Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sycamore of Ground Zero

[This is a transcript of a speech I gave to our church men's club in 2013.  Minor details were edited and references added to accommodate the written and visual form]

Sycamore of Ground Zero

On September 11, 2001, a steel beam falling from the north tower of the World Trade Center would have damaged a small church named St. Paul's Chapel if it had not struck a Sycamore tree. Instead, this Sycamore tree was cut off and gave its life to protect the Chapel [ (1)].  St. Paul's Chapel, across the street from the World Trade Center site on Church Street soon became a de facto 
St. Paul's Chapel (3)
dormitory and relief center for rescue workers in the days after 9/11. What's so special about St. Paul's Chapel?  Was this coincidence?  Or can we see God's hand at work?  Does God care about church buildings?

God is at work, and He does care about this building.  Let me show you why.

The next day, September 12, 2001, then Senate majority leader Tom Daschle spoke to the combined Senate and House of Representatives, to the people of the United States and the world. He didn't yet know about the "sycamore of Ground Zero", as it came to be known.  In his speech he quoted Scripture. 

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 (sycamore in KJV and most translations) have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.' That is what we will do. We will rebuild and we will recover. [youtube (4)]


That’s from Isaiah 9:10.  And it is meant to sound encouraging, that we will face this trial and come out better at the other end. The Sycamore isn't a strong tree, not highly regarded for building or furniture. But the Cedar (or pine tree) is – it grows tall, some species have straight grain, good for building, smells nice, good for furniture. But read the verse in context. Let's go back to verses eight and nine.
8 The Lord sent a word against Jacob,And it has fallen on Israel.9 All the people will know-Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria-Who say in pride and arrogance of heart:10 “The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with hewn stones;The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.”
That's not heeding the warning in verses 8 & 9 - that's defiance.  One Bible commentary [W. Clarkson (5)] even said "thus they breathed the very spirit of defiance".  Don't take my word for it, or the commentary's word for it, listen to what public officials said. That same day, September 12, 2001, Senator John Kerry stated in a speech on the Senate Floor.
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.  [ (6)]

July 4, 2004, Then governor of New York George Pataki said this at a ceremony at the floor of Ground Zero "today, we, the heirs of that revolutionary spirit of defiance, lay this cornerstone …" [ (7)]

This is what President Obama stated in his second inaugural address Jan 20, 2009.      
…We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken -- you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you… [youtube (8)]
September 11, 2004, then Democratic Candidate for Vice President John Edwards spoke the same curse upon America using the same verse at a prayer breakfast for the Congressional Black Caucus.  He said

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. ... [prophezine (9)]

Like a chess game, God’s next move was determined by America’s response to the warning of 9/11 – humility or defiance.  The Sycamore of Ground Zero was uprooted. Quoting from [trinitywallstreet news (10)], let’s see what happened to the Sycamore of Ground Zero.
“In September 2005, a bronze sculpture memorializing the surviving root of the fallen sycamore tree that shielded St. Paul’s Chapel from debris on 9/11 was installed in the south courtyard of Trinity Church. Created by noted artist Steve Tobin, the Trinity Root, as the sculpture is known, is a favorite attraction in the churchyard, fascinating young children, community members, and tourists alike.”

The sculpture sits at the head of Wall Street on Broadway, in a courtyard of Trinity Church, the Episcopal parish that operates St. Paul's. 

Remember the prophecy "The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.” The Hebrew for cedar just means pine tree.  In ancient times, destroying the trees symbolized the uprooting of a kingdom and adversely affected the rebuilding.  The Sycamore of Ground Zero was not just cut down, it was uprooted.  In the spirit of defiance, a pine tree was indeed planted at the very spot where the Sycamore fell. Of course there was a public ceremony.

The Rector of St. Paul’s Chapel at the Tree of Hope dedication in late November 2003 said:
Tree of Hope (13)

This Ground Zero Tree of Hope (a Pine tree) will be a sign of the indomitable nature of human hope...The Tree of Hope is planted in the very spot where the 60 year old Sycamore stood the morning of September 11, 2001.[pepperhawkfarm (12)].

So what's the big deal about this Chapel anyway? Why is it the only building near the World Trade Center that escaped damage? 

History lesson

Early Dutch settlers on the island of Manhattan built a wall to protect themselves from Indians and Pirates. Merchants set up shop along this wall, which became the center of trade for the area. The British tore down the wall, but the street retains the name "Wall Street". [wikipedia "History of Wall Street" (14)]

Depiction of traders under the buttonwood tree [wikipedia {15)]
And how did it go from a wall to the world's leading financial center? It started on May 17, 1792, 24 leading merchants of the day signed an agreement which would eventually become the New York Stock Exchange. This was called the Button Wood agreement, because it was signed in the shade of a button wood tree – an 18th century term for Sycamore tree. So the Sycamore is the symbol of America's financial power, more accurately the symbol of the origin of its strength [wikipedia "Buttonwood Agreement" (16)]. 

Unlike the Sycamore of Ground Zero, this symbolic sycamore of America's strength has not been uprooted yet, but let me show you how it is being cut down.

The NYSE closed for six days after 9/11.  When it reopened on September 17, 2001, it suffered its largest one day loss in history up to that time. [ historical data (17)] This was the eve of Feast Of Trumpets [ (18)], the day and year of the Biblical year of release (every seven years). 

Because of government policy to jumpstart the economy with low interest rates, the stage was set for a greater stock market crash on September 29, 2008, again the eve of Feast Of Trumpets, and the year of release.  Exactly seven years apart on the day [ (18)]. The NYSE dropped $700 billion, 7%, 777 points [ historical data (17)]. Do you see God's hand?  I make no predictions what will happen in 2015, but I would like to point out there will be four lunar eclipses 2014 & 2015, aka a Tetrad, and a partial solar eclipse the day before Feast Of Trumpets (Sept 13, 2015). [NASA (19)] [wikipedia "September 2015 lunar eclipse" (20)]

Why was St. Paul’s chapel spared?

One more history lesson.

On April 30, 1789, after George Washington's inauguration in our nation's
Federal Hall, St. Paul's Chapel, Ground Zero

capital as our first president, and after delivering his first presidential address, he led the Senate and House of Representatives on foot in a procession through the streets of the capital from Federal Hall, the site of the inauguration, to the place appointed for their prayers, to a little stone church, called St. Paul's Chapel [ (21)].You see, New York City was the nation's capital in 1789. Federal Hall was on Wall Street, across from the New York Stock Exchange. [wikipedia "Federal Hall" (22)]

Bells rang all over the nation that day to remind people to pray for the country.  Pres. Washington and all the congressmen gathered at St. Paul's Chapel and prayed for two hours. They dedicated the United States of America, (which the Pilgrims that landed at Plymouth Rock saw as new Israel) to the God of heaven. They consecrated it if you will. Pres. Washington said "the propitious smiles of Heaven cannot be expected on a country that disregards the eternal rules of order and right that heaven itself hath ordained". [ (23)]

This nation was founded at Federal Hall and dedicated to God at St. Paul's Chapel. 

When the towers fell, a shockwave cracked the foundation of Federal Hall National Memorial.  Is this symbolic of a crack in the foundation of the United States of America?

Ezekiel 13:14  So I will break down the wall (Wall Street?), you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.

St. Paul's Chapel sits on a little piece of land now, but used to own a field between the Chapel and the water to the west (see map above). Today this field is known as Ground Zero. St. Paul's Chapel was the Ground Zero for the founding of America.  That’s why God cares about this building.

If you enjoy conspiracy theories about the fall of the World Trade Center, you will have to accept that the God of heaven is in on it.

What’s next? Let’s read the next verses, Is 9:11-12.
11 Therefore the Lord shall set upThe adversaries of Rezin against him,And spur his enemies on,12 The Syrians before and the Philistines behind;And they shall devour Israel with an open mouth.
End of speech

Some of you may recognize this as derived from the writings of Jonathan Cahn, author of The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America's Future (24), on the NY Times bestseller list for 100 weeks.  He goes into vastly more detail than I could do in a ten minute speech.  Some object to his writing style, “The Harbinger” is written as a narrative with fictional characters.  Personally, I liked his method, it may attract more readers than it repels.  For those who want the message in sermon format, check out (25) – warning: Cahn does not hold back.  Cahn has appeared on TV on the Sid Roth Show (26).  He has delivered this warning to national leaders at the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast [youtube (27)], again not holding back.  He has his own blog and Facebook page too.

I believe the message in the book and the sermons.  But I also did my best to verify the facts.  I tried to quote primary sources, but sometimes the references get circular and point back to Cahn as the source.  There is lots more out there.  Use search terms like “Sycamore of Ground Zero”, “Harbinger”, “Jonathan Cahn”, “Tree of Hope”, etc.  You can also verify eclipses, Hebrew calendar, stock market indices, etc.



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