headed, but one thing is certain: the hijackers’ plans concerning UA flight 93 were thwarted and people like Todd Beamer and Jeremy Glick earned the gratitude of a wounded nation, not to mention the killers’ intended target.

 

A Final Prayer

             

    During this fateful flight, several passengers made phone calls to loved ones and explained that their plane had been highjacked. It was during these calls that they learned of the horrible carnage being unleashed this day. One particular call has been relived countless times since 9/11. It was made by passenger Todd Beamer at 9:45 am, fifteen minutes before his plane would crash. Todd’s last audible words, “Let’s roll” have become a rallying call to America, and have been cited by many of it’s leaders, including president George Bush. But Todd said more than “let’s roll” during this call. According to Lisa Jefferson, the air phone supervisor who spoke with and comforted him during his final minutes, Beamer recited the “Lord’s Prayer,” (Mt.6:9-13) as well as part of the 23rd Psalm. At one point when it appeared the plane was going down, he said, “Oh Jesus, Please help us!”

             

    Todd Beamer was not the only one to invoke God’s name during the final tragic moments of this flight. The last words Miss Jefferson would hear during that call were in the form of screams from the passengers and crew as they advanced toward the cockpit. In what she described as “an awful commotion,” Miss Jefferson indicated that people were screaming, “Oh my God!” “God help us!” and “Help us, Jesus!”

 

Where was God when we needed Him?  

              

    Many have wondered why a supreme being, who has been described as so loving and merciful, would allow such a horrible and senseless day to happen. Even the evangelist Billy Graham struggled to understand 9/11 in light of God’s great sovereignty. When speaking at a national prayer service following the attack on America, Dr. Graham made the following comment:

 

I have been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction.

             

    Dr. Graham is not alone in his assessment of this horrible day. The vast majority of Americans, including its moral leaders, have been stunned by not only the clear presence of evil that immersed the United States on 9/11, but also by what appears to be the total absence of deliverance from these events.

 

A God of Miracles

             

    Certainly God could have prevented this devastation from taking place. After all, the Bible is filled with stories about great miracles of deliverance. There is Moses and the children of Israel marching through a parted Red Sea and being rescued from slaughter at the hand of Pharaoh’s army (Ex 14). There’s Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego standing in a blazing furnace and showing no effects of the flames (Dan. 3). Then there’s the great prophet Daniel, who at over 90 years of age was put in a lion’s den, only to wake up the next morning unscathed (Dan. 6). They were delivered. Why weren’t the thousands of innocent people whose lives ended on 9/11 spared? Certainly it wasn’t for a lack of prayer, was it? Virtually tens of millions of petitions to the Almighty were being uttered that day. Why didn’t He answer them? Where was He? Where was God? And why would He let this death and destruction happen?

 

Was Jerry Falwell right?

 

    Just days after the Attack on America, Dr. Jerry Falwell, the pastor of the 22,000 member Thomas Road Baptist Church, appeared as a guest on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” hosted by Pat Robertson. During this interview, Dr Falwell made the following observation regarding the horrible events of 9/11.

 

I know that I’ll hear from them for this, but throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say, “You helped this happen!” (Jerry Falwell, 9/17/2001)
 

    In response to these comments, Mr. Robertson offered his unqualified agreement.

Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we’re responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system. (Pat Robertson, 9/17/2001)

 

    Later in the telecast, Mr Robertson offered a prayer that seemed to further reinforce Dr. Falwell’s observation regarding the cause of 9/11.

We have sinned against Almighty God, at the highest level of our government, we’ve stuck our finger in your eye. The Supreme Court has insulted you over and over again, Lord. They’ve taken your Bible away from the schools. They’ve forbidden little children to pray. They’ve taken away the knowledge of God as best they can, and organizations have come into court to take the knowledge of God out of the public square of America. (Pat Robertson, 9/17/2001)

 

The Great Backlash

             

    When news of this interview reached the secular world, the outcry was deafening. The opinions expressed by these two evangelists were attacked from every corner. Late night talk show hosts were relentless in their mocking of these men, and newspaper editorials decrying their comments began to proliferate. Even conservative commentators such as Bill O’Reilly, “The O’Reilly Factor,” criticized Dr. Falwell’s portrayal of God and offered his own assessment of how the Almighty looks at things. Some in the secular world even resorted to a kind of “counter attack.” One writer referred to the “700 Club” as a “predator of human suffering,” and Jerry Falwell as a “purveyor of liquid filth.” Some even went so far as to argue that Dr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson were cut from the same cloth as the 19 terrorists that carried out the 9/11 attack on America. The following is one example.

The terrible tragedy that has befallen our nation, and indeed the entire global community, is the sad byproduct of fanaticism. It has its roots in the same fanaticism that enables people like Jerry Falwell to preach hate against those who do not think, live, or love in the exact same way he does. (Lori L. Jean, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force)

 

    So strong was the backlash from this interview, that both Dr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson retreated somewhat on their statements. Mr. Robertson suggested that he was simply trying to be a “gracious host,” when he offered his concurrence to Dr. Falwell, and that his expression of agreement was with respect to Dr. Falwell’s remark, “I’ll hear from them on this,” not the actual comments that followed. Meanwhile, when speaking to CNN, Dr. Falwell seemed to soften his tone by offering the following apology:

I would never blame any human being except the terrorists and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize.
 

A Cheap Shot

   

    There are many that may view the comments made by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as blatantly insensitive and totally inappropriate. But were they? And just who was taking the “cheap shot”?

             

    The attacks by those in the secular world against people who profess a belief in a higher moral authority, and more specifically, God and the Bible, are as mean-spirited and vitriolic as any hate speech ever uttered. Their attacks are almost always personal. And although they have the appearance of moral indignation, in reality they are absent of any enduring moral principles. In short, the “moral” arguments advanced by the secular world are at the very least disingenuous, if not dishonest altogether. The formula for their attack is very simple: express “moral” outrage or indignation toward someone for statements made or positions held that go contrary to their beliefs or practices. The irony here is that this is the very thing they condemn in others.

             

    The next step is to question the “believer’s” understanding of what is “right” and what is “wrong.” The tone in almost all of these attacks is condemning. For the most part, the “believer” is viewed as an intolerant bigot deserving of hate. Some will even challenge the authority of the Bible as a credible moral work. After all, wasn’t it written by a bunch of white males? And isn’t it filled with teachings that demean women, condone slavery, and is totally intolerant of religious diversity? Sounds like it would fit in well with many of the beliefs held by the cowards that flew into the Trade Center and the Pentagon.

 

The Manipulation of the Truth

             

    Those who advance attacks against people with strong religious convictions are, for the most part, indifferent toward the scriptures. They use the Bible like they would a reference book. They pick and choose certain verses to support a particular argument, but in reality don’t respect the Bible as a compelling moral authority. To them religion and the scriptures are a lot like art. Everyone can have an opinion on it and no one opinion is any better than another. Even God Himself has been relegated to “whatever you conceive Him to be.” Why should it be any different with His word? As a result of this approach, the secular world’s opinion concerning the scriptures runs the gamut from total foolishness to being outright vulgar and obscene.

             

    Further, there are those who are so pretentious, they will actually pervert the clear meaning of God’s word in an attempt to support their positions. For example: some who embrace a homosexual lifestyle will argue that Jesus was gay, or that David and his friend Jonathan (the son of King Saul) had a torrid homosexual relationship that lasted for several years. These beliefs are advanced despite the fact that there isn’t a credible Bible scholar on earth that would draw such a conclusion. But once again, the Bible “is a lot like art.”

Defining the Enemy

             

    Another approach of the secular world is to demonize those who accept the Bible as the definitive statement on morality and the literal word of God Himself. Terms such as “extremist,” “intolerant,” and “hateful” are used prolifically to describe those who openly declare their faith. Further, these labels are spoken with such force, they take on the appearance of truth.

             

    But the truth be known, those who sincerely believe the scriptures are anything but hateful, extreme, or intolerant. This is because the true Christian makes an important distinction between the sin and the sinner. While they may hate the sin, they have great hope for the sinner. In the secular world, no such distinction is made. If they don’t like what you believe, they don’t like you.

 

Two Differing Camps

             

    The problem with arguments from these two camps is that they cannot be reconciled. This is because they come from two entirely different frames of reference. While a Christian recognizes God as the true Moral Authority in the universe, the secular world claims that distinction for themselves or the institutions they have erected. Additionally, in the secular world, all values are given the same moral weight. Nothing is better, only different. Therefore, nothing should be condemned, but rather understood and tolerated.

             

    As a result of this thinking, every act of depravity can be manipulated to have a “moral” justification if one wishes. Sexual behavior, whether it be adultery, fornication, or homosexuality, is “moral” because it is done between “consenting adults.” Pedophiles argue the “morality” of their conduct because it is done between “consenting human beings.” Those who practice bestiality can also claim the “moral high ground” because their sexual expression is done between two “consenting living creatures.” Here, “consent” determines the morality of an act, not the act itself. Imagine if this was the standard in the Garden of Eden. After all, Adam and Eve both consented to their sin.

 

    When it comes to an issue like abortion, the moral standard is a person’s “right to choose” for themselves what they will do to a living being residing within them. Here, a behavior is deemed “moral” because it is based on a person’s proximity to the behavior. In other words, “the fetus is inside of me. That makes it mine. And I can do anything I want with what is mine. Who are you to judge?”

             

    This approach to moral and ethical self-defense can work with any sin because, absent an all powerful Moral Authority, man gets to define for himself what is “good” and what is “evil.” Even the 19 hijackers who orchestrated what was nothing less than mass murder, rationalized their act as “just” and “good.”

 

Mercy vs. Judgment

             

    Contrary to what many in the secular world may want to believe regarding the comments made by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, these two evangelists were not preaching hate. Further, they were not pronouncing their judgment on America, but rather their understanding of what the scriptures reveal regarding God’s judgment. In other words what God would do under certain circumstances and how He deals with sin that goes unchecked.

             

    These men know all too well what the Bible says about mercy and compassion. They are well aware that God’s word declares that the unmerciful will not enter into His kingdom (Mt.18:23-35). But they also know that when God dispatched His prophets to the nations of Israel and Judah, they declared a very unpopular warning and were held in contempt for it by leaders and citizens alike. Why? Because their message exposed a people’s sin for what it really was. Israel and Judah’s reaction was typical. They condemned the messenger and asserted their own righteousness. Sound familiar?

             

    The remarks by Dr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson were an appeal to a nation they believe is in grave danger. What they were saying was that if America does not come to grips with its moral and spiritual condition, then it should not expect a moral God to sustain it. If it wants to kick God out of the land He has so richly blessed, fine; just don’t expect Him to be there when calamity strikes. Where is the hate in that?

             

    Meanwhile, their detractors were not arguing what God would do (under certain circumstances). Frankly, they don’t know and don’t care. What they were doing was declaring what God should do, based on their “moral judgment.” In a very real sense, those in the secular world, while condemning any who would judge them, engage in the most arrogant of judgments. The moral relativist places himself as the ultimate moral authority, and in effect has made himself God’s judge.

  

Who is Right?

             

    As the war between the secular “left” and the religious “right” continues, a fundamental question emerges.

 

Who is Correct?

 

    First, a quick review of the positions. As was just mentioned, the Christian sees the God of the Bible as the great Moral Authority of the universe. His judgment isn’t to be questioned, but rather to be sought and understood. On the other hand, the moral relativist is hostile to everything that questions man’s prerogative to exercise his own moral judgements. But who is right? The answer to this question lies in the future, but its truth in the present.

             

    If the God of the Bible is not the one true God, and the scriptures His inspired word, then the nod goes to the secular world. After all, someone has to decide what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is immoral, what is good and what is evil. Absent an all-powerful Creator, man is the logical choice to preside over this responsibility.

             

    However, if the God revealed in the scriptures is the one and only true God, and the Bible His divinely inspired truth, then the United States, as well as the rest of the world, needs to take serious stock of what it has done and where it is going.

 

The Great Moral Authority

             

    The Bible states without ambiguity that man was never designed to be the moral authority in his own life. As difficult as this might be to believe, humanity simply does not have the proper equipment to navigate its moral and ethical path. King Solomon, a man regarded by many as the wisest person who ever lived, came to understand this truth. When writing the book of Proverbs, Solomon made a profound observation about man and the moral choices he makes.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death. (Prov. 14:12)

 

    Virtually all mankind has witnessed Solomon’s words in action. We have seen good intentions play out to catastrophic results. Even Solomon’s own life and the choices he made reflected this great moral law. In the western world today, there is a popular proverb that captures the sentiments of Solomon’s words. It goes like this:

 The road to hell is paved with good intentions

 

    The point here is that despite how well intended man might be when it comes to making moral choices, the result is invariably the same - DISASTER.

             

    Solomon was not the only one to draw the conclusion that man was incapable of successfully managing his ethical path. The great prophet Jeremiah also pondered man’s qualifications to rightly preside over his moral decisions. He concluded that man could fall victim to his own moral and ethical devices. Notice his words.

 The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer.17:9)

 

    Here, Jeremiah is stating that man cannot trust his own judgment because the seat of that judgment (the heart) is not trustworthy. But there is more. King David, who the Bible describes as “a man after God’s heart” (Acts 13:22), expressed a profound truth about man’s inability to grasp “right” and “wrong.”

