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Amtrak derailing and the threat of terrorism

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Rescue workers climb into the wreckage of a derailed Amtrak train to search for victims of an Amtrak passenger train wreck that killed six people and injured scores others as investigators sought to determine the cause of the derailment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 12, 2015 (Credit: Reuters/Bryan Woolston)

Note: Due to the urgency of today’s subject, Janet and I have written today’s essay together, and are posting it on both our websites.

“It is an absolute disastrous mess.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”  So said Mayor Michael Nutter at the scene of the Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia.  According to the FBI, there is no evidence of a terrorist attack.  But the threat is very real—the FBI released a bulletin last Friday warning that devices terrorists could use to derail trains are being stolen from rail facilities around the country.

Now consider this headline: “2016 Candidates Face United States of Angst.”  The article states: “The attacks of 9/11 took place nearly 14 years ago.  The Great Recession officially ended nearly six years ago.  And yet, Americans remain worried about security.”

Since 9/11, our nation has been forced to face the fact that our safety is no longer certain.  Airplanes can become missiles.  Retirement funds can disappear.  Our most popular television dramas, movies and novels typically center on security themes.  We know instinctively that something has changed, and we feel a deep-seated anxiety as a result.

In Isaiah 5, we read that God’s “vineyard” (the Jewish nation) rebelled against his word and will.  Here’s how he responded: “I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down” (v. 5).  What caused God to remove his protective hedge from the nation?

“He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!” (v. 7).  What would he say about the Baltimore riots and continued racial unrest in our country?  “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field” (v. 8).  What would he say about our rampant materialism?  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (v. 20).  What would he say about our same-sex marriage debate?

Janet and I recently visited the historical homes of our nation’s founders.  As we thought about their moral convictions, we wondered what they would think of the standards our nation has chosen.  And we asked ourselves, has God removed a hedge of protection from us?

We know this: his Spirit is stirring Christians across the country to intercede for our nation with greater fervency than we have ever seen.  Tomorrow, our friend Anne Graham Lotz begins a nine-day call to urgent prayer for America.  God has led others to intercede as well: OneCry, Awakening America Alliance, Pray America, and Awake714 are calling millions of Christians together for spiritual awakening.  Clearly, the Spirit is stirring the people of God to pray for this nation.

John Piper noted, “Until you know that life is war, you cannot know what prayer is for.”  God’s people are at war with “the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12).  Our Lord is calling us to intercede for our nation and her leaders with sacrificial fervency. (Tweet this)

Here’s the good news: God promises that “from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations” (Malachi 1:11).  Janet and I are praying urgently and daily for his name to be great in America.  Will you join us?