Gideon said to God, “Please don’t let your anger burn against me. Let me make just one more request. Please allow me one more test with the fleece. Let it be dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” God did so that night… (Judges 6:39-40a).
The account of Gideon’s fleece remains one of the most memorable miracles recorded in the book of Judges. It’s a story that easily and vividly communicates God’s undeniable power to children. Who else but God could accommodate Gideon’s request to make the fleece wet while the ground was dry, as well as his request to make the fleece dry while the ground was wet (6:36-40)? As awesome as this miracle is, however, it pales in comparison with an even greater miracle displayed in the story. Although we might easily overlook this miracle, it holds the key to understanding this striking passage.
The miracle that most clearly shows the Lord’s character is not what happens to the fleece but what God is willing to do to convince Gideon of his call to serve. Despite receiving an unmistakable revelation of God’s will for his life (6:11-24), despite experiencing the empowering influence of the Holy Spirit (6:34), and despite witnessing Israel’s desire to follow his lead (6:35), Gideon remained doubtful of his call. Nevertheless, God calmly and gently assured Gideon of the irrevocable nature of His promises.
For all those who, like Gideon, have struggled with self-doubt and worry, this story encourages us to remember God’s purposes are far bigger than our sense of inadequacy. It is simply mind-boggling to see how the sovereign ruler of the universe condescended to interact with Gideon, one of the most weak-kneed and fickle characters in the Bible. Yet God was determined to save Israel by working in and through an obviously limited vessel so that no human being could ever claim credit. The Lord met every single one of Gideon’s demands for proof not to validate our obsession for “signs and wonders” but to emphatically demonstrate the extent of His mercy toward sinners.
Standing on the other side of the Cross, we can be persuaded of the certainty of God’s Word by the ultimate miracle: “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “For us, God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). If what God accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus doesn’t convince us of God’s abounding grace for feeble and cowardly sinners, then what will?
May the Spirit convince us of our call, and may we never take God’s merciful patience for granted.