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Should a Christian "Put Out a Fleece"?

The Question:

In looking for direction in life, I have been advised to "put out a fleece" like Gideon did in the Bible. Do you think this is a good way to discover God's will?

The Answer:

The story of Gideon, who was directed by an angel to become the deliverer of Israel from the Midianites, is found in the book of Judges chapters 6-8. The term "putting out a fleece" refers to the tests Gideon conducted to determine God's will for his life.

Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised--look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said."

And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew--a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew."
That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew. (Judges 6:36-40)

So "putting out a fleece" is asking God for some external sign, creating some sort of material test, to determine God's will. Should a Christian seek to find out God's will this way? 

First of all, we need to remember certain things about Gideon:

  1. He was an Old Testament warrior fighting for the literal Israel.
  2. He lived in a time of idol worship in a family that worshipped Baal (and who returned to idolatry after Gideon's victory).
  3. He was cowardly and weak and needed help in visualizing God's plan for his life.
  4. He did not have access to the written Word of God and there were no priests or ministers from whom he could obtain spiritual direction.
  5. He was not "born again", "saved" or "redeemed" because Christ had not yet come.
  6. He did not have the guidance of the Holy Spirit within (the Spirit came "upon" him to equip him for his task, but did not continually dwell within him)..
  7. THEREFORE: It was necessary for Gideon to test the heavenly message he had been given by material signs.

Today we have the written Word of God to guide us, we have leaders in the Church to counsel us, we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the internal guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus declared that "a wicked and adulterous generation seeks for a sign" (Matthew 16:4). 

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)

If you are led by signs and wonders instead of through the witnesses mentioned above, you are basing your decisions on things your senses can perceive, not on faith in God and His Word. Furthermore, since the enemy can duplicate signs and wonders, even more so as the End comes, you are opening yourself up to deception.

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