When Nebuchadnezzar had his dream about kingdoms falling, he saw a stone striking them and breaking them into pieces. A large stone cut out by no human hand shattering the kingdoms of men, itself becoming a great mountain and filling the whole earth (Dan. 2:31-35). That’s kind of what you might expect a vision of conquest to look like. A big rock shattering into pieces whatever is in its path.
But I’m reading in Judges this morning and another guy has a dream about imminent conquest. A mighty man of war in the Midian army. Part of the military force which had been oppressing Israel for the past seven years allowing the Midianites to annually reap and ravage the land, asserting their power and strength to take at their will the very food Israel would have fed on. And what grabs me this morning is how this guy describes his dream to his friend.
“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.”
(Judges 7:13b-14 ESV)
I get why his buddy understood what the dream was about. A tent inside the camp of Midian is struck and falls. It is turned up side down and laid flat. Sounds like pretty good imagery for “I’m pretty sure we’re done!” But struck by a tumbling loaf of bread? Really? That’s the imagery appropriate for the sword of Gideon? Huh?
Come on! Couldn’t we come up with more super-hero, avenger worthy imagery than a loaf of bread? And if we have to go with bread, couldn’t it at least have been a REALLY, REALLY BIG, SUPER FORTIFIED WITH NUTRIENTS AND VITAMINS loaf of bread? Apparently not.
After all, it’s representing Gideon & Co. You know, Gideon. The one whose initial response when God calls him to deliver Israel says, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Jud. 6:15). Gideon, the one who obeyed the Lord in tearing down the city idols “but because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night” (Jud. 6:27b). Gideon who needed a double fleece confirmation (Jud. 6:36-40). Gideon who, though he mustered an army of 32,000 men to go against the Midianites, was only allowed by the LORD to take on the enemy with 300 men “lest Israel boast over Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me'” (Jud. 7:2b).
I guess that’s the point of a loaf of bread. A massive striking rock crushing the kingdoms of earth is fitting when foreshadowing the Christ, the King of kings, coming to establish His rule. But, when it comes to God’s people going into battle against the world, it really is more like a loaf of bread rolling into the enemy’s camp. Seemingly innocuous at first blush. But when God’s behind the rolling it is a vision which strikes terror to those inside the enemy’s camp. Only in His power is a loaf of bread a weapon of victory. Only by His strength is it as crazy as a wooden cross disarming rulers and authorities, putting them to open shame, even as He delivers His people from sin and death (Col. 2:13-15).
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
(1Corinthians 1:26-29 ESV)
Just a loaf of bread? Yup! Really!
Only sinners saved by grace (Eph. 2:5), yet more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37)? Yeah. That’s a “Really!” as well.
Only by His grace, that His power might be known. Only for His glory, that none should boast.