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Towers of Judgement

“Those … who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them--do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." (Luke 13:4-5)

The September 11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center were horrible.  Thousands of innocent people lost their lives.  But God allowed it. Why?

Let us consider these events from a Biblical  viewpoint.  Is it not remarkable that towers in the Bible are so often associated with destruction and divine judgement?   There is of course the Tower of Babel,  where for  man's pride God scattered the nations (Genesis  11:1-9). In the book of Judges we find the towers of Penuel and  Shechem, where  two entire cities were massacred , and the tower of Thebez, where a similar slaughter was narrowly averted (Judges 8,9).  In the New Testament there is the Tower of Siloam, whose destruction Jesus cites to warn of God’s impending judgement (Luke 13:4).

I believe there is a connection between these Biblical catastrophes and that of  September 11.   The Biblical towers were symbols of man’s self-glorification and self-centeredness.  The World Trade Center was no different, being an idol to our twin gods of wealth and luxury.    The people of Babel assembled themselves and built their tower in defiance of God’s explicit instructions.  We have similarly disdained God’s explicit command through Jesus Christ, to “Preach the Gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Jesus’ command signifies, first, that we should devote ourselves above all to preaching the Gospel to ALL nations, through words and deeds of love,  that all humanity may be reconciled to God.  This we have done only half-heartedly, because of our preoccupation with wealth and self. What’s more, evangelical Christians commonly fail to notice  that Jesus says “preach the Gospel to all CREATION”, not just “to all nations”.    The command has a further significance, namely, to fulfill God’s charge to Adam to be stewards over the “garden” He has given us to live in.  But rather than bringing nature into alignment with God’s will, instead we bend and crush nature to our will.  We subjugate and dominate nature for our own advantage and comfort, rather than managing it for God’s glory.

Were the people who died on September 11 worse sinners than we are?  In Jesus’ own words:  “I tell you, Nay: but, unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4)  God is telling us:  Wake up and get busy with My business!  Stop your self-indulgence, your petty quarrelling, your mindless competition, or I will take away everything when I come! (Luke 12:45-46)

Did the September 11 tragedy serve to bring America back to God? Or  has it brought us back to religious pride;  to outward forms and tokens of religion , and to rules taught by men? We vainly presume that “God is on our side” -- which even the Nazis believed! We tearfully sing, "God bless America", and disdain the needy outside our borders.  I fear that God’s warning may have been lost upon us.

Prayer:  Father, you see our nation's "righteous" indignation over the terrorist attacks.  But we are not righteous.  We see the splinter in our enemy’s eye, while failing to acknowledge the log in our own.  You have allowed this horror to occur because of our own pride and stubborn selfishness.  Rather than serving you, the majority of our time and energy is spent serving ourselves in the affairs of this life (Psalm 17:14,  Luke 8:14, Luke 21:34, 2 Timothy 2:4).  Father, awaken us from our self-righteous slumber.  Wipe clean our eyes, which have become glazed over with surfeit and self-indulgence. Unstop our ears, to hear the cries of Your needy children throughout the earth, that through us the desert might be restored, and all Your people might return to Zion with joy (Isaiah 35:5-10).

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Copyright © 1998 CrossPollen
Last Revised: March 20, 1999

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