Have you ever tested God and inquired of Him to determine what direction He would have you go in life? Gideon a Judge and ruler of Israel did just that to confirm that God would be with him before going into battle.
36 Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 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.” Judges 6:36-37 ESV
Just as Gideon had asked in confirmation he received a result. He then also asked God for the reverse on the second night.
39 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.” Judges 6:39 ESV
Again God confirmed what Gideon requested. The reader might be thinking could I also be able to test God to determine an answer to this burning issue in my own personal life? Could this work for anyone?
Under the right circumstances God will reveal himself to anyone who draws near. However be warned that God is the very Creator of the universe and he is not required to answer mankind. Mankind answers to Him. In my youth I tested God in a similar way in something personal where God confirmed His will in my life. It is something I needed at that time to help me recognize His voice and what His expectations of me were to be. So I know personally first hand that God does accept these kinds of requests, but take note of how Gideon approached God in this test. Make sure that the request is worth the weight of coming before God and make sure it is in response to something God has put on your heart.
#1.) Testing God with some physical act like Gideon has done might be necessary for a young believer who is still learning to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit in their heart and mind. Gideon is called by God to be a leader and God is asking Gideon to do some things that could get him killed. It is understandable that Gideon might have second thoughts or that the voice speaking to him needed to be confirmed in some tangible way. Jesus was gracious to the father of a child who sought to have a demon cast away from his child. The father speaking to Jesus said “if you can do anything” and the incredulous reply of Jesus highlights the error of the father “if you can”!
But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:22-24 ESV
The father however recovers with wisdom that can only come from God “help my unbelief” and it is here that the father of the child has his faith worked out in real time in God’s grace and mercy. Faith is something that must be grown and worked at over time. The young Gideon about to go to battle or a new follower of Christ may be given mercy in their unbelief by God for God’s glory.
#2.) Testing God in this way might be necessary for a young believer who does not have a history of experience with God to draw on. When I was just becoming a believer in Christ I could hear him speaking to me, but He was asking for my service and a commitment of my life to Him. My relationship with Him at that time was new and shallow. Today I have years of a relationship and I know when God is speaking and if He tells me to do something worldly wisdom would say is a bad idea or might seem irresponsible I know through the faith of previous experience that God is trustworthy. Like the Psalmists I give thanks to Christ for past wonders knowing He will be faithful to the future unknown.
1 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. 2 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. 3 Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord. 4 Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. 5 Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given, Psalm 105:1-5 NLT
A young believer like Gideon without a lifetime of experience with God to trust on may need this kind of physical tangible proof of God’s intention and faithfulness.
#3.) Testing God is a dangerous pursuit under the wrong circumstances or the wrong motives. God had provided Gideon the tangible representation through the fleece yet Gideon wanted a second test and in this test Gideon recognizes that he might be pushing for something that is not needed. Others have found a negative reaction for challenging God and asking for a sign. John the Baptist’s father asked for confirmation when presented with a prophecy concerning his son the future herald for Christ.
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” Luke 1:18-20 ESV
Zechariah was the high priest and was not given any task other than to receive the good news from the angel. He did not believe what was before him when he rightly should have due to his history and position as priest. Gideon however acknowledges God’s power and in humility asks for the final test with the words “let not your anger burn against me”. God in His graciousness accepted Gideon’s request because God knows the heart of where the request came from.
#4.) God is not here to perform pony tricks for the amusement of people. Gideon did this over two mornings in the quiet of his relational prayers with God. This was not a spectacle from a throne of men to establish power. This request was part of something relational between God and Gideon to firm up Gideon’s faith that God would be with him and would carry him through the danger that lay ahead. God does not perform or jump to our commands. The opposite is true. If God calls then obey and jump eagerly knowing that God’s plans are always true.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. Matthew 6:5 ESV
My own fleece moment happened between myself and God when he called me to submit to Him when I was a youth. God the Father asked me to follow His son Jesus. I objected telling God that I was much too young and that it would be better for me when I was older. God is persistent and in the quiet of my heart God spoke to me, confirmed by a “fleece moment”, establishing a relationship with me that continues today. Since the days of my youth I have not had additional need for this kind of test with God. I do not need to test God or confirm His voice in that way. I know his voice and I have a history of God being exactly who He said He is and I trust Him even when things appear crazy or the request from God seems painful to me at that moment. If you are a young believer and God is calling you in your heart to something mysterious and amazing do not be afraid to draw near and test His faithfulness.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! 9 Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Psalm 34:8-9 NLT