The 9/11 Attack on America
What Were the Causes?
Two questions began to pour into our office via email and telephone on the day that the horrific attack on America occurred. Why did the attack happen — what motivated it? And why would God allow such incredible carnage?
I believe there are three keys to understanding why the attack occurred:
- It relates to America’s support of Israel.
- It relates to the inherent nature of Islam.
- It relates to America’s rebellion against God.
Support of Israel
The most obvious answer to why America would be attacked by Islamic terrorists is our support of the nation of Israel, and that certainly is an important factor. Muslims hate the Jews with a passion, and their loudly proclaimed goal is to exterminate the nation of Israel, or, as they have so often put it, “to make the Mediterranean run red with the blood of the Jews.”
The Muslims feel obligated to seek this goal of annihilation because of the teachings of their holy book, the Koran. Their scriptures tell them that they have a responsibility to conquer the world for their god, Allah. And they are further taught that this responsibility is particularly urgent with regard to any territory that has been won for Allah and subsequently lost. That principle applies to Israel, which for many years was controlled by Muslims as the land of Palestine.
Since the United States has been the only nation willing to stand behind Israel, the Muslims believe that if they can make that commitment painful enough for us, we will abandon Israel. They may be right. I have already heard many people on call-in shows on the radio state that we need “to cut Israel loose” so that the terrorists will stop targeting us.
The Nature of Islam
But this idea ignores a deeper source of the hatred that the Muslims have toward the United States. The fact of the matter is that if Israel were to disappear from the world scene tomorrow, the Muslim world would still hate America with a passion.
That’s because Islam is a cultural religion whose purpose is to impose by force, if necessary, a Seventh Century Arabic culture on the entire world. The truth is that Islam is a virulent form of cultural imperialism. This is very difficult for Westerners to comprehend. For example, Christianity is “supra-cultural” in the sense that it allows people to live, dress, and eat in accordance with the culture in which they exist. Not so with Islam. Islam regulates every aspect of life to the point that culture, religion, and politics are inseparable. There is no separation of the mosque and state in Islamic nations.
There is not one Islamic nation where democracy exists. Freedom of religion is non-existent in the Islamic world. No Islamic state will allow the open proclamation of the Gospel. Jews are anathema.
Islam by its very nature is incompatible with modern life and democracy. The United States is viewed as the “Great Satan” because we lead the world in technology and we are the major advocate of democratic principles. We are considered to be the most important threat to the purity of Islam.
We are also hated because of our power. Islam has always been a religion of the sword. The very word, Islam, means “submission.” Every place where Islam prevails, the religion has been imposed by military conquest. It is still the goal of Islam to conquer the world, and the United States is viewed as the major obstacle to that goal.
Do not be deceived by all the media talk about Islamic fundamentalists being unrepresentative of true Islam. The Koran not only condones violence against unbelievers, it actually commands it: “Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war” (Sura 9:5). As for those who resist conversion to Islam, the Koran issues the following command: “Their punishment is… execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from the opposite sides, or exile from the land” (Sura 5:33).
Do not be deceived by all the assertions of liberal, apostate Christian leaders who claim that the Islamic peoples are our “brothers and sisters in the Lord” because they worship the same God that Christians do. Allah is not the God of the Bible. Allah is an unknowable, aloof, impersonal, and capricious god who saves or condemns people on the basis of their works. The Koran states that Jews are people “whom Allah has cursed” (Sura 4:52). The Trinity is specifically denied (Sura 5:73-75) and Jesus is dismissed as nothing more than “an apostle of Allah” (Sura 4:171).
In short, Islam is a demonic religion that is the very antithesis of Christianity.
The third reason the attacks occurred relates to what has been happening inside America since the 1960’s. As I have often said, and as I tried to document in my recent book, Living for Christ in the End Times, the United States is a nation in rebellion against God.
We are in the process of jettisoning our Christian heritage. Christian leaders are denying the fundamentals of the faith. Political leaders have been determined to convert us into a secular society. Americans have responded by embracing a hedonistic lifestyle. In the words of Judge Robert H. Bork, ever since the mid-20th Century, we have been “slouching towards Gomorrah.” In the process, we have become the moral polluter of planet earth through the exportation of our immoral and violent television programs and movies.
How does all this relate to why the attacks of September 11 took place? The point is that the attacks were permitted by God as a judgment on the United States for the sins of our nation, for our rebellion against God and His Word.
I therefore see the attacks as a spiritual wake-up call from the Lord. Think about it for a moment — God allowed the symbols of American pride to be destroyed, the symbols of both wealth and power: the Trade Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
We must face up to the unpleasant reality that we are a nation in rebellion against God. And we must realize that our rebellion is particularly dangerous. The reason is that we have been blessed more abundantly with freedom, prosperity, and spiritual riches than any other nation in history. Why is this so significant? Because the Word of God teaches that those to whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:47-48). That means we are going to be held to a higher level of accountability than other nations. And it means our rebellion is going to be judged more harshly.
