The last time we saw that Gideon has to clean his house first, i.e. God in using Gideon to destroy his father’s Baal altar was challenging the religious establishment of that day.
We also saw that the people had wanted to kill Gideon but God gave his father wisdom to protect him. And as a result, Gideon got a new name called Jerubbaal (i.e. Let Baal contend with him).
What we’re going to see is the famous incident of putting out the fleece. Many Christians have used this incident as an example of finding God’s will. This is completely wrong.
We need to understand from the whole narrative exactly what is going on. Was Gideon trying to determine God’s will for himself? If that is the case, then God’s will wasn’t clear to him in the 1st place. And we know that this is not true.
At the beginning of Gideon’s narrative, God issued Gideon this call:
12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. 13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. 14 And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
And then the angel or envoy of the LORD gave him an authenticating sign:
21 Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight. 22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.
So it is apparent that God’s will for Gideon is very clear. Hence it is wrong to see Gideon putting out the fleece as a method to find God’s will. Because in the narrative, Gideon wasn’t trying to find God’s will, he already knew God’s will.
Rather, he was hesitant in obeying God. But God was very gracious to him despite his weaknesses. And this is the encouragement we’ll get from this passage today which I entitled: Gideon’s Hesitation.
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33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. 34 But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abi-ezer was gathered after him. 35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.
Now the battle begins. We had expected this after Gideon was commissioned by God. Instead God asked Gideon to first clean his father’s house of the Baal altar.
In v33, we see the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the children of the east gathered together to fight against Israel. The valley of Jezreel is the largest and richest valley in the land of Israel. Later in 1 Sam, the Philistines were to gather there to defeat Israel, killing Saul and his sons. So Jezreel is a huge battleground between Israel and her enemies.
In v34-35, we see his own clan, the Abi-ezerites and then his tribe Manasseh rally to his call. This is followed by tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali.
Largest and richest valley in the land of Israel.
We’ve previously seen how his own clan and tribe had wanted to kill him because of his destruction of a Baal altar. Why do they now change their opinion about Gideon? Was Gideon showing any courage? Remember he destroyed the altar at night and so it couldn’t be a clear sign of courage. Moreover, the next section of the narrative, we see Gideon hesitating or kind of chicken out.
Not only that, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali also followed him. What did all these people see in Gideon? Remember that Gideon is nobody in his family and his family is poor among the tribe of Manasseh.
15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
If you look hard for the answer, the answer is not found in Gideon. It is found in v34 where the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon (not came upon).
34 But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abi-ezer was gathered after him.
Hence when you read narrative carefully, scrutinizing the weakness of the characters, your conclusion ought always to be that the true hero is God, not men.
36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, 37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. 38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. 39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
Here we see Gideon ask 2 opposite signs from the Lord. The first sign is the fleece is wet and the ground is dry. After God gave him the first sign, he asked for another sign. The second sign is that the fleece is dry and the ground is wet. And God gave him also the second sign.
I’ve already said at the intro that Gideon is not trying to discern God’s will. He already knew God’s will. So what is he doing here? Confirming God’s will? Is there such a thing as confirming God’s will if you already knew God’s will? That would be more like unbelief in God.
The best understanding of what’s happening here is that Gideon most likely out of fear is hesitating to go into battle. Perhaps he is hoping that all of this (i.e. leading Israel to battle) is just a bad dream. Putting out the fleece helps him touch something real and tells him that it is no dream at all.
If you continue reading the narrative, i.e. after this incident of putting out the fleece, you’ll find that God Himself give Gideon an encouraging sign that resulted in Gideon’s worship of God.
9 And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. 10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: 11 And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host. 12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude. 13 And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. 14 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host. 15 And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.
One Tues night, bro. Samuel Ong made a good observation that the Lord never rebuked Gideon though He rebuked Moses for giving excuses. This does not imply that Gideon is greater than Moses.
Just because God treats someone well doesn’t mean that He approves all that he has done. In the book of Judges, there is no outstanding character except for Deborah and perhaps Othniel.
So we come now to the final point which summarizes this passage.
40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
One sign should be good enough for Gideon. But he asked two consecutive signs. And God gave him the second sign as well.
Not only that, the Lord let him hear the dream of a Midianite without any further request of Gideon.
So there is only one conclusion that we can make in this narrative and that is, God is exceedingly gracious to Gideon. Gideon is definitely not greater than Moses just because he was not rebuked but Moses was rebuked by God.
On the other hand, Gideon was weak and though Moses was stronger, Moses actually rejected God’s call on the grounds that he can’t speak well.
What theology does this remind you of? It is found in the Book of Romans. Another Bible reference is found in 2 Cor but is a different theology. Anyone want to make a guess?
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
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In passage, God’s grace is sufficient to overcome man’s sin so that man can receive eternal life if he believes in Jesus Christ.
Although it seems that Gideon seems to be guilty of evading God’s call or even tempting God, Gideon still believes in God.
So when God seems to be blessing you, it does not mean that you’re doing well. We’re living in times like that of the Judges where everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Gideon was chosen Gideon probably because he was one of the better ones among the worst.
So today you may also be the better ones among the worst. Moreover, when it comes to God’s grace, He does what He wishes and it is not because of what you do that earns His grace.
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In passage, God’s grace is sufficient to overcome man’s weakness so that any man can be used by God if he trust in God.
The Book of Judges is one of the darkest period in Israel’s history but Israel can still have hope all because of God’s grace.
Anyone here can be used by God to fight darkness and win souls to Christ. Ability and sin is not the issue. God’s grace is what counts.
Rev Yong has just completed a series of biographies and it always amazes us God can use unknown and bad people to do great things for Him.
After you’ve tasted of God’s grace in your life to do great things for God, you’ll never be the same person again. The key is to trust in Christ's power and wisdom.
19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
If Gideon’s “putting out the fleece” is not the way to find God’s will, what is the right way to find God’s will?