And Midian (Jud. 6-8).
That the events of these
chapters are to be read as typical of Israel's latter-day conflict with
her Arab enemies, is indicated by two pointed allusions to them in later
Scripture. Psalm 83 is a well-known description of the final
Arab invasion of Israel to " cut them off from being a nation"
, concluding with the imprecation, " Make their nobles like Oreb,
and like Zeeb; yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna"
(v. 11) - whom Gideon destroyed.
Isaiah 9 is set in the
context of the Assyrian invasions of the land, the last of which they
were saved from by Hezekiah, the primary fulfilment of the " great
light" which appeared to an Israel under Assyria's dominance.
The destruction of the invaders was to be " as in the day of Midian"
(Isa. 9:4), i.e. it would be typified by Gideon's destruction of Midian
previously. The context in Isa. 8:12, 19-22 speaks of Israel
living in fear of an Arab confederacy, having thrown off their faith in
God, stubbornly refusing to seek " to the law and to the testimony"
, and with the land full of " trouble and darkness" so that
" they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry" , due
to the invaders destroying the crops. This language recalls
the scenario portrayed in Jud. 5:6,7, where the Jews creep around their
own land after a total collapse of infrastructure.
Isa. 9 then speaks of
how God " lightly afflicted the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali
(in the first Assyrian invasion - 2 Kings 15:29) and afterward did more
grievously afflict her" (Isa. 9:1) in the second invasion.
The suffering of Israel at this time is spoken of in terms of their holocaust
in Egypt, which is clearly typical of the last days: " Thou hast
multiplied the nation (as God did in Egypt - Ex. 1:7), and not increased
the joy...thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his
shoulder (the language of Israel in Egypt), the rod of his oppressor"
(same word translated " taskmaster" in Ex. 1:11 [Isa. 9:3,4]).
This was to be"
as in the day of Midian" (Isa. 9:4) when Israel's saviour was Gideon.
Yet Isa. 9:2 speaks of their saviour as " a great light" arising
in the darkness, and is quoted in Matt. 4:15,16 as referring to Jesus.
Gideon therefore becomes a type of Christ's breaking of the yoke of sin,
and also of His latter-day deliverance of Israel from sin's political
manifestation. Similarly the account of David's victory over
Goliath has reference to our Lord's victory over sin on the cross, and
also over " the man of sin" who will oppress Israel in the last
restoration of Israel and the victory over her enemies which this implies
is associated with the 'setting up' ('resurrection') of a " standard"
(Isa. 49:22; 62:10), which is the same word translated " pole"
on which the serpent was lifted up and which our Lord referred to - the
stake on which He died. Thus the cross is
associated with both Christ's victory over sin, and also over the political
manifestation of sin in the last days.
Other studies have picked
up the points of contact between Judges 6-8 and Ps. 72, a Kingdom prophecy.
This fact provides a third strand of evidence for reading the account
of Gideon as a type of the last days.
It is now possible to
examine the record of Gideon and see its details open up with reference
to the final Arab onslaught against Israel in the last days.
" The children
of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord" (Jud. 6:1) is a refrain
which occurs seven times in Judges, recalling how Israel both over history
and in the last days were to be punished " seven times" for
their sins (Lev. 26:23,24).
It is possible that
a 'time' may also refer to a year, so the fact that " the Lord delivered
them into the hand of Midian seven years" (Jud. 6:1) may refer to
this " seven times" punishment for sin, which was to come after
their refusal to be reformed by their previous sufferings (Lev. 26:23,24).
A seven-year duration
of Israel's final holocaust is hard to square with hints elsewhere that
this will last for 3.5 years. The only way of reconciling
this which occurs to the writer is through Dan. 9:25-27, which implies
that after 69 weeks ('sevens') there would be a final week of punishment
for Israel's sins, which would be split into two halves of 3.5 years each.
I have explained in detail elsewhere (1) how the
first 3.5 years may apply to the AD 70 period, and the latter to the last
" The Lord delivered"
Israel " into the hand of Midian" uses the same Hebrew
word as in Lev. 26:25, " I will punish you yet seven times...ye shall
be delivered into the hand of the enemy" . To
fulfil this, " the hand of Midian became strong (Hebrew) against
Israel" (Jud. 6:2). Such an Arab revival coupled with
increasing military success against Israel is a process which is already
beginning, and which, despite short-term fluctuations, we should expect
Because of this,
" the children of Israel made them the dens ('dry river channels')
which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds" (Jud. 6:2).
