As the anniversary of 9/11 arrives once again, I recall visiting New York City on Remembrance Day just two months after the tragedy.
On other trips, our senses were assaulted by flashing neon lights and the ear-splitting noise of honking taxis. This time, a quiet sombreness pervaded the crowded city. We could smell smoke before we arrived. Grey ashes covered sidewalks, roofs, and grass. We were not prepared for the emotional scene of so many photographs of missing persons. The chain-link fence erected around Ground Zero was plastered with cards, flowers, and candles. We saw an ash-coated bicycle chained by the road, its owner never to return.
As we neared the site of devastation, pedestrians became so quiet that footsteps were all that could be heard. Along with hundreds of others, we surveyed the scene in shocked silence. A young boy had climbed a post for a better view. Cameras were passed up to him. Without a word, he snapped a picture and passed them back down. It was a strange thing in a city where one would normally hesitate to hand their camera to a stranger.
When we moved away, a fire truck came along, hosing the roads. The men hung off the side, looking exhausted. In a surreal moment, people stopped to clap. A few voices called out thanks. Some of the fire fighters waved or smiled, but it was obvious that they had nothing left to give.
“The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with cut stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.” (Isaiah 9:10 HCSB)
In his bestseller, The Harbinger, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn points out that shortly after 9/11, a stone was cut from mountains to create a symbolic cornerstone of the rebuilding, just as Isaiah prophesied centuries before. Political leaders made speeches, unintentionally using the very words of the prophet. The words of judgement on Israel, a nation in spiritual decline, were used in defiance by Americans waging war on terror: We will rebuild.
Cedars were planted to replace a fallen sycamore tree that had been standing outside St. Paul’s Chapel, shielding it from harm. In 1789, on the day of his inauguration, George Washington, America’s first president, led the Senate to St. Paul’s and dedicated the country to God. St. Paul’s owned the field where the World Trade Centre was built. Ground Zero is the site of America’s consecration.
The attack on the United States was a warning. God’s warnings awaken and save us, rather than condemn us. Like birth pains, they become stronger and more frequent. Attempting to build anything in our own strength, whether it be a house, family, business, church, tower, or even a nation, is not the answer. Let us be wise and build on the Word of God, our rock and our salvation.
“He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (Psalm 62:2 NIV)
“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:25 NIV)
Prayer: Almighty God, You call us to be watchmen like Isaiah. Shake and awaken us, that we may submit to You, worship You with reverence, and build our house upon the Rock. Amen.
Belleville, Ontario, Canada
Reprinted from the PresbyCan Daily Devotional with the author’s permission