Gideon's Victory: Jehovah-Shalom  —  the Lord Send Peace: No. 2

Judges 6:23  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 6
We have seen how the Lord took up this timid man who was nothing in his own eyes, the least in his father's poor house, to give peace, and deliverance to God's people Israel: and how God gave him the assurance that He would be with him. How He also patiently gave him a sure token of His grace, in that He accepted his offering, which pointed to God's acceptance of our Sin-bearer when He raised Him from the dead for our justification. Then, Gideon's offering being accepted, fear fell upon his soul at the conscious presence of Jehovah. How the Lord spoke peace to him. This produced worship, and then arose the cry, Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord send peace. That very night the testing came. This will be the case with us, even as Jesus speaks to us in resurrection "Peace unto you." Believing God, we are accounted righteous before Him, and being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Having peace with God, we worship God, but never till then. This produces the earnest desire to be the messengers of peace to others. But if the great camp of the Midianites (to us of worldliness), is to be attacked, where must we begin? With Gideon, we have seen, it was at home. The young bullock must be killed, and his father's shameful altar to Baal must be thrown down.
We will now trace the effects of this faithfulness at home. Is it not remarkable that this act of obedience to the Lord was used of God in converting Gideon's father, so that he said that the altar of Baal was a shameful thing? And is it not a shameful thing for a Christian to be linked with this world, and with Satan the god of it? and especially to be linked with the world's false worship?
If there be, however, true faithfulness to God, the hatred of the world will be aroused. "Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east, were gathered together." Yes, as surely as you enjoy peace with God, and your heart in worship cries, u Lord send peace;" this giving energy to throw down the altar of Baal, at whatever cost; then buckle on your armor, the whole armor of God, and look out. Satan will bring the power of the world to destroy, if possible, at least all enjoyment of peace, worship, and testimony. "But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon." The sealed believer has more than this; for his body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. "And he blew a trumpet, and Abiezer was gathered after him." Now what a reward is this; he blew the trumpet, and the very men that wanted at first to kill him, are the first to be gathered by the sound of that trumpet. You say that was the power of the Spirit, true it was. The servant of the Lord now, having the same blessed Spirit dwelling in him, may sound the gospel trumpet in faith; and count on God bringing the greatest enemies of that truth to obey the call of salvation. Oh, how much there is in this to encourage the servants of the Lord!
And now, having taken the true place of humility, and entire dependence on the Lord, and in the power of the Spirit, he sent messengers to Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali; and they came up to meet them. Again, there is exercise of heart in this servant of Jehovah. He says " if" again. The moment we look at ourselves we may well say "if." But God bore in grace with His exercised servant. The dew was caused to fall on the fleece, and it was dry round about; and again it was dry in the fleece, and the dew round about. Many of God's servants have known similar experiences. Sometimes one may experience overflowing blessing in one's own soul; and yet it be dry to those around. And again we may seem like Gideon's dry fleece, and yet divine blessing to souls around. Thus we may learn the lesson, u He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
We now come in chapter vii. to a very interesting point in Gideon's history, and the people that were with him. "They rose up early and pitched beside the well Harod." Now it is a serious matter to "be pitched" in decided testimony for the Lord. We might here ask the reader in the midst of the heaving confusion of these very last days, have you yet pitched for and with the Lord? Here is a feeble man, and those with him, beside the well, and there is the host of Midian. What a picture of the church by the well on the one side, and the world on the other. Are you with the Lord, or with the Midianites, that is, the enemies of the Lord? Has God spoken peace to your soul? that is one thing; and are you also pitched, in separation from the world, with the Lord? Can there be a more deeply solemn question, Are you really at this moment with the Lord or with the world? You may say the whole church of God is not thus pitched or gathered to the Lord. Many are devoured with worldliness—its politics, its wealth, its cares, or its pleasures. It was precisely so with Israel; many were devoured by the Midianites; they had scarcely time or place to eat a bit of bread; like many a Christian in this day.
But here was a large company who had taken the ground of testimony for Jehovah. Yes, the Lord said to Gideon there were too many. " The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest they vaunt themselves," &c. They were all of the tribes of Israel. That is not the point. They were too many for the testimony of the power of God, using utter human weakness. They had not learned the lesson that "God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty," yea," things which are not, to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence." It is very sweet to hear the soft sounds of the peace-giving gospel trumpet. But when we rise up early and see the whole world against us, like the vast host by the hill of Morah; ah, then? how many pause and tremble, and fear to pitch in decided testimony to Christ! Yes, how many are afraid to remain gathered alone to Christ, like the company gathered to Gideon! But what saith the Lord? "Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead." And how many went back? "There returned of the people twenty and two thousand, and there remained ten thousand." They were not excommunicated, but they returned to their tribes. It was not a division, but they gave up the testimony of Gideon when they saw the consequences. Some now living can remember this history repeating itself. Many were gathered to the testimony of Christ in these last days. The world was gathered by Satan against them, like the hosts of the Midianites, and many fearful Christians went back. They did not cease to be Christians, anymore than the tribes ceased to be Israelites. They failed to remain pitched with Gideon. And many have failed to remain gathered alone to the Lord Jesus Christ.
And the Lord said, "There are yet too many." Is not this the very opposite of all human thought? Man seeks to be prominent and eminent, and boasts of numbers. When do you hear men say with the Lord, "There are yet too many"? This second testing was even more remarkable than the first. The whole of the ten thousand were to be brought down to the waters. There was to be no human choice of persons. The Lord said, "Whom I say unto thee, this shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, this shall not go with thee, the same shall not go." Now this testing is the more to be observed by us, as it may be the very sifting through which all gathered to Christ may be passing at this very time. Let us look then at the testing of the ten thousand men of Jehovah-Shalom. "So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Everyone that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself, likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink." Oh how few out of ten thousand were content to just take what was necessary, and stand in their ranks ready for service and victory! And how many kneeled down, seeking their own gratification to the full? Not one case escaped the eye of the Lord. "And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place."
Now let every soul professedly gathered to Christ pass before His eye. Not one escapes that eye. He knows how many to a man are pitched in decision for Him, content to take what is necessary, but ready for service and victory over the whole world. And He knows how many are seeking their own personal gratification to the full—living for self. If we look at the worldliness that has come into the very camp professedly gathered to Christ, can we wonder that the Lord is saying of many, Let them go every man unto his own place? Is it not sad when the world is the own place of a Christian? Has not our Lord Jesus said of us to the Father, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world"? How could the company with Gideon have possibly mixed with the host of Midian? Think of one of the three hundred going to vote at an election in the camp of Amalek! " Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwelt in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be ray people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:14-1814Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14‑18).)
Thus there are three companies. The little company pitched with Gideon, the vast host of Midian and those with them, and the Israelites in their own place. In one of these is found every reader of these lines. Do you say it is a very serious thing to be with so few, and the whole world against you? It is, and if you are not quite sure it is the testimony of God, and that He is with you, far better never take such a solemn place of testimony. Nothing could have been more ridiculous in the eyes of men than this little company. The first thing named of them is this, "so the people took victuals in their hands, and their trumpets." Think of such a company meeting the French, the German, or the Russian armies! It would be evident, unless the power of God be with them, they would perish quickly to a man.
Yes, it must be just so with those who would serve Christ with purpose of heart. They must take their victuals in their hand. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." It is only as they feed on Christ, by His Spirit's teaching through the word, that they can sound the trumpet of salvation, and of judgment in this evil world.
In our next paper we hope to look at the question of complete victory over the world. Here we would pause a moment and contemplate this feeble company gathered to Gideon. Does it not point to that feeble company gathered in the closing days of Christendom to the name of the Lord Jesus, " He that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth"? Small indeed was the power of Gideon's little army. Three things were true of them. They had not denied Gideon, and returned to their place in the tribes. They had their victuals in their hand and their trumpets. Three things Jesus says of the approved little company gathered to Him who is the holy and the true. He says, "Thou hast a little strength." Yes, all boasting, all seeking of eminence, all self-importance, is far, very far from the approval of Christ; "and hast kept my word." Have we thus got our victuals in our hand? Can we say, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart; for I am called by thy name?" (Jer. 15:1616Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16).) Are His words unto us more than our necessary food? "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom." And again, Jesus says of the approved little company, 'and hast not denied my name." (Rev. 3:1818I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Revelation 3:18).)
Now is it not striking how the Holy Ghost does gather a feeble few to the name and person of the Lord Jesus, in the midst of the worldliness of Christendom, just as this feeble but ready-for-service little company was gathered to Gideon? There they stood with their victuals and their trumpets, when thousands had gone back to their tribes and their own places.
Very beautiful was their decision for Gideon. Oh ye children of God who may read these lines, do we answer to this picture? Are we thus decided for Christ? Are we bowing down to drink, seeking our own mere gratification, with the nine thousand seven hundred? or, receiving strength by food to pass on for service and testimony for God, are we still gathered to the Lord Jesus with the word of God in our hands, and the trumpet ready to sound as He shall bid?
Let us not be deceived. Surely there can be no holy separation to Christ if we are yoked with the world. Would the three hundred have been true to Gideon, if seeking the pleasures, the politics, or the wealth of the hosts of Midian? No more can we be true to Christ, if our minds are set upon the things of the world.
What is then the path of the feeble few who desire to know and do the will of the Lord? We do not see how the three hundred could be charged with division because they remained true to Gideon, when thousands went back. Neither do we see how those can either, who, however few they may be, are still kept faithful to Christ. The Lord search our hearts by His holy word, and keep us by the power of the Holy Ghost.