And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained to Joash the Abiezrite…
When the Lord Jesus had risen from the dead, and first appeared to His disciples, "they believed not for joy, and wondered." Their doubts, however, were soon removed by the sign which the Lord afforded them (Luke 24:41-43). We may well imagine that the feelings of Gideon were not altogether dissimilar to those of the disciples of our Lord, when the angel "looked upon him and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?" These tidings were so welcome, and yet so marvellous, that Gideon's faith staggered. He "believed not for joy, and wondered." And then he sought "a sign," to satisfy himself that he was in a waking state, that his senses were not deceiving him, and that the angel was not a mere phantom called up by a heated imagination. "Shew me a sign that Thou talkest with me." Now, the sign which was given to Gideon was not altogether unlike in character to the sign which our blessed Lord gave to His disciples on His resurrection-morn. In both cases the emblems of peace and friendship were presented. In both cases the offering was accepted. In both cases it was consumed. Now, do not we need some sign that the Lord talketh with us, and hath come down to "save us from the hand of our enemies"? Our enemies are many and powerful. We need not now some audible voice, nor midnight dream, nor open vision, to assure us of pardon and salvation. Jesus Himself has given us a sign. We see it on Calvary's hill. Let us draw near and see this great sight.
I. Mark that this sign which Gideon received, was AN APPEAL TO THE SENSES. Man is a compound being. God deals with him as such. There is not a faculty nor a gift with which man is endowed to which God does not appeal in the great matter of salvation. This is an important consideration. We are too apt to regard the atonement as a mere matter of faith. We believe it is something more; something greater, and something less. Gideon wished for a sign which his own hands could handle and his own eyes could see. God granted him this sign — a sign, be it remembered, of greater things promised. Now it is just this sign, or this appeal to the senses, which appears in the atonement of our Lord. One voice throughout the whole life and death and resurrection of Jesus seems to say, "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself" (Luke 24:39). It is true that our own individual eyes have not seen Him, nor have our own ears heard Him speak, nor have our own hands handled His pierced side, but our fathers have had all these their senses satisfied — they saw, they heard, they handled, they believed, and they were saved. And is not this enough? "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." Do we not receive the testimony of credible witnesses upon other matters of bygone fact? Through the senses of others, who lived ages ago, we embrace the facts recorded of ancient sages, of conquerors, of emperors. The great and the noble dead live over again in our minds. We should be held incredulous and inexcusable were we to throw aside all credible history because our own eyes could not test its accuracy. And what excuse shall we find in heaven if we reject or slight the testimony of others on the matter of salvation? But if, on the contrary, we embrace the sign which God has given us, and rely upon the wondrous facts of which they are signs, we then set to our seal that God is true. This is believing. This is acting faith in God. We trust God. We honour God. Our senses harmonise with the faculties of our soul.
II. We notice THAT THIS SIGN WHICH THE LORD GAVE UNTO GIDEON WAS A CONFIRMATION OF PROMISES. The promises made to this mighty man of valour were of a twofold nature, as emphatically expressed in the fourteenth verse, "The Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man." The Lord's presence and the Lord's deliverance were united. They always are so. They are inseparable. If the Lord be not with us, in vain shall we go forth against the Midianites. But "if the Lord be" with us, "none can prevail against us." Salvation, both present and eternal, is included in the promise, "I will be with thee." It is just this promise and blessing which are embodied in the name Jesus which bears the same interpretation as "Immanuel," "God with us."
III. THE SIGN VOUCHSAFED TO GIDEON WAS ALSO AN EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN. It was an appeal to sense to strengthen faith. It proved to him that He who appeared as a man "under the oak which was in Ophrah" was none other than the Angel of the Lord — even the Angel of the everlasting covenant! It proved, moreover, that Gideon was called of God to deliver Israel. Oh, that he might succeed in the attempt! He had no riches, no name, no influence, no soldiers; but no matter, the Lord was indeed "with him," and that was enough. He would now act up to the title which the Lord had given him, as a "mighty man of valour," and Israel shall be delivered by "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon." Now it is just this faith in an unseen presence and in an unfelt power which saves the soul from spiritual Midianites. Divine power alone is equal to cope with Satanic might. The sinner who wars against his sins, his lusts, his evil passions, his corrupt nature, in his own strength, soon proves his folly and his weakness. As regards all spiritual conquests, one word should at once check the vain conceit of the sinner, and strengthen the faith of the child of God: "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Look you, then, for any sign that the Lord is with you — that He will deliver you, and make you victorious over all your enemies? Behold that sign upon the hard rock of Calvary! Behold it in that mysterious fire which arose therefrom! Behold it in the utter consumption of the sacrifice! Behold it in the ascent of the Lord Himself from off the altar to His throne of glory! What further sign can you need?
(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.