Written and preached by David P. Nolte

LUKE 13:1-4

There are all sorts of towers in the world: towers which hold up high voltage wires; towers from which forest rangers observe the woods for fire; towers from which air traffic controllers guide the flight of millions of aircraft. There is the Eiffel Tower in France and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. Of course, we are all too painfully familiar with the Twin Towers which stood in New York until maniacal thugs brought them down in a travesty of terrorism. And there is the tower of Siloam which catastrophically fell and resulted in 18 deaths. But let's consider towers today:
    1. The Jews wanted security from their enemies, so they built towers on walls and in vineyards and in plains. Towers were erected as vantage points for defense from attackers. A tower provided a good view and early warning or a safe place from which to hurl objects at the foe.
    2. We all want to be safe, secure, protected, and sheltered from danger, pain, misery and death. And, If we can avoid trouble, we ought to. There is nowhere in the Bible that says masochism is a virtue. But trouble is sure to come anyway!
    3. We, too, may seek towers for security: We think we will be safe and secure if we have these towers:
      1. We may seek the tower of favorable circumstances: "If I can just create a happy and comfortable life, I'll be secure." But, if our circumstances are bleak or our experiences are bad, our security is nil.
      2. We may seek the tower of positive emotions: "If I feel saved, I'm saved; if I feel forgiven, I'm forgiven; if I feel loved, I'm loved; if I feel secure, I'm secure!" Yet, if we feel emotionally down or far from God, our sense of security dies.
      3. We may seek the tower of position: "If I am prominent and well established in society, I am secure." But if we are overlooked and passed by, our security is wrecked.
      4. We may seek the tower of possessions: Like the rich man in Luke's Gospel we may feel that our possessions assure us of long and good and secure living. Jesus says, however, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12:15 (NIV).
      5. We may seek the tower of performance or achievement: "If I do good and don't make mistakes, I'll be accepted and even God will approve of me!" However, if we fall short or don't succeed, our security falls, too.
    4. Geraldine McKinsey wanted a tower of security. She rented an apartment on the 5th floor. She installed 5 dead bolt locks, 3 chains and put a brace between the knob and the floor. Geraldine had a heart attack, called 9-11. Nobody could enter her tower of security and she died helpless. All in a quest for safety and security.  Ironically, that which was supposed to provide safety contributed to her death.
    1. The twin towers fell when a bunch of anti-Christ thugs slammed airplanes into them. The tower in Siloam fell. Perhaps it fell because of poor workmanship, or substandard materials, or sabotage or it was built on a poor foundation or there might have been an earthquake. It fell, at any rate.
    2. Sometimes our towers fall, too; that is our security fails us. Whatever we were trusting didn't hold up and we were caught in the collapse.
    3. On September 11, 2001, there were some towers that fell even as the World Trade Center towers collapsed:
      1. The tower of national pride in our invincibility and impregnability as a nation.
      2. The tower of complacency that things will always go on as normal.
      3. The tower of false sense of ultimate control of our destiny.
      4. The tower of the false notion that we will always have another day in which to do what we need to do.
    4. These towers fell because they were built on false hopes and unreliable foundations of security. They are like the Tower of Pisa which is falling; gradually, almost imperceptibly. Efforts have been made to slow or stop the tilting, but the marshy ground on which the tower is built won't forever support the structure. It will fall. So will every life, every activity, every form of security not built on solid foundation.
    1. Job's friends quickly and harshly equated his suffering with some unconfessed sin. The people in this text followed the mode of thought: "Terrible tragedy means great sin." It was a "quid pro quid" idea: "You sinned, so you are suffering!" "You are suffering so you must have sinned!" Yet they seem oblivious to their own shortcomings!
    2. But suffering does not necessarily prove guilt any more than prosperity necessarily proves righteousness. This is an age old conundrum: "What is the relationship of sin and suffering?" There is not time or wisdom enough this morning to adequately answer that question. For sure if there had never been sin in the world there'd be no suffering. But consider:
      1. Sometimes, sin and suffering are clearly linked:
        1. Sin can destroy our health and bring suffering: clearly addictions and sexual sins can bring about sickness and death.
        2. Sin can bring about poverty and bring suffering: covetousness, living beyond our means, and refusing to be content will ruin us.
        3. Sin can bring God's judgment:
          1. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for sexual immorality. Genesis 19.
          2. Saul was punished with death for disobedience and for consulting a spiritualist medium. 1 Chronicles 10:13.
          3. David committed adultery and murder and God's hand afflicted him with bodily illness. Psalm 32.
          4. Ananias and Sapphira were stricken dead for lying to the Holy Spirit. Acts 5.
        4. It is not for us, however, to look at each case and say, "You are being judged and punished for sin!"
      2. Sometimes suffering comes from our own poor choices: we are careless, we drive while sleepy or we do something stupid like drink and drive or read a book while behind the wheel.
      3. Sometimes suffering comes because of the evil of others: rapists, robbers and anti-Christ terrorists who crash planes into towers.
      4. Sometimes suffering comes just because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time: we catch a stray bullet while hunting, or get hit by lightning while golfing or we get bit by a stray dog. Just a freak accident of time and place.
    3. When that happens we should not judge the moral state of the victim; we should consider our own sins. Hear this:
      1. Matthew Henry said, ""We cannot judge of men's sins by their sufferings in this world; for many are thrown into the furnace as gold to be purified, not as dross and chaff to be consumed. We must therefore not be harsh in our censures of those that are afflicted more than their neighbours, as Job's friends were in their censures of him"
      2. Jerry Morrisey said, "Instead of trying to figure out what the victims did to deserve the tragedy, one should focus on one's own need to change before death comes, however it comes, before it is too late." (Sermon: "Repent Now!") Jesus told them, in essence, that instead of judging the sins of others they ought to look into their own hearts and repent.
    4. Lucy holds the ball and Charlie Brown runs up to kick it. The problem is, Lucy always yanks the ball away just as Charlie tries to boot it and he falls flat on his back. Once Lucy was holding the ball, but Charlie Brown would not kick it. Lucy begged him to kick it, but Charlie Brown said, "Every time I try to kick the ball you move it and I fall on my back." Finally Lucy broke down in tears and admitted, "Charlie Brown I have been so terrible to you over the years. I've played so many cruel tricks on you, but I've seen the error of my ways! I've been wrong, so wrong. Won't you give a poor penitent girl another chance?" Charlie Brown was moved and responded, "Of course, I'll give you another chance." She held the ball and he ran. At the last moment, Lucy moved the ball and Charlie Brown fell flat on his back. Lucy's last words were, "Recognizing your faults and actually changing your ways are two different things, Charlie Brown!"

