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Gideon and the Sign of the Fleece

Rev. Michael Calvert, Ph.D., January 7, 2018
Part of the Great Events in the History of Redemption series.

This coming Sunday we will be resuming our sermons from the Book of Judges. You will remember that this study is part of our larger sermon series on the ‘Great Events in the History of Redemption.’

For the last few messages from Judges our focus has been upon the man named “Gideon,” one of the most famous of Israel’s ‘judges.’ In fact, he is one of the four Israelite judges listed in Hebrews 11:32 (along with Barak, Samson, and Jephthah) who are said to have lived and served the Lord “by faith” (Heb. 11:33). Of course, Gideon is most famous for two things: his “fleece” (Judges 6:36-40), and his victory over the Midianites with just 300 warriors (Judges 7:1-25). The first of these will be our subject for this Sunday.

Virtually everyone has, at one time or another, followed along with Gideon’s example of ‘putting out a fleece’ in an effort to determine God’s will, or to find divine guidance for a particular matter. However, if we take a good look at the details of this episode, we see that God’s will for Gideon was never in doubt. What Gideon was doing had nothing to do with seeking guidance from the Lord or determining His will. Rather, he was testing the Lord and His Word, and seeking to find some additional confirmation of the Lord’s previous promise of victory over Midian (see 6:14-16). The fleece episode, then, was fundamentally about Gideon’s difficulty in trusting God’s character and His Word.

As we come to investigate this well-known story on Sunday, we will try and understand why Gideon needed such a confirmation, what led him to put the Lord to the test, and how this experience in his life can teach us many important lessons about our Lord, His Word, and the all-sufficient grace in which we stand.

As you pray and prepare your heart for Lord’s Day worship, take a moment to read and meditate upon our sermon passage found in Judges 6:36-40.

Judges 6:33-40

33Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. 34But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abi-ezer was gathered after him. 35And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them. 36And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, 37Behold, 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. 38And 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. 39And 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. 40And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground. (KJV)