Gideon threshed Wheat - by Keith Petersen
Gideon Threshed Wheat from the Midianites
There is undoubtedly a great sweetness to the path of the Christian that is walking with the Lord. Enoch is a most interesting example in this respect – it says in Genesis 5 that “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”
It is beneficial to consider the reference in time in which the Holy Spirit frames the circumstances of Enoch. He was the seventh from Adam – the number seven in Scripture invariably denoting completion. There is the matter also that the next birth mentioned is of Enoch’s son Methushelah – Methushelah was the longest-lived man, naturally speaking, recorded in Scripture.
Then there is this matter that, after the birth of Methushelah, Enoch walked here an additional three hundred years and then “was not.” This must have an attraction for every faithful-minded Christian – what was the detail of this dear brother’s 300+ year sojourn that he so pleased God that He took him to Himself? Are there any reading this who feel enough the conflict of this scene that they wonder what will be the outcome for them testimonially of the next month or year much less until the moment at which they leave here to go be with the Lord? It is a great encouragement, then, to consider that one who has gone before – and that for a considerably extenuated span of time – “walked with God.” Can we not even do the same for the relatively brief seventy, eighty or ninety years typically allotted to us here? And can we not recognize through the scriptural reality in which Enoch is not shown to have died the Divine intent that, in perfection and completion, God has moved through the Cross of Christ to transcend time, per se, to bring a redeemed soul into eternity with Himself?
The great question, then, must be – “How was Enoch able to walk righteously for such a duration to the result that he so pleased God that He took Him to Himself?” Was the world any less evil then than now? Not at all – the Word of God states that, in the immediately succeeding generations to Enoch, “Jehovah saw that the wickedness of Man was great on the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil continually. And Jehovah repented that he had made Man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart.”
While a number of considerations could be applied to Enoch’s walk as so pleasing to God there is one immediate answer – Enoch moved here in the spirit of an overcomer.
The principle of overcoming has great precedence and place in scripture. Goliath said he would overcome any man from Israel; but, he was overcome by and slain by David. The Lord said, “but be of good courage: I have overcome the world.” Romans speaks of overcoming in judgment, and of overcoming evil with good, and in John’s 1st epistle he emphasizes the reality of overcoming the wicked one. Finally, in The Revelation, the Lord assigns great value in His addresses to the seven assemblies to the place of the overcomer – leading up in the close of the Bible with the statement, “He that overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be to him God, and he shall be to me son.”
How is oneself an overcomer? Certainly, the influences of Satan are everywhere – “the whole world lies in the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). Overcoming so that one is literally walking with God throughout the course of the path here is a full and constant matter. It does not, of course, mean that we are without sin; however, it does mean that constitutionally we are walking with God. Mr. Billy Graham has a Christian publication entitled “Decision” – a good name – and, whatever the contents of the publication, the title references the reality that the Christian must make up their mind to walk with God according to Divine precepts. Paul writes, “I myself with the mind serve God's law.” The Greek for “mind” there used is “nous” which means the intelligent faculty. This is a primary step – without the desire to be an overcomer in a consistent way, the ability to implement this through the indwelling lead and power of the Holy Spirit will be lacking. The impetus, of course, for overcoming is through love for Divine Persons – the Lord could say, “If ye love me keep my commandments.” Concurrent with this is a love for the truth – which, literally, involves the same affection since the Lord is “the way, the truth and the love” – and, by reflex, love for the brethren and towards men. These latter are to the result that the saints and men can be helped by seeing a distinctive path of righteousness in a saint marked by the spirit of the overcomer.
There is also a need to “count the cost”. The Lord expresses in Luke 14 “Or what king, going on his way to engage in war with another king, does not, sitting down first, take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him coming against him with twenty thousand?” If we do not recognize the nature of the conflict here (see Ephesians 6 – “because our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against principalities, against authorities, against the universal lords of this darkness, against spiritual [power] of wickedness in the heavenlies”) we can perhaps be discouraged by the unending, ongoing nature of Satan’s resistance against all that is representative of God. To be an overcomer means to be a warrior here for Christ – and, note, that we must realize in this respect that we must first put to death our own natural self before we can attempt to combat the influences without (see Romans 8:13). Overcoming involves keeping "self" dead as it has so been put to death in the Cross of Christ.
The Great Overcomer, of course, is Christ; yet, God is pleased to show us others who wonderfully triumphed here through His grace. One of the greatest of overcomers was King David – he overcame the lion, the bear and the great Philistine Goliath, and it has been well said that he never lost a battle. There is a list of his mighty men in 2nd Samuel chapter 23 – and it is of substantial interest to consider their valor. Oneself might say, “But, I have no such skills or abilities or the courage; however, the Scripture simply records in response – “Ye are of God, children, and have overcome them, because greater is he that [is] in you than he that [is] in the world.” The “least esteemed” of us is well able, under the lead of the Holy Spirit, to enact here what is according to and pleasing to the mind and heart of God. Of course, some are specially fitted by God for particular service; however, the principle of overcoming the enemy is part of the Christian estate for each and every one. Paul wrote to Timothy that “For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of wise discretion.”
If we consider Gideon – and, there are many that could be considered in scripture in this respect as a type for us of the overcomer – we see a brother who, although the Midianites had destroyed the produce of the land and the Israelites “were greatly impoverished”, was one who “threshed wheat in the winepress, to secure [it] from the Midianites.” How lovely this is – the brother was essentially unaffected by outward conditions. Israel was in departure from the Lord as a nation, the land was impoverished and the Midianites had come up as locusts to destroy the land; yet, Gideon was intent on securing what was necessary to provide life. The wheat is a wonderful type of Christ (see John 12:24) and God is providing life through Christ. Would you not desire to be in a position as an overcomer so that you can “be a model of the believers” (1 Timothy 4:12)?
One of the first things related by the Holy Spirit is that an angel of Jehovah came, and evidently adjacent to the winepress, sat under the tree of Joash Gideon’s father. This involves a certain complacency. This is lovely because it shows that God is restful in relation to the overcomer. Imagine being appointed a task by a construction overseer and, when such came to view the work in progress, instead of instantly pointing out aberrations in the work sat down peacefully – a silent (if somewhat generalized) approval of the ongoing work.
Then, the angel appears to Gideon and says, “Jehovah is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” Is not this a wonderful encouragement? Consider the grace of God that such a statement is made. It might be thought that Gideon is only threshing wheat – he is not, for example, prevailing against the army of the enemy (although, that is to come). It shows how much enjoyment there is in Heaven over such movements of the overcomer. Is not this something to be desired by any faithful Christian? The word in Luke is “well done, thou good bondman.”
The subsequent history of Gideon is well known. God confirms that he will be with Gideon, and in result Gideon builds an altar and calls it Jehovah-Shalom – showing he is peaceful in his relationship with God – a wonderful result in and of itself. According to God’s direction he removes the idolatrous altar of Baal and the Asherah and shows by his subsequent sacrifice that what is due to God in faithfulness and the sacrifice of an obedient heart triumphs over what is false and idolatrous. He is, however, hesitant, and does it by night. Is not this like ourselves? We might tend to modify that which we know we should do testimonially in the path of faith and overcoming so as not to come under the antipathy or animosity of others; however, the Lord then brings all to light and shows that the support for the overcomer assures of completion and victory. Not only is the immediate conflict put to rest but Gideon gains the name of Jerubbaal. Consider that the altars of Baal are everywhere in this world as a result of the activity of Satan – is it not meritorious to consider that oneself can appointed of the Lord to actively be used to help break down such altars?
The Lord tests Gideon further. This testing highlights the reality that the overcomer is moving here in this world not according to sight; but, rather, according to Divine precepts. All Midian, and Amalek, and the children of the east gather themselves together and camp against Israel. This is a substantial matter and highlights another reality which is that any proper spiritual movement here by a child of God calls forth the concerted opposition of the enemy. What is the antidote to this further movement of the enemy? “And the Spirit of Jehovah came upon Gideon, and he blew the trumpet.” This is God himself joining in the battle. And, if engendered of the Lord, the blowing of the trumpet is a great Biblical principle – the blowing of the trumpets had part in the walls of Jericho falling down. Thus, “the Abiezrites were gathered after him. And he sent messengers throughout Manasseh, and they also were gathered after him; and he sent messengers to Asher, and to Zebulun, and to Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.”
