“I know that there is only the smallest measure of inspiration that can be taken from this devastation. But there is a passage in the Bible from Isaiah that I think speaks to us all at times like this. ‘The bricks have fallen down but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled but we will replace them with cedars.’ That is what we will do. We will rebuild and we will recover…” So spoke United States Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, on September 12, 2001, in response to the shocking terrorist attacks the day before.
Daschle’s comments impressed many at the time, but he would have done well to consider his Scripture quotation in its greater context: “The Lord sent a word against Jacob, and it has fallen on Israel. All the people will know—Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—who say in pride and arrogance of heart: ‘The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars’” (Isaiah 9:8–10).
What an irony! Isaiah’s condemnation of national hubris, used with pride by an American political leader to boast of his nation’s resilience! Daschle’s comments were certainly a far cry from a proclamation set forth by more than a century earlier by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, per a March 30, 1863 Senate resolution calling on the whole nation to pray, fast and repent. Lincoln’s proclamation reads, in part:
“And, insomuch as we know that by His Divine Law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”
The original Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were built in a little more than three years, from 1968 to 1971. The “Freedom Tower” that will take their place—a single spire, 28 stories shorter than the Twin Towers—took five years to plan, and completion is not expected until 2018. So, in our pride and arrogance of heart, can the U.S. say that it has rebuilt?
More importantly, can the nation say it has recovered? Is the U.S. better off today that it was on September 10, 2001? Can it solve its problems in the next election cycle or with the next economic boom? Or are its problems spiritual in nature?
These questions are more important than almost anyone realizes! Please consider reading our online commentary “Have we learned the wrong lessons from 9/11?” and our Tomorrow’s World article, “Nine-Eleven Plus Ten.” A growing number of people since the events of that day ten years ago are getting the sense that something is wrong and that the country they love is headed in a direction that will result in disaster. The prophecies of the Bible tell us unequivocally that this, indeed, is the case, and you need to know why! Ten years after the horrific attacks of that dreadful day, America’s real date with destiny has only grown nearer.