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 SIGH FOR PEACE; for he loved not war, but pined for quiet. He called the name of the altar "Jehovah-shalom," which the margin reads, "The Lord send peace." You see, therefore, that deeper down in his spirit than any desire for warlike honour there was a yearning after peace. He wanted not the spoils of princes; he only desired to plough, and sow, and reap in peace.
1. And do you wonder at it, when the ills of war were all around? The Bedouin styled the valley of Jezreel "the meadows of God"; how grievous to see those fat pastures trodden down by the feet of the invaders! Ah, little can you and I imagine of the horrors of war. If we saw battle with our own eyes we should with burning fervour cry, "Send us peace in our days, good Lord."
2. Moreover, he had not only seen war, but he sighed for peace because he was himself feeling the mischief of it. The dread of the conflict had come to his own mountain farm at Abi-ezer. Let us bow our heads and thank God that He has long blessed this favoured isle with unbroken peace; and as an act of thankfulness to God let us set our faces against the war-spirit which so readily inflames our fellow countrymen.
3. The way of peace was sufficiently well known to Gideon; the prophet of the Lord had indicated to the people that the only way of peace was for Israel to return unto Jehovah, her God. Much is gained when we know this, if our knowledge leads to practical action.
4. While Gideon was meditating and working, an angel appears to him and gives him the assurance that with him at least God was at peace. We know how sweet the is assurance that being justified by faith we have peace with God. It is well with us when we are assured that the Lord is with us, our helper, our shield, our portion for ever and ever.
5. But there arose in his mind a grave anxiety. His was a very careful, thoughtful soul, for he was a man of prudence, large-hearted, far-seeing, and given to look at things coolly and steadily; and there arose in his heart a question serious and vital, "Is this the voice of God to me, or am I deluded? Is God at peace with me, or am I like the rest, plunged in a horrible warfare against the living God?" Therefore he puts a question, and he asks a sign that he might make sure of what he was about. In spiritual matters you and I had need be sure. If we have peace within our spirit let us make certain that it is the peace of God; for still are there voices that cry, "Peace, peace," where there is no peace. Still do siren songs charm men to ruin with their dulcet notes; still does the fatal river flow most smoothly as it approaches the dreadful cataract.
II. From Gideon's longing desire to obtain peace with God and then peace for his country we turn to look a little further into GIDEON'S FEAR WHICH HE MET WITH IN THE WAY OF PEACE. "An angel" appeared to him — so saith the text in the Authorised Version; but in truth it was the angel of Jehovah, and this should have comforted him, even as it has comforted us. Why was Gideon afraid?
1. Not because he was a coward — you will scarcely meet with a braver man in all Scripture than this son of Joash — but because even brave men are alarmed at the supernatural. He saw something which he had never seen before — an appearance celestial, mysterious, above what is usually seen of mortal men; therefore, as he feared God, Gideon was afraid. When the living God draws very near to a soul, even though it be in the person of Christ Jesus, that soul is struck with awe, and trembles before the Lord. It cannot well be otherwise.
2. Gideon had been ill-taught by tradition. There was a rumour abroad, which was derived from truth and yet was false, namely, that no man could see a heavenly being and live. The tradition was an accretion to the truth and a corruption of it. We may not see the face of God, but we may see Jesus; in fact, we live because we see Him. Beware of the moss which grows upon a truth.
3. Gideon was in a state of mind in which he could be easily cast down. He was a brave man, but long affliction had cast a tinge of sadness over him. And you, dear heart, if you are seeking after peace with God, I should not wonder if fear follows fear, and yet no fear drives you from looking unto the Lord. It is but natural that you should be overawed, but oh, be not despairing, for there is the surest reason for hope. Still look to Jesus, and He will surely in His due time send you a blessed deliverance.
4. Gideon's greatest fear arose out of a sign which he had himself asked for. He said, "Show me a sign," and when he had that sign, namely, God's coming to him, then it was that he was afraid. Be very chary how you ask for signs, for they may work your discouragement rather than your comfort. We cry aloud, "Show me a token for good," and when the token is given we are amazed at being heard, and fall to fearing more sadly than before. Therefore pray for such boons with bated breath, and say twice over concerning such things, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt."
