The following is a message presented by Scott Huckaby at Brazos Bend State Park Amphitheater on Sunday, September 16, 2001
I had prepared the message I was going to share with you today three weeks ago and was looking over it this past Tuesday to refamiliarize myself with it. Then the news reports started coming in about the terrorist attacks and the Lord began prompting me to change my plans to what He had intended me to speak about.
I think youd agree that our world today is different than the one we lived in before September 11th. We dont understand all the implications of the attack on America but one thing that the Bible makes clear is that God is in control and not even this tragedy happened without God allowing it to take place.
Those who say that God could not allow such an act of evil have never read the book of Job. The attacks on our nation were certainly inspired by Satan but to say this happened outside Gods permissive will is to ignore the Lords Almighty nature. God is sovereign and there is nothing that happens, good or bad without His permission.
We dont always understand what Gods purpose is because we do not have His omniscient perspective
God allows bad things to happen to serve a higher purpose, but we can trust that whatever He allows to happen will be used in the best interest of His people
This is a promise that we can bank on. Even if what God is allowing to happen does not make sense, we can know that it is serving a purpose that will ultimately bless those who love Him.
While we may not know specifically what purpose the tragic attacks on our nation will serve, God has provided us sufficient information about the general direction that this world is headed in His Word.
The attacks on our nation shakes up our sense of security and will ultimately alter our lives, restricting our freedoms. It reminds me in many ways of another major world event that God used in my life to lead me to Him. As someone who grew up during the Cold War and served in the Army training to counter the Soviet threat, I had the sense that the bipolar superpower stand-off was the way things would always be. But when the Soviet Union virtually dissolved over night without a shot being fired, it was clear the world we then lived in was very different than the one I had grown up in.
The thing about that event that most grabbed my attention was that people were seeing it as a positive development proclaiming that we should "cash in our peace dividends". To me, the development seemed anything but secure because all those conventional and nuclear weapons were still in place in the former Soviet Union and they were in the hands of an increasingly desperate people. It seemed to me that we had just entered the era addressed in 1Thessalonians 5:3
Just prior to the demise of the Soviet Union, I had been reading a book on Bible prophecy my Father-in-law had given me. I had read it to please the old guy so that wed have something to talk about when I saw him. What had impressed me about the book was its treatment of Bible prophecies as the literal absolute truth from God.
You see I hadnt given God much thought. I was basically an agnostic who called himself a Christian just because my parents raised me in church. For me, being a Christian was a cultural thing. I knew God had to exist because this is obvious from His creation but I didnt think that it was possible to know anything of substance about Him in this life. I considered myself a basically good person and figured that surely God would grade on the curve and Id make it to heaven because I was not as bad as most people. But I didnt give God much thought because I didnt know where God drew the line on how righteous a person had to be to make it into heaven.
Something I had certainly not given any thought about was Gods Almighty nature. The book on Bible prophecy I had read represented God as powerful enough to write history in advance
Only God can declare "the end from the beginning" and this is how He authenticated Himself in the Bible. Almost a third of the Bible is prophecy. Some of the prophecies have already come to pass because they were near-term to authenticate Gods prophets as speaking for Him. And some have come to pass because they foretold the Lord Jesus Christs first advent. But most of the Bibles prophecies are about the Lords return because it will be in conjunction with Gods judgment.
As I contemplated the crumbling of the Soviet Union, it occurred to me that this had to take place for the world to come together under one human government as the Bible said it would just prior to the Lords return. Revelation 13:7 speaks of a coming world ruler who will have authority "over every tribe, tongue, and nation."
It suddenly occurred to me that if the Bible could help me understand why current events were happening in the world, then I had better pay attention to what it had to say about Jesus Christ. This shook me into realizing my sinful condition before God and that my trusting in being a reasonably good person did not cut it before Him whos standard is perfection. I realized that if I did not believe His Word and open my heart to Jesus at that moment then I was going to hell. It was a no-brainer. I suddenly knew that Jesus paid the price for my sins and that He was blessing me by enabling me to put my trust in Him and believe Gods Word. It was like a light going on in my head. I was born-again. I didnt hear trumpets or have an emotional response at that moment but I knew my life was changed forever and that I would have eternal life.
So you may be wondering how this series of terrorist attacks fits into what the Bible says will happen in the time leading up to the Lords return. Certainly it serves to shake up our complacency that we live in a time of "peace and safety". It also fits in with the description of time prior to The Lords return where Jesus said there would be "wars and rumors of wars" (Matthew 24:6).
