What significance can of a lump of barley bread have? Not much by itself. But, for Gideon and the armies of Israel, it won the victory. Sometimes answers to life’s dilemmas are found in the most unusual places. Let’s see.
Just Give Me A Sign Lord!
Gideon was a humble, unsuspecting fellow. Just the kind of person God looks to perform great exploits through. But, Gideon had some problems. Gideon had an optics problem which translated into a warped faith life. Gideon doubted God’s power and ability to work in his life. How do we know this? Because he asked God to give him signs, (not once, but three times) to prove to him that the Lord was indeed going to use him to destroy the enemies of Israel.
And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall ……
And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece….. Judges 6:17, 36-37, 39
Gideon was a sign-seeker. Why? Consider the man’s past for a moment. Gideon was carrying baggage, in fact a lot of baggage. And people who carry a lot of baggage have problems seeing things afar because to avoid stumbling they need to focus on what is beneath their feet.
Gideon’s Heavy Baggage
What baggage was Gideon carrying? Let’s start with his present state of oppression, and no doubt some depression in the mix. The Midianites had so weighted Israel down that Gideon was threshing wheat in fear that they would discover his protein stash and take away his family’s only food supply.
And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.
And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. Judges 6:6, 11
Secondly, the man had low self-esteem and was living in poverty.
And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. Judges 6:15
Lastly, Gideon was not from “good Israeli stock”. Gideon suffered generational curses inherited from his father. His father was a heathen, an idol worshipper:
And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: Judges 6:25
It’s not looking good Gideon. Strike three.
Eye Candy Syndrome
Gideon suffered from a malady known as ECS – Eye Candy Syndrome. He was attempting to serve with the “eye” a God who asks to be served with the “heart”. Thus the reason behind Gideon’s sign-seeking, a malady affecting hearts not valiant in faith.
“Show me God and I will believe”. How many of us have prayed that prayer? Or, “Lord, if you do thus-and-thus, I will live for you”. Or, “Lord, just let me off the hook this one time and I will get my act together and give my life to you”. This is basically asking God for a sign, something we can tangibly grasp onto to bring God into our life situation. God wants more. The Lord wants to bring us into His situation. And that is the only way Gideon could accomplish the calling God spoke into his life. It takes a God-walk to birth a God-work.
God knows and understands the uniqueness within each and every one of us. And only God knows all about the life lived in the pair of shoes named “Mine Own”.
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Psalms 73:26
And if we’ll be honest, we all bring baggage to the table (some more than others) and it really comes to the light when the Light of the World calls you out on the carpet. You cannot hide it then. So, you have two options. Allow God to help you unload it, or keep it and suffer, and suffer a lot.
Let’s face the facts folks, we will accomplish little in the Kingdom of God while carrying a load on our backs, the load of guilt from past mistakes and failures, or beating ourselves up because of the burden of carrying generational sins of our forefathers (oh yes, they do affect us) or the ravages experienced from childhood abuses.
Thankfully for Gideon, and reflecting back on his life, thankfully for us, the proverbial light bulb lit up his brain. How? From a dream about a barley roll.
Dreams and their interpretations from God are mind altering and heart transforming. Dreams can change one’s life:
And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you. Genesis 40:8
But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets ….. KJV
But there is a God in heaven who solves mysteries … The Message Bible Daniel 2:27
How many people in the Bible were given dreams from God that changed their lives, and even the course of history? Let’s name a few: Abraham, Jacob, Laban, Job, a butler and a baker in an Egyptian prison house, Pharaoh himself, Solomon, Joseph, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar, Habakkuk, Jesus’ step-father Joseph, and Pilate’s wife. And Gideon:
And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. Judges 7:15
Gideon got a lot of mileage from his fleece test, yet he still doubted in the mission God called him to. Signs did not help Gideon’s faith, he was still unconvinced. How do we know that? There was one more turning point he needed to move him into God’s will. Then there would be no turning back. What was the turning point? Of all things, a dream about a piece of barley bread.
And it goes deeper than just the dream. The one thing Gideon feared (loosing his family’s food supply), God now turned around and used it against the Midianites. When God takes away your fear and uses it to defeat your enemy, you must know you cannot fail.
It can be said that signs whether from earth or from heaven do not always change our thinking, especially when faced with major transitions or juncture points in life (like the one Gideon faced). Jesus gave warning about this:
A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. Matthew 16:4
What about some other unlikely places that ushered in the miraculous of God: a mother’s packed lunch of merger fare for her little boy, empty water pots, a lady of questionable reputation standing alone at the town’s waterhole, lastly a talked about illegitimate son of a carpenter and his gruesome hanging in shame on a cruel wooden cross? Unusual places.
God will take what man’s disregards, turn it around, and use it for His glory:
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:25
There comes a time when the miracle you desperately need can only be hand-delivered by a man walking on the water. A most unusual place and in a most unusual way.
A.W. Tozer penned the words, “God is looking for those through who He can do the impossible. What a pity that we settle for only those things we can do ourselves.”
Gideon could not do by himself the feat he was called to accomplish for God. But, the Lord is merciful and longsuffering. And the Lord knew exactly how to posture him for the promotion awaiting him. Have you had or heard of any strange dreams lately? Maybe God is about to do something miraculous in your life.