Does Gideon’s Fleece System Still Work?

In my personal devotions this morning, I read,

Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” Judges 6:36-37 NLT

Image © Erik Stenbakken from

Image © Erik Stenbakken from

I was reminded of the many times I have been asked if it’s a good idea to set a “fleece” before the Lord? People want a sign as to which way to go, which house to buy, which job to take or so forth. They want to know if it is okay to ask God for a sign. Of course there is nothing wrong with praying for wisdom on all decisions. But that’s just it. Sometimes, instead of giving us direct signs, telling us exactly what to do, God gives us wisdom to make our own choices. Sometimes God really doesn’t care which job we take or house we live in. He can bless us either way. They aren’t really moral decisions, and He can guide us either way.

The purpose of Gideon’s fleece was not so much about a decision of which way to go. God had already told Him what to do. God had told Gideon to lead out in God’s army.  Now, Gideon is examining his motives. Did God really call me to lead out, or was it my own selfish ambition talking to me? Am I just doing my own thing claiming its God telling me to do it? So, Gideon set a fleece before God to confirm that it was God calling him and not just his own selfish ambition. Maybe the key to making the right decision is to examine our motives behind the choices we make.  Am I doing this for God’s glory or selfish ambition? God can guide us no matter where we live or work so long as our motive is to glorify Him wherever we are. Gideon was testing his own motives.  There is nothing wrong with that!

Several years ago, I was experiencing some persecution where I was working. My motives were being misrepresented, which led me to examine them myself. I pleaded with God to open a door and let me go somewhere else. No doors were opening. About this time I signed a new lease for my apartment. while new residents to the apartment complex were offered a months free rent, I was told several times there would be no free rent for me. That was only for new residents. I told them I was signing a new lease though. Still they said again and again, no free rent!

The first month of my new lease I was walking to the rental office to pay my rent. As I walked I prayed, “Lord if you want me to stay at this current job, where I am experiencing persecution for standing up for you, then have them tell me my rent is free this month when I get to the rental office.”  After all, maybe I was just standing up for myself and not God? Was I just trying to protect my own position instead of glorifying God? I walked on to the rental office knowing it was a done deal, as I had already been told over and over, there was no free rent for me. I actually forgot my prayer when I came into the office. That is until the lady in the office went to enter my check on the computer, and then handed it back to me and said, “Your rent is free this month.”

God provided an amazing miracle for me! But the miraculous sign was not so much about where to work as it was about making sure I was staying at my job for the right reason, and not just out of self interest. Not long after that the person responsible for my persecution left.

Gideon was not just using a fleece like it was some crystal ball in making random decisions. He used the fleece to make sure his motivation was pure. There is nothing wrong with questioning and examining our motivation, when leading out as Gideon did.

Under the right circumstances, Gideon’s fleece system still works!



Does Gideon’s Fleece System Still Work? — 13 Comments

  1. Am also reminded of the chief servant of Abraham in Gen 24:12-14.12 “O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. 13 See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. 14 This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”
    Apart from revealing His will, Good also uses the "fleece" to strengthen our faith in Him.

  2. One of the problems with applying the "Fleece Test" today is that many people already know what God's answer is but they just do not want to accept it. They want their own way instead. Sometimes I think that God responds, with a sense of humor, to some of these tests that people set, "Go and use your own brain! Now that would be a miracle!"

    There is nothing wrong with asking God's guidance, but do not be surprised if he answers your prayer by letting you work it out for yourself. God works in mysterious ways!

  3. I realize that from childhood we have always looked up to Gideon as a hero, almost a superman of sorts so that when he lays out the fleece it is only a matter of confirmation. However, a careful reading of the entire account of Gideon’s life paints another picture, one of just an ordinary person, a farmer, who acted more like a coward than a hero. That is important as we consider God’s willingness to go through the nonsense of two tests when Gideon knew what God wanted him to do.

    To me it is similar but not exactly like Abram asking for confirmation concerning God’s promise to him (Gen 15:3-8). So I don’t think God minds being questioned. What I do think bothers God is when we fully well know what the answer is and because of it we try to circumvent a clear direction. But, then, there are cases like Gideon’s when God is very patient and mindful of His sheep being what they are.

    • Given the condition of faith in Israel at that time, Gideon, who was probably born into the apostasy, was wanting to remove all possible assumptions, and doubted only that God would actually call HIM to such an important task. When Moses hesitated God gave Him signs, and Gideon was only wanting to be certain that he understood God's intentions without presumption.

      God was well-acquainted with the one He was dealing with and gave no rebuke to Gideon, but complied with Gideon's humble and contrite request. Gideon apologized for his need, but just had to be certain as his faith was being encouraged by God.

      I have always seen Gideon as a humble individual who did not seek position or power, but wanting to be sure of his course. This is why God COULD use him. The fact that God sent Gideon down into the enemy camp to help encourage him further tells us much about God's compassionate understanding of the man He had called. Whatever his faults, Gideon was the man of God's choosing. The results of Gideon's cultivated faith and continued meekness and diplomacy in the wake of the victory say much about his true character at that time.

  4. Elizabeth, You bring up a very good point. We are counselled to pray much, very much about marriage. Maurice, you are exactly right, many times we pray when we already know the answer we just want to pretend we don't because it is contrary to us. Even Jesus prayed "If it is possible let this cup pass from me, but never the less, thy will not mine be done." That is the prayer we all should pray.

