The story of laying out a fleece comes from the story of Gideon in Judges 6:36 – 40.
Gideon knew God’s will but he needed assurance of victory. So he asked God for two signs using the fleece of a sheep. The first sign was to put a fleece on the ground and he asked that the ground be dry the fleece wet. God saturated that fleece. Gideon still was not convinced so he asked God for the ground to be wet and the fleece to be dry. God arranged that. It was enough (Judge 6: 36-40).
People unreasonably bash Gideon for doing this, yet Gideon is listed as one of the heroes of the faith (Heb. 11:32). The bottom line is they have no room in their theology or lives for divine supernatural activity. They think it is evil of him to ask God for a sign and it is tempting God and will make him angry (Deut. 6:16; 1 Cor 10:9). Some even think it is only occultists who do this.
But the Bible does not condemn any person who just wants to double check on whether they are doing the will of God. God does confirm his word by signs and wonders and going an extra step to help our faith (Isaiah 44:26; Mk 16:20; Rom 15:8; Gal 3:17; Heb 2:2-4; 6:17-18). So, there you go.
They think it was so easy because God appeared to him and told him to take on an army against overwhelming odds. Yet, God had no problem in surrounding Gideon with signs to confirm his leadership (Judges 6:17-21; 7:9-15). God did not refuse his requests nor blast him with a rebuke for his concerns.
Seeking God for confirmation of his direction and promises is all throughout the Bible. Abraham believed the Lord promises, but asked for a confirmation that he was to inherit the promised land (Gen 15).
Joshua had great faith and yet needed a sign of victory so he told the sun and moon to stand still for a day and God honored it. That makes setting out a fleece nothing (see Joshua 10:12-14).
God told King Ahaz to ask for any kind of sign and the Lord would grant it. In his religiosity the King said “I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.” The Lord was worn out with his lack of faith and yet gave him the greatest sign of all-Christ (Isaiah 7:11-14)
God even told his people to prove him by giving a tithe and he would overwhelmingly bless them (Malachi 3:10).
When God calls us to do something we can have many doubts. This was not twisting God’s arm and telling him what to do. Laying out a fleece is sometimes a reaction to something God has spoken to do in our hearts and we are not sure. We as people just need confirmation of God’s will in the fabric of our lives and doubts, anxieties and fears can be dyed in the wool of our lives. There are sometimes we just want “to know that we know, that we know.”
Gideon, “was a fearful man, fearful of God’s enemies, fearful of his own family and the people in his own town – and now God is calling him to do something that has seemingly impossible odds…be human when you’re thinking about him, put yourself in his own shoes and ask yourself: if you were going to do battle with 135,000 and you only had 32,000 on your side, what would you feel like, no matter what God had told you?” (David Legge).
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