“Then Gideon said to God, ‘If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying 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 save Israel by my hand, as you have said.'” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Gideon’s fleece has become synonymous with testing God. And that’s exactly what Gideon was doing. But, far from anything praiseworthy or worth imitating, this was an act of faithlessness by a man who was a coward.
As we continue working our way through the book of Judges, we are going to find the tale being told both disheartening and encouraging. It is disheartening because the character of the judges gets progressively worse with each one. It is encouraging, on the other hand, because not only does God not abandon His people when they turn from Him, but He is able to raise up heroes to save them from among a people who don’t have many heroes. God can work through even the most broken people if they are only willing to give Him the smallest measure of trust and obedience.
Speaking of the smallest measure of trust and obedience, Gideon was a faithless coward and God was intent on using Him to save Israel. Asking God for a sign isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do, but at some point it is an indicator of a lack of faith.
The fact is, God had already told Gideon that He was going to use Him to save Israel. For Gideon to now ask for a sign like this (and a second time as well after this!) was not about gaining more confidence. It was about stalling so He didn’t have to do what God called him to do and which he was afraid to do.
Sometimes, God calls us to things that are scary. They’re scary enough we look for confirmation that it really is Him calling us. This is okay. But at some point, we need to move forward with God’s call. At some point, continuing to ask for assurance is a tactic to keep from doing what God has called us to do. This isn’t seeking clarification any longer. It is faithlessness. Gideon may be a judge used by God to save Israel, but that doesn’t mean he offers us an example worth following.
When God calls us to act, it’s because He has something for us to do. If He has something for us to do, we can’t fail if we stick with Him. Seek out confirmation if you need it, but eventually you need to get moving. God has plans and you are part of them.