As we began turning our back on God during the 20th Century, God started placing judgments upon us to call us to repentance. The Vietnam War was a judgment. Additional judgments included the drug epidemic, the homosexual scourge, the AIDS plague, the glut of pornography, and the rebellion of young people.
The first chapter of Romans teaches that God pours out His wrath on a rebellious nation by stepping back, lowering His hedge of protection, and allowing evil to multiply. It’s as if He were saying, “If you really want to live in a fouled nest, then I will let you.” According to Romans 1, when He first steps back, a sexual revolution occurs (Romans 1:24-25). That happened in the United States in the 1960’s. If the society persists in its rebellion, then God will take another step back and lower His hedge of protection even more. The result will be a plague of homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27). The United States has been experiencing this judgment since the 1970’s. If the society continues its rebellion, God will take a third step back and deliver the nation to a “depraved mind” (Romans 1:28-31). This is the point at which the Lord moves the nation from judgment to destruction. We are at that point.
We have dug in our heels and set our jaw against God. We have been shaking our fist at Him, saying, “Who are You to try to tell us what to do?” We have thumbed our nose at the very One who has blessed us beyond anything we have ever deserved.
So, I believe that God allowed the attacks of September 11, 2001 in order to get our attention — to call our nation to repentance before He is forced by His character to deliver us from judgment to destruction.
God and Evil
Now, I know that many Christians have great difficulty with the idea that God could allow such horror to take place. We want to just flippantly write it all off as “the work of Satan.”
The interesting thing is that the Bible has no such difficulty. In the Bible, all calamities are ascribed to God, whether they be natural disasters or acts of war. That’s because God is sovereign. He is in control. Nothing can happen without His permission. That’s why when Satan wanted to touch Job, he first had to ask God’s permission (Job 1:6-12).
Keep in mind that God has a perfect will and a permissive will. For example, the Bible states point blank that God does not wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). In other words, it is God’s perfect will that all people be saved. But in His permissive will, God allows people to use their free will to reject Him and thus be lost.
God has a perfect will for history. It will result in the triumph of Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling over all the nations of the world, with the world flooded with peace, righteousness, and justice. As God moves toward the accomplishment of that goal, He must deal with the evil of Satan and Man.
Thankfully, God has the wisdom and power to orchestrate all the evil of both Satan and Man to the triumph of Jesus.
The Bible is full of examples of this fundamental truth. One that comes to mind is found in the book of Habakkuk. Before the time of Habakkuk, the Jews had been divided into two nations. The southern nation of Judah, consisting of two tribes, was faithful to the Lord, and God blessed that nation with the presence of His Shekinah Glory in their Temple in Jerusalem. The northern nation of Israel, consisting of ten tribes, was a nation that had been in rebellion against God since its establishment. The nation wallowed in idolatry and refused to repent, so God finally sent the Assyrians to conquer it.
A hundred years later, the southern nation of Judah was following in the steps of its northern sister. The people of Judah had become engulfed in pride and had turned their backs on God. The Lord told Habakkuk to call the people of Judah to repentance or else suffer His wrath. Habakkuk did as the Lord directed, and his message was despised. He was ridiculed and rebuked. Finally, Habakkuk cried out to God, asking Him to validate the prophet’s message by sending judgments upon the nation. The Lord astounded him by revealing that He was about to send the Chaldeans to destroy his nation.
Habakkuk wanted some wrath from God to fall on his nation, but he wanted just a little. The idea that God was about to send the most evil nation in the world to destroy Judah was beyond his comprehension. He responded by asking the Lord a very profound question: “How can You who are holy, just and righteous punish those who are evil with those who are more evil?” The Lord responded by saying, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
It was a tough answer. The Lord was in effect saying, “Who are you to question Me? Your duty is to trust Me, not to question Me.”
As Habakkuk wrestled with this difficult answer, the Lord helped him by giving him a very dramatic vision of the Second Coming of the Messiah, showing Habakkuk that when that event occurs, the Messiah will pour out the wrath of God on all the nations of the world. Reassured with God’s eternal perspective, Habakkuk responded by singing a great song of tough faith in which he asserted that even if the Lord sent the army and destroyed his nation, he would “exult in the Lord [and]…rejoice in the God of my salvation [for] the Lord God is my strength” (Habakkuk 3:18-19).
Well, God did send the army. The city of Jerusalem was destroyed. The sacred Temple was burned. The nation of Judah was destroyed. The Jewish people were taken into exile. But today, 2,500 years later, the Jewish people have been regathered from the four corners of the earth and re-established in their land. The Chaldeans are in the dustbin of history. God used an evil nation, the Chaldeans, to discipline the Jews, and then He raised up the Medo-Persian Empire to demolish the Chaldeans.
History is also full of examples of God working through the evil schemes of Satan and Man to accomplish His purposes. Take World War I as an example. Satan must have thought he had accomplished one of his greatest successes when he maneuvered the armies of the world into the mass slaughter that took place at the beginning of the 20th Century on the battlefields of Europe. Yet God worked through that evil to implement His end time program for the return of His Son.
The point is that World War I resulted in the liberation of the land of Palestine from 400 years of Turkish rule. The land was handed over to the British as a League of Nations Mandate, and the British immediately announced that their intention was to turn it into a homeland for the Jewish people. This must have panicked Satan because he knows Bible prophecy, and he therefore knows that the Bible says the Messiah will return when the Jews have been regathered to their land and are once again in control of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12). So, Satan responded by orchestrating World War II and the Nazi Holocaust. His intention was to annihilate the Jews so that God could not fulfill His promise to regather them. But God preserved the Jews through the war, and in the process He motivated them to return to their homeland. They came out of the Holocaust saying, “Never again! Never again will we submit ourselves to a Hitler. We will have our own land and our own state.”
God worked through the evil of World War I to prepare the land for the people. In like manner, He worked through the evil of World War II to prepare the people for the land. Satan has to be the most frustrated character on planet earth. No matter what he throws at God, the Lord takes it and turns it around for good.
Now, let me make one thing very clear: God is not the source of evil. Evil originates from the free will of Satan and Man when they use that free will to rebel against God.
But God allows evil to succeed at times for a multiplicity of reasons, some known only to Him. The reasons that we can discern include the following: to test us, to discipline us, and to sanctify us. Sometimes God allows evil to come into our lives to test us — not to determine how strong we are (He already knows), but to show us how weak we are so that we will lean on Him. At other times, God allows us to suffer because He desires to discipline us for drifting out of His will. The Bible says God disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:5). Suffering is also essential to sanctification — to being shaped more fully into the image of Jesus. For example, how could you ever show compassion toward a sick person if you have never been ill?
Abe Lincoln understood these principles about God and evil. In the midst of the Civil War he issued a remarkable proclamation in which he called all Americans to go to their churches and synagogues and ask the Lord to forgive them and our nation of our sins. He said this was essential because the Civil War was a judgment of God upon the nation for its sins.
To demonstrate again how God can work through evil acts to accomplish good, consider the tragedy of Pearl Harbor. Before that attack, public opinion polls in the United States showed that 75 to 80 percent of Americans opposed American entry into the war in Europe. Americans were overwhelmingly isolationist. Pearl Harbor changed all that in a matter of minutes. It catapulted us into the war and sealed the fate of the Nazis. A terrible tragedy worked for good.
Our second Pearl Harbor of September 11, 2001, is a call for national repentance. It is a call for us to get on our knees and repent of our sins — to repent of our materialism, our hedonism, our idolatry, our pride, and our slaughter of more than 43 million babies since 1973.
God loves us. He has richly blessed us. He has worked through us to spread the Gospel all over the world. He does not want to deliver us from judgment to destruction. But He will do so, just as He has done with other rebellious nations, if we do not repent. In fact, He must do so because His justice, righteousness, and holiness demand it.
Coping With The Tragedy
In the midst of all the recent horror, I have been able to keep an eternal perspective and thus a sense of calm and hope because of something that Psalm 2 reveals.
The psalm says that all the nations of the world are in revolt against the Lord and His Anointed One, the Messiah. It says the nations shake their fists at God and say, “Who are You to tell us what we can and cannot do?” It says that the nations are constantly plotting evil, trying to thwart God’s will in history. Needless to say, this is not the part of the psalm that comforts me.
What gives me reassurance is the next section of the psalm. It describes God’s response to the evil of the nations and their leaders. The psalm says God responds by sitting in Heaven and laughing! That’s right, God sits in Heaven and laughs at the evil plots of Satan and Man. Is it because He does not care? Not at all! It is because He has it all under control. The psalm says that God has the nations in “derision.” That means, once again, that He has the wisdom and power to orchestrate all their evil to the triumph of His Son. The psalm also says that God laughs because He has appointed a day of judgment when He will hold all the evil leaders of the world accountable for their actions.
The greatest example of God’s ability to bring good out of evil is to be found in the Cross. When Jesus was nailed to the Cross, Satan thought he had gained his greatest success. Psalm 22 pictures Satan and his demonic hordes dancing around the Cross in glee. Since that psalm is prophetic, I’m sure that must have happened, and I’m certain that Jesus must have witnessed it with His spiritual eyes. But within days Satan was running for cover because God took the most dastardly act of history and turned it into the most glorious through the power of the Resurrection.
As we grieve over all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, as we pray for our leaders, and as we look toward a very uncertain future, let us remember the Cross and let us lift up Jesus. Our hope is not in riches or military power. Our hope, our only hope, is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus.