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 4
We are prone to reason about ourselves and our surroundings, instead of believing God, and resting, in sweet tranquility, in His perfect love and faithfulness.
Thus it was with that dear man of God on whose history we are dwelling. The divine statement was clear, full, absolute, and unconditional: “The Lord is with thee.” There was no ground, in these words, for any question or doubt, whatsoever; and yet mark Gideon’s reply: “And Gideon said unto Him, O 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.” – Judges 6:13.
Here, as is evident, Gideon reasons from his surroundings. Hence the “if”—that little monosyllable of unbelief. It is a familiar remark amongst us, “If you want to be miserable, look within; if you want to be distracted, look around; if you want to be peaceful and happy, look up—’look off unto Jesus.'” This is most true. So surely as we become occupied with self, or with men and things, the circumstances which surround us, we must be unhinged and unhappy. Our only strength, our only comfort, our only light, is to keep the eye of faith fixed on Jesus, and the heart firmly centered in Him. Most certainly Gideon’s surroundings were of the gloomiest character. His “sensible horizon” was overhung with dark and heavy clouds. But there was one bright and blessed ray which shone in upon his depressed spirit—a ray emanating from the very heart of God, and conveyed in that one brief but comprehensive sentence, “The Lord is with thee.” There was no “if” in this—no doubt, no reserve, no condition. It was distinct and unqualified, and needed only one thing to make it a spring of joy, strength, and victory in Gideon’s soul, and that was to mix it with faith. But then “if” is not faith. True faith never answers God with ifs, for the simplest of all reasons, that it looks only at God, and there are no ifs with Him. Faith reasons from God downwards; not from man upwards. Faith has only one difficulty, and that difficulty is embodied in the question, “How can He not?” It never says, “How will He?” This is the language of sheer unbelief.
But, it may be asked by some, was there not some foundation for Gideon’s “if” and “why?” Certainly not in God or in His word, whatever there had been in Israel and their actions. No doubt, if Gideon had only cast his eye back over the pages of his national history, he might have discovered ample reason for the sad and humiliating condition in which he found himself. Those blotted pages would have furnished an abundant answer to his question, “Why then is all this befallen us?” But had Israel’s actions dimmed the luster of Jehovah’s mighty “miracles?” Not in the vision of faith, most surely. God had done great and glorious things for His people; and the record of those doings lay ever under the eye of faith, in all its soul-sustaining virtue. No doubt Israel had failed—shamefully failed; and the record of that failure lay also under the eye of faith, and furnished a solemn answer to Gideon’s inquiry, “Why is all this befallen us?” Faith recognizes God’s government as well as His grace, and moreover it bows, in solemn awe before each stroke of His governmental rod.
It is well to keep all this in mind. We are apt to forget it. God has, at times, to stretch forth his hand and lift the rod of authority. He cannot own what is contrary to His Name and His nature. Now, Gideon needed to remember this. Israel had sinned, and this was the reason why they were under the rod, of which the power of the Midianites was the expression in Gideon’s day.
Gideon, we repeat, was called to enter practically into the meaning of all this; and not only so, but to taste the reality of identification with his people in all their pressure and affliction. This latter, as we know, was the portion and experience of every true servant of God in Israel. All had to pass through those deep exercises of soul consequent upon their association with the people of God. It mattered not whether they were a judge, a prophet, a priest, or a king; all had to participate in the sorrows and trials of the nation of Israel; nor could any true heart—any genuine lover of God or His people—desire exemption from such deep and holy exercises.
This was pre-eminently true of the only perfect Servant that ever stood upon this earth. He, though personally exempt from all the consequences of Israel’s sin and failure—though pure and spotless, divinely holy in nature and in life—did nevertheless, in perfect grace, voluntarily identify Himself with the people in all their sorrow and humiliation. “In all their affliction He was afflicted.” Thus it was with our blessed Lord Jesus Christ; and all who, in any degree, partook of His Spirit, had, according to their measure, to taste of the same cup, though none could ever come up to Him in this or in anything else.
To Be Continued