The powerful emotions generated by September 11, 2001, are still affecting millions of Americans. One common question still asked is: "Where was God on September 11?"
The powerful emotions generated by September 11, 2001, are still affecting millions of Americans. One common question still asked is: "Where was God on September 11?" A few weeks ago, my wife and I watched a Public Broadcasting System special—"Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero"—that asked this very question.
It featured the "biblically illiterate" American public "judging" God by every confused form of reasoning imaginable. Many asked: "Why didn't God intervene and stop it?" Others, who had lost loved ones, wondered: "Why did God 'pick' my loved one, and not others, to die?" One man said that "God is a barbarian" for allowing the attack to happen!
Where did these people get their false conceptions of God and of His supreme purpose? Most were obviously "religious"—they were simply reflecting the confused notions of God's Plan that they had learned from their religious teachers. Yet not one seemed to have any genuine understanding of how God is dealing with this world, and how He will continue to deal with the six billion human beings inhabiting this planet!
I say "continue" because there may be more terrorist attacks, plus raging wars, drought, floods, wildfires, famine, disease epidemics and powerful earthquakes (cf. Matthew 24:3–8; Luke 21:7–11)! Who are people going to "blame" for all of this?
Certainly not themselves!
The true God of the Bible allows everyone the right of "free moral agency." He does not force everyone and every nation to do the right thing. For millions continue in adultery, fornication, sexual perversion, theft, cheating, lying and taking God's name in vain. Yet these millions become "offended" if anyone questions the depth or validity of their religious commitment. They will vigorously defend the "church of their choice"—no matter how unbiblical its doctrines may be. They will continue to voice their opinion—and in practice refuse to genuinely study the inspired Word of God and accept its teachings as the absolute authority in their lives. Some—like the man cited above—may even consider God a "barbarian" because He allows human beings to go their own way during this 6,000-year period. For, as we have told our readers again and again, the Eternal God has set aside 6,000 years for man to experience his own ideas of religion, education and entertainment under the influence of Satan the Devil.
Satan is the "god" of this present society. He is the one who heavily influences the perverted themes and stories portrayed on television, and in film, music and literature. The Apostle Paul was inspired to write that Satan is the "prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2). Satan guides the attitudes and beliefs of people in this world's atmosphere. He is "prince" of the atmosphere of our society.
Paul reveals that Satan has "blinded" this world from knowledge of the true God and His ways: "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (2 Corinthians 4:3–4). The Apostle John was inspired to describe Satan as "that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9).
Human beings—as free moral agents—are able to experiment with their own ideas of what is right and what is wrong. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, went directly contrary to God's instructions and obeyed Satan instead (Genesis 3:1–19). Mankind has been going in that direction ever since! God describes the "great" thinkers of the past in this way: "Professing to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22). Then God inspired Paul to elaborate: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness" (vv. 28–29).
Do you see a "debased mind" at work in this world's society? Do you see why man's wisdom is called "foolish" in the eyes of God? (1 Corinthians 1:20).
God has called out a very few individuals to know Him and to serve Him during this age. Jesus called His people the "little flock" (Luke 12:32), and emphatically stated: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). To make this point very clear, Jesus repeated this same fundamental truth in verse 65: "And He said, 'Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.'"
Apart from those few "called out" ones, God has let humanity go its own way since Adam and Eve. He intervenes in the major affairs of the world, when necessary, to bring about His overall purpose. He also intervenes to help and guide those whom He has called out of this world now. But, overall, God allows humans to make their own decisions in this worldly society that is cut off from Him. That is why God's Word tells us: "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all" (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
No, the true God does not single out or "pick" anyone's son or daughter to die in a general tragedy such as the Holocaust, the Bataan Death March or the September 11 attacks! Jesus Christ revealed the "mind of God" in such tragedy: "There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish'" (Luke 13:1–5).
Since the beginning of human life on this earth, God has allowed humans to have free moral agency and to choose the path they will follow. As a whole, humanity has always chosen to disobey God and His commandments. Therefore, God's Word tells us: "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1–2).
Misguided individuals and deceived ministers can argue with God. They can invent their own "brand" of religion. But, in the end, they will suffer until they are made truly humble and willing to seek God and begin to honestly and sincerely do what He says. Otherwise, God tells us: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12). From one end of the Bible to the other, "sin" is described as breaking the great spiritual law of God, the Ten Commandments. God's word specifically tells us: "Sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4, KJV).
As long as humanity persists in breaking God's spiritual law, we will see the confusion, "mindless suffering" and continual tragedies and death continue. Individually, though, you can avoid this suffering if you will turn to the God of the Bible with all your heart and do what God clearly tells us in His Word. As Jesus told the young man who asked for the way to eternal life: "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17).
As Paul wrote: "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters" (1 Corinthians 7:19). And John described the true saints of Almighty God: "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12). But even to be able to keep the Ten Commandments, you must truly surrender your life to God, and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and your Lord and Master. Then—through the Holy Spirit—Christ will live His obedient life in you. As Paul wrote: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20, KJV).
God will not "force" you to keep His commandments any more than He "made" the events of September 11, 2001 turn out as they did. Each must choose which path of life to follow. As God told His people Israel: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).