Tuesday morning, September 11th, our nation both heard and saw the staggering reality of the capabilities and powers of terrorism upon our country. A terrorist's purpose is to instill terror, to intensify fear upon a people. Terrorism is the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce submission to a political belief or ideology. It is the hope to fill or overcome a people with terror, thus causing them to yield in absolute submission to the desire of the one who terrorized. It is built upon disruption and disintegration of life, to alter the life of a people by producing widespread fear through shocking acts of violence.
The Scriptures Foretold
From the perspective of the Scriptures, this atrocity is certainly a part of the endtime before the coming of Christ in the Rapture and the coming of Antichrist in the Tribulation Period. God's Word prophesied that the endtime would see a proliferation of violence in the earth. The term violence in the Hebrew has the understanding of plucking off or away, of tearing away, of taking by force, in the context of the terrible, the fierce, and the lawless. Genesis 6:11 reads that "the earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence." In 6:13 we read, "And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth." Christ Himself stated in Matthew 24:37, "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." The prophets describe in several of their prophecies how violence will fill the land and the powers of oppression will rule with violence.
There are those who believe that if sin could simply be confined to the pleasures it affords, a life alienated from God would not be that bad. But it must be understood that sin in its root has no goodness, no truth, and no law. Sin's ultimate manifestation is a hellish reality. Sin hates humanity; it abhors any concept of law and principle, even for itself. The manifestation of violence, darkness, destruction, damnation, and death is the true root of sin. This root of sin has no concept of mercy, compassion, love, tenderness, and ethics.
The frontier of sin will always take one deeper. It progresses from the context of man to the context of the devil. With Satan's empowering, man enters a new frontier of sin, but it is sin nevertheless. There will come a man in the future who will be the personification of sin in human form, the Antichrist. He will come with the appearance of a friend to mankind, but his ultimate goal is to unite the two worlds of the demonic and human into one. This unity will be realized in the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation Period. Before the coming of Christ in Revelation 19, the whole world will end in massive violence perpetrated by Satan through the Antichrist to bring all of humanity to its knees.
How often the devil uses violence to alter life. Our nation will no longer be the same after these atrocities. We may have to give up certain freedoms in order to secure life. Out of necessity, the liberty of movement throughout the country may be hindered. Greater surveillance of our private lives may take place for the sake of security. We must remember that when the Antichrist comes, humanity will believe him to be the one who has the answers to all national and global perplexities. The nations will be in perplexities, or problems for which they have no solutions. In these last decades the sea of humanity has become increasingly restless; the waves are churning in its dilemma. Out of such dilemma, Antichrist will arise.
America — At a Crucial Crossroads
With these deep concerns, America is at a crossroads of deep desires. It is vulnerable not only to terrorists, but now also to the altering of its life, its liberties, and its freedoms for the sake of security. Our country is now crying out for global action, which will necessitate a greater solidifying of the nations. The brief solidarity of the nations during the Gulf War will now be cemented because of the powers of terrorism. We must understand that some circumstances of life force us into the changes. But changes of this magnitude take us deeper into the course of life that Satan wants for the earth to bring about his principal son, the son of perdition, and the Antichrist. For Antichrist to rule, a true republic or democratic government must cease. How will such governments come to their end? They will be forced into such demise. It may not happen by the government being taken over by another government, or by the government forcing the people into a submission they do not initially want. A people could be manipulated through subtle workings to cry out for greater liberty and greater security. Yet such a cry would yield the will of society toward a greater controlling of the populace that would prepare a trans-global government. How subtle the serpent was with Eve: she was convinced by the God-questioning serpent that eating the forbidden fruit would give her greater liberty and a great quality of life. But in reality, it brought her death; her life and her husband's life (and the rest of human civilization) were truly altered forever.
But we do not want to leave the impression that Satan is in control of history and the destiny of mankind. God is the superintendent of history; but He often permits the devil to have his way (as He did with Job). When He does, it is to bring about His own end. There must come a time, and it could be before the Rapture, that God will give the world over to Satan's planning and preparations for the coming of Antichrist. There must come a day when America's lifestyle with its liberties and comforts change; there must come a day when it is assimilated into the global powers. What epochal event will usher in this change?
