11 September 2016

Remembering 9/11: Fifteen Years Later, God Is Still Sovereign

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)
It is appointed unto men once to die. That is it. Just once. One mortal life. One physical death.

Appointed. The moment of each man's death has already been determined by the sovereign God of the universe. No amount of healthy eating, exercise, or avoiding of airplanes can change the day or time of this appointment.

Today as we recognize the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, we must remember that we do not know the date or the hour or the minute or the second of our final appointment.

photo credit: paulwoolrich via photopin cc 
Fifteen years ago today, millions around the world stood in bewildered astonishment, mouths agape, tears silently rolling, as inconceivable terror and tragedy took aim at a seemingly impenetrable America. Shock could not begin to describe the first reaction of most. Shock, followed by grief, followed by fear.

Yet there is One who was not shocked that day. One who knew exactly when and where each plane would strike. One who knew each soul whose life would end. One who knew the unspoken words of the hearts of those souls. One who knew the eternal destination of each and every soul that perished. One who had long ago ordained the end from the beginning.
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’ (Isaiah 46:9b-10)
This God not only declares the end from the beginning, He is the final, true just Judge of all men.
Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.  But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:6-8)
This great Lord is sovereign over all of His creation. He does all things according to His own will.
But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. (Psalm 115:3)
Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. (Psalm 135:6)
Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth? (Lamentations 3:37–38)
All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, 'What have You done?' (Daniel 4:35)
The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes. (Proverbs 21:1)
The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. (Psalm 33:10)
Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:29–30)
Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 4:13–14)
When the tragedy that quickly came to be known simply as "9/11" struck fifteen years ago, the Lord God was not surprised. His plans were not thwarted, but rather, all things were working exactly according to His sovereign will. And while Americans still rightly and reverently remember that sobering day, it must be reflected upon in light of our God's perfect providence. This same providence must be what we cling to still today, as wars and unrest continue to swirl.

Yet it should not take such a tragedy for man to realize that he is a sinful being, lost and at enmity with this great God of the universe. As we remember the events of 9/11, we must also remember this gracious God who ordains all things and judges all men has not left man without a way to be reconciled to Him.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit...” 
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:1-8;16-21)
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)
We do well to remember that man is not promised another day. He is not even promised another hour! Let this solemn anniversary serve as a reminder that Christians must seek to proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ wherever men can hear. We may not have another day to speak it, and our audience may not be granted another day to respond to it. May our God and Father, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit, equip, empower and embolden us to prepare others for that day when they will stand before Him face to face.

*Adapted from Sovereignty in Tragedy: Remembering 9/11, originally posted on 11 September 2014.

Further Reading
We Remember
The Grand Instrument By Which Souls Are Converted
Salvation Is a Work of God
Witnessing to a Blank Stare

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