ASK Commentary
September 19, 2002 

September 11 in America: A Perspective

Breaking News for September 19, 2002 — Keeping Your Balance

Everyone in America and many people around the world will long remember where they were on September 11, 2001 when many of us watched the two World Trade Center buildings being struck by huge fuel-laden jet airliners and later collapse killing more than 2,800 people. Another airliner crashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth airliner crashed during an attempt to recapture the plane from hijackers. All these events remind us that even in America horrific events can occur that catch innocent people, caught up in evil, who die.

I recently saw an interview on the History Channel with Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Twin Towers: The life of New York City's World Trade Center. Mr. Gillespie noted that the terrorists struck two symbols of American power. One symbol was that of capitalism, commerce, financial might and the American way of life—the World Trade Center. The other symbol was that of American military might—the Pentagon. A third target to be struck, a political symbol, appears to have been either the White House or the Capital Building in Washington D.C. That target was likely saved by the crash of Flight 93 into the Pennsylvania countryside.

In another C-SPAN interview in March, military fiction author and analyst Tom Clancy said that the events 9/11 to the United States was a punch in the nose of the world’s greatest military power. The military effect was negligible, the political effect was serious, and the financial effect was very severe (aggravated by other financial reverses). He said that 9/11 was serious to be sure, but it did not threaten American military power around the world, its political infrastructure, its ultimate financial stability or its national existence as a country. It was a "blip on the screen."

There is no indication, at least to my understanding or Dr. Martin’s understanding (that he expressed before he died, some 4 months after the event), that 9/11 had relevance to any specific prophetic event. It did not begin the "time of the end." It has no relevance as a "sign" from any supernatural source, much less a biblical indicator. It is not even a "blip on the screen" prophetically.

The victims were not particularly evil or good because they suffered and died. They were just people like you and me, living normal lives. The perpetrators were evil men did wicked things to innocent people. Such is the nature of humanity.

How should such events be remembered? Solomon can give us some counsel,

"It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

Ecclesiastes 7:2–4

Prophecy indicates that in the future some nations, regions, and even the entire world will suffer much greater tragedies and mass-deaths. Some of those events will be caused by man, others by supernatural beings, others by God punishing mankind. The disaster of 9/11 must be kept within that perspective also.

It seems obvious that God was gracious that so many people exited the World Trade Center buildings so quickly. It was also miraculous that the buildings did not fall on other buildings, but pancaked within footprints not much larger than their original perimeters. In every event there is good and bad, but things could have been much worse.

While there is no direct connection (such as a sign in the heavens, a prophecy, or a specific reference to Jewish holy days), another event did occur in the past that had far greater symbolic and real significance to you, me and all human beings than the tragedy on 9/11/01. That event was the birth of Jesus Christ on September 11, 3 B.C.E. The significance of that event on the Day of Trumpets in the Jewish calendar of that year far outweighs in importance any other September 11 event in history. That story is best told in Ernest Martin’s book The Star that Astonished the World.

While there is no suggestion we are to "celebrate" this event (as many mistakenly do on the wrong date in December), it is important to maintain a perspective that in contrast to the tragic events on 9/11/01, events in the year of Christ’s birth were announced by signs in the heavens for the salvation of the entire human race through the arrival of its Savior. And not only did the heavens announce Christ’s birth, but heavenly beings were heard by the shepherds. There was "a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’" (Luke 2:13–14).

Note the message. God was glorified. Ultimate peace and the good will (better translated "delight") for all mankind arrived. The heavenly beings were in awe of what was taking place.

In contrast, in the tragedy of 9/11 man was diminished, God was appealed to, terror and horror and death and destruction were witnessed by billions of people, and man hated man in the same way that Cain hated Abel. Sin began with their father Adam.

12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed UPON ALL MEN, for that ALL have sinned. 19 ... by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall [THE] MANY be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."

• Romans 5:12, 19–21

Sin will not prevail, but grace and life will prevail through Jesus Christ. Until that time, we should follow Paul’s admonition to pray, as he wrote to Timothy at the beginning and at the end of this passage,

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made FOR ALL MEN; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have ALL MEN to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom FOR ALL, to be testified in due time.

Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."

• 1 Timothy 2:1–8

As you remember 9/11, remind yourself of the larger picture of glory to God, that peace on earth will eventually come, that good will among men will prevail, that God is in his heaven and that prayer changes things.

David Sielaff
david@askelm.com

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