Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.4. Fourth Declension: Under Midian and Gideon, Tola and Jair
1. Israel’s suffering from Midian (Judges 6:1-6)
2. Their repentance and the divine answer (Judges 6:7-10)
3. Gideon, the deliverer, chosen (Judges 6:11-24)
4. The restored worship (Judges 6:25-32)
5. The gathering for the conflict (Judges 6:33-35)
6. The sign of the fleece (Judges 6:36-40)
After Deborah and Barak the land had fifty years’ rest, and when again they did evil they were delivered into the hand of Midian for seven years. It was a most cruel oppression which they suffered and on account of their repeated unfaithfulness. They sank now lower than during the previous declensions and captivities. They were stripped of everything and greatly impoverished. The Amalekites came also and made common cause with Midian against Israel.
The word Midian means “strife.” Midian is typical of the world in its opposition to and separation from God. Midian and Moab are often seen together. Both typify the world as the enemy of God. The Midianites with Moab tried to get Balaam to curse Israel (Numbers 22:6). Moab and Midian were the means of bringing God’s judgment upon Israel through the woman Balaam brought into the midst of God’s people. Then Israel was joined to Baal-Peor, and the Lord told Moses: “Vex the Midianites and smite them” (Numbers 25:17). Amalek represents the flesh with its lusts. The world and the flesh ever combine to enslave God’s people and rob them of their blessings; “greatly impoverish them” as Midian did to Israel. How the Church has been spoiled by Midian and is today in the sad condition typified by Midian’s power over Israel, we cannot follow at great length. The world is in the Church--separation is given up and the methods of the world have become the methods of the Church. In the Church message to Pergamos, Balaam and the stumbling-block he cast before the children of Israel, are mentioned. It represents that period of the Church when the Church gave up her separation and settled down in the world. (The seven Church messages in Rev. 2 and 3 are prophetic of the history of the Church on earth. Pergamos is that period which began with Constantine.)
And the same application of Midian must be made of the individual believer. How God’s Word warns against the world and the corruption which is through lust. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1John 2:15). “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
When they cried to the Lord a prophet was sent to them. The deliverer they looked for is withheld for a time to deepen their need and burden their souls with a greater sense of the evil they had done. The unnamed prophet brings therefore a twofold message: The message of God’s faithfulness and the message of their disobedience.
Next we see an angel of the Lord under an oak in Ophrah. Gideon, the son of Joash, threshed wheat by the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. The angel greeted him. “The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” And Gideon addressed him telling out the burden of his soul. If the LORD be with us why then is all this befallen us? ... But now the LORD hath forsaken us.” It was the language of despair “Then the LORD looked upon him and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the land of the Midianites; have not I sent thee?” And still Gideon is reluctant to believe the message and the Lord tells him “Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.” The Lord had called him, and when He calls He also fits for the service and is with the servant. Oh! the blessed word “I will be with thee.” And the One who spoke to Gideon is the same, who has left to us the precious word, “Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the world.” Then Gideon brought his offering upon the rock, and the Angel of the Lord with his staff brought the fire which consumed it all, while He departed from Gideon’s sight. Then it dawned upon Gideon that he had been face to face with Jehovah, and he feared death. A blessed message came to him then. “Peace be unto thee; fear not; thou shalt not die.”
Then he built an altar and called it “Jehovah-shalom”--the LORD is peace. All is full of meaning. The offering he brought typifies Christ; so does the rock upon which it was brought. The fire consumed it all, carried it upward to God. And upon that the assurance of peace is given. Even so He is our peace. Blessed be God for such a precious, beautiful name--”Jehovah-shalom”--the Lord is peace. So we need not to fear, for He has made peace through the blood of His cross, and He is our peace. And therefore like Gideon we need an altar to worship. True peace with God, and the enjoyment of Himself as our peace, leads to worship, yea, it demands worship. Such the Father seeketh. As holy priests we come, made nigh by His precious blood, and bring our spiritual sacrifices. If Christ were constantly enjoyed, the facts of our redemption of blood never forgotten, Midian, this poor world, could never impoverish us. And deliverance out of worldliness and a new separation unto Him must needs have for its starting point a heart-return to Himself, who is our peace.
Then Gideon does what his name (cutter down) means. Baal’s altar must fall down. He began his great work at home. It was a bold deed by which he put himself completely on the Lord’s side and stirred up the wrath of the enemy. And then the enemies gather for the battle. The Spirit of the Lord then came upon Gideon. He was endued with the Spirit for the approaching deliverance. The enemies were coming in like a flood, but the Spirit of God lifted up a standard against them.
Finally Gideon asked his signs. He still hesitated. And the wonderful patience and condescension of Jehovah in meeting poor, wavering Gideon! The fleece in the midst of the ground is the type of Israel in the midst of the nations. The dew is the symbol of divine grace and mercy. It is the Lord who forsakes and who refreshes Israel. Israel today is like the fleece without the dew, while the ground, the Gentiles, possess of the grace of God. But ere long the dew will fall upon Israel again and the time of their blessing and fulness will come.