The Missing Dimension in Homeland Security

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The Missing Dimension in Homeland Security

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Due to its immense power and the peaceful nature of its immediate neighbors, the United States has long enjoyed security at home. With the end of the Cold War, a sense of total security and invulnerability settled upon the world's only remaining superpower.

Attacks upon U.S. allies or even its embassies on foreign soil did not bring security concerns to the forefront of American thinking until the terrible morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Subsequently, the United States finds itself preoccupied with the security of its own land. "Homeland security" dominates American news. Not that enemies attack the U.S. homeland on a regular basis—yet...

The need for a vigorous defense of the homeland dominated political debates during the American congressional elections of 2002. Both major U.S. political parties are making it the principal theme of their strategies to retain or obtain power in the 2004 elections, which includes the White House as a prize.

On Nov. 25, 2002, the president signed legislation that created the new Department of Homeland Security. Its mission statement outlines three principal objectives:

•Prevent terrorist attacks within the United States.
•Reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism.
•Minimize the damage from potential attacks and natural disasters.

The White House projects a budget of $37 billion for the massive new department, with an additional $35 billion spent in the private sector on homeland security. The government will employ approximately 169,000 people directly in the department. But, theoretically, every loyal American citizen is a volunteer sentry, for the president repeatedly asked all to be on the lookout for potential security threats.

So far, there has not been a subsequent major attack on U.S. soil. (The FBI reports thwarting more than 100 planned attacks.) But will the United States continue to be so successful?

The missing dimension

Talk of homeland security reminds me of a biblical song or prayer that speaks of protection. Because of its comforting thoughts about home and family, undoubtedly millions of people have read it. But I wonder how many are aware of its prophetic message. Within a few words, it reveals the key to success or failure in securing any nation's homeland.

It's the second sentence of Psalm 127: "Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good" (The New Living Translation).

"Only the LORD Can Bless a Home. Without the help of the LORD it is useless to build a home or to guard a city," is the wording of the Contemporary English Version.

How is this prophetic? It foretells the consequences of having or lacking divine security. The missing dimension of homeland security is God's divine protection. If a home—or homeland has God's protection, its sentries will be effective. However, if a home or homeland does not enjoy God's protection, even hundreds of millions of sentries (the number of volunteer American citizens on alert), multiple-billion-dollar budgets and the latest in technological devices will not guarantee its safety.

Don't U.S. politicians call upon God for His blessing and protection in speeches? Is it enough to invoke God's name publicly? Most of America's citizens consider themselves to be God-fearing. Is that enough to meet the prescription laid out so plainly and forcefully in Psalm 127? How does a country engage divine security?

A prophecy of homeland security

A remarkable passage in the book of Ezekiel specifically addresses the issue of "homeland security." The first several verses of Ezekiel 33 tell what a country does when an enemy threatens it—the people set up a security system. In biblical parlance, they hire "a watchman."

In the following statements, God lays out a scenario in which He in fact stirs an enemy to threaten a nation: "The LORD said: 'Ezekiel, son of man, warn your people by saying: "Someday, I, the LORD, may send an enemy to invade a country. And suppose its people choose someone to stand watch and to sound a warning signal when the enemy is seen coming."'"

It sounds so simple and takes so few words, but this, in essence, describes the detailed work of a homeland security department with its complicated screening methods and warning procedures. The American government chose a numerical and color-coded threat alert notification system.

1. Green, "Low," for "Low threat of terrorist actions."

2. Blue, "Guarded," for "General risk of terrorist attacks."

3. Yellow, "Elevated," for "Significant threat of terrorist attacks."

4. Orange, "High," for "High risk of terrorist attacks."

5. Red, "Severe," for "Severe risk of terrorist attacks."

The complex web of police, FBI, Secret Service, counterterrorism Special Forces, border patrol agents and military personnel—along with alert citizens—combine to form a formidable phalanx of "watchmen."

Sounding the alarm is only the beginning. Then, Americans will have to sacrifice some of their cherished freedom of movement and take appropriate cover, depending on the threat level. If they do not, they risk suffering injury or loss of life; both the watchers and the watched have a responsibility.

God's conversation with Ezekiel continues: "If any of these people hear the signal and ignore it, they will be killed in battle. But it will be their own fault, because they could have escaped if they had paid attention."

Then, He addresses the responsibility of the watchers, the guards: "But suppose the person watching fails to sound the warning signal. The enemy will attack and kill some of the sinful people in that country, and I, the LORD, will hold that person responsible for their death."

Having the charge of securing a nation is a grave responsibility. But, if you follow the drift of the conversation, God moved away from speaking of a nation appointing its own guards to speaking of His appointment of a guard. Why does He use this language?