  5. It has been a while since I read the story of Gideon so I reread some of the parts that are being discussed to refresh my memory. I wasn't sure about the number that overthrew the Midianites. That number was reduced from 30,000 to three hundred. God wanted to make sure that the credit for winning was to be His and not theirs. The Midianites were as many as a plague of locust and more camels than coud be counted. Any human being would have questioned the task he was ask to complete. Even after the fleece experiment Gideon was not whole heartedly on board. God understood the human frailties and reinforced His decision by telling Gideon, If your still concerned go down to the Midianite camp and if you want company take Purah your servant and hear what they say. Obviously God was going to win the battle. What did Gideon do when he heard. HE worshiped. The same as we do when a prayer is answered and our faith and trust is restored. Maybe not as dramatical as Gideon, but just as important to the petitoner. Do we want to know that God is leading? Without a doubt. Do we have questions? Yes

  6. William you are very right in pointing out our need to examine our motives in prayer. However, I think you are misinterpreting Gideon's motives in fleecing. I think you need to look more closing at Gideon's character and see how that plays against clear cut angelic demonstrations put before him. Remember, according to the bible, Gideon physically saw the angel of the LORD, had a physical conversation issued(as physical as you reading my writing right now), prepared a sacrifice, the angel showed him how to prepare it, and then the whole sacrifice was consumed by fire. This was not a vision or a dream; it was live and in daylight.
    This scripture demands a different interpretation than the one you put across. Even in the face of all this, I still agree with you that we need to examine our motives in prayer.

  7. Thank you Watson for your comment and I don't think we are really far off from each other. Even though Gideon was not seeing a vision, as Maurice and Tyler point out, Abraham was not seeing a vision either even though he questioned God. It was Gideon's character and humility that made himself second guess himself. Even though it was not a vision Moses still questioned His calling and so did Gideon. The sentence in Patriarchs and Prophets Page 548 says, " Gideon dared not place himself at the head of the army without still further evidence that God had called him to his work." So Gideon knew for sure God was talking to him and there would be an army but the Gideon's question was "Did God really say I would be at the head of the army or was I just hearing things or was it just what I thought I heard?" Remember Watson, while the disciples walked with Jesus they still heard what they wanted to hear, and even though they were humble men of trade like Gideon a lot of what they thought they heard was quite ambitious. According to the Scriptures and Patriarch and Prophets Gideon was a very humble man. I think that is what you are talking about as far as his character. It is the humble people though who are always questioning their motives and making sure they are not doing things out of self ambition or pride. Proud people never question their pride.

    By the way on a side note, and maybe I just noticed this from being a Bible Worker, but when studying and discussing Scripture with people. I try to avoid making absolute statements, such as "This Scripture demands a different interpretation than the one you put across." I find it works better if I say, "That is not how I see it" or "In my humble opinion I don't think that is what that passage is saying." I can tell by your comment and previous comments that you are very sincere and mean well so I thought I would just share a little of my experience over the years.

    • The fact that Gideon destroyed the altar and image of Baal under cover of darkness reveals a budding faith and courage(probably instilled by the visit of the heavenly Messenger), which is still faith(Mark 4:26-29). His requests for a specific signs, given with the deepest humility reveal his character further, as well as his desire to move forward with perfect understanding of God's will, (not his very possible misunderstanding of it) as does his obedience to all God's following directions as the "small" army was whittled down to almost nothing. When the moment of the battle arrived, Gideon and his 300 did not flinch, and were expecting total victory by God's hand. Remember, they carried only trumpets, lamps, and empty earthen pitchers into battle, against swords, spears, shields and arrows, outnumbered 450 : 1.

      There is no question in my mind about Gideon's faith and humility as revealed in God's Word, and it has always been a great encouragement to me.

  8. In the times of great challenge in our lives- a cancer diagnosis, guidance during wartime, financial hardship, and personal betrayal- God sometimes sees fit to give us unusual manifestations of His presence and loving guidance. We can look at our own manifestations of God's angels in our lives and take hope in His miraculous guidance. Only twice have I asked for a sign, once right before I was diagnosed with cancer, many years ago, I asked for a rainbow, and it was given, not in the sky but by a little girl handing me a picture she had drawn of one. I felt God was saying, yes, things would be all right, not through a direct miracle, but through His using people to heal me. Her father, a physician, was instrumental in my recovery. So we may ask for signs, but although He may give signs or miraculous providences, they may come in unexpected ways and He may work in other ways than we have planned. "Often our plans fail, that God's plans for us may succeed." EG White

  9. I Really love and appreciate this post and discussion. My fleece is out and I Am changing the course I am on, in faith as I see God leading. As every year goes by and I am getting closer to 60, my perspective is changing. Positive people , joys, Bible and prayer, but above all love to God and others and honoring God really matter the most to me. I think Gideon and Abram had to make serious decisions too and their stories give us great encouragement and hope.

  10. Gideons' Fleece system really does work even today. In times when it is difficult to discern what God's will for you is when you are challenged to choose one among options that are 'good' in themselves, it is important to seek his guidance. Our father needs us to rely on his guidance and will not be offended when we ask him for a sign. I have asked God to direct my path in so many situations and as He did for Gideon He has done for me. He has manifested His will in my life so much that I will not make any decision without consulting Him and confirming that indeed it is the direction He chooses me to take. I would encourage all to not 'assume' but 'confirm' His will by inquiring of Him. Nothing we ask of Him is too small or unimportant to Him that we should be afraid to present it.

  11. [Moderator's Note: Please do not use all upper case. All upper case means shouting. 🙂 ]



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