This week’s blog post begins with a provocative question: When terrorists strike, are they doing God’s will?

Before we come up with an answer off the tops of our heads, let’s think about this for a moment and ask a question concerning the nature of God. “Is there anything the Lord cannot do?” Biblically, the answer to that question is, “No.”

Stay with me.

Second, we could ask, “Is there anything the Lord does not know?” Again, the answer must be, “No. There is nothing the Lord who created everything does not know.”

The third question is related to the first two: “Is God Almighty sovereign? Does anything happen on the earth or in the universe which He does not cause or allow?” Well, if we believe in a God for whom nothing is impossible, whose knowledge is perfect, then the answer to these two questions must be, “Yes, He is sovereign,” and “No, nothing happens anywhere which He does not cause or allow.”

If we are certain of these fundamental truths about the nature of God, then we can return to our beginning question: “When terrorists strike, are they doing God’s will?

The answer is yes.

And no.

Let’s deal with the second answer first, so those reading this article won’t think that I should be placed ever so gently under the wheels of a rolling bus. People who kill others for any religious reason—regardless of religion—are murderers. It is a sin, and that sin is clearly condemned in Scripture as well as in secular law.

Now to the first answer. In Scripture, it was not unusual for the Lord to raise up a country to deal with another nation which He had determined should be punished for their grievous sins. One example is in Jeremiah 25:8–9, where we are clearly told that God sent Babylon to wreak destruction on Israel and the surrounding nations. “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the LORD, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation.” 1

However, Babylon would likewise be destroyed because of their iniquity: “Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste. I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands” (Jeremiah 25:12–14).

These events were all God’s will. He planned them. He raised up Babylon for a purpose, and He brought it down for a purpose. Persia, which He raised up to defeat Babylon, was later conquered by Alexander the Great.

So. Are terrorist attacks, terrible as they are, God’s will? Somehow, yes, they must be. The Lord would have prevented them if they were not. Does that indicate that God is “on their side?” No. It means that He is bringing to pass what He determines must come to pass, in His sovereignty. It is also within His will that He will cause those who perform such deeds to suffer downfall as well, as He did Babylon and Persia.

Are we able to see His will in all of this, clearly?

Not so much.

I live in the United States. God has raised this nation up for a reason, known to Him alone. It is not outside the realm of biblical thinking to entertain the idea that He would allow an attack by a person or organization to move His plan for this nation and all nations forward. Would those attacks be a result of the sinfulness of the U.S.? Well, show me a nation without sin, and we’ll discuss it. No, God will perform what He purposes. The obedient duty of Christians of any nation is to put their trust in the One who already knows the future and to seek a city whose builder and maker is God, eternal in the heavens, regardless of what occurs in their countries.

God is sovereign. He always has been. He always will be. He is the King—capital K—eternal.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.