Charles Henry Mackintosh (October, 1820 – November 2, 1896) was a nineteenth-century Christian preacher, dispensationalist, writer of Bible commentaries, magazine editor and member of the Plymouth Brethren. In 1843, Mackintosh wrote his first tract entitled Peace with God. When he was 24, he opened a private school where he developed a special method of teaching classical languages. Mackintosh went around preaching the gospel to the poor during school holidays. He wrote to John Nelson Darby on August 31, 1853 that the Lord had “called me into larger service than ever,” and he soon concluded that he must give himself entirely to preaching, writing, and public speaking.
Gideon, An Unlikely Hero Part 2
Now we turn to our immediate subject, namely, “Gideon and his companions,” as presented in that portion of the book of Judges given at the head of this paper (Judges chapters 6-8). May the eternal Spirit unfold and apply its precious contents to our souls!
Chapter 6 opens with a very sad and depressing record—a record only too characteristic of Israel’s entire history: “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel; and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strongholds.” What a humiliating picture! What a contrast to the conquering host that had crossed the Jordan and walked across the ruins of Jericho! How sad, how humbling, to think of Israel crouching and hiding in the dens and caves of the mountains, through the terror of the uncircumcised Midianites!
It is well for us to consider this picture, and receive its salutary lesson. Israel’s power and glory consisted simply in having the presence of God with them. Without that, they were as water split upon the ground, or the autumn leaf before the blast. But the divine presence could not be enjoyed in connection with allowed evil; and therefore, when Israel forgot their Lord, and wandered away from Him into the forbidden paths of idolatry, He had to recall them to their senses by stretching out His governmental rod, and causing them to feel the crushing power of one or another of the nations around.
Now all this has a voice and a lesson for us. So long as God’s people walk with Him in holy obedience, they have nothing to fear. They are perfectly safe from the snares and assaults of all their spiritual foes. No one can, by any means, harm them while they abide in the shelter of God’s own presence. But, clearly, that presence demands and se cures holiness. Unjudged evil cannot dwell there. To live in sin and talk of security—to attempt to connect the presence of God with sanctioned evil—is wickedness of the deepest dye. No, it must not be! “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints; and to be had in reverence of all them that are round about Him.” “Thy testimonies are very sure; holiness becometh Thy house, O Lord, forever.” If God’s people forget these wholesome truths, He knows how to recall them to their remembrance by the rod of discipline; and, blessed forever be His name, He loves them too well to spare that rod, however reluctant He may be to use it. “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons: for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:6–12).
These are encouraging words for the people of God, at all times. The discipline may be—no doubt is—painful; but when we know a Father’s hand is in it, and when we realize what His object is, we can pass through the trial with exercised hearts, and thus reap the peaceable fruits of righteousness. On the other hand, if we meet the discipline with an impatient spirit, a rebellious will, an unsubdued mind, we only render it necessary for the pressure to be continued and augmented, for our loving Father will never let us alone. He will have us in holy subjection to Himself, cost what it may. He graciously takes our part against ourselves, subdues the proud risings of our will, and crushes all that in us which hinders our growth in holiness, grace, and divine knowledge.
Oh! what infinite grace shines in the fact that our God occupies Himself with our very failure and follies, our waywardness and willfulness, our sins and shortcomings, in order to deliver us from them! He knows all about us. He understands and takes into account all our surroundings and all our inward tendencies, and He deals with us in infinite wisdom and perfect patience, keeping ever before Him that one gracious object, to make us partakers of His holiness, and—wondrous thought!—to bring out in us the expression of His own nature and character. Surely, then, in the presence of such abounding grace and mercy, we may well “lift up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees.”
To Be Continued