Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 -- The Eighth Anniversary

Today will forever be different than any other day in the calendar because of the events of September 11th, 2001. The morning dawned crisp and clear in New York City. The tranquility was soon transformed into a hellish nightmare as first one, then another commercial airliner crashed into both towers of the World Trade Center. We all remember where we were and what we were doing that morning, but do we remember its far-reaching implications?

Wars and rumors of wars persist in the aftermath eight years later. With Iran near obtaining full nuclear capability, tensions are once again rising in the Middle East with reportedly a secret meeting this week in Moscow between Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. It is reported that Netanyahu asked Putin to cease his shipments of arms to the Iranians after a freighter from Russia was intercepted carrying anti-aircraft missile systems bound for Iran. Iran says it's developing nuclear energy for electricity, but also threatens Israel's existence in its moribund rhetoric.

Make no mistake, Israel will defend herself with or without the help of any other nation on earth. The question remains -- will America always continue to stand by her?

With a night to think it over after watching the television accounts all day long of the merciless attacks on 9/11, these were my reflections the morning following on September 12th:

Last night I picked up Allie at her friend's home after they had been cheering in Salt Lake. As we drove home, I asked her whether they had been able to watch the news during the day. They watched the news all day in her various classes at school, she told me. She said that many of her friends had commented that this seemed like the end of the world. She assured them that it was not – that there was still very much that had to happen yet. Don’t forget what I have always said about these world events. They are all pointing toward the day when there will be a Jewish temple rebuilt in Jerusalem and a temple complex in Independence. Until you see the construction of those temples in those two eventual world capitols, you may know that everything else and all the twists and turns of fate along the way are merely preparatory. Allie is right to deflect the panicked comments of her classmates, and she has remembered many of the things I have taught you over the years.

When the Gulf War broke out on August 2, 1990, many in our little mountain community said that was surely the Battle of Armageddon. It wasn’t then, and it isn’t now. Not yet. There is still too much left undone for the Second Coming to happen anytime soon.

That said, it might be helpful to review what these tragic events yesterday may signal in the years that lie ahead as the prophecies begin to reach their inevitable fulfillment.

Yesterday’s attack against the United States is going to change life as we know it. What follows is what I think it means.

In 1948, the United States cast the decisive vote granting nation status to the newly formed State of Israel, granting the Jewish immigrants who had returned to Palestine a new homeland. The vagabonds of the Palestinian nations that surrounded this tiny sliver of Judaism in the Middle East were largely indifferent. Back then the territory of Palestine was only a remote British outpost that was a forgotten and forsaken desert. But the Jews went to work and made it literally “blossom as a rose,” in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.

Then as the years went by the Muslims who surrounded it desired it. The unrest we witness in the Middle East today is largely a contest of wills over who rightfully deserves the land. The Jews claim it through their lineage back to Abraham, and so do the Muslims. That dispute will eventually lead to the much-discussed “Battle of Armageddon.”

In the midst of that battle, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will occur. It appears that only Christ can ultimately resolve that insoluble dispute.

Because the United States has supported and continues to support Israel against all her foes, this attack yesterday appears to be sponsored by Islamic factions, a relative handful of militant radicals not representative of Islamic religious beliefs. These factions seek the overthrow of what they think we as Americans represent – the “Great Satan.” They observe the excesses that freedom produces because as Americans we live in a free society, and they condemn what they see. They compel compliance to a rigid religious zealousness, and they say their society is more desirable because it assures compliance. Their rigid compliance, they maintain, is because of their love of Allah and that they are serving his purposes when they seek to wipe out sin in all its demented representations in the corrupt Western world.

It always sounds a lot to me like the debate that was raging in the pre-existence and it has not changed much -- freedom versus compulsion. Long ago, in 1979, beginning with the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, who toppled the American-supported Shah of Iran, the Islamic religious factions declared a “jihad,” or “holy war” against the United States. They see Western civilization as a corrupt and godless society drenched in materialism and inhumanity, spreading its cancer throughout the world and inflicting untold, unrelenting horror and death on the Arab world through our agent of destruction, the government of Israel.

Of course there is much truth in that rhetoric, and we have certainly been warned through the writings of The Book of Mormon prophets about what happens to the societies who occupy this Promised Land then fail to serve the God of Israel.

But free agency (more accurately "moral agency") in a free society always comes with the downside risk of failure to obey by some. That seems to be the trade off. It was true in the pre-existence, and it is certainly true in today's global societies.