Identical language is found in 1 Sam. 13:6 concerning Israel's pining
away when under attack by the Philistines. There can be no
doubt that these incidents are the focus of Heb. 11:37,38, which describes
nameless men of faith as being " slain with the sword: they
wandered about in sheepskins...being destitute, afflicted, tormented...they
wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth"
We have shown how Jud.
5:6,7 indicates that Israel under Arab attack had to 'wander' about their
country, and dwelling " in mountains, and in dens and caves of the
earth" is an undeniable reference back to Israel under Arab persecution
in Jud. 6:2 and 1 Sam. 13:6. This therefore teaches us that
there were definitely some in Israel at those times who had a remarkable
degree of faith, and it surely follows that the final tribulation which
these previous invasions typify will likewise lead to the existence of
a minority of faithful in Israel.
The Hebrew word translated
" caves" occurs again in Eze. 33:27 in a passage speaking of
the final desolation of the Land which will lead to Israel's repentance.
" They that be in the forts and in the caves shall die of
the pestilence (cp. the plagues to come upon Israel in the last days ,
Lev. 26:25). For I will lay the land most desolate...none shall
pass through (cp. " the highways were unoccupied" , Jud. 5:6).
Then shall they know that I am the Lord, when I have laid the land most
desolate" (Eze. 33:27-29). It should again be noted that
all this does not suggest an army of occupation, but rather a desolation
of the land physically and a state of total breakdown of infrastructure.
Jud. 6:3-6 confirms
this by speaking of how the waves of Arab incursions were specifically
aimed at destroying the agriculture rather than focusing on slaughtering
the inhabitants. Thus " when Israel had sown, the
Midianites came up" (Jud. 6:3), implying that they waited for this
season in order to inflict as much damage on the land as possible.
They " destroyed the increase of the earth...and left no sustenance
for Israel...they came as grasshoppers (which destroy crops rather than
attack people directly)...they entered into the land to destroy it"
(Jud. 6:4,5). This 'scorched earth' policy of the invaders
is portrayed in more detail by Joel's prophecy of the grasshopper-invaders
leaving the land physically empty.
This is exactly what
one would expect from the allusion to Lev. 26:26, speaking of the curses
to come upon latter-day Israel: " If...ye break my covenant
I also will do this unto you (i.e. break My side of the covenant,
in that) I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning
ague (illness caused by Arab chemical weapons?), that shall consume the
eyes (cp. Zech. 14:12 - what the Arabs do to Israel in the last days will
be done to them), and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your
seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it" , just as " when
Israel had sown, the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children
of the east...and destroyed the increase of the earth" (Jud. 6:3,4).
It would seem that this
group of Arab nations achieved this 'impoverishing' (Heb. 'to make thin'
by famine, Jud. 6:6) of Israel by repeated raids, without a great degree
of co-operation between them. Thus Gideon " threshed
wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites" (Jud. 6:11),
implying that they were being constantly raided by the Midianites, whose
primary aim was to take away Israel's supply of food. The
record goes on to suggest that after a period of such raids, these
Arab groups began an organized onslaught with the aim of totally destroying
Israel: " Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites
and the children of the east were gathered together" (Jud.
6:33). This is exactly the pattern for Israel's final holocaust
which so many other prophecies indicate.
Note that the initial
motive for the raids was to spoil the land and steal cattle: "
They...left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass"
(Jud. 6:4). The Ezekiel 38 invader has similar motivation,
" To take a spoil...to take a prey...to take away cattle and goods"
(Eze. 38:13). It should be noted, however, that such connections
do not necessarily indicate that the invasion prefigured in Judges 6 is
to be equated with that of Ezekiel 38. The point is that all
the latter-day invasions of Israel have broadly similar motives.
In their time of suffering
just prior to this final onslaught, " the Lord sent a prophet
unto the children of Israel" who reminded them of how God had delivered
them from Egypt, and pointed out that their present desperate plight was
due to their turning away from the true God to idols (Jud. 6:8).
