Harry Whittaker
Judges And Ruth

11. Gideon and Christ

A different aspect of the work of Gideon now calls for consideration. One without which most studies of Old Testament history remain lop-sided. By all means let Gideon’s experiences be pondered as a demonstration of the visible hand of God. By all means let the example of faith and godliness be allowed to have due influence on the lives of the saints of God today. But let not the divine foreshadowing of Christ be ignored, especially when this intention is so plainly expounded by the Scripture of Truth itself.

Four separate passages testify to this fact: Isaiah 9: “For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken as in the day of Midian. For all the armour of the armed man in the tumult, and the garments rolled in blood shall even be for burning, for fuel or fire. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 10 describes the rout of the northern invader in these words: “As in the slaughter of Midian at the rock Oreb.” The entire passage, verses 20 to 27, seems to be studded with allusions back to the circumstances of Gideon’s deliverance.

Psalm 83 can only find clearness of meaning in the time of Jacob’s trouble yet to come, and embedded in the midst of that psalm are these words: “Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kishon: Which perished at En-dor: they became as dung for the earth. Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.” It is interesting to notice that the verses following on these are reminiscent of the cherubim vision alluded to earlier (v. 13-15).

The fourth of these scriptures, Psalm 72: “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass.” Here particularly, it is to be observed that the word translated “mown grass” really means fleece, and is virtually identical with the word for fleece in Judges 6:37ff, the sign given to Gideon.

The testimony of one of the foregoing passages, by itself, might be ambiguous. But taken together they establish beyond reasonable doubt, for the believer in God’s word, that Gideon was divinely intended as a miniature of the long-promised Messiah. An examination of the details of this Messianic type may well surprise even those who are accustomed to discern such significance in the law and the prophets.

Here then are the details of Gideon as a type of Christ:

  1. Heralded by a prophet preaching repentance.
  2. He first made an onslaught on the adversary — the devil — alone, yet not unassisted.
  3. In the same action, he built an altar, and himself offered sacrifice, as though he were a priest.
  4. The altar was named Jehovah-Shalom — the Lord of Peace.
  5. His own people cried out against his worthy action.
  6. A sign, a prophecy, of dew — first on the fleece, the ground being dry — and then on the ground, the fleece being dry: thus is foreshadowed the work of the Holy Spirit, first in Israel and later more fully among the Gentiles.
  7. Those who were gathered unto him, by the sound of the trumpet, were reduced to a faithful remnant, being separated to him by water, and the expression of their abhorrence of all false worship. Those who lapped like dogs foreshadowed Gentiles, faithful to their leader.
  8. The coming victory was symbolised in a cake of bread — made from barley (Lev. 23:10 — barley).
  9. The destruction of the Midianite host prefigures the greater destruction of the Last Day oppressor, in the same plain of Jezreel.
  10. A victory accompanied by the blast of trumpets, the smashing of earthenware vessels and the manifestation of torches of fire, hitherto smouldering unseen.
  11. A victory without weapons for the Lord’s people who “look on me and do likewise”.
  12. “Every man’s sword against his fellow.” The same words come in Ezekiel 38:21.
  13. The wolf (Oreb) and the raven (Zeeb) no longer ravage the flock of God.
  14. These enemies meet their end at the very place which means an entering into inheritance for the people of God (8:17,18).
  15. Many details here prefigure the day of judgment. The names of those to be punished were written down. See RV margin of 8:14. There was one ground of condemnation — it was this: “They were my brethren.” And it was only the deliverer himself who executed judgement.
  16. Zebah means sacrifice and Zalmunna means, probably, shadow withheld: Num. 14:9.
  17. Gideon’s words: “The Lord shall rule over you” — it is the Kingdom!
  18. The leader is to be priest also, but not after the order of Aaron.
  19. Seventy sons correspond in number with the nations of the world. (Genesis 10 lists 70 names.)
This list should not be regarded as being by any means exhaustive. It may however serve as a guide to the interpretation of other details.

Here, once again, is the Old Testament witness to Christ (Heb. 1:1).

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