Prophetic Word in 9/11

The word of the Lord concerning 9/11 can be found in Isaiah chapter 9 which speaks directly to what is happening today. For anybody who would object to using an Old Testament text as an example of God’s work today, then you must be reminded of what Paul the Apostle said,

1 Corinthians 10:11:  “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”

Thus, it is not that Isaiah was prophesying concerning America. Rather, the spiritual climate in Israel of apostasy, pride and arrogance in their response to God’s loving judgment displays prophetic significance to our nation today in an astonishing way.

For nearly 250 years in Israel, the watchmen and prophets had sounded the warning calling the people of Israel to humble themselves and turn from their wickedness.

2 Kings 1:12-14:  “for they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.” Yet the LORD testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.” Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God.”

Isaiah lived and prophesied through the demise and fall of the Northern Kingdom (referred to as Ephraim). God sent wake-up calls to Israel. One of the first was the Assyrian invasion of two provinces: Zebulon and Naphtali:

Isaiah 9:1:  “Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, As when at first He lightly esteemed The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, And afterward more heavily oppressed her, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles.”

Only the coasts of the land of Israel were touched in this first attack and suddenly Israel lost its sense of security. An attack had never happened in this measure before. Nevertheless, it was limited damage and the heartland wasn’t touched. In it, God was speaking to Israel, but Israel missed the message.

In the midst of the turmoil, the collapsing buildings and chastening by the hand of God:

Isaiah 9:8: “The Lord sent a word against Jacob, and it has fallen upon Israel.

In the eight century BC, God spoke to His people in time of calamity through Isaiah the prophet:

Isaiah 9:8-10: “The Lord sent a word against Jacob, and it has fallen upon Israel. All the people shall know– even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria– who say in pride and arrogance of heart: ‘The bricks are fallen down. But we will rebuild with hewn stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.'”

God finally removed the protective hedge about Israel, and allowed this attack, but only on a limited scale. He then gave Israel a period of grace to hearken unto His voice and turn back to Him in repentance or to continue in rebellion. Isaiah said that the people will defy God’s merciful judgment by rebuilding the fallen bricks with stronger hewn stones and replacing the common sycamores with stronger Cedars.

There are at least 8 signs or heralds of judgment within this text of Isaiah 9:8-10 as the people of Israel reacted to the first incursion paralleling America’s reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They can be outlined as follows:

1.  “Who say in pride and arrogance of heart.” The first warning of impending judgment is the leaders’ vow saying in the pride and arrogance of their heart, “The bricks are fallen down. But we will rebuild with hewn stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them into cedars.” Arrogance or stoutness of heart means “greatness, magnitude, magnificence, pride, insolence (bad sense).” The leaders boasted themselves in their own strength and pride of the nation rather than humbling themselves in repentance. The initial fear gave way to a flood tide of national pride.


Just like Israel’s ignorance, arrogance, and unrpenatance was the first sign of impending judgment, so is America’s. The leaders of the nation vowed in national pride and a sense of greatness to defy God’s warning and undo the judgment.

On September 12, 2001, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle on a Joint Resolution of Condemnation of the attacks addressed the world as a representative and leader of America. Just as it was 3,000 years ago in Israel when these prophetic words were spoken, so it is said in America:

“Mr. President, 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… The world should know that the Members of both parties in both Houses stand united. The full resources of our Government will be brought to bear in aiding the search and rescue and in hunting down those responsible and those who may have aided or harbored them. Nothing, nothing can replace the losses that have been suffered. I know 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 such as this: The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig 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 strong together because the people of America have always stood together. And those of us privileged to serve this great Nation will stand with you” [1]

On September 11, 2004 Democratic Candidate for Vice President John Edwards spoke at a prayer breakfast for the Congressional Black Caucus saying,

“Good morning. Today, on this day of remembrance and mourning, we have the Lord’s word to get us through. “The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place. And let me show you how we are building and putting cedars in those three hallowed places—the footprints of the Towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania. Walk with me through this day and you will see that this is a season of hope. . . Walk with me through this day. And you will see that while those bricks fell and the sycamores cut down, our people are making those cedars rise. . . . Each time that bell tolls, it calls us to a greater purpose. It calls us to never forget. It calls us to do the Lord’s work here on earth. And it calls on us to always remember that when we walk through this day together—the cedars will rise, the stones will go up, and this season of hope will endure.” [2]

The political leaders of America have made their statement to the nation via Tom Daschle and John Edwards who quoted this obscure Scripture in Isaiah but interpreted the Scripture totally out of context. The leaders presented the text as if it were a passage of hope and encouragement for the nation when it is really speaking of our nation’s condemnation by conveying the proud, arrogant and unrepentant state of Israel after an initial attack just like America in the aftermath of September 11. Hence, Isaiah wrote of the leaders, “who say in pride and arrogance of heart” (Isaiah 9:9). Out of thousands of passages to choose from, John Edwards used this Scripture of judgment and linked it to 9/11 saying it was the Lord’s word to us!

