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 5
Continuing on let us understand that when we come to compare closely the angel’s words to Gideon, with his reply, we notice a point of deep interest, and one which illustrates the individual character of the book of Judges. The angel said, “The Lord is with thee.” Gideon replies, “If the Lord be with us.” This is very interesting and instructive; moreover, it is in full keeping with a passage already referred to, in chapter 2: “And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge.” It does not say, “with the people,” but adds, with touching grace, “and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.” – Judges 2:18.
There is peculiar sweetness and beauty in this. If Jehovah had to hide His face from His people, and give them over, for the time, into the hand of the uncircumcised, yet His loving heart was ever turned towards them, and ever ready to mark and recognize the faintest traces of a repentant spirit. “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.” – Micah 7:18–20.
Nothing can be more encouraging to the heart than the mode in which the Lord deals with the soul of Gideon—the way in which He prepares him for the course of action to which He was calling him. Gideon, like ourselves, was full of “ifs” and “whys,”—those little words so big with unbelief. The poor human heart is ever slow to take in the magnificence of divine grace; our feeble vision is dazzled by the brilliancy of divine revelation. It is only artless faith which can cause the soul to feel perfectly at home in the presence of the richest unfolding’s of the goodness and loving-kindness of God. Faith never says “if” or “why?” It believes what God says, because He says it. It rests, in sweet tranquility, upon every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Unbelief looks at circumstances and reasons from them and for them: faith looks at God, and reasons from Him. Hence the vast difference in their conclusions. Gideon, judging from his surroundings, concluded that Jehovah had forsaken His people. A simple faith would have led him to the very opposite conclusion; it would have enabled him to see and know and remember that Jehovah would ever be true to His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, however He might, in His governmental dealings, have to hide His face from their rebellious and sinful offspring. Faith always counts on God; and God, blessed be His name, ever honors faith. He first produces it in us, and then owns it.
But not only does God graciously honor faith; He rebukes our fears. He rises above our unbelief, and hushes all of our silly reasonings. So it was, in His dealings with His chosen servant Gideon, it would seem as though He heard not the “if” or the “why?” He goes on to unfold His own thoughts, to display His own resources, and to fill the soul of His servant with a confidence and a courage which was to lift him above all the depressing influences with which he was surrounded.
“And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel out of the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?” – Judges 6:14. Here we have the true secret of strength: “The Lord looked upon him.” There was divine power in this look if Gideon could only have taken it in. But alas! He was still full of questions. “And he said unto Him, O my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (verse 15).
Thus, unbelief turns the eye in upon self, or out upon our surroundings. It leads us to compare our visible resources with the work to which God is calling us. Jehovah had said, “Go in this thy might.” What was the “might?” In what did it consist? Was it great wealth, lofty position, or great physical power? Nothing of the kind. “Jehovah looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel.” This was absolute and unqualified. It left no room for Gideon’s “how?” It made it very plain that the might with which he was to deliver Israel was not in himself or in his father’s house, but in the God of Israel.
To Be Continued