The Gleaning of the Grapes of Ephraim
Judges 8:1-3
And the men of Ephraim said to him, Why have you served us thus, that you called us not, when you went to fight with the Midianites?…

The gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim. This is the portion that falls to us. We are living in a glorious day. Our fathers gathered the vintage with strife and travail, and garments rolled in blood. It is for us to stand at the waters of Beth-barah and gather up the fruits of victory. The world is at its very best. If life was ever worth living, it is worth living now. Great is the privilege, and correspondingly great the responsibility, of those who are appointed to glean the grapes of Ephraim.


1. The body of truth is larger than that of any former times. Aristotle, one of the most learned of the ancients, if he were to return to-day, could hardly pass a preliminary examination for admission to one of our grammar schools. The results of past research and controversy along the past have accumulated into a great treasury of knowledge. Each generation has contributed its part. History is not a treadmill, wherein men go round and round, getting nowhere; but a thoroughfare, the King's highway, whereon we journey like a royal troop, league by league, laden with the spoils of the conquest, until we come to the palace of the King.

2. The great body of truth thus accumulated is held in a truer spirit of toleration than the past ever knew.

3. Along with this goes a truer orthodoxy than of old. The denominations may differ, and indeed do differ, with respect to minor matters, but they are loyal to old landmarks.

II. OURS IS ALSO THE GOLDEN AGE OF MORALITY, particularly in its larger sense as touching all the relations of man with his fellow-men.

1. The industrial reform may be cited in evidence. Capital has rights, for which it tenaciously strives; labour has rights, for which it vigorously contends. Out of this conflict must come the solution: an honest day's wage for an honest day's work; corporations with souls, and labourers with rights.

2. The temperance reform. This was almost unheard of a century ago. For this we have to thank the fathers who gathered the vintage of Abi-ezer, who in the controversies of moral suasion and legislation wrought out these more salutary methods and passed on their achievements to us.

3. Political reform. We hear much of "civic corruption" in these days, of bribery, blackmail, etc. In the time of William

III. bribery was so commonly practised that the king publicly announced his inability to dispense with it, saying, "Under the existing order of things, to refuse the common practice would endanger the crown." The municipal corruption which is so arousing the popular indignation at this moment would have been made little of in former days. It is a good sign — this stirring about the Augean stables.

4. Sociological problems. All branches of the Christian Church are concerned in the discussion of questions which touch the welfare of the community; the betterment of home and society; the care of the poor, the aged, and all incapables. The liberalitas of the ancient world has given way to the caritas of our religion. We are beginning to understand the song of the angels, not merely in its ascription of glory to God, but also in its expression of goodwill toward men.

5. As to personal character. We make more of character and less of adventitious prominence than of old.

III. THIS IS THE GOLDEN AGE OF MORAL ENERGY. Truth and ethics are changed into power by a fire burning beneath them. The Church works with a purpose. A man, aside from his creed and personal graces, must in these times have something to do.

1. There was a time when good people were chiefly concerned about their personal salvation. Each for himself was the shibboleth of those days.

2. At other times the people of God have been chiefly concerned for the preservation of the Church. This was the meaning of the Crusades; in them we find a stern endeavour to rescue the Holy Sepulchre, and so vindicate the majesty of the Church and avenge her wrongs. The effort was not to convert the infidel, but to destroy him root and branch.

3. In our time we speak of the kingdom. This is the missionary age. All are summoned to work — men, women, and children. All are summoned to work for the evangelisation of the world — the deliverance of souls from sin. We seem to be dwelling in the early twilight of the last days. The victory of Christ is a foregone conclusion. His glory shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.

WEB: The men of Ephraim said to him, "Why have you treated us this way, that you didn't call us, when you went to fight with Midian?" They rebuked him sharply.

The Conduct of the Ephraimites
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