When another God-ordered period of discipline for the Israelites was accomplished, God desired Gideon to deliver His people from their Midianite oppressors (Judges 6:1-12). A stranger appeared to Gideon while he was threshing wheat by a winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites, who would likely confiscate his crop (Judges 6:4-6, 11; cf. Genesis 18:1-2; Hebrews 13:2). When the stranger expressed that God was with Gideon, he replied with his doubts whether the Lord was still with Israel (Judges 6:12-13). When told he would deliver Israel, Gideon also had doubts as to his own fitness as a leader (Judges 6:15). Gideon then asked for a sign by which he would know that God would use him to deliver Israel; God granted this request (Judges 6:17-24).
God has always given signs to accompany a new message from Him (Heb. 2:3-4). God does not expect us to listen to a stranger without proof (1 John 4:1). Instead, He gives signs that provide evidence in order that we might believe (John 14:11; 20:30-31).
After rallying a group of 32,000 men to meet the vast army (135,000 men) of Midianites and their allies who were gathered in the valley of Jezreel, Gideon asked for more signs. Placing a piece of wool fleece on the ground, he asked the Lord to make it wet with dew while the ground remained dry (Judges 6:36). The next morning, God granted this sign as well (Judges 6:38). Then Gideon pleaded that the Lord would not grow angry with him, and he asked for another sign: the reverse of the previous sign – that the fleece be dry and the ground wet (Judges 6:39). God granted this request that night (Judges 6:40). It seems that the men gathered with Gideon would have seen the wet fleece wrung out in the morning and then the dry fleece when the ground was wet with due after the next night. These signs gave them faith to follow Gideon as their commander, for if God could make a difference between the fleece and the floor, He could make a difference between them and the Midianites.
There is nothing wrong with making an investigation and wanting proof in order to have a sure faith. True followers of God are not without their doubts. We may have questions regarding scientific research in our day, why we suffer, the accuracy of the Bible, or many other topics that challenge our faith. We should be free to ask them and to help one another find answers and continue to be faithful when we do not have all the answers. Certainly when proof is provided, we need to accept it; we do not want to be “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” 2 Timothy 3:7. However, we should remember the charge of 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” If we are lovers of the truth, we should not be afraid of thorough investigation.
May the Flatwoods church of Christ be a congregation where honest questions are welcomed and truth is pursued, obtained, and held.