Some try to determine God’s will by “throwing fleeces.” We say, “If X happens, the I’ll do one thing; but if Z happens, then I’ll do another.” But how does such a strategy differ from treating the will of God like a coin toss and basing our decisions on whether it falls heads or tails? In most cases, putting out a fleece demonstrates not a robust faith in God, but an unhealthy suspicion that He doesn’t have our best interests at heart and that He really can’t be trusted to fulfill His word.
We find the act of fleece throwing in the Book of Judges, when God calls Gideon to fight the Midianites (see Judg. 6:36-40). Gideon doesn’t feel so sure about the divine assignment and puts out his fleece, not to discover the will of God, but to try to gain some confidence that he will enjoy success. Notice three things about this questionable practice.
First, the fleece throwing was Gideon’s idea, not God’s. Nowhere in Scripture does God authorize such a practice or call it a desirable method for knowing His purpose.
Second, only here in Scripture is this method used. No one else employs it.
Third, Gideon did not perform the fleece throwing to know God’s will, but to gain confidence in the outcome that God had promised. Gideon already knew with certainty that God wanted him to lead the people into battle against Midianites. The armies had already gathered for battle! Gideon knew he was the leader. He simply wanted an extraordinary sign from God that he and the Israelites would succeed.
Repeatedly in Scripture, God calls us to remain faithful to Him without regard to whether we will succeed. Genuine trust in God means that we follow Him wherever He leads and do whatever He directs, without any concern for the outcome. Job had the right idea: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
Gideon’s fleece throwing indicated that he didn’t really trust God. Likewise today, many people who use “fleece throwing” reveal that they don’t really trust God to remain true ti His word. But God calls us to a different path, laid out by the psalmist: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Ps. 46:1-2)
When I read this story again, I was reminded, and asked myself, “how many times did I perform fleece throwing in my life?” The answer, so many times that I couldn’t even remember how many instances in my life that I’d perform this practice. Before, if the circumstances or conflicts arise and I needed to make a big decision to solve it, I always ask for a sign, like what Gideon did, that if A happens then I will do this, but if B happens then I’ll do this.
I wasn’t even aware that every time I do that practice, I’m doubting God’s sovereignty over my life. I’m doubting my faith that He is an all-powerful God, an all-knowing God, and an omnipresent God. While reading this passage, I was just reminded by God of this verse from Deuteronomy 31:8, it says, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
In knowing and fulfilling the will of God in our lives, we need to remember three significant things. First, the God that we serve is ahead of us. We can never be ahead of God, and no one in this universe can. If He’s ahead of us, He had seen not only our future but even our past and our present. He knows exactly what will our life be ten years from now. He even knows what we’re going to eat for dinner later. Every action that we will do, every decision that we will make, and every word that we will speak; He knows it all.
Second, the God that we serve will always be by our side, He will never leave us nor forsake us. He made a promise that He will always be by our side whenever and wherever we need Him. He is true and faithful to all his promises and they are all “Yes” in Christ (see 2 Co. 1:20). He is the God who will never abandon His sheep, that if one of them gone missing He will look for that sheep no matter what.
Third, we need not to be afraid or be discouraged. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” If God wants us to accomplish something, even though it seems too impossible or too difficult to be done or too senseless to be done, all we have to do is to obey Him. He gave us power and strength so that we can overcome whatever circumstances that we may face.
Let’s always remember that the God that we serve is an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God.