I went to bed with a migraine at 6pm last night. I prayed I’d wake early to continue my final read through of Surviving the Stillness. I woke at 1am and it is now 2:30, but I haven’t cracked open my manuscript, yet. I checked my FB looking for prayer requests and found many, along with reminders that many will wake this morning to remember, today is 9/11; a day that will always resound in our hearts like the church bells marking the solemn day.
The day so many innocent lives were taken by a few men who sought to do evil. That is what really shakes us. The thought that a handful of people can devastate so many families, a city, a nation, and I’d argue the world. It wasn’t the first act of terrorism, the world has seen, but somehow it resonated differently.
As I sat down to pray for needs, to pray for wisdom to resound from own words, I opened Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening and read the evening of September 10th. There on pages penned long before 9/11 is a devotion put in because it would not leave Spurgeon alone. I’ve had those moments, when something wouldn’t leave me. I couldn’t rest until it was written down or spoken to someone. So it makes my heart tremble to think how many people this verse has ministered too since that fateful day 13 years ago. How many read it the night before and it echoed in their minds as the world fell apart?
It comes from the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet, and he lived in a day such as ours. If you took the word Chaldeans and put in ISIS or Boko Haram or any other terrorist organization, it would read like a modern day newspaper.
Read it: (Habakkuk 1:6-11)
“For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans,
A bitter and hasty nation
Which marches through the breadth of the earth,
To possess dwelling places that are not theirs.
They are terrible and dreadful;
Their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves.
Their horses also are swifter than leopards,
And more fierce than evening wolves.
Their chargers charge ahead;
Their cavalry comes from afar;
They fly as the eagle that hastens to eat.
They all come for violence;
Their faces are set like the east wind.
They gather captives like sand.
They scoff at kings,
And princes are scorned by them.
They deride every stronghold,
For they heap up earthen mounds and seize it.
Then his mind changes, and he transgresses;
He commits offense,
Ascribing this power to his god.”
Is it as eerie to you as it is to me? If you read the cries of Habakkuk before and after this declaration by God, you will find the prophet lamenting that it must be so and questioning God’s intent and purpose for such atrocities. In response, Habakkuk sets himself as a watchman. He sends God’s prophesy out to the people to warn them. God consoles Habakkuk by reminding him that the prophesy is to warn the people. That those who will not take heed (the proud, greedy, gluttonous) will be the ones swept away by the enemy. That upon their own heads they will take the condemnation for the innocent lives lost.
It is a warning for us all. The same cause for terrorism will be the strong nation’s downfall. The enemy feels justified because of the oppression of the proud and greedy who stole from and persecuted them. In turn, they become the proud and the greedy and they bring destruction upon themselves.
Spurgeon’s heart was stirred by the enemy’s hunger and thirst for blood in the comparison to a wolf that hadn’t eaten all day. Spurgeon cries out, where are the shepherds? Who is going to defend the sheep? Who is going to be like Habakkuk and warn the sheep of the enemy’s approach?
We live in a world that is constantly trying to capture the movements of the enemy, to get ahead of the attacks. Likewise, the church has focused and narrowed in on the handful of men that the true enemy (Satan) uses that it has grown blind to the real battle. It has stopped heeding the warning of God and trusted in things made by their own hands to save them. If they only kept reading and saw what Habakkuk said. He saw the world around him destroyed, but in it all He saw the hand of God at work. He put his trust God to strengthen and save Him. He trusted in the true Shepherd to defend him from the ravenous wolf.
Today, all kinds of fingers will be pointed and solutions will be offered to keep another 9/11 from happening. Let the church not find its consolation in speeches filled with assurances that this can be prevented or promises of retribution. For as long as Satan can fill men’s hearts with with pride, greed, and gluttony, He will have the kindling to stir up the strife and hatred that leads to terrorism and war.
Our best defense is to seek the Lord. To heed His warning that the enemy is ravenous and seeking a way to devour us. To draw near to Him and keep watch. To humble our hearts, to seek mercy, and to love our fellow men, whether neighbor or enemy, enough to cast the light of truth on the Satan’s presence. For when we do good we pour water on the kindling. Like Spurgeon pointed out, when we do Saul’s become Paul’s, persecutors become protectors. God can use what the enemy intended for destruction to bring down the enemy’s strongholds.