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 12
From last lesson: We are called, like Gideon, to begin at home, if we would prove helpful to our brethren, or act effectively against the common foe.
No doubt there are difficulties involved in this home testimony. It is often very hard, for example, for a child to bear witness against the worldliness of a parent, or of the whole family; but where there is humility of mind and simple dependence upon God, He maintains and carries us through marvelously. One thing is certain, there is nothing like decision. “The first blow is half the battle,” yea, the whole battle is often gained by a single blow, when that blow is dealt in full communion with the mind of Christ.
On the other hand, where there is weakness and vacillation, playing fast and loose with the truth of God, trifling with divine principles and one’s own conscience, a looking at consequences and a weighing of probable results, there the enemy is sure to have the upper hand, and the testimony altogether fails. God acts with those who act for Him. This is the grand secret of their success; but where the eye is not single and focused, there is no real progress, no divine result.
Here is where so many of us signally fail. We are not whole hearted, not decided, not thoroughly out-and-out for Christ. Hence there is no result for God, no action on others. We have no idea of what may be accomplished by a single devoted heart, one earnest and energetic soul. Such a one may be used to raise up a standard round which thousands will flock who might never have had the courage or energy to unfurl the standard themselves.
Look at Gideon. See how he wrought for God, and how God wrought with him. “Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the Lord had said unto him; and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night. And when the men of the city rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they inquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing. Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son that he may die; because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.”
This is what we may call striking at the very root of the matter. The worship of Baal is completely overturned. This was no trifle. We have little idea of what it cost the son of Joash to do this thing; but by the grace of God he did it. True, it may have been with fear and trembling, still he did it. He dealt one vigorous blow at the entire system of Baal, and it crumbled into dust beneath his feet. No half measures would have availed. It would have been of no possible use to pick a stone here and there out of the idol’s altar; the whole fabric had to be overturned from its very foundation, and the idol itself degraded in the very presence of its deluded worshipers. A bold decisive stroke was needed, and that stroke was given by the hand of Gideon the son of Joash, God’s “mighty man of valor.”
There is nothing, we repeat, like plain decision, bold, uncompromising faithfulness for Christ, cost what it may. Had Gideon been less decided, had his line of action been less thorough, his father Joash would not have been so perfectly won over. It needed just such a method of dealing with Baal to convince a rational person that the worship of such a god was a sham and a falsehood. “And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.”
This was very simple reasoning, “If he be a god, let him plead for himself.” Gideon’s decided course had brought matters to a point. Baal was either a reality or a most complete delusion. If the former, let him plead for himself. If the latter, who would think of pleading for him? Nothing could be simpler. Gideon’s action was a complete success. The worship of Baal was overturned; and the worship of Jehovah Elohim set up instead.
Thus it is the Lord ever deals with His servants. He does not expect them to run before they have learnt to walk; but where the heart is true, and the purpose honest and firm, He graciously supplies the needed strength, moment by moment. He causes mountains of difficulty to remove, rolls away many a dark and heavy cloud, fortifies the heart, and girds up the loins of the mind, so that the very feeblest are armed with giant strength, and the coward heart filled with wonder, love, and praise at the triumph of divine grace.
To Be Continued