Have you ever been afraid of bread rolls or bread that rolls? Can these items be a threat to life, limb, and property? Oddly enough, the Bible records such a time, and God’s servant Gideon was a man who benefited from such a fear. His enemy interpreted him to be bread rolling down a hill, capable of significant destruction. At first this confused Gideon, but used God’s gift to conquer a dreaded opponent.
God called Gideon to defeat the Midianites, a people who had oppressed the Israelites for seven years (Judges 6:1). In response to God’s call, Gideon dutifully assembled an army of 32,000 men, a formidable force. God, however, wished to display His power and whittled Gideon’s army down to 300 in a two-step process. Thinking he was fatally hobbled in terms of sheer numbers, Gideon suffered anxiety regarding his task. To calm him, God instructed Gideon to go down to the Midianite camp and perform strategic reconnaissance on the enemy.
God directed Gideon to one specific tent, where Gideon would hear an uplifting omen. The tent quartered two Midianite soldiers, comrades who were passing the night with nervous talk. Gideon heard one of the enemy soldiers regaling his comrade with the story of a dream he had earlier. Like most dreams, it seemed to be an odd assortment of random thoughts, happenings, and connections, the origins of which were perplexing. This dream and its interpretation, however, applied specifically to Gideon’s future success.
The soldier spoke of how a rolling barley cake tumbled into camp. The thought of rolling bread does not typically instill fear. However, this particular barley cake struck one of the tents with such force that it overturned the tent, forced down the stakes, and broke the cords with a single blow. As part of a massive army, the soldiers were sleeping in stout tents made of solid material with heavy cords and strong stakes. Nevertheless, when God makes bread roll, He can obliterate structures completely.
You or I might have simply chuckled upon hearing such a tale, but not the soldier’s companion in the tent. Immediately and without hesitation, the second soldier launched into a focused interpretation of his compatriot’s dream, an interpretation that appears to be very far-fetched. The interpreter concludes the bread roll is nothing else than the sword of Gideon. The soldier who had the dream must have thought his comrade to have a wild imagination or was incoherent due to a lack of sleep.
Further reflection on the interpretation demonstrates the dream was a good representation of Gideon, confirming God’s hand in its origin. When the angel of the LORD called Gideon, Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress and later made a cake out of flour (Judges 6:11-19). Thus, Gideon was aptly represented as a loaf, even something as ordinary as a barley roll.
Gideon’s army, put together hastily and “baked” suddenly upon the coals of his service to the LORD, seemed as unlikely to overthrow a great army as rolling bread was to wipe out a tent. Interpretations, however, come from God. He had put the dream into the head of one soldier, then placed the words in the mouth of the second soldier to make the interpretation, strange as it sounded.
Had Gideon heard the dream only, he might have interpreted it as nothing more than nonsense and would have received no comfort from it. But because the fearful interpretation came from the mouth of his enemy, Gideon knew that, not only was it from God, who has all men’s hearts and tongues in His hand, but it was evidence of a dispirited foe. Moreover, Gideon’s name had become so formidable to them that they were losing sleep over the matter.
What a comfort this was to Gideon! He knew the victory could easily be secured, for God had delivered Midian into his hand. Gideon knew an army was not likely to fight when they saw the God of the Israelites was fighting against them. Gideon could see clearly the finger of God pointing him to this very place, this very tent, at this very time, to hear both the dream and the interpretation. Any remaining melancholy or apprehension was wiped out and he was exceedingly encouraged, despite the dramatic reduction in the size of his army.
It is normal for God to represent us in strange ways, and also to provide the correct interpretation. Further, it was normal for Gideon to recognize God’s hand and to sing His praises. At this point, Gideon was pleased to be compared to a barley roll, especially when it proved to effect great things. Gideon worshiped God immediately. This tells us that we, too, should be quick to worship God when we recognize His hand in our lives. Wherever we are, we may speak to God and worship Him, even if we are likened to be a something as curious as a bread roll.
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