THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF OUR LIVES Andy Hollifield 9-12-18
Genesis 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
In September 2001, the sun rose again on Wednesday the 12th just like it had on Tuesday the 11th. It was different though. Everyone you met looked like they had just had the life sucked out of them. Fear, dread, and uncertainty were the prominent emotions in everyone’s life. Rather than new days, it seemed now like they were all running together and none of them different from the last much less any better. For days and even weeks, we were constantly reminded of what had taken place by the images of smoldering buildings and distraught people. Tuesday had started with the usual promise that an early fall day brings. Mild temperatures, sunny skies, birds singing, and although it was still there, it hardly seemed noticeable. Those of us that have been born again at least had the peace of knowing that in spite of the current chaos, God was still in control. We knew that his ways and thoughts are higher than ours and that nothing ever comes on us that he doesn’t allow. We don’t have to understand everything he does but in order to have any peace, we do have to trust him.
As stressful as September 12th was 17 years ago, it puts me in mind of a bible story that we don’t hear much said about. We aren’t the first to endure massive destruction and incredible loss of life in one day. Numbers 16:32-35 says, “And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. (33) They and all that appertained unto them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. (34) And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. (35) And there came a fire out from the Lord, and consumed two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.” In one day, a plague from the Lord killed 14, 700 Israelites besides the 250 that burnt incense and the ones that were with Korah. They were the ones that refused the leadership of the Lord and murmured against Aaron and Moses the day after they had seen the ground swallow up Korah and those that stood with him. There were 601,730 people 20 years old and up after those that died from the plague. What a price to pay because they refused to stand with the Lord.
Can you imagine how the remaining people felt the next day? Nearly fifteen thousand that had been there only yesterday, taken from their sight in one day. There was a lot of vacant land in the camp where there tents had once stood before they were swallowed up. All because they murmured and rebelled against God and refused to submit to him and his leadership. I guess that puts our nation on pretty dangerous ground doesn’t it? We murmur and complain and try to get rid of any thing that represents or even reminds us of God. We refuse to face and accept the truth and we don’t want to be reminded of it.
There is a bright spot in this story. God’s mercy. We may see the destruction and judgment but have you ever stopped to consider his mercy in the story? Just as in Exodus 32:26, an invitation was given to “Who is on the Lord’s side?” I am thankful that God always is merciful and invites us to repent before he brings judgment. I don’t really know how many times the Lord spoke to my heart and invited me to come before I gave in. What a blessed day when I accepted the mercy and forgiveness of God and the gift of his salvation. Some of you may have resisted and maybe even until you knew it was your last opportunity to be saved. The Lord may have revealed to you that he wouldn’t speak to your heart again. The bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:2 (“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”) God obligated himself to deal with your heart at least one time when he said “…Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” in Revelation 22:17. Also in John 3:16 when he said “…That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
I would not say definitely that 911 was God’s judgment on a nation that has forgotten him. I also would not say definitely that it wasn’t. However, I will say this assuredly; God was merciful that day. An hour later and there would have likely been thousands more people in those buildings. There could have been a lot more attacks or even an invasion on our soil. God has spared and been merciful and longsuffering to us. I can also say this; you will never know how to appreciate a sunrise or birds singing until you invite the Lord into your heart. Tomorrow can be brighter for you because of the mercy and grace of God. The first day after fear and massive destruction and death is filled with the uncertainty and darkness of not knowing what to do next or what is going to happen. But the day after you have accepted the Lord as your Savior is filled with peace and love and the security of knowing that you will never have to face the ultimate judgment of eternal separation from God. It truly is the first day of the rest of your life. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!