 Who can understand his own error? (Psa. 19:12)

 

    The question David asked in this verse is rhetorical. The truth of the matter is that no one can understand his errors. That is why man makes so many. Man’s capacity to navigate his moral path is nonexistent. Despite his assertions to the contrary, man was never designed to be the moral authority in his own life. The prophet Jeremiah conveyed this absolute truth in words that couldn’t be more clear.

 

O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his own steps. (Jer. 10:23)

 

    The words of Jeremiah state a truth that this world has rejected since the Garden of Eden. Simply put, man, left to his own moral devices, will choose the wrong path. Jesus Christ himself understood this absolute moral law. And His life reflected this understanding. The Bible states that when Jesus walked as a man on the earth, even He did not rely on his own wisdom. Notice His words:

I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just: because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which has sent me. (Jn. 5:30)

 

    The Bible asserts in the strongest of language that the Great God, who created the heavens and the earth and all things, stands as the one and only unimpeachable Moral Authority of the universe. It is He who decides what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil, what is just and what is unjust. The God of the Bible is infinitely wise, infinitely just, infinitely powerful, infinitely loving, and most infinitely MORAL. Man doesn’t come close to “infinitely” in any of these areas.

 

An Unchangeable God

             

    The issue that presents the greatest problem to those in the secular world, as well as those who profess a faith in the scriptures, is the fact that the God of the Bible never changes His moral positions. In other words, what He hated four thousand years ago, He hates today. The apostle James once described God as one in whom there is “no variableness nor shadow of turning” (James 1:17). With these words, James is stating that there isn’t even a hint of movement with respect to God’s moral compass. He doesn’t change with the times. He is eternal. Time has no effect on Him.

             

    However, man’s moral compass is always in a state of flux because his values are constantly being influenced by the world around him - a world that is always changing. To illustrate this point, consider how values have changed in the United States over the past 50 years. Our attitude about virtue and integrity are radically different than they were in prior generations. For example: can you imagine U.S. presidents such as Harry S. Truman or Dwight David Eisenhower using the argument “it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” to defend themselves against charges that they willfully lied to the American people?

             

    Today our leaders play word games with the truth and are even smug about it. Is it any wonder that senior executives in the tobacco industry appearing before a senate investigation, swore with a straight face that cigarettes are not addicting? But it doesn’t end there.

             

    Our opinions regarding sex, marriage, and family would have  astonished earlier generations. These issues have been redefined by the proponents of a “new morality” - a morality that has fallen prey to what our leading thinkers call “situational ethics.” There is no getting around it, the world of today is vastly different than that of yesterday. And nowhere is this more evident than in the United States.

             

    There once was a time when most Americans navigated their lives around a fixed moral standard - a code of right and wrong. For most, this was the Bible. Stealing was wrong because God said, “You shall not steal.” Lying was wrong because God said, “You shall not bear false witness.” Killing broke the sixth commandment, and adultery the seventh.

             

    If you were to read an early 20th century grammar school textbook, you would find numerous references to God, Christianity, and the Bible. And each was treated with great deference and respect.

             

    Today, however, our society demands that all moral standards constantly adjust their view to conform to society’s conduct. As a result of this thinking, what we once thought was abhorrent moral behavior is now regarded as respectable and even virtuous. A prominent American news journalist, once lamented the moral decline of the United States this way:

There was a time when Americans asked, ‘Is it right or is it wrong?’ Later we asked, ‘Is it legal or is it illegal?’ Today we ask, ‘Can I get away with it or will I get caught?’

 

    The result of this thinking can be seen in every strata of society. Students cheat in school without any sense of guilt. Adults cheat in business because “that’s the way it is.” Marketing firms cheat and advertisers are brazen in their misrepresentation of products. Politicians cheat in an attempt to influence elections. Clergymen cheat to control their flocks.

             

    The morality of today claims to all who would hear: cheating is ok as long as you have a reason for it and you don’t get caught. This is the same logic used by psychopaths, rapists, extortioners, drug pushers, and every other kind of lowlife our world has produced. And it possesses about the same moral weight. Sadly, this belief is embraced by an entire generation.

             

    The great tragedy of society today is that it is not afraid to break with the moral conventions of prior generations. Conventions held as sacred because of their origin (the Bible). Today, we make our own rules - define our own moral behavior and values. We are the masters of our own spiritual course. And where has it taken us? Has it made us better? Has it made us more just? One doesn’t have to look hard for the answer to these questions.

 

An American Tragedy

 

    In America’s courtrooms, lawyers spin tales designed to confuse juries as opposed to present credible evidence. Some will even attempt to suppress information that may undermine their case, even though it would advance righteous judgment. And this is the “rule,” not the “exception.”

 

The Trial of the Century

             

    Recently, America was captivated by what was referred to as  “the trial of the century.” The attorneys involved represented some of the best legal minds in the country. Those representing the defendant were even referred to as “The Dream Team.” Throughout the trial, these very skilled and highly compensated legal minds, asserted to the jury, that they were on a quest for the truth. However, when being interviewed on a nationally syndicated television program, a member of this “team” was asked if the trial was really a “search for truth.” He responded by saying, “If you want to search for truth, go to church. We search for doubt.”

             

    Throughout the trial, which had the atmosphere of a major sporting event, Americans were witness to a system of “justice” that represented an avalanche of deception, distortion, and misrepresentation as TRUTH. In its aftermath a murderer went free, a nation was divided even further, two children lost their mother, a family lost a son, and two savagely killed Americans were buried. So much for TRUTH.

 

Where is God?

             

    As man continues to redefine his view of morality, his proximity to his Creator becomes more distant (Isa. 59:2). In short, the Great Creator and Governor of the Universe is no longer real, nor is His word. Today, God is some mystical thing that can be defined as anything you want Him to be. Oh, people will claim to believe in some “higher power,” but when it comes to that power ruling their lives, that’s where man draws the line.

             

    The Bible reveals that in the beginning, God made man in His own image (Gen. 1:26-27). Today, man seems bent on returning the favor. Under this proposition, man can craft, in his own mind, a god that he is most comfortable with - a god that hates the things he hates, loves the things he loves, and believes the things he believes - a god who is just like him.

 

Too Busy for God

             

     Although man seems content on guiding his own spiritual path, and hence creating his own god, occasionally circumstances arise that require more. Even nonbelievers will often call on the God of the Bible in times of great distress. September 11 is a good example. The problem with this is that our petitions are, for the most part, driven by a sense of urgency, as opposed to a sense of humility, or even a sense of curiosity.

