Concise Bible Dictionary:

IT is remarkable What we find Gideon, the "mighty man of valor," doing, When the angel of the Lord appeared to him in Judges 6. We are told he "threshed Wheat by the wingless to hide it [margin-cause it to flee] from the Midianites."'
There are two words' I would draw' attention to here: they are " wheat " and "Midianites."
I would seek to answer two questions: What does the act typify-hiding the wheat?' And why hide it from these people, the Midianites Now we shall find that wheat in Scripture is looked at as a very precious grain. Barley comes in typically in a lower place (see Isa. 28:2525When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place? (Isaiah 28:25); Margin). We read—" He [the Lord] made him [Jacob, His people] suck honey out of the rock; arid oil out of the flinty rock.... with the fat of kidneys of wheat " (Deut. 32:13, 1413He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; 14Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. (Deuteronomy 32:13‑14)). Kidneys "'in Scripture signifies the " reins," or inner parts (see Ex. 29:13,2213And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar. (Exodus 29:13)
22Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration: (Exodus 29:22)
; Job 19:2727Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. (Job 19:27); Psa. 7:9;26:2; 73:21; 139:139Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. (Psalm 7:9)
2Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. (Psalm 26:2)
21Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. (Psalm 73:21)
13For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. (Psalm 139:13)
; Prov. 23:1616Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things. (Proverbs 23:16)), where the instruction of God is carried on-where He tries the reality of the gold we possess. I may add, too, that " the fat " means the richest part of not only an animal, but of oil or wine. In Num. 18:1212All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the Lord, them have I given thee. (Numbers 18:12), we read of " the best (or fat) of the oil," and so of the wine as well as of the wheat. I am not aware of the expression "the fat of the barley." Again, in Psa. 81:1616He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee. (Psalm 81:16), we have, " He should have fed them with the finest [margin, fat] of the wheat; " so Psa. 147:1414He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat. (Psalm 147:14). We find, too, that wheat-harvest was a special time of joy (Judg. 15:11But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in. (Judges 15:1)), or, at least, in connection with blessing. " Oman was threshing wheat " when David came to him to build an altar to the Lord. Then we find that " wheaten flour " was used for the meat offering (Ex. 29:22And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them. (Exodus 29:2); 1 Chron. 21:2323And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all. (1 Chronicles 21:23)), though barley was used in a peculiar case (Num. 5:1515Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon; for it is an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance. (Numbers 5:15)), where a lower class of meat offering was brought.
Hence, it seems to 'me that barley, in Scripture, has to do with man as in responsibility in the old-Adam family, whether converted or not; and that wheat is typically used of Christ and the responsibility as in Him (compare Lev. 27:3,163And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary. (Leviticus 27:3)
16And if a man shall sanctify unto the Lord some part of a field of his possession, then thy estimation shall be according to the seed thereof: an homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver. (Leviticus 27:16)
, where the value of a man and a field of barley are identical). In the feeding of the five thousand (Matt. 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, John 6), we have " barley loaves; " the scene is typical of grace's actings towards man (as in the Jewish remnant) still in old-Adam responsibility. In that of the four thousand (Matt. 15, Mark 8) we have typified the heavenly and divine One feeding us according to God's thoughts in our new place-the famine come on the earth. Hence, it seems to me, it occurs not in Luke or John. The whole of the last two gospels is this feeding, as it were. Wheat -harvest followed barley-harvest (Ruth 2)-grace, so to speak, and then the abundance of grace.
I merely quote all these passages to show the manner in which the wheat is spoken of in the word of God. And we cannot mistake in valuing the " wheaten flour," when we know that the " thing most holy " of all " the offerings of the Lord made by fire " (Lev. 2:3,103And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire. (Leviticus 2:3)
10And that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire. (Leviticus 2:10)
) clearly typifies nothing less than " that HOLY THING " which was born of Mary.
Now we find that Gideon has taken his true place in the midst of a ruined people. When "the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel " to act upon their consciences-to teach them to look to their state in all its reality before God-this one man at least fully owns the dreadful condition of himself and Israel, as he severs truth and sustenance from the chaff. Like Elijah, who took twelve stones, " according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob," he identifies himself with the whole nation. " Oh, my Lord," he says, " if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?" The angel had said, " The Lord is with thee;" but this mighty man of valor seems to forget self, and link in all his brethren with him To me this is, all, beautiful. Whew his food, is; in question, it is the wheat, and not, himself, he is seeking to preserve and, when he is told that Jehovah is with, him, and that he is a mighty man of valor, he forthwith gathers in all Israel in his thoughts, owning, for the nation, the real state they were in according, to the preaching, of the "prophet." How interesting it is to see him bringing forth, his " present" (or meat offering), in which we see the " unleavened cakes of an ephah of, flour”—part, no doubt of his: precious, wheat which he had been causing to flee from the Midianites.
We see then, that this great deliverer of God’s people is first introduced to us as a preserver of that which supported life—which nourished and strengthened service. If he lost his "wheat, with what was he to feed himself and his father's house.? It is food too of the highest quality he is occupied with —suited accompaniment for "the Others—aye, the very ones who would rob him of his corn—might own him to, be a trembling" cake of barley; bread;" but, be this true or no, he will not allow the subtle foes, who can find out peculiar ways of vexing "with their wiles" (Num. 25:1818For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor's sake. (Numbers 25:18)), to carry off the remnant of blessing.
We shall now examine the second question Who were these, enemies which vexed, Israel, at this time? Is there nothing about them which distinguishes their character from others think there is; and I fear, moreover, that Satan will do his utmost to ensnare by them, to make us not only lose our " wheat," but subtilely to have Our souls "dried Away " by their artful Seductions. We shall find these descendants of Abraham by Keturah, the constant, cause of annoyance in helping us to loathe the man in our wilderness career, and sink under the cares or enjoyments of nature, and at last, to tarry off all our food—the choicest wheat if possible.
No doubt Abraham's sons by Keturah are types of those who shall be blessed after the present interval-not before. They neither typify God's dealings with Israel before the cross, nor his dealings now. In either of these latter they are to be regarded as intruders if they interfere in any way with the commands or guidance of God in offering aid or counsel even professedly to further His people's interests. Indeed, we shall always find them hiding their weakness by association with such powerful aid as Ammon, Moab, or Amalek. We shall find that any effort -to bring in the millennium before its time is cure to end, in decay of soul and perplexity of action in walk, if we are simple enough to see the lesson taught us as we follow the history of nature-honoring, sense-seeing, and earth-loving Midian.
One of his princes (or priests) was well nigh the ruin of Moses and all Israel. If we turn to Exod. 18. we can easily see this. It may be said that that chapter gives us a -millennial scene. It does indeed—a beautiful one too, as we view things dispensationally, and behold there a picture of yet future times. But, as we look at the scene morally, and in connection with the day in which God was then acting, all is altered. And has it not always been a source of blundering, 'then as well as now, when clear dispensational truth is net earnestly sought for? By-and-by other nations- will rejoice with Jehovah's people; but a prince of Midian acting out of date is a prince who lays aside his true nobility, and one who will cause weakness and sin' in those who hearken to his counsel.
But was not Jethro a converted man? I cannot doubt the fact. And this adds to the danger. A converted Midianite is the most ensnaring seducer from the standard God has set up.
