The Expository Files

The Events of September Eleventh

There have been many confused emotions among those in our nation who have witnessed the tragic events of September 11th. There has been hope and resolve. There has been fear and courage, joy at survival and sorrow when the innocent perished. There have been wonderful examples of compassion as well as bitterness and hatred, sometimes directed at others who are completely innocent of any misdeed. There have been calls for justice, for revenge, and a few for restraint. There is both an eagerness and a dread about the future and the sacrifices it may call upon us to make.

Just a few points. While I appreciate good hearts, sincere prayers and well wishes from whoever might have them, there is only one only-begotten Son of God, and no one, however sincere, can come to the Father but by Him. Jesus said so. I believe Him. I mean it. While I am happy to offer up prayers for my nation even as others of other faiths are doing the same, it is not because I look at Jesus as Mohammed's or Moses' or anyone else's equal. He is not. He is above every other name, and the only One by whom we cam be pleasing to God. (This does not mean I do not appreciate sentiments expressed by many of other faiths, or doubt their sincerity or sorrow or courage -- it means only that I fully accept Jesus' gospel and Jesus Himself for who He claimed to be ) "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.'" (John 14:6). That's what I believe; exactly what Jesus said.

Prayer unto God is always important and appropriate, including bad times (but we must not limit our prayers to evil days). I am both heartened that many are turning to prayer and thoughts of God as well as saddened that it takes something like monumental tragedy to get people thinking about it at all. Why is it that we should be more godly minded today than last week? The mass media has almost continuously barraged us with ungodliness and blasphemy (there are plans to use the Lord's name in vain more frequently this TV season). Do we think God is inclined to answer our prayers on the day of sorrow if we despise His name at other times? (Isaiah 59:1,2)

But if you are living by faith, your prayers count! A lot! (James 5:16). Christians are told to pray for our nation and it's leaders. It is good to pray for them, for the workers, rescuers; the police and military (1 Timothy 2:1,2). We need to pray for their wisdom and success in all things that will, first of all, advance the Lord's purpose on the earth, and second, that will aid our lives and fulfill our desires.

What about calls for vengeance? Christians (and others) sometimes wonder about and misunderstand the will of Christ concerning vengeance. His will concerning His individual disciples is not the same as His will for a nation. (Individual responsibilities are not he same as governmental responsibilities). As an individual, I do not pay back my enemies evil for evil. I leave vengeance to God. (Romans 12:17-21). But, at the same time, I understand that one of my government's God-given responsibilities is to protect me, and sometimes this involves exacting vengeance in my behalf on an evildoer (Romans 13:1-4). Government fails its God-given duty when it fails in this capacity! There ought not to be ungodly hatred in any of our hearts, but the desire for justice to be meted out to criminals is in accordance with God's will. Note also the account of the sentiments expressed by sons and daughters of God who had been murdered because of their faith. They were wondering when justice in their behalf would prevail. (Revelation 6:9-11). They desired a stop be put to the outrage, and were told it would come. Pray for the success of our nation's endeavors to protect us.

I believe that God's providence will work things out to the ultimate good for His people. I freely admit that I do not comprehend His thoughts or ways, I do not know what tomorrow will be like, I do not know how the Lord is going to get me from here to eternity in heaven, but I know by His grace and power and by my faith He will. As we consider the future, I know that whatever it brings, I want to face it as a faithful, trusting child of God. My need to be faithful is no greater today than it was a month ago before the tragedy, but perhaps my heart is more awakened to that need today because of the tragedy.

By Jon W. Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 8.10; October 2001