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Thursday, April 7, 2011

figuring out God's Will? 4

Judges 6:33-40
Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.
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, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

Have you ever “laid out a fleece” before the Lord? Do you know what that expression means? It comes from this passage in Judges where Gideon, a little shaky in the knees and unsure of himself, conducts a double blind test to see exactly what God’s will is in his particular situation. First, he lays out the lamb’s fleece indoors and says “If it's soggy tomorrow then I’ll know it's from God.” And it was. So then he does it outside on a dewy night and asks that it be dry in the morning. And it was. So he had his confirmation about God’s will.

People have used that concept to try and determine God’s will in (often) silly ways. “If a bird flies by my window in the next minute that means I’m supposed to…..” You fill in the blank. What they forget is that Gideon isn’t necessarily a positive example for us at this point. He’s really pushing it with God because God has already told him what to do. He didn’t need to do the fleece. “Laying out a fleece” was actually an act of doubt – double doubt because he did it two times.

The whole concept is dubious – and I think a lot of people end up getting fleeced! I guess I’m a little sensitive to this because there was a girl in my high school youth group who was sort of awkward and shy and I befriended her and helped her learn how to play the guitar. She mistook my friendliness for romance and one day informed me that she had laid out a fleece with God about who she was supposed to marry – and guess who was the lucky divinely chosen groom? So, I’ve doubted the efficacy of fleeces ever since.

But it is remarkable how often in scripture people cast lots to determine who God was picking for a task. Or the use of the mysterious Urim and Thummim. (Exodus 28:30) The Urim "lights" and Thummim "perfections" were gemstones that were carried by the High Priest of Israel on the ephod (priestly garments). They were used by the High Priest to determine God's will in some situations. Some propose that God would cause the Urim and Thummim to light up in varying patterns to reveal His decision. Others propose that the Urim and Thummim were kept in a pouch and were engraved with symbols identifying yes /no and true /false. No one knows the precise nature of the Urim and Thummim or exactly how they were used. The Bible simply does not give us enough information. But somehow God used them to reveal his will.

Maybe we need a New Testament version – a Christian Magic 8 Ball.

Sure would make discerning God’s will a lot easier. Except we’d just keep turning the ball over until we got the answer we wanted all along.

What’s you best way to determine God’s will?


Today’s prayer:

Teach me Father

To do your will

Show me Father

How you feel

Open my mind

And let me see

The way I should live

The way I should be

Teach me to love 

The way you do

Cleanse my heart

And make it new

Help me understand

The things I read

Give me knowledge 

Of the things I need

Give me boldness 

Like Apostle Paul

Open my ears

When you call

Give me strength

Like your loving son

Thank You Father

I know its done


(Written by: Chandra Harrington)

1 comment:

  1. Seems like there are so many ways the Bible is very clear on God's will, and the toughest stuff is in following through in every day life, like how you treat others, how you speak, to whom you give your attention, how you manage your money, and more. Those things have been my challenge lately in following God's will-- and much room to grow.