[Originally published on Helium Network 06-07-2009]
Where was God on 9/11? He was right where He always is! He was on His throne in Heaven ruling the universe, which He holds together by His Spirit.
“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
“If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
“If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
“Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
“If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.”
~ Ps 139:7-11
The real question, of course, is not “where” God was on 9/11. Rather, what people are really asking is, “Why didn’t God stop it from occurring?”
It is a natural question to ask after a disaster of some type. It is often asked after a devastating earthquake, tsunami or raging fire. The difference, though, is that 9/11 was a man-made disaster. It was perpetrated by evil men intent on destruction. When you put the focus on that aspect of it, the question really distills down to, “Why does God allow evil?”
The answer, of course, goes back to the very beginning of human existence. Adam and Eve were placed into a lush garden with their every need taken care of. They lived in such harmony with nature that they didn’t even need clothing. They even walked and talked with God in the cool of the evenings (possibly on the weekly Sabbath). Adam and Eve were created “in the image of God”, part of which means they had free will. They could make choices. Compare that to God practically begging ancient Israel to “choose life” (Dt 30:19), and later Joshua telling Israel that he and his family would choose to worship the LORD, YHWH (Jos 24:1-15). God wants sons and daughters, beings who will be like Him. Part of being like Him is the ability to choose to do good.
Most of the time, choices really boil down to 2. In the Garden of Eden, there were 2 trees. One was the Tree of Life. God grants eternal life as a reward to those who accept Him, His way and (later, after Adam and Eve sinned) the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The other tree was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was not the “Tree of Evil”. It wasn’t the “Tree of Good”. First and foremost, it was a “Tree of Knowledge”. “Knowledge”, or “da’ath”, is an experiential knowledge. It is to “know” by doing (Cf. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Genesis 2). In other words, it was to learn good and evil by experimentation and seeing what works and what doesn’t. In symbolic terms, the 2 trees pointed to 2 ways of life. One was the way of God, and the other was the way of Satan.
God provides human beings with revealed knowledge. Throughout history, God has revealed Himself to human beings at different times and in different ways. Sometimes it is in a vision or dream, such as Pharaoh had in the time of Joseph. Many times, God spoke to a prophet, who then wrote the words down. That is where the Bible comes from. Psalm 19 has long been recognized as being a psalm about the “two books” of revealed knowledge. Verses 1-6 show the revealed knowledge of nature. You can know something about God through His creation. Verses 7-14 show the revealed knowledge of His Law as given in the Bible. God revealed Himself to Moses and the Israelites, and much of what occurred was written down for our benefit.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the antithesis of revealed knowledge. It is the scientific approach, which says that you perform an experiment and observe the outcome. That method often works fine in the natural world for discovering how things work. Even then, you must take precautions. Experimenting with gravity by stepping off a cliff is a quick way to end your scientific career, if not your life. It is just as disastrous when experimentation is done to discover spiritual laws. Lives become broken. Even innocents are caught up in a wave of evil and deceit that no one could have anticipated.
That is the world we live in. Some people pick mostly good fruit from the tree. Some seem to gravitate towards the evil fruit. Regardless, it is the wrong tree, and it is an ongoing spiritual experiment started by the very first humans. They took of the tree, and in effect told God, “We do not want revealed knowledge. We will try it our own way. We will create our own rules, our own societies, our own governments and our own religions.”
So, God escorted them out of the garden, where they would no longer live in a protected environment. They were cut off from the garden and the Tree of Life. Only a very select few throughout the Old Testament period were ever called. Most of mankind remained cut off from the Tree of Life until Jesus came to offer it again.
Still, the majority want to reject it even today. Jesus called His Church a “little flock”. He said the gate is “strait’ and the way is “narrow” and “few there be that find it” (Mt 7:14). Don’t worry, as God has plans for all of mankind (cf. 2Pe 3:9). However, that is an article in itself. This world, this age, is still under domination of Satan until the return of Jesus to put all things right.
Where was God on 9/11? He was governing the universe from His throne, allowing mankind to learn the hard way.
God promises to draw near to us, IF we will draw near to Him.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
~ Jas 4:7-8
The writer of Hebrews calls us to “draw near” (Heb 10:19-22) as well. Once the veil of the temple was torn, access to God, in the Holy of Holies, was restored. However, we must come covered with the blood of Jesus Christ (cf. vv 3-4, 11-12, 19).
Deuteronomy 28 lists wonderful blessings for Israel – if they will obey. It also pronounces terrible curses if they disobey. God raises up nations and tears them down again (Jer 1:10; Ps 148:11; 135:5-10; 2:1-7). However, it is noteworthy that God blesses those nations who trust in Him (Ps 2:12; 33:10-12).
If we seek God, we will find Him (1Ch 28:9; 2Ch 7:14; Mt 7:7). However, if we draw back like Israel did at Mt Sinai, we can expect God to withdraw Himself as well. It is often quoted that “God is a gentleman. He will not force Himself on you.”
So, where was God when a nation that daily performs child sacrifice for convenience at the rate of 82 times the amount of murders in the nation? Where was God, who was uninvited from schools? Where was the God Who wrote the Ten Commandments that is illegal to display on public property?
Where was the God Who was pretty much told to mind His own business because we can take care of ourselves and do not need His protection?
I guess He was minding His own business. He was allowing us to pick the fruit from the wrong tree, as we have insisted is our “right” to do.