And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained to Joash the Abiezrite…
I. GIDEON'S FEAR. Gideon's fear was traditional. It was a commonly received opinion that no man could receive a direct manifestation from heaven and live. Ever since the fall of Adam in paradise man has ever shunned and dreaded the immediate presence of Jehovah. If the righteous thus fear and thus tremble when the Lord revealeth Himself unto them in love and peace, "where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear," when He cometh forth from His place and sweareth that He will by no means clear the guilty?
II. GIDEON'S FEAR REMOVED. There was more than a mere salutation in those words, "Peace be unto thee." Gideon would never have found heart to have built up his memorial altar and called it "Jehovah-shalom" if peace itself had not entered his heart when those words entered his ears. And what is that which now quells the fears of the trembling sinner? What is that which assures him of peace, takes away his alarms, and imparts to his soul holy confidence that he shall not die? This altar, Jehovah-shalom, is an altar which many a grateful, loving heart has built up high above all the storms and tempests of life, and all the dread fears of death. And what has done all this? Whence the joy of saints? Whence the peace which passeth all understanding? What is that which opens the heart to peace and assures the soul of endless life? There is but one grand means — there is but one grand channel. It is not far off. You need take no long and perilous journey to obtain it. "Say not in thine heart, Who shall bring Christ down? " etc. But if men turn a deaf ear to this word of the gospel; if they stand trembling or hardened in the presence of God, alike unfit to live or to die — if they listen to the voice of gain or pleasure; if they turn a more ready ear to the sounds of sin or temptation than they do to the words of the Most High — is it any wonder that they are strangers to peace? What have they to do with peace as long as they reject or neglect the word of the Prince of Peace?
III. THE ALTAR WHICH GIDEON BUILT.
1. What a memorial of Gideon's faith was it! As soon as the Lord had spoken words of promise Gideon raised his altar, not only in remembrance of the promise, but as an evidence that he trusted in it. The greatest act of man towards God is faith — a reception of His Word, and a reliance upon it. All things are possible to him that believeth.
2. This altar was, moreover, a memorial of Gideon's hope. "Hope maketh not ashamed!" How sweet, how precious, is the Christian's hope. It is no vain wish or mere fervent desire of the mind. It is a grace of the Holy Spirit, which He alone enkindles in the heart. It is the crowning grace of all. Ah! this would be a dreary world without hope! When earthly hope vanishes and despair enters the heart, no mere human, no extraneous help, will raise a man above himself. And what is the soul without hope — this faith-imparted, faith-nourished hope? And if true believers — real Christians — God's own children — need more of this "hope which maketh not ashamed" — if their faith at times fail to bring joy and peace in believing — what are we to say, what are we to think of some who are living "without God and without hope in the world"? I say to them, in all heartfelt sincerity, "Blind credulity you have much, but true faith you have none."
3. Gideon's altar was, lastly, a memorial of his gratitude. He could never look upon that altar without recalling to his mind the wonders of the past. Thus many a memorial of gratitude has been raised by pious and loving hearts. "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me?" was David's grateful inquiry. Gratitude welled up in Jacob's full heart at Bethel when he "vowed a vow, saying, If God be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, so that I come again in peace, then shall the Lord be my God, and this stone which I have set for a pillar shall be God's house; and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee." "Ye are not your own," saith the apostle Paul, "for ye are bought with a price." Ah! let this purchase be valued — let this price he estimated — let imagination attempt to conceive its infinite magnitude and endless consequences, and then ask, what memorial can be commensurate with that deep sense of fervent love and gratitude which should overflow the heart.
(G. A. Rogers, 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.