And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained to Joash the Abiezrite…
"Give me a sign that Thou talkest with me." It may be said that this hesitation was Gideon's infirmity. Connecting it, however, with the circumstance of its being himself that was called forth to the mighty work of Israel's deliverance, I cannot but consider it as an evidence of his humility. Would to God that all our scruples with regard to engaging in the service of God arose from the same cause! What is the reason that, when we ask the co-operation of many in some labours of the Lord's vineyard, they all, with one accord, begin to make excuse? Is it a humbling sense of their own unfitness for the work? If it were, we have an encouraging text in the Word of God, with which we might do away the difficulty: "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." But when one goes to his farm, and another to his merchandise — in short, when "men seek their own, and not the things which are Jesus Christ's" — how opposed are their characters to Gideon's, whose only scruple about the work of God was, "What am I, that I should deliver Israel?" And would to God that when humility does appear to be the source of objections to the engaging in the promotion of the cause of religion, that humility were, like Gideon's, real genuine humility, and not the cloak of hypocrisy, not a covering to conceal idleness and indifference.
I. On the CIRCUMSTANCE which forms the text we may make two observations, viz., the manner in which the angel tried Gideon's faith, and the manner in which he displayed his own power and Godhead.
1. We notice the manner in which the angel tried Gideon's faith. "He said, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes and lay them upon this rock; and pour out the broth." This was intended to make way for a miracle; that Gideon's faith in the God who wrought it might, after this trial, become strong, according to the work which he was shortly to undertake. It will be remembered that Elijah made way for the miracle which God was about to work for the confusion of Baal's prophets, by placing the sacrifice in the most unlikely state for consumption by fire. It seems to have been for the same purpose that the angel commanded Gideon to lay the flesh upon the cold rock, and to pour out the broth. All suspicion and all possibility of the comnmnication of fire were to be done away. Gideon obeys, looking for the "sign," and wondering how it shall be given,
2. The manner in which the angel displays his great power and Godhead. He does not offer up prayer for fire from heaven on the sacrifice, as Elijah did. He himself communicates the fire, and makes the sacrifice. How sweet the thought, that when the Christian presents his sacrifice of praise, and prayer, and thanksgiving, there is one who, as his Mediator, can make it acceptable; one who "ever liveth to make intercession," even "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever!"
II. Having made these remarks on the circumstance, let us observe THE EFFECT WHICH IT HAD UPON GIDEON'S MIND AND CONDUCT. The effect which it had upon his mind was this: he said, "Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face." There was so much of the majesty of the Godhead in the miracle which the angel had wrought, that the Divinity beamed, as it were, through the appearance of His manhood. Gideon was afraid. It was a received opinion among the Jews that any vision of the Divine glory would be fatal, in consequence of what God had declared to Moses. When Moses said unto the Lord, "I beseech Thee shew me Thy glory," the Lord said unto him, "Thou canst not see My face; for there shall no man see Me and live." But it may be asked, "How was it that Gideon survived the sight?" If it had been said to Moses, "No man shall see My face and live," how did Gideon live? The answer will open to us some precious gospel truths. Gideon saw the glory of God, indeed, but it was "in the face of Jesus Christ." "No man," says St. John, "hath seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." In other words, whenever there has been a manifestation of Jehovah to His creatures, it has been by Jesus Christ, the second person in the ever-blessed Trinity; and it is by His having tabernacled in our flesh that the awful majesty of Jehovah has been softened into mildness and peace and love. The believer's rejoicing is that Jesus is "the brightness of the Father's glory "; and therefore he can look upon it and live; yea, live by looking upon it, and because he looks upon it. "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, O all ye ends of the earth." Mark here the answer of God to Gideon. The Lord said unto him, "Peace be unto thee; fear not; thou shalt not die." We do not now wonder at this gracious answer, after taking into consideration the character of the angel from whom it came. Was it not from Him who "made peace by the blood of His Cross," who is called "our peace" and "the Prince of Peace"? Yes, it was an answer that fitted His priestly and His mediatorial character. But does the impenitent sinner see nothing in this passage which is calculated to affect his mind? Let him think of this — that he shall one day see the "Angel" before whom Gideon trembled; shall see Him as Gideon saw Him, "face to face"; but mark, not veiled, as He was then, in the appearance of a man; not disguised in the garb of lowly human nature, but in the glory which He had before the world was. And mark His character then. He shall come, not to touch a sacrifice, not to work a miracle, not to confirm the faith of an individual, as in the case of Gideon; but "to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." He shall come to be our Judge. We come now to show, in the last place, the effect which this circumstance had upon Gideon's conduct. "Then Gideon built an altar unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-shalom." This he did to commemorate the event. It was a day much to be remembered by Gideon, both on his own account and Israel's; and therefore he built this altar. The name which he gave it is beautifully descriptive of the circumstance: "The Lord is my peace"; taking that comfortable assurance which God gave him for the motto to inscribe on it, "Peace be unto thee!" It is remarkable that holy men in former times seem to have been uniformly careful to record their mercies. We may take shame to ourselves for want of a closer imitation. Does the God of battles bless our arms and give us victory? We build a monument to the glory of the conqueror, whom God has honoured as the instrument; but where are the hearts in which an altar of praise is built unto the Lord, and on which is written, "The Lord is my banner"? Does God restore a dear child from the brink of the grave and give him, like Isaac, to his parent's arms again? The parent clasps him to his breast, and says, "This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found"; but how seldom does he remember the mercy by a commemoration of it, like Abraham's "Jehovah-jireh," Does God, "give and preserve to our use the kindly-fruits of the earth, so as in due time we may enjoy them"? We begin to pull down our barns and build greater; and to say to our souls, "We have much goods laid up for many years; eat, drink, and be merry! But how few, from Dan to Beersheba, from one end of the country to the other, how few look upon "fields white unto the harvest," and count the sheaves which God has ripened for them, with thankful hearts, and say, "We will raise an Ebenezer, for hitherto the Lord hath helped us!" But there is one character who does record His mercies, and that is the man whose mercies have been of a nature which have effected a change in his heart; melting and subduing what was before hardness, and impenitency, and unbelief, into contrition and gratitude and love. To such a soul this commemorative word of Gideon is a cordial: "Jehovah-shalom: the Lord is my peace."
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.