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 10
From last lesson: He (Gideon) is called to enter practically and experimentally into the great and universal law for the servants of God, namely, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”
When one has learned that great family motto quoted above—when one has learned, in the divine presence to say, “When I am weak, then I am strong,” and when nature has been weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, there you will always find a measure of brokenness, softness, and tenderness of spirit; and not only so, but also largeness of heart, and readiness for every good work, and that lovely elasticity of mind which enables one to rise above all those petty, selfish considerations, which so sadly hinder the work of God. In short, the heart must first be broken, then made whole; and, being made whole, be undividedly given to Christ and to His blessed service. Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, in Old Testament times; and Peter, Paul, and John, in those of the New, all stand before us as vivid illustrations of the value of broken material. All those beloved and honored servants had to be broken in order to be made whole, to learn that, of themselves, they could do nothing, in order to be ready, in Christ’s strength, for anything and everything.
Such is the law of the kingdom. So Gideon found it in his day. His “alas!” was followed by Jehovah’s “Peace; fear not,” and then he was ready to begin. He had been brought face to face with the angel of God, and there he learnt not only that his family was poor in Manasseh, and he the least in his father’s house, but that in himself he was perfectly powerless, and that all his springs must be found in the living God. Priceless lesson this, for the son of Joash, and for us all! It’s a lesson not to be learned in the schools and colleges of this world, but only in the deep and holy retirement of the sanctuary of God.
And now let us see what was Gideon’s first act after his fears were hushed, and his soul filled with divine peace. His very first act was to build an altar. “Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites.” He takes the happy place of a worshiper, and his worship is characterized by the revelation of the divine character. He calls his altar by that precious title, “The Lord sends peace.” He had gone through many and deep exercises of soul—exercises which none can know save those who are called out into a prominent place amongst God’s people. He felt the ruin and the weakness of those all around him. He felt the fallen and humiliating condition of his beloved people. He felt his own littleness, yes, his own emptiness, and nothingness. How could he come forward? How could he smite the Midianites? How could he save Israel? Who was sufficient for these things? It is all very well for those persons who live an easy, irresponsible kind of life; who don’t know the toils, the cares, and anxieties connected with the public service of Christ and the testimony for His name in an evil day. These know nothing of Gideon’s painful exercises of soul; nothing of the pressure upon his spirit as he looked forth from beneath the shade of his father’s oak-tree, and contemplated the dangers and responsibilities of the battle-field. They can enter but feebly into the meaning of those words of one high up in the school of Christ, “We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.” – 2 Corinthians 1:9.
These are weighty words for all Christ’s servants; but we must be His servants in reality. If we are content to live a life of indolence and ease, a life of self-seeking and self-pleasing, it is impossible for us to understand such words, or indeed to enter into any of those intense exercises of soul through which Christ’s true-hearted servants and faithful witnesses, in all ages, have been called to pass. We invariably find that all those who have been most used of God in public have gone through deep waters in secret. It is as the sentence of death is written practically upon self, that the power of resurrection-life in Christ shines out. Thus Paul could say to the Corinthians, “Death worketh in us; but life in you.” – 2 Corinthians 4:12. Marvelous words! Words which let us into the profound depths of the apostle’s ministry. What a ministry must that have been which was carried on upon such a principle as this! What power! What energy! Death working in the poor earthen vessel, but streams of life, heavenly grace, and spiritual power flowing into those to whom he ministered.
May the eternal Spirit stir us all up, and work in us a more powerful sense of what it is to be the true-hearted, single-eyed, devoted servants of Jesus Christ!
To Be Continued