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THE OPPRESSION OF MIDIAN
However, Israel again repeated the evil of departing from the Lord. This time the Lord used Midian to put them under a yoke of oppression which lasted seven years (v.1). Midian also attacks the saints of God today.Its name means "strife," so it speaks of the spirit of quarreling that too frequently arises in the Church of God, and often results in divisions and separations.
Because of the Midianites the children of Israel made dens, caves and strongholds in the mountains (v. 2). Thus the spirit of strife makes us draw back, tending to isolate ourselves from others.We know this attitude comes from our fleshly nature desiring evil things, so that unity among the people of God suffers deeply. We foolishly want our own way, and this infringes on what someone else wants.God's way is forgotten.
When crops had been sown, the Midianites would come, accompanied by Amalakites and others from the east, destroying the produce of the earth (vv. 3-4). Amalek speaks of the lusts of the flesh, which we may always expect to accompany an attitude of strife (Midian).The results of such an attack will also always be to destroy all spiritual growth and prosperity.
It does not appear that Midian was interested in settling in the land, but they came as marauders, taking what they could and destroying everything else. They came with their own live stock and their tents, staying long enough each time to destroy all that Israel had. How striking a picture is this of the painful desolation that takes place when the spirit of strife and quarreling gains a foothold among God's people! What need there is then of peace makers, who are indeed called "the sons of God" (Matthew 5:9)
When Israel finally cried out to the Lord (v. 7), they cried simply because of their misery. The Lord did not therefore immediately relieve them, but sent a prophet for the purpose of pressing on Israel the fact of their own guilt being responsible for these troubles (vv. 8-10). As He had done many times before, He reminded them by the prophet that He had brought Israel up from Egypt, from the house of bondage, bringing them to their present land and driving out their enemies before them.The amazing wonder of all this had failed to so impress Israel as to cling firmly to the Lord. Yet God had told them, "I am the Lord your God:do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. "How little effect God's Word had in their hearts:they did not obey His voice.This message should certainly have brought them down in repentant confession of their guilt, and it may have been so in some measure, for it was this that God was seeking.
GIDEON CALLED TO DELIVER ISRAEL
The Lord does intervene for Israel's deliverance. The angel of the Lord, who is the Lord Himself, came to the home of Gideon the son of Joash, sitting down and appearing to Gideon as he was threshing wheat by the winepress, where he could be hidden from the Midianites (v.11). Gideon's threshing wheat is a picture of one studying the Word of God, separating the chaff of one's one conceptions from the pure seed of the truth of God.
One who is prepared in secret by meditation on God's Word is the one who will be fitted for conflict on God's behalf.
The Angel's greeting must have been rather a shock to Gideon, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" (v. 12). Hiding as he was, he certainly would not feel mighty. But his response is most admirable, "O my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us." Gideon was not thinking from a personal point of view, but was concerned about his nation Israel, God's miracles of the past, His bringing Israel out of Egypt, etc., yet now leaving them under the oppressive yoke of Midian (v. 13).
The Lord answered him, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianite. Have I not sent you?" (v. 14). Gideon might well wonder what might the Lord was speaking of, for Gideon only felt weakness. But Gideon had strength he was not aware of. The fact of his having a heart of true concern for his people, while feeling his own helplessness, was strength in God's eyes. Paul later learned this valuable lesson -- "when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10).
However, Gideon protested to the Lord that his family was the weakest in Manasseh and that he himself was the least in his father's house (v. 15). Perhaps this was true, but he did not understand that God chooses the foolish things of the world, the weak things, the base things, and things that are despised, to bring to nothing the things that are naturally dominating (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).God does not choose those who are naturally the most competent in order to do His work, for if he did, we would attribute that person's success to his own ability, and God would not have all the glory.
The Lord allows Gideon no excuse. He has called Gideon and Gideon must obey. But He encourages Gideon by His Word, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites asone man" (v. 16).
But Gideon desires more confirmation, as though it was necessary when God had given him His word! The Lord graciously responded to Gideon's request, however, to remain until Gideon brought an offering (v. 18). To Gideon's credit, the offering was very appropriate. The young goat is typical of Christ as the Substitute for the sinner (and Gideon knew that he needed a Substitute). Unleavened bread speaks of Christ as the perfect, sinless Man, while the broth seems to indicate the offerer's appreciation of the sacrifice, being easy to assimilate. Gideon presented all these to the Angel of the Lord (v. 19).
