Is it Okay to Test God with a Sign, Like Gideon’s Fleeces?

[This is a bonus post of the Hearing God’s Voice series.]

A series on hearing God’s voice wouldn’t be complete without bringing up the subject of fleeces. What are “fleeces,” you ask? Many Christians coin the phrase “using a fleece” when they ask God for something specific and test Him just like Gideon did.

The story of Gideon’s fleeces can be found in Judges 6:11-40, but there’s just a small portion of that I want us to zero in on. Before we look at that you may need a recap of the story, so I’ll sum it up for you. You’re welcome. 😉

An Average Joe

angel

The children of Israel hadn’t obeyed the Lord so they were being oppressed by the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to an average Joe named Gideon, who was least in his father’s house (human thinking) although God said he was a mighty man of valor (Kingdom thinking). An angel was standing there talking to him and he was saying, wait, I need a sign that you’re an angel standing here talking to me. (God 1, Gideon 0) So Gideon whipped up some grub and the angel said put it on the rock. The angel supernaturally set it on fire and left Gideon blinking to himself, whoa that was an angel standing here talking to me. (God 2, Gideon 1. But I can relate to Gideon; I’m a slow learner sometimes, too.)

Then God talked to Gideon a couple of times and gave him specific directions to tear down the altar of Baal, which he did at night since he was too chicken to do it during the day. Hmm, Gideon heard God’s voice and obeyed it. (God 3, Gideon 2) Next, the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon and he started issuing orders to bring in recruitments against the war the Midianites were trying to start. (God 4, Gideon 3)

And that brings us up to the part that we are talking about today:

So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said― look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, 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 the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground. Judges 6:36-40 NKJV

Say what? After seeing an angel and all this interaction with the voice of the Lord now you’re going to test God, Gideon? What happened?

When Gideon did this he was overtaken with doubt. Questioning God is okay, but it does not seem wise to do so in the sense of doubting God.

Gideon was just like us. Real. We struggle with doubt. We want to know that we know. Once God has told us to do something, a focus on obeying rather than doubting is in order.

What do you think? Should Christians use fleeces?


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Photo credit: seaoat (Creative Commons)

11 thoughts on “Is it Okay to Test God with a Sign, Like Gideon’s Fleeces?

  1. This is really good and the exact story we just discussed in Sunday School. I love how you bring humor to it this way, it had me laughing out loud. It is so true that we do these very same things. I am just glad God is merciful even when we slip onto doubt or worry slopes. He knows we are weak but He said in those times He is made strongest. I think it comes with admitting it, or at least that is where I seemed to grow a lot…when I laid my pride down and admitted my need. Thanks for sharing this!
    Your friend @ #LiveFreeThursday

  2. I have often wondered about this whole “using a fleece.” One of my friends has frequently used it and believes God is instructing her in her decision making. I’ve been very reluctant to do so. Thank you for sharing you insights on this story. I’m visiting from #livefreethursday.

    • I used to do it quite frequently because that was where I was at in my walk with God. Since then, when I have wanted to rely on a fleece I discovered when looking into my heart that it was because I wasn’t taking time alone with God or else I was doubting what I already knew was His plan. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Kelly,
    I love your sense of humor, as it makes this ‘story’ so relevant, versus an ‘old wise tale.’ I think we often test God and may not realize it. We worry even though we’ve seen God’s faithful hand in the past. We try to fix things on our own, when we’ve seen his handy work. I think it’s due to human nature..trying to know all and be all. Thank you for this reminder that it’s ok to question God or even doubt, but do not tempt or mock him, as his reflection is in the beauty we find day to day.

  4. I have always heard this story cast in a negative light, i.e. that it is an example of doubting and unbelief. I am not really sure that Gideon didn’t believe God, but rather that he wanted to be certain that it WAS surely God at each step of the way he was hearing from, because what he was being asked to do would have gotten him and everyone else killed if he was wrong.

    There is no rebuke on God’s part for unbelief, like there was with the men sent to spy out the promised land. The spies had had many opportunities to see God at work. Gideon hadn’t had those same experiences and that’s probably why God was more understanding with him and patient, than with the ten spies who had seen all manner of supernatural intervention on God’s part.

    I wouldn’t want to make a dogmatic statement such as “Fleeces are always wrong” or “fleeces are always a sign of unbelief and God will not answer”. I think there are times that He does out of grace, elect to answer a fleece. Probably they are not something we should rely on regularly, .

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