The story’s about power.
Context? The Judges cycle: Israel sins; Israel is judged through enemy oppression; Israel cries out; God sends a judge to deliver them; there is peace until Israel again idolatrously abandons God; repeat cycle. Specifically, the context is Judges cycle, round five. The oppressor? Midian. The deliverer? Gideon. The point of it all? Like I said, power. Particularly, whose power?
The Lord turned to [Gideon] and said, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the grasp of Midian. I am 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 family.”
“But I will be with you,” the Lord said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.”
(Judges 6:14-16 CSB)
Go in the strength you have. That’s what caught my attention this morning. Even though he was the youngest son in the weakest family of his tribe, Gideon had strength. He had vitality. He had ability. He brought something to the table. God says to Gideon, the reluctant deliverer, “Go in the strength you have.”
Doing battle is about power. And, at a certain level, it’s about our power. God could have dealt with Midian apart from Gideon, but He chose not to. Instead, He enlisted Gideon. Gideon and his strength, however that stacked up to others in Israel, however that stacked up against the enemy.
It then get’s a little comical in a way. At least I find it so.
Gideon thinks, if it’s gonna be about my strength, let’s use some of that strength to rally some troops. So he sends messengers throughout Manasseh, and Asher, and Zebulun, and Naphtali calling others to join him for the battle (Judges 7:35). And they come. 32,000 come (7:3b). Okay, maybe now Gideon’s feeling a bit better about going in the strength you have. Sure, he’s still out-numbered by over 4-to-1 (Judges 8:10), but he doesn’t know that. What he does know is that he has a lot more strength than he initially had. Now he’s ready to go in the strength you have.
Yeah, but it’s about power. Our strength, sure. But God’s power.
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many troops for Me to hand the Midianites over to them, or else Israel might elevate themselves over Me and say, ‘I saved myself.'”
(Judges 8:2 CSB)
I want you to go in your strength, says the Lord God, but I don’t want you to forget that you go in My power. I want you to win the battle, but I don’t want you to believe that you won it apart from Me. So the Lord whittles Gideon’s army of 32,000 down to just 300 fighting men (8:7). Now Gideon’s out-numbered 450-to-1. And now, according to the Lord of Hosts at least, Gideon has those Midianites right where God wants them.
We are to fight the good fight (1Tim. 6:12, 2Tim. 4:7), but the battle is the Lord’s (1Sam. 17:47). We’re to bring everything we have into the ring of our supernatural wrestling match (Eph. 6:12), but we do so knowing that His power is made known in our weakness (1Cor. 12:9). The victory is sure, but there’s no boasting in our ability to secure it. Any victory we know is to be regarded as victory in Jesus, and in Jesus alone.
Yup, it’s about power. Our strength. God’s power.
By His grace. For His glory.
2 Timothy 1:7. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” The Good News: God makes us strong through him, not weak or timid.