Gideon and the Tumbling Bread

In the weakened state of an army of 300, Gideon is prepared to move on the Midianites. Israel will be redeemed and freed from the oppression allowed by God to draw them back to Him. We are prepared for a horn to blow, walls to fall, and the Lord to lead Gideon in a route of the opposing forces but He (and we) knows Gideon well, and offers him a moment of assurance.

Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying.” (Judges 7:8b-11a)

Gideon afraid? Banish the thought! Of course Gideon is frightened; it seems to be his default state. Frightened, hesitant, willing to seek out every chance to avoid the responsibility of his calling. This is the Gideon we know, but God knows differently. He wants him to know the assurance of His presence and the power that this brings to purpose that he calls him to accomplish.

image Sending Gideon to the camp is a reinforcement that stands opposite the diminishment of forces that God has visited on Israel. Gideon and his servant approach the camp under the cover of night to find the true measure of the enemy arrayed against him. They peer over the camp and find the Midianites, the Amalekites, and all the Eastern peoples preparing for battle, camels more numerous than the sands on the seashore. Gideon approaches a little closer in order to overhear a lowly soldier sharing his own fears with his tent mate. His dream showed them a load of barley bread tumbling down the hill above the camp and crushing the Midianites. He rightly comprehends that this is a sign that Gideon and his army are the arm of God himself and that their days are numbered.

We see the assurance of God in this vignette but there is another joy that we can derive from this experience. It is easy to be convinced that all heroes of God are mighty men and women of confidence and strength, leaders of their people that are unafraid of anything and always, always supremely assured of their mission as coming from God. Here Yahweh utilized not only the hesitant Gideon but the lowly private in the Midianite army, another man filled with fear. Do we question whether or not we are suitable for God’s use? Probably, but take heart. God will utilize any vessel available to him so long as our trust is put in the right place. Where is your trust?

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