Gideon's Victory: Jehovah-Shalom  —  the Lord Send Peace: No. 1

Judges 6‑8  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 5
Surely there is a word from the Lord, at this time, to us in the history of Gideon. (Judg. 6; 7; 8)
Israel at that time, through failure and departure from God, was in a similar condition to the state of Christendom now. Yet God heard the cry of His people. "And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord because of the Midianites, that the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage" &c. They had grievously departed from God, but He ever acts towards His people on the sure basis of redemption. Let us well remember this, both in His dealings with Gideon, and with ourselves.
If some timid, doubting child of God should read this paper, let him remember that God his Father would speak to him on the ground of redemption; yes, on the sole ground of that one work which has been accomplished on Calvary's cross. The enemy was in terrible power. When the angel of the Lord appeared unto Gideon, he was found threshing wheat behind the wine-press to hide it from the Midianites. There was one peculiarity, however, about this young man, one of great value in the judgment of the Lord. It was this, as we shall soon see—he was nobody in his own eyes. In after times, and having fuller light, this remains equally true. "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence." (1 Cor. 1:2626For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (1 Corinthians 1:26).) H And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor." (Judg. 6:1212And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor. (Judges 6:12).) Was not the word of the Lord enough," The Lord is with thee?" Ought we not also to think it enough for every believer in this day, come what will, since our blessed Lord says, " Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them?" Unbelief hesitates and reasons. "Gideon said unto him, Oh, my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? But now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."
It is beautiful to see how he identifies himself with the whole nation. Thus will faith now recognize the whole church of God. The Midianites were outside enemies. They came in multitudes to devour the land. u They came as grasshoppers for multitudes." Is it not so now? Is not the world and worldliness, Satan's world, eating up, and eating out, the spirituality of the church? Look where you will, there they are, like grasshoppers. The question is, how is this vast army of worldlings and worldliness to be met? So do they swarm in the professing church, and such is the power of Amalek in fashion, that many a Christian scarcely dares to be seen reading the word of God, but, like Gideon, creeps into a corner to thrash his wheat.
It is well to mark the way of our God at such a time. He does not take up the high priest, or one of the four-and-twenty, or some mighty captain of the host. Neither does He take up one from the college of the prophets. No, in divine, sovereign grace, God takes up this exercised son of an Abiezrite sunk in idolatry. Gideon was an exercised soul. He remembered "his miracles which our fathers told us of." He compared the days of a Moses, and a Joshua, with the sad condition of Israel, then in the hands of the enemy. And he said, "Why then has all this befallen us?" Has our reader ever been thus exercised? Have you ever compared the condition of the church, as God first formed it by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, as seen in the second and fourth chapters of Acts, with the sad worldliness in which it is now sunk? An enemy hath done this. Have you ever in an exercised heart said, " Why then has all this befallen us?"
Let us notice a sovereign act. "And the Lord 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?" This is close, searching, personal work with the Lord Himself. There be many who say they are authorized servants of the Lord, who have never known this dealing of the Lord. But Jesus says to others, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit." This was the kind of ordination Gideon had. Thus, blessed Lord, again appoint thy servants! Wonderful words—"Have not I sent thee?" And will this true call and ordination puff up the heart with pride? Let us hear the young man speak. "And he said unto him, Oh, my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." A true mark of one of God's chosen instruments. Another still more honored servant could say, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." "And he said unto him (Gideon), Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man."
One would have thought Gideon would have taken the bare word of the Lord—"Surely I will be with thee." Are we not equally slow to accept the truth of the abiding presence of the Holy Ghost with the church, and to act upon it? And is it not quite true, before there can be real service, there must be divine certainty as to the grace of God? Ø '
Does God our Father thus speak to us? "And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then show me a sign that thou talkest with me." It is well to look to the foundations. There must remain no " if," there must be no uncertainty, as to our standing in the free favor of God. Surely it is only in that free favor that we can bear to hear the voice of the Lord. How graciously the Lord waited upon Gideon; and so He does upon us. Yes, He said, I will tarry. So Gideon made ready his kid of the goats, and his unleavened cakes, and presented his offering. "And the angel of God said unto him. Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so."
There on that rock look at God's sign to Gideon. You see that kid, and those unleavened cakes. Now turn from that to this, look back to Calvary's cross; you sec that Lamb of God, the unleavened, holy, holy One: the sign of God, the token, the revelation of the righteousness and love of God.
He must needs suffer; He must die for our sins according to the scriptures. "And the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight." Could there be any doubt now? Surely this was the power of God. Yea, God accepting by fire the offering. A little time before there was on that rock the kid and the cakes. But they are not there, they are gone. Now let us look at Calvary. On that cross there was our Sin-bearer; the unleavened, the holy One, bearing our sins. Oh, that awful cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Look again; is He there now? Is He still bearing our sins? Come into this garden—look into that sepulcher. Is He there? Surely every victim consumed by fire pointed to this one sacrifice. He has endured the judgment due to our sins; but where is He? Has not God, who accepted Gideon's offering, accepted that once bleeding Sin-bearer nailed to the cross? No longer bearing our sins, but having purged them; now seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
This was a solemn moment for Gideon. Now he knows himself in the presence of God. "Gideon said, Alas, Ο Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face." Have you been thus face to face with God? You must be, either now, or when it will be forever too late to know His grace. Now what was the first word the Lord spake to Gideon to soothe, yea, to banish his fears after this figure of the death and resurrection of Christ? "Peace he unto thee." The very first words that Jesus spake to His disciples after He rose from the dead. Yes, "Jesus stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace he unto you. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side." "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace he unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (John 20:1919Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (John 20:19).) The Lord said to Gideon, " Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die." He said in resurrection to His disciples, yea, He says to us, "Peace unto you." "Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands mid my feet, that it is I myself." (Luke 24:36-3936And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (Luke 24:36‑39).)
Was it, then, more certain to Gideon that the fire of God had risen out of that rock, and consumed his offering, than it is to us that God hath raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was " delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification?" And have we not the testimony of the word of God, that as Abraham was accounted righteous on the principle of faith, so we, believing God, are accounted righteous before Him? "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 4; 5)
Now the effect of believing the sure testimony of the word of God is worship. The only altar that Gideon had known, before this moment that God spake peace to his soul, was the shameful altar of Baal.
Dear reader, you may not have known it, but the only worship you can have known, before God speaks peace to your soul, is the worship of Babylon: the church and world confusion around.
"Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-Shalom." You will see the meaning of this word is translated in the margin of your Bibles, "the Loud send peace." His heart bowed in grateful worship and thanks giving; but linked with his people the whole Israel of God in their sad condition. The moment he tastes the joy of peace with God in his own soul, he says, a Jehovah send peace," yea, this is the name of his altar, this the character of his worship. Is it ours? Thousands of the children of God around are like Israel then. Linked with the world; its politics, its worship, its pursuits, its pleasures. Oh, is the cry of our hearts, Jehovah-Shalom? Lord, send peace! Lord, send peace! Surely it should be so, for Jesus said, " Peace unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." Does not this raise in our hearts the cry, "Even so, Jehovah-Shalom. The Lord send peace?" Did not the Father send Him to make peace by the blood of His cross? And has He not made peace by the blood of His cross, "and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh?" (Col. 1:2020And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:20); Eph. 2:14-1714For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. (Ephesians 2:14‑17).) Let us, then, not only worship because He is our peace, but in our hearts ever cry, Jehovah-Shalom. How truly wonderful! As He sent His beloved Son to make peace, and to proclaim it; so He now sends us, as His messengers of peace to all around—yea, to the whole church of God. For Gideon's commission was for all Israel.
Well, if there is to be an onslaught on this vast system of worldliness in which the church is sunk, where would the Lord have us begin? Let us see where Gideon was to begin? At home. "And it came to pass the same night that the Lord said unto him." Yes, there was peace to him and worship, and the cry of peace to flow out to others; but that very night the Lord spake to him. We are always without the word of the Lord if our first thought is to correct others. Begin at home. "Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it." And not only so, but the altar to Jehovah must be built on the rock, in the ordered place. And there must be worship there, and offer a burnt sacrifice. Yes, if you have been turned to God, it must be unsparing destruction of all idolatry. Tumble down the altar of Baal, every idol which the heart, which nature, which thy father hath. Christ is all—on that rock the altar of worship must be permanently built. There may be timidity—there was with Gideon, he did it in the night. But it must be done: down, down with the altar of Baal at home. All this the Lord said unto him. What does the Lord say to us? Does He say we are not of the world, even as He is not of the world? Then down with the altar; come out from among them, and be ye separate. Above all things let the true altar be built; that is, let the one sacrifice of Christ have its permanent place. Here we can truly worship, sanctified by the will of God, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once. " For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." (Heb. 10) Yes, the altar must be built on the rock. Very wonderfully did God own the faithfulness of Gideon in thus beginning at home.