Tuesday, September 10, 2019

RETRO: The World Trade Center Disaster

Did We Learn Anything? What could we have learned? In this retro-piece from September 2011 in the aftermath of the horror of the 9/11 attack on US soil, Asher Intrater's insights still ring as true today as they did 18 years ago. Many have completely forgotten what everyone so acutely understood that day, including the Church. Perhaps today we will hear the spiritual message in this article. 

The World Trade Center Disaster

The World Trade Center Disaster | by Asher Intrater | September 2001 | In Israel, the first reaction to the attack on the World Trade Center was, Why? Why didn't America listen to us all these years when we tried to warn them about the dangers of terrorism?

The same spirit of terrorism, which attacks Israel, is also against America, and in a certain sense, against evangelical Christians everywhere. The more that Christians see this connection, the better the defense against the attacks.

As a Christian pastor friend asked me, Where were the prophets? Why wasn't there a prophetic alert to this event? In a sense the warnings coming out of Israel were a prophetic alert, but it was not recognized as such. The timing of the second and third plane crashes, along with the lack of US intelligence, pointed to a supernatural influence greater than the terrorists themselves.

This disaster was obviously a huge attack of demonic forces as well. However as both buildings collapsed directly on top of themselves without falling sideways, we became aware that this was more than the work of satanic forces.

In modern times, the United States has been the godliest nation on earth. God has blessed America with an almost unimaginable financial prosperity. The World Trade Center was exactly what its name implied - the center of world commerce. Unfortunately, many Americans have been more impressed with their blessings than with the God who gave them those blessings.

Beauty and the Beast | In the book of Revelation, there are several symbolic images. One is the picture of a beautiful woman who is also called the "bride" of Christ. This beautiful woman represents the people of God upon the earth. The people of God are seen as getting ready to "marry" the Messiah.

This woman is pictured in chapter 12 as engaged in a battle with the dragon Satan. In chapter 19 she is described as having purified herself in holiness and good works. In chapter 21 she is described as the heavenly city of Jerusalem descending to be joined with earthly Jerusalem below.

These symbolic pictures represent three issues central to the Church in the end times: spiritual warfare, personal purity and identification with Israel.

This bride of the Messiah is also described in the Song of Songs. The beautiful maiden is described as being made up of "two camps" or the "double camp" (So. of So. 6:13). The two parts of this camp are Israel and the Church. By the Church we mean the international community of true evangelical believers. By Israel we mean the restored spiritual remnant of the nation.

At this time these two camps are not united. The Church is mostly separated from her Jewish roots, and Israel is still mostly hardened to faith in Yeshua. However the trend of the end times will be for the two to grow more united. Yeshua's bride will be healed of her "schizophrenia" by the time He returns.

America is not the Church. However it is the country most identified with Christianity, and contains within it a strong community of believers. The nation of Israel has not yet been restored to its full spiritual level, but it is in process and the seed remnant within it is growing all the time. While the two nations, America and Israel, are not the "Bride," they do represent that bride within the conflict of international politics and religion. Terrorist groups and militant Islamic clerics condemn America and Israel as "the big Satan and the little Satan." In that statement we can see a mirror image of a certain spiritual truth.

Beauty and the Beast (part II) | Another major symbolic image in the book of Revelation is a spiritual monster called the "Beast." The beast is a political-military-religious conglomerate empowered by the devil. Its job is to attack the people of God. In our day it can be seen as a coalition against Israel and America. The beast, wherever it is found, fights against biblical values, persecutes missionaries, and advocates anti-Semitism.

In the thirties and forties, the spirit of the beast was found mostly in Nazism; in the fifties through the seventies, mostly in Communism. In our time, it is found mostly in militant Islamic groups, particularly with the backing of the UN. The voice of the beast was heard at the recent Durban UN Conference on Racism, in which radical Islamic groups marshaled an international coalition against Israel.

America and Israel were the only two countries to walk out. The attack on America followed immediately after that conference. The same spontaneous celebrations of dancing in the streets were seen during Iraqi scud missile attacks on Israel in the Gulf War, and in the first television coverage of the attack on the World Trade Center.

I am NOT saying that the Arab people are the beast. (Quite the contrary, as a Jew, I feel a kinship with Arabs, particularly Palestinians). They are not the Beast anymore than the Germans because of Nazism or the Russians because of Communism, or for that matter the Jews for having "killed Christ." Islam itself is not the beast. However, the great majority of the terrorist attacks on America, Israel, and around the world come from Islamic groups. Most of the persecution of Christian missionaries comes from Islamic groups.

