We Remember

How do we honor today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Something we’re often told about millennials today is that history began with them. Anything that happened before their time is irrelevant. For many, that could sadly be true. Many of us don’t honor history. There is a Peanuts comic strip where Sally is writing on church history and says it’s good to go back to the beginning. Our pastor was born in….

Today, it has been 17 years since the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. There are young people that are out driving that have never known a world where this was not part of history. Next year, we will have people who are adults and were born after 9/11.

Yet we need to remember this history. If there’s another belief many of us have when we’re young, it’s that we’re in some way invincible. Somehow we will live forever and such. Now as Christians, we do believe that we will, but this is meant to say that we will necessarily avoid death. This is also why I think many of us are so convinced Jesus will return in our time. We must be that special! This doesn’t apply to all, but I think it applies to many.

9/11 was a wake-up call then. This happened for me when I was in Bible College. I remember watching it in the Activity Center with several students. When one of the buildings fell, there was a call to prayer then. I remember looking up when outdoors and seeing no planes flying overhead.

Were we safe? Would they attack again? Never ever had we seen something like this happen. Our world was so peaceful when we woke up that morning. By the end of the day, we were at war. How did this happen?

Here’s another reality.

It could happen again today.

Please understand I’m not making a prophecy or a prediction. I have no inside knowledge. What I do have is an awareness that I never would have dreamed that this would have happened on 9/11 originally. I remember that Spider-Man 2 was to come out and we had all seen a great preview of a giant web between the World Trade Center buildings capturing bad guys flying away in a helicopter. Why make that scene? It was a great scene and everyone thought the towers would still be there. They were wrong. The scene never made it to the theaters.

Today, we don’t have any promises. My wife and I will be out driving to places today. Do we have a promise that nothing will happen to us on the way? Nope. We are not promised anything like that. I highly anticipate I will finish this blog, but I have no promise that I will.

Our world is normally at peace, but we should never take it for granted. Odds are our loved ones will be with us for awhile, but we shouldn’t take that for granted. My wife and I have a copy of an updated edition of Nabeel Qureshi’s story of how he came to Jesus. I am quite sure that when he and his wife married, stomach cancer was not on the horizon and they thought they would grow old together. They didn’t. It’s a tragedy. How great would it be to say “I love you” one more time or have a kiss or a date one more time?

How great would it be to have that today with the person you love?

What could you be taking for granted today? We are not invincible. We are not promised tomorrow or even all of today. Embrace the good you have around you now.

Some of you wonder why I post love messages to my wife so much on Facebook. One reason I celebrate her is I never want to take her for granted. I guard my marriage like a hawk because it is that valuable a relationship to me and I am still amazed that there is a woman who actually wants me. My wife is too good a gift to just assume about. When you take that relationship for granted, you start to coast through it. I never plan to do that.

Thank you also to all those who serve today who defend our freedom. To those who lost loved ones on this day, may your loss never be forgotten. What happened to your loved ones was evil, and may we never forget that we should always seek to eliminate such evil.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thinking About 9/11 And Our Past

What can we learn from this day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I start to write this blog, it’s about 8:42 in the morning EST. I think it was around this time that Professor Wheeler came to us as we were sitting in the gym area of our Bible College where morning worship took place as this place could seat the whole student body. Before the sermon, he said to pray for the people of New York. A plane had just hit one of the World Trade Center towers.

There was no panic or anything. I doubt people were thinking we were under attack. I sure wasn’t. I don’t even remember a discussion about it going on around me so we went and had our worship service. After that, the announcement came that the second tower had been hit by a plane. Now it was no longer an accident of some kind. This was an attack.

9/11 is a day where we always look to the past. Lately, this has been quite a contentious topic in America. We have scores of people who want to take down statues of our past and change street names related to our past. I haven’t said much about it, but I do not support such an action.

You see, 9/11 taught us something. It did show us a way that we were vulnerable and now we have improved on that to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Having suffering come into your life for a reason can be a tragedy. Not learning from it so that you repeat the mistake is even worse. If you do not learn from your mistakes, why should you not expect to repeat them?

We can’t erase 9/11. We can’t rewind the tape and undo it. Many of us have things from our recent history that we would love to go back and get to do them over again. It’s useless to wish for. You don’t have that ability. The best you can do is look at the event and see what you can learn from it.

It’s also useless for us to stay in the past and beat ourselves up over it. It happened. It would have been nice if it hadn’t, but it did happen. If it was for some sin we did, we repent and move on and agree to do better. No further punishment is needed for Jesus took it on for us. If it is for something that happened to us, we learn how to better prepare ourselves for next time. The past can be a great teacher for us.

