Judges 6:11
Then the Angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to hide it from the Midianites.
Sermons
Divine Mercy: its Adaptation and SufficiencyA.F. Muir Judges 6:7, 8, 11, 34
DiffidenceW.F. Adeney Judges 6:11-14
The Call of GideonA.F. Muir Judges 6:11-15
A Look, a Word, and a QuestionSpurgeon, Charles HaddonJudges 6:11-24
Brotherhood Illustrated by Gideon's ReplyR. A. Watson, M. A.Judges 6:11-24
Death ImpossibleC. D. Bradlee.Judges 6:11-24
Gideon's AltarA. Maclaren, D. D.Judges 6:11-24
Gideon's Angelic VisitorR. Young, M. A.Judges 6:11-24
Gideon's Attitude Partly Right and Partly WrongMarcus Dods, D. D.Judges 6:11-24
Gideon's Call to ServiceC. Leach, D. D.Judges 6:11-24
Gideon's CommissionJ. Irons.Judges 6:11-24
Gideon's Interview with the AngelF. Elwin.Judges 6:11-24
Gideon's LamentW. Miller, M. A.Judges 6:11-24
Gideon's MightJ. T. Hamly.Judges 6:11-24
Gideon's Obedience to God's CallW. Miller, M. A.Judges 6:11-24
Gideon's SacrificeThe Weekly PulpitJudges 6:11-24
Gideon's Sacrifice AcceptedF. Elwin.Judges 6:11-24
Gideon's TriumphHomilistJudges 6:11-24
God's Call, and the Response to ItR. A. Watson, M. A.Judges 6:11-24
How to Treat DoubtersProf. G. A Smith.Judges 6:11-24
Invisible MightG. A. Rogers, M. A.Judges 6:11-24
Jehovah-ShalomG. A. Rogers, M. A.Judges 6:11-24
Jehovah-ShalomJ. J. S. Bird.Judges 6:11-24
Jehovah-Shalom: the Lord Our PeaceR. Newton, D. D.Judges 6:11-24
One War Over and Another BegunSpurgeon, Charles HaddonJudges 6:11-24
Providence not to be Judged from a Narrow Point of ViewJ. Parker, D. D.Judges 6:11-24
The Assurance of Peace Vouchsafed to GideonW. W. Duncan, M. A.Judges 6:11-24
The Christian's Peculiar StateE. Temple.Judges 6:11-24
The Divine AfflatusW. W. Duncan, M. A.Judges 6:11-24
The Look of GodHomilistJudges 6:11-24
The Man of ValourW. Burrows, B. A.Judges 6:11-24
The SignG. A. Rogers, M. A.Judges 6:11-24
The Witness of Divine Fire and the Altar of Divine PeaceHenry T. Edwards, M. A.Judges 6:11-24
WarProf. G. A. Smith.Judges 6:11-24
Unexpected by himself and undreamt of by the nation. The whole land is given over to idolatry and wretchedness, but God is at no loss to find his servant. A strong man - a hero, ignominiously concealed, he is a symbol of Israel's helplessness.

I. THE PERSONALITY AND RELATIONS OF GIDEON ARE A REBUKE TO ISRAEL, A VINDICATION OF THE SOVEREIGN WILL OF GOD, AND A REVELATION OF THE SOURCE OF ALL TRUE POWER. He is the youngest scion of an insignificant family in a secondary tribe. Not only has he had no special religious or political training, he is an idolater, or at any rate belongs to an idolatrous family.. And he is addressed whilst acting in a manner of which he must have felt ashamed. Hidden, helpless, a sceptic regarding Divine existence or intervention. The culture and religion of Israel are ignored. So God always chooses whom he will to act, to preach: to suffer. There was no danger that Gideon would be credited with the work of deliverance as an achievement of his own originality and innate power.

II. THE OCCASION WAS SIGNIFICANT OF THE HELP GOD INTENDED TO GIVE. He comes when things are at the worst. It was a sign that he would work out a radical deliverance. Not partial help, but complete salvation would be due to him.

III. GIDEON IS AN INSTANCE OF THE POWER OF RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE. He has heard in some way or another of God's works in his nation's history. Evidently his thoughts have been occupied with them. A rough interpretation has been arrived at, helping him to grasp the meaning of the situation. His was not total ignorance, but a knowledge preparing for higher revelations and corresponding achievements. Truth smoulders in the mind until it bursts into flame. Inward impressions and realisations of sacred knowledge prepare for the Divinely-arranged circumstances of life, critical moments, and heavenly visitations,

IV. GOD'S MANNER OF DEALING WITH THE DIFFICULTIES AND OBJECTIONS OF HIS INTENDED SERVANT IS VERY INSTRUCTIVE. He accommodates himself to the thoughts passing through Gideon's mind. By his words he drives the brooding mind into distressful paradox. The past achievements of Gideon are remembered, and a corresponding respect shown him. The revelation of himself is gradual. He is considerate, gracious, and painstaking with the heart he intends to make his own. "Have not I sent thee" is sufficient guarantee for God's servant. There ought to be no misgiving when that assurance has been given. - M.







There came an Angel of the Lord... Gideon threshed wheat.
I. THAT A MAN, WHEN ACTIVELY AND UNOSTENTATIOUSLY DOING HIS DUTY, IS BEST FITTED FOR THE RECEPTION OF HEAVENLY VISITANTS.

II. THAT, HOWEVER UNCONSCIOUS OF THE FACT A MAN MAY BE, GOD IS REALLY QUICKENING HIM WHEN HE IS ON THE PATH OF DUTY.

III. THAT AFFLICTIONS ARE NOT ALWAYS PROOFS OF THE DIVINE DISPLEASURE, BUT ARE FREQUENTLY SENT AS INCENTIVES TO INCREASED EXERTION ON OUR PART.

IV. THAT GOD'S THOUGHTS ARE NOT AS OUR THOUGHTS.

V. THAT WE SHOULD NOT FOOLISHLY AND PROFANELY CALL ON GOD TO SHOW US FRESH INDIVIDUAL SIGNS.

VI. THAT WE SHOULD OFFER OF OUR BEST TO GOD.

VII. THAT OUR EARTHLY OFFERINGS ARE CLEANSED BY THEIR CONSECRATION TO GOD'S SERVICE.

VIII. THAT THE FIRST STEP IN RIGHTEOUSNESS IS TO PURIFY THE HEART FROM ITS FALSE IDOLS, AND THAT THE SECOND STEP IS TO SET UP IN IT AN ALTAR TO THE TRUE GOD.