2.  “The bricks are fallen down.” Bricks were weak and poor building materials often dried in the sun and made with straw (Exodus 5:7). One commentary explains, “Bricks refers to the mud brick walls common in ancient Israel.” [3] This first harbinger of judgment portrays damage but only on a limited scale as these bricks are easily broken. Another commentator explains, “bricks–in the East generally sun-dried, and therefore soon dissolved by rain. Granting, say the Ephraimites to the prophet’s threat, that our affairs are in a ruinous state, we will restore them to more than their former magnificence. Self-confident unwillingness to see the judgments of God.” [4]


The bricks of Ground Zero in Manhattan were reduced to ash and rubble. There has been no event in American history comparable to the devastation that came from the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Associated Press writer Richard Pyle described the

“For three months, the 16-acre site had the look of post-World War II Berlin with its buildings skeletonized and reduced to piles of bricks.”  [5]

3.  “But we will rebuild.” Even though God was trying to get their attention and turn Israel from their sins, the people of Israel said they would undo this judgment in a spirit of defiance and rebuild what was destroyed. One commentator rephrases, “We will replace cottages with palaces.” [6]


Since the destruction of the buildings at Ground Zero, America has decided to rebuild instead of humbling themselves.

Following the pattern of the rulers of Israel, on the day of the 9/11 crisis, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani stated:

“We will rebuild: We’re going to come out of this stronger than before, politically stronger, economically stronger. The skyline will be made whole again.” [7]

4.  “Let us build for ourselves a tower.” The people of Israel said they would rebuild bigger, better, taller and stronger than ever before by replacing the fallen bricks with hewn stones, and replacing the fallen sycamores with cedars. They boast in the pride and arrogance of heart. A frightening undertone is found in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures which reads,

The Lord has sent death upon Jacob, and it has come upon Israel. And all the people of Ephraim, and they that dwelt in Samaria shall know, who say in their pride and lofty heart, The bricks are fallen down, but come, let us hew stones, and cut down sycamores and cedars, and let us build for ourselves a tower.”


The leaders of Israel proclaimed in pride and arrogance of heart to rebuild bigger, better, stronger and taller than before.

In Governor George E. Pataki’s remarks on July 4, 2004, he said,

“Let this great Freedom Tower show the world that what our enemies sought to destroy –our democracy, our freedom, our way of life – stands taller than ever.” [8]

In a 2005 interview with MSNBC, real estate developer, Donald Trump stated,

“What I want to see built is the World Trade Centers stronger and maybe a story taller. And that’s what everybody wants. The New York Post‘ came out today strongly. The Wall Street Journal‘ yesterday in their editorial came out strongly for that. . . We should have the World Trade Center bigger and better.” [9]

As the leaders of Israel declared, “let us build for ourselves a tower“, reports,

“The 102-story building, under construction at the 16-acre site, was named the Freedom Tower in the first Ground Zero master plan. At the time, officials said the tallest, most symbolic of five planned towers at the site would demonstrate the nation’s triumph over terrorism.” Now the building is called the One World Trade Center.” [10]

Lower Manhattan Info reveals,

“Rising from its square base — which will be constructed of impermeable concrete and steel — the redesigned Freedom Tower will taper into eight tall isosceles triangles, forming a perfect octagon at its center. An observation deck will be located 1,362 feet above ground and there will be a square glass parapet at 1,368 feet, the heights of the original Twin Towers. From these, an illuminated spire containing a television antenna will rise to a final height of 1,776 feet.” [11]

Governor James E. McGreevey, borrowing from the Old Testament book of Haggai, said this:

“The glory of this latter house shall exceed the former.” [12]

5.  “We will rebuild with hewn stones.” Hewn stones or “cut” stones are stronger than building materials than bricks. These stones are not made out of clay but cut or quarried out of the mountains. These are the type of stones that built the temple (1 Kings 5:17) and the walls of Jerusalem.