This must have a connection with the suggestion that Elijah will be "
sent" to Israel during their suffering, " before the
coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5).
This " dreadful day" must be that of the final destruction of
Israel's invaders rather than simply the return of Christ.
Joel similarly speaks of how during the time when the Jewish heavens and
earth are turned into " blood and fire, and pillars of smoke"
, the Jews will possess the Spirit gifts " before the great and the
terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2:28-31). This connection
between Joel and Malachi would hint that the possession of these gifts
is associated with the work of Elijah.
The typology of the
Judges record cannot be pushed too strictly. The Judges as
the 'saviours' (cp. 'Jesus') of Israel typify both Jesus and Elijah in
the last days. Thus Gideon is likened to a loaf of barley
bread tumbling into Midian, overturning it - pointing forward to Jesus,
the barley-bread loaf (Jn. 6:35 cp. v 9), falling as the little stone
on to the image (Jud. 7:13). The prophet of Judges 6 appears to
typify Elijah, in addition to any way in which Gideon also may do.
The prophet reminding
Israel of the covenant they made with God in Horeb (Jud. 6:10), is precisely
the work of Elijah (Mal. 4:4). However, there is every reason
to think that Gideon being told to " pour out the broth" upon
his offering, which was then consumed by fire from heaven (Jud. 6:20,21
cp. 1 Kings 18:33,34), was encouraging Gideon to see himself as the prototype
Elijah-prophet, providing the basis for Elijah dousing his sacrifice
with water before it was accepted in an identical way. Gideon
proceeds to ask that there should only be dew upon the ground (or perhaps
even upon the whole land of Israel, see Hebrew text) according to his
word of faithful prayer (Jud. 6:37-39). Elijah saying that
" there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my
word" (1 Kings 17:1) is surely a conscious replica of this.
It is quite possible that we, too, may be given certain prompts in life
by reason of particular experiences repeating those of a Biblical character.
The desire of the Arab
leaders for the wealth of Israel was couched in the language of religious
zeal. Ps. 83:11,12 records how the leaders of the Midianite invasion
said, " Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession"
. The raw lust of the surrounding Arab peoples for Israel's
riches is currently camouflaged in the same way. Before the
final onslaught in Gideon's time, those Arab nations had " encamped
against" Israel. The Hebrew literally meaning 'to incline
a pole' has an uncanny relevance to the pointing of missiles towards them.
There can be little doubt that the vast Arab arsenals of missiles will
come into use soon.
The early invasions
" destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza"
(Jud. 6:4). The particular Arab invaders being typified here appear
to concentrate on the South of Israel, stopping just short of Jerusalem.
Other prophecies and passages typical of the last days speak of the sufferings
of Northern Israel during this period; by bringing them all together
a more accurate picture of the final period of holocaust can be obtained.
The exact identification of the Arab invaders, e.g. the contemporary states
which equate with Midian, Amalek and " the children of the east"
, can at best be speculative. The purpose of these studies
is to provide a general framework upon which such speculations can be
hung in accord with current events. In broad terms it would
seem likely that the intense Arab marauding of both Northern and Southern
Israel will result in the faithful withdrawing to Jerusalem, which will
be ravaged but not occupied, seeing that a righteous remnant will be found
there at the Lord's final intervention (Zech. 14:2,3).
Gideon and Elijah
Israel, in Gideon's
time, were in a like predicament, bracing themselves for the final blow.
" But the spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon" , as it did upon
other judges to effect Israel's deliverance (Jud. 6:34; 3:10; 11:29).
This language is picked up in Isa. 61:1,2: " The Spirit of the Lord
God is upon me...to preach good tidings...liberty to the captives...to
proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of
our God" . Primarily this refers to Isaiah preaching
an inspired message of deliverance to an Israel threatened by the Assyrian
invasion, whilst it is also quoted in the Gospels concerning
the work of Christ. Both these applications have their basis
in the Spirit of God coming upon the judges, showing that they typify
both the work of Christ and of the Elijah prophet, of which Isaiah was
an early manifestation.
The Elijah prophet was
manifested in both Isaiah and John the Baptist, both of whom had some
kind of charismatic appeal to the potentially faithful remnant in Israel.
