Delivered into the hand of Midian
But again the children of
Israel did evil in the sight of Jehovah, and He delivered
them into the hand of Midian. And the children of Israel
cried again unto Jehovah. God reveals the cause of their
distress to the consciences of the people. This was
indeed an answer; but, for the moment, He left them as
they were. He did not act in their midst by delivering
them at once; but He acted for them in the instrument
whom He had chosen to effect their deliverance. God
glorified Himself in Gideon: but the concentration of
this work in one man proves the people to be in a lower
condition than before. Nevertheless, in these humiliating
circumstances, God chooses means which display His glory
in every way. Where He works, there is strength; and
faith also, which acts according to that strength in its
Gideon and his
exercises as to Jehovah
We will examine a little
into the history of Gideon, and the features of the
Spirit's work in this deliverance, as well as in the
faith of him whom He raised up. It is evident that many
thoughts had occurred to Gideon, many serious reflections,
before the angel spoke to him. But it was the angel's
visit that caused him to give form and expression to the
thoughts with which his heart was occupied. Gideon
suffered with the rest from the oppression of God's
enemies; but it led him to think of God, instead of
making up his mind to endure the bondage as a necessary
evil. The angel says to him, "Jehovah is with thee,
thou mighty man of valour."
That which preoccupied the
mind of Gideon is now manifested. It was not his own
position, but the relation between Jehovah and Israel . "If Jehovah," said he,
"be with us, why then is all this befallen us? And
where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of,
saying, Did not Jehovah bring us up from Egypt? But now
Jehovah hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands
of the Midianites."
Gideon's faith and
Faith, indeed, was the
source of all these reasonings and exercises of mind.
Jehovah had wrought all these wonders. He had brought the
people up from Egypt. If Jehovah was with Israel, if such
was His relation to His people, why were they in this
sorrowful condition? (Oh, how applicable would this
reasoning be to the assembly!)
Gideon acknowledges, too,
that it is Jehovah who delivered them into the hands of
the Midianites. How the thought of God raises the soul
above the sufferings one is enduring! While thinking of
Him one recognises, in these very sufferings, the hand
and the whole character of Him who sent them. It was that
which lifted up this poor Israelite, labouring under the
weight of oppression. "And Jehovah looked upon him
and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt
save Israel." The visit and the command of Jehovah
imparted their form and their strength to that which
before was only heart-exercise.
The development of
Nevertheless it was this
heart-exercise which gave him strength; for it was the
inward link of faith with all that Jehovah was for His
oppressed people, in the consciousness of the
relationship existing between them.
We will look now at the
development of this faith, and see it employed for the
deliverance of God's people. Gideon experiences at first
the sense of his own littleness, whatever may be the
relationship between Jehovah and the people (chap. 6: 15).
Jehovah's answer shews him the one simple means, "Surely
I will be with thee." Precious condescension! Sweet
and powerful encouragement to the soul! Gideon's faith
was weak. The present state of the people tended, by its
duration, to blot out the remembrance of the wonders
which Jehovah had wrought when they came out of Egypt,
and to weaken their consciousness of His presence. The
angel of Jehovah condescends to tarry with him in order
to strengthen his faith.
The revelation of
Jehovah humbles and strengthens
Gideon, who had addressed
him with a secret consciousness that it was Jehovah, now
knows indeed that he has seen the angel of Jehovah, of
Elohim, face to face. It was a positive revelation,
sufficient to annihilate him in himself, as was indeed
the case; but also mightily to strengthen him in his walk
amongst others, who had not known Jehovah in the same way.
Although not with similar visions, yet it is always thus
when God raises up a special instrument for the
deliverance of His people.
Jehovah had made Himself
known, and now he reassures Gideon: "Peace be unto
thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.?'
A man who is humbled by
the presence of God receives strength from God, if that
presence is in blessing. Gideon recognises and lays hold
of this for himself: Jehovah is with him in peace and in
blessing. The word Shalom, translated "Peace be with
thee," is the same as that used in the name of the
When God acts powerfully
on the heart, the first effect shews itself always in
connection with Himself. Gideon's thoughts are occupied
with Jehovah, they were so before this manifestation. But
being taken up with Jehovah, it is by worship that he
expresses his feelings , when he receives an answer from Jehovah to
all his thoughts .
He builds an altar to the God of peace. The relationship
of peace is thus established between God and His servant;
but all this is between Gideon and Jehovah.
service preceded by obedience and faithfulness
Now comes his public
service, which is also fulfilled by re-establishing,
first of all, in the bosom of his own family, and in his
own city, the relationship between God and His people.
