Then the Angel of the LORD appeared to him and said: “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
(Judges 6:12 HCSB)
Gideon was just a young guy threshing wheat in a wine vat to hide it from the Midianites. If there was one thing Gideon did not feel like that day it was a mighty warrior. After all, mighty warriors don’t hide when threshing their wheat.
Gideon said to Him, “Please Sir, if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened? And where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about? They said, ‘Hasn’t the LORD brought us out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.”
(Judges 6:13 HCSB)
Gideon asks a good question. Why? This is the very question that you and I will ask when our lives take a turn toward suffering. If you are looking for an answer to that question I’ve got bad news for you. You won’t find it here. It’s as if God completely ignores Gideon’s question. Not that it is a bad question. It just reflects what he and probably everyone else is thinking.
When Gideon was a boy he probably sat around a campfire and heard his elders tell wondrous stories about God’s deliverance from Egypt. About the fall of Jericho and the miracles that God did when delivering his people. But that all seemed like old news now. Now life was hard and miracles were no where in sight. Gideon knew one thing for sure, God had abandoned them to the control of Midian.
The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you?” He said to Him, “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” (Judges 6:14-15 HCSB)
If you are God and you are looking for someone to deliver your people who would you choose?
- The tallest?
- The strongest?
- The smartest?
- The natural born leader?
- The guy with the biggest mouth?
God doesn’t choose like that. In fact, the one time he did choose someone who might fit that description (Saul) He later said that he regretted making Saul king.
Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world–what is viewed as nothing–to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in His presence. But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became God-given wisdom for us–our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 1:26-31 HCSB)
God has chosen what is weak to shame the strong. Why? So that no one can boast in His presence. God will not share his glory (Isa 42:8). I think this one principle is at work in the way God works with us today. Whatever God does in your life, he must get the glory, not you. The glory belongs to him and it will destroy you. In fact, the loving thing for God to do is to prevent you from getting the glory and how does he do that? By choosing the weak. This is very good news because I am definitely weak.
Go in the strength you have
There must have been thousands of sermons preached on this one line. It is so powerful and so true. Gideon could have waited for God to make him strong but then he would be tempted to take the glory for himself. God’s word to Gideon is likely the same thing he says to you and I today. Go in the strength you have. But, you argue… I don’t have much strength. Exactly! So when God comes through you won’t be destroyed by boasting! Look at how God responds to Gideon’s objection.
“But I will be with you,” the LORD said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.” (Judges 6:16 HCSB)
In the end Gideon got a seat in the Faith Hall of Fame (Heb 11). He got that seat because he was willing to go and not just go in strength but go in weakness.
Consider Saul who later became Paul. Now he wasn’t weak. In fact, he was pretty strong as he mentions his credentials in 2 Cor 11. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. If God was going to send someone to win the Jew’s surely he would send Paul and yet Jesus told Ananias
“…Go! For this man is My chosen instrument to take My name to Gentiles, kings, and the Israelites. I will show him how much he must suffer for My name!”
(Acts 9:15b-16 HCSB)
Gentiles? Yes. You might think that perhaps it would be better for God to send a gentile to minister to the gentiles but instead he sends a Jew. God’s strategy was Jew first, then gentiles. So it makes sense that he sends a man who understands the big picture of thousands of years of history with God and his chosen people.
For if I want to boast, I will not be a fool, because I will be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.
(2 Corinthians 12:6-9 HCSB)
In order to make Paul effective, God had to make him weak. Did you see that? Jesus said to him “power is perfected in weakness”. If God’s power were poured out on a proud man he would quickly be taking the credit for the work that was done. He would begin boasting about his great power and partnership with God as Moses did when the water came from the rock.
Moses and Aaron summoned the assembly in front of the rock, and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring water out of this rock for you?” (Numbers 20:10 HCSB)
We Moses? Did you think that you had the power here? After the many miracles Moses had performed his pride began to rise up and he took credit for power that didn’t come from him. Moses paid a steep price for this sin.
But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust Me to show My holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land I have given them.” (Numbers 20:12 HCSB)
God said Moses did not trust Him. It’s hard to be weak and leave it all in God’s hand. But if we want God’s power to be shown in our lives then that is exactly what we must do. God allowed sickness into my life and it made me weak. Sometimes I feel so weak I can’t hardly walk. Could it be that God made me weak so that he wouldn’t destroy me by using me? I think that just might be the case. If so, then I can gladly along with Paul boast in my weaknesses.