Barley Bread, Trumpets, and the Glory of God

Judges 7 is a must read for the newly-called and the overwhelmed. In chapter 6, Gideon the farmer had just been tapped by God as the mighty man of valor who would save Israel. His view of God was limited, and of himself, poor. But God had promised to be with him and assured Israel’s victory, and Gideon bravely begins to take on his new assignment. “The Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon,” God graciously answers his test of the fleece, and Gideon rises early with his men to head to battle.

Then God begins to overturn natural practicality and do His supernatural thing. He says, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” 22,000 are winnowed to 10,000 are trimmed to 300, and the LORD promises to save them and give the Midianites into their hand. He even detects Gideon’s fear, and tells him he and his servant can go to the camp and listen to what the enemy is saying, “‘and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.’ Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outposts of the armed men who were in the camp. And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance. When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, ‘Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.’ And his comrade answered, ‘This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.’ As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped.

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300 soldiers were indeed only a ‘loaf of barley bread’ compared to the vast army before them, but God’s kind affirmation fueled Gideon’s faith and strategy. He divided his troops into three groups, armed with trumpets and empty jars with torches, and advanced. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, ‘A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!’ Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army.” The powerful Midianites, who had oppressed Israel for seven years, turned on themselves in fear of trumpet blasts and fire, and fled only to be overtaken, captured, and killed. God had indeed brought victory.

In any new endeavor or weighty assignment, God is enough. He hears our doubts and answers them; He knows our fears and insecurities, and comes alongside to reassure us. When we feel small, incapable, insignificant, what matters is that God is big, able, and uses us to accomplish significant deeds. He clothes us with His Spirit, and equips us with His fire. He calls the ordinary to do extraordinary things, that He receive the glory. When “with man this is impossible, with God all things are possible.” (Psalm 34:4; Luke 24:49; Matthew 19:26)

Lord, You know the Midianites in my mind, spirit, and life, and they are not too much for You. Help me remember the barley loaf, and to take hold of the trumpet and blow with gusto and praise.


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