Bible Dreams – The Midianite with Gideon

Bible Dreams – The Midianite with Gideon

Bible Dreams – The Midianite with Gideon.

“That night God came to king Abimelech in a dream…” (Genesis 20:3); “As Jacob slept, he dreamed of a stairway…” (Gen. 28:12); “In my dream, the Angel of the Lord said to me, ‘Jacob!” (Gen. 31:11); “One night, Joseph had a dream…” (Gen. 37:5); “The previous night, God had appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream…” (Gen. 31:24); “Interpreting dreams is God’s business, so go ahead and tell me your dreams,’ said Joseph.”(Gen. 40:8); “Two years later, Pharaoh dreamed… (Gen. 41:1);“When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord.” (Judges 7:15); “That night, Yahweh appeared to Solomon in a dream.” (1 Kings 3:5, and 9:2); “I have had a dream that deeply troubles me, and I must know what it means,’ said King Nebuchadnezzar. He sent for Daniel at once.” (Daniel 2:3, 14); “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream…” (Matthew 1:20, also in 2:19 and 2:22); “God had warned the Magi in a dream.” (Matt. 2:12); “Pilate’s wife sent him a message, saying ‘Let that innocent man alone! I suffered through a terrible nightmare about Him last night!” (Matt. 27:19).

Why would God, who has every means of revelation at His disposal, choose dreams as a way to contact a person and convey vital guidance? Dreams tend to be unreliable, unpredictable, illogical, and poorly remembered if at all. Many if not most dreams don’t seem like a very trustworthy vehicle for divine communication. They can be mistranslated so easily, and sometimes are so bizarre it’s hard to take them seriously. And we know now that dreams can be affected by external things like room temperature, what we ate or drank before bedtime, the events of the day, or even if there are any lingering aromas in the house. And because dreamers are in an unconscious state, dreams are outside of our control as the unfettered imagination runs wild.

Nonetheless, God speaking through dreams didn’t seem to raise any eyebrows in Scripture. Everyone from pagan kings to heroic saints were not surprised by this strategy of God to reach them. We now realize that after decades of so-called dream science, the whole topic of dreams are just as mysterious now as in ancient times. Dreams remain a fascinating frontier when it comes to scientific research, and we still simply cannot confirm why we have this ability to mentally experience vivid pictures, stories and images while in an unconscious state. God in His wisdom knows when to approach someone with divine intervention while a person is in a dream state. He knows who is a likely prospect for His appearance in a dream. Perhaps some people are more receptive to God’s guidance when in an unconscious state, which says a lot about a person’s stubbornness when in a conscious state. Perhaps it is only during a dream that a person doesn’t have much of a choice of whether to listen or not, knowing that dreamers are captive audiences. Maybe God waits for when a certain person’s resistance is down. Perhaps a person’s imagination might be more picturesque and creative during a dream, able to manage an other-worldly, heavenly message. We just don’t know for sure the motivation of God in using dreams, of course, because His very presence is a mystery as He somehow travels back and forth between spiritual, material and imaginative realities. But we do know that God often chooses to work in mysterious ways and in this matter of dreams, He has chosen, and continues to choose, dreams to warn, instruct, guide, reveal His presence, and encourage us. God loves us so much that He will do whatever it takes to reach us whether awake, or asleep, or everything in between.

“That night, the Lord said, ‘Get up! Go down to the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them! But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack it.’ So Gideon took Purah and went down to the edge of the enemy camp. The armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east had settled in the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels were like grains of sand on the seashore – too many to count! Gideon 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 whirling through the Midianite camp. It came to a tent and struck it so hard it fell flat! The tent was turned upside down and it collapsed!’ His companion answered, ‘Your dream can mean only one thing – God has given Gideon the Israelite victory over Midian and all its allies!’ When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord. Then he returned to the Israelite camp and shouted, ‘Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!’” (Judges 7:9-15).

The era of the Judges was a difficult period in Israel’s history. After taking the Promised Land for God’s chosen people, Joshua died and it was time for the Israelites to develop their unique national culture based on the worship and obedience of Yahweh. Unfortunately, this newfound national life disintegrated while they were possessing the land. There was moral and spiritual anarchy as the Israelites fell into idolatry, mixing worship of the Canaanite god Baal with Yahweh. Morally, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (17:6). So the people had to endure constant oppression from their enemies as punishment for getting on such an evil track. The repeating cycle of sin, oppression, and salvation continued for 400 years. To bring order out of the chaos, God would occasionally raise up military leaders who would save the Israelites from their enemies. These national military leaders were called Judges. God intervened out of sheer grace during this era, and one time involved a clever, skeptical man named Gideon, who was Israel’s fifth judge.

 In Judges 6 we find Gideon, the youngest member of an insignificant family in Israel. He was a farmer by trade, and by nature lacked confidence. Gideon was a bit on the timid side, and seemed to be a natural skeptic, perhaps even pessimistic. His nation of Israel was slowly starving to death because of their enemy the Midianites, a marauding force that often swept into Israel and stole their crops and livestock. This frightening state of affairs had been going on for seven years, and Israel was helpless with these devastating attacks. If the Israelites were honest with themselves, they would have connected the dots and acknowledged this as God’s punishment for their pagan idolatry. But this knowledge didn’t make life any easier for the Israelites.

Power in Weakness. Gideon was understandably fearful, but he also had a clever and resourceful streak. He decided to use the family winepress to serve as the place where he would secretly thresh his wheat. A winepress during that time was either a large pit dug into the ground or a wide vat carved out of a boulder in the ground, and it was big enough for several people to stand in and crush grapes. Gideon was afraid that some Midianite attackers would see him thresh his wheat out in the open and take away his wheat crop. So he was hiding in the winepress, threshing his wheat, in the protective barrier of the winepress. Gideon’s humility in recognizing his low stature in Israel actually was of spiritual benefit to him. Now the Lord knew Gideon was a ready receptacle for His power. A basic principle of the Kingdom is that “His strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Warrior? Suddenly the Angel of Yahweh appeared to Gideon, calling him a “mighty warrior, valiant hero” as he fearfully threshed his wheat. (6:12). The Angel said that Yahweh was with him. Gideon was doubtful, and he wasn’t sure if this was really a heavenly Messenger or just a human visitor. Gideon complained that if the Lord was truly with him and his people, He sure had a strange way of showing it. Look at the Midianites, Gideon blurts out. He then gathered his courage to point out, it looks like Yahweh has abandoned us! The Angel made it clear, though, that Yahweh wanted Gideon to lead the rescue efforts, and God would be with him all the way. The Messenger even performed a miracle to convince Gideon of his divine calling, a little matter of a fire coming from out of a rock. (6:21). Yahweh saw something in Gideon that even Gideon didn’t see. Yahweh saw courage and valor and leadership.

Clothed with the Spirit. At this point, Gideon knew he had to start rallying the troops. He needed to gather some Israelite fighting men to go against the enemies that were camping along their border. What happens next is significant. The different versions of the Bible put it this way: The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon; the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with power; the Spirit of the Lord enveloped Gideon; the Spirit of Yahweh empowered Gideon; the Spirit of the Lord came over Gideon; the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with Himself and took possession of him. The Hebrew word here literally means “put on.” So the Holy Spirit came onto Gideon as a garment. And Gideon was privileged to put on this powerful garment, enabling him to meet these challenges facing Israel. There was no other way to victory. Gideon was impotent without the Lord’s empowerment.

Too Many Troops. In Judges 7, we see the ingenious way Gideon assembled the troops to fight while listening to the Lord’s instructions. Gideon’s battle cry on his horn was an excellent way to gather his warriors. The problem was, Yahweh thought Gideon did too good of a job. There are too many troops, says the Lord. This is a holy war, the troops shouldn’t get the credit for the eventual victory. People might claim the glory due to Me. That’s not good. I want everyone to acknowledge that the Lord secured the triumph. This was not man’s doing. So Gideon is instructed to winnow out the men. If any of the troops are even a little fearful or timid, tell them to go home. So 22,000 troops left, while 10,000 remained. There are still too many troops! People might think they have earned the victory without God’s help. So continue to sift the troops in your brigade, Yahweh tells Gideon. The troops were taken to a nearby stream to get a drink of water. Now notice all those troops who get down on their knees and drink with their mouths directly in the stream. Those warriors are excused. Tell them to go home. And all those fighters who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues, they remain to fight. That is the way to fight effectively, ready to engage in combat if an enemy should come up behind them while drinking. These are my fighters, says the Lord. Gideon ended up with only 300 troops against the many thousands of the Midianites. Now I know, says Yahweh, that no one will boast about saving themselves by their own strength and numbers. The fighting troop was reduced from 32,000 to 300 men. There will be no doubt that the victory was from God. God’s strength does not lie in numbers. Sometimes God reveals His power in the unimpressive. The one God will always outnumber the countless enemy. It didn’t matter that the Midianite horde looked like a swarm of locusts, or that their camels were past counting, like grains of sand on the seashore. The Midianites soon grew fearful because of the Lord speaking to one of them in a dream.

The Enemy’s Dream. Here we find the Lord giving a message through an enemy’s dream for Gideon’s benefit! This was a divine revelation given to an enemy of the Lord! The tent in the dream referred no doubt to the nomadic tribe of the Midianites. The barley loaf referred to the agricultural Israelites. It’s interesting that it was barley in particular that was a reference point. Barley was the least impressive of all the breads, an inferior material and not considered a “fine flour.” Barley was only worth half the value of wheat bread and was considered the cheapest bread to eat. Barley was used by God in the dream because it reflected the unimpressive status of Gideon, the insignificance of his family, and Israel’s vastly inferior number of troops when compared to the Midianite enemies. And yet, here we have the least impressive troops completely overwhelming the superiority of the enemy. How can this be? “The Lord said to Gideon, I will be with you!” (Judges 6:16). God revealed His power in the unimpressive. The Lord’s strength was made perfect in Gideon’s weakness.

Victory. The Midianites were afraid of Gideon’s troops, even though they didn’t know a thing about them. Gideon gave each man a horn and an empty jar with a lit torch inside the jar. At the signal, everyone was supposed to blow their horns and shout, “For God and for Gideon!” When Gideon’s fighters came to the edge of the camp, they blew their horns, then smashed their jars, revealing the torches in the night. They were all stationed around the camp, so it looked like the enemy camp was completely surrounded. The enemy panicked and ran for their lives, even killing themselves in the process. Gideon’s clever strategy made the enemy think there were more troops than there actually were. The enemy was routed, and the victory was the Lord’s. A miracle, and the Israelites did not have to fight. The glory goes to Yahweh. (Judges 7:9-22). Throughout this battle, Gideon continued to have the Holy Spirit envelop and clothe him in the power of the Lord. The Holy Spirit was his spiritual armor.