“So, are you laying out a fleece on that course of action?” While I understood the question, several of the guys around me had confused looks on their faces. It became a “teachable moment” as I shared the story of Gideon laying out a fleece (sheep skin) as he asked God to confirm His call to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Midianites.

I have heard Christians bad-mouth Gideon for his lack of faith. Think about it. He did, in fact, have an angelic visitation.

“And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.’” (Judges 6:12, ESV)

This verse is the inspiration for these Men of Valor Contemplations. The Angel of the Lord tells Gideon to go and save Israel from the Midianites, so Gideon asks for a “sign” (Judges 6:17). The Angel of the Lord had Gideon lay his sacrifice on a rock. The Angel touched the rock with his staff, causing fire to come out and burn the sacrifice before disappearing. So far, so good.

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, ESV)

On this point, the critics pile on and criticize Gideon for his lack of faith. Let me ask you: have you ever been told to go destroy an invading army, and that with a ragtag band of followers? Maybe we should cut Gideon a little slack. If people would read a little further, they would discover God’s perspective. God told Gideon to cut his army from thirty-two thousand to ten thousand, and then again to only three hundred. Gideon wasn’t a military genius, but from a human perspective, the odds were significantly against him.

It was at this point that God stepped in to strengthen his faith. God assures him he will be victorious, but to reassure him, he was told to go down to the Midianite camp, which he does.

“When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, ‘Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.’ And his comrade answered, ‘This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.’ As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, ‘Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.’” (Judges 7:13-15, ESV)

If God were unhappy with Gideon laying out the fleece, He would never have given him an added confirmation by sending him to the Midianite camp.

Here is the principle we need to understand: God delights in His children when they are seeking confirmation of His direction in their lives. Unlike some of our brothers and sisters, God will not mock our lack of faith when we honestly ask Him to confirm His leading in a way we can grasp. So, the next time you are seeking God’s direction, throw out a fleece and wait for God to respond.

What say you, Man of Valor?

Adapted from Men of Valor Devotional by Ron Helle, 12 April 2024

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