The Terrorist Attack That Wasn’t

Police cordon around Oxford Circus station during the incident on November 24, 2017 in London, England.
Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media/Getty Images)

The Terrorist Attack That Wasn’t

Why thousands ran from nothing, in the heart of London

The following is from the Trumpet Brief sent out yesterday. These daily e-mails contain personal messages from the Trumpet staff. Click here to join the nearly 20,000 members of our mailing list, so you don’t miss another message.

A breaking news alert on my phone Friday night instantly seized my attention. It was about Oxford Circus Station in London. Oxford Street is one of the most famous shopping districts in the world. I was in the area on Thursday, and the streets were packed. The alert said that police had closed Oxford Circus Station and Bond Street Station, and it warned the public to stay away; there had been an “incident.”

“Incident” usually means “unconfirmed terrorist attack.”

The shops on this one street bring in billions of pounds each year, twice as much as the entire retail sector of Birmingham, Britain’s second-largest city. Oxford Street is, by some counts, the busiest shopping street in Europe. The pedestrian traffic is so dense that the government has experimented with introducing fast and slow lanes.

Oxford Circus is also a busy station for commuters. The “incident” began a little after 4:30 p.m.—with rush hour getting underway. And it was on Black Friday, with extra shoppers looking for bargains.

I checked social media and saw numerous posts saying shots had been fired; one said there was a bomb. Smartphone videos showed masses of people running down the streets. Many people posted online that they were locked down in the shops, scared of gunmen outside. Reports of screams and panic were common. Armed police were on the scene.

It looked very bad.

But as the evening wore on, the picture changed. There was no bomb. The were no gunmen. No shots had been fired. Nine people had been taken to the hospital, but they had been injured in the panic, not by a terrorist attack.

Police now believe that the whole furor was sparked by an “altercation” between two men on the station platform.

Shops across the West End of London were forecast to bring in £150 million (us$200.6 million) in sales over Black Friday. With some stores closed for several hours, they could easily have missed out on millions of pounds of revenue.

This isn’t the first time fear of an attack has caused massive disruption. On September 19, authorities closed the M1 motorway in both directions for nine hours because of a “suspicious object.” Britain’s main north-south traffic artery became a parking lot for thousands of motorists.

“There is no evidence to suggest that this is a terrorist-related incident,” police said of the M1 incident. “The object does not contain an improvised explosive device.”

It did contain some form of corrosive liquid, so some caution was warranted. But the fact that a black bag of acid can shut down one of Europe’s most important highways in both directions for the best part of a day shows the climate of fear in Britain.

This climate of fear matches exactly end-time conditions prophesied in the Bible. In Leviticus 26, God tells His people, the Israelites, what will happen to them if they disobey Him. As we prove in our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, these two countries and many British Commonwealth nations are actually the modern descendants of Israel. These scriptures apply to us.

God said, “I will even appoint over you terror” (verse 16). Strong’s Concordance defines the Hebrew word translated “terror” as “panic, destruction.” Today we see both genuinely destructive terrorist attacks and an intensifying climate of panic.

In the next verse, God tells the Israelites, “[Y]e shall flee when none pursueth you.”

Could there be any more dramatic and direct fulfillment of this verse than thousands running in panic on London’s busiest shopping street, for no reason whatsoever?

Jeremiah Jacques described similar events in America in his 2016 article “False Alarms, True Terror.” As he pointed out, Leviticus 26:36 gives a poetic description of our society: “[T]he sound of a driven leaf will chase them, and even when no one is pursuing they will flee as though from the sword, and they will fall” (New American Standard Bible). There are many more similar verses.

Jeremiah wrote:

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.

The Bible says that this level of fear is only going to get worse. Deuteronomy 28 describes a time when those in Britain and America are so filled with terror that, “In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see” (verse 67).

But this increasing fear is God reaching out to His hard-hearted people. He is doing it out of love. As Jeremiah concluded: “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.”

As I wrote last month, this is all leading to a world free from fear. Once the world turns to God, He can usher in a world where “none shall make them afraid”—a phrase used at least half a dozen times in the Bible to describe the world to come.

For more on how God is using terrorist attacks to correct our people and usher in the world to come, read Stephen Flurry’s article “God Bless America.” It was written in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks; still, it gives an explanation of why God allows terrorist attacks, an explanation you cannot get anywhere else.