Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.
(And he listened) …
The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak where Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
It took the Israelites to be impoverished before they cried out to the Lord for help. The Midianites were whooping up on them, even to the point of stealing their harvest of wheat – their sustenance.
And right under his enemy’s nose was Gideon, not giving up on his people, but instead threshing wheat for their sake in the disguise of a winepress. He was more concerned for his people than afraid of his enemy. He was doing what he could, even when the God of his ancestors had been silent for a very long time. Even then, he refused to give up on the hope of what he had only heard was true.
“God brought us out of Eygpt. He is for us. I will serve him.”
And then the Angel of the Lord – Jesus – came and sat down next to him to have a chat, greeting Gideon with an unbelievable hope: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
Could this be true? Gideon had never seen wonders – he’d only heard stories. He only hoped that this was God talking with him now. He only hoped God had returned to save. So he asks the obvious question: ” Um …excuse me, and forgive me, but if the Lord is with us, why?… why this?…why the seeming abandonment? I mean, this is what I see, and I have to tell you, it’s not looking good. And here you are calling me mighty warrior? I’m not very mighty, and I’m sure as heck not a warrior, so forgive me, but I don’t get it. And, honestly, if you’re saying you’re gonna save us now, then I just need to make sure this is really You, the Mighty One that saved us from Egypt.”
Scary, honest questions.
But God doesn’t snuff out an honest questioner. In fact, instead of sending bolts of lightning to take him out, the Angel of the Lord turned to him…He turned to him.
I’ve stood at the walls of Zion. I’ve craned every spirit-connected neck muscle to gaze at the beauty that towered above me. In such greatness you feel small and weak – humbled. Standing crook-necked, dwarfed in the grandeur of sculpted sand, human strength is insignificant, and His strength is apparent.
But there, in that place of truth, He says,
“Go, Gideon Jane. In the strength you have. Not your brother’s strength, or your pastor’s strength, or Superman’s, or any kind of strength you might try on. GO! In. the. strength. you. have. Even if you think all your strength is a mound of used up, weak-kneed gelatin. Go. I am with you. Watch, see… it’s ME that makes you strong.”
My strength comes from God alone the maker of heaven and this hand-chiseled earth which rises above this little life that He deemed so costly.
My strength comes from God, who is:
But neither is He a God who’s afraid of my questions… He sits down beside me and turns to me when I call and says, “Bring me what you have, even if you think it is nothing… I will give you everything.”
Lord, I stand amazed and in awe of you. Humbled, honored and unbelievably loved. Jesus, now and forever, help me live a life that reflects your tender, powerful Love.