Summary: This message was preached during a memorial service surrounding the events of September 11, 2001.
Recently I looked up September 11 in reference book that highlighted important dates. The book, written in 1970, had many events and notes of interest for almost every day in the calendar. I was surprised to find that September 11 had no special significance recorded in that particular reference book! The attack on America that took place on 9-11-2001 changed all that. Now High School history books refer to 9-11-01 as the date that changed the world.
I was living in Walla Walla, and soon would be moving to Torrington. I had been up since about 5:30. I had my devotions, had my shower and then I went down to the basement around 7:10 PST to check the morning news on the Internet. The e-mail headlines from 4 different sources screamed, "Attack on America!" Quickly I turned on the TV and was horrified by the images coming out of New York City. I called my wife down , and soon our entire family shared the tragedy of the nation. When I arrived to work at Inland Counseling center, all the mental health professionals with whom I worked were standing around a TV that had been rigged in the waiting room. The normal hustle and bustle of the day was replaced by an eerie silence, a look of shock, and a numbness of disbelief. This was just like any other day. There was no warning. We were not expecting such a tragedy.
As we reflect upon the events of 9-11-2001, it is important that we learn one very important lesson. You must live every moment like it was your last, because death, judgment, and the return of Christ will all come when you least expect it. Now, do not misunderstand the point of this message. I am in no way implying that the victims of this attack deserved it. I am saying that they went to work in New York, in Washington D.C., or flew across Pennsylvania, in a routine manner. They did not expect to face eternity before they reached home that night. Tonight we will examine lessons learned when you least expect it.
I. Life goes on, even if tragedy is near.
Turn to Matthew 24:37-38 and let us see what was happening in Noah’s generation before the great flood came and took them all away.
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
This passage is not referring to the great sin that existed in the old world. Do you know what the people were doing just before 3 billion people were wiped out by the fierce judgment of God? They were doing what they always did. They met the immediate physical needs and desires of the body. They ate, and they drank. It was just like any other day. They had great plans for the future. They were marrying. They were giving their sons and their daughters to be married. They had no concept that all of these hopes and dreams of the future would meet a sudden end. The flood came when they least expected it.
Turn to Luke 17:28-29, and see what Jesus says about what the people were doing during Lots time in the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah just before the fire of God burned those cities to the ground.
28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Here we find some similarities to Noah’s generation. They were meeting their immediate physical needs and wants. They were eating and drinking. It is interesting to note that even in Sodom and Gomorrah, where homosexuality was openly practiced and accepted, they were not engaging in same sex marriage. Their plans for the future revolved around money, not love. They bought, sold, planted, and built; all with a view toward the future. The sudden end came when it was least expected.
Our generation finds us doing essentially the same things as did the people before the flood, and before the fire fell. We got up this morning, ate, drank, dressed, and went to work or school. We have made plans and investments for the future. Even after the attack, life seems for most of us, to just march right on. Alfred Lord Tennyson made this same observation in his poem entitled "Break Break Break"
Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!