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Trying to Gain God's Perspective
on 9/11 (September 11th 2001)

See also 9/11 - Response and Aftermath in the light of ISIL.
See also '9/11 - Ten Years On'.

I believe God, who is active in preventing evil all the time, deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen. Why did God allow 9/11? This page tries to get to grips with that question? Some say "If God is God [i.e. all-powerful] he is not good; if God is good [i.e. all-loving] he is not God." Those people have an easy exit from this conundrum. But many of us believe God is both God and good; we don't have such an easy exit, and must struggle with the issue. This page tries to do that. Most of the page is theology, but theology should not stop at intellectual reflection: it should lead us to a response. That's what this page tries to do.

We try to go beyond the simple answers. We try to help those of us who are not satisfied with simple answers to get to grips with what happened in the light of the God who Is and who has revealed himself even though we can never fully know him this side of eternity.

So here are the main sections:

Why not read This page in the light of the 'word' to America
that I placed on the WWW on 24th February 2001, seven months before 9/11?

Introduction

Ridding the world of terrorism will take a long, long time. Now that a year has passed since the destruction of the World Trade Center, it is time for longer-term thinking and planning. The best long-term (and cross-cultural) thinking comes from God's perspective, and the purpose of this page is to try to move us towards such a perspective. We must recognise that we do so on the basis of limited knowledge and our verdicts are always provisional, but I want to understand God's perspective on the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, as far as it is humanly possible to do so.

This is an attempt at a structured, step by step, expounding of what Scripture tells us of God's perspective - or at least that part of it that we might be tempted to overlook. It has been written on the assumption that

It is in the form of individual points rather than flowing prose, to stimulate discussion and prayer about individual points. What is suggested here might range from dead wrong to nearly right, but is probably somewhere in between. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit of God will use this to stimulate us to seek the Living God more openly and deeply. If you wish to discuss any point, please email me.

This is the full version. A one-page shorter summary version is available.

The Problem

0. Introduction
The Theology Application to USA Attack
0.1 Through all Scripture, and down through the ages, God has clearly shown his love and compassion, and his desire that people shall be free. We are so well used to these that even non-Christians take them for granted. America has been dubbed the Land of the Free and, more recently, a "beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world ... we will keep that light shining."
0.2 It is also clear that God upholds Justice and expects us to do the same. He has given many laws and principles concerning this, including one that says we must do no murder. And "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man." [Genesis 9:6]. President Bush is seeking retribution, the bringing to justice.
0.3 It is also clear that God forbids revenge (as distinct from just retribution), that the hasty retaliation is not of God, and that any retribution must be proportional. (That is why the much maligned "eye for eye" policy is actually much better than that which most of us would enact.)
0.4 These three things we know, and they are being said and discussed the whole world over.
0.5 But this is not the complete picture, nor are they the only factors that we must take into account. God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts; he sees wider and further than we do. If we act solely on the basis of these three we will not solve the problem, but only make it worse and deeper in the future. We must integrate these into the whole picture of God, if we are to avoid future disasters like the one we face.
0.6 Throughout Scripture we see another major theme that does not seem to be being talked about. It is that God is not just some distant deity waiting to be worshipped, but is alive and active in this world - this very world of politics, economics, science and military strategy. Scripture also sets us the puzzle: it seems as though God himself brings disaster.
0.7. If this is so, then it's important. To ignore it - to try to solve the problem of terrorism by our own devices and refusing to countenance the possibility that God might bring disaster - would be rather foolish.
0.8. What I seek to do here is not fix blame but try to open up this possibly-important issue for discussion and prayer, so that others might take it forward. In particular I have considered the following:

