On September 20, 2001, just 9 days after the attacks of 9/11, President Bush gave his “State of the Union” address to the nation. In that speech, he promised that America would rebuild.
After every catastrophe or calamity, our thoughts immediately turn to recovery, rebuilding and restoration. However, there are times when the disaster is too big, the calamity too overwhelming for us to see any way forward.
The number 911 has no special meaning in the Bible, but in America, it means emergency, and since September 11, 2001, it refers back to the day when terrorists attacked America in unimagined attacks that ended the lives of thousands of Americans.
I chose four 9:11 verses to cover the theme of emergency 9-1-1 because of the significance 9-1-1 has in our lives. Our children are taught to call 9-1-1 in an emergency, and all of us associate 9-1-1 with emergencies.
As we come to the end of our series, I want to talk with you about the recovery process that must accompany the 9-1-1’s of our lives. I am going to start with Amos 9:11 where it says, “From the ruins I will rebuild it.”
To the best of our knowledge, Amos lived in Judah but ministered to Judah’s sister nation, Israel. Amos was not a trained prophet. He was a shepherd and he also tended fig trees. He was not well-off because although he owned sheep, he tended them himself as opposed to hiring someone to do it for him. His name means “burden” and we assume this also represents the burden that the Lord had put on his heart for his people. His contemporaries included Joel, Hosea and Isaiah. Amos warned Israel of coming judgment. All of these prophets brought warnings of judgment, but the people would not listen. Amos 9:10 quotes the people as saying,
Nothing bad will happen to us. (Amos 9:10 NLT)
The people of the nation of Israel were living in a prosperous nation and enjoyed many luxuries. However, by the time of Amos, they had spent almost two hundred years violating the first and greatest commandment.
I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. (Exodus 20:2-3 NLT)
Under the leadership of their first king, Jeroboam, they had set up golden calves at Bethel and Dan. Now, approximately 180 years later, because of their apostasy, the nation had become morally bankrupt. However, Jeroboam II was the most prosperous of the kings of Israel.
Some of the things God says He is judging them for are found in the verses that follow:
How you hate honest judges! How you despise people who tell the truth! You trample the poor, stealing their grain through taxes and unfair rent. Therefore, though you build beautiful stone houses, you will never live in them. Though you plant lush vineyards, you will never drink wine from them. For I know the vast number of your sins and the depth of your rebellions. You oppress good people by taking bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. So those who are smart keep their mouths shut, for it is an evil time. (Amos 5:10-13 NLT)
Besides the sins listed in these verses, we could point out that marriage was not honored and children were sacrificed to idols.
As a result of their rebellion, God promised judgment. God never stopped warning His people about the consequences of their sins against Him and against each other.
One would think that we would learn from what happened to ancient Israel. However, since Jesus ascended to heaven, the Church has been warning the world that He is coming again.
We are living in the most prosperous days ever on the planet. Technology has allowed us to produce an excess of food, and yet people are starving. Consider the state of the world and consider if we are any different from the ancient Israelites that Amos was addressing. With pornography, human trafficking, and an endless list of gross immorality, we are worse. We are competing with Sodom and Gomorrah. There are still godly people left in the world and God is patient desiring all to come to repentance. But a time is coming when God removes His people, then judgment will come.
In Amos chapter 9, Amos records this vision.
Then I saw a vision of the Lord standing beside the altar. He said, “Strike the tops of the Temple columns, so that the foundation will shake. Bring down the roof on the heads of the people below. I will kill with the sword those who survive. No one will escape! “Even if they dig down to the place of the dead, I will reach down and pull them up. Even if they climb up into the heavens, I will bring them down. Even if they hide at the very top of Mount Carmel, I will search them out and capture them. Even if they hide at the bottom of the ocean, I will send the sea serpent after them to bite them. Even if their enemies drive them into exile, I will command the sword to kill them there. I am determined to bring disaster upon them and not to help them.” (Amos 9:1-4 NLT)
These terrible judgments came. The most frightening thing about these judgments is that last sentence. “I am determined to bring disaster upon them and not to help them,” God warned them sending prophet after prophet for hundreds of years. But a time came when there was no help. The calamity was complete. The northern kingdom of Israel was wiped off the face of the earth.
One would think that the southern kingdom of Judah would have seen and understood. In fact, the prophets told them to consider what happened to the northern kingdom, but they hardened their hearts. A time came when the waiting was over, and Judah was overrun by Babylon.
But according to God’s promise and plan, under Cyrus of Persia, the nation of Judah was rebuilt and continued as a nation until they rejected the Messiah. As a consequence of their rebellion, Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. and the nation was completely destroyed by the Roman emperor Hadrian in 135 A.D. There was no help, and for almost 1900 years, the region was called Palestine and the nation of Israel did not exist.
In our day, we have seen the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise through Amos:
In that day I will restore the fallen house of David. I will repair its damaged walls. From the ruins I will rebuild it and restore its former glory. (Amos 9:11 NLT)
Before 1948, even Bible-believing men of faith did not think this would be literally fulfilled. Such a rebuilding of the nation was beyond anything that people could imagine or even hope for. And yet, here we are. On May 14, Israel will celebrate its 72nd year as a modern nation.
We, as humanity, may see things as being beyond hope, even beyond imagining. However, what is impossible with people is possible with God. (Luke 18:27)
In the history of Israel and God’s dealing with them, we see that God gives plenty of warning and He appeals to the rebellious and the wayward. However, the warning and appeals finally reach their conclusion when judgment comes. Up until the day of their destruction, God continued to call for the nation of Israel to repent and be saved.
However, because of their own waywardness, their own unwillingness to heed repeated warnings, disaster struck, and they were destroyed beyond human remedy.
According to 2 Samuel 14:14, God devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from Him. He gives each person many opportunities to repent and come to Him, but if the choice is not made before this life ends, there are no more chances.
Some people have been devastated by life. They have made poor choices. They did not listen to warnings, and now their lives are in shambles. Some people think their lives are over. They have made mistakes and wasted their time and now there is nothing left. However, as we see in this example from the people of Israel, God can restore even those which are beyond human help.
Amos 9:11 says, “From the ruins I will rebuild it and restore its former glory.”
If your life is in ruins, please let this verse be an encouragement to you. Even if your life is in shambles, God can rebuild it. Not only can He rebuild it, but He can also restore even more than was lost.
In the days of Amos, the prophet Joel tells of a plague of locusts that destroyed the vegetation in Israel. The Lord called on Israel to repent and with that call to repentance made the following promise:
The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. (Joel 2:25 NLT)
God promises to restore what was lost, even though it was God’s judgment that had taken it away.
Job was a very rich man, and God allowed it all to be taken away. For as long as God saw fit, Job lived in abject poverty. On top of the poverty, Job was also very sick, covered from head to toe with painful boils. When God restored Job, Job had twice as much as before his suffering.
In Job’s case, Job was not suffering for sins he had committed or because of a refusal to repent, but I use his example because his problems were beyond human remedy.
If you are suffering today, it may be of your own making and because of your own choices, but God is able to restore you. Not all suffering is of our own making, but the same message applies, God is able to restore us. Some suffer for following Christ or for their obedience to God. To these Jesus said:
I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come. (Luke 18:29-30 NLT)
Most, if not all of us, will face suffering in our lives. Suffering is in the world because of sin, but the good news is that Jesus came to restore us to a right relationship with God. Jesus said:
For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. (Luke 19:10 NLT)
If you are lost, Jesus is seeking you. Repent of your sins and believe the good news about Jesus while there is time. At some point, this life will end and there will be no more chances.
The world is in ruins because of sin, and God will restore even that. We wait for a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. We are waiting for Jesus to return and restore all things. Acts 3:21 tells us:
For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3:21 NLT)
In her book, When is It Right to Die? Joni Eareckson Tada tells of a young woman who had a neurological disorder that was taking her life. It finally came to the point that the decision had to be made whether or not to put her on a ventilator to help her breathe.
Joni tells how she shared 2 Peter 3:8 with this young lady. The thought that Joni shared has captured my imagination. 2 Peter 3:8 says:
But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. (2 Peter 3:8 NLT)
We focus on the fact that to the Lord a thousand years is a short time, but we tend to forget about the fact that a day is no shorter to the Lord than a thousand years. Just think of what God can accomplish in a thousand years, and realize that He only needs a day to do the same. It makes no difference to Him.
If you only have a day left to live, God can do all He needs to do in that time. Wherever you are in life, whether you think you have only a short time to live or a long time to live, commit those days to the Lord. He can do way beyond anything that we could even ask or imagine.