When the barley loaf thought it was Wonder bread

th-27Unfortunately, Gideon did not finish well. It happens often after a great victory of faith. You forget that all your success was God’s doing, and assume some of it, if not all of it, as yours, and start to behave accordingly.

One hundred twenty thousand men died that night in the Valley of Jezreel without Gideon and his 300 lifting a finger, and 15,000 fled, and with them were the two Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna. So Gideon and his 300 pursued them until they left none standing except the two kings, whom they captured. In the process they passed through a couple of towns that had also suffered at the hands of the Midianites, and when Gideon told them of their victory and that they were chasing the two kings and would the town please provide some food for his hungry men, the leaders of the towns replied “Catch Zebah and Zalmunna first, and then we will feed your army.” (Judges 8:6) To which Gideon replied, “After the Lord gives me victory over Zebah and Zalmunna, I will return and tear your flesh with the thorns and briers from the wilderness.” (8:7) Which is exactly what he did, along with killing every man in town.

This is the same Gideon who only days before was hiding in a winepress threshing out wheat. The same Gideon for whom it took four miraculous signs from God to give him enough courage to go up against this great enemy. He is now exacting revenge. A little taste of blood — a huge taste of victory — and it went to his head.

So when Gideon and his men returned home victorious, the people wanted to make him king, to which he replied, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The Lord will rule over you! However…” (and you always have to worry about that however) “I do have one request — that each of you give me an earring from the plunder you collected from your fallen enemies.” (8:23-24) And “Gideon made a sacred ephod from the gold and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family.” (8:27)

Most scholars believe that Gideon was not intentionally creating an idol here. An ephod was a certain vestment priests wore when consulting with the Lord. Gideon thought he was creating a special means by which one aspect of the priesthood could be carried out, but it soon became an idol worshipped in the place of God, which is what commonly happens today with religion in general. We erect something we think will enhance people’s worship of God, but it soon becomes the thing worshipped.

When the Jesus movement got underway in 1970, it was pretty exciting and somewhat scary. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but it didn’t matter because God was doing it; we were just showing up. It wasn’t about us; it was all about Jesus. But it didn’t take long for that focus to change. All it took was for a few things to slip out of God’s hands and into ours.

How long did it take for Jesus music freely played on the street to the end of salvation of the souls of the listeners to turn into music bought and sold in bookstores and concerts to the end of furthering the careers of the artists and all those making a living off the resulting industry? About two years.

When did we cease to trust the Spirit and start trusting in our own organization, replacing spontaneous events and outcomes with planned ones? About 1972.

How long did it take for Jesus to cease to be the issue, replaced by morality and fighting the evils of society? About five more years.

When did the Jesus movement turn into our movement? About the same time.

Remember when Gideon was humbled to learn that he was equated with a little tiny barley loaf of bread that knocked down a whole tent, and he bowed and worshipped God there? It would be good for us to return to that place. Just a little barley loaf — that’s all we are — but we flatten tents with ease when we trust in God.

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4 Responses to When the barley loaf thought it was Wonder bread

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    No biggie the Catch being a little late it turned out well 4 me, simply because my home health aid, Lou (who I call wonderful & helpful Lou – she’s a blessing to me) Anyway, she was a bit late today and I just got out of the shower – she makes sure I don’t fall in it & hurt myself.

    It’s sad “…Gideon did not finish well.” Yet as u wrote Pastor John we often tend to do that. After a great victory of faith. I hope & pray after being able to some sweet day work my way off of disability income – I remember & NEVER forget the help our Lord gave me to be able to do that, plus the good help I’ve received from my Catch buddies and gorgeous Marti’s tips too.
    PS let me also comment on the pic of the Wonder Bread loaf – hopefully non of the Catch readers eat that white enriched bread – it’s called “enriched” for a very good reason – while in mass production is milled SO VERY POORLY and all the good and nutrients part are tossed away – that’s why the have to ‘enrich’ it – God knows how the grow a good wheat – Man as usual ruins it when it made into a mass production and does anyone think / believe a company uses good things to ‘enrich’ it? No they’ll often use the less expensive way.. Don’t eat white enrich bread or flour – Appendices (sp?) is an ONLY in North America thing! And a lot of the smart nutritionist’s say or tie it into the mass use of white enriched bread.. It may taste good, but it NOT good for you… 🙂

  2. TimC says:

    That was a very interesting time. Since I was a “good church kid” who was involved with leading music in our youth group, I found that having access to the record albums and lead/chord sheets was great because then we could sing the various songs in our own groups. So what if none of us saw what was going on behind the scenes in the burgeoning Contemporary Christian Music industry. After several years we heard about the cracks that had been developing in the façade, but still there were some good things going on: some people were learning to trust God. And God was still using the music to touch people’s lives. There might have been some bad apples in the cart, but it wasn’t like the whole thing was rotten to the core.

    The other really good thing about having access to good music to buy and listen to, is that we could reject the world’s music. We had something to which we could gravitate. I don’t need to name names, but there were some really rotten things going on in the music scene of the day. And in a sense, the Christian music scene was a stark difference. It was a light in the darkness.