  1. God is Living and Active.
  2. God and Disaster.
  3. Why Might God Sanction Disaster?
  4. Three Levels of Responsibility.
  5. Level 1: What God Expects of Any People.
  6. Level 2: The Responsibility of Those with Power.
  7. Level 3: The Responsibility of Those Who Represent God.
  8. Could God use Terrorism?
  9. Our Response.
  10. Conclusion.
0.9 The result, summarized at the end, is that three layers of repentance are necessary, of increasing seriousness. I link them to three statements by the prophet Ezekiel: 16:49, 34, 36:20, though they are supported by many others.
1. God is Living and Active
1.1 God is alive and active in the affairs of this world. His role extends far beyond being a deity to whom national worship or thanks are due. He acts. He is the Living God. He is "active in the affairs of Men" - even of those who do not acknowledge him. See Daniel 4:25-27.
1.2 The Living God raises up people from time to time to be leaders or rulers, giving them power to take that responsibility and honour when they do so. God has raised up America to be a leader of nations - "The greatest nation on earth" (G.W. Bush, 2001).
1.3 The Living God has given his Law, and has himself provided the Means of Salvation. But he also gives signs. He speaks into Human Life.
1.4 God has provided us with a written communication. But God also speaks into individual situations. Into the lives of individuals, he often uses a 'still small voice', though sometimes more dramatically. But when God speaks to whole peoples, he must do something more public.
1.5 When God acts publicly, he often acts on what the people are most proud of, what they put their trust in, and what they think most important. One American Christian who emailed me soon after September 11th, suggested what happened was 'iconistic'. What was hit would seem to be in this category. The World Trade Center was the symbol of our pride and trust in, and strong support for, global trading. The Pentagon was the symbol of the military might of the world's strongest nation, and the of the military machine that the USA turns to as the answer to solve its problems - as we have seen since.
2. God and Disaster
2.1. But surely God would never act in such a terrible way as happened on September 11th? Surely God is a Loving God. Surely that terrorist attack cannot be of God?
2.2 Yes, God weeps when disaster and slaughter come. And yet ...

"When disaster comes to a city, Has not the Lord caused it?" (Amos 3:6b)

Sometimes God 'causes' disaster, or at least sanctions or deliberately allows it. See the book of Job. Read the book of Joel, which describes something much worse than the attack on the Trade Center. Not all disasters are sanctioned by God, but some are.

Maybe the attack on the Trade Center and the Pentagon were in this category, of disasters sanctioned by God? To see whether this is so, we need to discern why and in what way God might sanction disaster.
2.3 How does God sanctioning disaster square with his love? Maybe, in spite of the terror and disaster, we can detect the love of God. If we cannot see how this can be, maybe we need to rethink our assumptions. The liberal Western view of love is individualistic, one-to-one. But God loves all people, and in fact his whole creation. All creation is interconnected, so that his love can flow from one thing to another, so that all in his Creation may have joy and 'shalom' that is appropriate to them. Because all things are interconnected, everything we do has repercussions for other people and God's whole creation, directly or indirectly. As one member commented in the special debate in the British parliament on 14 September 2001 on the USA disaster, we must not show 'rich man's justice': where a thousand rich people are treated as of more inherent value than a thousand poor.
2.4. So we are responsible not only for what we do, but also the repercussions of what we do. When, by our lifestyle, we harm other people or destroy God's creation, he is not pleased. Even when that harm comes, not directly nor deliberately from what we do, but indirectly. Even indirect harm displeases God - because his everlasting love extends to all he made. In recent decades, American policy has brought harm onto the world - even while bringing some real good too. For example, the structure of trade in the world is biased against the poorest countries. (And now the USA has imposed tariffs on steel imports, in spite of its bullying weaker nations to accept 'free trade'.) Britain and Europe are not much better, though America is the leader in this. Though, in terms of deliberate policy and direct impact, America might have meant well, perhaps the indirect effects of its policy are displeasing to God.
3. Why Might God Sanction Disaster?
3.1. When God is displeased, he wants us to change. Rather than forcing change, he acts to get us to change so that we ourselves take responsibility for stopping the harm. But there are three stages of severity to his action.
3.2 First, in his mercy, God sends messages to us to repent and change our ways. As has been said "God desires not the death of the sinner but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live." During this time, he is patient, and he actively restrains evil by foiling the plans of evil people. Because God loves all his creation and all humankind. God's word has been very accessible to us in the West, of which the USA is leader, for more than a century. Increasingly prophetic voices have been heard, warning the USA to change its ways. Some time ago, Billy Graham said "If America does not repent, God will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!" More recently, people like Tony Campolo have been speaking out. But such voices have not been heeded.
3.3. Second, if we do not listen, God's messages become louder. If we are stubborn and arrogant he has to shout loudly - God's 'shouts' often take the form of disasters. Think of the disasters during the times of the Judges and the Prophets. Because God loves all his creation and all humankind. It may be that September 11th was just such a loud shout.
3.4. In the end, God becomes angry, even with his people. Then he goes beyond disaster, to a clean-up operation to prevent further harm to the others. He sent his own people away to exile so that "the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it" [Lev. 26:34,35,43] Because God loves all his creation and all humankind. I do not believe we in the West have come that far - yet. But are we perilously close if we refuse to listen? If God could do that to his chosen people, he could easily do the same to us if we displease him in the same way.

