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Originally published in Creation 26, no 1 (December 2003): 49.
Two years ago, an enemy “from without” attacked the US by destroying the towers of the World Trade Center in New York, and also heavily damaging the Pentagon in Washington, DC, killing almost 3,000 people.1
This attack certainly made people much more aware of the worldwide threat of terrorism, which resulted in the US declaring a “war” on this terrible evil.
At the same time, however, people should not be lulled into thinking that the major enemy of today is terrorism. Yes, it is a terrible threat to peace and stability around the world—but there is a much greater enemy that every person needs to deal with.
After the 9/11 attack, I had someone say to me: “I’m glad I wasn’t in the World Trade Center—I would have died.” I replied, “Well, don’t worry, your turn is coming.”
Now, I’m not in any way making light of what happened on that horrible day—it was a terrible tragedy which affected many families, and there continues to be much grieving.
We need to understand that the real “enemy” in the world ultimately is not terrorism, but death itself.
The Bible states: “The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).2
We need to understand that the real “enemy” in the world ultimately is not terrorism, but death itself.Even though people were horrified at all the lives lost in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it seems that many seem to forget (or maybe don’t even want to acknowledge) that what happened in these attacks is no different to what will happen on 9/11 in 2003, or on any other day for that matter: Thousands of people will die and evil people will do evil things—not just in America, but in every country.
Also, consider that more human beings were killed (murdered) by a different sort of terrorism in America on 9/11/01 (as happens every day of the year) than were killed in the terrorist attacks on that tragic day: how many in the US were crying and grieving for all the children that were aborted on that day (and each and every day)?
There seems to be a gross inconsistency here from a national perspective. Maybe if people would condemn the murder of the unborn innocents as they do the 9/11 terrorists, things might be very different; “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).
What happened on 9/11 should be a reminder to everyone that
we live in an evil world, and every human being is already on a death
row, because “… all have sinned, and
come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
As we also read in Romans: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
In Luke 13:4, Jesus referred to the people who were killed when a tower fell on them: “Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?”
His answer may seem strange to some: “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Jesus was reminding them that what ultimately happened to those who were killed when the Siloam tower fell will also happen to each one of them—they will face death. That is why He told them to repent—in other words, to ensure their hearts were right before God, so when they died they would be taken into the presence of their Creator forever.
Yes, let’s not forget the terrible tragedy of 9/11. And let’s not ignore the worldwide threat of terrorism. And let’s pray that we repent of our own shocking terrorist attacks on the unborn. But even more than this, let’s not forget that death is the real enemy, and that we all need to understand the meaning of death—its origin because of sin—and to remind all that we are condemned to a godless eternity. Unless, that is, we receive the free gift of salvation God offers because He “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).