Consider the implications of Isa. 8:18; Matt. 3:5. Gideon
likewise had this characteristic - the record highlights how the people
followed " after him" and " with him" (Jud. 6:34,35;
The latter-day Elijah
prophet will meet with a similar reception. The prototype
Elijah was brought to realize that there were a considerable remnant who
had not " bowed the knee to Baal" . In line with
the other echoes of Elijah found in the Gideon record, it is possible
that the remnant who refused to bow down upon their knees to drink water
were those whose conscience was keenly attune to the need to shun all
appearance of Baal-worship. It was this remnant whom Gideon
used as God's " battle axe and weapons of war" (Jer. 51:20).
It will likewise be the spiritually aware among latter-day Jewry who will
be used, under the command of Jesus and 'Elijah', to smash Israel's enemies.
It would appear that there will be at least two phases to this Jewish
victory, after the pattern of Gideon. Firstly he and the faithful
remnant of 300 won the initial victory, and then called to the rest of
Israel to join in, in similar fashion to the victory over Jabin
The following verse-by-verse
comments fill in a few miscellaneous details:-
" The people that are with thee are too many...lest
vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mineown hand
hath saved me" is alluded to in 1 Cor.
where Paul explains that for this same
God has chosen " not many" to bring about Hisway
of salvation, through a small remnant of weak
bringing to nought the mighty things. This
would equate Gideon's 300 with the true believersof
both natural and spiritual Israel.
The Arab enemy were " as the sand by the sea side for multitude"
, using the words of the Abrahamic
(Gen. 22:17,18). These people were therefore
a pseudo-Israel, having the appearance of
Abraham's true seed. Hagar had been promised " I will multiply
thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude"
, after the pattern of the promises to Abraham(Gen.16:10).
This is confirmed by their description as being " by ranks of five"
(Jud. 7:11), using the identicalHebrew phrase as used
in Ex. 13:18 and Josh. 4:12 concerning Israel's marching against their
enemies. The aptness of this to Israel's present enemies is
obvious- the Arabs claim they are the trueseed.
Gideon's calm voice of inspiration, " Look on me...as I do, so shall
ye do" , echoes our Lord's
to look upon Him as the serpent on the pole, and to
follow Him in very detail.
The blowing of trumpets by the 300 points forward
the resurrection, and the breaking of the clay
reveal the burning lamps within the pitchers, is clearly
at the root of 2 Cor. 4:6-8: " God, who
the light to shine out of darkness (cp.
sudden appearance of those lights on that night)...we have this treasure
in earthen vessels
Jud. 7:19), that the excellency of the power may be
of God, and not of us (cp. Jud. 7:2). We are troubled on every
side" (cp. Jud. 6:2-6). Allthis would
suggest that the 300 men are to be
with the resurrected of the new Israel,
" earthen vessels" are broken (by means of resurrection
and judgment) at the end of Israel's
downtreading and immediately prior to the great destruction
of their enemies by them. However,
it is also correct to suspect that the 300
typify the righteous remnant among Israel who will
work with us to achieve this.
" The sword of the Lord" has been interpreted as a
reference to the cherubim.
The point has been made that this whole scenario of
flashing fire and swords was a conscious imitation of the
cherubim. From this we can infer that the cherubim will
be associatedwith the latter-day deliverance of Israel.
They " discomfited all the host...the host ran, and
cried, and fled" (7:21)
uses very intense Hebrew,
the totality of panic among the Arabs. In the last
days this can only be due to their
that they are up against dramatic, Divine intervention
which will save Israel.
After the victory, Gideon " beat down the tower of
Penuel, and slew the men
of the city" for their
to help him during the pursuit. This is the
language of Christ's return in judgment upon the people of Jerusalem,
who are elsewhere likenedto a tower in Zion (Matt.
22:7). Thus those Jews
survive the Arab holocaust but still refuse to
the lesson of total commitment to their Messiah, will
be destroyed at broadly the same
as their Arab enemies.
Gideon " took away the ornaments that were on their
camels' necks" is correctly
defined in the A.V. mg.
referring to the Arab 'ornaments like the moon'.The
crescent moon which is stamped on so many Arab
(cp. camels), seems a fair latter-day equivalent to
(1) Jesus of Nazareth
(London: Pioneer, 1991) pp. 82-89.