God appoints a watchman

He explains: "Ezekiel, I have appointed you to stand watch for the people of Israel. So listen to what I say, then warn them for me. When I tell wicked people they will die because of their sins, you must warn them to turn from their sinful ways. But if you refuse to warn them, you are responsible for their death. If you do warn them, and they keep sinning, they will die because of their sins, and you will be innocent" (quotes taken from Ezekiel 33:1-9, Contemporary English Version).

What does this have to do with securing God's protection in the way that Psalm 127 speaks of? Unbeknown to most people, God still thinks and works the same. It would be simplistic to speak in terms of a singular watchman to provide God's warning message to this vast world. Even in ancient Israel, each city or town had a watchman—and presumably more than one to handle more than one shift of duty. So, Israel had uncounted watchmen. Similarly, in modern times, "the watchman" is the Body of Christ, whose principal spokesmen are the elders God appoints.

Throughout the ages since Ezekiel, God's servants repeated Ezekiel's words. But their most direct application is in these last days to the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa—along with other nations of the British Commonwealth and nations of Western Europe. These peoples descended from Israel of old and are still nourished by the generous benefits God promised their forefathers.

Regardless of how secure these nations seem to be when one measures defense in terms of technology, God's present message is that the nations have yet to face their greatest security threat.

Today's religious individual is comfortable with his own sense of what "being good" means, rather than being told what is good—and then being told to live up to it. For example, Americans are generous people, a characteristic often cited by the U.S. president. To be sure, generosity is a godly trait. All nations can point to good within their citizenry, and most individuals can point to worthwhile qualities within their character. But, as the prophet indicates, a singular trait or even several fine qualities aren't enough. For our well-being, God insists that we accept the entire package, "the laws and teachings [He] gave...Moses on Mount Sinai."

Undoubtedly, this sounds quite strict to many people. The very fact that it does, speaks to the times in which we live. People want God, but they want Him on their own terms—not His. While individuals may temporarily fool themselves into thinking that just being good on their own terms is satisfactory, they will be shocked when they find they do not have God's special protection.

God's protection has a price

Their massive system of homeland security will be for nothing. If we want God's blessing, we have to live the way He says we should live. Just as with the physical aspect of security, we have to pay the price for divine protection.

God spoke in the same terms, "all or nothing," in His conversation with Ezekiel. Continuing from where we left off above: "Ezekiel, son of man, the people of Israel are complaining that the punishment for their sins is more than they can stand. They have lost all hope for survival, and they blame me. Tell them that as surely as I am the living LORD God, I don't like to see wicked people die. I enjoy seeing them turn from their sins and live. So if the Israelites want to live, they must stop sinning and turn back to me."

In modern parlance, if people want divine protection, they must stop their ways of living that trample down God's laws and teachings. Telling people that will likely evoke this response, "What about all the good things I do?"

When speaking of the security of nations, we must not mince our words. Hundreds of millions of lives are at stake. We need to understand plainly that doing "some good" is not the same as living by God's laws and teachings.

God's words to Ezekiel are prescient, piercing through the façade of "good people" today who flatly refuse to subject themselves to the kind of structured religion He speaks of in the Bible. Lest we misunderstand and think that this means God is harsh, please take note of His ready promise of mercy along with His high standards for human behavior.

"Tell them that when good people start sinning, all the good they did in the past cannot save them from being punished. And remind them that when wicked people stop sinning, their past sins will be completely forgiven, and they won't be punished.

"Suppose I promise good people that they will live, then later they start sinning and believe they will be saved by the good they did in the past. These people will certainly be put to death because of their sins. Their good deeds will be forgotten.

"Suppose I warn wicked people that they will die because of their sins, and they stop sinning and start doing right. For example, they need to return anything they have taken as security for a loan and anything they have stolen. Then if they stop doing evil and start obeying my Law, they will live. Their past sins will be forgiven, and they will live because they have done right."

Hard to accept: "We don't please God"

Do you think that Americans or other people of the Western world would take kindly to being told that they do not please God? And that as a result, He will not protect them from terror? They probably would not believe what this article is saying. If they did accept what the Bible says, they would howl about how unfair God is.

Anticipating the predictability of human reasoning, God is again "on point." "Ezekiel, your people accuse me of being unfair. But they are the ones who are unfair. If good people start doing evil, they will be put to death, because they have sinned. And if wicked people stop sinning and start doing right, they will save themselves from punishment. But the Israelites still think I am unfair. So warn them that they will be punished for what they have done" (quotes taken from Ezekiel 33:10-20, Contemporary English Version).

How do you think the United States—or your homeland—would measure up to God's expectations? Do you think He will grant His protection? Read our booklets The Ten Commandments and The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy to find out. —WNP