In the weeks that followed September 11, God was everywhere: on signs, in song, at school and sporting events, in government. But where was God on September 11? And for all His popularity since that date, why was God so unpopular before September 11?
It might be more fashionable to talk about God than it was a few months ago, but mere talk is the shallowest form of religion. Jesus scolded the seemingly religious of His day by saying, “[W]hy call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). He likened mere talk about God to a house without a foundation that washes away in the first storm that comes along.
True religion, Jesus said, is hearing what God says and doing it! That is religion with substance. That is a “house” built on stone.
Blessings and Curses
Say what you will about God, but know this: He was fully capable of preventing what happened on September 11.
But He didn’t.
The question is, why? This is the question our foremost religious leaders have not been able to answer. The reason they have no answer is because they cannot conceive of a God who actually sends curses.
Doesn’t it seem ironic that, after something as tragic as September 11, we sing “God Bless America”? Obviously, God is capable of blessing our land and our peoples. In fact, He has! There’s no denying it. But isn’t He just as capable of cursing our peoples?
He is if we believe Leviticus 26. What few people realize is that this remarkable prophecy actually pertains more to our time today than it did for the people of Israel in Moses’s day. (Write for The United States and Britain in Prophecy to understand the duality of this prophecy more fully.)
Leviticus 26 is the fundamental prophecy of the Old Testament. In this central prophecy, God tells His people that He will bless us with rain in due season, fruitful crops, peaceful living, protection from enemies and much, much more if—and this is a mighty big if—we will keep His sabbaths, reverence His sanctuary, walk in His statutes, keep His commandments, “and do them” (Leviticus 26:2-3).
And what if we disobey? God answers: “But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments [remember what Jesus said about true religion?], but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror ….” (verses 14-16).
What a frightening scenario! The God of love actually bringing terror? That’s what the Bible says. (In the New Testament, in case you are one of the many who reject the Old Testament as being too harsh or outdated, James 4:12 says, “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy ….”) The Hebrew word for terror in Leviticus 26:16 means sudden destruction, alarm, dismay and fear.
Americans are now well familiar with these realities.
Notice verse 17: “And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.” Think about the anthrax scare in the wake of the terrorist strikes in September. There have been a few scattered incidents, and yet politicians, news agencies and civilians were frightened to open their mail! Look at what a handful of enemies can do to terrorize the masses.
“And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins” (verse 18). God says it will just keep intensifying unless we hearken unto Him. That word hearken means to hear, give heed and obey. God wants true religion.
“And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass” (verse 19). The Trumpet has referred to this scripture a number of times. America’s military power is unprecedented, but it lacks the will to use it. Look at what it took for us to finally do something! And even America’s show of retaliation has, thus far, been a cautious, coalition-conscious strike against a tiny group of Muslim extremists known as the Taliban—a governing body the rest of the world does not even recognize.
But what about the string of terrorist acts that led up to September 11—those we did nothing about? The first World Trade Center bombing, the American base in Saudi Arabia, Khobar Towers, the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the u.s.s. Cole. Terrorists have been emboldened by America’s broken will in these instances. Years of skittishness over losing single soldier in combat created a climate that ended up costing nearly 3,000 civilian lives in a single day.
Now, after the most inconceivably brutal terrorist act imaginable, Americans seem unified in the fact that we had to respond militarily. What does God have to say about this? “[Y]our strength shall be spent in vain ….” (verse 20). God does not give us all the details of how this will play out. Prophecy does indicate, however, that in the end, America will not eradicate terrorism from this Earth.
Why? Because we have forsaken God! “And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins” (verse 21). That is a frightening thing—to be punished according to our sins.
Why is it so difficult for us to conceive of a Father who blesses His children when they are obedient—and who lovingly corrects them when they go astray? God is a God of blessings—and curses. And after an unthinkable curse like September 11, before singing “God Bless America,” we should ask, why would God allow this curse in America?
According to Our Sins
For as popular as it is to talk about God now, it remains decidedly unpopular to discuss the subject of sin. Jerry Falwell brought the subject up immediately following the attack and was lambasted with a firestorm of rebuke! Beef up airport security—lock down borders—bomb terrorist camps—sacrifice the lives of marines if you have to—but don’t talk to us about our sins! we say.