IX. THAT OUR EARLIEST EFFORTS TOWARDS GOODNESS WILT, PROBABLY MEET WITH OPPOSITION FROM OUR COMPANIONS.

X. THAT WHEN WE ARE ATTACKED BY THE SCORNERS, HELP RISES OFTEN FROM THE MOST UNEXPECTED QUARTERS.

XI. THAT RELIGION SHOULD NOT BE A HINDRANCE TO THE PERFORMANCE OF OUR DUTY, OR TO THE ENJOYMENT OF ANY INNOCENT PLEASURE, BUT AN INCENTIVE TO BOTH DUTY AND PLEASURE.

XII. THAT THE FIRST RESULT OF AN ANGELIC VISITANT TO THE SOUL OF MAN, IN WHATEVER WAY THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT'S ACTION THAT VISITANT MAY COME, IS FEAR; THE SECOND RESULT IS PEACE; AND THE THIRD IS IMMORTALITY.(R. Young, M. A.)

Amongst the various important lessons which the history of Israel sets before us, none are more plainly marked than this, viz. —

I. SIN CARRIES ITS OWN PUNISHMENT. Seven years did this bondage and misery continue. In all that time we do not hear one cry of repentance, nor see one act of faith in the true God, on the part of Israel. They hardened their heart under the sore affliction, and stiffened their neck under the galling yoke. Their sustenance was gone, their enemies held them in cruel subjection, and yet the cause of all the calamity was fostered and maintained; Israel worshipped Baal instead of Jehovah. Oh, how hard the heart becomes when it is in Satan's keeping! But at last, being convinced that no other means would bring relief, "they cried unto the Lord."

II. As the first verse of this chapter connects the sin with the punishment, so the seventh verse CONNECTS THE PRAYER WITH THE ANSWER: "It came to pass, when Israel cried unto the Lord because of the Midianites, the Lord sent a prophet." He might have said by the voice of that prophet, "It is now too late to cry for deliverance. The door of mercy has been standing open during the seven years of your captivity, and ye would not enter; now it is shut, and ye cannot." But Israel's God was a God "merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and of great goodness." And now whose history is this? Is it the history of the perverse and rebellious Israelites only? No, it is your history and mine. It is the history of that sin-distressed soul who is now perhaps weeping to hear it told. "Yes," says the penitent man, "it is the account of my past life: I served other gods, I went astray, I did very wickedly year after year; I hardened myself even against His chastening hand; and it was of His mercy that I was not then consumed. But He let me alone, one year after another; till at length I began to think that for all these things God would bring me into judgment; I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me. He might have frowned me from His presence; He might have upbraided me for my long rebellion; but like the tender father of the prodigal son, He welcomed me back." But when God had heard the cry of penitent Israel, and had determined to come down to deliver them, what were the means taken for this purpose? It is a national concern: shall not the chief men of the nation receive the first intimation of it? It is a matter of general importance: shall not immediate publicity be given to it? No, the Lord's way is not as ours; He is pleased to do it in a manner which shall show that He can raise up any instrument, and work by any means, in order that the pride of man may be abased, that the glory of the deliverance may be all His own, and that He alone may be exalted. He comes to a poor humble individual; and the beginning of the mighty work which He was about to perform is told us in these simple words: "There came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak that was in Ophrah." We mark next some points in Gideon's character.

1. His consistency and decision. Notwithstanding his retired situation, he had testified, it seems, against the prevailing idolatry; and even in his father's house had kept himself from his father's sins. Let it comfort those who are serving God alone in their families to think of Gideon and God's favour towards him. You are not alone; and "greater is He that is with you than they that are against you."

2. Mark, next, Gideon's ardent patriotism. He does not distinguish himself from the rest of Israel, though God does. He identifies himself with his country. His thoughts were bent upon the welfare of Israel, as his prayers were offered up for it. It would be well if we were to endeavour, in our individual capacity, while walking humbly with our God, to serve the land in which we live. We may not be called to fight her battles, but we can pray for the peace of our Jerusalem. We may not be called to high public situations in life, but we may do private good, both temporal and spiritual. We have all a talent to exercise and to account for. Oh, see to it, that by your means your country is in some measure benefited.

3. Lastly, we are told from whence Gideon's might and valour were derived: "The Lord looked on him," and said, "Go in this thy might, and I will be with thee; and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man." "The Lord looked on him." Oh! what a look was that! what a smile of encouragement cast on Gideon by his God! what a token of love! what a communication of strength and faith! "Go in this thy might," says the angel, "I will be with thee." Gideon need not any longer doubt or hesitate, after such encouragement as this. It is the word of the Lord; and Gideon has only to cast himself upon it in simple faith, and to act according to its precepts. May we be as sensible of our own insufficiency as Gideon was of his: and, at the same time, as "strong" as he was" in the Lord, and in the power of His might," and may the Lord look upon you as He did upon Gideon, in mercy!

(F. Elwin.)

Homilist.
I. THE DISTRESS OF GOD'S PEOPLE IS CAUSED BY THEIR OWN SIN. God turns His forces against those who forget Him, and makes use of those who are His own foes to punish His own people.

II. GOD CAN ALWAYS RAISE UP INSTRUMENTS TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSES WHEN HE NEEDS.

III. THE UTILITY AND THE STRENGTH DEPEND ON THE CALL OF GOD.

IV. HUMILITY IS THE DISTINGUISHING MARK OF THE BRAVE. How seldom do men deprecate their own importance! To form a low estimate of our own abilities not only keeps us from the danger of pride with its attendant snares, but is a test of character. It is not the learned who are proud, nor the skilful, nor the wise. The empty head, like the empty drum, makes the most noise.

V. THE SERVICE OF GOD DEMANDS UNRESTRICTED DEVOTION TO HIS CAUSE.

VI. HOWEVER VALUABLE THE SERVICES OF THE AGENT MAY BE, GOD CLAIMS, AS HIS JUST DUE, THE GLORY OF THE TRANSACTION.

VII. WE CANNOT DOUBT OF SUCCESS WHEN GOD TAKES A MATTER IN HAND, AND GIVES HIS PROMISE OF AID.

(Homilist.)

This ancient history carries us back to a period when God's Israel was in poverty and want. It was not the action of laws passed in the interests of landowners which led to their misery; it came through the oppression of a foreign foe, whose merciless treatment of the people scarcely left them the means of life. "They did evil in the sight of. the Lord" may be written across the history of most suffering and sadness. This is the tap-root of much of our suffering and inconvenience. This is the poison which destroys our life.

I. THE TEXT SAYS IT WAS AN ANGEL WHICH CAME TO CALL GIDEON.

II. NOTICE HOW THE ANGEL FOUND GIDEON ENGAGED WHEN HE CAME TO CALL HIM. The angel found Gideon at work. Work is honourable. God has often put honour upon the lowly worker. Let no man say that work is degrading, that work is low; to be an idler, to be a drone, is to be dishonoured.

