On September 11, 2001, seemingly out of nowhere (at least to the majority of people) an incredibly organized group of terrorists orchestrated the murder of thousands of Americans. As the horrific images danced in the heads of the watching world, with even a more fervent pace, came some profound questions. Who were these people? Why were they flying their planes into buildings? What was this all about? Among people who engage in discussions about the conflicts in the Middle East, there are various perspectives on the source of tension, the reasons for violence, and just why the hostility keeps inflamed. But now, the hostility had moved into the Americas. Depending on the particular perspective, asking some of these important questions is bound to provide us with just as many variations in answers. Ask a sociologist you’ll get one type of answer. Ask a psychiatrist, you’ll get something different. Ask a philosopher, you’re bound to get something completely different. But perhaps the most important people to help us make sense of all of this are people who are intimately involved with and have a full perspective of the history of the people occupying the Middle East. Since we are well within the land of the Bible, the biblical perspective could offer us a fairly comprehensive understanding of the continued conflict.
A few days after 9/11/2001, this message was preached by the prominent Bible teacher, John MacArthur. It is a thorough view of the Christian perspective on terrorism, and sheds a fairly comprehensive light on the subject and offers a perspective one would not find in many other venues (for the sake of simplicity all other quotation marks are excluded as what follows is an abridged version of the message)
Our minds cry out to know why it happened. In fact, it seems to me in America we are obsessed with why things happen. Whenever there is an airplane crash, whenever there is a crime of newspaper proportions, we want to know why these things happen. We have all of these agencies and all of the analysts and psychologists and criminologists, people who study all of the details trying to find a motive for why these things happen. Why do people do these kinds of things?
I’m going to try to give you answers to that and I have so much swimming around in my mind, I’m going to try to bring some order and command to my thoughts. I will only be able to do that if I stick pretty closely to what I’ve written.
We know why on a superficial level. We now know that there is a very highly developed, sophisticated group of terrorists in the Middle East who are the ones responsible, the immediate why. Intelligence sources indicate to us that it’s not just one person, Osama bin Laden, who has come to be known to all of us by name is perhaps the point man in the actual structure of the events that led to this disaster, but he seems to be backed up by people like Saddam Hussein(?) and who knows how many others in the Middle East are a part of this massive network.
This then immediately catapults us into the land of the Bible. These terrorists weren’t Norwegian and they weren’t Argentine and they weren’t Mexican and they weren’t German and they weren’t Chinese, they were Middle Easterners from the land of the Bible. There was a writer’s news release that I want to start with from London. It said, “Saudi dissident, Osama bin Laden, warned three weeks ago that he and his followers would carry out an unprecedented attack on the United States interest for its support of Israel.” Abd Al-Bari Atwan editor of the London-based al Quds al Arabi newspaper said that Islamic fundamentalists led by bin Laden was almost certainly behind the attack of the World Trade Center in New York. Quote:
“It is most likely the work of Islamic fundamentalists. Osama bin Laden warned three weeks ago that he would attack American interests in an unprecedented attack, a very big one…we received information that he planned very, very big attacks against American interests, we received several warnings like this. We did not take it so seriously preferring to see what would happen before reporting it.”
Who is this man, Osama bin Laden? What is this force? What is this network of terrorists and what is it that motivates them to perpetrate such unthinkable atrocities. We all remember they tried this one other time. Not from the top of the tower but from the bottom, the previous effort to bomb the World Trade Center. We’ve been made very much aware in recent years of the rash of terrorist attacks against American bases, American barracks, American forces in the Middle East and other places. We’ve also become very much aware of suicide bombers blowing up pizza parlors, blowing themselves up frequently in Israel. We’ve been asking questions about what makes people do this and why does it happen, and now the question is more compelling than ever because it involves us. And not only does it involve us because of what happened Tuesday, it involves us because the possibility is that what happened Tuesday there could happen on any other day anywhere else. As our Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said,
“We cannot stop all of the tactics of all of the terrorists all of the time.”
Well, first of all, let me dive into one category that we have to begin with, and that is there is a natural reason for this…a natural reason. Sociologists in modern days and psychologists have been trying to convince us that man is basically good, but he is not. Man is basically evil, he is basically wicked. The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked…the Bible says…and who can know it? That is who can figure it out, it is so desperately wicked?
Romans chapter 3 verses 10 and following describe man as a poisonous snake, describe man as a murderer whose feet are swift to shed blood. One only needs to look at human history, it is a veritable bloodbath and it is nonetheless a bloodbath today. All over the face of the earth, on every continent, there is the shedding of blood. Not only in individual acts of criminality but corporate acts of criminality, national acts of criminality. Man is by nature a killer. We see it in the wars of the world. We see it in the terrorists’ actions of the world. We see it in the tribal battles. We see it everywhere. We see it on the streets of the cities of the world. Man is a killer. The first crime recorded in the Bible is recorded in the book of Genesis chapter 4, Cain murdered his brother and he launched human life with that ignoble beginning.
Why does this happen? Let’s turn to James chapter 4. James is an epistle in the New Testament. The Bible inspired by God comes to us in a series of books, 66 of them. Human authors writing under the inspiration of God recorded for us a true understanding of those things God wanted us to know. We come into the fourth chapter of the book of James and the question is posed to us, it’s the very same question that we are asking, that our culture is asking, that our world is asking. The chapter begins like this,
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?”
Why do these things happen? Why is there murder? Why is there war? Why are there quarrels and conflicts at every level?
The answer comes,
“Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”
Members simply refers to your person, your body, your nature. It is the pleasures inside of you that generate war. What is the source of quarrels? That’s the Greek word polemos, it means a prolonged state of conflict. What is the source of conflict? That’s mache, separate individual fights. What causes wars? What causes those separate fights and conflicts?
It comes down to this. It is your pleasures. The word “hedone” in the Greek from which we get Hedonism, what is Hedonism? It is the yearning of self-love, it is the yearning to fulfill what you want. A hedonist is someone who lives for the fulfillment of his own self-love, he lives to satisfy himself, to get what he wants, to take what fulfills him. That’s why wars happen because people want things and somebody stands in the way.
Verse 2 further develops it. “You lust and you don’t have.” That’s the problem. You want it, you have this Hedonistic compulsion, this drive and it’s thwarted. You want it. It’s a war inside of you, that’s how much you want it. And something is in the way and that something is a someone because you want it so badly and you can’t have it, you commit murder. That’s the reason, that’s the natural reason…personal gratification out of control, unsatisfied so you commit murder. That’s why people kill. They’re not basically good, they’re basically evil and if we didn’t have laws and law enforcement, the whole of humanity would be killing itself wholesale all the time. People are driven by their own selfish desire, they’re driven by their own need to fulfill their self-love. They’re driven by a consuming Hedonism. They’re driven by the desire for pleasure and satisfaction and fulfillment. And anyone in the way may have to be sacrificed to that desire.
You ask yourself, why does a mother drown her five children? Because they’re in the way of her fulfillment. They’re in the way of her satisfaction. Why did those people in Jedwabne in Poland in one day massacre 1600 Jews in their village that they had lived with for a period of 300 years they had been living together, they worked together, they went to school together. In a two-week period they determined to move from being neighbors to being murderers, they killed all 1600 in one day. Why? Was it race? Was it the hatred of the Jewish race? No, they never were so propagandized, all that happened was the Germans came into the town and said you can kill them if you want and take their land and take their possession and take their farms…and they did it. Just give them permission. That’s the human heart.
Why does a Russian young man in Sacramento kill his family? Because they stood in the way of his fulfillment. They stood in the way of his satisfaction. That’s why people kill. Why does Hitler massacre the Jews? Because he saw them standing in the way of his Aryan supremacy. Why does Joseph Stalin massacre millions more? Because they stood in the way of his world empire. It may be as vast as that, it may be as simple as a mother who kills her children because she can’t find satisfaction, they’re in the way of it.
You can’t have what you want…he goes on to say…and so verse 2 says, “You fight and you quarrel because you do not have something you want.” And then he adds that amazing statement, “And you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask.” Or you ask and you don’t receive it because you ask with wrong motives that you can spend it on your own Hedonistic self-love.
That’s why people kill because they want something and somebody stands in the way. Whether you kill on a small scale or you kill on a large scale, the wicked hearts of passionate people who will not be denied their pleasure kill to get it. That is the natural pathology of the human heart. Driven to extreme acts of murder by passions that are so consuming as to border on madness.
So there’s a natural motivation here. There’s secondly a historical motivation. This introduces us to another category. In order to get to the heart of this we have to go back to the Middle East again, back to the Bible, back to the very origins of the nations and that puts us right back in the book of Genesis. So let’s go there.
Genesis is the book of origins. Genesis means beginnings. It’s the book of origins. And in Genesis 10 and 11 we have what we call the table of nations. If you look down through just as a glance at Genesis 10 you see all kinds of names, they’re names of people and families and nations, tribes. You look in to chapter 11 starting in verse 10 and you find more genealogies of individuals who fathered families and people groups. This is early society as it developed from Noah. You remember God drowned the entire world, as recorded in chapters 6 through 9 of Genesis, and only saved eight people…Noah, his wife, his three sons and their three wives. Eight people came off the ark, repopulated the world. So you have in chapter 10 the generations that flowed from Noah through his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.
Japheth, the oldest son, fathered what are now known as the Indo-European people. From Japheth came those who live in Europe and all the way across to India and even across Russia and across the Bering Sea and in to North America and South America, the native peoples. And then Ham, we learn, fathered families in Africa and the Far East, the Asian world as well as some regions of the Middle East. And then that most well-known of the sons of Noah, Shem from whom came the Semitic people of the Mesopotamian valley, the Middle East as we know it, the Jewish people and the Arabic people. Shem’s people lived north, south, east of the land of Israel. I don’t want to over-simplify because Israel also came from Shem and so did these other Arabic peoples. I don’t want to over simplify it because there are complexities and complications in understanding the history of the Middle East but I’m going to try to give you an understanding that is clear enough for you to get a grasp of what is going on.
Let’s back up a little bit. When God created, He put Adam and Eve in a garden called the Garden of Eden. That garden was located in the Tigris/Euphrates valley which is the Mesopotamian valley, the heart of the Middle East. That is the original paradise of God, the very place where God walked and talked with Adam in the cool of the day, the very place where God put the Tree of Life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Today that is the center of the Arabic/Muslim world…the very place of Eden. It was there that the Tower of Babel was built, which invented world religions. It was there that later on the city of Babylon was built which is today in modern Iraq. It was there that Noah lived. It was there that Noah preached. It’s very historic land. But when Abraham came along, God gave it all to him and his family. God gave to Abraham all the land from the Mediterranean coast through the depths of the Babylonian valley, gave it all to them, the entire Mesopotamian region.
Abraham was a son of a man named Terah. Terah was a moon god worshiper and the worship of the moon god was THE most popular form of idolatry apparently in the day of Abraham. There were two great centers of the worship of the moon god, one was a place called Ur down in the Persian Gulf in what is now Kuwait. And the other was Heron, way up in the north in the area of Iraq. And Abraham was born into a family of worshipers of the moon god in a place called Ur.
So this is a historical area, the land of the Middle East, the land of the Mesopotamian valley, the land of the 21 Arab states is the land of the beginnings of human history. It will also be important in the end. The prophets of the Bible tell us that the world is going to come to an end in a great conflagration and a great battle in that same place. Powers from the north are going to come. Powers from the south are going to come. A vast army of 200 million coming from the east and the power from the west all converging under the rule of Antichrist on the land of Israel, the focal point the Valley of Megiddo, but blood spilled clear across the entire land of Israel until Jesus comes and establishes His own Kingdom and destroys all the wicked and takes the righteous into His Kingdom. That is a very important piece of earth, none is more strategic.
Abraham fathered the Jewish people. In chapter 12 of Genesis God said to Abram, then called Abram, later called Abraham,
“Go forth from your country, from your relatives, from your father’s house to the land that I’ll show you. I’ll make you a great nation. I’ll bless you, make your name great. So shall you be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you, I’ll curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God said…you’re My man, out of you is going to come My nation and that nation is going to bring about blessing on those who bless them and cursing on those who curse them. God gave to Abraham the promise that He would give him the land. Turn to chapter 15 verse 18,
“On the day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, He said, ‘To your descendants I have given this land from the river of Egypt…that’s from the Nile in the south…as far as the great river, the Euphrates…that’s east…through that fertile crescent, through that Mesopotamian valley, all the land of the Kenite, the Kenizzite, the Kadmonite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Rephaim, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Girgashite, the Jebusite, everything from the Mediterranean coast deep into the Middle East. It’s your land, I give it to you.'”
By divine right from the mouth of God Himself, the region belongs to Abraham and his seed. Unfortunately…unfortunately, Abraham brought massive confusion into that promise by having a legitimate son, Isaac, and an illegitimate son, Ishmael. We’ll say more about that in a few moments.
At the time of Abraham, all those people that I just read to you were already existing in that land. They already occupied that land. So even though God gave it to Abraham, it was in the possession of those people. And in chapter 10, as I mentioned to you, of the book of Genesis you have all kinds of other people who were the sons of Shem, starting in chapter 10 verse 21, you have a whole listing of people and family groups and tribes and nations that existed as descendants of Shem that would have been around as well. So there were tribes and families and groups of people all over that part of the world. That was the most densely populated part of the world. In fact, at first it was the only populated part of the world because when the Flood was over there were only eight people and they started populating right there.
It wasn’t long before Mizraim, it’s an old name for Egypt, came into existence, before Aram, an old name for Syria, came into existence, before Asher, an old name for Assyria, came into existence. So there were all these tribes and families and clans and groups of people. They were all idolatrous. They were all rejecters of the true and living God, the Creator God. And when God gave the promise to Abraham that all of this land was his, there was a collision course established. In order for that land to belong to Abraham, God was going to have to give it to him and Abraham was going to have to be true to God. And if Abraham was true to God and obedient, God would give him the land. But if the descendants of Abraham were disobedient to God, they were going to have an endless battle trying to claim what was really theirs.
