Sunday, February 1, 2015
Should I “put out the fleece” When Making Difficult Decisions?
Gideon, who is numbed among the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, asked for a sign and got a sign from God in Judges chapter six. Whenever we read a narrative like this, there is usually something to either mimic or avoid. The question is what do we do with this story? Let’s consider the circumstances for a moment, first of all we find Gideon threshing wheat in a valley. This is interesting considering that in ancient Israel; one would usually thresh on a hill top. So why is Gideon down in a valley? He is afraid of being seen by the enemies of Israel. Basically Gideon is a coward in the opening chapter six. When he asks the Angel for another sign, he is showing the extent of his lack of faith/trust in the LORD. It appears that by the end of the chapter he has:
1. Heard instruction from an angel but doubts it.
2. Heard from God and seen a sign from an angel of the Lord and doubts it.
3. After seeing/hearing the first two asks to “put out the fleece”.
While it may be understandable why he would struggle to trust God with the situation, we must not overlook the fact that Old Testament law prohibited one from putting God to the test (Deut. 6:16). This principle was confirmed in the New Testament by Jesus when he was tempted by Satan in Luke 4:12. In 1 Corinthians 10:9, the apostle Paul pointed to severe consequences that resulted from such doubt ( Numbers 21:6 ), and Luke describes how the father of John the Baptist was struck mute ( Luke 1:18-20 ) for doubting the message of an angel. Jesus also said that “a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign…” in Matthew 16:4.
We should pause here and think about what a person means when they say that they are "putting out the fleece.” If one means that time is being taken to carefully study their situation, collect wisdom, and look at what biblical commands and/or principles apply, they are doing what they should. But if one is demanding, like Gideon, that God give immediate guidance by fulfilling a specific "sign" that they impose on Him, this is an example of God being put to the test in a way that is forbidden.
Some of you would say, “No pastor, I have seen it work!” Remember an experience never dictates doctrine! And in God’s sovereignty the LORD can and does use anything he pleases to bring about his secret will, this includes the devil and demons!
Like pagans, sorcerers and occultists who try to control supernatural forces through spells and incantations, Christians may think we can control God with such demands. But consider that the LORD is not interest in making His supernatural power accessible to our emotional/carnal whims. His goal is for us to know Him personally through the word of God, in a relationship founded and dependent upon faith ( Proverbs 3:5-8 ). The Word of God is sufficient for all decision making then and now!