III. SEE THE ANGEL'S ESTIMATE OF GIDEON. The angel addressed Gideon as "thou mighty man of valour." What! A man in apparent poverty; a man threshing a bit of wheat with his own strength; a man having to prepare his very food in secret, lest it should be stolen; that man called by the angel a mighty man of valour! Poor, yet valiant! "Ah," but you say, "that belongs to an old world time. We have altered all this now." Yes, indeed, we have made some changes, and changes which have not always been for the better. We call men noble now who are often ignoble. It is about time that we recognised to the full that poor men may be valiant men, and that lowly men may be noble men. 'Tis only noble to be good. Thousands of people, like Gideon, toil in secret, and are not known to fame, but are among the valiant and the mighty. Earth's scroll has no page for their names in golden writing, but the angels of God have written them down in the Lamb's book of life in heaven.

IV. GIDEON'S COMPLAINT TO THE ANGEL. I suppose we all find it easy to thank God and see God with us when all goes well. But wait until the lark sinks songless to his nest, and the path of life becomes a wearisome journey, filled with stones and thorns; wait until sickness, sorrow, and bereavement enter the dwelling; wait until the man stands in the darkness of a foggy night of pain, loss, and despair; how does he act then? How did you act when you were in this condition? Were you any better than Gideon? Could you see the Lord in it? And yet few things are more true in the experience of good men than the presence of God and the love of God in the loss and pain.

(C. Leach, D. D.)

The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour
1. That valour does not despise lowly but necessary occupations.

2. That valour is not incompatible with caution.

3. That valour may have its misgivings.

4. That valour may walk in the darkness of the Divine hidings.

I. VALOUR IS A DIVINE GIFT.

II. VALOUR IS DEVELOPED BY THE DIVINE PRESENCE.

III. VALOUR IS MORE ENLARGED BY THE DIVINE VISION.

IV. VALOUR FEELS A SUBLIME AWE. Fear God in order to be delivered from all false human fear.

V. VALOUR IS PROMPT TO OBEY. Moral hindrances must be removed before material success can be secured.

VI. VALOUR BRAVES THE CONSEQUENCES. Duty is ours, results are God's.

(W. Burrows, B. A.)

I. VALOUR UNKNOWN. Gideon was pronounced by the angel who appeared unto him as "a mighty man of valour." But did Gideon know his own might? It would seem that, as a valorous man, he was as much unknown to himself as he was unknown to Israel or to his enemies. His valour was real, but untried. His valour was living, but dormant. His valour was mighty, but un-exercised. Oft, too, is valorous faith unknown until it is tried. Great occasions make great men. Great trials make great believers. Faith as a grain of mustard-seed is as strong in its principle as is the faith which moves a mountain. But it needs growth and development. Unconscious strength is often the most potent. You cannot cast him down who is already low. You cannot rend him from the Rock of Ages who is resting on Christ as "the chief of sinners." There is unspeakable comfort in the fact that this "man of valour" was unconscious of his might until the angel revealed to him his secret power. Many a faint-hearted believer is "overcoming the world" (1 John 5:4, 5) unconsciously to himself. His might is hidden, but it is no less real.

II. VALOUR'S WEAKNESS. The sun is often under a cloud. So is faith. The cloud, however, does not change the nature of the sun. Nor do beclouding dispensations, which chill the soul, affect the true nature of its faith. The Christian is often a paradox to himself. He is weak and strong at the same moment. "When I am weak, then am I strong," said one of the greatest believers. "It is the nature of faith, not the quantity, which determines the character," said an eminent divine; and he added, "Samson was a riddle to me till I unriddled myself. He was an inconsistent believer." Gideon is named with Samson among the mighty believers in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. We shall now see his inconsistent weakness. The causes of it are laid open before us.

1. He was now walking by sight, and not by faith. He could see no tokens of the Lord's presence; and therefore, in reply to the salutation, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour," he said, in the weakness of unbelief, "Oh! my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?" Once suffer doubt to hint at the bare possibility that it may not be exactly true in all cases, at all times, that "God is not a man, that He should lie," and faith will lose its foothold, and stumble.

2. Gideon overlooked God's justice and man's sin. "Why then is all this befallen us?" The reason was patent. Surely Gideon could not have closed his eyes to all the idolatry in the land! The chastisement of the Lord's people may often be traced up to the same cause. Does the afflicted child of God ask, "Why is all this befallen me? "He need not question the cause. It is not because the Lord is not with him. Far from it. It is the true vine that is purged. The barren fig-tree is plucked up by the roots and cast away. But there is some evil permitted, some idol worshipped, some idolatrous altar erected.

3. Hard thoughts of God were mixed with Gideon's faith. "Now the Lord hath forsaken us," he murmured. Was this true? The Lord had just sent a prophet to them, in answer to their prayer (vers. 7, 8). Israel had forsaken the Lord, but the Lord had not forsaken Israel. His rod over them proved that He had not given them over to their sins.

4. False humility was another ingredient in the weak faith of Gideon. "Thou shalt save Israel," said the Lord: "have not I sent thee?" This twofold promise should have been enough for any emergency. What could a creature need more? But Gideon, instead of fixing his eye of faith upon the Lord alone, began to think of himself. And he said, in reply, "0 Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house" (ver. 15). Wherein would his confidence have been placed had his family been the richest in Manasseh and he the greatest in his father's house? There was a leaning to the arm of flesh in all this. "Proud humility" is a fearful bane of the soul. It apes the most retiring and modest graces of the Spirit; but it usurps the throne and sovereignty of Jehovah. Under its mask Satan robs believers of their comfort and the Church of their zeal. Were the creature made nothing, and Jehovah everything, what Goliath could resist the sling and the stone of the veriest stripling?

III. But now we turn and behold VALOUR'S MIGHT. Gideon was "a mighty man of valour" notwithstanding all the weakness of his faith. We naturally ask, wherein was his might? What was its source? In himself he was as weak as a babe.

1. The Lord's presence was one great source of valour's might. "The Lord is with thee." "Surely I will be with thee." Here was might irresistible. No enemy can withstand the presence of the Lord.

2. The Lord's look was another source of valour's might. "The Lord looked upon Gideon, and said, Go in this thy might." The Lord's look of grace and love imparts strength to the soul.

3. The Lord's promise was one chief source of valour's might. Faith lives upon promise. It is its food and daily sustenance. It is the very sinew of its might. "Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man." "Thou shalt save Israel." These were the promises with which Gideon was to wage war and overcome. Promise is to faith what the rope is to the drowning man. Faith begins to rise from despair to hope by promise. Promise, descending into the heart of faith, rises like water to its own level, and upbears the reposing soul to the very throne and bosom of God. Promise, like light issuing from the sun, cannot be polluted by earth's contamination. It is pure in whatever degree it shineth. It cometh from one source, and tendeth to one end.

