False Alarms, True Terror
Thousands of passengers at Los Angeles International Airport fell into panic on the evening of August 28, prompting evacuations, chaos and gridlock at one of America’s busiest airports. “It sounded like a stampede of cattle. Everyone is yelling, ‘Shooter, shooter, shooter,’ and they start diving under the seats to hide,” Donna Melanson told the New York Times.
But there was no shooter. The mayhem turned out to have been triggered by harmless “loud noises.”
The lax panic was not an isolated incident. On September 12, the campus of Valley Forge Military Academy and College in Philadelphia was placed on lockdown after someone told 911 they heard gunfire. After police spent an hour fanning the campus with weapons drawn, they determined that the culprit was bubble wrap being popped. On August 25, nine people at a Florida mall were injured after the sound of balloons popping sent shoppers into stampedes. A week earlier, a mall in Michigan erupted into hysteria after onlookers mistook the sound of breaking glass or a slamming door for gunfire. On August 14, thousands of travelers at jfk International Airport in New York began stampeding and two terminals were evacuated after travelers mistook for gunfire celebratory applause. The day before, at a mall in Raleigh, North Carolina, eight people were injured because of an unknown sound mistakenly thought to be gunfire.
And the list goes on.
This trend shows that many Americans are on edge.
Memories of recent attacks at airports in Istanbul and Brussels are fresh. Images of the aftermath of shootings in Orlando, San Bernardino, Paris and elsewhere are burned into our minds. Grim pictures of the mass murder in Nice, France, still haunt us.
The result: We are terrified. When we hear balloons or bubble wrap popping, or a door slamming, we are often quick to assume it’s an AK-47 in the hands of an Islamic State jihadist or some other deranged gunman.
And this means the terrorists are succeeding. After all, the goal of terrorism isn’t necessarily to kill target populations. A big part of the goal is to terrify them—to instill fear into their hearts.
Terrorism has not killed a large percentage of Americans. We are still more likely to be killed by a cow, a falling tree limb, or a toddler with a gun than by a jihadist. But terrorism has terrified a great many of us.
The fact that terrorism has had such an effect was actually foretold long ago—millennia, in fact.
Long before the United States was established, God prophesied many riveting details of the nation’s prosperity through His servant Moses (Genesis 48:13-22; 49:22-26; Leviticus 26:3-10). God also explained specifically how He would punish America if this powerful, blessed nation forgot and disobeyed Him: “… I will even appoint over you terror …. [A]nd ye shall flee when none pursueth you” (Leviticus 26:16-17).
Verse 36 offers more detail: “[T]he sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth.”
Does this sound like people stampeding and injuring each other because of sounds of applause or balloons popping?
Through the Prophet Isaiah, God foretold how painfully effective terrorist attacks would be if America didn’t obey Him. He foretold the disproportionate degree of destruction a small number of terrorists would be able to inflict: “A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away …” (Isaiah 30:17; New International Version).
Only 19 terrorists were directly involved in the 9/11 “rebuke,” and only a handful of others have been involved in attacks on American soil since then. Yet an astonishing number of Westerners have been made to “flee” in fear because of those attacks.
The Boston Marathon bombing was carried out by just two jihadists using about $200 of homemade explosives, and they turned Boston—a city with more economic output than Finland—into a ghost town for a day.
Take a look at America’s systems of education, politics, religion, military, industry and entertainment. It’s plain that the nation has rejected the law of the God who blessed it with such unprecedented prosperity. As this slide into lawlessness continues, Americans will increasingly “flee when none pursueth” and descend into mass hysteria at the “sound of a shaken leaf.”
But there is also hope on the horizon. God spelled out that warning that we see coming to pass in such specific detail because He is trying to reach out to us. If you can recognize how our nation’s disobedience to Him is the real cause for this and other curses, that can put you on the path to repentance, and to being spared from an intensification of those curses.
In addition, Bible prophecy makes plain that on the other side of the terrorism, fear and curses, this world will experience the most radiant future imaginable. Fear and terrorism will be forever vanquished and replaced by a planet of peace, prosperity and a single world religion under the righteous, merciful rulership of the King of kings, Jesus Christ.