This freshly shaken world we are now in is also similar to the time of "peace and safety" in that it serves to bring the world together as one. This escalation of terrorism is not just against the United States, it is an assault on freedom and democracy everywhere. The world will come together to combat this new worldwide threat. This too serves to establish the political structure which will turn its authority over to the coming world leader the Bible calls the Antichrist (see Revelation 17:12-13 & 1 John 4:3).
And as I witnessed people being shaken from their work-a-day routine mesmerized by CNN in the break area this verse came to mind:
I believe that the course of end-time events will be a series of world-shaking events like this. Jesus said the events leading up to His return will be "the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8). The Greek word translated "sorrows" here refers to birth pangs. As birth pangs, world-shaking events will increase in frequency and severity.
When God shakes us up, He is executing judgment on us trying to get our attention. God wants us to wake up and respond to Him. There will be many that do respond as a result of this shaking. Some of our great revivals have happened as a result of God shaking us up. Raymond told me about how WWII was a great boon to church attendance. This execution of Gods judgment to shake his people into a relationship with Him is a pattern in the Bible. As God raised up the Chaldeans to shake up Israel, he is raising up terrorists to shake up the United States.
But the one verse that this attack on America made me think of most was, "let the weak say, I am strong" in Joel 3:10. This passage is talking about events leading up to the battle of Armageddon which is referred to in Joel as "the Valley of Jehoshaphat." The battle of Armageddon is the last event that happens before the Lord returns. The Bible gives many other prophecies about events during the 7-year period of time which culminates in Armageddon. Jesus called the second half of this seven-year period the Great Tribulation (in Matthew 24).
Recent world events are making it clear that the stage is being set for this 7-year period of tribulation. Probably the most important prophecy that has been fulfilled in recent times is the re-establishing of the nation of Israel. The Bible says in many places that God will gather the Jews from among the nations in the general time-frame of Jesus returning. And once established in Eritz Israel, the land of Israel, they would remain there as a nation forever, never to be uprooted again
While the passage in Joel talks specifically about the Great Tribulation. We can see a foreshadowing of the attitude that the terrorists had which will draw the enemies of God together at Armageddon
In this case, the context makes it clear that those who say "I am strong" are those who are gathering to do battle against God. They are finding their strength in themselves and not in God. This should be contrasted with the Christian attitude expressed by the Apostle Paul when he was coming to terms with his "thorn in the flesh "
Note that there is a difference between saying you are strong as those spoken of in Joel and being strong as Paul talks about.
I have the sense that we have passed out of the era where people proclaim "peace and safety" and are now in a new era where "the weak say I am strong." This passage describes terrorism. Note that in this era the weak who say they are strong will turn plowshares into swords and and pruning hooks into spears, or in todays terms, they will take peaceful tools of productivity and turn them into weapons. This is what these weak, deceived people have done turning a passenger airliner into a guided missile. And they will think they have power because of this. This new type of terrorism represents the beginning of an era where plowshares have been beat into swords.
There is another great shaking that the world will experience prior to the Lords coming that the church looks forward to: the rapture or resurrection of the saints:
The "Left Behind" novel series addresses what could happen in the wake of millions of born-again Christians vanishing off the face of the earth. You can be sure the world will be shaken. We dont know when the Lord will call His church out of the world. He said, "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming" (Matthew 24:42). From a prophetic standpoint, there is nothing that has to happen before the rapture of the church, this event may be the next major shaking in the history of the world. Certainly we know that the sequence of end-time events will be very rapid when they begin to unfold because, "The end of it shall be with a flood" (Daniel 9:26).
All these shakings of our world are but foreshadows of the final shaking of the world which God will do
This shaking that Haggai talks about refers to God pouring out His righteous wrath on the world as we know it which has been corrupted by sin. The Lord will recreate both heaven and earth
God will shake all of creation. There is nothing in this world that will not be shaken. But those who have trusted in Jesus Christ, Gods provision for salvation, can not be shaken
While the era where "the weak say I am strong." is a scary period for the world, Christians can take comfort in knowing that God is still in control. And as we see events taking place that show the Lords return as being near, this should cause us to draw near to Him and get on with doing what He has called us to do.
Maybe you dont feel any comfort from knowing that God is in control. If this is the case, you should see this as God calling you into a relationship with Him so that He can bless you with His comfort. I would encourage you to let Jesus into your life immediately before it is too late
Jesus has already done everything necessary for you to have eternal life by paying the price for your sin. All that needs to be done is receive Him into your life.