Israel must put away Baal before God can drive out the
Midianites. How could He do so, while the blessing might
be ascribed to Baal?
Gideon is therefore
commanded to give a striking testimony, which calls the
attention of the whole people to the necessity of casting
out Baal, in order that God may intervene.
precedes outward strength: evil must be put away from
Israel before the enemy can be driven out. Obedience
first, and then strength: this is God's order.
Satan's power in
superstition despised by faith acting in obedience
When Satan's power in
superstition (in whatever way it may be outwardly
manifested) is despised, it is destroyed; supposing
always that God is with him who pours contempt on it, and
that he is in the path of obedience.
Gideon overthrows Baal;
and, on the anger of the people fearful through
superstitionWhat can this god do? he cannot defend
himself, said even he to whom the altar belonged. The
power of God acted on their minds, for faith was there.
But the opposition of the enemy did not cease on that
account. There is nothing so despicable as a despised god.
But if Satan cannot be a god amongst men, he is not at
the end of his resources, he will incite them to open
hostility against those who overthrow his altars; but if
we are standing on God's side, the only effect of this
will be to bring him thereby into the presence of God's
power, and to give us victory, deliverance, and peace.
followed by power
The Midianites come up
against Israel. All is ready for the Lord's intervention.
The Spirit of Jehovah comes upon Gideon. This is a new
phase in the history; not only faithfulness, but power.
Gideon blows the trumpet, and those who shortly before
would have slain him now follow in his train. He sends
messengers to all his tribe. Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali
come up also. The power of the Spirit, which sways the
minds of men, is with the faith that acknowledges God,
that acknowledges Him in His relationship to His people,
and faithfully puts away the evil which is incompatible
with that relationship.
God condescends to
grant signs to strengthen Gideon's faith
God gives another proof of
His great condescension, by granting a sign to strengthen
the weak but real and sincere faith of Gideon; who feels,
whilst repeating his request (ver. 39), that God might
well chasten him for his lack of faith. Nevertheless the
Lord grants his petition.
 Not the elevation
of Abrahamic promises, but the manifestation of redeeming
power in Jehovah in favour of Israel. Something like
Moses, to whom Jehovah had said, "thy people,"
but who ever said, "Thy people." So Gideon
cannot separate himself from all IsraelGod's people.
"Jehovah is with thee," said the angel. "If
Jehovah be with us," says Gideon, "why then is
all this befallen us?" But this is an immensely
important principle of faith and its activities. Note,
too, what was passing in the heart of faith was the
ground Jehovah took in testimony (ver. 8), only adding
the charge of disobedience.
 We observe a
similar feeling in Eliezer (Gen. 24: 27). It is very
interesting to notice the different circumstances in
which altars have been built to Jehovah. I will name a
few passages: Genesis 8: 20; 12: 7; compare 13: 4; see 21:
33; 22: 9; 26: 25; 33: 20; 35: 7. We may also remark
Exodus 24: 4; Joshua 8: 30; and here Judges 6. It appears
even that Gideon built two altars; the one for himself in
worship, and the other by command as a testimony. 1
Samuel 7: 17; 14: 35; 1 Kings 18: 32. We may add 2 Samuel
24: 25; Ezra 3: 2.
 It is instructive
to observe here the difference between the exercises of
heart which are the result of faith, and the answer of
God to the wants and difficulties which are caused by
those exercises. In verse 13 we have the expression of
these exercises in a soul under the weight of the same
oppression as his brethren, but who feels it thus because
his faith in the Lord was real. Then we have the answer
which produces peace, and, with peace, worship. It is the
same, when, after having suffered death, the risen Jesus
reveals Himself to His disciples with the same words that
God uses here, and lays down the foundation of the church
gathered together in worship. In Luke 7 we find the same
experiences in the woman who was a sinner. She believed
in the person of Jesus. His grace had made Him her all;
but she did not know yet that one like her was pardoned
and saved, and might go in peace. This assurance was the
answer given to her faith. Now this answer is what the
gospel proclaims to every believer. The Holy Ghost
proclaims Jesus. This produces conviction of sin. The
knowledge of God in Christ, and of ourselves, casts down
(for sin is there, and we are in bondage, sold under sin);
but it produces conflict, perhaps anguish. Often the soul
struggles against sin, and cannot gain the mastery; it
cannot get beyond a certain point (the greater number of
the sermons from which it expects light go no farther);
but the gospel proclaims God's own resources for bringing
it out of this state. "Peace be unto thee,"
"thy sins are forgiven." "Thy faith"
(for she has faith), says Christ to the poor sinful woman,
"hath saved thee." This was what she knew not
yet. Compare Acts 2: 37, 38.