Growing up in church, we would make fun of Gideon. Everyone knew that this was a man who did not have enough faith. He kept asking God for signs or in his case, ‘fleeces’ to confirm what God had clearly asked him to do.
I have since revisited that story and now I see it in a very different way. In this podcast, I am going to answer the question; ‘Is it okay to ask God for a sign?’ by looking carefully at Gideon’s story in Judges 6 and 7.
It’s one of the few occasions that we get insight into an Old Testament character’s experience hearing the voice of God.
We tend to think that the Bible characters had it easy; they simply heard God’s voice and confidently followed it. But in reading this account, it would seem that Gideon was a man just like us, stumbling along with his own fears and insecurities, unsure of what God sounds like and how he works in the world. We learn much from Gideon’s story!
The first thing we notice in this account, is that God answers Gideon’s request for a sign. What does this tell us about the heart of God?
The second thing we notice, is that when God speaks, hearing him clearly matters. Following his words can be risky and even, dangerous. Facing a ruthless enemy was extraordinarily difficult for a weak insecure Gideon. Then God makes it harder by reducing the odds even further. Getting it right was a matter of life and death.
The third thing we notice is that God takes the initiative in giving another sign even when Gideon didn’t even ask for it. This is key. God WANTS us to recognise his voice. He will do what it takes to help us know him. And he even uses signs to confirm his word.
However there are dangers in looking for signs. We don’t see things clearly. Our perceptions are muddied by our own selfish motivations and desires. This means that we can easily misinterpret what we see. We must test the things we see and hear, before blindly accepting them as divine messengers. We need to take our doubt and fear to God and let him confirm his word in the way he chooses and in ways we cannot manipulate!
Above all, God’s heart is that we will recognise his voice and follow him! (John 14:27)
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Have you ever asked God for a sign? How did you know it was him speaking and not mere coincidence? Leave a comment below.
Bible references in this episode:
- Judges 6,7
- 1 Corinthians 13:12
Resources referred to in this episode: