|ATTACK ON TERRORISM
ATTACK ON TERRORISM
James C. Guy
*Based on a sermon preached September 16, 2001 at Canal Heights church of Christ; Demopolis, Alabama, USA.
Psalms 46 – 1. God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2. Therefore we will not fear, Though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3. Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
4. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. 5. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. 6. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. 7. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8. Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. 9. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. 10. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! 11. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Following the terrorist attacks that took place on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 the news media of all sorts, and pulpits throughout the world, reported the events and interpretations of what fallouts may result from those events. America, and indeed the world, has seen and heard picture after picture, video after video, commentary after commentary, and opinion after opinion. But, the most important thing the world needs to consider is what God’s word has to say relative to these events.
VENGEANCE IS MINE
One picture that sticks out in the minds of many is the picture of the tow truck leaving the Trade Center area with “REVENGE” painted across the bumper and windshield. This is, perhaps, the sentiment of many Americans and others. But, as Christians, we must consider what God says and learn to think as God thinks. To that end, the Bible is clear:
Romans 10:17-19 “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,'' says the Lord.”
It may not give us as much comfort as we might like, but consider that no matter how much revenge, harm, or destruction we may do to those who are guilty of evil, we can NEVER do anywhere near the harm, punishment, and destruction that God can do to them in hell. Revenge is an attempt to make us feel better, but according to God is makes us worse. It lowers us to the level of the one doing the evil. We have returned evil for evil, rather than evil for good or even evil for justice.
“BUT WE CAN’T HELP HOW WE FEEL.” That is true. For the most part, we can’t help how we feel, but we can help how we think. Christianity calls us to think above the world – to have the mind of Christ. Most of us can identify feelings of fear, sadness, and anger because of what has happened. There are quite possibly many occasions in which we feel these feelings when evil has been committed. But, God says, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” It alright to feel angry toward those who committed these acts, or any act of evil. But, do not let Satan turn those feelings of anger into mindsets of hate and revenge.
WHAT ABOUT JUSTICE?
What is justice? It is the proper payment for sin and evil. God is a God of justice, but He does not support our thoughts of revenge. Justice is punishment of evil, and the demonstration of God’s disapproval of that evil. Remember, God’s justice will always be served, because vengeance belongs to God. If not in this life, certainly in the life hereafter. God also punishes, at times, in this life as well.
WAS GOD PUNISHING AMERICA? Jerry Falwell was chided for his remarks made along this line, and perhaps others were as well. He later said is was inappropriate at the time. However, what if he is right? We must “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), but that does not negate our speaking the truth. What if God WAS using this event as a wake-up call to America and perhaps to the world? Is that possible according to the scriptures? If so, we need to be careful to be considerate of those who have suffered so much loss, but we must also pay close attention and learn from what has happened.
According to the scriptures, God has often punished entire nations, generally in an attempt to lead them to repentance. Israel often went astray, or allowed many evil things to become apart of their nation. Read Leviticus 26:12-42 . Here, we see God warning of one thing after another intended to turn His people back to Him. He says, if they don’t listen to the smaller warnings, greater ones will come. God NEVER commits acts of evil. God cannot sin (James 1:13; I John 3:7-10). But, He does use evil doers to accomplish His will. He used Egypt and Pharoah. He often used the Philistines and other evil nations to punish and teach the nation of Israel.
But, how do we know God is using this evil act to punish America? First, we must say that we don’t know for sure what all God is doing. (See Ecclesiates 11:5; Psalm 77:19; Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 11:33). But, we can know that God does punish evil and that He uses evil people to accomplish His will. He may use evil acts, tragedies, and grief to turn people to Him and strengthen their relationship with Him. Consider Job, who had SO MANY bad things happen to him. He was stricken with loss of loved ones, illness, and even raided by robbers as America was hit by terrorists. Yet, God allowed those events and used those events to take place. That which Satan meant for evil, the Lord meant for good. Many stories in the Bible point this out: Haman hung on gallows he built for Mordecai; God used the evil intentions of Joseph’s brothers to feed His people; David cut off the head of Goliath with the sword Goliath intended to use on David; and Jesus rose from the dead overcoming the very evil that put Him there. It was all according to the will of God.
It is safe to say that America, and the world, has not been all God wants us to be. In America, in a few short years we have seen prayer out of schools, abortion and homosexuality accepted, and other such things. But, beyond those more popular issues, consider how complacent we have become in the church. Is evangelism what is was 20 -30 years ago? Is there the same zeal and quest for God’s truth there was only a few years ago? Do we still stand for what is right like we once did? Some do, but many do not. Is God trying to tell us something? Might He have been trying to tell us for some time now? Have we been listening? I don’t know the things God does behind the scenes. I know God does do evil, but He does allow it to take place. He can prevent it according to the book of Job, but He also knows what is best.
So, let us as Americans, as people, and particularly as the Lord’s church, learn from these events. Grow from the events. Wake up and let God work through us to do His will. We are here for only a short time, and we are here to “fear God and keep His commandments. Have we been living for that – individually or collectively? Look at how this even that some meant for evil is already turning out for good. People are waking up. Churches are beginning to stir. People are becoming united. Learn church, learn – pay attention.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE JUSTICE? Even though God may or may not be sending us a wake-up call, one thing is for sure: this was an evil act. Those who committed these acts apparently did so in the name of religion, but then Paul persecuted Christians in the name of religion. It did not and it does not make it right. It was sin. It was murder, robbery, evil minded, and much more. Justice will be served. It is RIGHT for justice to be served because “....it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, (II Thessalonians 1:6).”
It is right for justice to be served, and it is right for us to desire justice. There is a difference in desiring revenge and desiring justice. The Psalms are full of people desiring justice for those who have wronged them (see Psalm 94 for example). It is right to be angry toward the evil that is done. That anger desires justice. Don’t let it desire revenge.
JUSTICE BY THE HANDS OF MEN
Should our desire for justice be limited to eternal punishment for those who do not repent of their evil? Is God’s justice limited to eternal justice? Not according to Romans 13. Romans 12 tells us not to seek revenge, not to return evil for evil. But, the very next chapter in the same letter to the same church at Rome says that God does, in fact, administer justice through the hands of man.
ALL AUTHORITY IS APPOINTED BY GOD (Romans 13:1-2). God obviously does not approve of all authorities do. It would be a grave error to say that God approved of the things done under the administration of the authority of rulers such as Hitler, Bin Laden, or even the Clinton administration who supported many evil acts of which God does not approve. Yet, the scriptures tell us that these authorities are appointed by God. He allows evil, and He uses it for His purposes. He does not commit evil, nor approve of evil. God even used the Roman government and Jewish law system to fulfill His purposes “by the hands of evil men” (Acts 2:23-24) in sending His Son to die on the cross “in the fulness of time” (Galatians 4:4-5).
GOD USES AUTHORITY TO BRING JUSTICE. Romans 13:3-5 says that God does indeed used the authority of law and government to bring justice here on this Earth. That justice includes “the sword.” It is not right for us to take or even desire personal revenge on those who have committed evil. It is not right for us to hate the evil doers. But, it is right for our government, withing the confines of law, to use deadly force (the sword) if necessary to administer justice to the evil doers. It is God who is in control, not any man nor any government. It may be that those responsible for these evil terrorist acts will come to justice in the courts. However, it is more likely that many will come to justice only through the use of deadly force. The former is preferred to the latter, but both are the administration of justice through the hands of man.
Don’t let anger become hate!
Don’t let desire for justice become desire for revenge!
Don’t let God be sending us a message, and we not be listening!
"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34)
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