Is This Between Me and God?

In certain of life’s situations we may ask this question?  It is likely a good question to ask, even before we become desparate or disappointed?  During Gideon’s days Israel was under extreme oppression from rival nations.  An angel appeared to Gideon saying, ” ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand.   Am I not sending you?’ ‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel?  My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’  The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.’ ” (Judges 6: 12-16).  Then Gideon made an offering and it was miraculously recieved by fire and the angel disappeared.  God continued to tell Gideon what to do and he obeyed.  “Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him…Gideon said to God, ‘If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor.  If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.’  Then Gideon said to God, ‘Do not be angry with me.  Let me make just one more request.  Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.’  That night God did so.  Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.” (Judges 6: 34, 36-40).  God was very gracious to give Gideon assurances of His help, but Gideon had a measure of faith demonstrated by his obedience to do what God had instructed him to do.  When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon he blew the trumpet calling Israelites to battle.  The Spirit was moving Gideon, still he asked for a final assurance which God granted. When the Israelis showed up with an army of thirty-two thousand men, “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men.  I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, My own strength has saved me.’ ” (Judges 7: 2).  God showed Gideon how to pare down the army to three hundred men and told him to attack at night fall.  As another encouragement he told Gideon to sneak into the enemy camp before the attack and listen to what the enemy is saying.  “Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream.  ‘I had a dream,’ he was saying.  ‘A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp.  It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.’  His friend responded, ‘This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite.  God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.’ ” (Judges 7: 13-14).  How could God be more encouraging? Is this a distant God who cares nothing about His people?

This incident may be more significant in history than our situations, but God cares about every detail of His children’s life. (Luke 12: 7).  If we move out in faith and obedience to His calling God will give us encouragement and He will accomplish his purposes through us.  Is your God gracious and loving?  Have you any hope or reliance in your own strength, ability, and ways?  Are you hearing what the Lord is saying and obeying as for your part?  Have you assumed that God’s call was both the beginning and end of His involvement, such that you’re on your own from here?  Have things stalled because you are trying to do what God alone can do?  Have you surrendered your will and destiny to God?  Are you confident in God’s limitless goodness, mercy, lovingkindness and Sovereignty?  Have you limited God in any way, as to whether He is willing or able to do what He has said, or whether the scripture actually applies to you today?

God is full of mercy and though He responds to faith, His compassion and mercy triumph over judgment. (James 2:13).  “A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!  My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.’  Jesus did not answer a word.  So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’  He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’  The woman came and knelt before him.  ‘Lord, help me!’ she said.  He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’  ‘Yes it is, Lord,’ she said.  ‘Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’  Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.’  And her daughter was healed at that moment.” (Matthew 15: 22-28).  The Holy Spirit dwells in every believer and He communicates, encourages, and guides us as we submit to Him. In the same way the Lord greeted Gideon, He says to you and me, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6: 12).      

Throw Out The Fleece

“And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, 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.  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.  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.  And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.”  Judges 6:36-40.

Most Christians are familiar with the story of Gideon and the fleece he used to determine if he was hearing the actual Word of God in selecting him to lead the battle against the Midianites.  The question is if this is something a Christian should do today to help confirm whether or not a word is from God or not.  Certainly many people who claim to hear a word from God have not as shown by the many that have falsely predicted a day for the second coming of Christ and other “words” from God that have failed to come true.  It is sometimes hard to distinguish between God and just thoughts our own mind are giving us without being put there by God.

There are several accounts of a fleece being used productively.  Perhaps the most famous account involved the first time Billy Graham begin praying about starting a radio broadcast in the early days of his ministry.  After finding out he would need  $25,000 just for the first three weeks his enthusiasm cooled.  However, he had some friends who encouraged him to try to raise the money from wealthy supporters of his ministry as he had done for other projects in the past.  Graham was still unsure if it was God’s will so decided that he would “throw out a fleece” at his revival service that night and if they raised $25,000 by the end of the night he would go forward with the radio campaign.  To his friends dismay he did not mention the need for the money during the offering but only at the end of the sermon saying that if anyone wanted to help this project to meet him in back after the service.  Incredibly, people lined up and $23,500 was raised.  The friends told Graham they could get the other $1,500 themselves but Graham said he must get the full $25,000 by that night to know it was God’s plan.  When Graham got back to his motel room there were two envelopes waiting for him and several phone calls with pledges for exactly $1,500.  This convinced Graham it was God’s plan to go on radio.

There is also the story of Kay Arthur, the Precept Ministries cofounder, who in the days before meeting and marrying Jack Arthur had a boyfriend who wanted to marry her and she very much wanted to marry him.  However, he was unsure if it was God’s will so he put out a fleece that if someone asked him about a red bike he would not marry Kay.  Incredibly, soon after someone came to his door and asked if he had a red bike for sale even though he had no bike or advertised for such a sale. This confirmed to him it was not God’s will for him to marry Kay.  Kay was heartbroken but later understood it was God’s will for her to marry Jack and have an incredible ministry together with him.

It is notable that God did not criticize Gideon for “throwing out the fleece” and I believe it can be a valid exercise to confirm God’s will in our lives in certain cases.  This is especially true since we can not expect a direct appearance of God himself as Gideon had but rather have to rely on our own impressions from the Holy Spirit to determine God’s will which can be easily misinterpreted.