The Bride and the Whore | Another symbolic image in the book of Revelation is the Great Whore. The Whore is the spiritual counterfeit and perversion of the Great Bride. The Whore goes wherever the Bride is. The two spirits, one clean and one unclean, are found next to one another. The purpose of the spirit of the Whore is to defile the Bride (the community of true believers) internally, and then disqualify her in the eyes of the rest of the world. The Whore is the spirit of lust, greed, and moral decadence. The description of this symbolic image is found in Revelation chapters 18 & 19 (and in a few other biblical passages, such as Zechariah 5). Wherever the Church or the Bride is found, there will also be counterfeit spirits of lust, greed, and moral decadence. Why is this so?

God desires to bless the Church. The first blessing is financial prosperity. Whichever country has the strongest church eventually becomes the wealthiest. This wealth is not only to demonstrate God's covenant blessings, but also to help the church finance world evangelism and help the poor. The second blessing to the church is influence in culture and communication. Whichever country has the strongest church, their culture will soon become the dominant world culture. The third blessing is political dominance. This power is to help bring social justice and order to the world. These three blessings (financial prosperity, cultural influence, and political dominance) are meant for good. However, they also provide the fertile ground for the sins of lust, greed, and moral decadence. This is another reason why the Whore is found in such close proximity to the Bride.

America is not the Great Whore. However, the spirit of the Whore is most found in America. Scenes of lust, greed, and moral decadence are projected all over the world through movies from Hollywood, advertising from Madison Avenue and entertainment from cable TV networks. There is a parallel dynamic in Israel - perhaps instead of "the great Satan and the little Satan," we might call the worldliness in America and Israel as "the big whore and the little whore."

America, as the dominant nation of the world, contains the greatest spirit of the Bride and the greatest spirit of the Whore. There is a constant struggle between purity and decadence. In some ways that struggle between purity and carnality is found within the soul of every believer. The Holy Spirit influences him toward purity. The spirit of the world influences him toward carnality.

For those who are under the spirit of Islam, it is impossible to see the Bride because of their different religious orientation. Therefore when they see America, they see only the Whore, not the Bride. Radical Muslims see America as to blame for the moral decadence of the West. They believe that they have been given a divine mandate from Allah to rid the world of moral decadence. Since they see America as the source of moral decadence, that mandate is translated into working to destroy America. Saddam Hussein's remark after the World Trade Center attack was that it was Allah's punishment for America's decadence and for its support of Israel.

One of the most astonishing factors in this spiritual battle is that God is able to take what the devil meant for evil and turn it to His purposes for good. While the Dragon empowers the Beast in order to kill the Bride, God uses these attacks of the Beast to purify the Bride. "And the ten horns, which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose." Revelation 17:16-17

In an ironic way, God has allowed militant Muslim terrorists to so hate the moral decadence of the West that they are willing to attack. And so God uses this to His purposes. In one and the same event, there is a demonic attack against the people of God AND a judgment of God to purify His people. The purpose of end times judgments and disasters is to bring the people of the world to repentance (Revelation 9:20-21).

I do NOT believe that the fall of the World Trade Center is the ultimate fall of Babylon from Revelation 18. However, I do believe it is an example of the demonic attack and the divine judgment described there.  In the end times there are these two great evils: the Whore and the Beast. The Church and Israel find themselves attracted to the Whore and attacked by the Beast. God wants to separate the Bride from the Whore and to protect the Bride from the Beast. "I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her my people, lest you share in her sins and lest you receive of her plagues.'" Revelation 18:4

God's purposes are not only to separate the Bride from the Whore, but also to destroy the Beast. At the second coming, Yeshua (Jesus) Himself will destroy the Beast. "These [the ten horns and kings of the Beast] will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them. For He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings." Revelation 17:14

This new war is not a conventional war. It is a spiritual war against the Beast and the Whore. It is a twofold battle, against terrorism and against worldliness. Bombing Afghanistan will have little effect on the root causes. What then is the solution?

Spiritual battles are won by words. We must be come to God in repentance and confession of sin. We must pray in spiritual warfare to bind the forces of terrorism and militant Islam. We must teach about Israel, the Church, and the second coming of Jesus. In the light of these events, people around the world will be more open to the gospel than ever before. The end times are not only a time of tribulation, but also of great harvest. Let us preach the gospel to Jew and Arab, to white and black, to rich and poor, and we will see the victory of the kingdom of God established on the earth.

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