Beware the Barley Bread

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Most people who are familiar with the stories of the Bible know about Gideon and his three hundred (Judges 7).

In yesterday’s post I revisited Gideon’s call to lead God’s army against the Midianites (Judges 6). The reluctant warrior might have been encouraged by the thirty-two thousand men he had command of—though the Midianites are described in the chapter as “thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore" (7:12). After Gideon got finished counting to, say, sixty-three thousand four hundred and fifty-two, he may have had second thoughts about just how big his army really was!

And then God said: “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength had saved her, announce to the people…” (7:2, 3). Anyone who was afraid got to go home and Gideon was left with 10,000 men.

Logically we would have thought that ten thousand men beating a much superior force would still be a miracle and result in Israel giving God the glory. But it’s amazing how egotistical we can be and God wasn’t going to give Gideon or Israel the chance to take pride in “their” accomplishments, so He further reduced the numbers until Gideon only had three hundred men left.

Victory was humanly impossible. Gideon may have been able to keep his fears to himself but I’d guess he was at least a bit nervous. So God sent him down into the camp of the Midianites under the cover of darkness to get a little pick-me-up.

Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. ‘I had a dream,’ he was saying. ‘A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.’ His friend responded, ‘This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands’” (7:13, 14).

Gideon’s response was to return to his men and worship God. NOT! Gideon was so convinced by what God had allowed him to hear through this prophetic message that he immediately, right there in the middle of the enemies’ camp, took time to worship (7:15).

Some of my generation may remember the song, High Hopes, by Frank Sinatra

Next time you're found, with your chin on the ground
There a lot to be learned, so look around

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant

But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your gettin' low
'Stead of lettin' go
Just remember that ant
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant

When troubles call, and your back's to the wall
There’s a lot to be learned, that wall could fall

Once there was a silly old ram
Thought he'd punch a hole in a dam
No one could make that ram, scram
He kept buttin' that dam

'Cause he had high hopes, he had high hopes
He had high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your feelin' bad
'stead of feelin' sad
Just remember that ram
Oops there goes a billion kilowatt dam

All problems just a toy balloon
They'll be bursted soon
They're just bound to go pop
Oops there goes another problem kerplop


Gideon didn’t just have high hopes. He wasn’t simply the eternal optimist. He had God’s personal assurances.

I am amazed (or ashamed) at my faith at times. When life takes on the look of three hundred against a half a million, I get nervous. I know that I have about as much chance of getting through whatever it is on my own as a barley loaf does of knocking down a tent.

But God….

He reduces me to my weakest in order that He can be His strongest through me. He reminds me that it isn’t me at all, but always HIM, forever HIM, undoubtedly HIM.

And that’s not just a hope, but an absolute that we can believe in.

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