Light and Shadow

Published October 9, 2001, Top Story

Washington, D.C.—“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”

The world doesn’t understand the Psalms. But even in the shadow of death, God has been revealing his strength for all to see.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

For decades, “rights” groups have fought to outlaw God’s word and prayer in America’s public life, schools, and courtrooms. Judges have blessed their efforts.

Television has scorned Christians and prayer.

The World Trade Center attack plunged thousands of families into morning. The Pentagon attack in the nation’s capital proclaimed America’s frailty.

Now in its weakness, God has bowed America’s head. And those enemies of prayer have been unusually silent.

President Bush and many high officials bowed in worship at the National Cathedral. The Bible was read to the nation.

No one chanted “separation of church and state.”

Senators and Congressmen gathered before the Capitol and sang “God bless America.” Later, they held a prayer meeting.

Churches overflowed. Crowds in town squares across America sought the “ever-present help in trouble.” And in Jesus’ name—they prayed.

Newsthink

Editorial on the news by Norm Bomer

The well-known old hymn “Abide with Me” says, “Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day.” Our time on earth is very little.

“Earth’s glories pass away,” says the hymn.

We have been severely forced to think about that. How many of us are thinking about this: “I triumph still, if thou abide with me?”

Revenge

President Bush promised triumph over America’s enemies. Bringing justice to mass murderers is good and right.

But the “triumph” in the hymn is far bigger than military triumph. Many of the terrorists’ victims see that clearly now. They see the Lord face to face.

Christ has triumphed over sin and death for all believers. And God will at last triumph over his enemies. He will crush them and punish them forever.

“‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

God’s revenge is good and right. What about human revenge?

Knowing God

“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,” writes the Apostle Paul (12:19). It is a sin for individual people to take revenge.

Jesus told people—not nations—to turn the other cheek. God does give his vengeance authority to governments. That’s why he tells us, “If you do wrong, be afraid,” for the government “does not bear the sword for nothing” (13:4).

Some people do not “leave room for God’s wrath.” They like to say the Lord changed from a God of wrath in the Old Testament to a God of love in the New Testament.

Wrong. “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). God has always been a God of love. He is still a God of wrath.

Enemies of Christ

The World Trade Center was a symbol of U.S. business success. The Pentagon is a symbol of U.S. military power. Those tragic attacks remind us Americans not to place our hope in our vast wealth and power.

They remind us that there is no lasting triumph apart from Christ. They remind us of the utter evil of God’s enemies.

The United States is full of sin. It’s hard to call it Christian anymore. But in the eyes of Islam, it is the world’s Christian stronghold.

That’s mainly why Muslim terrorists hate America. Most Muslims are not terrorists. But their false religion allows the terrorists to believe Allah will reward them from murdering “infidels” (enemies of Islam).

Defense

During the 1990s, America’s highest leaders did much to tear down U.S. military strength. Military officers warned against it. But they obeyed orders.

President Bush has called for making national defense stronger again. Many liberal opponents disagree with him. Some—especially in the media—even mock him.

Two days before the terrorist attacks, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd ridiculed Mr. Bush for wanting to create a missile defense shield. He fears “The Threat That Doesn’t Exist,” she wrote.

The money, she said, should instead be spent on education.

Triumph

The threat” does exist. We’ve seen it.

How foolish to pretend that the world is full of good people that simply need more education.

The New Testament in Romans 13 declares government “God’s servant, an agent of wrath”—not an agent of education. That servant may take revenge. In this world of false gods and sinful people, sometimes it must.

Yes, a strong national defense is necessary. But even triumph over terrorism is not enough to save America.

Evil is the enemy. The only defense—the only triumph—is in the true and living God of the Bible.

“In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

The Wide-Angle Lens

God never lets evil stamp out all goodness in the world. Wanda Johnson has given us one small example of that.

Mrs. Johnson is a single mother of five, who struggles to pay the bills. She works at Memorial Hospital in Savannah, Georgia.

She was recently driving to a pawn shop to sell her TV set for cash to pay her electric bill. An armored truck ahead of her turned a corner and out fell a large plastic bag.

Mrs. Johnson stopped her car and retrieved the bag. In it was $120,000.00 cash. That would have paid her bills for a long time. But it didn’t.

Mrs. Johnson turned the money in—every cent of it.