Today we remember that awful day 13 years ago when the world as knew it was turned upside- down. As we do, we remember those who lost their lives that day and we continue to pray for those who lost loved ones; for those who still cannot make sense of it all; and for those who tried valiantly to save as many people as they could, and will forever be haunted by guilt that they could not save others. But on that day another event occurred that had been called, by many, a miracle.
The story goes something like this: On September 11, 2001, an ancient Sycamore tree stood between the small Saint Paul's Chapel of 1766 and the World Trade Center. The force released by the collapsing Twin Towers caused the 100-year-old tree to fall. When it fell it fell in such a way that its outstretched branches created a shield which absorbed shockwaves from the impact and preserved the historic Chapel of Trinity Church and its tombstones from falling debris, including a direct hit from an I-beam, and what should have been certain destruction.
St. Paul's Chapel is a place of great importance in America's history of liberty, freedom and faith. The Chapel stands at 209 Broadway; just down from Federal Hall. After his inauguration, President George Washington and members of Congress walked down the street to this Chapel, where they prayed for two hours; asking a blessing for their new nation. In his inaugural address our first President gave a warning to the people of America concerning this blessing. He said:
"I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."
Over 200 years later -- one day after the disaster of September 11th, 2001 - standing on the floor of the Senate of the United States Senator Tom Daschle spoke the following words:
"It is with pain, sorrow, anger, and resolve that I stand before this Senate - a symbol for 212 years of the strength of our Democracy - and say that America will emerge from this tragedy as we have emerged from all adversity - united and strong ...
... Nothing can replace the losses that have been suffered. I know that there is only the smallest measure of inspiration that can be taken from this devastation. But there is a passage in the Bible, from Isaiah, that I think speaks to all of us at times like this. ... 'The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the sycamore trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.'
... That is what we will do. We will rebuild and we will recover. The people of America will stand together because the people of America have always stood together, and those of us who are privileged to serve this great nation will stand with you. God bless the people of America."
Sadly, the quote from Isaiah spoken by Daschle and other national political leaders thereafter were not words of encouragement or inspiration for those who understand Bible prophecy. They were words of warning; a call to national repentance from a Holy God. Isaiah 9:16 speaks of this when it says ... "For this people's leaders led them astray, and its guided ones are swallowed up."
The verse from Isaiah was written to a people "who say with pride and arrogance of heart" (Is. 9:9) that they would rebuild with hewn stone and replace the sycamores with cedars. They were arrogant and full of pride and greedy and had no time for their God or His teachings.
On September 11th, 2001, an iron beam came flying from the north tower as it collapsed, knocking down and almost destroying the sycamore tree which had stood in its place for a century. And shortly thereafter a cedar tree was planted in the hole left when the trunk was uprooted. Later still, a brass statue representing the ancient sycamore was created and set up near the chapel as a memorial to the ancient tree at St. Paul's Chapel.
In the Bible, the sycamore is symbolic of that which is unworthy and in need of Grace. And by the way - the Sycamore that protected St. Paul's Chapel was replaced with a cedar.
... "the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; ..."
May we repent that God may save us from any future 9-11s.
Author's Note: For further reading I suggest the Book of Isaiah Chapter Nine.