There were now thirty-two thousand men with Gideon – a remarkable extension of this brother’s initial movement in threshing the wheat in the winepress. Yet, the Lord is intent on Gideon recognizing that, through His power and support victory is assured irrespective of outward conditions. How can the Christian prevail and overcome in this wilderness world so set intrinsically against God Himself? “This is the word of Jehovah unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6). We must be confident of this. If we do what is right in our Christian path, the resources of Heaven are behind us – wonderful assurance!
So, the Lord reduces Gideon’s forces down to three hundred men. Think what this would have meant to this brother – first, twenty-two thousand are removed, and then, of the ten thousand that remain, only three hundred are chosen. Do you feel the smallness of Christian testimony today? Your own smallness and a general lack in ability and power? It says in this section in Judges 7 that “ Midian and Amalek and all the children of the east lay along in the valley as locusts for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand upon the sea-shore for multitude.” This appears to the natural mind as too impregnable, too large a matter – and, Gideon and his forces too small. But, fear not – the Lord’s words are “For who hath despised the day of small things?” and, to the assembly in Philadelphia, “I have set before thee an opened door, which no one can shut, because thou hast a little power.”
God reinforces for Gideon afresh by the dream of the man in the Midianites’ camp that he will be successful. How much grace is shown! God was patient and gracious with Gideon throughout – including the well-known assurance through the fleece. It is this that was said to Moses the man of God in Exodus – “Jehovah, Jehovah God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and truth” and, although we tend to learn slowly the nature of God as shown in the teachings throughout the Bible the Lord is ever the same. We can take up the path of overcoming with the “great cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews as clear testimony to what faith will bring.
So, the trumpets and the light of God through the torches are brought into view, and the enemy suffers defeat. This is impossible, the natural mind would say; but, for faith it clearly happened. The enemy is in rout, and Gideon pursues. Note that he has conflict from those of his own people – Satan is every busy – but he speaks appeasingly and is not diverted from the appointed task at hand. So, even faint but yet pursuing, he fully consolidates the defeat of the enemy. Don’t allow the natural circumstances and burdens of life here to sap your will and energy in the battles of the Lord. God can well see us through. “Dost thou not know, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not nor tireth? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to him that hath no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and shall tire, and the young men shall stumble and fall; but they that wait upon Jehovah shall renew [their] strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not tire; they shall walk, and not faint.”
Surely belief in this causes great confidence in Divine Persons no matter the circumstances. The Lord told the prophet that the journey was too great for him; so, He graciously fed him twice and on the strength of that food he went a forty day journey. We are so easily affected by influences here; but, the overcomer walks not according to what is seen but what is unseen. Even in the simplest of circumstances – oneself might feel too tired to attend the Bible Reading this evening; but, go, and you will find to your delight that God will support and refresh you.
Gideon’s history after his great victory is marred by the golden ephod he makes from the spoils of the victory. Alas – he did his work well but deflected substantially from the mind of God at this point. King Saul showed the same spirit – he spared “the best” from the Amalekites; but, Samuel said to him that “Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, Attention than the fat of rams.”
Christendom is in the state of confusion as this is written in 2015 due to deflection from the Word of God. This is simple enough to see. The Bible speaks of only one fellowship – “the fellowship of God’s Son”; but, there are many fellowships. Unity is hardly considered as a possibility by many – perhaps, as a vague backdrop to a time long gone; yet, Ephesians 4 says to use “diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” It is to be a present – and, blessed in its fulfillment – reality. Ephods/idolatries abound – the fact that particular error in a particular fellowship might have the appearance of being a “gold standard” Christian truth might lull casual Christian sensibilities into accepting such; but, “the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, [The] Lord knows those that are his; and, Let every one who names the name of [the] Lord withdraw from iniquity.” These words – given as they were by Paul to Timothy in a day in which breakdown had already commenced in the early Church – are a wonderful resource in such a day as in which we now live – a resource as has been well said that is such that a Christian’s back is never to the wall.
Let us each strive to be an “approved workman.” We have available as shown in Ephesians 6 the panoply of God, which is the necessary armament to resist and to overcome – all while setting out a proper Christian testimony to the glory of God. Let us fulfill the place of the overcomer in our path here – taking great reassurance from what scripture shows repeatedly and throughout to be a wonderful support from Heaven for all who are decided in mind and heart to “persevere as seeing Him who is invisible.”
May it be so.