I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron.
4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael,
Which shall devour the palaces of Ben-Hadad.
5 I will also break the gate bar of Damascus,
And cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven,
And the one who holds the scepter from Beth Eden.
The people of Syria shall go captive to Kir,”
Says the LORD.
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they have threshed Gilead [in n. Israel] with implements of iron.
Amos 3:6 (NKJV)
6 If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?
Today is the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the World Trade Towers. Numerous remembrances and analyses of the tragedy are being held today and so it is fitting to reflect on this event in the light of Scripture so that we are training ourselves to think rightly about it.
As we see in our text today, the wicked action perpetrated by Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001 was planned and orchestrated by God Himself. “If there is calamity in a city,” Amos asks rhetorically, “will not the Lord have done it?” Amos expects us to answer yes. The Lord will have done it.
For many, even many Christians, such an answer is hard to swallow. How can we believe that the Lord has done this? But if we are to allow the Word of God to be our guide then we must certainly insist that He did it. God declares through Isaiah, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity, I the Lord do all these things.”
But knowing that the Lord has done it, that the Lord orchestrated the event, does not answer the question, “Why?” We know from the story of Job that not all calamity comes as a judgment, comes as a result of our sin. Sometimes God visits calamity upon us for His own mysterious reasons. However, we also know from Scripture that there are times when God does send calamity as a judgment, sends calamity because we have rebelled against Him and embraced darkness and death. God is not mocked – what a man sows that he also reaps. And when we reap judgment God sends it to call us back from our sin and urge us to worship Him anew.
So what are we to think of the World Trade Center disaster? Why did this happen? I don’t presume to know all the reasons. However, I do know that we Americans are a guilty people fully deserving of such a calamity. While we imagine ourselves upright, we are corrupt. We are fornicators. We congratulate others when they make a “score.” And when the orgasm is over and a child is conceived through our folly, we slaughter the child and have the gall to declare, “God bless America.” Not only are we fornicators, we are covenant breakers. We scorn faithfulness to the marriage bed and then express shock when our spouse commits adultery. Divorce is rampant; lawsuits have multiplied more than frogs in ancient Egypt. We swear to our own hurt and then hire an attorney to make sure that we never have to fulfill our vows. But not only are we fornicators and covenant breakers, we embrace death. Men have turned from the God-given desire for women and burned in their lust for one another, taking that which should give life and putting it in the canal of death; women have forsaken sexual satisfaction with a man and pursued fruitlessness with one another. And the hands of both men and women are dripping with the blood of our children and sometimes our infirm. Brothers and sisters, we are guilty, deserving of judgment.
Is there hope? Yes there is hope. God strikes – but when he strikes in judgment, He does so to remind us to turn from our sin and rebellion and to find shelter in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus there is forgiveness – forgiveness for fornicators, covenant breakers, homosexuals, and murderers. Through Jesus there is forgiveness – forgiveness for nations that rebel against His law. And so we are reminded to confess our sin and to ask Him to show mercy to us and to not treat us as our sins so richly deserve. Let us kneel together as we do so.