Kowach: The Strength You Have
The Angel of the Lord came, and He sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." 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." 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?" - Judges 6:11-14 HCSB
Gideon was not much to look at as far as generals go. He still lived with his father and was hiding in a wine vat, threshing wheat that he was desperately trying to keep from the invading Midianite forces. He was the youngest member of the smallest family in one of the smallest tribes of Israel.
Yahweh, however, has a way of looking deep down inside a person and seeing potential, even in the weakest among us. The Angel of the Lord, the Son of God in preincarnate form, showed up and addressed Gideon as “mighty warrior.”
Gideon’s potential, his kowach if you will, was evidenced by Gideon’s response. He obviously recognized who he was talking to. Perhaps he had heard the local prophet’s recent prediction and instantly made the connection.
Rather than being overwhelmed by the Angel, he immediately questioned, "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." This respectful aggression and dependence on God for the answers would soon serve him well.
At that point, the Angel of the Lord turned to Gideon and said, "Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you?" The words in English “the strength you have” are all wrapped up in one Hebrew word pronounced “kowach”. It can be literally translated as “strength”, but it clearly indicates potentiality.
God sees great potential in us. We tend to look at the big issues and sigh fatalistically because they seem to be too much to handle for the likes of us. But God looks at shepherd boys and sees kings. He sees farmers hiding and glimpses mighty generals. He looks at us and sees…what exactly does He see? What is our kowach? Whatever it is, if it is empowered by God, duly authorized by the King of kings, you can bet it is something great.
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