4. The command of the Lord, no less than promise, was the warrant of faith, and a chief source of valour's might. "Go," saith the Lord. "Have not I sent thee?" The Captain of our salvation speaks as one having authority. Who can resist His will? Does He say, "Go"? Who, then, shall be able to let, or hinder, the servant in doing his Master's behest? Does he say, "Go," without providing "grace and strength" equal to the need of going? True faith is an obedient grace. Let but the Lord issue His command, and faith will answer, "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth."

(G. A. Rogers, M. A.)

If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?
He was right in refusing to believe God was present if things went on just as if He were not present, but he was wrong in not seeing what it was that prevented God from being present. He was right in arguing, "What God was, He is; why then does He not do for us what He did for our fathers?" He was right in debating with himself, and asking "Is this what it means to be God's people? What is the use of living at this price? "But he was wrong in thinking that the fault lay with God, and not with himself; wrong in not seeing his very obvious duty, which, until he performed, God could not be expected to work for Israel. Just so we are right in refusing to accept a religion which makes no practical difference upon us; right in impatiently throwing aside the mere traditional assurances whereby men soothe sinners and promise them deliverance; right in looking straight at the facts of our own experience, and testing religion by its power on ourselves; but we often add to this the mistake of Gideon, and fall out with God for not interfering more powerfully in our behalf, when it is we ourselves who are preventing Him from so interfering. You wait for God to do something, while He is waiting for you. If you are not able to use God's strength, if you might as well be heathen for all the moral help you get from God, then depend upon it there is something wrong in your conduct towards God, some plain duty you are neglecting.

(Marcus Dods, D. D.)

Can we not catch some echoes of Gideon's complaint in the thoughts that are cherished among ourselves? That God wrought wonders once, that He raised up men to open new views of His truth and of His will and thus renewed the Church's strength, and sent her forth conquering and to conquer — all this we hold, of course. We call the man who doubts it an infidel or a heretic. But the man who believes that similar things may take place in our day, who believes, for instance, that God makes His will as plain in ways suited to our time as He did in other ways at former times — does not such a man run great risk of being called an enthusiast or a fool? That any man now may be guided in actual fact, and guided unerringly, by God in common life, or that things going on among us may be as important and as Divine as what was done in any former age, is an assertion that few would dare to make. If we are sensible of the strange contradiction implied in our thus demanding credence for such things in the past as we deny the very possibility of in the present, we shall the better understand Gideon's state of mind when the angel of the Lord appeared to him.

(W. Miller, M. A.)

"God be with you!" said the stranger. Gideon flung down his flail. "God be with us? Don't talk nonsense, man! Would I be skulking in this wine press, would we Hebrews be cowering before those pagan Midianites, if God were with us? They say God was with us when we came out of Egypt, and that He did great miracles when Joshua conquered this land. Ah! if that is true, then He has gone away and left us now. Don't talk to me about God, when facts prove that there is no God with us." How do you think a modern minister of the orthodox type would have treated a man who had spoken in that fashion about God? Not as the angel treated Gideon. I fear the modern minister would have said, "Here is a most dangerous, blasphemous sceptic, all wrong in his views, full of heretical, unsettling, dangerous feelings and ideas"; and he would have sought to argue with him and to put him right. What did the angel? He looked at him, knew he was wrong in blaming God in that fashion, but also that he was right to refuse to accept a religion that had lost all its nobility and bravery, that had no backbone in it. The angel said: "Go in this thy might, thy spirit that cannot tolerate this degradation of God's people, that rises against this wrong; go thou, and be the leader in Jehovah's name, and set things right." The Church would be a good deal wiser if it always took care to distinguish between the doubt of corruption and worldliness, the cold, callous, sneering doubt, and the doubt of a brave young heart that doubts because religion is so poor an affair, that doubts because of the great wrongs in the world, because of the deeds of evil that sin works, that doubts precisely because it is crying for the reality. We should go to every such man and say: "My brother, you are not an infidel; you are called to be a religious man beyond the common. You are not an atheist. God has hold of you, and wants you for Himself. Go and do something heroic, and show that God's religion is the mightiest force. Go and demand the reality, and win a victory for God and His kingdom such as the world has never seen yet."

(Prof. G. A Smith.)

There is here an example of largeness in heart and mind which we ought not to miss, especially because it sets before us a principle often unrecognised. Iris clear enough that Gideon could not enjoy freedom unless his country was free, for no man can be safe in an enslaved land; but many fail to see that spiritual redemption in like manner cannot be enjoyed by one unless others are moving towards the light. Truly salvation is personal at first and personal at last; but it is never an individual affair only. Each for himself must hear and answer the Divine call to repentance; each as a moral unit must enter the strait gate, press along the narrow way of life, agonise and overcome. But the redemption of one soul is part of a vast redeeming purpose, and the fibres of each life are interwoven with those of other lives far and wide. Spiritual brotherhood is a fact but faintly typified by the brotherhood of the Hebrews, and the struggling soul to-day, like Gideon's long ago, must know God as the Saviour of all men before a personal hope can be enjoyed worth the having. As Gideon showed himself to have the Lord with him by a question charged not with individual anxiety but with keen interest in the nation, so a man now is seen to have the Spirit of God as he exhibits a passion for the regeneration of the world. Salvation is enlargement of soul, devotion to God, and to man for the sake of God. If any one thinks he is saved while he bears no burdens for others, makes no steady effort to liberate souls from the tyranny of the false and the vile, he is in fatal error. The salvation of Christ plants always in men and women His mind, His law of life, who is the Brother and Friend of all.

(R. A. Watson, M. A.)

Crossing the great deep at night, lying sleeplessly and perhaps painfully in your berth, longing for the light without much hope that it will bring you comfort, what hear you? The surge of the water, the moan of the wind, and the tinkle of a bell. That bell has no sooner told its tale of time than a voice in a sing-song tone says, "All's well, all's well! " It is the man on the look-out. You say: "How can all be well when I am not sleeping? How can all be well when I am sick and in pain? How can all be well when I am not at home, and the children are longing for me?" There is a higher law than your sleeplessness, your pain, and your child's desire for your presence. Within those limits you are right — all is not well — but in the higher sphere, that takes in a larger area and commands a wider outlook, alls well, all's well. So it is with this marvellous mystery, this strange providence. "I am sick, and tired, and heart-broken, misunderstood, and belied, and slandered, and ill-fed, and battered down," saith the Christian man, but the angel on the look-out says, "All's well, all's well!" The vessel has her face straight home, and the sea is yielding to give her passageway. "Alls well, all's well."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

The Lord looked upon him
Homilist.
I. THE CHIEF FEATURES OF SUCH LOOKS.