A natural man, and a man in nature, are by no means the same. Jethro is a type of the latter, though doubtless a saint. He cannot see beyond his senses, guided, as he is, by the sight of his eyes. His religiousness makes Moses lend the more willing ear: he is well nigh losing all his spirituality. Jethro can fully appreciate the deliverance from Egypt-from the harshness there endured, and the terrors of that-land under judgment. But, when it becomes a question of, rising above the interests of nature, of having no 'resources therein, he is utterly incompetent to act or help. He cannot understand why the people stand by Moses from the morning until the evening, as he sat to judge them. " What is this thing that thou doest to the people?" says he. "Why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?" Was not this unnecessary pressure on his son-in-law; especially as he supposed him to be a man in nature like himself? He had doubtless the welfare of his daughter Zipporah and his grandsons at heart. Surely Moses should seek to make them comfortable in that great and terrible wilderness. To stand by and see his son-in-law overwhelmed would be unnatural, surely!
The magnificent explanations of Moses are Utopian in his eyes: " Because the people come unto me to inquire of God," answers the deliverer' of Israel, " when they have a matter." No division into the "small matter" and the "great matter " yet. Every matter must go direct to God Himself, and He alone is to settle what is " small " or " great." Thus did Moses. It might be very wearying to nature to have to bring everything to God; and even the same thing occurring might require a different judgment, because the moral state of the person, as well as the thing to be settled, had to be considered. Man was not under law yet; and grace treats matters differently altogether; man being utterly unable to guide or pronounce judgment when the latter has sway. Nature cannot act without marring the beauty of grace's arrangements has no eyes for all this; he would much prefer nature-effort so as to secure nature-ease. If the millennial saint out of date cannot have the desert rejoicing and blossoming as the rose, he must cultivate nature somehow or other; so is it with Jethro: " The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee, thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. Hearken now unto my voice."
How sad is all this! Such, however, is the invariable counsel of even converted Midianites. They make "I" the center of thought first then down comes faith. If a blossoming wilderness cannot be secured, we are 'sure to build a nest short of the promised possession; that is, if we insist on not seeing " a desert (Acts 8:2626And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. (Acts 8:26)) around us, after the opened heavens (Acts 7) prove our home is above, and " the second Man" is not here. If Midianite aid is accepted, we shall have our " great " and small " matters forthwith; which at once loads us with care. " Great" and " small " sins may not be allowed in the catechism of Midianite philanthropists; but, believe me, the divisions and subdivisions of the Jethro school are most subtle and perplexing to him who has learned to have God as the resource and arranger of everything.
It was very improbable that the rulers of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, would own any matter too "great " for judgment. By the time the matter would pass through such a jury, it would be proved quite too " small " ever to reach Moses and God. The man who only eat a bit of fruit in Eden, and received such a prompt and fearful sentence, was not likely to treat matters to the satisfaction of an inquiring Israelite, who wanted the mind of Jehovah his Elohim. Let Ex. 19:3,43And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; 4Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. (Exodus 19:3‑4), give its own answer to ch. 18: " Thus shall thou say to the house of Jacob (see Isa. 40:27-31;41. 14); and tell the children of Israel: Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians." Thus far Jethro saw and rejoiced at. But the words that follow must annihilate all his counsels-" And how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself." (Compare Deut. 32:9-149For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. 10He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. 11As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: 12So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him. 13He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; 14Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. (Deuteronomy 32:9‑14).)
Jethro may " depart " and go " his way," but we shall see whether the wily snare into which Moses was brought has ceased to affect him and Israel. Nearly a year after this scene of nature's deceptiveness, we find the silver trumpets ordered to be made (Num. 10); clear and perfect guidance for God's people is given. They were to act as Jehovah would have them to act. Different blasts of those trumpets-first, second, as the case might need-required every, Israelite to study and know the meaning of each alarm. God was the Guide, the Source, the Intimator of every move. It was not only that they had the cloud; but all was to be done, as to order and system, according to God. How beautiful the words: " And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.... And they first took their journey according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.... And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law. We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel. And he said unto him, I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred."
