Is that fleece really necessary?

Judg 6:36-38 (NLT) Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. The cycle of disobedience continued. The Israelites again were doing evil in the sight of the LORD. And He had handed them over to their Midianite oppressors who were literally starving them to death. For seven years the enemy marauders had been destroying their crops, taking their livestock and stripping the land bare. The Israelites were reduced to hiding in caves in the mountains.

God heard the cries of His people and sent His prophet to tell them, “I drove out your enemies and gave you their land. I told you, ‘I am the LORD your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.’ But you have not listened to me” (Judg 6:9-10).

Then the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon saying, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!” (Judg 6:12). After Gideon questioned the reality of that statement in light of the oppression his people were experiencing, the angel went on to say, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you! …I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man” (Judg 6:14, 16).

Then Gideon asked for a sign to confirm that this was truly a word from the LORD. …The angel of the LORD touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand, and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all [of the offering Gideon] had brought (Judg 6:21). And Gideon knew that he had seen the angel of the LORD and heard the word of God.

Soon afterward the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east formed an alliance against Israel and crossed the Jordan, camping in the valley of Jezreel. Then the Spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded (Judg 6:33-35).

Let’s recap what has happened so far. God sent His prophet to remind His people that the oppression they were experiencing was the result of their disobedience. Then He sent an angel to deliver His message to Gideon, through whom He had chosen to rescue His people. God confirmed His word through His consuming of Gideon’s offering. Gideon knew he had heard from the LORD. The Spirit of God took “possession” of Gideon. And warriors from the tribes of Israel assembled to fight against the Midianites. And after all that, Gideon put out a fleece to see if God ‘TRULY” meant what He said. And then, he put out a second fleece as “one more test” that God meant what He said! It’s one of those “LORD-I-know-You-said-it-but-did-You-really-mean-it” messages.

This story is a reminder to me of the exorbitant mercy and grace that God extends to us. Not only was He merciful and gracious to His stiff-necked, disobedient children who were offering sacrifices to Baal; but also to the very one He had chosen to rescue His people. Why do i include Gideon? Because i believe that through his fleece, He disrespected God. Why do i consider Gideon’s fleece to be disrespectful? Please know before i answer that question that i believe that many of us disrespect our LORD in this way every day.

Justin is our son, and Lorél is our daughter. And i am very proud to be their Dad. From their infant days, each of them began to know LaVonne’s and my voices. They each learned to know our voices as we spent time together. They heard our words of love, praise, encouragement, correction, and – on a few occasions – discipline. When they were young, they learned to “stop” whenever they heard us say the word, if they ventured too close to traffic, or too close to a sea wall. They learned to come to us whenever we called their respective name. As they each got older – and we had spent more time together – they both learned to recognize our voices as we cheered them on at sports games. They were able to discern our voices from those of other parents because of the time we spent together. As they grew, they never needed to ask who that was who was speaking to them. They knew our voices. If we told them to do something and assured them of our complete support, how would we have felt as parents if they had asked us to prove it to them? Would it feel like they didn’t really know us or trust us? And if for some reason we did provide them with added proof, how would we feel if they came back and wanted more proof? Wouldn’t it feel as if they were questioning our integrity, our reliability, or our ability? i believe that God extended great patience and grace to Gideon.

Know His voice. Since we’re talking about a woolen fleece, let’s use a sheep analogy. Jesus told us that His sheep know His voice (John 10). The shepherd works diligently for his sheep to know and recognize his voice. He does not want his sheep guessing about whether that was their shepherd’s voice or someone else. Their safety and welfare – and his success as a shepherd – depends on the sheep knowing his voice. Just as Jesus was explaining in that parable, our relationship with our Good Shepherd is the same. If we are spending time with Him, we can’t help but know His voice. And the more time we spend with Him, the more intimately we know Him and know His voice. First and foremost we hear His voice through His Word – God’s revelation of Himself.

Recognize His activity. Once God has given you a word about something He is teaching you or directing you to do, watch to see what He does next. Be alert to your circumstances and/or situations that arise. Look at those circumstances in light of the word that God has spoken to you. Stay anchored to the word He has given you. If you look at circumstances apart from God’s Word, you can become disoriented by changes; but if you look at them through His Word, He will show you how to respond to each one.

Rely on His presence. The Spirit of the LORD had come upon Gideon. The great news for us as followers of Jesus is that His Holy Spirit already indwells within us. His role is to teach us and remind us of everything the LORD has told us (John 14:26). His Holy Spirit will never lead us in a direction that is contrary to His Word.

If God has spoken to you through His Word, confirmed it through His activity and affirmed it through His Spirit, is that fleece really necessary? God did answer Gideon’s request. But i would pose to you that many of the fleeces we ask for are an attempt to substitute a fleece for His word. We’re not sure, because we don’t have a word from God. And we don’t have a word, because we’re not spending time with Him.

Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn 8:31-32). He didn’t point us to fleeces, He pointed us to His word. He pointed us to Himself. Spend time with Him in His Word. Listen to His voice. He has the answer to your question.

Excerpt from Lessons Learned In The Wilderness - Possessing the Promise.