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Book 1: The Sonship Message of the Judges: Chapter 8: The Battle of Gideon

The battle of Gideon was unusual, not only because they fought with just 300 men but because of their weapons of choice. Judges 7:16-18 says,

16 And he divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers. 17 And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. And behold, when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, then you also blow the trumpets all around the camp and say, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon’.”

The trumpet, the (broken) pitchers, and the torches (light) were Gideon’s main weapons. These three represent the feast days at the end of the growing season: Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. These are the feasts that prophesy of Christ’s second coming. Hence, they were subduing the enemy and bringing deliverance through the message of the feast days.

Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles

We know from Scripture that Trumpets is the day of resurrection, for Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:51, 52,

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery [secret]; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed 52 in a moment [atomos, “atoms”], in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Ten days after Trumpets is the Day of Atonement, which is a day of repentance (breaking the pitchers). Paul says in 2 Cor. 4:6, 7,

6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure [i.e., the light of Christ] in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.

Paul here compares the light of Christ in our own earthen vessels (or bodies) with the light of the torches in Gideon’s pitchers. When the flesh is broken, the light shines forth. Today we crucify the flesh in order that the light of Christ may shine forth from us. Yet the historic fulfillment of the Day of Atonement is also the day of the Jubilee, when the decision is made as to who is qualified to enter the Promised Land.

The Day of Atonement is the preparation day for the feast of Tabernacles five days later, when the living overcomers will be “changed” (1 Cor. 15:51). From Trumpets to the first day of Tabernacles is a two-week period, so the dead will be raised two weeks before the living overcomers will be changed (1 Thess. 4:17).

When both groups have become incorruptible and immortal, they will be joined as one body, so that the Head (Christ) can come to make that body complete. When it is complete, then the body can be presented to God on the eighth day of Tabernacles, according to the law in Exodus 22:29, 30.

The main lesson to be learned from 2 Cor. 4:6 is that the weapon of the overcomers is the light of God’s presence within them, or, as Paul puts it, “the knowledge of the glory of God.

Gideon’s weapons show more specifically that the overcomers are fulfilling the second set of feast days which reveal the events surrounding the second coming of Christ at the end of the age.

The Barley Loaf

Before the battle, Gideon went down to the camp of the Midianites to discern what he could. Judges 7:13-15 says,

13 When Gideon came, behold, a man was relating a dream to his friend. And he said, “Behold, I had a dream; a loaf of barley bread was tumbling into the camp of Midian, and it came to the tent and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down so that the tent lay flat.” 14 And his friend answered and said, “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand.” 15 And it came about when Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, that he bowed in worship. He returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the camp of Midian into your hands.”

Gideon was said to be the loaf of barley bread. I have shown in The Barley Overcomers, that barley represents the overcomers. I have shown in The Wheat and Asses of Pentecost that wheat represents the church as a whole. Finally, grapes represent the rest of creation. (See Creation’s Jubilee, chapter 6.)

Hence, the story of the battle of Gideon makes it clear that it is the overcomers—the barley company—which will fulfill the story of Gideon in the last days.

The Battle of Gideon Reverses Israel’s Captivity

The 300 men in Gideon’s army defeated a massive coalition of “the Midianites, and the Amalekites, and all the sons of the east” (Judges 7:12). The number of them killed in that battle was 120,000, leaving just 15,000 that were defeated later (Judges 8:10). This seems to suggest that Gideon’s army of 300 was facing an army of at least 135,000.

The two Midianite generals, Oreb and Zeeb, were captured and executed east of the Jordan River (Judges 7:25). Oreb was executed at “the rock of Oreb,” and Zeeb was executed at “the wine press of Zeeb,” both places named after the fact in remembrance of the occasion.

These executions, along with the battle as a whole, became the model of an end-time prophecy about the Remnant which was to deliver Israel from the Assyrians after their long captivity came to an end. We know this because Isaiah saw the execution of Oreb and Zeeb as a prophetic pattern of the end-time battle to reverse Israel’s exile and captivity to Assyria.

Isaiah personally witnessed the Assyrian conquest of Israel and its attempted conquest of Judah and Jerusalem. (The story is told in Isaiah 36, 37.) So the prophet personally witnessed the beginning of this long captivity, and then prophesied of its end in terms of the battle of Gideon.

Isaiah 10:5 begins this prophecy, saying, “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger,” which God had raised up to bring judgment upon “a godless nation” (Israel).

Of the end of Israel’s captivity, Isaiah 10:12, 13 says,

12 So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.” 13 For he has said, “By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this…”

God was the One who took credit for bringing judgment upon Israel and Judah, but the king of Assyria took the credit for himself, as if it were his own idea and as if he had free will. We know, of course, that the Assyrian empire lasted just over one century before falling to the Babylonians. But the fall of Assyria did not end Israel’s captivity, for they never returned to their old land—nor could they, because they had been divorced and sent out of the house (Jer. 3:8).

After the empire’s collapse, “Assyria” took on a new prophetic definition, for it became one of many prophetic names of Israel’s captors. Assyria was no longer literal, for the captivity far outlasted the Assyrian empire and was passed down to its successors, much like a slave is sold or claimed by others who kill or conquer his previous master.

The Returning Remnant

The story in the book of Judges describes Gideon as a loaf of barley. Isaiah uses the term remnant, for that was his own revelation (Isaiah 37:31). Isaiah indicates that the remnant will act as Gideon’s army at the end of the age, as we will see shortly from Isaiah 10:26. The prophet thus draws the parallel between Gideon’s army and the remnant.

Isaiah 10:20-23 says,

20 Now it will come about in that day that the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them [Assyria], but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. 22 For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, only a remnant within them will return; a destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord God of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land.

More than any other, Isaiah is the prophet of the remnant. The name of his son, Shear-jashub (Isaiah 7:3), literally means “the remnant will return.” He was named prophetically to set forth one of Isaiah’s major themes, prophesying of the day when the remnant will “return… to the mighty God” at the end of the long captivity. To return is not to return to the old land but to repent and return to God.

Hence, Isaiah prophesied of us today, those who are qualified as Gideon’s army. Of course, the remnant is not the only group that is saved. Their calling is to deliver the rest of the nation and the world itself from the last beast in the long series of empires. For this reason, it is very helpful to understand the story of Gideon in the light of Isaiah’s prophecy of the remnant.

Isaiah 10:24-27 prophesies of this great deliverance, saying

24 Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts, “O My people who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did. 25 For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent, and My anger will be directed to their destruction.” 26 And the Lord of hosts will arouse a scourge against him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; and His staff will be over the sea, and He will lift it up the way He did in Egypt. 27 So it will be in that day, that his burden will be removed from your shoulders and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be broken because of fatness [shemen, “oil, fat”].

The prophet calls our attention to both Moses and Gideon here. Moses lifted up his rod and parted the Red Sea to deliver Israel from Pharaoh’s army, while Gideon destroyed Midian at the rock of Oreb, where the general was executed.

The “yoke” of captivity is to be “broken because of fatness.” Gesenius’ Lexicon says that this is “a metaphor taken from a fat bull that casts off and breaks the yoke.” A similar metaphor can be found in Deut. 32:15, “But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked,” implying that he (Israel) would become so big and prosperous that he would use his weight to break away from his Master.

Yet this also has a double meaning, as the KJV recognizes when it reads, “the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.” The shemen is fat or oil, and the oil can also represent the anointing of the Holy Spirit or one’s calling. So the implication is that when Israel’s captivity comes to an end, the Assyrians will lose control and “the yoke will be broken.” God will use the remnant to accomplish this deliverance, for they have both the spiritual weight and the anointing to succeed.

The Kings and Princes of Midian

The two main generals of Midian (Judges 7:25) were Oreb, “raven,” and Zeeb, “wolf.” The KJV calls them “princes.” It appears that they were captured and killed first. The “two kings of Midian” (Judges 8:12) were Zebah, “sacrifice,” and Zalmunna, “shade, covering, defense.” The death of Zalmunna suggests that his defense or covering had been removed.

If we link King Zalmunna to Prince Zeeb (“wolf”), we may discern the exposure of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If we link King Zebah (“sacrifice”) to Prince Oreb (“raven”), we might discern the sacrifice of a raven, which is an unclean bird that is a counterpart to a clean dove or pigeon.

We must also take into account the three-fold coalition Midian, Amalek, and the sons of the east. The three represent Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Midian means “brawling, contentious,” which well describes the church. Amalek was the grandson of Esau-Edom, and Edom was later absorbed into Judaism (126 B.C.). Hence, Amalek is Judaism in this context. The children of the east came from Arabia and appear to represent the forces of Islam today. (See Judges 8:21, 24.)

All three are Old Covenant religions, whether they realize it or not. None of them seem to know the difference between the Old and New Covenant. The remnant has the anointing to overthrow all three religions, for they have this treasure in earthen vessels and are able to shine the light of Christ into the darkness of this world.