Midianite " eyes " are still in the midst of Israel, and the test has come as to what those eyes might desire. The words, " I will not go," may have astonished him who wanted God's guidance only, and who longed after " the place of which the Lord had said." But " trumpets of silver," and such a "place " were not so desirable to that family which had never crossed the Red Sea, but was quietly ensconced in its " own land " and " kindred." The exodus through the sea was needed to make the wilderness a barren land, for Jehovah had spoken of Canaan only as the rest for His people. The sea was the door out of Egypt, and the Jordan must be crossed.
Perhaps Moses supposed that Hobab was won over to his own views. But out-of-time millennialism is very full of " wiles," and is sure to " vex " the true-hearted amazingly. Does not the' extraordinary request of Moses prove this? I do not mean his asking Hobab to go with Israel, but the strange dependence he seemed to place on his relative: " And thou mayest be to us instead of eyes." Is the one who knew God as he did-who had been so near Him that he could say " I beseech thee, show me thy glory "-who found all his resource in God Himself, amid the total failure of the people-is he to be in need of the " eyes " of Hobab?
It is well for us God does come in at last, and speak of " alarms " and minute directions for His camp; that He thus uncovers to our gaze the determined earthliness of the Midianite spirit which now surrounds us on all hands. It is not exactly hostility-it is a deeper snare.
Terrible result of nature activities! First we accept the plausible counsel of some Jethro, who has large ".family claims on us; and by—and-by we (as in the snare) look to his kindred for "eyes!"
Now mark what follows in chapter 11.; Israel has no eyes for God's food; and Moses formally repeats to Jehovah the very words put into his heart months before by his father-in-law. (Compare Num. 11:11,1411And Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favor in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? (Numbers 11:11)
14I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. (Numbers 11:14)
, and Ex. 18:1818Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. (Exodus 18:18).) Well might Luke be anxious for Theophilus! He writes a whole book to one saint, and that book proves the millennium has not come yet, and that the saint now is a heavenly one. He "dwells" not here (Rev. 3:1010Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)), but is a pilgrim and a stranger, his name is written in the heavens " (Luke 10:2020Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)): in this he is to " rejoice." Did he " mind earthly things," let him know that such persons are " the enemies of the cross of Christ " Luke does not warn against sin-that is not his theme; but against weak, empty, barren nature, which has no heart for God's supper (see chap. 14.). Man is proved to be the " dry tree; " -the "green tree " (treated as "a dry tree," no doubt), passing into the place where all things are of God. The Person who is our object now, has gone to His glory (Luke 24:5151And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. (Luke 24:51)); a new Power (Luke 11:13;24. 49) which was promised, is come; and the place whence blessings flow is no longer earth but heaven.
" How many saints are willing to own the kernel. bad who will, not see the shell empty for. God. The believer now has died to the sin which corrupted the kernel. Ali! if saints cannot have millennial rose-blossoms now, are not many seeking to have artificial ones? What means all the rank and status so largely-though perhaps secretly—carried on among those who have professedly come " outside the camp? " Why this carefully 'preserved gentility among' us? Is it, as well as our sins, really owned to be gone-in the cross.?' What we are pleased to call " niceties," " necessary things for our position," &c.,, are really hindrances to our spirituality, and rob us of our' " finest wheat." " The fat of kidneys of wheat " cannot be tasted and enjoyed by the saint- who maintains any principles of dignity or status in walk now. This awfully subtle snare is, alas,, but little seen. Others see it quicker than ourselves in our, acts, and deportment.
To give up "all " that we have as in Adam, and to "hate " our own flesh,, are two things' impossible not only to the natural man,, but even to the' saint in nature (Luke 14:26,,3326If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)
33So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
). Hence,, Luke is the first, gospel which, speaks of giving, up all. We may be able to speak very clearly of: our church position; we may know that the systems of man's religiousness are not of God; we may be most zealous in winning saints into their right place as members of " one body; " we may say many sweet things about the Lord; we may walk excellently and morally before all but if we try to retain nature's barren style or parade, and mingle it with our testimony, we are in Babylon in character, no matter how largely we may dilate upon being " outside the camp."
