This morning I read the story of Gideon and his fleece and, if I am being honest, this may have been the first time in my life I have taken more than a minute to think about what may be perhaps the most mundane story in the bible. The book of Judges is filled with stories of women killing obese kings with daggers and guys like Shamgar, who killed six hundred men with an oxgoad. How would a story about dewy fleece fit into the action of the story?
Gideon himself has plenty of memorable moments, from destroying the altars to Baal in the middle of the night to picking out warriors dependent upon who drank water from a creek like a dog. And yet this story makes the cut, over and above the countless unrecorded deeds of Gideon. But today the test of Gideon grabbed my attention.
Gideon is trying to decipher the voice of the Lord from the voices that played in his head. Come on, you know the voices I am talking about. The ones that tell you not to step on a crack or you will break your mother’s back, the ones that tell you to get chocolate milk instead of regular milk, the ones that may or may not be true. So Gideon is trying to figure out if he is talking to himself or if it is really the Lord. So he comes up with a test. He will put out a piece of fleece outside, and if it is dewy in the morning, with the rest of the ground dry, then the Lord has been talking to him. Then, the next night, the terms are reversed.
Sure enough, day one brings wet fleece, dry ground, while day two brings dry fleece, wet ground. The Lord has been talking to him this whole time. He would be the one to free Israel from its current oppressors.
Now compare Gideon with King Ahaz, in Isaiah 7. The prophet Isaiah challenges the king, Ask for a sign from God, high as the heavens, low as the earth. But Ahaz refused. He did not feel the need for a sign. He felt comfortable in suspending his belief. If the Lord proved himself, he would have to reorient his life around a new reality.
Does that sound familiar? Have you been content to suspend your belief, if only for a moment? Have you become willingly ignorant of the offer of Jesus in the gospel? Have you put God off, assuring him that you and he will be ok? Are you putting your spiritual life on hold? Consider the response of the Lord to an unbelieving, apathetic king.
The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
God with us is the divine response to disbelief. Incarnation is the answer to your struggle to apprehend the grace of God. When we see God in the flesh, we are met by a God who is, once and for all, for us.
Do not be too prideful to ask him for a sign. But prepare yourself for an answer.