1. An implied promise (Jeremiah 24:6).

2. An implied encouragement.

3. An implied help.

II. THE CHIEF CONDITIONS FOR THEIR BESTOWAL.

1. Cultivation of various graces — love and obedience, contrition and reverence, godliness, hope, and uprightness.

2. Attitude of expectancy. If God is looking down to bless us, we must look up to meet His gaze. Our attitude must be, "As the eyes," etc. Our determination must be, "In the morning will I," etc. Then our history will be, "They looked unto Him," etc.

III. THE CHIEF PURPOSE OF THESE LOOKS — accompanied by a command: "Go." Do you ask, where? Go anew and daily in faith and penitence, to a Father's footstool, and as by faith you know He is looking graciously on you in Christ, go to the discharge of your daily duties in the might of His strengthening grace, and the Lord will go before you. Go through the obstacles which have hitherto impeded you.

(Homilist.)

I. What a LOOK was that which the Lord gave to Gideon! He looked him out of his discouragements into a holy bravery. If our look to the Lord saves us, what will not His look at us do? Lord, look on me this day, and nerve me for its duties and conflicts.

II. What a WORD was this which Jehovah spake to Gideon! "Go." He must not hesitate. He might have answered, "What, go in all this weakness?" But the Lord put that word out of court by saying, "Go in this thy might." The Lord had looked might into him, and he had now nothing to do but to use it, and save Israel by smiting the Midianites. It may be that the Lord has more to do by me than I ever dreamed of. If He has looked upon me He has made me strong. Let me by faith exercise the power with which He has entrusted me. He never bids me "idle away my time in this my might." Far from it. I must "go," because He strengthens me.

III. What a QUESTION is that which the Lord puts to me, even as He put it to Gideon! "Have not I sent thee?" Yes, Lord, Thou hast sent me, and I will go in Thy strength. At Thy command I go, and, going, I am assured that Thou wilt conquer by me.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Go in this thy might... have not I sent thee?
I. THE SANCTION GIVEN: "The Lord looked upon him." Oh, what a mercy ! His father might have looked upon him long enough, and surnamed him Jerubbaal or what he pleased, but it would have been no use unless the Lord had looked upon him. But there are many senses in which the Lord looks upon His people, and upon His enemies too. He looked upon the affliction of His people in Egypt: "I have looked upon them, and have come down to deliver them." He looked upon David in all his affliction. Then, again, you will remember how the Lord looked upon Peter. What a significant and expressive look! But, to put these matters a little more into form, mark, first of all, that Gideon seemed as if he would avoid all lookers-on. He was withdrawn from observation. Some of the sweetest seasons in which God looks upon His people are when they are retired. And hence the direction given by our blessed Lord, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet," etc. Now just look again at this great sanction from above. While Jehovah looks from His high throne upon the objects of His love to inspire them for His special work and for the great objects to which He has appointed them, He withdraws their affections from other objects and leads them forth with an ardent desire to glorify God in His work.

II. THE COMMAND: "Go in this thy might." Why, I do not know that Gideon had confessed to possess any might; on the contrary, he had concealed himself from time to time from all those very enemies he was about to vanquish. He said unto the Lord, " Wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." Well, now, if I first of all view this as typical of Christ, did not He spring from a poor family? Yet He was the "Captain of the Lord's host." But — mark this — all glory to His name, it was His own essential might. I beseech you, lose not sight of this all-important fact, to which, I think, Gideon's history points typically — that Christ had the whole matter with regard to the salvation of His Church entrusted to His care; therefore is it written, that He hath "laid help upon one that is mighty and exalted — one chosen out of the people." I come to the secondary view — I mean the sending of God's own servants; because, while I allow no efficiency whatever to be ascribed to them, yet are they instrumentally employed for the express purpose of saving Israel out of the hands of the Midianites. Now, have you not Omnipotence pledged in your personal experience? If you have not you have got no experience at all. It was Omnipotence that broke your hearts, and subdued you at the feet of Jesus. God humbles the sinner thus; He lays us low, strips us of all confidence, makes us deeply conscious of creature-weakness and insufficiency, so as not to be sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; and then we get the pledge of Omnipotence on our side. We may well go forth thus to the war armed with strength — "Go in this thy might." Well, but how could it be said to be his? Why, what is freer than a gift? It was given him — it was his might — "in this thy might." No man is strong but he who is strong in Jehovah's might.

III. THE PROMISE OF SUCCESS: "And thou shalt save Israel from the hands of the Midianites" — cruel and vexatious, always to be wanting the territories of Israel. I must here refer you back again to the commandment of God at an earlier period than this with regard to these Midianites. After Balaam had instructed Balak how to seduce God's Israel, the commandment came from the Lord, "Vex the Midianites and smite them, for they vex you with their wiles." Here we might include in this vast multitude, "like grasshoppers for number," all the opposers of God's gospel, all the enemies of His Cross. But to bring this matter nearer home. The Midianites that every Christian has to contend with he finds in his own camp, in his own tent, within his own heart. Now mark the simple process of the war. I do not read that there was a weapon of war in any of their hands, but they were to go forth under the simple direction of Gideon. Now look at their weapons. Each man was to have a trumpet, a pitcher and a lamp inside. Pretty things to go to war with, truly! Well, then, but while we glance at the simplicity of the means thus employed, and the cry that went forth, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!" mark that the Midianites all fled.

(J. Irons.)

In Gideon's attitude of mind a human observer would have seen nothing but weakness, and yet God saw "might." The Divine eye penetrated to the very depths of Gideon's spirit and character, and saw in his seeming weakness the very qualities out of which spiritual heroes are made. For in spiritual achievements a man is mighty in proportion to his capacity to receive Divine help, just as a steam-engine is mighty in proportion to its capacity to receive and utilise the largest possible amount of steam. Gideon's might, then, consisted —

1. In his whole-hearted loyalty to God. He was evidently among the few who remained true to Jehovah. And his first act was to strike a blow at the idolatry of the land. The first condition of spiritual strength and success is to give our hearts to God in profound loyalty. There is an idolatry of the spirit which must be put away before we can do any work for God.

2. In his humble dependence upon God. Gideon's touching confession of his own insufficiency reminds us that this spirit is characteristic of the great men of the Bible — Moses (Exodus 3:11), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:6, 7), Paul (Ephesians 3:8). Out of conscious weakness these men were made strong for the work to which they had been called. God has often chosen "the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty."

3. In his profound faith in God. Gideon is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as one of those who "through faith... out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." God tenderly nourished it by giving signs of encouragement — sacrifice consumed, wet and dry fleece, visit to the Midianites' camp — until it was strong enough to venture on the perilous enterprise with the little band of three hundred men.