I am no advocate for what is called Communism. If possible it is more dangerous than the foe of whom I am speaking. Indeed it will be found to be a branch from the same root; for the saint who seeks to pull down others in order to level them, is really trying to elevate himself in the same line of things. Those who are coming down the steps of the rank-ladder ought ever to see the backs of those below. Thus the lower ones will help those above down, as they still go lower down themselves. " Earthly things " out of time, in every shape, in all their subtle snares, are sure to leave us barren; and we may know what it is to be delivered " in war from the power of the sword," to be eased of our fears as to being lost, &c., and to still find a famine in our souls (Job 5:2020In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword. (Job 5:20)). If we will insist on finding Christ as our Boaz, we shall get rue bread.
It was not " war which made Ruth seek the fields of the " mighty man of wealth." All through the book of Judges war " did not make Israel give up his idols. When we want redemption " from death," we shall-we must-get Christ's own Person where He is. She who was only a Moabites, who had no promises to sustain her, looked for no millennium; she must have food; and she got " bread and wine " in him who spoke " friendly " to her. How few really have the " wheat " to protect. We must get it: first. Ruth is called by Boaz "a virtuous woman" (or "a woman of valor "): such was Gideon also. Indeed, the book of Ruth is the key to the real man for delivering the people. Bread first, and then we have something to guard and to give. Gideon is put first among the worthies of Judges, in Heb. 11 He had " wheat " in the midst of " war " and " famine," and he was the one to crush and spoil the wily Midianites who would feed on the people of God to support " their cattle and their tents." To be sure, he was but " a cake of barley bread," and they were in full force, with the Amalekites and the children of the east coming up " as grasshoppers for multitude." All this mattered not; the Lord was with him Barak might be sent against Jabin, king of Canaan, and Samson's power might be used against the Philistines; a Jephthah might overcome the Ammonites; but Gideon is the than to discomfit the host of Midian.
In examining h history of these entrappers of the people of God,, we shall see that it is just as Israel is about to cross the Jordan they use all their ".wiles." All would-be nature-efforts must end there. If we read Num. 22-31, we shall find there the cause of woe to all the camp. The Moabites seem to be the great foe at first, but God says: "Vex the Midianites, and smite them " (25:17, 18). They were the root. So in chapter 31:2 " Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites."
It is when we, are nearing. Jordan in our souls' history that we find that nature is not the fair thing, we formerly supposed. If the Sun has set who came to shine here (John 1:1414And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)), we must set too, or rather follow as satellites. In John 6-8 we find the Son of God refused by Pharisees, by Jews, and by his brethren after the flesh. In chapter ix. we see precisely the same things happening to him whose eyes are opened, like an evening, star following the sun. Alas! we often do not see that we must follow the light: " Come and, see " where-He dwells.
What a lesson we learn from the attack made on Israel near Jordan. The Reubenites and Gadites " had a very great multitude of cattle." They are caught. They do' not see all a desert save " the place of which, the Lord has said." I Nature's life requires nature's food (Num. 32). What a strange' anomaly! They are to go in to fight for their brethren, and their wives and children and cattle are to remain where Midian has its possessions. Is not the difficulty purposely left unsolved personally fighting, for the Lord, and hearts and homes in (Gilead and Bashan? At " war " among their brethren, and their "wheat" on the wrong side of Jordan! They wanted not " the bread" of the good land, although they did want deliverance "from the power of the sword." No danger of the-famine " which Abraham felt; they need not go down to sojourn, like him, in Egypt, either. They had the advantage over the patriarch apparently. Why? Because faith was wholly left out. If we really accept the standing God has set up, we shall have no food if we get away from Him No standing-ground for us then in Bashan.
Why had Moses to say, " Let me not see my wretchedness "? Because he had no food in nature. This is a " perfect" man; he sells all that he has, and follows Him who is not here-his life (see Matt. 19:2121Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (Matthew 19:21)). If you are to have and enjoy eternal life, all else must go. I am that life, says Jesus; it subsists in One who has been turned out of the millennial earth. A -" perfect " man has no reserve fund in his bank to which to turn when he gets away from the Lord. All must go in the Jordan; and then, Elisha like, he sees, and receives, and gives. It is awfully dangerous to have resources of nature in the wilderness. The resources of man are in Egypt now; of the Christian, only in the heavenlies.
I ask you to ponder the thrice-repeated word, " have received," in Num. 34:14,1514For the tribe of the children of Reuben according to the house of their fathers, and the tribe of the children of Gad according to the house of their fathers, have received their inheritance; and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance: 15The two tribes and the half tribe have received their inheritance on this side Jordan near Jericho eastward, toward the sunrising. (Numbers 34:14‑15). It is a solemn warning to us. Are we content with no lower receiving than " the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness? " (Rom. 5:11Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)7). We may have received the truth of Rom. 5:11Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1), and only be delivered from " the power of the sword." To learn that death is reigning here now; that nature is barren and powerless for God; that no millennial joys, or dignities, or resources can be owned of God; that there is no "bread" for the saint on earth, save as he gets it from above: to learn this is a wondrous lesson. Then we are found either perishing "here with hunger " (Luke 15), or feeding on " the fatted calf " in the Father's house. The 'Wilderness is a sieve to nature for us then,' and we shall carefully guard -our " wheat " from' all the all Midianites around us. If we amalgamate with them at all, we shall be the losers.
A familiar " How do you do?" may be dangerous in some cases " (2 John 1010If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: (2 John 10)). The fatter our -" kidneys of wheat," the more care is needed, and the clearer must be the eye to know some approaching Midianite. Our wheat is Christ, " the Christ of God." It grows not in nature's soil. A spurious thing is seen around on all sides. The real produce of the land-the old corn-is known only to the spiritual eye, and retained only by him who guards the " wheat." He may look reserved and even foolish as he hides his food. He may have to hang his, harp on the willows, and even weep like Elisha. He may not, moreover, be able to explain why he does not expose his " wheat," when others, perhaps, like to see it brought forth. He does not only not cast his pearls before swine, but he hides them from those who may not be " swine" at all. He has wheat, and he knows it: he thinks more of it than of himself. He may have to sit 'in the company of those who talk of most interesting things, the name of the Lord not being disregarded either; yet he may be obliged to be so careful in protecting his precious grain, that the only way he can preach is by silence; and this silence is often a preaching not easily accomplished: we do not like to look fools.
But are we done with Midianites when we cross the Jordan? We have them only just named in the book of Joshua (13:21.), and that retrospectively; but when they find Israel neglecting to maintain the state in keeping with their standing, at once they make their appearance. Hence we read in Judg. 1:1616And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people. (Judges 1:16), " And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of -Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people." There is a subtlety in the very way in which they slide in here. Just as they were in the wilderness by nature-not having crossed the sea on the basis of the blood of the slain lamb, so are they found in the land, though not followers of the golden ark over Jordan: Were we not even told it, we might suspect they were at some wily work. But we are told.. In chapter 4:11,12, we read, " Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the-children of Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh. And they showed Sisera that Barak, the son of Abinoam, was gone up to mount Tabor." Again, "There was peace between Sabin, the king of Hazor, and the house of Heber the Kenite (verse 17).
Then, in chapter 6., we find Israel delivered into the hand of Midian seven years. Surely they will be easy upon their captives! Surely they will display some feeling for the disinterested ones! Not at all. We read, "Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel -,made them-the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strongholds." Again, ".And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites." In the midst of all this wretchedness, out comes " the mighty man of valor," Gideon. He owns her is of a " poor family," and " the least " in his father's house. Ah! my friends, it is when we are brought down to this point of poverty and littleness that we are just the ones' for God to use against these -enemies of all spirituality. Paul was a Gideon when he said to the Corinthians, who would fain reign " as kings " here:" I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and' in much trembling." He would be but the " cake of barley bread " among them.
Does it not seem strange that God told Gideon to say to the people: "Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount 'Gilead "? and yet He made a. provision for any timidity in the leader: " If thou fear to go down, go down to the host and thou shalt hear what they say." The fear of strong nature is not the fear of trembling in the path of faith. The one is the fear resulting from seeing no resource in nature; the other, because self must be distrusted and God wholly depended upon. It is when we have crossed the Jordan in our soul's history we know best what the latter fear is. I do not think the sense of forgiveness through the blood 'is enough to produce a saint who can say: " I am of a poor family and the least in my father's house:" Self must be learned for this. All our bustling service and zeal may hinder this pulling-down process for many a day; but no one is a servant till he can follow the Master; and no one can follow Him until he learns what death to the scene here is; and none can know this latter without sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Such is the, order: We may imagine our service is indispensable; that the Master cannot do without us especially in ruined affairs. This is all a delusion. And what is the result? We not only have no food to guard from the Midianites, but we do not even see them-who they are or what they are. We actually join with them in our so-called service, and find their aid by no means comfortless. We seem to do much more than " poor " Gideon’s who are the least in their father's houses. Our work seems energetic, successful, and rapid; the souls we bring blessing to, get peace quickly, that is, peace from " war," never from " famine." They are " up and doing " like ourselves. But alas! the assembly of God, built amid the ruins of man, on the basis of the cross where all his power is ended, suffers incalculably, and the testimony of the Lord is forgotten.
This " mighty man of valor " was to deliver an impoverished people. Jacob was " made thin," even in Gideon's days (Isa. 17:44And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean. (Isaiah 17:4)). As I have said, they wanted deliverance from the death of famine, and not only from war and the sword. Ah! we may see many rejoicing in the latter, and their deliverers rejoicing with them, while neither the delivered nor the deliverer have ever known what real destitution is. It is a happy thing to see such rejoicing; but when the need of a redeemer from death is experienced by the soul (it may be long after we have tasted the joy of peace from war), some one of a Gideon character is needed. A Luther will not suffice; for justification by faith and peace with God will not satisfy the one who needs a Boaz, having realized the famine in Moab, and having heard a Naomi discourse of Bethlehem's power. The man who would not have a hoof left behind in Egypt, may be ensnared by a prince of Midian. And Israelites, who, like the Reubenites and Gadites, have professedly carried all they possess out of Egypt, can make a home this side Jordan. Such will have their names omitted among the princes who divide the Lord's possession (see Num. 34:17-2917These are the names of the men which shall divide the land unto you: Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun. 18And ye shall take one prince of every tribe, to divide the land by inheritance. 19And the names of the men are these: Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh. 20And of the tribe of the children of Simeon, Shemuel the son of Ammihud. 21Of the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad the son of Chislon. 22And the prince of the tribe of the children of Dan, Bukki the son of Jogli. 23The prince of the children of Joseph, for the tribe of the children of Manasseh, Hanniel the son of Ephod. 24And the prince of the tribe of the children of Ephraim, Kemuel the son of Shiphtan. 25And the prince of the tribe of the children of Zebulun, Elizaphan the son of Parnach. 26And the prince of the tribe of the children of Issachar, Paltiel the son of Azzan. 27And the prince of the tribe of the children of Asher, Ahihud the son of Shelomi. 28And the prince of the tribe of the children of Naphtali, Pedahel the son of Ammihud. 29These are they whom the Lord commanded to divide the inheritance unto the children of Israel in the land of Canaan. (Numbers 34:17‑29)), will ensnare some half tribe with them (verses 13, 14), and will be the first to be " cut short " by the Lord (2 Kings 10:32,3332In those days the Lord began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel; 33From Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan. (2 Kings 10:32‑33)).
