Judges 6:1 The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years… 3 For whenever the Israelites put in seed, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the east would come up against them… 5 For they and their livestock would come up, and they would even bring their tents, as thick as locusts; neither they nor their camels could be counted… 11 Now the angel of the LORD came …and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty warrior.” 13 Gideon answered him, “But sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? … 14 Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you.” 15 He responded, “But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” 16 The LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them.”
I absolutely love this story. If you can, go and read all of Judges chapter 6. Israel suffered for its unfaithfulness to God, in this case via oppression from Midian. V.5 says “For they and their livestock would come up… as thick as locusts.” What an amazing image! Think of an enormous collection of humanity and livestock on the horizon, a massive wave of man and beast slowly moving toward you, consuming everything in its path. That is what Gideon saw approaching – and that is what is referred to in verse 16 above,
“But I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them.”
It’s an absurd notion really. Gideon is not a warrior, nor does he have an army at his disposal. Whatever army was present in Israel had, by that time, already been killed or scattered. And yet God declared a new identity for Gideon in v.11 “mighty warrior”. In that moment Gideon didn’t look like a warrior. Didn’t think like a warrior. Didn’t feel like a warrior. Yet “mighty warrior” is exactly what Gideon would become. He and a handful of men would defeat Midian, just as God had declared.
I’ve recently been reflecting on the power of identity as a determiner of actions, particularly as it relates to difficult tasks in life – such as forgiveness or acts of faith. In my humanity I have no chance at consistently demonstrating either of these. My heart wants to harbor resentment, not forgive. My mind wants to believe what it sees, not what God says is possible. So how are we Christian believers to do either of these on a consistent basis?
Like Jesus, we were given a new identity in our baptism. We were claimed as “Beloved children of God”, and given the gift of the Holy Spirit to live out of that identity. The Spirit empowers us to do what human beings cannot. It is the way God makes good on “But I will be with you…”. It was true for Gideon and it’s true for you and me. Ponder that truth this morning as your face difficulties that appear impossible.
Lord, honor your promise to be with us today. Help us to live out of the reality you declare, not what our eyes say is true. Amen.