             

    In a very real sense, we have become a society of users, even when it comes to prayer. We call out to God when He can do something for us. Otherwise, we just don’t seem to have the time to speak to the King of Creation. After all, we’re really very busy. Abraham Lincoln once made a chilling observation about an America that was too busy for God.

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 that made us.” Abraham Lincoln

 

    As a result of this arrogance, most Americans wander aimlessly through a life consumed with “the now” and blind to a profound truth that “you reap what you sow” (Gal. 6:7). In this world God is simply not real. He seems so far away.  The tragedy is that when real trouble strikes, man feels that God has somehow abandoned him and not the other way around.

             

    However, the sword of God’s unchangeable moral compass cuts both ways. Just as God is not buying the situational ethics pawned off as morality by the secular world, it’s not likely much of professing Christianity’s approach to the faith has gained His endorsement either. And surprisingly it is for the same reason.

 

Situational Christianity

             

    The stark reality is that most professing Christians situationalize their ethics too. For example, many if not most of the traditions embraced by Protestants today have no Biblical basis, but rather come from beliefs that were carved out of human reasoning. For example, in an earlier chapter of this book, professing Christianity’s approach to the Sabbath and Holy Days were exposed as totally inconsistent with the scriptures. But it doesn’t end there.

             

    Much of what is taken for granted in thousands of churches across the United States, and even the western world for that matter, is borne out of tradition, not the Bible. The truth is that when the scriptures do mention these traditions, they invariably take a position that goes contrary to the common practice. Consider just some of the traditions that are embraced by the overwhelming majority of the Protestant world, and ask yourself from where do these practices come?

 

Why are some ministers referred to as “Reverend,” “Father,” or “His Holiness,” etc when the scriptures forbid it?

 

Why do some ministers wear robes of varying styles when there is no evidence of such a practice in the New Testament?

 

Why do most churches take up a collection every week when the scriptures specifically identify when offerings are to be taken?

 

Why do some churches take the Passover (Communion) daily, others weekly, or even quarterly, when the scriptures clearly state it is to be taken annually?

Why do some churches only give a wafer during “Communion” when the scriptures prescribe unleavened bread and wine?

Why do differing denomination have different liturgies, when the scriptures provide specific  guidelines for the conducting of church services?

Why do some churches light candles and burn incense when there is no evidence of such a practice in the New Testament church?

Why do some churches bless animals when there isn’t even a hint of Jesus or His disciples doing such a thing?

Why do churches name themselves after Biblical personalities, locations, or events when all the churches of the New Testament were called the Church of God?

Why do most churches represent Jesus as having long hair when the Bible states that He couldn’t possibly have worn his hair that way?

Why do some denominations require baptism by “sprinkling” when every baptism recorded in the Bible was done by immersion?

Why do some denominations baptize infants despite the fact that there isn’t a single example in the Bible of such a practice?

Why do some churches practice vicarious baptisms (baptism for the dead) when the scriptures strongly suggest that such a practice goes totally contrary to the process of conversion?

Why do some churches include women in their ordained ministry when the Bible ordains that responsibility exclusively to men?

Why do some churches require their ministry to be refrain from marriage when the Bible actually warns believers to beware of those who engage in such a practice (celibacy)?

 

    These are just a few of dozens of issues where professing Christianity holds a variety of views, many of which contradict each other and most of which contradict the scriptures. The fact is that although most professing Christians may not know it, the overwhelming majority of churches follow man-made traditions when worshiping the God of the Bible. In other words, they have chosen to decide for themselves how they will worship the one true and immutable God. The scriptures reveal that Jesus condemned this practice in His generation (Mk 7:7,13, Mt. 7:21-23). Why would anyone think He would accept it now? Perhaps the “believer” of today can be included among those in the secular world who think religion is a lot like “art.”

 

Sin Waxes Hot and Love Waxes Cold

             

    When describing the last days, Jesus indicated that as sin, which is the breaking of God’s law (1Jn. 3:4), increased, love would dissipate (Mt. 24:12). The point He was making was that mankind would become so hostile to God’s law at the end time, compassion and a genuine outgoing concern for others would be almost nonexistent. As a result, acts of unspeakable cruelty would grow in both intensity and frequency.

 

The Big Question Regarding 9/11

 

    With this in mind, is it possible to understand why God, whose position on morality never changes, may very well have withdrawn His protection from the United States on that tragic September day? Does the Bible identify a time in the past when the Great Creator withheld His protection from His people? As a matter of fact, it does. And the similarities between the nation of Israel thousands of years ago and United States today are striking!

 

A Lesson From the Past

             

    Throughout the Old Testament, the nation of Israel played a prominent role in God’s plan. The scriptures reveal that the Eternal intended to use it as an example to all the earth of how a people can be rightly governed. Israel was to stand as a model nation - a nation under the direct authority of God Almighty. A nation with laws that reflected God’s wisdom and His justice. Imaging living in such a land - a land where God Himself was the architect of it’s government. The descendants of Jacob were given that opportunity.

             

    However, the Bible also indicates that this great nation would be destroyed by its enemies and led away as captive slaves. All the prosperity and safety they had enjoyed as a real super-power would eventually evaporate and be replaced with untold suffering. The history of Israel reveals how such a catastrophe could happen. And more importantly, why God would let it happen. To best understand this extraordinary lesson, it is important to return to the birth of this nation God likened to His “bride” (Isa. 62:5).

 

The Birth of a Nation

             

    Almost thirty five hundred years ago, the children of Israel were rescued from a horrible oppression inflicted on them by the nation of Egypt, who at that time was the premier super-power on earth. Shortly after this deliverance, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob entered into a special covenant with them. The terms of this covenant were quite simple. Israel was to obey all of God’s instructions to them. In return, the Great Creator of the universe would physically bless them in a way that would set them apart from all the nations on earth. Additionally, God would be their personal protector, and as such, He would safeguard them from their enemies and even ensure that their enemies would be in fear of them.

 

A Covenant with Israel

             

    God introduced the terms of His covenant by explaining that there was a very specific link between Israel’s obedience and God’s blessing. However, if Israel would obey their Deliverer, they would become the preeminent nation on earth.

 

And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that the Lord your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth. (Dt. 28:1)

 

    This is an extraordinary promise. Here, the very God who led Israel out of Egypt, and in doing so, brought the mightiest nation on earth to its knees, was promising a collection of slaves that they were to become a nation to which all other nations would look up. He then outlined a series of blessings that would befall them if they obeyed. These blessings would include unmatched physical prosperity and growth - a prosperity that would be greatly desired by any nation on earth - then or now. Notice the promise God makes to the children of Israel if they obey Him.

And all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you, if you shall hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your kine, and the flocks of your sheep. Blessed shall be your basket and your store. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. (Dt. 28:2-6)

 

    With these words, God was explaining that if Israel would rely on Him and heed His words, they would live what could only be described as a “charmed life.” Whatever they would do - and wherever they would do it - would turn out right.

              

    God then promised Israel that although they would have enemies, those enemies would be scattered if they attempted to harm them.

 

The Lord shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to be smitten before your face: they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways. (Dt. 28:7)

 

    In the book of Leviticus, God indicated that Israel’s military superiority would be so overwhelming, that they would be able to rout armies that outnumbered them 100 to one.

 

And five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. (Lev. 26:8)

 

    God continued outlining the terms of His covenant by reaffirming His promise of incredible physical blessings for Israel. He declared that their prosperity could be seen, even in  their food reserves.

 

The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouses, and in all that you set your hand unto; and he shall bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you. (Dt. 28:8)

 

    When God promised to bless “all that you set your hand to do,” He was declaring that He would even inspire Israel’s creative and technological efforts. In essence, God was saying that the great inventions and discoveries down through time would come through His people.

             

    However, the Great Creator then reminded Israel that the tremendous relationship they were to enjoy with Him was predicated on their obedience. If they obeyed, the entire world would be in awe of them.

 

The Lord shall establish you as an holy people unto himself, as he has sworn unto you, if you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and walk in his ways.

 

And all the people of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of you.(Dt. 28:9-10)

 

    God then continued to present what can only be called the greatest “wish list” any nation on earth could ever construct. It included uncanny prosperity, tremendous natural resources, including their climate, as well as protection from their enemies. Imagine if a third world country today was presented with an opportunity to enter into such a covenant. Consider what they would be offered.

 

And the Lord shall make you plenteous in goods, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give you.

The Lord shall open unto you his good treasure, the heavens to give the rain unto your land in his season, and to bless all the work of your hand: and you shall lend unto many nations, and you shall not borrow.

And the Lord shall make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath... (Dt. 28:11-13)

 

    The Eternal also promised that if Israel would honor His words, they would enjoy a very unique and intimate relationship with Him.

And I will set my tabernacle among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.

And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people. (Lev. 26:11-12)

 

    Imagine a nation being offered the opportunity to have the GREAT GOD of Heaven as its partner in whatever it endeavored to do. In the “arts,” He would be there. In the “sciences,” He would be there. In “labor and agriculture,” He would be there. In “research and technology,” He would be there. The all powerful, all knowing King of everything that exists would be an endless source of inspiration and the eternal force behind every blessing. With these words, the Governor of the universe was extending to the children of Israel the greatest package of national blessings ever assembled. Consider what God was promising them.

 

Israel would:

 

Multiply in population,

expand in territory,

thrive in labor and commerce, and

increase in wealth and prosperity.

 

Their defense would be the strongest,

their economy the richest,

their prestige would extend to every corner of the world, and they would be the envy of all the nations on earth.

 

Their enemies would fear them,

their friends would respect them, and

their God would love them.

 

    All of this in exchange for one thing: “OBEY MY VOICE.” This offer by the Almighty looks like the greatest “no-brainer” in history. It is hard to imagine anyone contemplating it for more than a second. However, when examining the extraordinary prosperity God was offering, a question leaps out - one that begs to be answered.

 

Has a nation ever existed that was so blessed?

And does that nation exist today?

 

    It is hard to imagine that any nation in human history more closely reflects those promises than the United States. This great land can stake claim to every one of them as no nation in human history can. It has enjoyed the greatest strength, the richest economy, the most extraordinary advances in science and industry. Its soil is the richest. Its natural resources the most abundant.

             

    America has been seen by people around the world as a magical place. It is the home of freedom and opportunity. It  has been called “The Land of Dreams” and has been the most coveted ticket in the history of immigration. For two centuries the United States has seemingly rolled the dice and they keep coming up “seven.” This nation is truly a land of promise and the beneficiary of Divine gifts. Abraham Lincoln certainly thought so. Notice his words:

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

 

    However, President Lincoln was also deeply concerned about a sense of national arrogance that would make the terrible mistake of thinking that its prominence among the nations of the world was the result of its personal skill and talent.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

 

Shame on America

             

    This is the story of America in the twenty-first century. Because of our unmitigated gall and arrogance, we now believe that the great prosperity and freedoms we have enjoyed for over two centuries are somehow the product of American ingenuity and “Yankee know-how,” not Divine blessings. The great American patriot and president, Thomas Jefferson, warned of such thinking. His bold words stand as an indictment against the America of today. What high school history textbook in the entire country would have the courage to preserve such a statement?

God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift of God?

 

    Today in the United States a great movement has emerged dedicated to proving Thomas Jefferson wrong. Through it, every attempt is being made to expunge the knowledge of the God of Heaven out of our national landscape. The architects of this movement have tried to redefine America as a nation founded on the principle that faith and government are mortal enemies. They attack those who believe faith is a fundamental partner of our government as “religious fanatics” attempting to build a theocracy.

 

An America Lost

 

    Today in the United States any public expression of faith, especially Christianity, is viewed as a threat to our freedom. The irony to this is that America was once proud to express its belief in the God of the Bible. Consider just a few examples: John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, thought nothing of expressing his thoughts concerning the value of the scriptures.

It has been my custom for many years to read the Bible in its entirety once a year.

 

    He was not alone in this sentiment. Theodore Roosevelt stated that he saw more value in the wisdom expressed in God’s word than that taught in America’s great academies and universities.

A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.

 

    Daniel Webster saw a link between following the word of God and national prosperity.

If we abide by the principles taught by the Bible, our country will go on prospering.

 

    Abraham Lincoln acknowledged that Jesus Christ was the Savior of the world and that the Bible was a gift from God Himself.

I believe the Bible is the best gift that God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book. I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.

 

    Presidents such as George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Calvin Coolidge all saw an inextricable connection between a workable government and obedience to the Bible.

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” George Washington

 

“The Bible is the rock on which our republic rests.” Andrew Jackson 

“The foundation of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.” Calvin Coolidge

 

    These words express a fundamental principle as powerful as the law of gravity - without God and His word, what goes up will come down. God Himself expressed this truth to the infant nation He had recently delivered from bondage.

 

The Consequences of Disobedience

             

    After outlining the unimaginable blessings He would bestow on Israel in consideration of their obedience, God explained the consequences of disobedience. He did this because of His extraordinary fairness and love. Love, because by explaining the penalties for rebellion, God was discouraging the very behavior that would go totally contrary to Israel’s true happiness. God begins by returning to His great moral code and explains that just as obedience to His law brings blessings, disobedience will bring “curses.”

But it shall come to pass, if you will not hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come upon you, and overtake you: (Dt. 28:15)

 

    Through His servant Moses, the Eternal then described a state in which no nation wants to find itself. The consequences for disobeying are truly catastrophic. As a result of rebelling against God and His law, wealth will turn to poverty, strength to weakness, fame to contempt, and hope to despair. Further, there would be no place in all the land that would be exempt from God’s punishment. Whether it was commerce and industry in the city or agriculture in the country, everything will fail.

Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field (Dt. 28:16)

 

    The Great God who provided for and sustained Israel then explained that if His people rebelled against Him, prosperity would be a thing of the past. None of the great abundance they knew would be left - only empty storehouses. No matter where or when they looked, the only thing they would see would be NOTHING.

Cursed shall be your basket and your store.

 

Cursed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your land, and the increase of your kine, and the flocks of your sheep.

Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. (Dt. 28:17-19)

 

    But God wasn’t finished teaching His people about the law of cause and effect. He continued to contrast the benefits of obedience with the consequences of rebellion.

 

No More Inspiration

             

    When God outlined the blessings He would give to Israel if they obeyed, He said that He would actually inspire their creative efforts - everything they put their hand to would prosper (Dt. 28:8). However, God now explains that if Israel refuses to obey Him, all the breaks would go the other way. Abundance would be replaced with austerity. And everywhere there would be nothing but contempt for a people that was once so great. All this if Israel refused to obey the true God.

 

The Lord shall send upon you cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that you set thine hand to do, until you be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of your doings, whereby you hast forsaken me.(Dt 28:20)

 

    Once again, God returns to a recurring theme of obedience to Him. Not because He is some kind of egomaniacal monster, but because He is a loving God who wants His people to grow and prosper. His warning regarding the consequences of rebellion was intended to serve as a deterrent to His people from sinning. That deterrent would also include the removal of physical health and healing.

 

None of These Diseases

             

    Shortly after leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, God promised to spare them from the horrible plagues He had brought upon the Egyptians. However, once again, this promise was predicated on Israel’s obedience.

 

...If you will diligently harken to the voice of the Lord your God, and will do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon you which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that heals you. (Ex.15:26)

 

    God would later say that he would fill Israel with health and remove diseases from their midst (Ex. 23:25) and even give those diseases to their enemies (Dt. 7:15).

 

God My Healer

             

    The Bible reveals that one of God’s names is Yhvh Ropheka (God my Healer), and as such He truly does have power over man’s health. And why shouldn’t He? After all, God made man. Every molecule that comprises the genetic code of each human being works in accordance with laws God has ordained. The Great God is the best equipped Being in the universe to protect man from the ravages of disease. In the New Testament, Jesus even likened himself to a physician (Mt. 9:12). The point here is that God can bestow the blessing of health on a nation or withhold that blessing from them. This fact was affirmed by God when He indicated that if Israel rebelled against Him or His law, He would withhold His protection from diseases, and instead bring plagues upon them.

 

    The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto you, until it has consumed you from off the land, whither you go to possess it.

The Lord shall smite you with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue you until thou perish.(Dt. 28:21-22)

 

    God went on to say that even mental illness would afflict this people he had so richly blessed.

The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:

And you shall grope at noonday, as the blind gropes in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways: and you shall be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save you. (Dt. 28:28-29)

 

    It is important to understand that God does not do this because He is some great bully in the sky. He is not simply trying to “rough up” a people who are defenseless. The Bible reveals that God derives no pleasure out of human suffering (Ezk. 33:11). On the contrary, it causes Him great anguish. What God is doing is explaining to those whom He has created, that they need him. He created them that way. Man is not unlike an infant in the care of a loving parent. Every young child relies on that parent for sustenance - the essentials of life. This includes their food, clothing, shelter, protection, and love.

             

    Today, man doesn’t believe he needs God for anything. By withholding His blessings, God is teaching His people - and the whole world for that matter - that man without the true God is like a child without a loving parent.

 

The Weather Shall Betray You

             

    When God revealed the great blessings He would bestow on Israel if they obeyed His commandments, He included a climate that would be conducive to abundant crop production (Dt. 28:12). Like all of the creation, the weather is also subject to the God of Heaven. As such, it does what He commands it to do. Throughout the scriptures, God has used weather to demonstrate His strength. In the days of Noah, He commanded the heavens to open and release a relentless rain upon the earth (Gen.7). In the days of Elijah the prophet, God sealed up the heavens, causing a great drought (I Ki. 18:1, Jas. 5:17). The book of Zechariah reveals that God will even employ the weather during the millennium to correct the nation of Egypt and encourage them to keep His Holy Days, specifically The Feast of Tabernacles (Zech. 14:16-18).

             

    When describing to Israel the consequences of disobedience, God includes adverse weather - a weather that would not sustain crops. This is clearly one of the great devices the Creator can use that can radically change the prosperity of a nation, and God said He was prepared to do just that.

And the heaven that is over your head shall be brass, and the earth that is under you shall be iron.

The Lord shall make the rain of your land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon you, until you be destroyed. (Dt. 28:23-24)

 

    As a result of a massive depletion of rain, as well as an incursion of insects, crops will fail, and agricultural production will be a thing of the past.

You shall carry much seed out into the field, and shall gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.

You shall plant vineyards, and dress them, but shall neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.

You shall have olive trees throughout all your coasts, but you shall not anoint thyself with the oil; for your olive shall cast its fruit. (Dt.28:38-40)

 

A Brief Review

             

     So far, God has explained to the children of Israel that if they obey Him, they will be the recipients of unimaginable blessings. However, He also described the consequences for refusing to obey. These consequences include great poverty and sickness as well as the depletion of natural resources and a favorable climate. He now explains that Israel will experience first hand, the utter destruction and humiliation of defeat in war.

 

National Security Will be Decimated

             

    When God established the nation of Israel, He knew it would have enemies. But He also knew that He could provide them with the greatest security network on earth. God assured the Israelites that they would receive that protection if they obeyed.

             

    Now, in the interest of fairness, God explains what Israel’s defenses would look like without Him, and it is not a pleasant sight. The great strength they would enjoy as a superpower would be so depleted they would actually be turned to flight by enemies who were radically inferior to them. God began by indicating that He would break the pride of Israel’s power (Lev. 26:19). As a result, what lay before them would be inconceivable.

The Lord shall cause you to be smitten before your enemies: you shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shall be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. (Dt.28:25)

 

    So complete would be the destruction of a nation bent on rebelling against God, that it would be driven out of its own land and led away captive.

The Lord shall bring you, and your king which you shall set over yourself, unto a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known; and there shall you serve other gods, wood and stone.

And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations wither the Lord shall lead you. (Dt. 28:36-37)

 

    When describing the utter destruction of Israel, God said it would be perpetrated by an enemy that had a ferocious contempt for everything about this once-blessed nation. Further, this enemy would show absolutely no mercy on their captives. They would only despise them, whether young or old.

The Lord shall bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies; a nation whose tongue you shalt not understand;

A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor unto the young:

And he shall eat the fruit of your cattle, and the fruit of your land, until you be destroyed: which also shall not leave you either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of your kine, or flocks of your sheep, until he has destroyed you.

And he shall besiege you in all your gates, until your high and fenced walls come down, wherein you trusted, throughout all your land: and he shall besiege you in all your gates throughout all your land, which the Lord your God has given thee. (Dt. 28:49-52)

 

Great Humiliation and Injustice

             

    It is hard to imagine that things could get worse for a nation committed to walking totally contrary to the God who raised them up - but worse it will get. God then declared that if Israel rebelled against Him and His law, they would suffer unbelievable humiliation and injustice. This humiliation will come at the hands of their enemies.

You shall betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: you shalt build a house, and you shalt not dwell therein: you shall plant a vineyard, and shall not gather the grapes thereof.

Your ox shall be slain before your eyes, and you shall not eat thereof: your ass shall be violently taken away from before your face, and shall not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given unto your enemies, and you shall have none to rescue them.

Your sons and your daughters shall be given unto another people, and your eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in your hand.

The fruit of your land, and all your labors, shall a nation which you know not eat up; and you shall be only oppressed and crushed alway:

So that you shall be mad for the sight of your eyes which you shall see. (Dt. 28:30-34)

 

    God also stated that because of Israel’s refusal to walk in the way that He would direct, they would have to march to the orders of an enemy that would enslave them.

Because you served not the Lord your God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;

Therefore shall you serve your enemies which the Lord shall send against you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon your neck, until he has destroyed you (Dt. 28:47-48)

 

The Ultimate Humiliation

             

    In a very real sense, rebellion against God by a nation that once knew Him, is nothing less than an act of depravity. It stands as unimaginably foolish. It constitutes the height of arrogance, and God said it would be met with the ultimate of curses. The ravages of war can bring massive suffering on a people. In its wake there can be disease and almost always FAMINE. When explaining to Israel the consequences of rejecting His law, God described the gravity of the FAMINE they would experience. The words that follow illustrate where man will stoop, absent the protection of a great God.

When your enemies are besieging your towns, you will become so desperate for food that you will even eat the children that the Lord your God has given you.

Even the most refined man of noble birth will become so desperate during the siege that he will eat some of his own children because he has no other food.

He will not even give any to his brother or to the wife he loves or to any of his children who are left.

Even the most refined woman of noble birth, so rich that she has never had to walk anywhere, will behave in the same way. When the enemy besieges her town, she will become so desperate for food that she will secretly eat her newborn child and the afterbirth as well.

She will not share them with the husband she loves or any of her children. (Dt. 28:53-57) Today’s English Version

 

Why Would God Punish His People?

             

    Throughout this covenant, God reminded Israel that His blessings would be showered down upon them like a gentle rain. However, that rain would cease, and curses would appear, if Israel elected to walk contrary to God’s law.

Moreover all these curses shall come upon you, and shall pursue you, and overtake you, till you be destroyed; because you hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded you: (Dt. 28:45)

And they shall be upon you for a sign and for a wonder, and upon your seed for ever. (Dt. 28:46)

 

    These verses reveal a great honesty about the God of the Bible. There is nothing subtle about His words. They are clear and direct. They outline a very specific formula for tapping into the wisdom, wealth, and strength of Almighty God. But they also reveal that God is not interested in His people taking Him for a “test drive” before they buy. And why should he be? Israel saw firsthand that God could deliver on His promise. The problem was that Israel couldn’t deliver on theirs.

             

    The law God gave to the children of Israel fills the pages of the books of Moses (the first five books of the Bible). Here, God provides His wisdom regarding the great moral and ethical questions man faces to this very day. If any society would open that book and commit to honoring the wisdom of The Holy One of Israel, they would be the beneficiaries of promises that are as timeless as the God who gave them.

             

    Tragically, Israel rebelled against God and His formula for blessings, and they suffered horribly for it. There is little doubt that this once - rich nation must have wondered where God was as the armies of its enemies advanced toward them. When destruction seems so imminent and so real, its very easy to ask the question that must also have been on the lips of millions of Americans on September 11.

Where Was God?

 

    The answer to this question may be too simple for many Americans to believe. The great God of the universe was where He has always been. In the third Heaven where His will is performed continually. In that kingdom there is only peace and abundance. The real question is: Where were we? And why has a people so richly blessed been persuaded to reject its only hope and in essence, go it alone. This route has been traveled before, and its streets are only paved with misery.

             

    Those who think the idea of “blessings” and “cursings” is inconsistent with their understanding of a God of love, should ask themselves what this world would look like if there were no consequences for evil. Further, those who believe that God is like some genie in a lamp, or a jolly old fat man who brings people presents once a year, cannot grasp that God is a loving parent who is fully capable of disciplining His children.

             

    Does God discipline? Consider some absolute truths about the God of the Bible that are routinely rejected by so many who think of the Almighty as simply a nice old man who just wants to be liked. Included in this list are facts about the United States that reflect an attitude of defiance toward the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

 

Fact I

              

    God is perfectly capable of rendering His judgment against nations. He did so to both Israel and Judah over twenty five hundred years ago. The result was enslavement

             

    It is true that God is merciful and patient, but He isn’t foolish; and He isn’t one to be mocked (Ga.6:7). God created the laws of cause and effect - the laws of blessings and cursings. When speaking to the nation of Israel, He reminded them that sin brings with it a real penalty. Additionally, He informed them that sin is not something that can be hidden. Eventually every sin will be exposed and will in turn expose the sinner.

But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.(Num. 32:23)  

Fact II

 

    Throughout history, God has used other nations to execute His judgment. He used Assyria to punish Israel and Babylon to punish Judah. Each of these nations (Israel and Judah) were ripped from their land and led away into a humiliating captivity. At that time, families were separated, children were slaughtered, and their wealth stolen - just as God had predicted.

O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.

I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and

to tread them down like the mire of the streets. (Isa.10:5-6)

 

    The Bible makes it abundantly clear that Israel and Judah were stripped of the great liberty they had because they rejected the very God who gave them their freedom in the first place. As inconceivable as it may seem, this people laid waste the great moral code of the most morally pure Being in existence. They despised His judgements and polluted His Sabbaths (Ezk. 20:24). As a result of this defiance, God gave them over to a nation whose laws were not “good”, “just”, or “moral” (Ezk. 20:25). 

Fact III

 

    Today the United States is less connected to a legitimate moral compass than at any time in its history. We wink at promiscuity if it is “consensual.” As if adultery, fornication, homosexuality, or any other perversion possesses even an ounce of virtue because the participants agree. Adam and Eve mutually agreed to eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. How impressed was God with their unity?

             

    Today we struggle with these issues but refuse the accept the only real truth concerning what they truly are. We can re-define these conditions as “harmless” or even “virtuous”if we wish. What we somehow can’t seem to understand is that they are dangerous.

             

    Additionally, leaders in professing Christianity have integrated into their faith festivals and beliefs that are nothing less than an insult to the God of heaven. Whether it is Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas, Lent, All Saints Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, or Halloween, “Believers” have been convinced that they can somehow find a way to do God one better when it comes to worshiping Him.

             

    Those who think they can make evil good simply by declaring it so are in for a terrifying truth. The great prophet Isaiah was inspired to record that truth.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:

Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! (Isa. 5:20-23)

 

    Now listen to what God says will befall those who mock Him with their judgments - those who have crafted their own standard of morality.

Therefore as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he has stretched forth his hand against them, and has smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (Isa. 5:24-25)

 

    God’s word emphatically declares that Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth with great POWER and GLORY (Rev. 19:11-15), and when he does, he will EXECUTE His JUDGMENT on the “ungodly” (Jude 15). There will be no mocking God’s law then. 

Fact IV

 

    The United States is more violent now than at any time in its history. Whether it’s talk of war, gangs, domestic violence, crime, recreation, or abortion, we have become a nation obsessed with blood. This obsession has driven a wedge between America and the God of Heaven.

             

    The prophet Isaiah was inspired to proclaim that Israel was estranged from its Creator because of their sins. And specifically mentioned were acts of violence.

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.

For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverseness. (Isa. 59:2-3)

 

    If the United States and its people truly wish to be reconnected to a God who is perfectly capable of protecting it from great acts of violence, then perhaps they should stop engaging in such acts themselves. Americans can shout to the top of their lungs that they are “Pro Choice”if they wish. But the voice of the King of the Universe also thunders. And His words are clear: “CHOOSE LIFE” (Dt. 30:19). 

Fact V

 

    America is more secular than at any time in its history. God has been kicked out of our national discourse. No prayer in our schools. No “one nation under God” in our pledge. No

Ten Commandments in our courts. Under the relentless prodding of secular humanism, we have ostensibly informed God “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.”

              Here’s God’s answer and you would be well advised to read it several times.

Therefore will I number you to the sword, and you shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that herein I delighted not. (Isa.65:12)

 

    Thomas Jefferson, a great American patriot and a leading architect of the United States’ constitution, once offered a chilling warning regarding how God could deal with this nation. Notice his sobering words:

tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.

 

    Perhaps the greatest error this world has ever made in its history is a total misunderstanding that God is just. And His justice demands that sin either be punished or forgiven. If man refuses to repent and turn from sin, then there is only one option left.

 

A Powerful Indictment

             

    The book of Isaiah contains one of the most powerful indictments ever leveled against a nation. It speak of violence in its streets, corruption in its courts, evil proliferating at an unimaginable rate, and the total rejection of its Creator and Sustainer. It reveals how a great nation could fall out of favor with the God who made it great. And why God will not hear their cry for help when calamity strikes. This indictment exposes a society as arrogant in its approach toward justice and brazen in its practice of sin. It then explains how a JUST GOD is going to deal with this nation. As you read these words, ask yourself if the sins of this people sound familiar.

For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

None calls for justice, nor any pleads for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.

They hatch cockatrice’ eggs and weave the spider’s web: he that eats of their eggs dies, and that which is crushed breaks out into a viper.

Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.

Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.

The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goes therein shall know no peace.

Therefore is judgment far from us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.

We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.

We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.

For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;

In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.

And judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. (Isa. 59:3-14)

 

    When describing the moral and ethical depravity of this nation, God stated that it would get so bad that if one of its citizens tried to repent and turn from sin, he could only do so at great personal risk.

Yea, truth fails; and he that departs from evil makes himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. (Isa 59:15)

 

What Will God Do to Such a People?

 

    Contrary to what our actions suggest, God is not blind. He is not some distant concept residing in some far away place. God is VERY REAL and so is His law. That law is His great moral code that He has woven through the fabric of time and space. What it says is powerful and absolute. IF YOU BREAK MY LAW, MY LAW WILL BREAK YOU.

             

    Today man is bent on challenging this principle. He has ostensibly called on God Almighty to either “put up or shut up.” Hear is how God is going to deliver.

Therefore hear now this, you that are given to pleasures, that dwell carelessly, that say in your heart, I am, and there is none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:

But these two things shall come to you in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon you in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of your enchantments.

For you have trusted in your wickedness: you have said, None seeth me. Your wisdom and your knowledge, it has perverted you; and you have said in your heart, I am, and there is none else beside me.

Therefore shall evil come upon you; you shall not know from whence it rises: and mischief shall fall upon you; you shall not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon you suddenly, which you shall not know. (Isa. 47:8-11)

 

    This is the fate that awaits the nation that defies the very God who gave it so much. And this fate is ever so close.

 

The Last Days

             

    When Jesus gave the Olivet Prophecy, He indicated that in the last days there would be incredible tribulation inflicted on God’s people. He characterized this tribulation as unlike any in the history of the world (Mt. 24:21). At that time the prophetic nations of Israel and Judah will be on the wrong end of an incredibly merciless slaughter. The great tragedy is that  this slaughter could be avoided. If the nation God has so richly blessed repented and turned to their Creator with prayer and fasting (Joel 2:12), He would hear them. And He would deliver them and would do what gives Him the greatest pleasure - He would BLESS them.

 

A Note to Billy Graham

             

    The question of why a just God would allow human suffering must truly be a painful one to hear. This is because it is almost always asked at times of great hurt and anguish. But there is an answer to this question - one that offers a painful reality.

             

    God allows horrible events like that of 9/11 and so many other tragedies because He wants man to know what the world would look like without Him as its guiding moral presence. This is not God’s world. Man decided he did not need God’s wisdom and virtue while living in a garden some 6000 years ago. There, man decided to determine for himself what was “good” and what was “evil.” And he continues to assert that “right” to this very day.

             

    As a result of man’s judgment, the innocent will always suffer. There will always be poverty. Families will be ripped apart by divorce. Ignorance and superstition will corrupt man’s great potential. Justice will be perverted. Snipers will kill at random. Children will be abducted from their homes and murdered. Sickness and disease will attack the weak. Tyrants will rule the earth. And fanatics will fly passenger jets into buildings.

 

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WHERE WAS GOD ON 12/26/04?
WARN THE PEOPLE