Ah, how many saints find the wilderness anything but " waste and howling! " They make it a beautiful garden for themselves and their families, even though they personally go on to fight the Lord's battles; great warriors with their corn and cattle, wives and children, not " in the house of bondage," but in the subtle and ensnaring region of the Midianites. Those who have accepted the standing the Lord has given for His people at any time, may have to learn what " a famine in the land is, and may be sighing for the time when they shall be so rich as to be able to purchase a grave like Abraham. But those who are decoyed by would-be millennial saints may, indeed, taste the joy of being warriors, and of deliverance from the power of Egyptian miseries; but the famine and " the place of which the Lord had said " are unknown and unrealized: They may have all this rejoicing as they receive their possessions ere yet the faithful follower of a Joshua has received anything that satisfies him at all.—Let such, however, know that the " silver' and gold " of Joshua nth. 8, will certainly be given. The-blessing of Moses falls short of this (verses. 1-6).
Such are these foes who vex the people of the Lord- with their wiles, who beguile them from their allegiance to Him who would lead them above empty nature, beyond the Jordan. They will use at last the most evil powers to help them to carry out their wily intentions, even though such powers may go beyond their first thoughts. They will support " their cattle and their tents '" by robbing true Israelites of their corn and sustenance. They will leave such without any flour for their " present," and call him a "barley loaf," so poor and little do they consider him to be. Well; it is just the character to have if we want hide our "wheat.' To be "poor " and the least " enables us to move on " despised and rejected " by Midianites. We then have leisure to learn what it is to prepare " vessels" which are ready to be broken to pieces to manifest the power which wholly annihilates such foes (Judg. 7:1919So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. (Judges 7:19); 2 Cor. 4:77But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)). The preparations are of the Lord; but if we are to be fit warriors of the Gideon class-in a time of " war " and "famine," we have to find out that a "pitcher " is but a vessel-it has no will.
There are three marks about the man who is suited to rout the Midianites. First: It is not' personal safety only which occupies him; he is a searcher after, and a preserver of, the finest food-no matter how "impoverished " the times may be. He has " wheat," `though ostensibly a "barley loaf," and will seek for nourishment for those with him also (Judg. 8:55And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian. (Judges 8:5)). "Bread" he will have; the will of God he will do. Second He is so little in his own eyes, that he feels God could easily do without him; he will own his " winepress " insignificant (Judg. 8:22And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? (Judges 8:2)). He is nothing. Hence, third: He will not move on in service at all, until he has clear and unequivocal guidance direct from God Himself. His words, " If now I have found grace in thy sight, then show me a sign that thou talkest with me," may be confounded with the seemingly similar words of 1 Cor. 1:2222For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: (1 Corinthians 1:22). His determination to have the mind of the Leader (Judg. 6:36-4036And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, 37Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. 38And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. 39And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. 40And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground. (Judges 6:36‑40)) may be termed want of faith by many. Alas! it only proves that such readers of character are more content with usefulness than with getting Christ.- Wheat-threshers in " perilous times " never -move on till they are sure of their Lord's mind. Others may do a great deal; but great doers are seldom wheat preservers, though Gideons are always wise workers, and have best fruit for the Lord's eye.
Let us remember that the higher the quality of our wheat, the more our souls long to feed on the food so richly given us "in heavenly places," the more our eyes need to be opened to beware of those who make the wilderness a resting-place —who can settle down amid their' cattle and tents, in a place where the 'beauty and taste, the, flowers and verdure, of a now barren paradise are sought. These beauties and glories are really gone, hence all the artificial efforts of Adam-man must come in, instead. May we beware of the Midianites.
S. O'M. C.

Strong’s Dictionary of Hebrew Words:

a variation of 4084
KJV Usage:

Jackson’s Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names:

gentilic of Midian