Our Responsibility Toward God

4. Three Levels of Responsibility
4.1. But why should God be displeased with us? There may be three levels of responsibility that we have towards God:
  1. the responsibility of any people
  2. the responsibility of leaders
  3. the responsibility of those who represent God.
and what is expected of a people depends on what level of responsibility they hold before God. And so does God's judgement of that people.
4.2. We will look in some detail at each level, devoting a section to each because it might be an idea that is not well known. We will see that the prophet, Ezekiel, had something to say for each level. We will also look at the current situation in the light of what we find. Perhaps the responsibility that the USA, and its Western followers, has towards God is at each level.
5 What God Expects of Any People
5.1. The first level of responsibility is true of all people. If we search the Scriptures we can see a pattern that tells us what God expects of any people on earth.
5.2 Again and again, God condemns that bundle of interconnected evils: idolatry, oppression of the powerless, injustice, betrayal of trust, adultery, and so on.
5.3. But these are not separate wrongs; they all come from the heart, as Jesus said. That is why God told Samuel he looks on the heart. In the heart we find two things:
  • our attitude - humble, or proud
  • on what we depend - on God, or on self (or an idol).
5.4. Attitude. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God explained why he brought disaster on the city of Sodom:

"Now this was the sin of your sister, Sodom. She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and the needy; they were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen." (Ezekiel 16:49)

It was their attitude that led them to do the 'detestable things' for which Sodom is known, and it was for their attitude that they were destroyed.

"Arrogant, overfed and unconcerned" certainly seems to fit America. While the American TV evangelists Falwell and Robertson suggested, immediately after September 11th, that God may be judging abortion, homosexuality etc., it seems God gives a very different message in this verse. What God is concerned about most is something much deeper, a deep attitude, of which these lifestyle activities are just outcomes and symptoms.
5.5. On what we depend. God is the only one on whom we ultimately depend. When we depend on an idol, or on our own strength, this is a false . Depending on ourselves or on any idol also blinds us by removing any incentive to turn away from our arrogance and unconcern. Though humankind does have a measure of strength, from time to time God has to remind us that we depend ultimately on him and must take him seriously in our affairs. It may be no coincidence that it was the World Trade Center that was destroyed and the Pentagon that was hit. The former was the foremost symbol of the idol of finance. The latter is the symbol of self-dependent military might. And both are symbols of arrogance, unconcern and affluence.
5.6. Why is God so concerned about an arrogant and unconcerned affluence and self-dependence such as we display in the West? Because of what emerges from them. From our attitudes and dependence come our beliefs and actions. The arrogance and unconcern of the overfed brings harm, suffering and injustice it brings to all the others whom he loves, both human and non-human. Even when we 'mean well' or 'mean no harm', if we are "arrogant, overfed and unconcerned" we invariably focus on ourselves, and give our own desires, wishes and preferences priority over the very needs of others. We can see this, for example, in information technology. The worldwide spend is currently $1,500 billion. Does the world really receive $1,500 billion's worth of benefit from this? Consider how that amount of money might be better spent. People in the USA and UK very easily spend $2000 on a home PC for their own "desires, wishes and preferences", yet refuse to give $2000 to meet the "very needs" of the poor of the world. And if we, readers, at this very point, find ourselves justifying ourselves, let us examine our justifications. Will they stand before God?
5.7. Deep attitudes of this sort (especially "unconcern") also blind us to the extent of the needs of others, so we justify our self-focus. It becomes a self-reinforcing loop. So only a deep change of heart, a repentance, can break it. That is why God sometimes has to let disaster happen.
5.8. When we give our own desires priority over the needs of others, then they can rightly become angry. If we persist in doing so, blind and even stubbornly against the plight of others, then they might have to resort to what we, basking in our pleasures and conveniences, might call terrorism.
6. Level 2: The Responsibility of Those with Power
6.1. It is God's purpose that leadership should be a blessing to all. For this reason God sometimes raises up leaders in the world, and equips them with power and resources to lead. I believe it was God who made America the leader of the world. To America, God has given blessings - peace, power, prosperity and prestige. He has also give America the resources to fulfil the role of world leader - physical, economic, educational, lingual, military, technological, artistic, etc.
6.2. What leaders do has wider and longer term consequences than what the led do. Where leaders go, others follow, so the decisions leaders make is amplified thousandfold. Whether for good or for evil.
6.3. God wants leaders to be, not self-seeking monarchs or princes, but self-giving 'shepherds' and guardians of his world. Those with power should use their power, not for their own benefit, but to benefit the other. For many years in the twentieth century - especially during and after the second world war - America used their military and economic power for the good of others. God blessed them.
 6.4. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God made clear his anger with the self-seeking leaders.

"Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves. Should not the shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool, and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. ... This what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock." (Ezekiel 34)

But today America's leadership has long been seriously contaminated with its own self-interest. When the strongest economy in the world refuses to take action to reduce its enormous global warming emissions (that will lead to disaster for the poorer nations) on the grounds that it might be unfavourable to its own strong economy, is this not 'eating the curds', 'clothing itself'? When the powerful nation that has forced free trade regimes on the poor nations to their detriment and destruction puts tariffs on steel imports to protect its own inefficient steel industry, is this not 'slaughtering choice ones', and 'ruling harshly'?
6.5 Leaders are sowers; what they sow we all reap. But there is a multiplication effect because one leader affects many led. We can see this multiplication in the Proverb:

"If you sow the wind
you will reap the whirlwind.

The repercussion of sin committed by leaders might be larger than the sin itself. So what appears to us - the leaders, the powerful, the wealthy - as a little excusable 'wind' brings about 'whirlwind' - and we are not shielded from it.

Or, in this case ...

"If you sow acts of injustice,
you will reap frustration and anger.
If you sow attitudes of self-seeking and stubbornness,
you will reap terrorism."

The powerless suffer when leaders lead harshly with self-interest. In suffering, they become angry. If leaders refuse to listen to their cry, and do not repent but protect only their own interests, this anger eventually grows into terrorism. See Steps in Unrepentance - why things are going wrong.

6.6. For these reasons, leaders will be judged more strictly than the led. The New Testament writer, James, saw this clearly. It is possible the judgement that comes to unjust and stubborn leaders could be the very terrorism that their stubbornness has generated. Terrorism that is the product of oppression by the powerful, might not be condemned by God as much as the oppression itself is condemned. See later.
7. Level 3: The Responsibility of Those Who Represent God
7.1. The third level of responsibility lies on those who represent God. Since God transcends his creation, he employs representatives within his creation to show what he is like, draw the rest to him, and often to be the channel by which God acts in the world.
7.2. Throughout history there have been different types of represntative. In Scripture, we have:

  • Human beings, representing God to all the rest of Creation.
  • People of Israel, representing God to the other peoples.
  • Jesus Christ, God representing himself as a human being to all humanity and creation and achieving the means to the following.
  • Believers in whom God's Holy Spirit lives, representing God in amongst all humanity.
7.3. Since Scripture times it seems that there has always been a nation, or group of nations, in whom the Gospel has thrived and which have represented God visibly to other peoples. Their people have believed, God has raised them up, given them resources (prosperity and standing) to fulfil their responsibility. (This is not the doctrine of 'Christian' nationhood, but one can see how that doctrine could have arisen.) There is a way in which we might see America as a de-facto representative of God in the world. It is a culture which has upheld the gospel of God, and brought many into relationship with God. It is a nation formally founded on God. It has a very high proportion of believers in whom God's Holy Spirit lives. Many from out of these have gone throughout the world as missionaries, giving God's message. And God has blessed America in order that it might undertake these representative tasks and fulfil these representative roles. Though Americans are not 'God's chosen people' in the Old Testament sense, and many Christians would argue that the USA is no longer a Christian nation, the USA is still perceived by many across the world to be in some senses been the leading Christianized nation. So it is natural for other peoples to judge the 'Christian God' by what they see in the USA.
7.4. We can also see that, since Scripture times, when a nation that God has raised up ceases to represent him in the world, or starts to mis-represent him (while blithely believing they still represent him), then God removes that nation from its prominent position. A hundred years ago it was the U.K. that had this role. It failed, God removed it, and it lost millions of its best men in two world wars that might have been avoided if it had more truly represented God. What will happen to the USA if it is found to be mis-representing God?
7.5. Being God's representative brings special joy, fulfilment, reward and protection, and God's special care and love. But being God's representative is also an onerous responsibility, greater even than that of being a leader. Those who represent God to others:

  • must always be like God, so that when others look to them they will experience something of God

  • must act among people, and in the whole Creation, in the way God would act.

Paul used the word 'ambassador' for this role.

If it is a de-facto representative of God, the USA has an awesome responsibility to show - through its international and national policies, economics, media and Hollywood - what God is like. When the rest of the world looks at America, does it see the love, mercy, grace and dynamic creativity of the Living God? Does it see America treating the world as God himself would have done so?
7.6. Mis-representing God:

  • gives others the wrong notion of what God is like,
  • gives others a false experience of God,
  • gives others the wrong notion of what God requires,
  • brings God's name into disrepute,
  • and causes people to turn away from the Living God.
While America has tried to maintain some notion of Christian justice in the world, it has failed on many of these accounts. It has given a totally false view of God: as a rich man's God, as a harsh unconcerned God, an arrogant God. Many outside the West are driven to other gods because of the picture they are given of the 'Christian' God.
7.7 No wonder God said of his people that he had scattered, again through the prophet Ezekiel (36:20):

"And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them 'These are the Lord's people, and yet they had to leave his land'."

The Apostle Paul cites this in Romans 2:24, with the same theme, that God's special representative people caused God's name to be brought into disrepute.

7.8 Therefore it is not surprising that "Judgement starts with the household of God." God judges his special people by different, more exacting standards than he judges others; if you doubt this, look at the start of the book of Amos and see what he judged Judah and Israel for compared with the other nations. Amos 3:2 sums it up with:

"Of all the nations on earth, you are the only one I have known and cared for. That is what makes your sins so terrible, and that is why I must punish you for them."

God brought bigger disaster on his own people, Israel, than on other peoples of the time.

Therefore it is not unthinkable that God might allow more spectacular disaster to impact the USA than he allows on other nations. Billy Graham might have been right (see 3.2).
7.9. To me, the destruction of Jerusalem 2,500 years ago is as yesterday. Thousands of innocent people died in that siege. God himself deliberately let (or made) it happen, after centuries of warnings for his people to repent and properly represent him. Why should we think we, today, are exempt from such results of what we have done and been? Why should we be so shocked at what happened to the World Trade Center?

Application

8. Could God Use Terrorism?
8.1. But could God use terrorism? Surely terrorism - taking life in order to create terror - is a vile evil? Surely God could never use such means? Two questions; let us consider each.
8.2. Question 1: How evil is terrorism? Of course terrorism is a vile evil. But there are many other vile evils too. If it is possible that God was not uninvolved in September 11th, perhaps we should try to discover God's perspective on terrorism as revealed through Scripture. Maybe our Western views are not God's?
8.3. It seems that the 'evils of terrorism' are seldom mentioned directly in Scripture and when they are mentioned they do not often stand condemned. Samson and David were, perhaps, what their enemies might call terrorists. What God does seem to condemn more is things like pride, cruelty, injustice and idolatry. These are what we might call root evils, that lead to all others. Maybe, God thinks there is a greater evil than terrorism active in his world today. Maybe it is: World trade -> destruction of millions of livelihoods in weaker and poorer nations, to USA benefit ...
8.4. Maybe terrorism is not a root evil but rather an outcome of the root evils. We have seen above how it could arise from people going against God at each of the three levels. Maybe ... Destruction of millions of livelihoods in weaker and poorer nations, to USA benefit -> anger and frustration, combined with helplessness -> terrorism.
8.5. The second question: what means does God use? It seems that God has sometimes used evil done by people (even those opposed to him), as instrument in his own purpose. Not infrequently God would use 'heathen' or evil people to bring about disaster. In the time of the Judges (2:14-15)

"the Lord handed [his people] over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against htem to defeat them .."

In the end, the big one came. Through his prophet Jeremiah (25:9), God said,

"'.. I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,' declares the Lord, 'and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely detroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn and an everlasting ruin."

The prophet Habakkuk argued this very point with God: the people God sometimes uses are worse than his own people.

