We all have a form of amnesia.
We forget what God did ten years ago.
We forget what God did last year - last month - last week.
Sometimes we forget what God did yesterday.
It's the same for the Israelites in the book of Judges.
And so when the Israelites once again cry out for help, God first sends a prophet to remind them. Speaking for God, the prophet says, "I brought you out of Egypt, out of slavery, and I drove the people out of this land, and I instructed you to worship me, but you didn't listen."
Okay, so now they remember. But that doesn't mean much.
Next, God sends an angel to Gideon.
I remember Gideon from Sunday School. What a great story. You've got the fleece and the soldiers who drink out of the river. Best is the part about the 300 trumpets and empty jars with torches inside and how God gets the Midianites to basically kill each other.
Sunday School Gideon is a godly man who obeys God and does everything he says.
Sunday School Gideon is chosen by God because of his righteousness, because he is special, because he is a leader, a mighty warrior.
Sunday School Gideon isn't found in the Bible.
No, when we first meet Gideon, he's hiding out from the Midianites in a winepress.
When the angel of the Lord tells Gideon, "The Lord is with you," Gideon basically says, "With all respect, sir, who cares?"
And then he whines a little bit.
"If God's with us, why are we suffering? If God's so great and can do all those amazing things the prophet talked about, why did he abandon us and leave us to die here and now?"
Definitely not Sunday School Gideon.
And I love this. The Lord tells Gideon, "Okay. Go in the strength you have and defeat the Midianites."
Honestly, Gideon is a wimp and a whiner, afraid to come out and confront anybody. He's no mighty warrior. At least not yet.
And the strength he does have definitely won't defeat any enemies.
Gideon has no strength, and he knows it, and so when God says go in the strength you've got, Gideon says, "Not a good idea."
And when God defeats the Midianite army, everyone knows that it's God and not Gideon.
Too often we try to fight battles in our own strength, in our own power.
We set out in the "strength that we have" instead of going with God and allowing him fill us with his Spirit.
Here's another thing I love from this story.
God is patient with Gideon.
Gideon is filled with doubts and questions so he tests God. And God lets him.
Even after the testing, Gideon still isn't convinced that God will do what he said he would do, and so God gives one of the soldiers a dream.
When Gideon hears about the dream, he finally believes, and he falls down and worships the Lord.
He's finally ready to take on the Midianites.
And this is better than Sunday School Gideon, the superhero chosen by God to deliver the people from their enemies.
This is wimpy, whiny Gideon, chosen by God, wooed by God, empowered by God, whose life is changed when he surrenders to the Lord and worships him.