Jud 6:36-Faith And Circumstances
Question: “Was the fleece a tool of discernment or just a sign of Gideon’s doubt and fear?”
Answer: It might take a few sessions to address this question, and I’m not sure I can answer it to the satisfaction of some people. Over the years I have engaged more than one person who saw “putting out a fleece” as a wonderful way for God to give direction. But it strikes me differently; I see in the request more evidence of Gideon’s doubt than faith, more proof of his fear than a quest for discernment.
If we remember what Gideon is up against, and how he responds to God’s call in his life, we may gain some perspective. Gideon, and the tribe of Manasseh, were under severe oppression at the hand of the Midianites. Their suffering was deep and God took notice. But Gideon was reluctant, at best. First, he questioned whether God was really with them; not exactly a vote for faith and confidence there. The circumstances seemed inconsistent with God’s abiding presence. God had allowed them to fall into the hands of the Midianites. Granted, they deserved it because of their sin, but Gideon was focused on the circumstances, not the cause. We can trace the blame to the Israelites themselves, not to any unfaithfulness in God.
It important that we realize the battle for hearts and minds that goes on in the spiritual realm. When we look around we have to wonder if God is really with us. But this reminds me of the classic quote from Abraham Lincoln, when asked if God was on his side: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side: my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
When we’re faced with a multitude of obstacles, even persecution or oppression, we’re tempted to question God’s faithfulness, just like Gideon did. God graciously worked past that reservation to demonstrate both His power and His compassion for His people; and we can expect He’ll do the same for us.
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