Summary: Gideon asked, "If the Lord is with us, why did this happen?" I believe his answer today is, "I AM with you!"
I. Many are asking the same question today Gideon asked then: "Lord, if you are with us, why did this happen?"
A. The answer then had already been given: because of the sin of the people (6:8-10). That was then.
B. One prominent preacher went on national TV recently to interpret Sept. 11 in the same sense. But he was apologizing almost before his lips quit moving, and later on one of the morning shows he was eating crow like a starving man at an AYCE buffet.
C. Six reasons the answer I think I got from the Lord is: "I AM with you!"
1. Prophets don’t have to eat their words.
2. As bad as it was, it was miraculous that it wasn’t worse. Many stories of heroism and faith have been told (i.e., the passenger who recited the Lord’s Prayer before attacking the hi-jackers and avoided a much greater tragedy).
3. God, when judging people, sends a prophecy before the fact, giving opportunity to repent.
4. If it was God’s judgement against pornography, drugs, and violence, instead of attacking a symbol of cooperation among the people of the world, he would have struck icons of pornography (the Playboy Mansion), centers of drug trade, etc. . . ..
5. If it was God’s judgment, every Pastor in America who bowed in prayer asking for a word for the people would have gotten the same one: REPENT! I didn’t, and I know many other who didn’t.
6. The results of the attack have been a fulfillment of Romans 8:28 (quickview) . God has brought something good out of something terrible. The nation is united, in prayer, and everywhere you turn you hear the same three words: "God Bless America!"
II. But there is an apparent contradiction in the story. The God of Peace (v. 24) is sending Gideon into war? Is there such a thing as ’holy war’?
A. Peace is not just the absence of war (quote Harrison Ford from "Air Force One") (quote Jimmy Carter from "Living Faith," p. 136, ". . . we now see the inseparability of peace, justice, freedom, democracy, human rights, environmental proteciton, and the alleviation of physical suffering.").
B. Leslie Weatherhead’s explanation of God’s perfect, intentional will (Plan A = peace), and God’s circumstantial will (Plan B = stop them by force) when people won’t let him have his way.
C. Sometimes you have to fight for peace.
III. Gideon’s response: praise, worship, and offering (vv. 17-19, and vv. 22-24). The Lord IS with us; the question is, are you with him? Compare your response with Gideon’s.