In the past couple of weeks, we have seen Gideon meeting the angel of the Lord and being ordered to act for God. Last week we saw Gideon mightily tearing down the altar of Baal and building a new one to the Living God. In similar fashion-sometimes in grand and sometimes in small ways-we are called to respond to the call of God on our lives.
Now we come to one of the most familiar parts of the story of Gideon-where he asks God for confirmation of his mission. Not once, but twice, Gideon asks for affirmation from God. At first, it looks like all is well. “All the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the east came together, and crossing the Jordan they encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. But the spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon; and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. He sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. He also sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them.” (Judges 6:33-35)
It looks like Gideon is going to act like the mighty warrior God called him to be. However, “then Gideon said to God, ‘In order to see whether you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said, I am going to lay a fleece of wool on the threshing-floor; if there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said.’ And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. Then Gideon said to God, ‘Do not let your anger burn against me, let me speak one more time; let me, please, make trial with the fleece just once more; let it 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.” (Judges 6:36-40)
Perhaps because he saw the massed armies of Midian and the Amalekites, he got frightened and had to ask God for reassurance. I can relate to that. Sometimes it feels like we are being asked to step off a cliff when there is some new ministry in front of us that we don’t feel capable of doing. It can feel a lot like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade when he has to decide to take the leap from the lions head into what looks like empty space. Only after we take the step do we realize that God is underneath us, and has been all along!
So Gideon asks God to make the fleece wet and the ground dry and the next night reverses the request. Both times God answers his prayer, so he is left with no way out of acting on the courage given when “spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon; and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him.”
Have you ever asked God for a sign? Maybe not a visible sign, but just a little assurance that you are taking the right step.
What does it take for you to respond to the call of the Spirit and step ‘off the lion’s head’ or ‘sound the trumpet’?
Next time we find God doing the testing of Gideon’s army and winnowing it down to a tiny force!