Should We Make Decisions With Fleeces?

fleece

You’ve got a big decision to make.

You’ve got a fat job offer, but there’s some potential. You’re thinking about this girl that you really like, but you’re not sure what the outcome will be. You’re trying to figure out if you should buy a house or keep renting. How do you decide?

How about putting out fleeces? You know, just like Gideon. In Judges 6, God called Gideon to deliver the people of Israel from the hand of the Midianites.  But Gideon was a jittery, nervous fellow, and he wanted to be sure that God was with him, so he asked God to give him signs.

In Judges 6:36-40 Gideon laid out a fleece. If the fleece was wet but the ground was dry, then he could be sure that God was on his side. Next day, wet fleece, dry ground. But Gideon needed a little more assurance, so he decided to ask for one more test. If the fleece was dry but the ground was wet, then God was definitely with him. Once again, God came through. Dry fleece, wet ground.

So should we follow Gideon’s example?

Should we ask God for signs when we’re making decisions? Lord, if this job is from you, let me see a cloud in the shape of a cross right now. If I’m supposed to ask this girl out, let her text message me in the next five minutes. Is this what we’re after?

I don’t think so. If you read the story of Gideon closely, you’ll see that Gideon is not an example for us to follow. In Judges 6:12,14, the angel of the Lord came to Gideon and said:

“The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.”…And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?””

God tells Gideon flat out that He’s with him, and then commands him to go and give the Mideanites a beat-down. But Gideon isn’t buying it. Even though he is speaking face to face with God, he isn’t convinced that God is with him. So he starts playing the sign game. In Judges 6:36, Gideon says, “If you will save Israel by my hand…”, and then he lays down the first fleece.

A few verses later, before putting down the second fleece, he says, “Let not your anger burn against me…Please let me test just once more…” Gideon knew that he shouldn’t be putting God to the test, but he just had to have a sign.

Why did God answer Gideon’s requests? Because He’s gracious and often stoops to our level of faith.

Should we ask God for signs prior to making big decisions? No. Gideon isn’t our example. Don’t lay any fleeces before the Lord. Rather, go through the biblical process of asking God for wisdom, seeking the wise counsel of others, and then making a decision.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an Old Navy fleece jacket that I need to bring inside.

+photo by seeks2dream

Originally published November, 2009.

Comments

  1. says

    Very good post. I’ve had so many parishioners over the years ask this kind of question. My answer was never as good as yours. I pretty much just said, “Don’t do it. It was wrong.”

    Love the closer!

      • Ben says

        I would imagine the whole idea sort of started backward… some people did not want to IMMEDIATELY obey God, so they ask for test after test (and God graciously answers)… then went and found a biblical text they felt could explain what just happened, not realizing that God didn't really want it that way in the first place. Just a guess of course, but it seems consistent with how sinful humanity sometimes approaches the Bible. We too often start with what we hope it says and then interpret through that lens.

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