Summary: A Call to faith and renewal in the wake of the terrorist attack on the United States
Psalms 10 and 11
Lord’s Days 52 and 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism
September 16, 200`
"Terror and Trust"
Dear Congregation of our Lord, Jesus Christ,
Psalms 10 and 11 seem to go together. Both were apparently written in times of tremendous fear, perhaps war. Some of you remember such times from WW II. The enemy "sits in ambush....in hiding places he murders the innocent." Does that sound familiar? The terrorist attack has been compared to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was a sneak attack. This too was a sneak attack, only one step sneakier. The terrorist, the pundits say, is a new kind of enemy. He doesn’t accept responsibility, and declare himself as an enemy. He likes to hide.
He sits in ambush, in hiding places, and murders the innocent.
The result is a real insecurity. If they have their way, the result is, in fact, terror. How do we respond to terrorism? I’m sure you’ve heard this before...in times of danger, there are two instinctive responses. Fight or Flight.
That is the instinctive response. But what’s the right response? That is an important question for us, because Psalm 11 says that the Lord examines us, and his soul hates violence, but he loves justice. So what’s right? Fight or Flight? Both.
But first, we need a paradigm shift. A new perspective. A different way of looking at things! We need to flee and fight. But first, we need a paradigm shift, that is, a different way of looking at things. The world leaders and media are telling us, in effect, that we need to have a paradigm shift with respect to terrorists...we are told that we have to think of opposing them in terms of a war, like the war on drugs. We have been asked to join in a war on terrorism, and to see terrorists as war criminals. That is a paradigm shift. But it is not radical enough. That is, it does not get to the root of the matter.
I couldn’t help notice how, in the midst of terror, all of a sudden, people have a paradigm shift. What was the most common expression of people on the videotapes of the attacks on the world trade centre? It was "Oh My God!"
You have the same kind of abrupt change in Psalm 11. Notice the abrupt change from Psalm 11:3 to 11:4. In verse 3 you have the question "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" The Psalmist appears not to answer. Instead he suddenly changes the subject. "The Lord is in His Holy temple, the Lord is on his heavenly throne." What does this abrupt change of topics accomplish? It jars us into a paradigm shift, into a completely different way of looking at things...from God’s point of view. It brings us from terror to "Oh My God" ...only reverently, not as an empty blasphemy.
Note well....God’s view is from the pinnacle of holiness. High towers like the former World Trade towers, and the CN tower, from their lofty elevations, offer a different perspective on all below. But it is not high enough for what the Psalmist has in mind. And viewing terrorists as "the enemy that can be anywhere and everywhere" is not radical enough.
The Psalmist is saying "Don’t think you can escape trouble by blindly taking flight." "How can you say, flee like a bird to your mountain? The wicked...shoot from the shadows." You can run, but you can’t hide. The best security measures offer no guarantees!
If you want security, you need a radical paradigm shift. First you need to understand the enemy. Osama bin Laden is not the enemy. Oh, he is an enemy. But he is not "The Enemy." Terrorist organizations make war on us. But they are not "The Enemy." The Bible is clear about this. "We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness..." (Eph. 6:12) The enemy is Satan and his army.
Have you noticed that once people start acknowledging God in the midst of terror, another word tends to creep into their vocabulary? The word is "evil." The catechism reminds us in Lord’s Day 52 that Jesus taught us to pray "deliver us from evil." The catechism goes on to say that "our sworn enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh...never stop attacking us. And so Lord, uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle."
One of the firemen on the scene in New York said, "The world is an evil place." And national leaders keep saying things like "We will overcome this evil."