Summary: This sermon is designed to take the WTC tragedy and see it through spiritual eyes. We do have an enemy and with God’s help we will overcome. It provides some historical facts concerning Osama bin Laden and may be helpful in explaining the crisis to your

Understanding the Enemy

Dr. Marty Baker, Stevens Creek Community Church, Augusta, GA

September 23, 2001

Video Clip from President Bush’s Address to Joint Session of Congress on September 20, 2001

America is under attack. It is not uncommon to hear the rhetoric of war in conversations across our land. Our leadership has committed to use all of our tools and weapons to fight this new war. As most of us think about this new engagement, we are confused about who our enemy really is. In the past, there was a land mass to conquer or a government to subdue; this war will be different.

As President Bush said Thursday evening, "The evidence that has been gathered points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda." They have been involved with the bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for bombing the USS Cole." Now everything points to them in the hijacking and bombing of the World Trade Center and The Pentagon last week.

Over and over people in our land have wondered why this group hates America. Some have pointed to the fact that their leader Osama Bin Laden resented the Western Alliance occupying his homeland Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. He considered America’s Christianity, our association with Israel, our music, and the dress code a desecration of the Prophet Mohammed’s birthplace.

Some people feel that the conflict in the Middle East is relatively new, but it has been going on for centuries. In fact, it dates back to Abraham and Sarah in the book of Genesis.

God promised Abraham that he would be the Father of many nations. When Sarah entered her late seventies, she began to doubt God’s promise. She took matters into her own hands and offered her maid to Abraham so that she could bear children for Sarah.

Having children through a maid or concubine was a common practice in that culture, but there was one problem: it was not God’s plan.

Abraham and Sarah were trying to do God’s will, but they were doing it in their way. As a result, Sarah’s maid, Hagar, gave birth to a son she called Ishmael.

The birth of Ishmael caused enormous problems for Abraham, and continues to cause problems to this very day. For Ishmael is the father of the Arab nations. If it were not for this mistake of Abraham there may not be conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis.

The Arabs say that they are the sons of Abraham through Ishmael, and deserve to have the land promised to Abraham because they are the descendants of Abraham’s oldest son.

The Jews, on the other hand, claim that they are the legitimate sons of Abraham through Isaac, and therefore deserve to have the land promised to them by God.

The tension between these two groups of people have continued for generations. In many ways, we have attempted to walk the middle ground and remain friends with Arabs and Israelis, but the extreme segments of Arab fundamentalism considers us an evil force in the world.

In 1996, Osama Bin Laden issued a "Declaration of Jihad" - a holy war. Bin Laden’s intention is to overthrow the Saudi regime and drive the U.S. Forces out of the Middle East.

In 1998, he made another declaration that Muslims should kill Americans. Since that time our embassies, the USS Cole, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon have been bombed. Over 7,000 citizens have lost their lives as a result of the Declaration of Jihad.

The difficult aspect of this conflict is that it does not necessarily involve a land mass that we can capture. Of course the talk is Afghanistan. The last time that an invading army conquered Afghanistan it was led by Alexander the Great. So, we have a challenge before us. Our leaders, our soldiers and our fellow citizens need prayer and divine wisdom as we march through the coming days.

For many here this morning, it is easy to take a back seat in this adventure. We view war as a necessary part of defending our freedom, but in a real sense it doesn’t involve us.

We live as though we do not have any enemies. We coast from day to day doing our own thing treating the nightly news as a Hollywood drama being played out in real time. It is a worldwide drama, but it is also a local production. You see, as we have discussed over the last several weeks, the correlation of National events and local living.

This morning let’s examine the nation’s crisis through personal eyes. Let’s bring this crisis down to where we live. What kind of enemies do you deal with on a daily basis? The philosopher Pogo once said, "We have found our enemy and it is us." Sometimes our greatest enemies are within.

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