5. Gideon had one truth before him which ought to have prevented all his fears, for the Lord had spoken to him and said, "Go in this thy might." How could he die if he was to deliver Israel? — he must be a live man to do that; and yet, you see, he forgets to reason for his own comfort, but takes care to argue for his fears. Have I never seen you doing this? I have often caught myself at it — refusing to use my logic for the strengthening of my faith, but perverting reason in order to assist my unbelief. Is not this foolish and wicked?
III. GOD'S COMFORT OF HIS SERVANT.
1. "The Lord said unto him, Shalom — peace be unto thee; fear not, thou shalt not die." The Lord would not have His Gideons disturbed in mind. If we are to trouble the enemy we must not be troubled ourselves. He wants His workers to be full of comfort while they labour.
1. Notice the great power of God in speaking home the truth. Suppose I salute you with "Brethren, peace be to you." That would be a sweet word; but when the Lord says it you feel the peace itself.
2. The Lord also cheered him with "Fear not." Oh, that charming word; as full as it is short — "Fear not." It is the death-knell of fear, the life of hope. If we once hear it as God's fiat in our soul it makes us leap over a wall or break through a troop. Doubts and fears flee away like spectres of the night when the sun arises. Gideon feared himself, feared his own unfitness and unworthiness, feared in the awful presence of God; but the Lord said, "Fear not," and Gideon's heart grew calm.
3. Then the Lord added, "Thou shalt not die," thus meeting the special form of his dread. This is what the Lord says to every poor trembler who is holding to Him by the desperate grip of faith, "Thou shalt not die. Thou shalt not die the second death: thou hast no sin to die for, for I have laid thy transgressions on My only begotten Son; thou shalt not die, for Jesus died. Thy spiritual life cannot expire, for thy ' life is hid with Christ in God,' and because Jesus lives thou shalt live also."
IV. GIDEON'S MEMORIAL. His fears being banished, and being at perfect peace, Gideon now goes to work. Are any of you questioning whether you are saved or not? Do not go out preaching yet, for you may, perhaps, put others into bondage. Are any of you half afraid that you are not at peace with God? Be careful what you do! Strive after peace, lest you weaken your testimony. God would have His people be at peace with Him, and know that they are so, for if they are fretted within and worried in reference to their God, how can they fight the battles of life? When Gideon is fully at peace what does he begin to do for God? If God loves you He will use you either for suffering or service; and if He has given you peace you must now prepare for war. Will you think me odd if I say that our Lord came to give us peace that He might send us out to war? Gideon's first work was to go and cut down his father's sacred grove, which stood on the top of the hill, and enclosed an altar to Baal. A splendid clearance was made that night. "Now," cries he, "over with that detestable altar to Baal." Some people would have said, "Spare it as a fine piece of antiquity." Yes, and leave it to be used again! I say, down with it, for the older it is the more sin it has caused, and the more likely is it that it will be venerated again. Gideon cast down every stone, and it was bravely done. But see, by the Lord's bidding he piles a new altar of earth, or unhewn stone; and when that is done he fetches his father's bullock and slays it for a sacrifice. How steadily they went about this re-establishment of the pure faith! If God has given you peace, go home and begin your reform. I would preach up the overthrow of every sin. Down with every idol. Have you one left? Over with it and present a sacrifice to God, Every true Christian should pass a reform bill at home and carry it out. But to pull down is not enough. Plenty of people can do that. Gideon, as we have seen, builds an altar to Jehovah. When you are at perfect peace with God, think what you can do for Him; think of a new plan of work, or consider how to do the old work better; advance any part of Divine truth that has been forgotten, any ordinance that has been neglected, any virtue that has been despised. Especially make prominent Christ Jesus, the Altar and Sacrifice so dear to God. When he had built his altar he called it "Jehovah-shalom," which was done by way of thanksgiving for peace received. It was a psalm in two words; it was a song of one verse infinitely sweet. "Jehovah-shalom": the Lord our peace. Moreover, it was a prayer, as the margin puts it, "Jehovah, send peace." If you have peace with God, let your next prayer be, "Lord, give peace to all Thy people." "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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.