The symbol of Israel’s rebuilding was the quarried stone cut of the mountains. The first stone used in the construction of the Freedom Tower was the hewn stone from New York granite and lowered by crane in a ceremony on July 4, 2004. Governor George Pataki, at the ceremony three years after 9/11, said,

“Today is indeed, a momentous day. Today we take 20 tons of Adirondack granite –  the bedrock of our state – and place it as the foundation, the bedrock of a new symbol of American strength and confidence. Today, we lay the cornerstone for a new symbol of this city and this country and of our resolve in the face of terror. Today we build the Freedom Tower.” [13]

The New York Times reported,

“He [Gov. George E. Pataki] was joined by Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. James E. McGreevey of New Jersey and the developer Larry A. Silverstein in unveiling a block of granite 5 feet 6 inches high that was quarried a little over a month ago at Ruby Mountain in the Adirondacks.” [14]

This was the hewn or cut stone in rebuilding the nation. However, the Freedom Stone was removed on July 23, 2006. Detailing the story, Michael Daly of NY Daily News wrote,

“After two years, the stone was deemed to be in the way of the changing plans for the site. Early on the morning of June 23, 2006, it was loaded onto a flatbed truck, reveiled with a tarp and driven 45 miles back to Innovative Stone in Hauppauge, L.I. . . . We arrive at this Fourth of July with that 20 tons of disgrace sitting in the Long Island lot.” [15]

6.  The Spirit of Defiance. God is judging this spirit of defiance in His people. Though He sought to mercifully warn them through limited judgment, they sought to defy His judgment. Israel’s actions were speaking loud and clear. God Himself sent a covert chastisement on Israel to wake them up, to bring them back to Himself and to protect them, but they don’t once acknowledge His working in it. Israel used this disastrous occasion to defy the very thought that such a proud and great nation could ever be humbled or chastened by God.


The pride, arrogance, and spirit of defiance is a further parallel in America’s and Israel’s unrepentance. On the very day that the quarried stone was being laid in the ground, New York Governor George Pataki declared,

“Today, we, the heirs of that revolutionary spirit of defiance, lay this cornerstone.” [16]

On September 12, 2001, Senator John Kerry stated before the US Senate,

“And I believe one of the first things we should commit to – with federal help that underscores our nation’s purpose – is to rebuild the towers of the World Trade Center and show the world we are not afraid – we are defiant.” [17]

7.  “The sycamores are cut down.” The Bible’s sycamore tree was a fig tree. The Ficus sycomorus is called the sycamore fig or the fig-mulberry (due to the leaves’ resemblance to those of the Mulberry), sycamore, or sycomore, is a fig species that has been cultivated since early times. In the Bible, Amos 7:14 refers to the fruit of the sycamore, which is of an inferior character; so also probably Jeremiah 24:2. [18] One commentator adds, “sycamores–growing abundantly on the low lands of Judea, and though useful for building on account of their antiseptic property (which induced the Egyptians to use them for the cases of their mummies), not very valuable.” [19] Psalm 78:47 also lists the destruction of the sycamore tree as a sign of judgment against Egypt; it says, “He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost” (Psalm 78:47).


There is yet another sign linking the judgment of God on 9/11 to His judgment on Israel. The beginning or dawning of that judgment upon both nations was the cutting or falling down of a Sycamore tree.

In the destruction of the towers on 9/11 a steel beam from the north tower was hurled through the sky and struck down a Sycamore tree which saved St. Paul’s Chapel. September 11th, 2001, St. Paul’s Chapel was a place where police, firefighters and volunteers at Ground Zero could go for hope and prayer. It was saved from the collapsing buildings by one giant sycamore tree that was uprooted by debris. [20]

This miracle is described as follows:

“On Sept. 11 more than 2 billion pounds of steel came crashing to the ground. The crash was so powerful it registered on the Richter scale. Everything inside and below the WTC buildings was smashed beyond recognition. Every window facing the Trade Center was blown out. Every nearby building suffered damage, some beyond repair. The destruction seemed endless. We now know that the total amount of energy released by the impact of the planes, the explosion of jet fuel, the massive fires burning inside the towers, and finally the towers’ collapse equaled the power of a small atomic bomb.

“It wasn’t until Sept. 14 that anyone was able to inspect what was left of St. Paul’s. Miraculously, where workers expected to see a pile of rubble, they instead found a completely intact chapel. Not a window had been broken (one was cracked). Not an inch of the walls or the roof had been compromised. The building’s structure was as sound as it had ever been.

“Inside a six-inch layer of dust coated everything, which did wreck the pipe organ, but otherwise nothing had been damaged—with one notable exception. The giant sycamore tree that had stood in the northwest corner of the graveyard—on the spot where the Tree of Hope now stands—had been knocked over in the collapse.” [21]

Eerily, the people publicly displayed the tree with its roots exposed  not realizing the tree’s significance of judgment and warning in the Bible. Sculptor Steve Tobin was commissioned to cast a recreation of the roots in bronze. The New York Times reports,

“The tree became a potent symbol of sacrifice after 9/11, when it was broken by the blast from the collapsing towers and helped shield the church from damage. The work will sit at the head of Wall Street on Broadway, in a courtyard of Trinity Church, the Episcopal parish that operates St. Paul’s.” [22]

This bronze image of the fallen uprooted Sycamore is to be displayed on Wall Street which symbolizes America’s financial prosperity. Bronze or brass is a metal “used as a type of severe judgment.” [23] It is for this reason the Lord Jesus is pictured figuratively in the Book of Revelation with “his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters” (1:15).

In May, 1792, the Buttonwood Agreement was signed by 24 stock brokers under a buttonwood tree along Wall Street in New York. This agreement started the New York Stock Exchange. [24] The buttonwood tree is usually called the sycamore and is also known as the American sycamore. [25] As the Buttonwood Agreement birthed the golden calf or idol of American commerce, signified in the Charging Bull or Wall Street Bull sculpted in bronze, so the bronze uprooted sycamore sculpture symbolizes the riches and financial prosperity of America being uprooted in economic depression. The fallen sycamore tree is the harbinger of God’s judgment against the American economy.

8.  “We will replace them with cedars.” One commentator says, “The cedar, on the other hand, was odorous, free from knots, durable, and precious ( 1 Ki 10:27 ).” [26] The cedars of Lebanon were known for their strength. The cedar tree or Erez in Hebrew is defined as, “cedar, so called from the firmness of its roots which is remarkable in trees of the pine kind. . . . The cedrus conifera, is the kind pointed out, a tree uncommonly tall (Isa. 2:13; 37:24; Am. 2:9) and wide spreading (Eze. 31:3), formerly very abundant in Lebanon (Ps. 29:5; 92:13; 104:16).” [27]

Rather than hearkening to God’s initial warning, there was pride and arrogance of heart. Even this judgment did not appease God’s wrath because the people refused to deal with their iniquity, so God would continue to chastise them, ultimately in a greater devastation and final judgment with the destruction of the temple. As the first stage of judgment came with no true conversion, God would come with a second and ultimate judgment. This was the wake-up call and God gave the nation a period of grace to return to Him. Since the nation did not turn back to God, then there was an impending and more devastating judgment yet to come.


Just as recorded in Isaiah with Israel, America replaced this Sycamore tree with a 21-foot Norway Spruce called the Tree of Hope was planted in the Northwest corner of the churchyard at St. Paul’s Chapel on November 22, 2003, replacing the fallen Sycamore tree. The tree was donated by the Imperatore Nurseries and lifted into place by crane. On November 29, St. Paul’s hosted a prayer service and ceremonial lighting of the Tree of Hope. [28]

They said, “We will replace them with cedars.” Though the cedar tree doesn’t grow in America, the Erez tree, translated “cedar” in the Bible, or cedrus conifera is of the Pinaceae family which includes many well-known conifers such as cedars and spruces. [29]

Likewise, the Tree of Hope was a conifer tree like the Cedar of Lebannon. It was a Norway Spruce which is a large evergreen coniferous tree of the same Pinaceae family. [30]

In Hebrew parallelism, a verse is often matched with a verse that rhymes in thought. The fallen bricks and fallen sycamore are paired together in this sense and were both found in the ruins of the 9/11 attacks at Ground Zero. Similarly, there are the Cedar tree and the hewn stone which can be grouped together because they were both lowered by cranes, both had ceremonies surrounding them, and both were labeled as icons: The Tree of Hope and the Freedom Stone.


The northern kingdom of Israel was attacked by the Assyrians, the rod of God’s anger Later, ultimate judgment came and Israel fell to the Assyrians in 721 BC. Though Assyria was an ungodly and wicked nation, God used them to judge His people. God used Israel’s enemies as a rod to chasten them as a last resort to bring them back to His love. God says,

Isaiah 10:5,6: “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hand is My indignation. I will send him against an ungodly nation, And against the people of My wrath I will give him charge, To seize the spoil, to take the prey, And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.”

