How do we know what God wants us to do?
Do we still have the option to throw down a fleece like Gideon did? Or… do we have enough in the Bible to make informed decisions about life?
“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.
Caution needed 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 seeks 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).
Why are we asking?
Life is not always so simple. Sometimes the question that we are raising is about choices that we have before us. Such a choice may be about career opportunities, ‘this job or that?’ or about residence or may even be about whether the Church we are in is the right place for us to be. We are given some answers in the Bible, particularly in Proverbs which tells us to commit our ways, plans and intentions to the Lord and then He will direct our paths.
We are not guaranteed success in our ways, but we are encouraged by the promise of Romans 8 that all things work together for our good. Even Jesus had some difficulty with things not going to plan (Luke 9:53-56), but what we do learn from Jesus was that there are always other options. God is in control, guiding us, leading us and directing our paths – our confidence should always be towards him, remembering that He is our loving Father who is responsible for us!
To say that we have responsibility for ourselves sounds wise and mature, but we belong to God.
Some help is at hand.
There are a few things that are available to us on a practical level
- Pray and ask for prayer.
- Read the Bible – you can never read too much of it, but always can read it too little. The Word of God is the supreme way that He speaks to you – it is God’s inspired word in a way that nothing else is.
- Allow the Spirit of God to work in your heart and life, inspiring or bringing a sense of caution
- Be open to the ministry of the gifts of the Spirit or the prophetic ministry. Sometimes God is not so much speaking to the Church as He is to you personally. Don’t miss His direction for your own life.
- Talk to those who mentor you, lead you or who are over you in the Lord.
- Be patient. Be prepared to wait for God’s leading – this time of uncertainty about what the Lord may be doing in your life may well be His intentional work. He is the Father who sees in secret, and rewards us!
When Gideon put down the fleece it was a determined decision to do what God alone wanted. Have that same passion for the things of the Lord. Few live that way. Live your life for God.