Shame on us. After suffering such a curse, can we not take an honest look at ourselves? Shame on our religious “leaders” for failing to help us look deep within ourselves for answers to why September 11. (Falwell quickly apologized for his remarks, saying he was merely making a “theological point” that had been misunderstood.)
If we are now turning to God for help in these trying times, we had better be prepared to look into this subject of sin. God, in the New Testament, defines sin as the transgression of His law and says the wages we receive for committing sin is death (1 John 3:4; Romans 6:23).
This is a serious subject.
There is nothing wrong with paying tribute to those slain in the attacks or applauding the heroic acts of rescue workers and passengers who gave their lives to save others.
But this does not make New York or the rest of America righteous before God. Isolated acts of human goodness cannot mask the fact that America has forsaken God. And New York, in particular, has come to represent the decadent, godless, sinful lifestyle we Americans revel in.
Jesus likened these latter days to the days of Noah, before the Flood, and the days of Lot, before he fled Sodom (Luke 17:26-30). In both cases, those “days” were noted for their material excess—drunkenness and revelry, crime and violence, extreme sexual perversion and upside-down families. These are the sins most prevalent in Western nations today—especially America.
Why didn’t Jesus say the end time would be noted for its Muslim fundamentalism, the evils of fanatical regimes, the oppressive abuse of women and children, the senseless acts of suicidal terrorism? Aren’t these sins too? Of course they are. Will these evil acts go unpunished by God? Not at all. God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). He will deal with the sins of our enemies in due time.
But right now, He is chiefly concerned about our sins.
Jesus focused on the sins that persist in our society because we are the peoples who should be setting an example for the rest of the world.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the Earth.” God has blessed America—and Britain—above all other nations on Earth. To understand why, we again refer you to The United States and Britain in Prophecy. It’s a must read. God gave us these blessings, because of Abraham’s obedience (Genesis 22:16-18), so that we might be a model society—to show, as Lincoln noted, “that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
But we, as a people, have forsaken God. Lincoln continued, “We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation ever has grown; 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 these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
Imagine what Lincoln would say today about the many sins our people declare openly before the whole world.
According to one federal study, 30 years ago, the total retail value of hard-core pornography in America was around $10 million annually. Today, just one popular pornographic website can bring that in on its own. Another study says the number of people visiting porn websites has doubled over the past year—which even outpaces the yearly number of new Internet users.
God bless America? We’re known the world over for being the runaway leader in pornography production.
John Patterson commented for the Guardian in London, “For U.S. pornographers, the Clinton era represented eight years of expansion. The Justice Department adopted a hands-off role …. Day after day, revelation by revelation, it seemed the U.S. steadily became a dirtier nation. Porn statistics confirm this. There are now 25,000 adult bookstores in the U.S.; 10,000 new hardcore video titles are released every year, up from 300 in 1980. Last year saw 711 million porn rentals, and the industry’s annual turnover is now close to $10 billion a year” (March 9).
God bless America? When you consider these staggering statistics, you have to ask, why should He?
Timothy Egan, in a New York Times piece, attributes part of the increasing popularity of porn to the ease at which it can now be obtained. It’s no longer necessary to get in your car, go to the shady side of town and pay money to enter an adult theater. Today, pornography is easier to order than pizza—on the Internet, cable, pay-per-view, satellite TV, video rentals—all of it can be brought right into the comfort and privacy of your own home.
But we can’t blame technology for our sins. Egan notes that court decisions in the last few decades have helped give porn “broad legal protection.” The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Miller v. California set the precedent, saying that pornography was illegal only when considered obscene to the “average person, applying contemporary community standards.” Of course, as societal moral standards drop, the “average person” becomes more and more evil, which is why pornography has become increasingly more vile and widespread.
Egan also blames the greed of large corporations that want a piece of the financial pie. “Whatever the phenomenon may say about the nature of American society, the financial rewards are so great that some of the biggest distributors of explicit sex on film and online include the country’s most recognizable corporate names” (Oct. 23, 2000). General Motors, at&t, Time Warner, Marriott International, Hilton, News Corporation—these, Egan writes, are “all companies that have a big financial stake in adult films and that are held by millions of shareholders.”
And, of course, these trends keep getting worse because of the “average” person’s increasing appetite for perverted entertainment.
This is the ugly side of our human nature—the underbelly of U.S. society that politicians won’t confront.