In the same way God dealt with the Assyrians, God will deal with the 9/11 terrorists who were used by Him to trample America. 9/11 was the chastisement of America by God through evil people. When the Lord has finished allowing the Assyrians to attack His people, He will then turn His judgment upon them for delighting in destruction and oppression. Therefore it is not that those who attacked America are in God’s favor but a tool used by God to get our attention.

Isaiah 10:12,15:  “When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. Does the ax raise itself above him who swings it, or the saw boast against him who uses it? As if a rod were to wield him who lifts it up, or a club brandish him who is not wood!”

As soon as God was finished with Assyria, He destroyed it. As God dealt with the Assyrians after He used them to punish Israel, He has and will continue to deal justly with the adversaries who were behind the attacks on America on 9/11.

Even the sins of men come within the scope of God’s rule, providence and sovereignty. For example, after the Sabean and Chaldean terrorists killed Job’s flocks and servants, Job acknowledged that it was from the hand of the Lord:

Job 2:10:  “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”

It was not in the heart of the Assyrians to inflict God’s wrath against Israel, nor was that the intention of the 9/11 terrorists toward America. Their intentions were to destroy, yet God uses their evil intentions within His sovereign will to carry out His will and purposes. Thus, the Scripture says of the Assyrian terrorists,

Isaiah 10:6,7:  “And against the people of My wrath I will give him charge, To seize the spoil, to take the prey, And to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Yet he does not mean so, Nor does his heart think so; But it is in his heart to destroy, And cut off not a few nations.”

Furthermore, the Bible says,

Proverbs 16:4:  “The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.”

God asks the rhetorical question:

Amos 3:6:  “If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?”

It is important to note that God is not the author of sin. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). The Lord is upright and there is no unrighteousness in Him (Psalm 92:15). In God’s decrees and providence, sin and guilt belongs to the perpetrators of the wrong, not to God Himself.

Yet God uses the free will and evil intentions of humankind, even terrorism, in His divine providence for His ultimate good and for His glory. The calamity of 9/11, therefore, was the finger of God to wake up the nation and call it back to Him through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.

Works Cited:

1. “Floor Statement by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle on a Joint Resolution of Condemnation for Yesterday’s Attacks And Support for the Victims.” United States Senate. Sept. 12, 2001.

2. Available:

3. Nelson’s Compact Bible Commentary, 2004 edition. p. 469.

4. Commentary by A. R. Fausset. available:

5. Pyle, Richard. Associated Press. available:

6. Commentary by A. R. Fausset. available:

7. Taylor, Tess. “Should the Twin Towers be Rebuilt.” AlterNet, October 11, 2001. Available:

8. available:

9. available: See also:

10. Lam, Chau. “Freedom Tower Name Changed to One World Trade Center.”available:,0,6084299.story

11. available:

12. Dunlap, David. “Rebirth Marked by Cornerstone at Ground Zero.” July 5, 2004. available:

13. “New York Lays Cornerstone For Freedom Tower.’ CNN. Available:

14. Dunlap, David. “Rebirth Marked by Cornerstone at Ground Zero.” July 5, 2004. available:

15. available:

16. available:

17. available:

18. available:

19. Commentary by A. R. Fausset. available:

20. “The Little Chapel That Could. – St. Paul’s Chapel, Manhattan.” Episcopal News Service.

21. Snyder, Rachel. “New York City’s Tree of Hope.” The Banner. available:

22. Kennedy, Randy. “Uprooted in the Attacks, Now Planted in Bronze’. July 6, 2005. Available:

23. Wilson, Walter L. Dictionary of Bible Types. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. 1999. p. 56

24. available:

25. available:

26. Commentary by A. R. Fausset. available:

27. Gesenius’s Lexicon. available:

28. Torres, Maria Luisa. “Ground Zero’s Tree of Hope.” See also pictures:

29. “Pinaceae.” available:

30. “Norway Spruce.” available:


Bennett, Ramon. “Saga: Israel and the Demise of the Nations.”

Bradley, Sue. “The Watchmen, 911 and the Harbingers.” available:

Cahn. Jonathan. “The Harbinger.” Sermon available through:

Wilkerson, David. “The Towers Have Fallen, But We’ve Missed the Message.” Sermon available through: