JUDGES 6:36-40

Judges 6:36-37
Gideon now had an army to lead, but suddenly slipped into a panic again.  Satan has a way of making fear pop up in our lives at the worst possible moments.  Gideon’s courage was melting; his flesh was taking over and crippling his faith.  Our most diffi?cult struggles are often fought against our own selves.  Gideon had enough might to overwhelm a throng of Midianites, but almost failed to overcome his own doubts.
Some of Gideon’s hesitation can be blamed on natural causes.  Many a soldier who proves himself valiant in battle has nearly suffered “heart failure” the evening before.  Gideon wielded the sword well, but in reaching for it his hand trembled a bit.
Before proceeding with the actual attack itself, Gideon de?sired direct and tangible proof God was with him.  Gideon doubted his own ability, not God’s.  It was not a matter of whether or not God had spoken truth, but a matter of Gideon being sure he had heard God accurately.
Gideon asks for a sign from YHWH.  If He has truly chosen Gideon, He will leave the threshing floor dry, but place dew on a fleece (a mat of wool shorn off a sheep).  This was not haughti?ness or presumption, but faith struggling to find a firm footing.

Judges 6:38
God knelt down to accommodate human frailty.  When “an evil and adulterous generation” sought after a sign, they received none (MT 12:39), but when a genuine, yet trembling, faith cried out for help, the appeal was not in vain.  “A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench” (MT 12:20).
We should not speak of Gideon in adverse terms.  In pagan times, he accomplished more than many of us will ever achieve.  We are wise to refrain from speaking harshly about him.  He did what he could, and God smiled on his efforts.
Granted, God’s word should have been sufficient in and of it?self.  Ideally speak?ing, Gideon should not have needed this ex?tra prodding, but we serve a gracious and longsuffering God.  “He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (PS 103:14).  Our Master is kind; we His servants should act likewise.

Judges 6:39
Gideon desires yet another sign from YHWH.  Since wool gen?erally attracts dew even when other objects tend to remain dry, it was only natural the threshing floor would have dried faster than the fleece.  Hence, Gideon was only half convinced; he need?ed one more nudge.  He asks that the very opposite be allowed to happen; this would be a truly remarkable thing.
Lest we be too quick to follow Gideon’s practice of “putting out a fleece,” let me call to your attention the fact Gideon him?self realized he was walking on thin ice.  The tone in his voice is quite apologetic.  God had already met his requested test.  Nothing more was needed.
We who are indwelt with the Spirit of God should seek spi?rit?u?al guidance through His word, His people, and His availing us of proper opportunities.  It behooves us to be very skeptical of “putting out fleeces” to determine the will of God.  Even with regard to particular details in our everyday lives, we walk by faith, not by sight.

Judges 6:40
Once again, YHWH condescended to aid Gideon’s infirmity.  To many, the use of physical signs is still a popular way of trying to discern God’s will.  I have found such efforts disillusioning.  Some of my acquaintances have “put out fleeces,” and then not fol?lowed through with their pre?de?termined plan of activity.  Oth?ers have asked God to perform a “magical trick” or some outland?ish thing.  I have known some who resorted to “fleeces” because they did not want to spend hours in prayer seeking God.
My personal belief is, a “fleece” should be used only as the last of the last resorts, and only after long amounts of praying.  I would almost advocate ruling them out all together, but I am not quite able to make such a rash, absolute statement.
When trying to determine the will of God, I recommend pray?er, caution, and much humility.  God leads us along through many events in life.  We must respond to each situation as we sense God would have us respond.  The most important thing is not that we make exactly the right decision in every detail or matter we face, but that our hearts are clean before God.  If we desire to please Him in all things, He will see to it that the “major” de?cisions in our lives are correctly made.
Even the giants of our faith have had troubles in determin?ing the will of God with regard to their lives.  A well-known user of “fleeces” was John Wesley, who experienced some “misread?ings” in his dealings.  When Wesley learned George Whitefield was preparing to leave for America, he drew lots and determined that Whitefield should remain in London.  Fortunately, Whitefield ig?nored this advice.  The result was our Great Awakening.
Wesley’s most fateful experience with “fleeces” dealt with his romantic life.  At age thirty-two, John wesley was pastor of a church in Savannah, Georgia.  Deeply in love with a young lady, he decided he would draw lots to determine whether or not he should marry her.  On three pieces of paper he wrote separate mes?sages:  1) marry, 2) think not of it this year, 3) think of it no more.  The paper bearing the last massage was drawn.  Wesley was crushed, but ended the courtship.  Later evidence seems to in?dicate he drew an “incorrect” lot.
More than a decade later, Wesley fell in love with another lady.  This time he chose a different means for finding God’s will.  He wrote down all the things he wanted in a wife; his lady friend met all the requirements.  He decided to marry.  However, his brother Charles felt marriage would harm John’s ministry.  Charles immediately went to see the lady, rushed in, and said, “You have broken my heart!”  and fainted at her feet.  Charles was so successful in his pleading that the lady quickly ended her relationship with John and married another man.
Finally, at age forty-seven, John Wesley married.  We do not know how Wesley determined the will of God in this matter, but the marriage proved a disaster.  He and his wife were very unhap?py with one another.  After twenty years, she left him.  Wes?ley wrote in his journal, “I have not left her; I would not send her away; I will not recall her.”
Lest any be tempted to think of themselves as “overly much righteous,” it would be good to remember “mistaken readings” have also been made by those who rely only on “inner impressions” for guidance.  At age twenty-nine George Whitefield was already the best known preacher in the world.  His wife gave birth to a son whom the great preacher believed was destined by God to be “a preacher of the everlasting Gospel.”  He strongly believed this was the will of God and announced it as such to the members of his large congregation.  In light of his personal conviction re?garding this matter, Whitefield named the boy “John,” for John the Baptist.  However, within a few weeks the child died.  White?field was never the same again.  His speech lost some of its “pi?ous verbiage”; he dropped much of youthful pride from his vocabu?la?ry.  The rest of his life, he was much slower to declare in ab?solute terms what he believed to be the will of God with regard to particular details.
As we live our everyday lives, God grant us a spirit of con?stant prayer.  Keep your heart meditating upon the Lord.  Then, when a decision must be made, make it and proceed with your life.  God will intervene if necessary to prevent a horrendous mistake.  Do not get so bogged down in the particulars of life that you forget the over-riding general principles of importance.  Remem?ber, “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8).