When Gideon obeyed the Angel in laying the meat and unleavened bread on a rock, the Angel used His staff to touch the offering, which was immediately consumed by fire that came out of the rock (vv. 20-21). The broth had been poured out, but the meat and unleavened bread went up totally to God in fire.
Certainly this signified that God had accepted Gideon's offering and Gideon had every right to be at peace, as believers have now in realizing that God has accepted the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. But Gideon was troubled in realizing the greatness of this person whom he had seen, -- the Angel of theLord, -- not simply " an angel" (v. 22). For God had said to Moses "no man shall see Me, and live" (Exodus 33:20). But while it is true that God's glory is so great that it is impossible for us to contemplate, yet it was in manhood form that the Angel (the Lord Jesus) had appeared to Gideon, so that Gideon did not see the greatness of God's glory, but only a very limited manifestation of God. Therefore the Angel set Gideon at rest, telling him, "Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die" (v. 23). Of course he would not die. The Lord had told him he would deliver Israel
Gideon did not rush into service for theLord. Instead he built an altar to the Lord, calling it "The Lord is peace" (v. 24). The altar speaks of Christ, and Gideon's building it speaks of his building a relationship with the Lord Jesus on the basis of His sacrifice, for sacrifices were made on the altar. Now, from the place of peace, Gideon is preparing for war.
IDOLATRY JUDGED: THE LORDEXALTED
However, there was another matter that the Lord required Gideon to face before he could depend on God to give him a victory, for there was idolatry in the house of Gideon's father. Gideon must tear down an altar of Baal that was there and demolish a wooden image which was beside it (vv. 25-26). This was a negative work, but absolutely necessary. Then he was to replace this with an altar to the Lord, and offer the second bull that belonged to his father. Thus, what was positive was to replace the negative.The wood of the image was to provide the fire for the sacrifice.
Gideon obeyed, taking ten men who were his servants to accomplish this serious work. They did this at night, however, because Gideon feared the opinions of the men of the city.There was timidity in his faith, but nevertheless faith acted. True courage does not mean having no fear, but is seen rather in acting rightly in spite of fear.
When the destruction of the image and of Baal's altar was discovered in the morning, the men of the city demanded of Gideon's father that he must deliver up Gideon to be executed (vv.28-30).
Certainly God would not allow this, for He had chosen Gideon as deliverer of Israel, and He will fully honor obedience to His Word.So that it was God who disposed Joash to answer as he did. Rather than be on the defensive, Joash took a firm, decided stand with his son. He was no doubt dissatisfied with his own idol, and told the men to let Baal plead for himself if he was really a god. In fact he demanded that anyone who would plead for Baal should be put to death! (v. 31).This decided language evidently silenced all opposition. From that time Gideon was given the name Jerubbaal, signifying his contention against Baal (v.32).
The Lord then moved the Midianites and Amalekites and other peoples from the east to gather a great army in the Valley of Jezreel, for the defeat of these enemies was not to be partial, but total (v. 33). When this tremendous army was gathered, we are told "But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon" (v. 34). This is really the deciding factor, as is confirmed byIsaiah 59:10; Isaiah 59:10: "when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him." Overwhelming numbers mean nothing to God. Gideon blew a trumpet and the men of Abiezer were gathered to follow him. Also, he sent messengers to all Manasseh, Asher, Zebulon and Naphtali, and found a willing response from these (vv. 34-35).
THE WET AND DRY FLEECE
In spite of these encouraging signs, Gideon felt he needed something more than this, and asked the Lord to cause dew to fall only on a fleece he laid on the threshing floor, leaving all the surrounding area dry (vv. 36-37). If so, he said, this would be assurance that God would save Israel by Gideon's hand. The Lord graciously answered, so that Gideon wrung out a bowl full of water from the fleece in the morning, while all the surrounding area was dry (v. 38).
Yet even then Gideon's apprehensions were not fully relieved. He asked God (apologetically) to give him one more sign, that this time the fleece might be dry and the ground wet with dew. Again God showed Gideon the kindness of answering just as he desired (vv. 39-40).
Today there are some Christians who use this history as an excuse for expecting some material sign from God as to what His will may be in a certain matter.But let believers remember that we have the Spirit of God dwelling in us, and we may fully depend on God's Word in connection with the leading of the Spirit, so that we need no confirming signs, but simply a genuine communion with the Lord and faith in His Word.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Judges 6". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29