The day after 9/11 a respectable Canadian newspaper called the Toronto Sun printed a full page picture of the devastation quoting Bible prophecy down one side. The verse they chose came from Revelation chapter 18 showing that the events poetically and symbolically predicted in this chapter bore an uncanny resemblance of what actually took place.
The Book of Revelation was written by St John in 96AD. In chapter 1 v1 we are informed that the purpose of these visions was to outline events which were to occur from the time of writing onwards right up to, and beyond the Second Coming of Christ. So as not to stop the fulfilment of the very things being foretold, many of these prophecies were written in a symbolic, poetic and code-like form. They were written in such away that often their meaning would only become clear as a predicted event unfolded in reality.
St John had to use the ancient language of his day to describe what he saw in the visions given to him. All the other prophets of Scripture were of course in the same situation, so understanding what they saw in their particular visions and seeing how they described those events is a vital key to understanding how St John would have described events shown to him.
For example, in the article entitled “Amazing Prophecy fulfilled” we see that in Isaiah ch 31v5 the prophet described a strange vision God gave him concerning the future deliverance of Jerusalem. The event was to occur over 2000 years later using technology which Isaiah would have had no name for. The best he could do was use the language of his day and describe in his own words what he saw in the vision. What he wrote in this world changing prophecy was “As birds flying so will the Lord of Hosts defend Jerusalem; passing over it He will preserve it.” As history records, when General Allenby read this prophecy at the time of Jerusalem’s crisis in 1917 he instantly realised that Isaiah was describing planes flying over the City. On the basis of this understanding he ordered planes to fly over the City dropping leaflets of surrender. The result was that Jerusalem was delivered from enemy hands without bloodshed.
Understanding that the prophets of Scripture describe the visions they saw in the ancient language and cultural terms of their day, brings meaning and sense to many predictions in the Bible which might otherwise seem bizarre. Zechariah ch 14 vs 12-15 is another excellent example of this. To the casual reader the vision may seem unintelligible. However, when its realised that the prophet is but using the language of his day to describe far distant future events he hasn’t proper words for, the meaning becomes very clear.
Like St John, and Isaiah, Zechariah was given a vision of technology he didn’t understand and had no name for. Like them, all he could do was describe what he saw. The vision is set in the context of events which are to take place just before the Second Coming of Christ when many nations attack Israel. He tells us that at that moment the Lord will strike the enemies attacking Israel with a “plague”. From his description it is clear however, that this was to be no ordinary plague. It was to be something so instantaneous that even while they were still standing on their feet their flesh would dissolve, their eyes would dissolve in their eye sockets and their tongues dissolve in their mouths. What we have here is “an ancient language” description of the use of a nuclear bomb in the Middle East which will take place during the battle of Armageddon. (See article entitled “Israel and the Middle East in prophecy”).
Turning to the visions in the Book of Revelation, these examples from Isaiah and Zechariah help explain what St John was also trying to do, namely describe far distant future events in the ancient poetic and cultural terms of his day.
For decades Bible scholars have held that Revelation chapter 18 predicted disaster befalling the economic system of the world because it was run on financial principles founded by ancient Babylon. These principles were that profit was to be made at any price. Greed was the motivating force. It didn’t matter if the poor were oppressed or treated unfairly so long as a profit was made. God could not bless or protect an economic system run on such principles any more than He will now. The City that St John described was a symbolic economic Babylon because by the time of the vision’s fulfilment it would have become the main centre of global world trade.
Most of you who read this article will vividly recall the events of that tragic day and its memory will be firmly fixed in your mind. I have a friend who knew about 300 of those died. It was a day of horror and it has marked a turning point in history by setting in motion a sequence of events which we are all still experiencing and will be ongoing until the Second Coming of Christ.
Now imagine for a moment that you were given a “picture” or “vision” of the events which you so vividly recall and that you were St John living 2000 years ago. Your task is to describe what you see in the vision for the benefit of future generations. Using the poetic and cultural terminology of your day you would have put it something like this;-
Three times St John describes the desolation as happening in one hour. In verse 10 he writes “Alas alas that great city, for in one hour your judgement has come.” Verse 17 reads “For in one hour such great riches come to nothing”. And in verse 19 “in one hour she has become desolate.”
The reaction from people is that “when they see the smoke of her burning they will stand and watch at a distance for fear of her torment." (Verses10and15).
In verse 11 the global nature of the catastrophe is described. “The merchants (traders) of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one can buy her merchandise any more.”Verse 17 further adds that those who trade on the world’s oceans will be affected. Verses12/13 gives a list of some of the many products which will no longer be traded through her. Notice also in verse 2 the word “fallen” is used twice, rather than only once “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen”. This may possibly be a reference to the fact that there were Two Towers making up the World Trade Centre.
Reading through this description it is easy to see why the Toronto Sun placed a verse from this chapter beside a photograph of the devastation. Using the poetic language and cultural terminology of his day St John clearly described the events of 9/11 in amazing detail. There even appears to be a reference to the prevalence of dust in verse 19. Who can forget the fearful dust clouds that swept down the streets as the Towers collapsed?
St John however, isn’t the only one to have had a vision of that fateful day. In the AUGUST 2001 edition of “The Last Trumpet Newsletter” pastor David Meyers printed details about a fearful vision God had given him a few weeks earlier about the twin towers. He and members of his congregation were visiting New York in July 2001 so as to especially pray for the City. He wrote in the August 2001 magazine “We were sailing across New York harbour on the ferry bound for Manhattan. There in the distance were the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. Suddenly I saw massive flames of fire rising into the sky from the towers, as the entire area became engulfed in fire. I could hear the horrifying screams of multitudes of people in the distance. The vision ended as quickly as it had begun. Then I heard a Voice that seemed to come from inside my head say ‘describe what you have seen in your newsletter’.”
In John ch 14 v 29Jesus explained that the reason for using prophecy was to strengthen faith. He said to His disciples “I have told you before it comes to pass, that when it comes to pass you may believe.” Many people have been encouraged in their faith by this pastor’s vision being clearly in print several weeks before the events of 9/11.
It is also amazing to discover that the Times Square Church led by Pastor David Wilkerson had also been given Divine warning of an impending disaster. Six weeks before 9/11 he and every member of his pastoral team were struck by a deep conviction that a great tragedy was about to hit the City and that God wanted them to prepare for it. As a result of this warning (as documented in their magazine) they cancelled all major church events in the weeks prior to 9/11 and replaced them with 4 prayer meetings every week. At these prayer meetings they sensed God prompting them to pray that the results of this coming disaster would be lessened from what otherwise might be the case and be prepared to provide practical help. Incredibly, as a direct result of this Divine guidance the church was ready to establish relief tents at ground zero to comfort survivors and rescue workers.
If you have found this article an encouragement to your faith then please don’t forget to share it with others. There are several other articles about Bible prophecy on this website which comfort and reassure us that no matter what Man may do, God is still ultimately in control of human destiny. These prophecies reveal that God will never allow the world to be destroyed and that one day Christ will return in the midst of a great world crisis to bring peace and justice. Let us make sure that when the prophecy of 2nd Corinthians ch 5 vs 10-11 is fulfilled He will say to us “well done good and faithful one” and not “depart from Me into punishment you who practice disobedience.”