And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained to Joash the Abiezrite…
I. THE DIVINELY-ORDERED OFFERING.
1. What, then, are the offerings that are required? Gideon here offered "the flesh, the unleavened cakes, and the broth." These are simply the sustenance of the natural human life. Taken and assimilated by man, they become portions of his earthly frame. Nowadays, God expects us to make a spiritual offering unto Him of all the energies of our life.
2. The man was ordered to make the offering in an especial manner: "Lay them upon this rock." There is nothing trivial in the record of God's manifestations to man. The offerings of man to God, before they can lead him on to peace, must be based upon the At-one-ment between man and God.
II. THE DIVINE ACCEPTANCE OF MAN'S OFFERING.
1. That fire which came forth out of the cleft of the rock in Ophrah is still burning in the deep recesses of the Rock of Ages, ready to come forth in response to the obedient devotion of man. On Calvary, in the self-sacrifice of the God-man, we behold the eternal law of Divine love fulfilling itself. The Church has again and again passed through its hours of coldness and darkness. But in God's good time the fire of revival has kindled, and she has spoken to the hearts of men with power. This sign of "fire" is given to the individual soul no less than to the Church. He who gives himself to God, laying the devotion of his whole soul upon Christ, offering daily in His name the prayers, the praises, the alms, the pure feelings, the chastened thoughts, and all the energies of charity, will find assurance that God talketh with him. He will find his mind brightened by the light of heavenly thoughts and eternal hopes, and his heart fired by the impulses of a Divine love.
2. In this passage we may see the purpose and ultimate destiny of religious forms. The forms of the offering which Gideon made were not unimportant. The Divine voice recognised their value, and directed the manner in which they were to be presented. It was not until they had been duly presented that the fire came forth. When forms of worship, beautiful music, and august ceremonial express faith and reverence for the majesty of Christ they are offerings laid upon the rock, and are means of quickening spiritual life. But in using them let us look beyond the means to the end, until the forms are in our sight lost to view in the realities of spirit.
III. THE IMPRESSIONS LEFT BY THE MANIFESTATION UPON THE MAN'S SOUL.
1. This vivid manifestation of the Divine presence to the soul was but for a short time. On earth man cannot bear the brightness of the supernatural visions of truth, save during brief moments. The overpowering splendours of the theophanies have in mercy been transient.
2. The angel departs, but he leaves his footprints on the soul. This spiritual intuition of the Divine presence given to Gideon soon passed away, but its influence on his heart and mind never died.
IV. ITS OBJECTIVE RESULTS IN HIS OUTWARD ACTION. The vision soon passed away. But it wrought a mighty change in Gideon's life and career. That change is briefly but fully recorded in the announcement that he now built an altar unto the Lord. The altar implies the sacrifice. In building an altar unto the Lord he pledged himself to sacrifice henceforth unto the Lord. On what principle did he take this momentous step? In the name of what truth did he build this altar? He called it "Jehovah-shalom"; that is, "Jehovah the author of peace." So in our own day, the object of the messenger of God is to constrain men to build this altar of peace.
(Henry T. Edwards, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
WEB: The angel of Yahweh came, and sat under the oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained to Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.