Chapter 19: An Angel Sends Gideon to Deliver Them - Page 4 (series: Lessons on Judges)
by John Lowe
14 And the LORD looked⃰ upon him, and said, ⃰Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: ⃰have not I sent thee? (KJV)
14The LORD turned to him and said, “You will rescue Israel from Midian with the strength you have. I am sending you.” Judges 6:14 (GW)
the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might . . . have not I sent thee? -- The command and the promise made Gideon aware of the real character of his visitor; and yet like Moses, from a sense of humility, or a shrinking at the magnitude of the undertaking, he excused himself from entering on the enterprise. And even though assured that, with the divine aid, he would overcome the Midianites as easily as if they were but one man, he still hesitates and wishes to be better assured that the mission was really from God. He resembles Moses also in the desire for a sign; and in both cases it was the rarity of revelations in such periods of general corruption that made them so desirous of having the fullest conviction of being addressed by a heavenly messenger. The request was reasonable, and it was graciously granted
The angel gave him a very effectual answer to his objections, by giving him a commission to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Midianites, and assuring him of success in that matter. Now the angel is called Jehovah, for he speaks as one having authority, and not as a messenger.
1. There was something extraordinary in the look he now gave to Gideon; it was a gracious, approving look, which revived his spirits, and silenced his fears; it is with such a look that God’s countenance beholds the upright, Ps. 11:7. He looked upon him, and smiled at the objections he made, to which he gave him no direct answer, but girded and clothed him with such power that would shortly enable him to answer them himself, and make him ashamed that he ever had made them. It was a speaking look, like Christ’s upon Peter (Lu. 22:6125), a powerful look, a look that strangely darted new light and life into Gideon’s breast, and inspired him with a generous heat, far above what he felt before.
2. But there was much more in what he said to him.
First, He commissioned him to appear and act as Israel’s deliverer. As one of the few thinking people in the nation, Gideon along with a few others, who were also selected by God, were now expecting to be raised up, according to God’s former method, in answer to the cries of oppressed Israel; and now Gideon is told, "Thou art the man: Go in this thy might, this might wherewith thou art now threshing wheat; go and employ it to a nobler purpose; I will make thee a thresher of men.’’ God gave him his commission by giving him all the qualifications that were necessary for the execution of it, which is more than the mightiest prince and potentate on earth can do for those to whom he gives commissions. God’s fitting men for work is a sure and constant evidence of his calling them to it. "Go, not in thy might, that which is natural, and of thyself, depend not on thy own valour; but go in this thy might, this which thou hast now received, go in the strength of the Lord God, that is, the strength with which thou must strengthen thyself.’’
Secondly, He assured him of success. This was enough to put courage into him; he now might be confident he would not fail in the attempt; he would neither disgrace himself or damage his people, but to his honor and their happiness: Thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites, and so you shall not only be an eye-witness, but a glorious instrument, of such wonders as thy fathers told thee of. Gideon, we may suppose, looked astonished at this strange and surprising power conferred upon him, and questions whether he may depend upon what he hears: the angel ratifies his commission with a teste meipso—an appeal to his own authority. "Have not I commanded thee—I that have all power in heaven and earth, and particular authority here as Israel’s King, giving commissions immediately—I who am that I am, the same that sent Moses?’’ Ex. 3:1426.
Now let us take a closer look at this very significant statement: “the LORD looked upon him;” the same One who was before called the angel of the Lord, and who was none other than Jehovah himself who looked upon him with great earnestness, and with great delight and pleasure smiled upon him, and thereby showing he had a kindness for him, and meant well to him: and said unto him, go in this thy might; both of body and mind, which had been before given unto him, and was now increased, and which no doubt Gideon was aware of: indicating that the angel of the LORD who spoke to him was the LORD Himself! He reminded Gideon that thou shalt save Israel, that is, he would be the next judge-deliverer, and he would be successful, because have not I sent thee? to do this great work of saving the people of Israel, and having a command and commission from God, he had authority enough to go about this service.
⃰Looked — With a calm and pleasant countenance, as a testimony of his favor, and readiness to help him.
⃰Go — Or, go now, in thy might: in the strength which thou hast already received, and dost now farther receive from me.
⃰Have not I sent thee — I do hereby give thee command and commission for this work. God's fitting men for his work is a sure evidence of his calling them to it.
This is the call and commission of Gideon. It is a commission of courage. It is interesting to note, however, that even at this point Gideon did not believe God. Note what Gideon says:
15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family (Heb. my thousand is the meanest) is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. (KJV)
15Gideon said to him, “Excuse me, sir! How can I rescue Israel? Look at my whole family. It's the weakest one in Manasseh. And me? I'm the least important member of my family.”
Judges 6:15 (GW)
Now consider for a moment the position Gideon occupies in his own thinking. He said in effect, “You certainly are not asking me to do this. To begin with, I belong to the nation Israel. We are now under the heel of the Midianites.” It was bad enough to be under Egypt, but imagine being under these nomads of the desert, the Midianites! “We are in slavery. Here we are hiding, and here I am threshing at the foot of the hill. And you come and call me? Well, to begin with, the tribe of Manasseh (one of the sons of Joseph) is not noted for anything; we have had no conspicuous men. In the tribe of Manasseh, my family is not very well known. We are sort of ne’er–do–wells. We are not prominent folk. In my family I happen to be the very least one. You made a big mistake in calling me because you happen to have called the smallest pebble that is on the beach.” Honestly, this man felt that he was the last man in Israel to be used by God. And do you know that he was right? He was the last man in Israel that God should have called.
Our problem today, friend, is that most of us are too strong for God to use. Most of us are too capable for God to use. You notice that God uses only weak men, don’t you? First Corinthians 1:26–27 tells us that this is so: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” God used all of these judges but not because they were capable or outstanding. Does that encourage you, friend? Do you know why God does not use most of us? We are too strong.
Most of us have too much talent for God to use us. Most of us today are doing our own will and going our own way. There are multitudes of people, talented people, and people with ability, whom God is not using. Do you know why? They are too strong for God to use. Paul mentions this: “And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Cor. 1:28–29). There is something wrong with any Christian worker who is proud. God does not use the flesh. Anything that this poor Bible scholar does in the weakness of the flesh and boasts about is despised by God. God hates it and cannot use it. God wants weak vessels, and that is the only kind he will use. God follows this policy so that no flesh will glory in His presence. When God gets ready to do anything, He chooses the weakest thing He can get in order to make it clear that He is doing it, not the weak arm of the flesh. That is God’s method.
Remember Moses down in the bulrushes was only a little baby. Then look at Pharaoh Ramses II, the strongest of the pharaohs, who sat on the throne. He is the one who built the great cities of Egypt. Put the one down by the side of the other—the little weak, helpless baby and the powerful Pharaoh on the throne—and who will you take? Of course you would take the Pharaoh because he is the strong one. But God took the little fellow in the bulrushes to demonstrate that He uses the weak things of the world to confound the wise.