So we should not assume that, because terrorists are evil, what they have done is outside God's deliberate plan. God expects something from America that has not been forthcoming.
8.6. So it seems that God might indeed employ the evil of terrorism in his purpose, especially when that evil is the outcome of a deeper and more pernicious root evil he finds in people. We have seen also that there are three layers of root evil that could lead to other evils like terrorism. As we have seen, the USA is guilty of all three layers of root evil:
  1. arrogance and unconcern for the poor
  2. using its leadership position to its own benefit rather than for the others
  3. bringing God's holy name into disrepute, so that people turn away from him.
8.7. However, we have also seen that when God uses gross evil it is always within a wider loving purpose. It is a means to bring people to repentance and bring blessing to others. When God let Israel's enemies oppress them in the Old Testament, it was so they would return to him, fulfil their calling and be blessed. And, when God scattered or exiled those same people, he then blessed other nations through them (e.g. Daniel). So it may be that September 11th 2001 was God's means to bring the USA to repentance. At each of the three levels.
9. Our Response
9.1. The book of Joel has the three parts: disaster sent by God, repentance, then God's restoration, blessing and protection. And this same theme echoes throughout Scripture, both Old and New Testaments.
9.2. Restoration and protection comes, not through being strong and resourceful, but through sincere repentance of heart. When the Living God who directs the affairs of nations allows a disaster, he expects us to sit up, take notice of the warning, and repent. Daniel understood this principle, when he added the following practical piece of advice to the end of his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream:

"Therefore O King, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue." (Daniel 4:27)

The only true response to disaster that has been allowed by God is repentance: humility before God that casts itself upon him rather than upon our own right or resource.

God's protection of the USA in the future will come, not by showing we will not give in to terrorism, not by rooting out terrorism, but through sincere repentance of heart. Perhaps God's message to the USA is "Renounce your sins by doing what is right and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue."
9.3. Action in God's world to solve problems is necessary, but without true repentance, nothing we achieve will be sustainable. If it is not based on humility and repentance what we do to remedy the situation is ultimately worthless in God's sight and counter-productive, and we might even find God working against us. God said to his people, whom he had marked for destruction, "You say 'We will rebuild.' But I will tear down again." While it is right that America, with the rest of us, should bring the perpetrators of September 11th to justice, while it is a good aim to "rid the world of the evils of terrorism", if we do not also repent then things will only get worse.
9.4. This is because the root of our problems, including terrorism, is within ourselves, not just in the others. If we don't repent, the problem of terrorism will never be solved, because:

  1. Arrogance, unconcern and affluence (Ezekiel 16:49) breeds anger and frustration.
  2. Leaders using power for their own benefit and not for benefit of the led or the powerless (Ezekiel 34) breeds a helplessness among the powerless that, when combined with frustration, leads to a recklessness and determination to strike at those in power.
  3. When those who bear the Name of God bring God's name into disrepute (Ezekiel 36:20) removes God's active protection from them.

Only once we have repented, at all levels, will our actions bear real fruit. If those with power who represent God are "arrogant, overfed and unconcerned", only once they have repented will the world be safe from terrorism.

Here, now and today:

  1. While the USA and its Western followers continue "arrogant, overfed and unconcerned", anger will continue to grow throughout the world.
  2. While the USA uses its economic, military and political power for its own ends (e.g. trying to protect its own industries by refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and other agreements) and while its companies spread globalization for their own selfish benefit, the increasing frustration among the powerless will turn to reckless determination to strike at the USA and its followers. No wonder the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were planned.
  3. While the foremost 'Christian' nation on earth misrepresents the Living God, God removes his protection and does not foil the plots against it. No wonder the attack succeeded.

Terrorists will always find ways that our security forces and politicians have not thought of. And God himself might step in and send disasters that no terrorists bring, because we refuse to heed the warnings he is giving now.