So now we get to the craze today of removing statues. It would be nice if we could go back in time and remove the failures of our past from us, but we can’t. Slavery happened and there’s no changing that. No one today though is responsible for what happened in the past. The more we try to punish people today for what happened, the more we make ourselves live in the past and hold people responsible for what they did not do.

Our past can be ugly, but it cannot be erased. We can live like it didn’t happen, but it did. If we act like it didn’t happen, we are more prone to make the same mistakes. To hold up the statues is not to celebrate the past, but to acknowledge it. none of us should want to celebrate what happened.

When we remember 9/11, we don’t celebrate what happened. We remember it. Where we are the ones guilty of a sin, we have grace for ourselves and repent and move on and celebrate the grace of God. Where we have been wronged and put in danger, we learn from the past and say we won’t repeat it again.

Today, we’ll be thinking about 9/11. Part of our yearly ritual on this day is to watch the World Trade Center movie. We also ask that you thank God for the people you know in your life who are first responders. If you’re reading this and you’re a first responder, thank you for your service.

And if you’re reading this and you lost someone in 9/11, my sympathies go out to you. Nothing can ever really change this day. We can only say what was said long ago, that we will rebuild and live on. Never forget the past, but don’t let it be a place of permanent residency. This goes for all of us. May we all have grace and live our lives today. We don’t dare act like it didn’t happen. It happened and it mattered and the lives of those who died will never be deaths in vain.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: The Harbinger

Is there a secret prophecy for America hidden in the Bible? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Jonathan Cahn’s book “The Harbinger” has been at the center of a lot of controversy, much like anything related to end times material is. Unfortunately, too much of it is highly sensationalistic, which is why some of Cahn’s greatest critics, such as David James, even come from the futurist camp. While I am an orthodox Preterist, I do think people from all eschatological persuasions should seek to avoid a work like the Harbinger.

So let’s dive in. It’s written as a work of fiction, but that is a loose term because fiction usually has some sort of story. The Harbinger does not really have one. Instead, it is a long conversation describing events that happen in the life of the main character as he enters into conversations with a “prophet.” We are not given any reason really why we should trust this prophet other than he seems to appear at various places and speaks in esoteric language and knows the main characters name. (Not much of an accomplishment in the age of the internet)

A little warning. This book is highly recommended if you struggle with insomnia. It is a human tranquilizer that can knock you out quick and I could hardly wait to get done with it. It tries to present what it believes is true as a story much like the Da Vinci Code did, but while the Da Vinci Code had terribly hideous history in it, it at least had an actual story.

The main character is a reporter named Nouriel who apparently is so dumb in needing to have everything spelled out for him that the staff of the Daily Planet, who can’t figure out that Clark Kent in their midst is Superman when all he does is take off his glasses, look like brilliant geniuses by comparison. It’s a wonder any publishing entity ever hired this guy to be a reporter.

The reader will also find constant repetition. As Nouriel relates his story to the lady he’s sharing it with in the story, you get the idea repeatedly of “No way!” “Really?!” “Wow!” Again, the book is a tranquilizer. Take it if you want to sleep at night. Could be the best night’s sleep you ever have.

But now, let’s get to the so-called content.

Apparently, there is a hidden prophecy to America in the Bible. Where is it? It’s in Isaiah 9:8-10

“8 The Lord sends a message against Jacob,
And it falls on Israel.
9 And all the people know it,
That is, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria,
Asserting in pride and in arrogance of heart:
10 “The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with smooth stones;
The sycamores have been cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars.”

You see it. Right?

I don’t either.

But Cahn is convinced that it is there!

So let’s start at the beginning. First off, this passage is addressed to Jacob. That means Israel. It does not say anything about America. It is strange that those who insist that we take a text “literally” always want to ignore the parts that are not literal whenever it suits the theory. The rules are always changing in this style. It is one reason I hold to a Preterist hermeneutic. I find it much more consistent.

So what was the beginning of this message anyway? It was that America needs to repent. No Christian should disagree with Cahn on this point. America does need to repent. Could we be judged by God? Absolutely. Have we been? I am not going to go so far to say that. I am not a prophet and consider it dangerous and foolish to speak as one. I prefer the words of a real prophet. That would be Jesus in Luke 13 and say we should all repent unless we perish.

The warning that we were given was 9/11. Cahn finds much symbolism here, but let’s compare and see how “literal” his interpretation is. For instance, I went here and I found no mention of bricks being used in the WTC. I have found some sources say brick terracotta was used, but we know the building was for the most part built of steel. Is there a plan to rebuild and make a new tower? Yes, but despite what the prophecy says, it is not to be done with smooth stones.