These Islamic factions have not historically been well organized in a nationalistic sense, but they flourish underground. It is a guerrilla war now, not unlike what American troops encountered in Vietnam. Though the sheer numbers of Islam overwhelm the nation of Israel, they lack central leadership. Who leads the Arabs? No one really knows. Up until now that disarray among her enemies has given Israel a huge head start in defending her borders with U.S. armaments.

Osama bin Laden, if he is behind yesterday’s attack, is only one very wealthy man, and even if eliminated his work of terrorism will continue unabated. If the United States were up against an identifiable enemy, like the Japanese in World War II, the problem would be straightforward and much simpler. But in today’s world we fight an unseen enemy. Our future course as a nation in this interminable war of attrition in the years ahead is fraught with uncertainty and complexity beyond anything we have ever faced.

Our resolve to continue supporting Israel will be sorely tested. That’s what these forces arrayed against Israel and the United States are betting on – that we will simply conclude in the days that lie ahead that support for Israel is simply too costly when we witness death and destruction within the boundaries of our own shores. For the first time yesterday, they brought that same horror they have lived with for so long to our shores. We see them as evil – President Bush used that description yesterday and today – and they see us as evil. Strike and counterstrike, as we have witnessed for so long in Israel has now spread to our shores. We are adopting the same rhetoric as we witness there. Retaliation and retribution will become the buzzwords in the years ahead. You do something bad to us, we will make you pay, and there seems no end.

It saddens me to see us being drawn in to this quagmire from which there is no escape, but it seems just as inevitable that it must be so.

The real “juice” for worldwide decision making as we make war among the nations in these last days lies in the hands of the UN Security Council. Its original charter called for eleven members, five of which – the “super powers” – were to be permanent members. These included the U.S., the Soviet Union, Britain, China and France. In 1965, an amendment added four more elected members, bringing the number to 15. Now there is sentiment to increase the permanent members to ten. The Cold War diminished the practical power of the Security Council, because the USSR invoked its veto powers constantly. The demise of Communism has changed that landscape again. These events yesterday will have an effect on how this body operates and continues to focus its influence in the future.

The U.S. must now marshal outrage among the permanent member nations, but make no mistake, there will be a short-term “sympathy factor” that will eventually fade, I believe, as the implications of what continued support for the U.S./Israeli coalition may mean. For example, where will Russia land in this dispute? Where will they eventually line up? That will be interesting to watch. The European Union, newly formed, will want a larger voice in the future. Where will the EU line up? How many will succeed in their lobbying effort to become permanent members? Will they always line up with the U.S.? Many interesting scenarios suggest themselves.

All of this is leading toward an inevitability, I believe, that is setting the stage for the reconstruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. As the conflict escalates it will open the door for the reconstruction of that temple. Whether by natural or man made disaster, the site will be cleared of the Islamic mosque, the Dome of the Rock, so that construction of the temple can begin. But at some point, Israel will do something that will weaken our support for them, giving rise to the Anti-Christ who will reign and rule in the midst of the Jews once again, seek their destruction and reek havoc among the Jews for a season leading toward Armageddon.

How long will all this take to unfold? Who knows? Watch for events that lead toward the reconstruction of that temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – that’s the key to understanding these horrific events of yesterday and what will surely follow in the days, months and years ahead. But fear not – the end of the world, as Allie correctly pointed out to her friends – is not yet.

I do believe, all that said, that two things will happen. War will increase, prosperity in America will decrease. The types and shadows of Helaman and Third Nephi in the Book of Mormon will once again play out on the world stage. Just don't ask me for the specific details or exact timing. Yesterday's attack on America will yet prove to be a prophetic watershed event, and we will see and feel its implications in the days and years ahead. Our safety as Latter-day Saints is to live the commandments and keep the Spirit alive within us.


That's the end of my post on September 12, 2001. It's interesting to note that it proved to be fairly accurate because it contains no language that suggests panic, fear or premature anticipation of the end of life as we know it. To say that life would change and life would be different has proven true -- war and the threats of war continue unabated, and prosperity has certainly decreased in America. Interestingly, however, the decrease in prosperity has been largely self-inflicted. Our plunge into the deep end of the pool of financial bondage as a nation began in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and has proven to be like an unstoppable train picking up speed.

You can blame that on Osama bin Laden if you choose, compelling us to rethink the defense of America and erecting a costly infrastructure to prevent future attacks, but no matter how you slice it our love affair with our national debt has been exacerbated dramatically by our own self-indulgence in originating and defaulting on sub-prime mortgages designed to give everyone in America the fulfillment of what was once called "the American dream of home ownership."

Now we seem determined to ignore the foreign intrigues that have captured our attention for the last eight years. We have tired of "the war on terror," and seemed determined to focus on our national domestic agenda of providing affordable health care for every American -- now being described as a "right" for everyone.

On this eighth anniversary of 9/11, lest we forget, there are still conspiracy theories that abound about the events of that day eight years ago. However, The Book of Mormon with unerring accuracy frames the debate about wicked kings and free people perfectly in the words of the last righteous king who ruled among the Nephites, King Mosiah. The people were desirous that Aaron, King Mosiah's son should succeed him, but Mosiah knew better:

Therefore I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God.
Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.
Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people — I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.
And even I myself have labored with all the power and faculties which I have possessed, to teach you the commandments of God, and to establish peace throughout the land, that there should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity;
And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I punished according to the crime which he has committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers.
Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you.
For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!
Yea, remember king Noah, his wickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bondage.
And were it not for the interposition of their all-wise Creator, and this because of their sincere repentance, they must unavoidably remain in bondage until now.
But behold, he did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him.
And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood.
For behold, he has his friends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God;
And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he causeth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous king doth pervert the ways of all righteousness.
And now behold I say unto you, it is not expedient that such abominations should come upon you.

NOTE: There cannot possibly be a better description of the conditions we all witnessed in the regime of oppression, torture and murder practiced by the wicked king Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and other ruthless Islamic extremists and dictators elsewhere. As a nation, we were reluctantly enjoined in the battle to oppose evil in all its modern expressions in the aftermath of the attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and likely the White House on that day of infamy were it not for those brave passengers of Flight 93 who compelled the pilot of the last plane to crash harmlessly into a field in Pennsylvania.

Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.
Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law — to do your business by the voice of the people.
And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.
And now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge.
If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgments, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people.
And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads.
For behold I say unto you, the sins of many people have been caused by the iniquities of their kings; therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their kings.
And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.
And many more things did king Mosiah write unto them, unfolding unto them all the trials and troubles of a righteous king, yea, all the travails of soul for their people, and also all the murmurings of the people to their king; and he explained it all unto them.
And he told them that these things ought not to be; but that the burden should come upon all the people, that every man might bear his part.
And he also unfolded unto them all the disadvantages they labored under, by having an unrighteous king to rule over them;
Yea, all his iniquities and abominations, and all the wars, and contentions, and bloodshed, and the stealing, and the plundering, and the committing of whoredoms, and all manner of iniquities which cannot be enumerated — telling them that these things ought not to be, that they were expressly repugnant to the commandments of God.
And now it came to pass, after king Mosiah had sent these things forth among the people they were convinced of the truth of his words.
Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.
Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges, to judge them according to the law which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them.
And they did wax strong in love towards Mosiah; yea, they did esteem him more than any other man; for they did not look upon him as a tyrant who was seeking for gain, yea, for that lucre which doth corrupt the soul; for he had not exacted riches of them, neither had he delighted in the shedding of blood; but he had established peace in the land, and he had granted unto his people that they should be delivered from all manner of bondage; therefore they did esteem him, yea, exceedingly, beyond measure.
And it came to pass that they did appoint judges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land.
And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church.
And now it came to pass that Alma did walk in the ways of the Lord, and he did keep his commandments, and he did judge righteous judgments; and there was continual peace through the land.
And thus commenced the reign of the judges throughout all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who were called the Nephites; and Alma was the first and chief judge.
And now it came to pass that his father died, being eighty and two years old, having lived to fulfil the commandments of God.
And it came to pass that Mosiah died also, in the thirty and third year of his reign, being sixty and three years old; making in the whole, five hundred and nine years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem.
And thus ended the reign of the kings over the people of Nephi; and thus ended the days of Alma, who was the founder of their church. (Mosiah 29:11-47).

CONCLUSION: In the aftermath of 9/11, some would argue President Bush and his advisors went too far down the path of destroying basic freedoms in the name of defense of the homeland. President Obama has taken "the imperial presidency" to even further extremes with the ill-advised appointment of 32 so-called "czars," who are neither elected nor confirmed through the normal Senate confirmation process. It seems at least at this writing that Americans are finally prepared to take back their sovereign rights again as free people, no longer willing to be dictated to in the aftermath of these tragic events. Let it be so.

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