4. In his consciousness of a Divine mission. "Have not I sent thee?" (ver. 14). This is God's answer to human weakness shrinking from a difficult and dangerous task. When a man realises this he possesses a might not his own (John 17:18). There was not only a Divine commission, but also a promise of the Divine presence: "Surely I will be with thee" (ver. 16). But still something more was needed, and that was the touch of the Spirit. "The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon."

(J. T. Hamly.)

It is the call of God that ripens a life into power, resolve, fruitfulness — the call and the response to it. Continually the Bible urges upon us this great truth, that through the keen sense of a close personal relation to God and of duty owing to Him the soul grows and comes to its own. Our human personality is created in that way, and in no other. There are, indeed, lives which are not so inspired and yet appear strong; an ingenious, resolute selfishness gives them momentum. But this individuality is akin to that of ape or tiger; it is a part of the earth force, in yielding to which a man forfeits his proper being and dignity. Look at Napoleon, the supreme example in history of this failure. A great genius, a striking character! Only in the carnal region, for human personality is moral, spiritual, and the most triumphant cunning does not make a man; while on the other hand from a very moderate endowment put to the glorious usury of God's service will grow a soul clear, brave, and firm, precious in the ranks of life. Let a human being, however ignorant and low, hear and answer the Divine summons, and in that place a man appears, one who stands related to the source of strength and light. And when a man, roused by such a call, feels responsibility for his country, for religion, the hero is astir. Something will be done for which mankind waits.

(R. A. Watson, M. A.)

Gideon, observe, was not unwilling to go forward in the cause of God and God's people; on the contrary, he was most ready to do so; but without an outward call he never would have taken the lead. Nevertheless, when the call was repeated and so made plain, no account was made of difficulties. In full view of them Gideon determined to obey. Now he evidently had no suspicion yet of the supernatural character of his visitor. It was not, therefore, any sign from heaven that compelled him to crush down his hesitation. It was the inward voice of conscience, awakened by what he believed to be an ordinary communication from God, that led him on. He asked, indeed, for a sign from heaven, but it was to strengthen him to keep his resolution, not to enable him to form it. Here was the true spirit of faith. Here was the root of the success that came so gloriously afterwards. Submission, consent when once God's will is known; resolution to do that will in spite of difficulties — that is the spirit to which signs are given; that is the spirit by which success is won. The man or the Church that makes visible success, or signs of any kind, a condition of bending all their energy to the doing of God's will, is not among those by whom deliverance is wrought or the families of the earth blessed. To those who yield, like Gideon, to the will of God so soon as it is made clear, signs of acceptance and encouragement come thereafter, and often come with but small delay.

(W. Miller, M. A.)

Surely I will be with thee
Whatever ground there was for taking exception to Gideon's faith in God, this, at all events, there seems to be every reason to believe, that he had learned to refer all success to the presence and blessing of the Lord. The language he employs (ver. 13) necessarily implies this. But still much required to be done before he should be qualified to act the distinguished part for which he was destined; and accordingly we are informed (ver. 14) that by some method here unexplained — some secret and mysterious afflatus of the Spirit imparted on that occasion — it pleased the Lord to make up what was wanting in his faith, and in whatever else was still manifestly defective. The Lord looked upon him! Ah! who knows what was in that look! It was not a look of anger or displeasure. It was not a mere look of compassion, nor of benevolence and favour. There seems to have been something above nature in it, not unlike that memorable glance with which Jesus smote Peter to the heart, so that he rushed out of the house and wept bitterly; the influence which accompanied the "look" which the Lord cast on Gideon was of a different character, indeed, but it was not less potential. It was Gideon's commission. Along with it seems to have come all the wisdom, all the might, all the valour, all the strategic skill which he needed in order to fit him for the grand expedition in which he was soon to act so prominent a part. Let us learn the following important practical lessons: —

1. The Lord often anticipates the desires of His people, and grants them what they need even before they ask it. Indeed, in every case He may be said, in one sense, to give before we ask, because if He did not by His Holy Spirit vouchsafe unto us grace to pray, which of us would ever pray for grace? But if He is so ready to grant before we ask, how much more is He ready to grant when we do ask in faith all things whatsoever we require.

2. A lowly sense of our own deserts is at once a sign that exaltation is at hand, the way to it, and the occasion of it. Diffidence, humility, modesty, unobtrusiveness, are among the highest recommendations in the sight of God. He "resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." "Before honour is humility, and pride goeth before a fall."

3. If we be indeed of the true Israel of God, we may rest assured that the Lord will be with us, and cause us to triumph over all our foes.

4. It is unbecoming the Christian to be too anxious or too careful about the designs of God concerning him. To Gideon's question, "Wherewith shall I save Israel?" no explicit answer, it will be remembered, was vouchsafed. His curiosity was rebuked as a sign of remaining unbelief. Let us repose like little children in the bosom of the Father's promise.

(W. W. Duncan, M. A.)

Thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man
What shall we say as to the moral character of this transaction? We must not let our affection or veneration for old traditions blind us to the difficulty of the question. But common sense has suggested to me one or two considerations. First of all, our judgment is apt to be prejudiced here, because men in our time, we English people in particular, have come to think rather falsely about war. A profounder apprehension of the lovely Christlike spirit of our religion, coupled with a good many less worthy influences, such as the peaceableness and security of our sea-girt life in these isles, have all combined to give us a great horror of war; not because of the sin and iniquity of it, but because it means wounds and bloodshed, and robbery of our property and death. Now indubitably every rational man will say that, were our world free from selfishness and sin, war could not exist in it. Therefore it has its roots in iniquity. Nevertheless, like many other things that are evils in themselves, war may be used, under God's providential government of the world, to cure worse evils, acting remedially like the surgeon's knife, and bringing renewed life to the nation and the individual. In the second place, I wish to add another consideration. I venture to say that all of us, in our historical judgment and in our ethical and religious teaching, probably have fallen into error, in that we overvalue mere physical human life. If anything is manifest in this world, it is that the material life counts for very little in God's sight; that the material life is mere scaffolding, the machinery by which or the platform on which the mental, moral, and ethical life is to be built up. Over and over again, in the pathological history of our human race, we find that God has sacrificed millions of lives to compel men to be pure and dignified in their bodily and moral habits. Apply this to war. Though it be a scourge and an exterminator, it has nevertheless a wonderful potential force in it to produce bravery, courage, ability of every description. War may thus be used to elevate the moral and mental worth of our race. I fear it is our tendency in the present day to make too much of physical comfort and physical life. On that account we recoil unduly when God has wrought out benefit for our race as a whole through terrible trial, affliction, discipline, suffering, and self-sacrifice; as, for example, by wars in which cruel despotisms, tyrannous, inferior, and sanguinary races have succumbed before superior moral or mental worth. I am afraid, too, we do not deal out fair measure to our predecessors. We are ready to censure these Hebrews for the cruel treatment they often meted out to prisoners of war. We are apt to say that the men who did such things could not, along with such a low moral character, have possessed a lofty, pure revelation of God or a knowledge of His character. But that is too hasty a judgment. Similarly we take a socialist book, describing life in the last generation, or in the present generation, in our England; we read the history of the horrors that produced the Factory Acts — how the wealthy capitalist lived in luxury, and grudged a diminution of his income that would have made the condition of workshops and the hours of labour such as would have averted the premature death of their operatives, of men, women, and children, until Parliament stepped in. We say those men who occupied the position of capitalists were fiends. But they were nothing of the kind; some of them were even eminent Christians. But Christianity had got into cursed blindness and ignorance on these points, and they belonged to their day and generation. At present, are we so very far above them? Is it not the fact that constantly you have great outbreaks of small-pox or scarlet fever spreading death in a hundred households which are due solely to carelessly scamped work? Have we not the horrors of the East End, and the City, and so on? But are we therefore all bad men? Not so. We are Christians in process of growing. These are evils we are only waking up to discover, the sins we have inherited, the Canaanites we have to destroy. If we apply the same measure to the Hebrews, we see that there was a real progress, a real working for good in a society that, in certain moral aspects, was low and degraded. Then again, as a matter of fact, the God that made our world has made this law, that wherever sin of a certain type and degree has come in, the retribution of moral obliquity and degradation has come in also, in the shape of annihilation at the hands of a superior race. That seems a cruel, hard thing; but nevertheless so it is. Moreover, to make it more mysterious, the conquering race is not always a superior race in the perfect sense. But we have not that complication here, for all old history testifies that the most blighting curse of false religion and the vilest sensuality of our world in these days lay in the religion of those Canaanites. Even classic, pagan writers say that blank atheism would have been better than that. Wherever Phoenicians established their colonies and their places of worship they introduced nameless vices and uncleannesses, and dignified them with the name of religion. And where these things were introduced they spread, so much so that the end of the great Roman empire was hastened, its old martial strength was rooted out, by the corruption that came in a direct line from that old Canaanitish religion. To justify what was done, therefore, we do not need to say that the conquerors were perfect and immaculate. All we need to be able to say is, that it was a deserved retribution, and that it was better for our world that Canaan should pass into the hands of the Hebrew nation, which has done the grandest moral and religious work for the world.

(Prof. G. A. Smith.)

Shew me a sign that Thou talkest with me
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.)

"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."

(F. Elwin.)

I. THE CHRISTIAN'S PRIVILEGE. It is to "find grace in the sight of the Lord."

1. A partaking of the Divine nature. Those who have found grace in God's sight have received His grace in their heart. If we are accepted of God we are united to Him by faith in His Son. We become one with Him — are created anew — conformed to the Divine image and bear the image of the heavenly.

2. A reception of the Divine fulness. He is emphatically called the God of all grace. He has all the treasures of grace we stand in need of; so that if we find favour with Him — if we are interested in His love — He will communicate to us every blessing we require. What are all the treasures of the world compared with the durable riches and righteousness which He has to bestow?

3. The enjoyment of the Divine presence: "In Thy sight." There is no grace to be found but here. We may find favour with men, but only grace — free favour — with God. We have free access into His presence. We approach His very throne, and He bids us come near.

II. THE CHRISTIAN'S DOUBTS: "If now I have found grace in Thy sight." There are seasons when the most eminent saints have been led to doubt of their interest in God. "Happy is the man that feareth alway." Let us refer to some of those things that occasion the believer's doubts.

1. The greatness of the privilege. When we take a review of the vast privileges enjoyed by our finding grace in His sight, and think of our depravity and vileness under a sense of our unworthiness, we exclaim, "Surely such mercy cannot be for me!"

2. The imperfection of our graces. If I have found grace in Thy sight, why do I not more closely follow them who through faith and patience inherit the promises? Why am I not more fervent in prayer? Why not more delighted in God's house? Why do I so little prize the privilege of communion with Him?

3. The withdrawings of God's countenance. There are seasons when the believer is called to walk in darkness, and God hides His face. Without God's presence, the Word is a dead letter, ordinances are a blank, all the means we may use are insipid.

4. The apostasy of false professors. Then the thought occurs in the mind — perhaps after all I am deceiving myself with the profession of godliness, while I have never felt its power, and I mistake the excitement of natural feelings for the operation of a Divine principle — perhaps, after in outward appearance reaching the very gate of heaven, I shall be thrust down to hell. But is there no way of ascertaining the fact?

III. THE CHRISTIAN'S DESIRE. Gideon asked a sign. "Show me a sign that Thou talkest with me." And God gave it him. Christians have a sign beyond all visions, tokens, voices, or any outward manifestation. There are three ways in which God shows His people a sign —

1. By the workings of His providence.

2. By the communications of His grace. Thus He speaks peace to the soul — calms the spirit — gives us a sense of pardoning mercy.

3. By the witness of His Spirit (Romans 8:16). There are many ways in which this sign is given by the Spirit. It is done by sealing home pardon to the soul — by more deeply impressing on our souls the Divine likeness — by pouring out a spirit of prayer — by implanting divine principles — by giving filial dispositions and tempers — inspiring heavenly desires and affections —conferring the graces of the Spirit, and making us bring forth the fruits of the Spirit — causing the Spirit to dwell in us as in a temple, and assuring us of God's favour.Conclusion:

1. Let those who have not found grace seek the possession of it. Seek to be good rather than great — the grace of God more than the favour of man.

2. Let those who have found grace seek the assurance of it. It is attainable — the way is open. And remember, though you may be as safe, you cannot be as happy without it.

(E. Temple.)

