“We make our decisions,
and then our decisions turn around and make us.”
— F. W. Boreham
“I won’t let this happen to my church!”
I remember uttering those words of defiance back when I believed that my “home church” was under attack. I wasn’t sure who was behind the sudden dysfunction, but I was determined to find out and FIX the problem…. I’ve since learned that my assertive passion – no matter how well meaning – was simple-minded and doomed to fail.
Israel’s response following the Assyrian attack on their nation was also one of defiance. In essence, they shook their fists and vowed to rebuild what had been destroyed. They pledged to come back even stronger than before. But in doing that, they disrespected the One who had allowed the Assyrians to breach the wall of His protection. That act also proved simple-minded.
So the Lord God once again sent warnings through His prophets to try and wake up His naïve chosen people and make them understand why their enemies had managed to attack them so unexpectedly. But the Israelites would only believe what they could see with their eyes – devastation, collapsed buildings and fallen, faulty handmade bricks.
An obscure verse in Isaiah gives us a window into Israel’s reaction to what happened. With pride and arrogance of heart they replied: “The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars” (Isaiah 9:10).
Rabbi Jonathan Cahn states in his book, The Harbinger, that according to Jewish law, an official response to a national calamity can only be recognized when given by a leader with authority to speak publicly on the nation’s behalf.
In 1865, toward the end of the Civil War (a catastrophic event similar to when the Assyrians breached the Israelites’ wall of protection), President Abraham Lincoln responded appropriately, by humbly laying the whole bloody mess at the feet of Almighty God. In his Second Inaugural Address, President Lincoln stood on the East Portico of America’s capital and proclaimed: “The Almighty has His own purposes.… Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away…. Yet … it must be said, that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
Contrary to Lincoln’s example, America’s response to the attacks of 9/11 was not humble, but defiant – more like that of the ancient Israelites. That response was pronounced on September 12, 2001 by the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschel. Out of over 30,000 verses in the Bible, Senator Daschel independently chose to read Isaiah 9:10! And after he had finished proclaiming the ancient vow, he added his own words: “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stones; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars. That is what we will do.”
Tom Daschel was oblivious to the prophetic role he was playing in the grand scheme of world history. And he wasn’t the only one used by God to pronounce judgment on America. In autumn of 2004, Senator John Edwards, who at that time was campaigning for the office of U. S. Vice President, was invited to speak in the nation’s capital on the third anniversary of 9/11. He started his speech with these words: “Good morning. Today, on this day of remembrance and mourning, we have the Lord’s word to get us through: ‘The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.’”
President Barack Obama unknowingly reiterated the call for defiance, as well. During his first State of the Union address, given before Congress and the nation in 2009, President Obama said: “I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: WE WILL REBUILD…. The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation.” And later in his address he added one more declaration: “We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.”
Though his intent was to inspire the nation, President Obama actually voiced the central declaration of Isaiah 9:10! Amazing? Yes, but there’s more.
In June of 2012, Obama set politics aside and visited the sleek glass and steel building under construction, which would replace the Twin Towers at Ground Zero in New York City. The structure has been named “Freedom Tower” and when it’s completed, it will be the tallest building in the country at 1776 feet. (The Declaration of Independence was signed in the year 1776.)
After his tour of the intended monument, the President of the United States signed one of the construction beams with a red marker. He wrote: “We remember, we rebuild, we come back stronger!” And he signed his name.
Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, many American figures of authority seemed beyond confident that they were capable of bringing about a new beginning for the nation blessed by God. But could the former glory of the United States be literally restored without returning to Him and asking for reinstatement of His divine protection?
“But the people have not returned to Him who struck them,
nor have they sought the Lord Almighty …”
A RUST REMOVER …
Is there anything wrong in your life that could be made right by simply giving God credit for the blessings which He has generously rained down upon you? Are there perhaps generational curses that could be removed if you would humble yourself today and submit to His sovereign plan for your life? Do you feel like you’re at a dead end in your job or maybe a relationship? Think about what the Lord said through the prophet Jeremiah before He allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed by the Babylonians: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).