Page images

father's house. And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midian. ites as one man.” This seems to have excited Gide. on's hope that his companion's was indeed a message from the Lord : probably he took him for a prophet. “ And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then show me a sign that thou talkest with me. Depart not hence I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again. And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it. And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Take the flesh, and the unleavened cakes and lay them upon

this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so. Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh, and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight. And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God : for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee, fear not : thou shalt not die.” Judges vi. 11–23.

After this remarkable interview with an angel messenger, we find Gideon receiving communications direct from the Lord himself; but the way in which he was prepared for these revelations was exceedingly beautiful. The angel probably appeared as a wayfaring man, since we read of the staff that he had in his hand; and the language in which he addressed the young thresher of wheat, was exquisitely adapted at once to encourage and to prepare him for fuller mani. festations of the divine favour. After this, we hear of: no more angelic visits: the language is uniformly, “ The Lord said unto Gideon,” and under the immediate direction of Jehovah, he wrought all his stupendous exploits, delivering Israel, and preserving peace within her borders to the end of a long life.

There is something remarkable in the frequently abrupt transitions from the description and language of an angel to the presence and the voice of God himself. We have seen this in the first communication made to Moses, from the flaming bush; and surely it is at least equally consonant with reason and Scripture to suppose the Lord graciously prepared his weak, sinful creatures to hear His voice, and to be sensible of His special presence, by this method of heralding Himself, as to insist that when an angel is distinctly named, the Lord Jesus is the person intended. It is dangerous to put arbitrary interpretations on God's words, for which we have no direct authority from Himself; the determination fully to comprehend and account for 'secret things,” which “belong unto the Lord our God,” may lead to presumption, to “foolish and unlearned questions,” and perhaps to very dangerous errors connected with the person and office of the Lord Jesus : while by receiving in its most obvious sense whạt the Holy Spirit has moved his servants to write


for our learning, we cannot greatly mistake. An in. spired apostle has told us, that the created angels are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation." We find throughout the Old Testament, and in the book of Revelation, angels constantly described as engaged in this very work; and why should we question their identity ? why persist in understanding the greater part of these descriptions of angelic ministry as referring to Him of whom it is especially testified that “ He took not upon Him the nature of angels.” Heb. ii. 16.'

Gideon being gathered to his fathers, and Israel, as usual, continuing to revolt, and to provoke the Lord, they were repeatedly chastised by the hands both of foreign and domestic tyrants. At length, after more than one generation had passed away, the gracious and merciful God whose Holy Spirit they grieved with their iniquities, prepared to raise up another deliverer, and sent a heavenly messenger with the tidings. The history is remarkable, and deserves particular attention. Manoah, a Danite, had a wife who was barren; “ And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son, Now, therefore, beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: for lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. Then the woman came and told her husband, saying A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name.” Judges xiii. 3—6.

Here we see that the angels, on such occasions, appeared in a perfectly human form, so as to be taken for mortal men; but there was that in their countenances-probably the emanation of minds perfectly holy, obedient, and faithful, and habitually engaged in the contemplation of the Deity--which, to the corrupt nature of fallen man, appeared “very terri. ble.” To such “ beauty of holiness” had the counte. nance of Moses attained, while wholly separated from earth, and the grosser elements of man's ordinary sustenance, having “ seen God” for forty successive days on the mount. So, likewise, shone the face of Stephen, on the very verge of that martyrdom which was peculiarly honoured in being the first under the Christian dispensation. The woman does not appear to have taken the angel for more than what she called him, “ A man of God;" a prophet ; sion that she used in describing the majesty and brightness of his aspect was not an unfrequent one, in days when angelic faces were not so strange upon earth as now they are. We, probably, associate no idea of terribleness with that trite expression, angelic countenance;" we know not, alas ! what man has lost, even in outward show, by revolting from his God.

Manoah's wife went on to repeat exactly what the angel had said: “Then Manoah entreated the Lord,

and the expres


and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born." A beau. tiful instance of simple faith! He makes no question of the matter, refers it all to God, and speaks of the child, which as yet existed but in the divine promise, as though it was even then about to be born. We may safely assert that: Manoah was a man of prayer, who thus calmly, thankfully received the answer, to his accustomed supplications. The lovely and in. structive history proceeds: “And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Ma. noah her husband was not with her. And the woman made haste, and ran, and showed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hạth appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day. And Ma. noah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest. unto the woman? And he said, I am. And Manoah said, Now, let thy words come to pass ! How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him ? And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Of all that I have said unto the woman, let her beware. She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I command her, let her ob

And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee. And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I


« PreviousContinue »