I am writing this on September 11. I was born exactly 50 years and 11 days before that dreadful day in 2001. This 50-year Jubilee connection is just one of many reasons that 9/11 has especially deep meanings for me.
It has been 18 years since the heart-breaking tragedy, when terrorists attacked our country, killing 3000 people, injuring over 6000, and inflicting massive physical damage.
Those of us old enough will remember watching the television coverage in agonized shock. We were stunned, and later that turned into terrible hurt and anger for all that we had lost. Many of our leaders sought to stand tall and speak bravely in order to console us. A President demonstrated American strength and courage, vowing retribution by assuring the world that “the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” Nationalist fervor welled up in our leaders, and their continual rallying cry became “We will rebuild!”
After 9/11, the churches filled with people needing answers to their own pain and confusion. They prayed for those who had been killed; U.S. flag lapel pins were everywhere; and “God bless America” became a catch-phrase. But it didn’t take long for the church-going trend to wither away, and attendance reverted back to pre-9/11 levels. There was no lasting “great awakening” or quickening of our spiritual fervor. There was no unified plea to God to forgive our national sins and to heal us as a people.
Time passed, and a new wave of leaders emerged. Another President assured us that, to heal our 9/11 wounds and to unify the country, all that was needed were “the smallest acts of service” and “the simplest act of kindness.” Others would seek to minimize the terror and the terrorist origins of 9/11 by describing it with such toss-off lines as “some people did something.”
And so, every 9/11, we Americans have a deep-seated need to memorialize it somehow. We flood social media with memes demanding that we “Never Forget,” but which fail to tell us how to deal with what we remember. We experience each 9/11 knowing that our response is somehow incomplete, but there have been precious few strong voices to tell us why we still feel empty and desolate. All we know is that we are unable to find our way back by minimizing the importance of the event, or by fist-shaking patriotic bravado — or even by rebuilding taller and better.
At least subconsciously, we kept trying to answer seemingly unanswerable questions. What is missing? What don’t we know or acknowledge? Why do we still feel empty and incomplete?
“We Will Rebuild”
Exactly 10 years after the bin-Laden-inspired attack, a book hit the market, written by Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jewish Rabbi, of whom few had heard by that time. The book was titled The Harbinger, and it spent 100 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. Word of mouth won it a huge readership, particularly throughout the conservative and evangelical Christian communities and churches, and in Jewish Messianic congregations.
I had heard a little about the book, but I had not yet found a compelling reason to read it. But after it was strongly recommended to me by a cousin of mine and his wife (thanks, David & Joan!), I bought a copy and (to quote an old phrase) I couldn’t put it down. The author’s huge and important message centered around three main things: (1) 9/11, (2) a brief passage from the book of Isaiah, and (3) the author’s seemingly inexhaustible knowledge of Old and New Testament scriptures.
This is not a “book report” on The Harbinger, by any means. Suffice it to say that the book draws startling and undeniable parallels between events in the final days of the ancient kingdom of Israel and the 21st century nation of the United States — up to and including 9/11.
I’ve had many conversations with people about the book in the intervening years, and they almost always have been very positive about it. Virtually every one of them, however, talked mainly or exclusively about the book’s prophecy content. “If ancient Israel had an event that mirrored our 9/11, and therefore was a kind of prophecy for it, then what happened to Israel afterward? Is that also a prophecy for what is going to happen to America??” And to be fair, there is no doubt that these are important questions that Jonathan Cahn wanted his readers to explore and take to heart.
But after my second reading of The Harbinger, I came away convinced that the prophetic teaching of the book, however large and captivating, is not its most important message. Here’s why.
As I mentioned above, author Cahn began by demonstrating the parallels between the terrorist attacks suffered by ancient Israel and those of 9/11 in this country. One thread of the book goes forward from there and fleshes out the prophetic meaning of those parallels. But there is a much more important thread (or so it seems to me) which explores how we as a nation can avoid the calamities suffered by ancient Israel after those terrorist attacks. That second thread is one concerning Prayer and Repentance.
After I separated those two threads in my mind, I began to notice that when Cahn was interviewed about the book, he was inevitably (and understandably) asked about its prophetic message. And he always found a way to turn the conversation back around to his book’s (and the Bible’s) call for our nation to turn to prayer and repentance.
The Second Thread
Here’s what that second thread comprises. If you have read any Old Testament history at all, you will remember that ancient Israel was warned by God’s Prophets that He would punish them severely if they did not stop their sinful, evil ways, return to Him, and keep His Covenant. The Prophet Isaiah tells us that, as a warning, ancient Israel was attacked by a terrorist nation that shook them as badly as 9/11 shook America. The early verses of Isaiah chapter 9 remind the reader of that event:
The Lord sent a message against Jacob; it came against Israel.
All the people — Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria — will know it. They will say with pride and arrogance:
“The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with cut stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.”
The people did not turn to Him who struck them; they did not seek Yehovah of Hosts.
Did you notice in this passage the similarities to 9/11 and its aftermath? “We will rebuild” is not considered by God to be a statement of courage or strength — even though post-9/11 American leaders thought it was. God instead calls it “pride and arrogance” when they (we?) assert that “the previous building has fallen, but we will rebuild with better, stronger materials.” Why does God say that? Isaiah tells us in verse 13: “The people … did not seek Yehovah of Hosts.”
