As a result of his encounter with the Lord, Gideon did two things: one negative, and one positive. First, he got rid of the idols; then he built a proper altar to the Lord. There is a principle illustrated here supported throughout scripture: we must not just turn AWAY from sin; we must also turn TO God. One without the other means certain failure.
It is at this critical time, after Gideon turns away from the worship of idols and establishes the One true God in his heart, that all of the enemies of Israel (and Gideon) prepare to attack. Now, at the right time to accomplish His purpose, the Spirit of the LORD comes upon Gideon and he blows a trumpet to summon the rest of his clan to follow him. He then sends messengers throughout the area of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, and they came up to meet him. (Judges 6:33-35).
Notice the difference in the responses to the two summonses. I believe it has a bearing on the reason for Gideon’s unusual request we know as the “Sign of the Fleece”.
Gideon’s own clan answers the trumpet to FOLLOW him. They were already aware that something was happening between him and God because of the affair with the Baal idol. The others in Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali probably knew nothing of this. They came to MEET with him in response to his messengers.
“35He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, and they also were called together to follow him; and he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they came up to meet them.” (v6:35)Why the sign of the Fleece did not put the LORD to a foolish test
First of all, it is doubtful that the residents of these tribes would then follow some unknown man into a battle against a far superior force just because he sounded an alarm. For all they knew, he could be an opportunist intending to sacrifice himself and the armies of the Israel in a deluded effort for self glorification. Secondly, remember the Spirit of the Lord had come upon Gideon. Are we to think that with the Spirit of the Lord upon him, he would put God to a foolish test?
Now, with 32,000 men present, Gideon seeks a sign from God to prove to all present that He will indeed deliver Israel through him. In this famous request for a sign, Gideon first proposes to put a fleece (a tanned sheepskin with the fleece left on) on the threshing floor:
“36Then Gideon said to God, ‘If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, 37behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.’ 38And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water.The men needed this. Gideon needed this. I believe God granted the sign to confirm Gideon before the people, and because from the beginning, this was part of His plan; not Gideon’s or Israel’s. God was the supreme commander, not a consultant. He was gracious to Gideon and the men with him, understanding their fear, and rewarding their willingness.
39Then Gideon said to God, ‘Do not let Your anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground.’ 40God did so that night; for it was dry only on the fleece, and dew was on all the ground.” (Judges 6:36-40)
How much more empowered, rewarding and successful our lives would be if we would seek to pull along side God and accomplish His plan, rather than asking Him to bless ours!
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission