You know it’s going to be a bad day when the enemy camps in your back yard! That’s what happened in Judges 6:33. “All the Midianites, Amalekites, and people of the east gathered together, crossed over the Jordan, and camped in the Jezreel Valley” the beautiful, rich land southwest of Galilee.
God had called Gideon a “valiant warrior” (Judges 6:12) and commissioned him, saying,“Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the grasp of Midian. I am sending you!” (Judges 6:14).
With the adversary’s armies amassed in Jezreel, “the Spirit of the Lord enveloped Gideon”(Judges 6:34). The King James Version says, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon.”The English Standard says, “The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon.” You get the picture?
Empowered by God’s Spirit, Gideon “blew the ram’s horn and the Abiezrites rallied behind him. He sent messengers throughout all of Manasseh, who rallied behind him. He also sent messengers throughout Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, who also came to meet him” (Judges 6:34–35). The first to join the ranks were the Abiezrites from his dad’s clan (Judges 6:11). Soon others from neighboring tribes joined too. They were ready to stand and fight. They were sick and tired of being bullied and beaten. Live or die, they were ready for battle.
Gideon still had his doubts. Even though he was clothed with the Spirit of God, he was still unsure. Instead of submitting to God’s direction, Gideon said to God, in effect, let’s make a deal. “If you will deliver Israel by me, as you said, I will put a wool fleece here on the threshing floor. If dew is only on the fleece, and all the ground is dry, I will know that you will deliver Israel by me, as you said” (Judges 6:36–37).
Low and behold, “that’s what happened. When he got up early in the morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung dew out of it, filling a bowl with water” (Judges 6:38).
That should have been enough. Gideon should have marveled at God’s clear direction. But hard-headed Gideon refused to see the hand of God. “Don’t be angry with me; let me speak one more time. Please allow me to make one more test with the fleece. Let it remain dry, and the dew be all over the ground” (Judges 6:38).
You might expect that God would become impatient, that He would lose His temper, that He would unleash His holy wrath upon faithless Gideon. He didn’t. “That night God did as Gideon requested: only the fleece was dry, and dew was all over the ground” (Judges 6:39). Holy-moly!
Ok. I’ve been hard on Gideon. He finally came to understand that “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6) and he’s named in the Hall of Faith with guys like Samuel and David in Hebrews 11:32!
Have you ever played “let’s make a deal” with God? God, if you really want me to do such-and-such, then you have to do so-and-so! Don’t. Gideon is not a good example. Don’t “fleece” the Lord. Obey Him! He’s God!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.