Perhaps out of a faint sense of prophecy and numerology, many preachers and writers since the 9/11 tragic terrorist attacks have chosen one or more of the “9:11” verses of Scripture to interpret the attacks (those scriptures which are in the ninth chapter and the eleventh verse of their respective books.) Not all of the Bible’s books have 9 chapters, but several options remain, even though many of the passages cause even the boldest wannabe Nostradamuses to strain for application.
My claim: which scripture you choose tells you a lot about the person (or preacher), little about God, and less about terrorism. Hermeneutics leads me to doubt the choices of the interpreter more than the meaning of Scripture.
For instance, some choose Genesis 9:11, which says:[quote_simple]“I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”[/quote_simple]
The person choosing this passage wants to reassure us that tragedy will not befall us again. It comes from a positive desire to calm fears. But we have no such promise. This promise is about the flood, and it is about destroying all the earth, not one building or two, or twenty. We cannot erase such fears. Terrorism works. It strikes terror for good reason: it’s randomness is it’s only strategy, it’s possibility for any of us is why the evil choose it as a weapon of last resort. Those looking for the reason behind terrorism miss that it’s very lack of rationality is its purpose, and it’s fear.
Some claim Amos 9:11, which says:[quote_simple]“In that day
“I will restore David’s fallen shelter—
I will repair its broken walls
and restore its ruins—
and will rebuild it as it used to be.”[/quote_simple]
Perhaps we could read this passage and warm our hearts with the notion that indeed the World Trade Center is being rebuilt. Amen. However, New York City is not Jerusalem (Although I should note that the Jewish population of NYC is larger than that of Jerusalem). America is not the new Jerusalem either—sorry to break it to you.
Some see Ecclesiastes 9:11 as a good place to embrace the despair terror creates:[quote_simple]“I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.”[/quote_simple]
This might be the choice of the one who seeks to philosophize about terrorism. We can’t do anything about it, Ecclesiastes seems to advise—stuff happens. Well, the study of Ecclesiastes is a tricky thing. Beware any sermon that is built off of just one verse of this book of the Bible. Yes, one might want to counter the prophetic doomsday preachers with a message of “time and chance” but this application goes to far into removing God entirely from the equation. God was alive and well on 9/11–and he has something to say, does he not?
Others choose Isaiah 9:11, which says:[quote_simple]“But the LORD has strengthened Rezin’s foes against them
and has spurred their enemies on.”[/quote_simple]
From here and elsewhere come the sermons that see 9/11 and other acts against America as God’s judgment against us for the sins of our people. Here a preacher (or ranting internet blogger with lots of fire and brimstone) is looking to tie current events to a final judgment, and at times the preacher then calls us to repent and again become a nation of God—a chosen people. Besides the offensiveness of such a message, it is a stretch to think that this prophecy about Middle Eastern countries thousands of years ago applies to the US, or that somehow Bin Laden was an instrument of God. These messages turn me off more than any of the above.
It is a tricky and perhaps even dangerous thing to use scripture in the above ways. To pick, on the random alignment of chapter and verse, what to preach on in order to give it any more weight is ill advised.
Still, if I had to chose a “9:11” passage myself, what would I choose? It would have to be Luke 9:11, which says about Jesus what could be said today, and what he would have said & done on September 12th, 2001, and what he, I believe, would do today and longs to continue to do through us:[quote_simple]“But the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.”[/quote_simple]
May you and yours have healing today. And may the Grace of our Savior bring healing to our country, and this world, as no other hand can truly heal but His, and no other Kingdom can truly be of God but His.[Of course the fact that I chose Luke 9:11 says something about me too. But I’m okay with that–perhaps you want to comment on what it says about me. Whatever the case, I’d like to know your take on the “9:11” verses.]