Forcing something upon an individual can be viewed in several contexts. We read in Proverbs 7 of the strange woman meeting at the street corner the young man void of understanding. "With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life" (v. 21-23). The world is now being forced into changes for the sake of quality of life. The world is now in such a complicated situation of living that we have no alternative but to take more steps toward loss of liberties. We are seeing it in so many areas of society. Here in America, the medical and financial needs are so astronomical that insurance is becoming extremely expensive for the individual to purchase. This situation eventually will force us as a country into socialized medicine. We may fight the change at the beginning, but when it comes, we will appreciate it and wonder how we could have lived without it. But each step brings greater control by the system and the State over the life of its people. Even now on the 1040 tax forms, children are simply called "dependents." Will there come a time when they will no longer be viewed as being "dependent" upon parents but "dependent" upon the State? Socialization is certainly leading us to such forced acknowledgment.
Without any doubt, something must be done about greater security. How often we have gone through the security checks at an airport, placing our bags on the x-ray conveyor belt, realizing those who were to be observing the monitor were talking and laughing with others, with no regard for the content of the bags. These incidents of September 11th will force us to needed changes, changes that we will seek for the sake of the security of our lives. Yet, the changes will bring about forfeiture in other areas, areas that we have come to take for granted in liberty and independence.
But God is in control! The end-time is here! Antichrist is definitely coming; the world will become one under his authority. Somehow, it all must come about. Nevertheless, God is still in control!
Good Things Seen and Heard These Days
Before leaving this burden, it must be acknowledged that some precious things have been seen through these atrocities. It has been good to see a patriotic spirit returning to America, an honorable united effort and appropriate compassion for humanity. So many stories reveal how individuals by the providence of God were able to escape from what seemed to be impossible situations. Men openly acknowledged that they prayed to God as they ran down some one hundred flights of stairs; they were not ashamed to give God the glory on national television. The president quoted from the Bible, and an agnostic commentator acknowledged the appropriateness of the quotation. What a wonder in days when prayer is denied in public buildings and public schools that no one will deny the appropriateness of it now in such circumstances! What a wonder to hear a news commentator on the ground viewing the first tower of the World Trade Center on fire and then witnessing the second tower hit as he cried out over and over, "Oh my God, oh my God!" It reminds us of the days of Jonah, that during the fierceness of the storm "the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god" (Jonah 1:5). These are times when men realize a higher power is needed. There is nothing else to call upon in such destitute moments. God is the only one.
It is our hope that our beloved nation would be greatly humbled by this devastating incident, that we would cry out to God for mercy and grace. It would be refreshing to hear when we get to heaven that several individuals on the plane, before it hit its target, cried out to Jesus Christ for salvation. It would be refreshing to hear that someone, finally rescued after many hours, stepped forward before the camera and acknowledged God and his faith in Jesus Christ. But I fear we will use His Name in the moments of trauma, and then turn to the arm of flesh in medicine, in military, in intelligence, and in human ingenuity to bring about our triumphant moment. God truly has been very merciful to our beloved country; He has not rewarded us according to our iniquities. Oh that we as a nation would acknowledge His mercy in our recoveries of life!
America's True Heart
In his classic literary history of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon gave five major reasons for the empire's fall. They may be summarized as follows:
1. The spiraling rise of taxes and extravagant living;
2. The great craze for pleasure and brutalisation in sports;
3. The increase in divorce and undermining of the sanctity of the home;
4. The outward form of religion without heart;
5. The moral decay of its people within the gates, an enemy greater than those without the gates.
America, amidst this humbling moment in history, is marked by these same five weaknesses of the Roman empire. We rightly weep over our nation and its death toll of innocent ones. But oh, God, where are we as a nation with regard to righteousness and morality? The powers of sexuality, fornication, and pornographic addiction are becoming unprecedented in our country. Some 25 million Americans visit online sex sites between one and ten hours a week. It is now estimated that 60 percent of all web-site visits are sexual in nature.
The reality of history predicts that this lull of proper compassion, sympathy, and words about God in comfort will be only temporary. Once the crisis passes, the nation will be back to its sinning, secularism, and God-hating aggression. Who will be the terrorists of the future? Will the government, the medical world, and the scientific and educational worlds be persuaded that God's true people are instilling mental fear among the people about God, about a coming judgment, and about hell? Universalism is the rising world religion; any belief contrary to this will be confronted, condemned, and extracted from public acceptance. Many would find it hard to accept the fact that not everyone who died in these recent atrocities went to heaven.