Was it just to judge those nations that had the land? Yes, because God is just in judging idol worship. The commandments begin, “You shall have no other…what?…gods before Me.” Idolatry is to be judged by God always in every era. It is a just judgment for God to take away that precious land from those who turned their backs on Him and give it to a people who would love Him and serve Him. It just so happens too that the Middle East region is the richest land on the face of the earth. If you take it all together from the coastal riches of the Sharon Valley in Israel through to their immense riches that go right down the very spine of Israel, on in to the riches of the Dead Sea, on in to the massive riches of the oil treasures of the Middle East, the great riches to the north in the mountains of Lebanon, valuable timber, fertile plains of the Jordan Valley, unequalled productivity, incredible chemical wealth, as I said, in the Dead Sea, vast black gold of oil that stretches across the sands in the Babylonian valley, God gave it all to them. If they would be obedient to Him they would have that land.
So, the idolatrous people, as I said, if that land were set on a collision course with Israel, and the reason Israel has never really been able to possess the land they were given is because Israel has not been faithful to God…some day they will be. Some day they will look on Him whom they’ve pierced, they’ll mourn for Him as an only Son and they’ll embrace Jesus as their Messiah, they will come to salvation and in the day they come to salvation, the Messiah Himself will come and give them the land. But in the meantime they continue to lay claim to that land and they were given that by God and because they lay claim to that land the Egyptians and the Syrians and the Assyrians, everybody else is their vowed enemy to one degree or another.
And then Abraham did such a terrible thing. God said…I’m going to give you a son, trust Me, I’m going to give you a son. He was 100 and Sarah was 90, they were barren. He said, “How can I have a whole nation, how can I be the father of people, how can I be the father of a nation if I don’t even have a son? If I’m barren?” And so his wife came to him and she had a really great idea, she said, “Well, I can’t bear you a son so here’s my servant named Hagar, you go in and have relationships with her and she’ll be like a surrogate wife to you and she’ll produce a son.” In an act of distrust toward God, he did that and she became pregnant and she brought forth a son whose name is Ishmael, an illegitimate son, not the son of God’s promise, not the son of the covenant. God said in the seventeenth chapter of Genesis,
“I will make out of Ishmael’s family a great nation but…verse 21…My covenant will I establish with Isaac whom Sarah will bear to you at this time next year. Ishmael is not the son of My covenant, Isaac is through Sarah and she will bear a son.”
And she did and through Isaac came the Jewish people, but through Ishmael came more enemies. Out of Ishmael came the Hagarites, mentioned in 1 Chronicles chapter 5. To make matters worse, there was a rejected son of Isaac by the name of Esau and out of Esau came more people who were not in the covenant, producing more enemies, more enemies.
See, the Middle East is just filled with the descendants of all of these people who are in conflict with Israel’s stated right to the Abrahamic promise. God wanted to remove those people, those wicked idolatrous, adulterous people. He wanted to do it when He led Israel out of Egypt. They had been 400 years in the captivity of Egypt. You remember, God raised up Moses to lead them out. He led them out into the wilderness. They were faithless. The whole generation had to die in the wilderness because they committed idolatry. When there finally was a new generation raised up and God took them into the promised land, into the land of Canaan, He said, “It’s all going to be yours, I want to give it all to you. Now go in there and destroy those inhabitants, those idolaters.” God had already demonstrated in history that He would destroy the ungodly. He drowned the whole world in the flood. And now not water but Israel was to be His weapon to rid the earth of idolatry.
They saw victory over Egypt. The whole Egyptian army drowned and the great plagues that came on Egypt caused a massive amount of death. They conquered the tribes on the upper side of the Jordan, according to Deuteronomy chapter 3, and they stood ready to go into the land of Canaan and conquer. Instead they went into the land of Canaan and were defeated. Remember that? At a place called Ai, they were defeated because there was sin in the camp. And they never did what God told them to do, never became that sword of Jehovah, as it were, and so there they sit in the middle of the conflict, endlessly threatened by the neighbors around them.
There should be a warning, however. God’s covenant with Israel has not been broken and it is still true that the nation that blesses Israel is blessed and a nation that curses Israel is cursed. Any nation that threatens the existence of Israel will come under God’s judgment. That is repeated in the Scripture. Just read Psalm 121, then read Psalm 125, then read Psalm 129, then read Isaiah 43, etc.
So you’re looking for a historic reason here, the conflict goes way back between Arabic people, descendants of all those people that I identified who today speak Arabic, who accept Arab culture. Two hundred and fifty million of them surrounding five million Jews…Jews believe it is a divine right to have the land but they can’t take the land, they can’t have the land because God won’t give them the land until they turn from their sin and embrace their Messiah. But everybody is against Israel in the Middle East, even Satan. If you question that, read Revelation chapter 12 where you see a description of Satan trying to destroy Israel. He works on the side of those who would destroy Israel.
So Scripture says Ishmael’s descendants will, Genesis 16:12, dwell in the presence of all his brethren. They’re all trying to co-exist in the Middle East, and little Israel, the covenant people, unbelieving, apostate, but still the covenant people, unsaved but still the covenant people, surround it and everybody around them has destruction on their minds.
In Bible times these various groups of people were separated…this family, that family, this tribe, all the “ites” you know that you read in the Bible. That helps keep the peace. It helps keep the peace, it’s a checks and balances. That’s why I told you when everybody was of one language and one mind in battle, God scattered them and, remember, separated their languages and sent them out all over the world because when everybody gets together and you have one great force among ungodly people, you have one great force for evil…unmitigated and unrestrained. And just on a human level, God separates the world into nations because it prevents monolithic evil. Twenty-one, I think, 21 Arab countries in the Middle East, however, not really 21 countries anymore because the borders have been obliterated, the boundaries have been obliterated and the national identities have been obliterated by one great power and that is the religion of Islam which engulfs the whole of that world.
The Arab empire became one vast empire because of a man named Muhammad which means in Arabic, “Highly Praised.” He was born in the Middle East in 570 A.D., almost 600 years…or 500 years after Christ. He was born to a tribe in Mecca. He claimed to be a descendant of Ishmael. That fits. This Muhammad became the source of the Koran, which is the holy book of Islam. In 622 he made his home in Medina and it became that date sort of an official date as the start of the Muslim era. I’ll say a little more about Islam in a few moments. But to suffice it to say, in the first 100 years after Muhammad there was a massive unification of that part of the world as they succumbed to the power of Islam, mostly by the sword. And all war is to bring infidels into submission to Islam were considered to be Jihad, holy wars. Muhammad himself killed and robbed in the name of Allah. Convert or die.
There’s still that in Islam. You read about it. Still that penchant for death. Islam conquered by the sword. And Islam actually took over the land of Israel and they held it until…do you know what year?…1948. Now that takes us to a third issue here. We see a natural reason why this happens, we see historic reason this happens, there’s such profound animosity toward Israel and why do they hit us? Because we are the supporter of Israel. In fact, you should know this, in the literature I’ve read I’ve seen it in a number of places, these radical Muslims call Israel “the small Satan,” and America “the great Satan.” We are the greater force and therefore the greater threat as we stand behind Israel.
But that brings us to a third reason and that’s a religious one. We go beyond the conflict of the people groups to religion itself. And I hear all kinds of numbers, I don’t know how you could know anything from half a billion to a billion believers in Islam, I don’t know where you would mark it. Some would put it closer to the billion than half a billion. Islam is a word that means “surrender.” It means “submission.” And the idea is that Islam is surrendered to the will of Allah and the will of Allah is revealed. It’s not an unknown thing, the will of Allah is revealed through his prophet Muhammad and the revelation from Allah is written down in the holy book called the Koran. A Muslim is one who submits to the will of Allah.
Now without getting into all of the theology of Islam, let me just give you some things to think about so you’ll understand the theological underpinnings. There are six basic articles of faith in Islam. If we were going to put an Islamic doctrinal statement together it would look like this:
No Muslim…no Muslim knows for sure in this life where he’s going, it’s all predetermined by Allah. And on the scale of life, good things weigh heavy and bad things weigh light and it doesn’t hurt to weigh heavy on Allah’s decision. But there are no guarantees. Those are the six basic articles of faith.
Then there are five duties, they are called the pillars of Islam. These are required religious practices.
That’s essentially the practice and the theology. Now let me just talk about that a little bit. You could sum up their theology in this way…God is one, not three. The Koran says Christians who believe in the trinity are infidels. Also, Allah only loves good people, he does not love sinners. Also they teach that Allah is unknowable, he cannot be known. They teach that Jesus Christ was a man, he was not God the Son, and anyone who says Jesus is God, according to the Koran, is an infidel. Quote, “Any Muslim who believes that Jesus Christ is God has committed the one unforgivable sin called shirk, a sin that will send him to hell forever.” You wonder why it’s hard for a Muslim to come to Christ? Because he’s been programmed his entire life that if you ever acknowledge Jesus as God, you’re going to hell forever. That’s spelled out.
Further, their theology teaches Jesus didn’t die on the cross because Jesus was a prophet of Allah and Allah would never let that happen to one of his prophets. He didn’t die on the cross, therefore he didn’t rise from the dead…nor is he ever coming back. They further teach that no one can have salvation but a Muslim. Even though a Muslim can’t know he has it, he can have it in the end, god’s going to send some to heaven but no one who is not a Muslim is going to heaven.
And this is so heartbreaking. Islam has no savior…no savior. They die not knowing where they’re going. There is in the Muslim theology no atonement for sin, no sacrifice for sin, no propitiatory basis for forgiveness.
I’ll never forget a conversation with a man on an airplane who was a Muslim and I said,
“Do you sin?” And he said, “Of course, all the time.”
And I said, “What’s going to happen to people who sin?”
“They could go to hell.”
I said, “Why do you keep doing it?”
He said, “I can’t stop.”
And I said, “Do you have any hope?”
And this is what he said, “I hope THE god,” that’s what Allah means, THE god, definite article, Allah, Elah, Allah, The god, “I hope THE god will forgive me.”
And I said, “Why would he do that?”
He said, “I don’t know.”
No atonement, no basis of forgiveness, no savior. We have a great message for them, there is a Savior.
Where did all this come from? Where did all this stuff come from? Right out of hell, doctrines of demons, right? Muhammad grew up in Mecca. He was a member of a tribe called Quarish. And in Mecca they worshiped 360 idols and also a prominent black stone supposedly given by Gabriel to Abraham. It was said in the Koran that at the age of three Muhammad had an amazing event take place. Gabriel did some surgery, the archangel Gabriel, split open his chest, reached in and squeezed all the sin out of his heart so that Muhammad was sinless. Now here was Muhammad growing up in Mecca with 360 gods, but Satan was working on him to invent a religion that would end the division and pull everyone together in one great powerful massive effort to undo the covenant promise of God. And Muhammad would be the agent.
The main idol, however, of the 360 was Allah, THE god, Al Elah. Guess what? Allah was the moon god. If you see any Islamic symbols you would see a crescent moon. Allah was the moon god, some form of the very god that Abraham’s family worshiped, that Abraham’s father who was an idolater worshiped, the children in the family were named after, even Terah is a name that connects with the name of the moon god.
So, what Muhammad did under the influence of the powers of darkness was take all the elements from the 360 different forms of idol worship, piece them all together into a form of religion making only one change, he demanded that there was only one god, Allah the moon god. Where did he get this information? In 610 A.D. he began receiving…and I’m reading from the source material…he began receiving frightening revelations accompanied by violent seizures. I’ve read enough about mediums and demon-possessed people to know that that often accompanies that phenomenon. He was not sure whether the visions were divine or whether they were demonic. He didn’t know. But his wife told him to submit to the revelations because they were from Gabriel. So for the next 22 years, from 610 to his death in 632 he continued to get these visions and these revelations. And later on, first they were passed down orally and later on they were written by his followers from memory, making the Koran. And later adding to the Koran was the Hadif(?) which is other teaching and tradition. Muhammad built his whole system of religion on all these demonic forms of idolatry, adapting all the forms and features of idol worship with one new thing, and that was only the moon god Allah was true god and all the others were not and worship of all the other gods was forbidden and they were going to bring people into submission to that or kill them.
And I want to remind you, Satan is happy as a polytheist and he’s also happy as a monotheist, as long as it’s the wrong god. Islam is monotheistic Hedonism. Now I want to make a footnote here. You hear about American Black Muslim Movement, might wonder how that fits in, true Islam will tell you that is not Islam, that is not true Islam. What is the American Black Muslim Movement that was begun by Elijah Muhammad? It is a strange hybrid. Elijah Muhammad came across a teaching of a bizarre person named Wallace Fard, F-a-r-d. And he took this bizarre teaching of this man, Wallace Fard, and he mingled it with–get this–teaching from the Watchtower Society of the Jehovah Witnesses and he created a hybrid which is called the Black Muslim faith, here they call it The Black Nation of Islam. It is not true Islam.
And he said that this Wallace Fard was Allah and Louis Farrakhan who is the leader of that Movement, says he is the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6, he is the mighty god, the ever-lasting father and the prince of peace. That is to Islam what the Jehovah’s Witness cult is to Christianity. So I just want you to understand that. We’re talking here about the true historic Islam.
Muhammad said that the Jews had been rejected by Allah and cursed. And Muhammad said the duty of the Muslims is to subjugate everybody to Allah, including the Jewish infidels if needed by holy war. Obviously through the years and centuries it’s not all people who believe Islam are vicious and killers, not all of them, by far. But Muhammad was a very evil person and a very aggressive, in fact a deadly person. And so there is plenty of warrant in the system for those people who want to conduct themselves in that fashion. One of the Islamic leaders of our nation said the other day on television,
“These radicals have literally hijacked the entire religion for their own ends.”
But they can find in it a justification for what they do because it is inherent in Islam that they must make people convert by whatever means. The truth of the matter is that as we live today Islam is currently the most powerful system on earth for the destruction of biblical truth and Christianity and is the main persecutor of Christians all over the world…in the Middle East and in Africa. Thousands of Christians are dying under this persecution.
You see, for Islam the world is divided into two parts…Dar el Salaam, house of peace, where Allah rules. And Dar el Harb, house of war where infidels live. It’s either peace, you succumb to Allah, or it’s war.
In 1948 Israel, that infidel people, invaded the house of peace and turned it into a house of war. That’s why Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization said, quote:
“Peace for us means the destruction of Israel.”
That is the only condition of peace in the thinking of these extreme Islamic leaders. In fact, I just went back into some of the history, when Israel won its first battle with the Muslim/Arabs, they started to take back the land, it was a defeat for Allah. And Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian Ayatollah, said that Israel’s presence in the Arab land, Israel’s presence…and this is really pretty amazing…is due to the backslidden condition of Muslims and Allah is greatly displeased. The defeat of Israel, therefore, said the Ayatollah, will become the sign of Allah’s pleasure with Muslims. (Barbara Richmond, “Some Facts about Islam” at http://www.foryourglory.org/Islam). Many radical Islamic fundamentalists believe that to gain Allah’s pleasure, they must defeat Israel. That turns everything into a holy war, a jihad.
One Egyptian Islamic fundamentalist said, and I quote,
“Islam grows on the back of the severed limbs and blood of martyrs.”
They don’t mind spilling their blood to accomplish their ends. War is a language they understand and every war is a holy one. The Koran even teaches that Abraham was not a Jew, he was a Muslim and the Koran teaches, listen to this, the disciples of Christ were Muslims because Jesus was a prophet of Allah. In Algeria in the past two years somewhere between three and six thousand people have been killed in trying to turn Algeria into an Islamic state. Twenty-nine women have been killed for being unveiled, they vow to kill more. Throughout the history of the hand of these people has been against the Christians.
From 1894 to 1918 Muslims in Turkey persecuted Armenians in what remains history’s greatest atrocity against Christians. The Muslim’s savagery surpassed even the Roman Empire’s brutality in the first three centuries of Christianity. The Muslim Turks almost succeeded in exterminating the Armenian race. Through the process of starvation, deportation, disease, beatings and murders a million Armenians were killed and 1.5 million fled the country. One author wrote, quote:
“In less than a year the Armenians of Turkey to the number of about a million old and young, rich and poor, of both sexes had been collectively drowned, burned, bayonetted, starved or otherwise tortured to death or else deported on foot, penniless and without food through the burning Arabian deserts.”
This is just to indicate that this is not new. Now for 800 years the Muslims had great power in the Middle East. From the time of Muhammad on. And then came the Roman Catholic Church and then came the Crusades. You remember when the Roman Catholic crusaders took back the land of Israel in the great Crusades? And, of course, there was later on a defeat and Islamic countries rose to power in the Middle East until 1948 when Israel re-established itself. The Arab world right now is back, it’s back and it has a great agenda, and that is to conquer for Islam, to conquer for Allah and to rid the land of all infidels. The modern rise…the modern rise of their power began on May 26, 1908 because drillers struck oil at Mosjed-e Soleyman in Iran. Took them until 1970 to get the power from the oil, and now they have it. I mean, it’s a pretty simple principal. The energy consumers are at the mercy of the energy producers. Money has literally flooded into the Middle East, massive wealth to finance whatever wars and terrorism they want. In fact, it came into the Middle East so fast that in one article in the London Economist they wrote that they could buy the Bank of America in six days, the IBM Corporation in 43 days and all the major companies on the world’s stock market in 15 years. Massive wealth, more than half the world’s oil resources, close to the surface, easy to drill, close to the sea for piping and shipping, excellent quality, low in sulphur. One well brings 80,000 barrels a day. The wealth of the world is there and the world is energy dependent. And so they now have the money to fund the jihad and this is the religious reason behind all of this.
Just to let you know how serious they are, in a CNN interview with Osama bin Laden, he said this,
“We declare jihad against the United States government because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical. It has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous and criminal whether directly or through the support of the Israeli occupation. For this and other acts of aggression and injustice we have declared jihad against the United States because in our religion it is our duty to make jihad so that God’s word is the one exalted to the heights and so that we drive the infidels out of Muslim countries” (Washington Post, August 23, 1998).
On February 22, 1998 bin Laden issued an edict calling for a tax on all Americans, including civilians, announced the creation of the International Islamic Front for jihad against the Jews and crusaders in association with extremist groups from Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The following quotations are taken from that edit. Quote, “For over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors and turning its bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples. Despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusaders Zionist alliance and despite the huge number of those killed which has exceeded one million, in spite all this the Americans are once again trying to repeat the horrific massacres as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed against the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation. We with God’s help call on every Muslim who believes in god and wishes to be rewarded to comply with god’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim leaders, youths and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan’s US troops and the devil’s supporters aligned with them and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson. The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies, civilians and military is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it in order to liberate the Al-Aqsa mosque…that’s in the middle of Jerusalem…and the holy mosque in Mecca from their grip and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim,” end quote. I mean, that’s about as clear as it can be.
CNN reported that he said,
“Thousands of millions of Muslims are angry. Hostility toward America is a religious duty and we have to be rewarded for it by Allah. We are confident that the Muslim nation would rid Islamic countries of the American and the Jew.”
This is the religious reason why it happens. You free up evil people to do evil, they’ll do it. And then you tell them by doing this evil they’re serving God, and you have given them the greatest justification possible.
Now let’s go back to theology for a minute. There’s one way a Muslim can be sure of heaven. And I’ve read through a lot of their literature this last week. There’s one way a Muslim can be sure of heaven, die in a jihad. Here’s what it says in the Koran. “If you are slain or die in god’s way, it is unto god you shall be taken. As for those who are slain in the cause of Allah, he will admit them to the paradise he has made known to them.” The only way that I can find in their literature that a Muslim can know he’s going to heaven for sure is to die in a holy war. It further says, “The unbelievers are your enemies…and I’m quoting…seek out your enemies relentlessly, you shall not plead for traitors, Allah does not love the treacherous or the sinful. O believers, when you encounter the unbelievers marching to battle, turn not your backs to them. Who turns his back that day to them, he is laden with the burden of god’s anger and his refuge is Gehenna, or hell.” You fight, you go to heaven. You run, you go to hell. That’s the only way you can know. You get in a holy war, you give up your life and you can be sure of heaven.
There is also a sensual motivation for these people. This is so bizarre…the sensual reason. Essentially 64 percent between 18 and 23 and all them under 30, they’re young single men, they may in their clandestine operations when they come into the United States appear to have families, but there is evidence surfacing that that is only an appearance. It may be true that some of them do but it seems to be part of their cover. Single men. How do you possible motivate a young person? Suicide bombers are recruited as young as 13. How do you recruit people? How do you get a single person to blow himself up? How do you get a single person to fly an airplane into a building? What is the motivation?
Well first of all, if he’s genuinely Islamic he wants to know he’s going to heaven. There’s a terrifying reality in Islam about hell, they have a real hell. But there’s something even beyond this that’s real bizarre. Wouldn’t it be easier to just go to battle and kill an infidel and then you know you would go to heaven? What are you going to do this for? Why do you have to kill yourself?
There’s a lot behind it. Palestinian suicide bombers were first carrying out their actions against Israel in 1994. In the past 11 months 15 suicide bombers occurred in Israel. And some Muslims say that such suicide bombings are forbidden. It is a debate going on among Islamic leaders. And the reason they say it’s forbidden, it’s not forbidden to die in a holy war, it’s not forbidden to die as a martyr, it’s the noblest thing you could do and it’s a guarantee to heaven, but there are some Islamic leaders who think that self-killing, suicide is forbidden. However, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Egypt’s most highly respected Muslim cleric said, “The rulings against suicide bombers were made by people alien to Islamic law and religion.” And Jerusalem’s top Muslim agreed that suicide in a holy war is a noble act. Homas and Islamic jihad, two radical Islamic groups, have carried out multiple suicide bombings and they say they have absolutely no shortage of volunteers. These are young men, they can be started at the age of five in the training process. They are virtually unemployable because they have basically been programmed and brainwashed for one thing, single men with a bleak future looking for heroic death and entrance into eternal paradise. Support in the Islamic world for suicide bombers has increased in one year, the last year from 25 percent of the population to 70.
So it’s become the dominant popular view that it’s okay to do this. It promises heroism. It promises heaven. In fact, one Palestinian psychologist said, “It’s no wonder that some people are doing it. We should wonder why everybody isn’t doing it.” It’s a way to heaven. There are plenty in line. Abu Shanab hit the issue, one of their spokesman, he said, quote:
“There’s not a single person in Israel whom we don’t view as a usurper of our land.”
That just keeps being the issue, and as we support Israel we become the big Satan.
Now the training for this begins early. Mohammed al-Durra was killed in terrorist action in Israel. I read the article about it. His mother said, quote: “I am happy he has been martyred.” She gave him a snack before he went to the shoot out. In sending your children at the age of 13 or any age into some kind of battle overrides natural parental instincts.
Vamik Volkan, Turkish-Cypriot psychoanalyst and psychologist had some interesting things to say about this in a book he wrote called Bloodline which studies the history of these bombers. Typical recruits are 17 to 23, isolated boys locked into adolescent struggles. The boys are divided into small secretive groups where they collectively read Koranic verses such as…Think not of those who are slain in god’s way as dead, they live finding their sustenance in the presence of their lord,” there’s the promise of heaven. He goes on, “An almost mystical sense of togetherness is created which undoes the adolescent isolation these boys feel. The same mechanisms that pull together a football team is used to create a terrorist group. Most of these boys are instructed to suppress their sexual urges, not watch television but are promised unlimited sexual activity in heaven with virgins should they become martyrs. And there’s the sensual motivation.
Let me get specific. They are promised that when they die they will not only go to heaven but when they get to heaven there will be 72 black-haired virgins waiting to have eternal sex with them. Here they are with a pent-up sexual desire and a very sensual thing. By the way, the Koran says that Muslims can only have four wives. Muhammad had 16 and at least 22 named women that he cohabitated with. There was a sensual element in this. And the carrot they hang out in the face of the suicide bombers is not just heaven but eternal sex with 72 virgins. A recent review of 140 school text books of the Palestinian authority showed that all subjects are used to teach Palestinian children to admire the shaheed, that’s the martyr. The great eight literature text books are filled with songs and poems glorifying child death…quote: “Draw your sword, death will call upon you and your sword will go wild. Palestine, the young will redeem your land.” In a grammar text the following question is asked, quote: “Mark the subject and object of the following sentence,” here’s the sentence in a grammar book, quote: “Jihad, holy war to spread Islam is the religious duty of every Muslim.” Another one says, “Cherish the jihad fighters who quench the earth of Jerusalem with their blood.” This is in a grammar book, pick out the subject and pick out the object.
Palestinian Sesame Street teaches children the virtues of killing the infidel powers of Jerusalem with guns and stones. Chief Mufti of the Palestinian police Sheik Abd Al-Salam Skheidm specified the rewards according to Islamic tradition, and I quote, “From the moment his first drop of blood spills, the martyr feels no pain. He is absolved of all his sins. He seals his seat in heaven and he is spared the tortures of the grave. He is spared the horrors of judgment day. He is married to the black-eyed virgins and…here’s another thing…he can vouch for 70 of his family members to also enter paradise.” So if he does this, when he gets there he can pick 70 people out of his family who are going to get salvation out of his sacrifice.
A week before the suicide bombings in the Tel-Aviv Palestinian authority, the same kind of authority, Al Mufti Sheik Ikrima Sabri discussed this issue in the Al-Aqsa mosque right there in Jerusalem, it was broadcast on the Voice of Palestine radio May 25 of this year, this is what he said,
“The Muslim loves death and martyrdom, just as you Jews love life. There’s a great difference between he who loves the afterlife and he who loves this world. The Muslim loves death and seeks martyrdom.”
Sure, you go to heaven and you get eternal sex. What a perverse perspective. That’s the final carrot that hangs over these disenfranchised single men, lured by lust. The Koran describes these women, quote: “Beautiful like rubies, with complexions like diamonds and pearls.” The martyrs then will, quote, “Delight themselves lying on green cushions and beautiful carpets.” USA Today, Jack Kelly, the writer, July 5 of this year, just a couple of months ago, wrote in Habos run kindergartens there are signs on the walls in the Palestinian area, here are the signs, “The children of the kindergarten are the Shaheeds the holy martyrs of tomorrow.” They start with kindergartners. Another sign, the classroom signs at Al Najjar University in the West Bank in Gaza, it’s an Islamic university said, quote: “Israel has nuclear bombs, we have human bombs.” At an Islamic school in Gaza City run by Homos(?) eleven-year-old Palestinian students, Ameds, small frame and boyish smile are deceiving. They mask a determination to kill at any cost. Quote he says, “I will make my body a bomb that will blast the flesh of Zionists the sons of pigs and monkeys.” The reason he says that in the Koran it says Allah turned Jews into pigs one time, another time he turned them into monkeys.
Little 11-year-old Amad said, quote:
“I will tear their bodies into little pieces and cause them more pain then they will ever know.”
Eleven years old. His classmates all responded, shouting in response:
“Allahu Akbar, God is great.”
The teacher yelled back,
“May the virgins give you pleasure.”
And so it goes. Now in the end will Islam win the jihad? No. I can tell you how it ends, isn’t that good to know? I can’t tell you the end of a football game but I can tell you the end of this one. Turn to Ezekiel 36 and I’m not done so rest comfortably. I have three pages left out of 18…so you can calculate. Ezekiel 36:1, “And you, son of man, prophesy in the mountains of Israel, speak to the land, speak to the land, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord.” What’s going to happen? What’s the message of God to the land? “Thus says the Lord God, because the enemy has spoken against you, Aha…that is to say we have you…and the everlasting heights have become our possession. The enemy is ours, we’ve got him, all we need is that one little piece of Israel, got all the rest, it’s ours.” They have it, they have Lebanon, they have Syria, they have it all. And then east. “Therefore the prophets prophesy and say, Thus says the Lord God. For good cause they have made you desolate, crushed you from every side, from the north, from the south, from the east they’ve crushed Israel. The Jew shall become a possession of the rest of the nations. You have been taken up in the talk and the whispering of the people…” I mean, it goes on all the time. It’s all talk against Israel. “Therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God.”
What does God have to say to this, right? What does God have to say? “Thus says the Lord God to the mountains, the hills, the ravines, the valleys, all that land, the desolate waste, the desert, the forsaken cities which have become a prey and a derision of the rest of the nations around about you, therefore thus says the Lord God, surely in the fire of My jealousy I have spoken against the rest of all the nations.” God has set Himself against those nations. They are idolatrous. And against all Edom, representing all Israel’s enemies, “Who have appropriated My land for themselves.”
God sets Himself against those nations who take His land. It became for them a possession with wholehearted joy and with the scorn of soul they drive it out for a prey. And that’s just exactly the attitude…scorn and get the Israelites out of this land. “But I have set Myself,” He says, “against these nations. Therefore prophesy concerning Israel…verse 6…and say to the mountains and the hills and the ravines…thus says the Lord God, say to the valleys, Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and My wrath because you have endured the insults of the nations.” Isn’t that…God says some day…the day is going to come when you’re not going to take any more insults, Israel, you’re not going to take any more insults. “Therefore thus says the Lord God…in verse 7…I have sword that surely the nations which are around you will themselves endure their insults, but you, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel, for they will soon come. For behold, I am for you.” Oh what a statement!
Who is God for in this battle? Israel. And this is amazing because Israel’s in unbelief. But they are God’s covenant people and He’s going to bring them to salvation. God’s for Israel. I don’t know about you, but I want to be for who God’s for. God’s for Israel, I’m for Israel too. “I’m for you, I’ll turn to you and you’ll be cultivated and sewn and I’ll multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it and the cities will be inhabited and the waste places will be rebuilt and I’ll multiply on you man and beast and you’ll increase and be fruitful and I’ll cause you to be inhabited as you were formerly and I’ll treat you better than at the first.” Isn’t that something? “And thus you will know that I am the Lord,” it’s not Allah. “And I’ll cause…” he’s talking to the land here. “I’ll cause men to walk on you, My people Israel, to walk on you and possess you, you’ll become their inheritance and never again bereave them of children.”
I’d say that’s pretty clear, isn’t it? Do you have any question of who’s going to win? I don’t have any question. Look at verse 22, this is the amazing grace of God to keep His promise. In verse 22, “Say to the house of Israel,” let’s talk to the land. God gave a message to the land. Now let’s talk to the people, verse 22,
“Thus says the Lord God, it’s not for your sake, O house of Israel that I’m about to act, but for My holy name which you have profaned among the nations where you went.”
And here He says you’re not worthy of this, you’ve profaned My name.
“But I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations which you have profaned in their midst.”
That’s where the sad thing, isn’t it, today about Israel? Secular…indifferent to God and the Messiah of God. It’s not going to stay that way.
“The nations…verse 23…are going to know that I am the Lord when I prove Myself holy among you in your sight.” That’s the salvation of Israel that’s coming. “I’ll take you from the nations, I’ll gather you from the lands. I’ll bring you into your own land.” Guess what? It’s happening, they’re there.
Then this is going to happen. Oh, watch this. Verse 25, “Then I will…what?…sprinkle clean water on you, you’ll be clean, I’ll cleanse you from all your filthiness, all your idols, I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit within you. Remove the heart of stone from your flesh, give you a heart of flesh. Put My Spirit within you. Cause you to walk in My statutes and you’ll be careful to observe My ordinances and then you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers. Then you’ll be My people and I will be your God and I will save you from all your uncleanness and I will call for the grain and multiply it and I will not bring famine on you and I’ll multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field that you may not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. You will remember all your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations and I’m not doing this for your sake, you don’t deserve it. I’m doing it for My sake.”
Verse 33 He says, “I’ll cleanse you from all your iniquities. I’ll cause the cities to be inhabited, the waste places to be rebuilt, the desolate land will be cultivated. Instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by they will say the desolate land, look at this, has become like…what?…oh, the Garden of Eden. And the waste and desolate and ruined cities are fruitful and fortified, inhabited. Then the nations that are left around you will know it’s not Allah but it’s I the Lord that have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate. I the Lord have spoken and…what?…I’ll do it. I’ll even increase their men like a flock,” verse 37. And at the end of verse 38, the end of the chapter, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
That day’s coming, beloved. I don’t know when it’s coming but it’s coming. It’s…can’t be too far, they’re gathered there. But until that day there’s going to be war. Until that day there’s going to be conflict, escalating, escalating, escalating. And now we’re dragged into it, half a world away and we’re dragged into it.
You say, “Well why we dragged into it?” I told you why. What should be our response? We should do what is just. We should do what governments are designed by God to do. What are governments designed by God to do? To bear a sword, Romans 13, and not to bear a sword for nothing. Civil government is not a pageant. Why do we bear a sword? To punish evil doers, to protect innocent people. And a war of protection and a war of punishment is a just war. If I have four children in my house and a man comes in and kills two of them, what do I do? Negotiate? What do I do? I stop him from killing the rest if I can. Sacrifices have to be made for the greater good. Evil has to be punished. Even human goodness has to be protected.
Civil government, folks, get it straight, is not primarily here to provide Medicare and Social Security. I hate to tell you that. It certainly doesn’t exist for the redistribution of wealth. It exists to threaten evil doers with death and protect the people who obey the law. The noose, the guillotine, the firing squad, the gas chamber, the electric chair as well as the sword, the gun, the rifle, the canon, and the missile stand behind the stability of a civilization because people are killers. A just war is a war called for by the scale of the crimes. This isn’t personal vengeance, it is national protection by the punishment of those who do evil and by stopping them permanently from doing more of it.
A lot of people have said to me…Is this an end time scenario? I don’t think that the plane crash into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, I don’t think that’s apocalyptic. I don’t think that’s anything that indicates the end time. Well we know there are biblical signs at the end, Israel is in the land. That’s true. The world is moving toward one world religion that Antichrist could rule and that Islam is moving in that direction. I’ve been so fascinated over the last ten years to watch the Roman Catholic Church making its overtures to Islam. We can see that. Weapons of mass destruction are not available and in the book of Revelation it says in the end of the age one third of the population of the world will die and one forth will die. That will take weapons of mass destruction. You couldn’t do that with knives, and bows and arrows. Also it tells us in the end time, Daniel 9, there will be so much turmoil in the Middle East that they’ll need a peacemaker…the peacemaker will be the Antichrist. While they have the turmoil, it’s a perfect scenario for a false Christ to come and establish a false peace. I’m always watching whoever goes to the Middle East to negotiate to see if it’s the Antichrist.
What have I given you? I’ve given you a natural reason why this happened…the evil depravity of man’s murderous heart that has to be kept in check by fear and retribution, or he is a killer. I’ve given you historical reason why that happened…the deeply imbedded hatred for the Arabic world toward Israel and the long millennia of conflict between those people over the land. And America has been drawn into it because America is an allied-infidel nation. I’ve given you a religious reason why it happens. The theology of Islam allows for no assurance for salvation from hell except when one dies as a martyr in a holy war. Satan, of course, is behind that. I gave you a sensual reason as well as a religious reason why this happens. Self-killing suicide bombers working for eternal sex.
I’m going to give you one last reason and this is the real reason we need to understand. Theological reason…why did it happen? Why did all those people die? I’ll tell you why, because the wages of sin is death. That’s why, because it’s appointed unto men once to…what?…die. I don’t know how else to say it. Nothing happened to those people on Tuesday that wasn’t going to happen anyway. They were all going to die, just not then, they thought. Nothing extraordinary about people dying. Are you ready for this? Since Tuesday 50 thousand Americans have died…since Tuesday. Have you been concerned? Fifty thousand. This year, 2.5 million will die. And eventually everybody will die, that’s reality. We feel much more comfortable when they die one by one. We don’t like it when they die 250 at a time in a plane crash. Sometimes a few thousand die in a Third-World flood, Third-World earthquake, volcanic eruption. Rarely do 5,000 people, or 10,000 people die and never in America. Oh, but everybody dies. Fifty thousand Americans die every week. Are we so concerned? We just go on blissfully living our lives with little regard for the fact that 50,000 Americans die every week? Amazing. As long as everything is kind of comfortable and we don’t have to see that, we don’t see mangled airplanes and mangled trains and mangled buildings, we’re okay. It keeps death at some distance.
They died because everybody dies. They just didn’t expect to die when they died. And you know, people say, “Well why did God let that happen?” It happens to everybody. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6.23). The bigger question is not why did God let it happen, the bigger question is why do any of us live? We should all be dead. The wages of sin is…what?…death. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The big question is not why did God allow those people to die, the bigger question is why does God allow you to live…and me? You know, we live under constant mercy so that when justice shows up we’re shocked. We get so used to grace that we don’t understand justice. Every once in a while, every once in a while God draws back the grace and a deadly disaster happens and we’re shocked. Our shock should be that we’re reminded of what we deserve.
People say, “Well what is God saying?” I’ll tell you what He’s saying. He’s saying, “People, you’re going to die and you don’t have control of it. This is a reminder, I give you life, I give you love, I give you happiness, I pour out all the common grace and make life rich and rewarding, full. I do everything I can. I’m patient. I’m forebearing. I’m merciful. I’m gracious. But once in a while I have to show you a stark illustration of where you’re going.”
So we think it’s our right to just live. We think the key to our life is exercise, diet. It’s not your right to live, it’s God’s grace that gives you life. And when God allows a startling and dramatic tragedy to occur, don’t question His fairness, thank Him for His grace.
Turn to Luke 13. Here is the definitive passage, this is the last page, we’re there. Luke 13, “Now on the same occasion, an occasion when Jesus was teaching a large crowd, there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” Boy, that was a strange thing. Pilate was the Roman procurator, the Roman governor of occupied Israel. The Romans occupied Israel. The Galileans were Jews from the north part of the land and they were making sacrifices. They were at the temple. This is the only place in Israel you can make sacrifice so some people came down from Galilee, Jesus was a Galilean so were all the apostles. Came down to make sacrifice. Went into the temple, went in there making sacrifice, religious, dutiful, doing what the Old Testament told them to do, doing what God had revealed they should do. And Pilate mingled their blood with the sacrifice.
What does that mean? Pilate sent men in there to slice them up, kill them. This is just…I mean, these are religious people. And it says in verse 2 He answered and said to them, they didn’t even ask a question, but He knew what was in their minds. “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this fate? Do you think God did this because they’re worse than everybody else?” I mean, see the question in their mind is these people are religious, these people are down at the temple, they’re doing what they should be doing, what the Old Testament tells them to do. What is the deal? Why would God allow Pilate to go in there and kill them so that their own blood is mingled with the sacrifice? Very vivid. Why did this happen to these religious people? Well, they must have worse than everybody else.
No. Verse 3,
“No, but unless you repent you’ll all likewise perish.”
What is that? That’s the message, folks. People die. Because they die doesn’t mean they’re worse than anybody else. God wasn’t somehow judging people who worked in that building, or those buildings because they’re worse than other people. No. No. They’re not any different than anybody else. Jesus said Pilate didn’t go in there, God didn’t allow him to send in his soldiers to kill those people because they were worse than anybody else. The point is, you better repent or you will perish when you die. This is…what is God saying to this nation in this? He is saying you better repent because you don’t know when you’re going to die. If you die without being prepared, you will perish.
And then even a more vivid one, verse 4.
“Do you suppose that those eighteen people on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?”
Now they’ve got another question. Hey, they had their own trade center, the tower in Siloam. It fell over one day. It wasn’t hit by an airplane but probably poor construction, maybe an earthquake, it fell over. Eighteen people were walking down the street, the tower falls on them, kills them all. And the question in their minds is…why does this happen to these people? Are these people worse than all the rest of the people who live in Jerusalem?
Jesus answered, verse 5, “I tell you no, no. They’re not any worse than you, but unless you repent you will also perish.” People in the Pentagon, people in those World Trade Center towers perished…I’m sure some of them were believers, some were not and the ones who were not perished, went to hell forever without God, without hope. They weren’t worse than anybody else. You’ll perish too if you don’t repent. That’s the message, that’s God’s message. See, the difference in people is only the difference in degree, it’s not a difference in kind. We’re all sinners. And death and judgment is sure. But you’re not dead. You weren’t in those buildings. You weren’t in those airplanes. You’re alive and the message from Jesus is…repent of your sin, embrace Christ so that when your day does come you won’t perish, you’ll go into His presence.
And then in verse 6 Jesus tells a story. A certain man had a fig tree. He planted it in his vineyard. And he came looking for fruit on it, didn’t find any. And he said to the vineyard keeper, the man he had hired to take care of it,
“Behold, for three years I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down. Why does it even use up my ground? It’s pointless. He answered and said to him, Let it alone, sir. But this year, give it one more year and let me dig around it and put in some fertilizer and if it bears fruit next year, fine. If not, cut it down.”
Oh, is that vivid? We’re living on borrowed time. God could say to us…cut it down. Say to you. But God in His grace says we will wait. Just give me a little more time to see if it bears fruit. This is the heart of God. This is the heart of God. And the message is to repent of sin and embrace the gift of forgiveness and the gift of salvation in Christ.
Let me tell you something, folks. Two and a half million Americans are going to die this year and some day all of them are going to die. It’s really time for people to take life and death more seriously, don’t you think? Enough of the parties, enough of the games, it’s time to repent and call on God to save you from eternal hell. You’re living on borrowed time. It’s as if Christ is saying to the Father…Well just another…let me work on it another year. I think it’s time for preachers to stop the theatrics, the psycho babble and funny stories, the trivial entertainment and speak of life and death matters in biblical terms and rescue the perishing, care for the dying.”
Arthur is an author, a former agnostic, and a current ambassador of Jesus of Nazareth who loves to share the best of reasons for God's ultimate reality. His love and passion are helping skeptics and Christians grow in their faith and knowledge of God through accessible materials.