[This post is part of A Biblical Foundation to Hearing God’s Voice series]
A series on hearing God’s voice wouldn’t be complete without bringing up the subject of “using a fleece.” What are “fleeces,” you ask? Sometimes Christians use the phrase “using a fleece” when they ask God for something specific while seeking His direction, and test Him just like Gideon did.
The story of Gideon’s fleeces can be found in Judges 6:11-40, but there’s 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
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. He did this 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: using a fleece.
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. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew. Judges 6:36-40 NLT
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.
The Spirit of God came on him when he blew the horn, but he had weak faith. He’s dictating terms with God with those fleeces. But this shows God’s patience. —TJ Hall
What About Today? Should Christians Use Fleeces?
We don’t see the Apostle Paul putting up fleeces. Why not? Well, not only was Paul’s spiritual maturity level greater than Gideon’s, but today we have the Holy Spirit within us. Gideon didn’t have that benefit. (We only see a few instances where the Holy Spirit came to move on someone in the Old Testament.)
My pastor touched on this subject a bit in one of his messages. In my notes, I wrote down five reasons we probably shouldn’t use a fleece:
- Zachariah asked for a confirming sign, and the result was he was mute for awhile (Luke 1:18-22)
- Jesus said a wicked generation asks for a sign (Matthew 16:4)
- We have the complete Word of God
- We have the Holy Spirit Himself in our heart to guide and correct (John 14:17, 16:13)
- When we believe, signs follow (Mark 16:17).
Fleeces and Praying About a Relationship
I knew a couple of young adults that liked each other, but weren’t in an official relationship. The guy prayed and asked God to show him if he was supposed to marry her. They met at work; he was fulltime and she was hired via temporary contract. He “put up a fleece” that if she came back to his work that month, then God was saying yes. If she didn’t show up, the answer was no.
They had mutual friends at the same job, and one day that month, she dropped by to give one of her friends a ride home. He happened to see her and was ecstatic. When he relayed the prayer with the fleece, she wasn’t happy about it at all. She didn’t want to marry him.
Now clearly, what happened was coincidence, not God answering a superstitious prayer. Using a fleece is not a good idea when it concerns relationships. He walked away from God because he didn’t get the girl, and his life went downhill for a long time after that. That’s as much as I know before I lost touch with them.
Using a fleece may be doable in certain cases, but wisdom seems to cry that it’s not God’s best. I would be more inclined to discern God’s voice concerning a relationship and look for confirmations instead of using a fleece.
Should We Test God?
Putting up a fleece is essentially testing God. What does the Bible say about testing Him? Here are some verses to consider:
- Test the spirit when we hear a voice. “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.” 1 John 4:1 NLT
- Prove God, in the sense of standing in faith (Malachi 3:10).
- Not tempt God (Matthew 4:7) which means “to put to proof God’s character and power.” This means in the sense of manipulating God.
When it comes to hearing God’s voice and knowing His will, don’t overthink it. It’s better to trust Him and believe in His ability to lead us, than being fearful that we’re going to miss Him.
Simply invite God into your day and into your decisions. He’s going to have wisdom and insight to bless you. Sometimes it is going to be super obvious how He’s leading you. Other times it’s going to seem like you’re left to make a decision. So make it. And you will still see His blessing.
What do you think? Should Christians use a fleece?
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