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 18
From last lesson: No sooner had Gideon reached the point of victory over the uncircumcised, than he was called to encounter the petty and contemptible jealousy of his brethren. It was an easy matter to come in at the close and reap the spoil, and then find fault with the one who had been God’s real instrument on the occasion.
However, we shall not dwell upon the unlovely conduct of the men of Ephraim; but turn, for a moment, to the exquisite way in which Gideon was enabled to meet them. “And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? . . . God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb, and Zeeb; and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him when he had said that.”
Here, Christian reader, is the true way to vanquish jealous and envious brethren. The cake of barley bread and the broken pitcher can vanquish jealous Ephraimites as well as hostile Midianites. A self-hiding spirit is the grand secret of victory over envy and jealousy, in all their odious forms. It is difficult, if not impossible, to quarrel with a man who is down in the dust, in true self-abasement. “What have I done now in comparison of you?” This is the language of one who had learnt something of the real meaning of self-surrender; and we may safely assert that such language must ever disarm the envy and jealousy of the self-occupied and self-sufficient. May we know more of the truth of this!
We must now look at the closing scene of Gideon’s remarkable history—a scene full of admonition for every servant of Christ. From it we learn that it is easier to gain a victory than to make a good use of it; easier to reach a position than to occupy it aright. We shall quote the passage. “Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you.”
So far, this was very fine. It was in full keeping with the self-surrender of Gideon’s previous course. Every true servant of Christ will ever seek to connect souls with his Master, and not with himself. Gideon would not indeed displace Jehovah as the ruler of Israel. But, alas! His great victory fills his mind, and he will make a perpetual glory of it by an ephod (a priestly garment) of gold; and this, simply because his self-surrender was not complete. There has been but One whose self-surrender was, and that One must, in all things, have the preeminence. “And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. . . . And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.” – Judges 8:22-27.
Such is man, even the best of men, when left to himself. Here we see the very man who had led his brethren on to victory over Midian, now leading them into dark and abominable idolatry. The earrings of the Ishmaelites did what their swords could not do; and the love-tokens of the men of Israel proved far more dangerous than the sharp chidings of the men of Ephraim. The latter drew out a lovely spirit of self-emptiness: the former proved a snare to Gideon and to the whole house of Israel.
Reader, let us remember all this. If Gideon had refused the earrings as well as the throne, it would have been well for him and for his brethren; but the devil laid a snare for him into which he fell and carried all his brethren with him. May we all take warning from Gideon’s fall, and draw encouragement from Gideon’s victories. May we remember that it is one thing to gain a victory, and another to make good use of it; it is easier to reach a position than to occupy it aright. May God grant to the reader and writer of these lines, more simple confidence in Himself, and more of the true spirit of self-surrender! May such be the result of our meditations upon Gideon and his companions.