This morning I received a text alert on my phone to tune to live network coverage of the moment of silence being observed at the White House in remembrance of September 11, 2001. Then I thought about Elijah challenging the people of Israel to choose whom they would serve, God or Baal. Here is the passage:
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing. I Kings 18:21
The images of the crashing twin towers are still burned deeply into our memories. It was a sobering, difficult, and scary day. Three thousand Americans were gone. But it was supposed to be an even more catastrophic event, at least that is what the terrorists planned for it to be. I remember hearing early news reports that tens of thousands were perhaps lost. Indeed, if the timing of the attacks had been a little different, if the first responders had not acted quickly to get people out of the towers, if the passengers of flight 93 had not sacrificed themselves, the number of dead could have dramatically higher. Even in disaster, God was merciful. It was universally agreed that the attack was a “wake-up” to the danger of terrorism.
God had also visited Israel with a wake-up call in Elijah’s day. He had sent drought upon the land because the people had turned from him. So, after three years of drought Elijah challenged the people to choose whom they will serve: God or Baal. The choice should have been clear. When the people disobeyed, God had sent the drought as he had promised. Instead of repenting of their sin and acknowledging God for who he is they responded to Elijah with silence.
There are many ways that America has chosen to disregard the direction of God. One of the truths that we learn from the Prophets is that God takes notice of disobedience regardless of geo-political boundaries. In recent years we have suffered from droughts, storms, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, and wars; none of these were as severe as they could have been. These events are strong reminders from God’s hand that he alone is the Lord and that he must be served.
A response of silence is not an acknowledgment of repentance or dependence upon the Living God. American presidents from Washington, to Adams, to Lincoln, to both Roosevelts, to Reagan have all acknowledged a dependence upon God for our very survival. God is again calling us to repentance as a nation. Unlike Israel of old, may our country not respond in silence but in worship and repentance to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Begin today with your children. Teach them about the wonderful God of heaven and his ways.