Bring forth my present, and set it before thee
The Weekly Pulpit.
He did not want to be rash and hasty, and do what he might be very sorry for after wards. He thought strongly that this was an angel, but he was not sure yet. His thoughts had been so set upon the thing, that he even thought he might be dreaming. "If now I have found grace in thy sight," he said, "give me a sign that thou talkest with me." Or again, this might be somebody tempting him and leading him into a trap. So he asked the stranger to stay while he got ready a present for him, as Abraham had done for the three angels who came to him. If this is an ordinary man he will give him food in a hospitable fashion as Easterns do, and then send him on his way — if it is God, he will offer Him a sacrifice. That is why he put the broth in a pot, he kept it for the libation or drink offering, if it should really prove that this was the angel of the Lord. So when the angel said, "Lay the flesh and the cakes on the rock, and pour out the broth," it was as much as saying, "Offer me a sacrifice." Gideon was satisfied directly. Here was the test he had been looking for and wanting to know about. So he obeyed: he poured out the broth as a drink-offering, and the angel touched it, and fire came out of the rock and burnt it up. Then he knew that God was on his side. Now you will see from this, I think, wherein the excellence of his character lay. On the one hand he was not rash, ready to throw his life away for nothing; on the other he was not a laggard, throwing away opportunities when he got them. Now I think you will see the power of this text. He put his broth in a pot for two reasons —

(1)He did not want to be deceived; but —

(2)He wanted to be ready.Rash men do things in a hurry which they are sorry for afterwards, but rashness is better than indifference, carelessness, indolence. Sad indeed it would have been for him if he had turned a cold ear to what the angel had told him, if he had prepared no sacrifice, had gone on threshing his wheat and taken no heed to God's message. He would have lived and died with God's will towards him unfulfilled. You and I have all of us God's work to do; you have yours, I mine. The world does not know what it is, we do not know ourselves, except in part. We know present duties, but life is not mapped out in full before any of us. But happy is that servant who knows Christ's present will, who has taken pains to learn it, and not only so, but who is ready to fulfil it. Duties which conscience tells us are duties, how ready we are to find excuses to avoid them, and to follow our own pleasure. Gideon had his wheat to thresh; let greater men than he go forth and fight the Midianites. If he had said so, would that have been a strange, unusual case? Would it not have been very like what we have done before now? For the will of God — we must surely have learned that by this time — is very often quite contrary to our own inclinations. Duty says one thing, self-indulgence says another. By all means let us have caution and steadiness, but let not caution be an excuse for doing nothing. Gideon putting his broth in a pot is an everlasting example to us to be ready for God's living sacrifice.

(The Weekly Pulpit.)

There rose up fire...
I. THE DIVINELY-ORDERED OFFERING.

1. What, then, are the offerings that are required? Gideon here offered "the flesh, the unleavened cakes, and the broth." These are simply the sustenance of the natural human life. Taken and assimilated by man, they become portions of his earthly frame. Nowadays, God expects us to make a spiritual offering unto Him of all the energies of our life.

2. The man was ordered to make the offering in an especial manner: "Lay them upon this rock." There is nothing trivial in the record of God's manifestations to man. The offerings of man to God, before they can lead him on to peace, must be based upon the At-one-ment between man and God.

II. THE DIVINE ACCEPTANCE OF MAN'S OFFERING.

1. That fire which came forth out of the cleft of the rock in Ophrah is still burning in the deep recesses of the Rock of Ages, ready to come forth in response to the obedient devotion of man. On Calvary, in the self-sacrifice of the God-man, we behold the eternal law of Divine love fulfilling itself. The Church has again and again passed through its hours of coldness and darkness. But in God's good time the fire of revival has kindled, and she has spoken to the hearts of men with power. This sign of "fire" is given to the individual soul no less than to the Church. He who gives himself to God, laying the devotion of his whole soul upon Christ, offering daily in His name the prayers, the praises, the alms, the pure feelings, the chastened thoughts, and all the energies of charity, will find assurance that God talketh with him. He will find his mind brightened by the light of heavenly thoughts and eternal hopes, and his heart fired by the impulses of a Divine love.

2. In this passage we may see the purpose and ultimate destiny of religious forms. The forms of the offering which Gideon made were not unimportant. The Divine voice recognised their value, and directed the manner in which they were to be presented. It was not until they had been duly presented that the fire came forth. When forms of worship, beautiful music, and august ceremonial express faith and reverence for the majesty of Christ they are offerings laid upon the rock, and are means of quickening spiritual life. But in using them let us look beyond the means to the end, until the forms are in our sight lost to view in the realities of spirit.

III. THE IMPRESSIONS LEFT BY THE MANIFESTATION UPON THE MAN'S SOUL.

1. This vivid manifestation of the Divine presence to the soul was but for a short time. On earth man cannot bear the brightness of the supernatural visions of truth, save during brief moments. The overpowering splendours of the theophanies have in mercy been transient.

2. The angel departs, but he leaves his footprints on the soul. This spiritual intuition of the Divine presence given to Gideon soon passed away, but its influence on his heart and mind never died.

IV. ITS OBJECTIVE RESULTS IN HIS OUTWARD ACTION. The vision soon passed away. But it wrought a mighty change in Gideon's life and career. That change is briefly but fully recorded in the announcement that he now built an altar unto the Lord. The altar implies the sacrifice. In building an altar unto the Lord he pledged himself to sacrifice henceforth unto the Lord. On what principle did he take this momentous step? In the name of what truth did he build this altar? He called it "Jehovah-shalom"; that is, "Jehovah the author of peace." So in our own day, the object of the messenger of God is to constrain men to build this altar of peace.

(Henry T. Edwards, M. A.)

Peace be unto thee
Already Gideon had received what ought to have been a sufficient assurance of the Divine favour, for his offering had been accepted, and of this he had received the clearest evidence in the issue of fire from the rock. But the sense of acceptance which this sign was well fitted to inspire was overborne by the indefinite sense of fear, which prostrated him in the dust. But mark how tenderly and sympathisingly the Lord, if not now in a bodily form, at least with audible voice, replies to his cry, and reassures the trembling man. And may we not here recognise the voice of that very Saviour — the Angel of the everlasting covenant, the Prince of Peace, who said to the winds and waves of the sea of Galilee, as they threatened to swallow up His disciples, "Peace be still," and who after His resurrection appeared to them again and again saying, "Peace be unto you"? We may indeed! Never does He allow any one who really fears the Lord to remain long in so deplorable a state as that in which Gideon is described to have been. Never does He "break the bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax." It gives Him no satisfaction to see any of His creatures overcome by slavish terror and alarm from whatsoever cause. And when, in any ease, the soul and the affections are found to yield to constitutional weakness of that kind, who so ready as He with encouraging assurances such as that which He addressed to Gideon, "Peace be unto thee; fear not." He would have us to reflect that the grand end for which He came into this world was to banish all terrors from the guilty breast, to restore tranquillity to the most tempest-tossed bosom. "Fear not," says He; "thou shalt not die!" Death temporal, indeed, still holds its stern dominion over all the families of men. But death eternal has been abolished, and "life and immortality have been brought to light." "Thou shalt surely die," was the doom pronounced on all, in consequence of the entrance of sin into our world. But listen to the gospel bells as their sweet, harmonious sounds come softened by distance over the waters of time. What do they say? "Thou shalt not die; surely thou shalt not die." The Angel of the everlasting covenant whispers it amid the silence of the night, adding, "Because I live, ye shalt live also." And in His hands are the keys of life and of death, of death and of hell.

(W. W. Duncan, M. A.)

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