It is hard for me to believe that 12 years ago today I was sitting in Mrs. Hart’s sixth grade history classroom at Rainbow Middle School when I heard the news. It was a very confusing day for this 11 year old, and I remember very vividly keeping up with the news and the events following that tragic morning. One question I could not help but ask myself, where was God? How did allow this to happen? For years I had hatred in my heart towards people I did not understand, assuming they were behind it all. By God’s grace I have repented of the hate, and he has placed the right people in my life to help mold and shape me into the man I am today. I don’t have all the answers, but I believe I have better grasp now then I did at an 11.
Luke 13:1-5 ESV:
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
A. Everyone Deserves Death
In the story some Jews were killed, caught off guard, while giving sacrifices. They did not know it was coming and it was a massacre. This was incredibly offensive to jews and to those who came to Jesus about this incident. In typical Jesus fashion though Christ does not respond in the way they expected. He said, everyone deserves to die. And if you and I don’t repent, we too will perish. We are all depraved and born a part from God, and thus since we are born in sin we deserve death. The question is not why did God allow this to happen? The better question is why was it not us? Are not as guilty as the one’s who died that day. Death is inescapable and life is short. All of us have sinned against God, and that is a far greater crime than what happened on 9/11. God shows us mercy when he allows us to keep on living while we openly rebel against Him daily. Events like 9/11 are a result of a fallen world, and evil men.
As John Piper puts it, “He causes the heart to beat and the lungs to work for millions of people who deserve his wrath. This is a view of reality that desperately needs to be taught in our churches, so that we are prepared for the calamities of the world.”
B. We are Called to Repent
Jesus tells these men that if they do not repent they too will perish. Jesus says this twice, this repeat shows how imperative and important that it is. Repenting does not mean we will escape death or tragedy, but it means when our lives do end we will not eternally perish. For those of us who did not die that day he leaves us with this incredible message, there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live.
C. We Cannot Blame God
When people blame God they are angry, and think that they know better than He. Let me put this bluntly, that is flat out stupid. How can we (depraved, fallen, and weak) even begin to question or describe a holy, infinite, righteous, and sovereign God with out human language? It simply is not possible. To blame God is to say He has done something wrong, but we as believers cannot say that! God cannot be wrong, and although we may not always understand the decisions he makes we rest in the fact that He is in control and He is good. We respond like Job and Isaiah.
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.” -Job 42:1-6
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.- Isaiah 55:8-9
D. We Pray and Minister
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
We pray still with those who are without loved ones. I cannot imagine how hard it is to lose someone like that, and I am sure that not a day goes by that the loved ones are not remembered. We also pray for those who wish, intended, or rejoiced in the harm. We pray that God changes them and reveals himself to them so they can go forth with the Gospel. We minister to both parties as well. We can sympathize all we want, but sympathy is not action. We show we care about the Gospel by being the hands and feet of Christ. We cannot stop another tragedy, but you may impact someone involved in a way that they may not perish. We do not hate Islamic people, we show them love and that is a perfect example of Christ. We show love to people even when we think they don’t deserve it, because Christ showed it to us when we absolutely did not deserve it.
John Piper additionally adds 4 points why there is evil in the world, and why we can expect events like this.
1.The reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is because God planned the history of redemption and then permitted sin to enter the world through our first parents, Adam and Eve.
2.The reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is because God subjected the natural world to futility. That is, God put the natural world under a curse so that the physical horrors we see around us in diseases and calamities would become a vivid picture of how horrible sin is. In other words, natural evil is a signpost pointing to the horrors of moral evil.
3. The reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is so that followers of Christ can experience and display that no pleasure and no treasure compares to knowing Christ. That is, the loss of every good thing in this world is meant to reveal that Christ himself more than compensates for all losses.
4. Finally, the reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is to make a place for Jesus Christ the Son of God to suffer and die for our sins. The reason there is terror is so that Christ would be terrorized. The reason there is trouble is so that Christ could be troubled. The reason there is pain is so that Christ could feel pain. This is the world God prepared for the suffering and death of his Son. This is the world where God made the best display of his love in the suffering of his Son.