Cahn finds this all important because Israel was in a covenant nation and he says that America has broken covenant with God. How so? Well we saw ourselves as the new Israel when we established America and believed God had a purpose for establishing America.

Let’s grant all of that. That does not equate us being in a covenant any more than Alexander the Great using Greece to unite the world to prepare the way for Christianity meant that Greece was in a covenant relationship with YHWH. By this standard, if a Mormon temple is dedicated to God, then that must mean that God is in a covenant relationship with the Mormons as well.

Cahn also sees this as a vow that we have broken to God and violated our covenant so he dropped the hedge of protection around us. I kept wondering throughout this then why does Cahn have this Americentrism? Does he think other nations have not tried to please YHWH in the past? Does he think most of Europe has just been filled with atheists and pagans throughout its history? What about nations that are Christian and do suffer? Is this a warning for them? Why think America has this hedge of protection? Especially since we have had past events of greater magnitude such as the War of 1812, the Civil War, and while not of greater magnitude I’d necessarily say but of great magnitude, the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

Cahn also sees Al-Qaeda as the descendants of Assyria, who he says are the original terrorists and just like Assyria performed acts of terrorism on Israel, so Al-Qaeda today is performing acts of terrorism on America. We are in the same situation. Of course, we don’t have Assyrians coming through and building siege ramps and ripping open pregnant women and such but hey, details. Who needs them?

Cahn then gets us to the sycamores. Apparently when the WTC towers fell, a sycamore was knocked down. This sycamore was then replaced with a cedar. Well there you have it. The sycamores have fallen and we will rebuild them with cedars.

Never mind that this is one tree that fell. Never mind that the text has it in the plural for Israel and never mind that there was a totally different purpose for the building. Even the prophet in the Harbinger says there is nothing wrong with wanting to rebuild, but that America was doing so with pride.

Now of course, I do not deny that we have much pride and too many of us did not use a good opportunity to call our nation to further repentance when the towers fell. While suffering is not a sign that God is punishing us, it never hurts to examine ourselves and see how we are living.

Cahn also stresses the idea of a vow. He tells us that several politicians were in fact quoting this passage of Scripture after 9/11 and using it to say that we would rebuild. What does this tell us? It tells us that politicians are terrible at exegesis. (This isn’t a shock. Most of us are still waiting to find out what it is that they are good at.)

Most likely scenario? Someone did a search on something like Biblegateway.com and looked up the word “rebuild” and found the first reference they thought applied and decided to go with that. Then like a meme on the internet, when one person says it, everyone else starts copying it.

Yet every time that someone says we will rebuild, the prophet takes that as if it was a vow made to God that we will be held accountable for. The original prophecy itself does not describe itself as a vow. (Keep in mind the rule. The prophecy is literal when it fits the theory. Where it does not fit, you can throw in whatever you need to make it fit. If you have to change the meaning of what a vow is, then change the meaning! We have a scenario that the facts must fit!)

The prophet also tells us that our economic judgment taking place 7 years afterwards is a result of this judgment and ties it in to Sabbath festivals, because, you know, America can always be expected to be judged by Sabbath festivals. It’s at this point that I see more and more difference. Israel had actual prophets coming and telling them about specific events and warning them. We do not. Of course, Cahn could be wanting to see himself as a prophet. If so, God have mercy on him because there is a strict punishment for if a prophet gets a prophecy wrong.

It’s hard to think of all of this as a judgment on America when no one would have thought anything so bizarre as picking a random text out of Isaiah and going through it and only it and making your whole view out of that text. While America does need to repent, something I agree totally with Cahn on, there are much better usages of prophecy, such as pointing to the coming of Christ the first time and defending His resurrection. If only Christians were as interested in defending that and learning about that as they were about end-times hysteria and blood moons!

Of course, if a Christian is interested in eschatology and having a strong position on the end times, that is just fine, but if you know your version of the end times forwards and backwards and can chart out the book of Revelation perfectly, but have no clue how to defend the resurrection of Jesus or to tell what the impact of it is, there is something wrong with your thinking.

In the end, books like the Harbinger will only serve to further embarrass Christians as people who buy into sensationalism with an Americentric outlook and draw us away from the areas of study that matter most to us, such as the historical Jesus, His resurrection, and the Kingdom of God. It fits more into our mindset that we are super important and the Bible is just all about us and written to us in our time and place and is to be read like a modern document. It’s a shame that those who love Scripture are so excited about this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters