Fire on the Wall

Title: Fire on the Wall

Bible Book: Isaiah 55 : 6-9

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Judgment



Burned into my memory is the sight of Dr. R. R. Peirce walking to the board at Mississippi College and writing two words on the chalk board. Dr. Pierce was a master at provoking a debate on most any subject. On this particular day the debate was escalating toward an argument when he calmly turned, and without saying a word, wrote HEAT, and to the right, LIGHT. By the time he turned back around the class had grown silent, wondering what those two words had to do with the subject. “What are you throwing more of on the subject, heat or light?”, he asked. Pausing, he added, “Heat tarnishes, light illuminates.” From that day on, I have tried to let that principle guide me is any debate. When more heat is thrown on a subject than light it is time to change the subject, or simply to agree to disagree.

Burned into my memory is the fire I witnessed on television as the second air plane was flown by a terrorist into the second tower of the World Trade Center. Who will ever forget the horrendously evil acts of the terrorists who hijacked four commercial airliners and crashed two into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and tried to fly a fourth into the Washington, possibly to attack the White House in an attempt to kill the president of the United States.

When I saw Dr. Pierce write those two words on the board, if anyone had mentioned a “CD ROM burner” no one would have had any idea of what they were speaking. Well before that diabolical attack burned a picture of fire, death, and destruction, people were burning information onto a CD ROM in order to store, retain, and preserve that information. Well, the fire is burned into my memory cells and I have no doubt that, will it or not, it will be retained as long as I am in this world.

A significant debate has arisen from the murderous attacks. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, both of whom had provoked a measure of controversy in the past, expressed on television what many people were asking themselves across the nation. Maybe I should say what Christians who are grounded in the Word of God were asking: Was God trying to get our attention? Falwell mentioned specific sins, which seemed to upset a lot of people in this post-Christian culture in America, a culture that has been strongly influenced by moral relativism. He included abortion and homosexuality in his comments. With many people who have embrace a post-modern world view, the greatest sin is to condemn the behavior of another person.

Millions of Americans who will fight for the right to kill unborn babies were weeping for thousands killed by the terrorists. They had every right to weep for the thousands, but where are the tears for nearly forty million babies who have been violently assaulted in what has become the most dangerous place in the country, the mother’s womb?

Rush Limbaugh was only one of many who took issue with Jerry Falwell. Even though he tried to be fair with Falwell, he concluded that God should not be blamed for the attacks that killed instantly, killed viciously, killed painfully, and killed with such terror that many leaped to their death. Bodies and body parts were flying through the air. Because he provoked so much controversy, Jerry Falwell apologized to the American people.

Make no mistake, that which is burned into my mind was the most horrifying manifestation of evil I can imagine. I had just read the all of Bode Thoene’s books on the holocaust and the efforts by the Muslims in Palestine to keep the Jews from returning to the Holy Land. Hitler’s Nazi regime killed fifteen million people, including six million Jews. Their purpose was as vile as that of Haman who sought to kill all Jews, only there was no Esther to save the Jews from Hitler. The Muslims began their murderous attacks as soon as the Jews who were fleeing from the Nazis began landing in Palestine, and they have never stopped. Ironically, Israel seems to be the only country that really understands their mind-set. Incredibly, but not surprisingly for students of Scripture, there will be Jews in Israel when Jesus returns.

What we saw in New York and Washington was evil and it was perpetrated by evil people whose acts can only be described as satanic. Critics of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are right in claiming that God is good and this act was evil. Does that mean that God would not, or could not use violence - murderous plane crashes, explosions, collapsing buildings, and fire - to try to bring America to her knees before the Cross? The answer, seemingly as illusive to backslidden believers as is it is to lost people, should be elementary to every student of the Word.

God can do anything He elects to do. He will do anything He chooses to do. Nothing is done without His knowledge, and nothing is done without His foreknowledge. Then, if He knew what the terrorists were planning, why did He not stop them? Since He is good and what they were planning was evil, why did He not stop them? If he is the God He is represented to be in the Bible, surely He could have stopped them. Those are questions whose answers will be discovered as God’s people search His Word with the guidance of the divine Author. Lost people will never understand God’s Word or His actions. And, sadly, a lot of Christians are out in the wilderness, rather than in Canaan where they belong. Their lives are to a great extent wasted; they are sustained by the God Who delivered them from death, but they wander through this life, questioning, griping, and complaining, but never tasting the milk and honey, never knowing what it means to live a fruitful life. Some of these believers are almost as ignorant of God’s ways as lost people.

Whatever happens in this World happens under the scrutiny of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. Whatever happens, happens either according to His directive will or His permissive will. To be consistent, if we say that God should have prevented those terrorist from committing such unthinkable acts, we would have to agree that He would have to stop us from committing sinful acts, even though our acts pale in comparison.

Was God behind the terrorists’ attacks in New York and Washington? Did He cause it? How will He use it? It is far more important for you to discover the answers to those questions than it if for me to answer them for you. The Holy Spirit, Who miraculously inspired the writing of the Word of God and miraculously preserved it through the ages, will illuminate our hearts and minds so that we will understand the ways of God. I am praying for that illumination for you and for myself today as we look to the Scripture.


A. He Is Merciful in all His Ways.

1. He created us in His Own image, Gen. 1:26.
2. He loves us, John 3:16.
3. He seeks to bless us, as he blessed Abraham, Gen. 122f.
(He has both the will and the ability to bless us)
4. He actively seeks our salvation, Is. 55:6-7.

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”

B. We Must Not Impose Human Motives or Attributes on God.

1. He is sovereign, 1 Tim. 6:15b-16.

“He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion!”

2. He is immutable (“For I am the LORD, I change not...”). Mal. 3:6a.

3. His ways are above our ways, Is. 55:8-9.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”


A. The First Act of Judgment Reveals Both the Holiness and the Mercy of God, Gen. 3.
B. The Flood Reveals the Depth of God’s Holiness and His Mercy, Gen. 6-9.

1. The Flood shows God’s estimate of sin.
2. The Flood was definitely sent by God.
3. Believers were saved from the judgment.
a. Noah and his family were affected by the judgment on the world.
b. They were spared for His purpose.

C. Exodus Affirms the Sovereignty of God in Dealing with the Israelites.

1. By the mighty hand of God they were delivered from Egypt.
2. They rebelled against Him.
3. They were forced to wander in the wilderness for forty years.
4. By the mighty hand of God the Chosen People were led into the Promised Land.

D. The Period of the Judges Declares God’s Methods.

1. God established them in the land.
2. They pledged their loyalty to Him.
3. At the death of Joshua Israel began a cycle that was repeated more than a dozen times.
a. They rebelled against God and embraced idolatry.
b. God sent an enemy to judge them and force them into subjugation.
c. The people repented and called on the Lord.
d. God sent a judge to deliver them from oppression.
e. They lived in peace as long as that judge lived.
f. When that judge died they began a fresh cycle of rebellion.

E. The Period of the Kingdoms Brings the Lessons Closer to Our Times.

1. Sin led to the division of the Kingdom, with Israel comprised of ten tribes and Judah of two, Benjamin and Judah.
2. Amos chronicles the sins that led to the destruction of the northern kingdom.
3. The elite in Israel was living in a time of unprecedented prosperity.
4. Others were living in abject poverty.
5. Greed, immorality, and idolatry were among the sins that led to judgment.
6. God announced what form judgement would take.
a. Rampant, persistent sin led to judgment:

“For three transgressions of Damascus and for four I will not revoke its punishment...” (Amos 1:3 - that is, sin piled upon sin).

b. Fire accompanied war as a judgment on various nations:

“Thus says the LORD, "For three transgressions of Damascus and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they threshed Gilead with implements of sharp iron. So I will send fire upon the house of Hazael And it will consume the citadels of Ben-hadad.”

c. The same indictment and judgment is pronounced upon various nations.
d. Israel would not escape the judgment of God. In 722 B.C. Sargon II of Assyria invaded Israel, took captives and scattered the people among various nations, and then he brought foreigners with their different languages and religions and settled them among the people of Israel.

7. Judah would not escape God’s wrath. The Lord was very specific: He would use Assyria to destroy the northern kingdom, and He would use them to judge Judah if she did not repent and turn back to Him. If they would not repent he would replace Assyria with Babylon and use them to take Judah into captivity for 70 years (the land was idle for 70 years, one year for every year they had refused to obey Him with regards to the Sabbath Year). The Captivity extended from 606 B. C. to 536 B.C., when a remnant returned under Zerubbabel (Ezra 2).

F. Fire Was a Symbol of God’s Judgment on in the Amos.

1. “So I will send fire upon the wall of Gaza And it will consume her citadels” (1:7).
2. “So I will send fire upon the wall of Tyre And it will consume her citadels” (1:10).
3. “So I will send fire upon Teman...” (1:12)
4. “So I will send fire upon Moab...” (2:2).
5. “So I will send fire upon Judah And it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem” (2:5).


A. Look to Our History.

1. America was founded upon Biblical principles.
a. We cannot help but see God’s hand in the discovery of America.
b. He made America a new center for the spread of the Gospel.
2. Congress enacted laws according to Scripture.
3. The Supreme Court based decisions on the Word of God.
4. Somewhere around WW II America moved into the post-Christian period of her history.
a. In 1948 the Supreme Court mentioned “a wall of separation” between church and state
b. In 1962 and 1963 prayer and Bible reading were forced out of public schools.
c. All moral indexes prove we have been on a slippery slope morally ever since.

B. We Have to Wonder If God Will Give Up This Country Without Any Effort to Reclaim It for His Purpose.

1. He sent the fire of judgment upon Judah and Israel.
2. His purpose was to purify a people for His Name, a people to glorify Him.
3. If He sends fire on America, let us pray that it will be for a purpose.
4. America has a great spiritual heritage - and that heritage is Christian.
a. America has witnessed great revivals.
b. America boats famous churches.
c. America has heard great preachers.
d. America publishes more copies of the Scripture than any other nation in history.
e. America has send out more missionaries than any other nation in history.

5. The same America shocks much of the world as her morals reach for new lows every year.
a. Abortion is defended and protected with religious vigor.
b. Homosexuality, though loathed by God, is actually brought into His church.
c. Lust is a business, immorality entertainment, and pornography an obsession.
d. God’s Name is profaned.
e. His Day is flagrantly disregarded.
f. He is robbed of His tithe.
g. Polls show more people believe in God (gods, or a god of some kind) than their parents, yet many of them live like the devil.
h. At the same time, Americans love to thing of themselves as good (the terrorists are the bad guys, we are the good guys).

C. We Must Consider The Possibility That God Will Not Give Up On America Without a Fight.

1. I predicted when I observed the sixties generation that we were headed for an encounter with God, either in judgment or in the return of the Lord.
2. I am really concerned that we may face the wrath of God if we do not turn back to Him.
3. I prefer the Rapture of the church to the Wrath of God, but that is His call.

D. There Is a Fire God Would Send Upon America.

1. God Sent Fire From Heaven to Consume David’s Offering, 1 Chron. 21:26.

a. This fire from Heaven showed God’s acceptance of David’s offering.
b. The fire from Heaven showed God’s approval of David.
c. Fire from Heaven manifested the glory of God, 2 Chron. 7:3.
d. Tongues of fire attested to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Acts 2:1ff.
e. Our work will be tested by fire, 1 Cor. 3:13f.

E. God Would Have Revival Fires Sweep America.

1. Fire has been a metaphor for revival throughout the centuries.
2. Jesus baptizes believers with the Holy Spirit and fire, Luke 3:16.
3. Since Pentecost, fire has been associated with the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2.


A. Fire Represents the Glory of God
B. Fire Also Represents the Judgment of God.

1. The present world will be consumed by fire, 2 Peter 3:7.
2. Satan is destined for eternal torment in the lake of fire, Rev. 20:10.
3. All lost people will be cast in to the lake of fire, Rev. 20:11-15.


While the issue of God’s involvement in the ungodly attacks on America may be debated for a long time, I feel that it is far better to throw more light than heat on the subject. I do not have all the answers, but I feel that I must ask the question.

What I do know is that the acts of terrorists are evil acts. Those behind the attacks are, if anything, even more evil. The attacks were evil acts committed against a civilian population, with no regards for women and children. The acts were as vile as the Assyrians who “ripped up” pregnant women, or those savages who reportedly made a game of throwing babies to another soldier who would catch them on his sword in WW II. These deeds evil acts committed against unsuspecting people who had never done anything to those people. However, we must remember that these acts were not committed against innocent people - there aren’t any! “"There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10).

Burned into my memory are the televised pictures and live reports of the horrendous fires engulfing the World Trade Center and a wing of the Pentagon. I recognize the possibility that the blazing fire we witnessed may be a harbinger of judgment that God may elect to use to reclaim this nation for His purpose.

There is another fire, however, that will burn itself into the minds and hearts of certain people, and that fire will not be a scene stored in a memory cell, buy an actual reality. You and I saw the flames leap from the second tower as the plane sliced through the side of it. I can imagine that those terrorists might well have closed their eyes in the second before impact. If so, they opened their eyes in a fire from which they will never escape. The fire of hell is not something that is simply burned into one’s memory, but conscious, eternal torment and there will be no other death to deliver them from that torment.

Sadly, there is more. You do not have to be a terrorist in order to take your place in the lake of fire from which there is no escape forever. What do you have to do? Nothing. Nothing, because to reject Jesus Christ is to look your Creator in the face and say, “I don’t need you, and I don’t want your Son!”

God loves you, Jesus died for you, and the Holy Spirit convicts lost people of their need for Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28). There is no danger of throwing more heat on this subject than light. Jesus proclaimed:

“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

The Scripture (Is. 55:6ff) urgently invites you to

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”

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