Bowling With Barley

Jon Burgess


10But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah.11Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack.”...13Gideon crept up just as a man was telling his companion about a dream. The man said, “I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!”14His companion answered, “Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!”15When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before theLord.Then he returned to the Israelite camp and shouted, “Get up! For theLordhas given you victory over the Midianite hordes!”

Judges 7:10-11,13-15


Gideon's first response to the confirming dream of his enemies was to bow and worship the Lord. This humility of heart recognized that it was God who would bring the victory, not him. The dream spoke straight to Gideon's current crisis. This dream wasn't just for his enemies, it was for him. Due to the constant raids of the Midianites the people of Israel were reduced to eating barley which made for a bread so tough it was almost impossible to chew. This is why Gideon was threshing wheat in private so that it would not get stolen (ch. 6). This dream was a confirmation on the command the angel had given to Gideon- "Go in the strength that you have." "Serve with what you have." In the hands of God nothing becomes something. In the hands of God five loaves and two fish can feed thousands. In the hands of God a barley loaf can knock down an entire army. If only Gideon had remembered this dream after his victories. If only he had remembered it wasn't the barley bread that knocked down the tent but the skill of the One who threw it. Judges 8:27 reveals that Gideon built an ephod in his honor and "it became a trap for Gideon and his family". If only he had remembered the dream and been reminded that victory come from the Lord. Hubris replaced humility and the man called to lead God's people back to Him led them to worship false gods again.


I'm a lousy bowler. I always have been. I mean it's not like I throw gutter balls all the time or anything but it's clear this is not my calling. I could blame it on the Ronald McDonald shoes, the thickness of fingers that get stuck in the bowling ball holes, or the slippery floor on which I walk, but the truth is this is not my game. I always stand in awe of those who walk up with such confidence and bowl one strike after another after another. There's a surety in their stride and a level of experience that is revealed in the proper posture, poise, and precision of the throw. When he bowls a perfect score no one ever goes to the ball and holds it up as the secret for his success. That would be silly. It's the not the ball being thrown, it's the skill of the one throwing it that wins the game. If I don't keep my ego in check I can begin to look at the victories in my life and ministry as if they were my own. As if a bowl will do anything but sit on a shelf without the strength, skill and inertia of the one who picks it up and throws it. Paul writes in Galatians 6:14: "As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died."


Lord, forgive me for my pride. As I enter Easter weekend that is all about You and what You did through your death and resurrection I can so easily flip and make it about me and insecurities. Like the disciples arguing on the night You were betrayed about who was the greatest I can completely miss the point when I start comparing myself with others. I believe You are going to knock down the tents of the enemy in peoples lives as You have overcome the hordes of hell. If you can use this barley loaf to help you do it, then I'm all Yours and this is all about You!

Devotions for March 29

Judges 6,7
Psalms 52
1 Corinthians 14

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