Thoughts on the Anniversary of 9/11
Relying on God to Defend and Protect Us
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Many people are familiar with the twenty-third Psalm, in which David writes, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (verse 4).
This is a word picture of a lamb confidently going forward even while knowing that lions and wolves are nearby because he knows his shepherd cares for the sheep, is able to protect them and will protect them.
Jesus Christ said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Do you have full confidence that the Good Shepherd will protect and provide for you?
For some fascinating examples of how God is well able to provide protection as well as all other kinds of miracles, please read the accompanying article, “9/11 and the Apparent Miracles on that Day.”
But how much evidence is there that God is regularly interested in protecting His people? Do we have a wrong image of God that He is too busy with more important matters to defend and deliver individuals from imminent danger?
Let’s see what the Bible has to say.
Amazing examples of protection
The prophet Daniel was sentenced to an execution—death in a den of hungry lions—but God protected him throughout the night. In the morning, he told the king, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you” (Daniel 6:22).
Chapter 3 of Daniel tells how Daniel’s three friends—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—were also sentenced to die. They were thrown into a fiery furnace but were not even singed. God even joined them in the fire!
After the first three plagues, God protected the Israelites in Egypt from the next seven plagues, including the final plague, which was the death of the firstborn (Exodus 4-12). God later protected them from Pharaoh’s army by parting the Red Sea. He even protected them from the heat of the sun with a cloud each day. He fed them by providing manna each day.
God many times gave the Israelites victory in their battles with enemies, often without a single Israelite losing his life. Those were phenomenal miracles!
To be surrounded by enemies is lonely and frightening until one thinks about the millions of invisible angels that assist God in protecting His people. When the prophet Elisha was surrounded by a “great army” from Syria, Elisha’s servant was terrified. “So [Elisha] answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:16-17).
Sometimes God protects people by telling them to flee and by helping them to get to a safe place. He did that with Noah and family by directing them to build a ship (Genesis 6); with Lot and his family (Genesis 19); with Jacob and family by arranging for them to go to Egypt; with Joseph and Mary and her son Jesus by telling them to flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13). Revelation 12:14, speaking about the Church in the end time says, “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time [3 ½ years], from the presence of the serpent [Satan].”
The Bible relates many other miracles of His provision and protection. And those of us who have been in God’s Church for many years have heard of many apparent miracles of protection, such as a tornado destroying the neighbor’s homes on both sides but not touching the home of the member.
Amazing promises of protection
Perhaps the most dramatic chapter in the Bible for describing how God protects and preserves His people is Psalm 91. Following are verses 4 through 7: “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.”
Verse 9-11 say, “Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”
Isaiah 43:2 quotes God as saying, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”
What does God require of us so we can count on His protection?
To be assured of God’s protection, we must be able to truthfully say, “The LORDis myshepherd; I shall not want [shall not be lacking anything I need]” (Psalm 23:1). We must be loyal and faithful followers of God so He will regard us as part of His flock.
What does it mean to be a follower of God and Jesus Christ—a true “Christian”? It means not only to worship Them but also to obeyThem. Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Please understand, this article is not meant to imply that God always protects His people from suffering and death. In fact, sometimes being a follower of Christ brings on additional suffering. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it”(Matthew 7:13-14). Some of God’s people even die as martyrs because of their convictions.
And when we make foolish mistakes, God will often let us suffer the natural consequences.
But when you are follower of Christ, you know that you truly are in His loving hands. When you suffer, you know that God had a reason for allowing you to suffer or for causing you to suffer. And you are not terrified of death because you know it is a sleep and you will awaken in a resurrection to eternal life! Living a godly life is truly a win-win life!
For those who are not a part of God’s Church, God doesn’t usually get involved in their lives to bless them or punish them. What “happens” to them is largely happenstance—a matter of time and chance (Ecclesiastes 9:11). But God will eventually call them and become fully involved in their lives because He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
God loves everyone but He has a special love for those who have become His children, His family. Because of that, His children know that whatever happens to them has happened for a good reason even though we often don’t know what the reason is at the time.
Pray for protection
In the outline prayer that many people call “the Lord’s prayer,” Jesus was telling us what to pray about on a regular basis. It includes this request, “Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One” (Matthew 6:13, Good News Bible). Jesus probably meant for us to pray for protection both from evil and harm and also protection from the main source of evil, Satan the devil.
During the final night of Jesus’ human life, He prayed not only for His followers at that time but also for all His future followers!“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word” (John 17:20). And here is another sentence in that prayer: “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
God says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalms 50:15).
Rely on God for His protection!
ABC—always be careful. Be alert for signs of danger. Do what you can to follow good safety practices. Practice teamwork with others for the sake of security.
But above all, rely on God to be your guardian, provider, protector, deliverer and savior.
Bible prophecies tell us that world conditions will get steadily more violent and dangerous as we approach the end of this age. We will see worse things than what happened on 9/11. We will need for God to protect us and provide for us more than ever.
God does not want us to live in fear. It’s quite interesting that in both the Old and New Testaments, we are frequently told to not fear! (Matthew 10:28, 31; Luke 12:32; Hebrews 13:6). We can live fearless lives because we know the Lord is our Shepherd!
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).