Episode 1. Gideon and the Fleece
Sometimes we find ourselves in an impossible place. And then we get this whacky idea that God wants us to do … what? When? You have to be kidding me!! How … how do I know that this is coming from you God? Ever had that. Well, you wouldn’t be the first and you won’t […]
Sometimes we find ourselves in an impossible place. And then we get this whacky idea that God wants us to do … what? When? You have to be kidding me!! How … how do I know that this is coming from you God? Ever had that. Well, you wouldn’t be the first and you won’t be the last either.
We’re continuing this week on the program in our “journey of discovery” to discover the power of God in our lives. Power’s an amazing thing, people want it and when they have it they want to hang on to it and never let it go.
It’s an interesting fact that here in my own country, Australia, which is a true democracy where governments are elected by the people every three years or so, the very last Prime Minister to leave office at a time of his own choosing was Sir Robert Menzies way back in 1966. It’s over half a century ago. All those who followed him have clung on to power for too long and they’ve been ousted either by the people in a general election or by their own parties.
Isn’t that crazy? Why would you do that? Why wouldn’t you let go and leave at a time of your own choosing? Because people are seduced by power and they hang on to it for too long.
But the sort of power that we’re talking about on the program again this week isn’t human power; it’s the power of God. The power of God which is available to every man, woman and child who trusts their lives in this Jesus, Gods only Son sent to us to set us free from the devastating impact of sin. The power to be free, the power to honour God, the power to make a difference in this world. That’s the sort of power that really matters and the only place it’s to be found, the only place, is in Jesus.
Last week we saw how God’s power was promised to a man named Gideon and a man who’d honoured God, a strong man in his own right but one now called to overcome an enemy of his people, against absolutely impossible odds.
The Midianites and the Amalekites were ravaging the Promised Land of Israel. They were trampling the land, destroying the crops and so keeping God’s people oppressed and in poverty and famine. There was a reason for that. God was punishing Israel for worshipping other gods but the time had come for God once again to redeem His people because that’s His whole purpose, to draw His people close to Him.
And He chose to do that through a man called Gideon. As we’ve already seen the first thing that had to take place was to turn the hearts of the Israelites away from this foreign god, Baal, and back to God. So Gideon had been called to destroy the altar built to this false god. Boy that caused a stir. But it had the desired affect.
But when God called Gideon to lead the army to overcome the oppressors he for one wasn’t entirely sure he was hearing it straight from God. Have you ever had that problem? Well I’ve got to tell you, so have I. Let’s have a look, Judges chapter 6, verse 14 to 16:
Then the Lord turned to Gideon and said, ‘Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. I hereby commission you.’ He responded, ‘But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I’m the least in my family.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘I will be with you and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them’.
Well you know I understand how Gideon felt. God was asking him to do a huge thing. Not only to risk his own life but the lives of all his countrymen and so God gave him a sign. Literally some fire from heaven. Lets continue looking at it, Judges chapter 6 beginning at verse 20:
The angel of God said to him, ‘Take the meat and the unleavened cakes and put them on this rock and pour out the broth.’ So he did. Then the angel of the Lord reached out with the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes and the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight.
Then Gideon perceived that this had been an angel of the Lord and Gideon said, ‘Help me my Lord God for I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.’
Now you’d think wouldn’t you that this would be enough to convince Gideon but again as the reality of this huge ask from God, fighting the Midianites and the Amalekites who vastly outnumbered Israel, when that reality started to sink in the old Gideon got to thinking. Oh man, this is crazy, what if this wasn’t from God? What if …
And so he asked God for one of what is these days one of the best known signs in the Bible, Gideon had to be sure. Come and have a read with me, Judges chapter 6, verses 36 to 40:
So Gideon said to God, ‘In order to see whether you’ll deliver Israel by my hand as you have said, I’m going to lay a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there’s dew on the fleece alone and it’s dry on all the ground around it then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by my hand as you have said.’ And it was so.
When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece he wrung out enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. But then Gideon said to God, ‘God, don’t let your anger burn against me, let me speak just one more time. Let me please make trial with the fleece just once more. Let it now be dry only on the fleece and on all the ground let there be dew.’ And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only and on all the ground there was dew.
Now that’s a pretty specific ask of God, I mean really detailed. Very much a belts and braces approach. Tonight Lord, would you do me a favour? Put dew on the fleece but not on the ground and tomorrow night, listen, do this trick again God but put the dew on the ground this time and not on the fleece. Let me ask you, isn’t this putting the Lord our God to the test? And isn’t that something that we’re not supposed to do?
I’ve heard people say that Gideon did absolutely the wrong thing here. He just didn’t have enough faith, he should have just gone forward and done what God was asking him to do and not ask for any signs. Poor old Gideon. Well maybe there’s some truth in that but I try and put myself in Gideon’s shoes and wouldn’t you want to make absolutely sure that this was definitely God calling you to do this crazy thing against impossible odds.
The future of the whole nation was at stake and you know something, I kind of understand that. From time to time I’ve been called by God into impossible situations. Not as dire as that of Gideon and Israel but you know tough spots. And when I sit down in the morning early and pray, as I do most mornings and I read God’s Word and I think about it I sense maybe God leading me in this direction or that, to kick off our ministry in Africa before we had any of the funds.
Impossible and to tell you the truth before I race off out into the way blue yonder and do something foolish I want to know that this is definitely from God. It’s not so much that I’m afraid of failing because I decided a long time ago I am prepared to fall flat on my face in order to follow after God. No, if I’m going to invest energies and resources into something I want to know it’s definitely God’s call because more than anything I want to honour God. I don’t want to race off and do something that I think needs doing if it’s not in God’s plan.
And whilst I’ve never thrown a fleece out onto the balcony and asked God for the dew to fall on it and then off it, I have asked Him for signs. A word through someone else, super naturally inspired, an event that confirms it, something else that I read in God’s Word. Some confirmation that I am indeed headed down a path that God has chosen and anointed for me because God’s power, the power to overcome impossible odds, that sort of power is only found in one place, when we’re in the centre of God’s will.
Not when we’re racing off somewhere wherever our fancies take us, doing things that we think need doing. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” And as I’ve learned, the hard way sometimes, He was absolutely right.