Tag Archives: September 11

Wrath of God, part 4

Read Genesis 19:1-16

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Do to [Babylon] as she has done to others. Double her penalty for all her evil deeds. She brewed a cup of terror for others, so brew twice as much for her.” (Revelation 18:6)

fall-of-babylon-640x426It was on Thursday, Sepetember 13, 2001 that the late Rev. Jerry Falwell carried a conversation with televangelist Pat Robertson regarding the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history just two days earlier on 9/11. He said, “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularise America, I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.'”

Wow! Go ahead, read that quote again. Let it sink in. Did God really send terrorists, or “allow terrorists to succeed” in killing nearly 3,000 people (most of whom were not abortionists or ACLU members, many of whom were not gay or lesbian, and most of whom were not pagans) because such people are fighting for the secularization of the country? Does God really operate in such a morally questionable way? This is the type of stuff that make the Bible and, in particular, the wrath of God so hard to navigate while trying to be a responsible theologian.

I am not quoting the late Rev. Falwell to judge him; but to continue to address the wrath of God and how that operates in the Biblical narrative. First, I would like to state that God’s wrath is almost always poured out upon nations (with some exceptions). Rev. Falwell’s line of thinking that God could be pouring judgment and wrath upon America is certainly not unfounded in a literal interpretation of Scripture. In Exodus, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, and many others we see God actively calling nations out for their wickedness and we see God’s wrath poured out on them for their wickedness. In Revelation, we see God’s wrath being poured out on the beast, which represents the Roman Empire.

But the question is, what angers God so much that God’s wrath boils up and over? Time and time again, when we look in the Bible, we see that what God despises the most, what sets God off in anger and wrath, is injustice! When the privileged abuse their power for their own gain, when those in power lord it over those who are powerless, God gets angry. When people are oppressed, enslaved, mistreated, disregarded, impoverished, forgotten, manipulated and/or exploited, God is incensed.

Even in the instance of Sodom and Gomorrah, the wrath was the result of all of the men of the city trying to rape the very messengers God sent to warn the cities. While rape involves a sexual act, it is more of an abusive act of power than it is one of sex. And God destests such injustice. God’s wrath on Sodom and Gomorrah was not over consensual homosexuality, as it is often misinterpreted, but rather about the kind of moral depravity that the entire city was consumed by…to the point that its citizens would rape and have their way with strangers and aliens, just because they could!

Let us not fall into the moral tar pit of judgment toward people who are different than us in sexual identity, in gender, in political affiliation, in ideology, or in any such thing. That is the pathway of sin and, ultimately, can lead to evil (e.g. Orlando Massacre). When reflecting on God’s wrath, we must understand the heart of God. The Bible makes it clear to us, over and over again, that God detests injustice in all forms, and God’s heart is with the downtrodden and the oppressed and that God’s wrath comes against the SYSTEMS that work their hardest at keeping the oppressed “in their place.”

The question for us is this, does God’s anger burn through us at the injustice we see toward all who are oppressed and/or discriminated against? Or do we align with the SYSTEM in its discrimination? Do we fight for all to be treated equal in the system and under the law, or do we want to keep the under-privileged in their places so that we can hold on to our privilege and power? Reflect upon this and allow the conviction of God to stir up honest answers to those questions, for honest answers lead to heavenly transformation.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“If everyone howled at every injustice, every act of barbarism, every act of unkindness, then we would be taking the first step towards a real humanity.” – Nelson DeMille

PRAYER
Lord, help me to see the injustice that I perpetuate so that I may eliminate it and fight against it in the world around me. Amen.

In Remembrance

Read Deuteronomy 24:10-22

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18 NRSV)

9-11-skyline-nightThirteen years ago from yesterday was a day that I will never forget. I was an iron worker at the time and was working on the roof of a building in Bridgewater, NJ. We were all well into our work, tying rebar down in order to create a mat that would become the reinforcement for the concrete floor of the roof. It was then that our supervisor came running up. He told us that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. We were shocked, perhaps a little confused, and we tried making light (if not sense) of it by joking that it must have been a Laguardia mess up. I mean, how else do you explain it?

So, we all went back to work, each of us silently processing it on our own. Each of us were trying to put those words together, “A plane has flown into one of the twin towers.” In ten minutes time, our supervisor came up again screaming, “It happened again, another plain crashed into the other tower!” We were being attacked. There was no doubt what was happening at that point. Accidents happen but not simultaneously in pairs. At that point our supervisor sent us home, not knowing what else to do. We were all in shock.

In fact, I am not sure how I made it home that day. I was in shock. I went to the daycare to pick up my daughter and she wasn’t there. I tried to call my wife but couldn’t make it through…the lines were tied up and service was down. It turned out that my daughter wasn’t in daycare that day as my wife wasn’t working. I was so beside myself as I listened to the devastating news reports that I became disoriented.

The news kept rolling in with reports of the Pentagon being hit and a plane crashing somewhere out in Pennsylvania! Once I got home, I turned on the news to see two smoking infernos that were the Twin Towers (which had been a part of the NY Skyline for my entire life and then some) and images of bodies falling out of the windows as they tried to escape being burned alive. There were images of people covered in ash, soot and God only knows what, walking around like zombies…in total shock…just aimlessly walking with blank faces. Other people were screaming, crying, running and it was clear that New York was not the same place it had been just two hours earlier. In fact, America and the Western world as a whole seemed to change on that day.

I will never forget where I was that day, and I am sure no one who was alive during that time will. What’s even more important for us to realize is that many people live in that kind of a horrific reality everyday. It is easy for us to distance ourselves from it because we live in a country that, barring a handful of horrific events, has generally been free from the war-wreaked devastation that a majority of the world is plagued by. But 9/11 is a reminder that even we are not immune to the jaws of hatred, violence and horrific destruction!

Let us not forget the victims of 9/11. Let us always remember that day and the terrible devastation it brought, not to be bitter or hold grudges or retaliate, but so that we remain prayerful for those who are suffering whether they be in this country or around the world. Let us honor those who died on 9/11 by reconciling with those we’ve wronged and by being peacemakers in our community and in this world. Doing such will serve to witness to the resolve of love, even against the forceful presence of hate. Like Peter, if we are founded on the rock (aka God’s love), even the gates of death shall not prevail against us!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
It is a full time job being honest one moment at a time, remembering to love, to honor, to respect. It is a practice, a discipline, worthy of every moment.

PRAYER
Lord, help me honor those who have been victims of hate, intolerance, war, famine, disease, poverty and all of the other things that people suffer, by being someone who stands up in opposition to such things. Found me in your love so that I may become a fortress of hope, healing and wholeness for those in my community who need it. Amen.