The Paradox of the Divine Presence
Judges 6:12, 13
And the angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor.…

It has ever been the case that spiritual blessing is hard to be realised in the absence of material prosperity. There is something almost ironical in the contrast between the assertion "Jehovah is with thee," and the actual condition.of the person addressed. It was the more inconceivable because of the external nature of the religious sanctions and rewards of the age. Mosaicism abounds in material and temporal blessings. A natural question, then, for Gideon was, "Where are these?" There are many who think very similarly today. Are they right or are they wrong? If God be with a man ought he not to prosper? Notice first -

I. THE DIFFICULTY OF GIDEON. It was to reconcile the assurance of God's presence with the signs of actual weakness and distress all around him. There is something very ingenuous in the identification of himself with his people. "Thee" is altered by him to "us." It is full of promise for the future of the hero. He knows of no blessing in which his country does not share. And that is the right temper in which to face all such problems. The glorious past of Israel rose up before his mind's eye. How different from the days in which his lot had fallen! Had God any favour to his people? Why, then, this utter inaction? this absence of all miraculous intervention? If the old records were to be credited God had delivered his people with a "high hand and an outstretched arm;" now to all appearance the heavens had "withdrawn, and become astronomical." And yet how great and immediate the need for God's help! Day by day deeds were wrought under the sun that could not be spoken of. So there are times in these days when crimes are committed, nascent movements of religious and secular moment are withered, and the dial of civilisation is set back. The great calamities of war, pestilence, earthquake, etc., seem to call to heaven, but it is silent. Is it indifferent? Has the hope of man been a dream?

II. HOW IT MAY BE ANSWERED. Other things being equal, the blessing of God ought to make rich, and happy, and prosperous. But that is not its chief end in the present. It is first to make right. And God is in the seed as much as in the plant. He has many ways of fulfilling his premises. The blessing of Gideon was a potential one. It began even then in him, but it was to be communicated to others. It was as really a blessing for Israel as if the oppressor bad been driven from her borders, etc. Spiritual influences begin deeply, secretly, and mysteriously; but they are ere long known by their fruits. God was with Israel repentant in the moment of her repentance. And yet the external evils of her condition were as yet unchecked. God can be with a man in fulness of blessing and help, even when he is poor, and wretched, and helpless; but he will not continue so if he be obedient to the heavenly will. Spiritual blessing then should be expected to show itself, at least first, spiritually and inwardly; and an individual may be the holder of it vicariously for a nation or the race. - M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

WEB: The angel of Yahweh appeared to him, and said to him, "Yahweh is with you, you mighty man of valor!"

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