Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen - This is an elliptical sentence, a natural expression of the distressed state of Gideon's mind: as if he had said, Have mercy on me, O Lord God! else I shall die; because I have seen an angel of Jehovah face to face. We have frequently seen that it was a prevalent sentiment, as well before as under the law, that if any man saw God, or his representative angel he must surely die. On this account Gideon is alarmed, and prays for his life. This notion prevailed among the heathens, and we find an instance of it in the fable of Jupiter and Semele. She wished to see his glory; she saw it, and was struck dead by the effulgence. See the notes on Exodus 33:20. We find that a similar opinion prevailed very anciently among the Greeks. In the hymn of Callimachus, Εις Λουτρα της Παλλαδος, ver. 100, are these words: -
Κρονιοι δ ' ὡδε λεγοντι νομοι·π
Ὁς κε τιν ' αθανατων, ὁκα μη θεος αυτος ἑληται,π
Αθρησῃ, μισθῳ τουτον ιδειν μεγαλῳ.
"The laws of Saturn enact, that if any man see any of the immortal gods, unless that god himself shall choose it, he shall pay dearly for that sight."
Alas, O Lord GOD! - Compare Joshua 7:7. “because I have seen an angel of the Lord” Compare the marginal references, in which the notion that it was death for mortal man to see God appears clearly. The same notion prevailed among the pagan.
The heavenly sentinels, faithful to their trust, continue their watch. Though a general decree has fixed the time when commandment keepers may be put to death, their enemies will in some cases anticipate the decree, and before the time specified, will endeavor to take their lives. But none can pass the mighty guardians stationed about every faithful soul. Some are assailed in their flight from the cities and villages; but the swords raised against them break and fall powerless as a straw. Others are defended by angels in the form of men of war. GC 631.1
In all ages, God has wrought through holy angels for the succor and deliverance of His people. Celestial beings have taken an active part in the affairs of men. They have appeared clothed in garments that shone as the lightning; they have come as men in the garb of wayfarers. Angels have appeared in human form to men of God. They have rested, as if weary, under the oaks at noon. They have accepted the hospitalities of human homes. They have acted as guides to benighted travelers. They have, with their own hands, kindled the fires at the altar. They have opened prison doors and set free the servants of the Lord. Clothed with the panoply of heaven, they came to roll away the stone from the Saviour's tomb. GC 631.2
In the form of men, angels are often in the assemblies of the righteous; and they visit the assemblies of the wicked, as they went to Sodom, to make a record of their deeds, to determine whether they have passed the boundary of God's forbearance. The Lord delights in mercy; and for the sake of a few who really serve Him, He restrains calamities and prolongs the tranquillity of multitudes. Little do sinners against God realize that they are indebted for their own lives to the faithful few whom they delight to ridicule and oppress. GC 631.3Read in context »
Holy angels have been displeased and disgusted with the irreverent manner in which many have used the name of God, the great Jehovah. Angels mention that sacred name with the greatest awe, ever veiling their faces when they speak the name of God; and the name of Christ is so sacred to them that they speak it with the greatest reverence. But how opposite the spirit and influence attending the 1854 time movement. Some who are still under the same influence speak of God as they would of a horse or of any other commonplace thing. In their prayers they use the words God Almighty in a very common and irreverent manner. Those who do this have no sense of the exalted character of God, of Christ, or of heavenly things. 1T 410.1
I was shown that when God sent His angels anciently to minister or communicate to individuals, and these persons learned that they had seen and talked with an angel, they were struck with awe and were afraid that they should die. They had so exalted views of the terrible majesty and power of God that they thought it would destroy them to be brought into close connection with one direct from His holy presence. I was referred to Judges 13:21, 22: “Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” Judges 6:22, 23: “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.” Joshua 5:13-15: “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” If angels were thus feared and honored because they came from the presence of God, with how much greater reverence should God Himself be regarded. 1T 410.2Read in context »
“They forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt,” “and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.” “They provoked Him to anger with their high places, and moved Him to jealousy with their graven images.” Therefore the Lord “forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He placed among them; and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand.” Judges 2:12; Psalm 78:52, 58, 60, 61. Yet He did not utterly forsake His people. There was ever a remnant who were true to Jehovah; and from time to time the Lord raised up faithful and valiant men to put down idolatry and to deliver the Israelites from their enemies. But when the deliverer was dead, and the people were released from his authority, they would gradually return to their idols. And thus the story of backsliding and chastisement, of confession and deliverance, was repeated again and again. PP 545.1
The king of Mesopotamia, the king of Moab, and after them the Philistines, and the Canaanites of Hazor, led by Sisera, in turn became the oppressors of Israel. Othniel, Shamgar, and Ehud, Deborah and Barak, were raised up as deliverers of their people. But again “the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian.” Heretofore the hand of the oppressor had fallen but lightly on the tribes dwelling east of the Jordan, but in the present calamities they were the first sufferers. PP 545.2
The Amalekites on the south of Canaan, as well as the Midianites on its eastern border, and in the deserts beyond, were still the unrelenting enemies of Israel. The latter nation had been nearly destroyed by the Israelites in the days of Moses, but they had since increased greatly, and had become numerous and powerful. They had thirsted for revenge; and now that the protecting hand of God was withdrawn from Israel, the opportunity had come. Not alone the tribes east of Jordan, but the whole land suffered from their ravages. The wild, fierce inhabitants of the desert, “as locusts for multitude” (Judges 6:5, R.V.), came swarming into the land, with their flocks and herds. Like a devouring plague they spread over the country, from the river Jordan to the Philistine plain. They came as soon as the harvests began to ripen, and remained until the last fruits of the earth had been gathered. They stripped the fields of their increase and robbed and maltreated the inhabitants and then returned to the deserts. Thus the Israelites dwelling in the open country were forced to abandon their homes, and to congregate in walled towns, to seek refuge in fortresses, or even to find shelter in caves and rocky fastnesses among the mountains. For seven years this oppression continued, and then, as the people in their distress gave heed to the Lord's reproof, and confessed their sins, God again raised up a helper for them. PP 545.3Read in context »