“Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.”
And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew. ” Judges 6:36-40
God had commanded Gideon to save Israel from the hand of the Midianites” (Jud. 6:14). When Gideon doubted this divine call, he asked God for two signs of confirmation. In the first, Gideon asked God to make a dry fleece of wool damp while the earth around it stayed dry. In the second, Gideon asked for the fleece of wool to remain dry while the earth around it became wet.
While God graciously answered Gideon’s “fleeces,” there are reasons to believe it is dangerous to follow this pattern today in determining God’s will:
1. This is the only place in the Bible that we read about “throwing out a fleece” to test God’s will, and it is in the book of Judges in the midst of apostasy and spiritual weakness and confusion. Many strange things are recorded in Judges, but that does not mean that we should follow all of them. Consider, for example, the foolish vow of Jephthah (Jud. 11:30-31).
2. God had already spoken plainly to Gideon (Jud. 6:14), and he should have proceeded by faith. It is God’s will that we live by faith in His Word and not by signs.
- “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas” (Mat. 12:39).
- “Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (Jn. 20:29).
- “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:1, 6).
“Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:29-31).
“And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19-21).
God is good.