This may lead to another "forcing" in that we are witnessing the coming together of all the religions and declaring them to be as one. An example of this was the religious services held at Washington National Cathedral and Yankee Stadium in memory of the victims of this atrocity. The subtle misinformation being given to us about the Islamic religion is "forcing" us as a country to believe that all of the gods of all the religions are one and the same. More and more, the true child of God will be terrorized by government and ecumenical movements to accept the American "pantheon" of gods. The grief and passions that the people are experiencing now will open their hearts to any religious sympathy. America's view of religions may totally change because of this great tragedy.
Spiritual Terrorists — Rome
In addition to the physical terrorism we are seeing, another terrorism is more far-reaching. It is the terrorism upon God's people to intimidate them to leave their God and His truth. The Inquisitions of the Roman Catholic Church were to terrorize the saints. They were calculated to instill fear within the saints to leave their Lord and to return to or to join the religious apostasy of Rome. The burning of homes, the flagellation of the body, the stretching on the rack and the burnings at the stake all were part of the terrorist attacks by Rome. During those years in the throes of the counter-Reformation, the Romanists terrorized Europe. People became afraid of praying directly to God; they were afraid of throwing away the rosary and the crucifix, and of giving up praying to Mary. Read John Foxe's book of martyrs—there you will see the powers of spiritual terrorists. The Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 10:26-28 gave the following warning to His disciples:
Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
In the Olivet Discourse, the Lord also spoke the following:
Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by . . . . Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls (Luke 21: 8-19).
Dear reader, these days are coming upon us. Islam has always used terror to convert its followers, and so has Rome. But the world will join in the terrorizing of God's people in the future.
Spiritual Terrorism — Ever Growing
But there is also another action of terrorism that is ever increasing in these last days before the Rapture. It is to terrorize us from going on with God! It is to terrorize us from following holiness, from giving all to God, from coming to a sanctified heart, and from coming to a consecrated life. It is to cause us to fear that God cannot give us these spiritual blessings and experiences, or that we cannot yield to what it will take for such spiritual realities to come in our lives. Some theological systems of church history have been filled with error concerning a personal, spiritual relationship with God. Other theological systems have intimidated the Atonement of Christ and denounced its power to save us not only from sin but also from its power. These words have terrorized dear, precious people by saying that there is no hope to have such a life, or that the swelling Jordan is too great to cross, or that the land of Canaan is too great to conquer, or that one will become a fanatic or a charismatic if he pursues a greater love and life with God. Carnality terrorizes us by instilling fear that the Cross-life will destroy our liberties and freedoms as human beings and that such a life will destroy any hope for happiness. Such systems have collaborated with the devil in aggrandizing our failures, exploiting our weaknesses, and convincing us that a godly life cannot be lived. Such spiritual terrorism asks, "Why even hope for such a life? Why even contemplate that God can break the power and dominion of the flesh in your life?" When the devil roars, he roars loudly, he shows his teeth, and he intimidates the child of God to run in fear and hopelessness.
But God is greater; God is faithful. God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we could ask or think. He is able to do what He has promised to do. The Cross-life is possible in Christ. Look to Him, not to the giants of doubt and fear. Look to the Christ Who died so that we might be sanctified from the power and the reputation of sin. The devil has a way of cheating us out of the things of God, terrorizing us to believe that a godly life and revival are impossible for us. It is time that we looked away from our adversary and turned to the One Who can give us a perfect love that will destroy all fear and timidity.
Do not be afraid of going on with God! Do not be afraid of praying, "More love to Thee, O Christ!" Do not allow the heresies of our day keep you from praying for the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit! We dare not leave God! Others, greater than ourselves, may compromise, and even try to intimidate us for not doing the same. But it is the "terror of the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:11) that compels us to maintain the principles of God's Word and to not follow the ecclesiastical correctness. We dare not compromise our music and message because we are afraid we will lose members of our congregations or students from our schools. We dare not change the standards! We dare not defect to a more accommodating theological system!
May God help us in these days when the hearts of men are failing them because of fear. No matter the earthly cost, may we not be afraid to go on with God, to be spiritual, and to withstand terrorism against the soul!