Immediately after the terrorist attack on September 11, you might remember President Bush saying that America was targeted because it was a “beacon of freedom.” And we are. No other nation offers such widespread opportunity and freedom as the United States.
But this is not why Islamic extremists hate us. They hate us, in large part, because of the sins and perversions these freedoms have given birth to.
What God Wants
In the weeks following the September 11 attack, leaders in society encouraged American citizens to go about their normal routines—to not change a thing. Any alteration in the way we lived, they said, would be the surest sign of a terrorist victory.
But hold on—forget about the terrorists for a minute. God is the one who allowed September 11 to happen. And if He allowed it to happen because of our sins, shouldn’t we all want to change our ways?
God gets no satisfaction from seeing people suffer. He’s just trying to get our attention so that we will turn to Him. “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11).
What’s so bad about turning from our own sins after an act like what happened on September 11—even if it was carried out by evil men? But that has not happened. Where have you heard anyone talking about real, sincere, life-changing repentance?
God says we have all sinned. We have all taken God’s abundant blessings for granted. We have all rejected His ways. We all live for self, instead of God. Jerry Falwell only drew attention to a few specific sins in our society, and we, as a nation, would have none of it.
What will you, individually, do about it?
If you haven’t received a copy, we urge you to request our free booklet, Repentance Toward God. This booklet will dramatically change your life—if you will let it. It would dramatically alter the course of this nation, if only our people would heed its message.
A God of Justice
To those who might consider this message unfair, God responds, “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?” (Ezekiel 18:25, New King James). There is nothing unfair about God’s system of justice: “When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive” (verses 26-27).
This theme runs clear through the Bible! God is a God of blessings and curses, depending upon how we live. God says if we live according to His ways, we will not only be spared from tragedy, we will be rewarded with abundant blessings.
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (verses 30-31).
The burden of responsibility falls on our own shoulders. When we find ourselves face-to-face with violence, bloodshed, misery and suffering, God wants us to stop blaming others for these curses and to look deep within ourselves. The reason He allows these types of problems to come upon us is so that He might get our attention. He wants us to realize that we must turn from our evil ways.
Can we recognize the love in God’s actions? How can we be so critical of a message as hopeful as this?
The Coming Judgment
We have already noted that Jesus likened our end-time society to the days of Noah and Lot. The lesson from these two ancient societies is that sin leads to destruction. Individual sin leads to individual destruction. National sin leads to national destruction. Worldwide sin leads to worldwide destruction.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6). Consider this from God’s perspective. He had created humans to eventually be born spirit in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26)—perfect in righteous character.
But in surveying the landscape of human society less than 1700 years after He created the first man, God was actually sorry that He ever created human beings! “And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them” (verse 7). This ancient worldwide cataclysm makes the World Trade Center disaster look like child’s play! And notice, God brought it all about!
Of course, the intellectual elite of our “religious” society today would reject without discussion any talk of a worldwide flood ever having occurred. But it happened—as is confirmed by the Bible account, Assyrian and Babylonian manuscripts and numerous other traditions from ancient civilizations.
God wants us to learn the lesson from the Flood. Worldwide sin will precipitate worldwide destruction, unless we repent.
Notice verse 8: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah’s family of eight was spared because of Noah’s righteousness. Civilization got a fresh start with Noah’s family. But it quickly headed in the same cataclysmic direction as the pre-Flood generations.
This brings us to where we are today. Jesus said that prior to His return to this Earth, it would get so bad that the vast majority of mankind would end up dead. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh [no ‘human being,’ as it says in another translation] be saved [alive]: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).
In the end, you see, it goes far beyond the sins of America or Britain. God will eventually bring judgment upon the whole world for its sins—the immoral, the suicidal, the God-rejecting—all of them.
And were it not for a tiny group of “elect” people—just as in Noah’s day—all of mankind would be erased from off the face of the Earth.
With this small group, however, Jesus Christ will set up a new civilization that, finally, will not turn away from God’s ways.
Never again, from that point forward, will God allow a terrorist act like we witnessed on September 11. That’s because all people, in every nation, will be faithfully abiding by God’s Word—striving to live His way. God will remove the curses that have afflicted everyone, in every nation, throughout human history, and shower blessings unmeasured upon all mankind!