    1. Many seek refuge in towers that are destined to fall. They are manmade and man oriented. They are of this world and not of God. They are unsure, unstable and unreliable. They leave us in the lurch and fail us when we need safety.  The best tower we can erect will fall; it is like that house built on sand; when the storms came, it fell!
    2. How important it is to have a non-collapsible tower in time of danger and need.  We need somewhere to flee, a tower that will not let us down. 
    3. We have such a tower! God is our tower!
      1. "For Thou hast been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy." Psalms 61:3 (NASB).
      2. "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe." Proverbs 18:10 (NASB)
    4. A man who was very fond of hunting lived in an area that bounded with wild deer. One morning as he was walking across the meadows, he heard the baying of hounds in the distance. As they approached, he saw the object of the chase - a young doe, very weary, its tongue hanging out, and panting with exhaustion. Hesitating for a moment and gazing about in a pathetic and frightened manner, the animal saw its pursuers closing in. Its first impulse was to run again, but instead, it fell defenseless at the feet of my friend. He said, 'I stood there for some time with a stick in my hand, fighting off the barking dogs. I was determined that none of them should capture the little deer which in its weakness had appealed to my strength!'" The little deer had found a sure refuge, a safe tower in the man.

Those who seek God will find Him; those who find Him will discover that He is a sure and safe tower. Run to Him in time of trouble; don't waste time pointing the finger at anyone, not even yourself. Run to Him; you'll find welcome; acceptance; forgiveness; salvation; peace; hope and life. He requires that you have faith; that means believing, trusting and obeying. That means turning from sin and turning to Jesus Christ. That means ceasing to put your hope and confidence in things that will fail you and putting your hope in God. As we sing, will you take that step? Will you make that decision? Would you put your trust in Jesus?

Illustrations from NavPress Illustrator, Charles Schultz, others original

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