    I’m reminded of the time when Jesus’ disciples rebuked some other people who spreading the good news. Jesus told them to let them continue. And Paul was glad when other people were preaching, because the Gospel was being shared.

    Of course, we would reject them, and/or vote them out of office because they’re not perfect like us.

    Ow! Bit my tongue again.

  3. I recall a Catch from several years ago where John wrote:
    “Christian music is a separate market only in America.
    In Europe and Eastern Europe there is only music. Popular music.”
    (You can read that entire Catch here: https://catchjohnfischer.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/should-i-stay-or-should-i-go/ )”
    I remember through the 60’s and 70’s the American music scene basically embraced any and all types of song: rock (from Elvis to Alice Cooper to the Ramones), pop, folk, protest, country, bluegrass, disco, Indian (both Asian and Native American), jazz, blues, classical to some extent (i.e.: Apollo 100’s “Joy”, ELO’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King”, Berry’s “Roll over Beethoven”, etc.), along with established crooners such as Sinatra, Crosby, Martin, Boone, Darin (who can recall Bobby’s establishment-shaking rendition of “Simple Song of Freedom”?) and, of course, the newly-emerging “Jesus music” (this is NOT your parents hymnbook!).
    I’m not so naive to believe that there were never any business interests or monetary pursuits involved with the bands, groups, and musicians of those days – secular or Christian – but it seemed that everyone involved – particularly the artists – were open-minded and open-armed in accepting whatever music and messages from all those whom God had gifted musically – with no (or few) reservations and regardless of the others backgrounds and beliefs.
    If you called yourself a Christian or Jesus-Freak, cool – just don’t judge me and I won’t judge you.
    If it was good music, cool – then it was good music. Period.
    If there was a message to be told, cool – I’ll hum along and think about what I heard.
    There was plenty of room for all forms of musical expression.
    And, if you really listened to the lyrics from some of the “secular” musicians of that era then you’d hear some of those songs (that our parents curdled at) either reaching out to Jesus and trying to find Him, or even worship Him one way or another – or at least a concept of Him.
    I’d even go so far as to say that a good half of the songs written back then were musicians’ attempts at finding God’s higher purpose for themselves (as well as for society) and, possibly, in some way to praise Him – even if the praise, at times, seemed misguided, i.e.: “Spirit in the Sky”, “Day by Day”, “Jesus is Just Alright With Me”, “I Don’t know how to Love Him”, “Amazing Grace” (by Judy Collins)… even “My Sweet Lord” (yes, Hare Krishna), “Jesus Christ Superstar”, and “Mrs. Robinson” (“The Graduate”), amongst other songs considered “questionable” in Christian circles.
    What a ripe time it was in the fields.
    For a short period of time there appeared to be a type of harmony between musical artists and their varied genres and it seemed there was mutual respect between most everybody in the music realm. You could watch The Rolling Stones on Ed Sullivan one week, then listen to Tennessee Ernie Ford after that, followed by The Smothers Brothers or Janis Joplin or Jim Nabors or the Turtles, or the King Family, etc.
    The “secular” music world was okay with welcoming Jesus onto their stage and, in most instances – even today – still does.
    The church, on the other hand, has not been so gracious.
    Unfortunately, as with any successful venture, there will be opportunists and Judas’s wanting to hitch their wagons to the Rising Stars. Heck, the Rising Stars may themselves be their own Judas Iscariot! Their initial intent may not have been malicious or manipulative or money-seeking but when these people saw the temptation of lots of dollars to be made and fame to be had, then the music ministry evolved into the profit-generated industry we call “Entertainment”.

    There is a lot of great talent in the entire musical spectrum right now and our society seems to be as ripe today to hearing a “new” song of peace, love, and fellowship – amid the cacophony of turmoil – that was, ironically, sung as a “new” song some 30 to 40-years ago – during a similarly tumultuous time.
    In fact, that “new” song has been “new” for 2000 years!
    However, we must ask ourselves as followers of Christ today: will the song we sing be money-driven or popularity-seeking or motivated by an “agenda” – all WONDER BREAD?
    Or, will it be a heart-felt harmonious tune of love, peace, and contentment with the simple things and with those fellow souls that are far more valuable – BARLEY LOAF- … a song written by the Master Composer?

    Assuming Jesus tarries, I wonder (not the bread) how we’ll be remembering these days 30 to 40-years from now. I wonder what ran through Gideon’s mind as he looked back on his life 40-years after defeating Israels enemies….

    • TimC says:

      Hi Bob:
      Well put. Just to add a couple points… For several years, Kerry Livgren, one of my absolute favorite musicians, was on a spiritual search and much of that search was seen in Kansas’ music. It’s so interesting to look back and see how God was leading his journey and how God has used him over the years. Now I continue to pray for him following his stroke in 2009.

      Also you said, “The church, on the other hand, has not been so gracious.” How right you are.

      Remember the arguments when we started playing our guitars in church? They said we were bringing the devil’s music into the church. And then Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith “crossed over” to the secular side?

      And the Pharisees whined that Jesus was a friend of tax collectors and sinners.


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