A Cake of Barley Bread

The Sword of Gideon

Max Billeter

Gideon is sent into the camp of the Midianites (Judges 7). By God's mercy he is allowed to take Phurah with him. And then something marvellous happens: he overhears how a man tells his fellow about his dream. And this dream speaks of the Lord Jesus: this loaf, or cake, of barley bread - I have no doubt - shows us the Lord Jesus in his resurrection.

If we are familiar with the feasts of Jehovah (Lev. 23) then this will help us understand the meaning of the barley loaf. There we find the feast of firstfruits (verse 10). It occurred at the time of the barley harvest (the first harvest in the year). The firstfruits speak of resurrection. And as risen One, our Lord Jesus received this title: the firstfruits. And I would like to explain this title now. Sometimes this title is confused with the firstborn because the two words sound a little similar in German [and in English - Eds.] and, therefore, are confused at times.

We should distinguish carefully the following expressions. Our Lord is:

  • The only Son (Gen. 22:2)
  • The only-begotten Son (John 3:16)
  • The firstborn (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15.18; Heb. 1,:6; Rev. 1:5)
  • God's own Son (Rom. 8:3.32)
  • The Firstfruits.

The expression only son (Gen. 22) shows us that there was no other.

The expression only-begotten Son (John 3:16) shows us the wonderful, this unique, Son. This is the meaning of "only-begotten'. It has nothing to do with being born or with being begotten, but with uniqueness: this special Son.

The firstborn means He is the highest, the pre-eminent amongst all.

The expression His own Son shows us that God gave that which was His own possession.

The expression firstfruits shows us that, as risen One, He was the first in time who arose (in order to never die again) and - this is part of it - that as risen One He does not remain alone. This is the meaning of firstfruits: the first in time, but not remaining along. This expression is also used of men. It says of Stephanas that he was the firstfruits of Achaia (1. Cor. 16,15): the first person who had believed in Achaia, but he had not remained alone: others had come to believe after him. There can only be a firstfruits if others follow. And so the Lord Jesus is the firstfruits in resurrection and others will follow: all those who have fallen asleep in Christ.

I would like to prove this now. We find this truth in 1 Corinthians 15, verse 20: 'But now Christ is raised from among the dead, first-fruits of those fallen asleep'. And then it goes on to say in verse 23: 'But each in his own rank: the first-fruits, Christ; then those that are the Christ's at his coming'.

He is this barley loaf. It speaks of Him as of the risen One, the One who has had the victory over the world and the enemy. And the proof of His victory is His resurrection. This is why we have this barley loaf here which shows Gideon that Midian is a conquered enemy. This reminds us of the end of John 16 where the Lord says to His disciples: 'In the world ye have tribulation; but be of good courage: I have overcome the world '. It was at the cross that He had this victory - and His resurrection is the proof.

The second passage I am reminded of is Hebrews 2:14. It shows us that, on Golgotha, Christ defeated, that He annulled, the one who had the power of death. He defeated the devil with the devil's own weapon: death (just as David killed Goliath with his (Goliath's) own sword). And the resurrection of Christ is the proof of His victory.

And then we read of this barley loaf: 'This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, the man of Israel: God hath given into his hand Midian and all the host ' (Judges 7:14). This sword of Gideon shows us that the Lord has conquered the enemy and the world. Here Gideon becomes a type of the Lord Jesus.

A little later he says: 'Look on me, and do likewise' (verse 17). In this expression Gideon foreshadows the Lord Jesus. Our Lord says to us today: 'Look on me, and do likewise'.