9.5. God's ways work. Man's ways don't. Man's way is either compromise and face-saving or the powerful trying to crush what they see as evil in the other side. God's way is repentance by the powerful oppressors followed by forgiveness by those who have been oppressed. Compare Israel, Northern Ireland, India-Pakistan - man's way - with South Aftica - where those with power and in a leadership position publicly repented, unconditionally, and in response those who had been oppressed publicly forgave.
9.6. But once we repent, God blesses our actions.
But notice: it is repentance by the powerful first, unconditionally. We who repent before God must trust God to bring about what we hope for. And he will.
Therefore the USA - its people, its politicians and powerful vested interests - must repent. Unconditionally. Not "on condition that you stop your terrorism". Only then will God act to curb terrorism sustainably.
10. Conclusion
10.1. Some say this message is too 'negative'? But do God's messengers bring only 'positive' messages? Think of Jeremiah. Telling his fellows to surrender to the Babylonians who were attacking them seemed negative, even traitorous - yet he was speaking God's own word. So those in the USA or the West who warn the USA are not necessarily being traitors. Even anti-capitalism protestors might be seeing things God's way.
10.2. September 11th 2001 might have been a warning from God that the USA is guilty at three levels:

(Those who follow the USA will be guilty of at least some of these.)

10.3. Just as the guilt is at three levels, so repentance must also be at three levels:

  • Repentance for being "arrogant, overfed and unconcerned." Ezekiel 16:49.
  • Repentance that they "eat the curds, clothe ourselves with the wool, and slaughter the choice animals, but .. do not take care of the flock ..." Ezekiel 34. Leaders must repent that they put their own interests first.
  • Repentance for "profan[ing] my holy name" by misrepresenting God. Ezekiel 36:20.
10.4. If America repents, unconditionally, then "the evil of terrorism will be removed". But if it does not, then terrorism and other evils will increase. And the same for the rest of us for whom America is the role model.
10.5. Lest God go to the next stage of judgement.
11. Subsequent Comments
Personal comment: But, a year on, I'm not optimistic. I can see no sign of repentance, at any level. Look at steel tariffs, Middle East, Enron, WorldCom. Maybe 9-11 has made Americans a little more outward-looking, but that is not repentance. If there is no God, or God is on the side of the comfortable rich, then maybe things will be OK. But if God and his ways are as I have portrayed them above, even approximately, then I think the world can expect a rough ride.

Seven months before 9/11, on 24th February 2001, I put up a possible 'word' to America; at the time I was cautious whether it was from the LORD or not.

Personal comment 2: Ten years on, we can see rough ride - increased natural disasters, oil spills, and economic collapse. The USA has continued to refuse to repent. It still hardens its heart against taking meaningful action to reduce climate change emissions - because of self-protection of its economy, its power and its status. Did not Jesus tell us
"He who saves his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake and gospel will save it."
Over the past ten years we have seen China emerge to possibly replace USA.

II Chronicles 36:15-17 makes it clear:

"The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling-place. But they mocked God's messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LROD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old man or aged. God handed all of them over over to Nebuchadnezzar."
Personal comment 3: 7 May 2011. Osama Bin Ladin was killed five days ago. Eventually Babylon was judged by the LORD, not because it had taken the LORD's people into exile, not even because it had destroyed the LORD's temple, but because it had been proud and cruel. Perhaps we should not think that USA has killed Bin Ladin, but that God has judged him? As CalvaryTV put it:
"it may behoove us to remember what it says in Proverb 24:17-20 'Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him.'"
Moreover, Ezekiel 18:23 says:
"Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?"
Now see '9/11 - Ten Years On'

Andrew Basden.


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First written: 16 September 2001. Last updated: 21 September 2001, 22 September 2001, 25 September 2001, 29 September 2001, 30 September 2001, 5 October 2001, 14 October 2001, 17 October 2001. 3 November 2001 some changes to Intro, and about USA being God's rep. 11 November 2001 a few minor changes. 25 November 2001 a few changes in response to an email. 21 April 2002 major rewrite in response to comments by Rev. Dr. Jim Coleman. 30 April 2002. 9 May 2002. 12 May 2002. 19 May 2002 Level 3. 23 June 2002 terrorism and conclusion. 28 June 2002 personal comment at end; made three main sections. 8 September 2002 New Intro. 11 September 2002 Rewrote Response section. 13 September 2002 Jerusalem. 24 September 2002. 1 August 2004 .nav, link to unrepentance. 7 May 2011 two more personal comments, link to america.html, intro heading. 8 May 2011 comments box, new .nav,.end and tidying. 5 September 2011 usa.10y link. 11 December 2011 form not work from www.abxn.org; link to contact page. 10 September 2014 9-11-response.