Here is how Cahn lays it out: God allowed the destruction of ancient Israel’s buildings (also a tower, as it turns out) for several reasons:
- (1) to get their attention,
- (2) to give them a reason to turn back to Him,
- (3) to bring them to Him on bended knees, and
- (4) to persuade them to ask for forgiveness of their national sins.
And here’s a truly astounding point, which we might easily read past without noticing. The first part of verse 13 (see above) says that it was God, Himself, “who struck them.” The attack was God’s will and He caused it to happen. In The Harbinger, Cahn makes the case that this is the same reason God allowed (caused) 9/11.
Did ancient Israel heed God’s wake-up call and turn back to Him in prayer and repentance? No.
Did America heed God’s wake-up call and turn back to Him in prayer and repentance? No.
Must we in America turn back to God in prayer and repentance, to avoid further punishment for our sins? Almost certainly, Yes.
After the “shaking” of the terrorist attack, God gave ancient Israel a time to listen to His prophets, to abandon their sinful ways, to return in humility to their Creator God, and to repent of the evil in the land. We must never forget that ancient Israel did not listen to God’s calling. In their “pride and arrogance,” they boasted that they would recover through their own strength, and they ignored God’s call to Prayer and Repentance.
And what happened? God caused the Kingdom of Israel to be destroyed and its people to be taken into captivity by the nation of Assyria as punishment.
If their terrorist attack was God’s wake-up call to them to prayer and repentance, is it possible that 9/11 was the same thing for America — a country which has long boasted of being a Christian nation, built on a Judeo-Christian foundation? And if we ignore this call to prayer and repentance, are we in danger of a national calamity equal in size, scope, and purpose for defying our Creator God?
A Day of Prayer and Repentance
I said above that our hearts and minds realize every year that our feelings about 9/11 are still uneasy and incomplete. God is trying to tell us that it is only through Him that our lives can be whole, complete, positive, and forgiven.
We must as a nation drop to our knees, bow our heads toward the ground, and humbly ask God’s forgiveness for our own individual sins and those of our nation. In the words of the king of Nineveh,
Everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from the violence he is doing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; He may turn from His burning anger so that we will not perish.
And so, it was to Jonathan Cahn that I turned today to find a prayer that would articulate exactly what we as a nation need to bring to our minds and hearts and, in humility, to say to God. Cahn used the phrase “Prayer and Repentance” in introducing his prayer, and I have borrowed it in my call to all of us to commit to making 9/11 A Memorial Day of Prayer and Repentance.
Actually, it should be our mission every single day. And in our heart of hearts, I think we all know it.
So below is the video Cahn made of a 4-minute Prayer for America on 9/11, exactly 5 years ago. It is my gift to you who read this, in the hopes that it will become your goal to bring these same petitions to our Creator God continually and fervently. I have also made a complete transcription of the prayer and appended it below the video, so that you can easily go back and re-examine it in detail.
God bless you, my readers, and may God find in us both genuine humility and abject repentance so that He will continue to bless the United States!
Lord, we ask for Your mercy on this land.
We ask for your hand upon this land.
Lord, we have sinned.
We have turned from You.
We have turned from Your ways.
We have ruled You out of this culture.
We have mocked Your name.
We have blasphemed Your name and the name of Your Son.
We have called what is evil “good.”
We have called what is good “evil.”
We have promoted immorality, not only here but around the world.
We were called to be a “city on a hill” and to spread Your light throughout the world.
But Lord, we confess on behalf of this nation, and we intercede on behalf of this nation —
Lord, we have turned from the light as a nation.
We have spread darkness and immorality, as well, around the world.
We have pursued idols.
We have served idols of greed and money and success over You.
Even in the Church, even among Your people, we have promoted prosperity over righteousness.
We have watered down the Gospel.
Father, we ask for Your hand upon this nation.
We ask for —
Your hand upon Washington, DC.
Your hand upon the White House, Lord; have Your way with the White House.
Your hand upon the Capitol; have Your way with Congress.
Your hand upon the Supreme Court; have Your way.
Your hand upon the governments of every state, every governor, every house of governing in every state; Lord, we ask Your hand.
We ask Your hand upon the cities; let there be revival.
Lord, whatever it takes, let there be revival in this land.
Lord, let there be revival in the cities.
Lord, let there be revival in the coastland.
Let there be revival, Lord, from New York City to California.
Let there be revival in the heartlands.
Let there be revival among the young, Lord; revival among the old.
Let there be revival in the churches, Lord.
Lord, let there be a move of holiness, a move of righteousness, a move of Your Spirit.
Lord, let there be revival in us.
Lord, we cannot ask for revival for others, if we are not ourselves willing to live in revival now.
So, Lord, whatever it takes, have mercy on this land that was dedicated to Your Name and to Your purposes.
Have mercy on the “city on the hill.”
And, Lord, let it again shine with the light of Your glory, with the light of Your righteousness.
Lord, let the ones who have ears to hear, let them hear; let them be saved; let them turn.
Lord, let there be a massive outpouring of Your will.
We praise You, and we thank You for Your mercy, for your grace.
For we ask all these things in the name of Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah.
By His blood, by His atonement, in the mercy of that sacrifice, we ask that You have mercy on all of us and upon this nation.
And let there be revival, Lord.
Let there be the Gospel going forth to this world, to the nations, for an end-time revival.
And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the coming of Your Kingdom.
In the name of Jesus the Messiah, the Lord of all and the Hope of America.
|ARTICLE © 2019, DR. GROVER B. PROCTOR, JR. — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED|