This practice of “fleecing” originated from the story of Gideon where many people, even believers, today would like to follow this practice of testing God in Judges 6:36-40. This is their way of perhaps making sure if this is what the Lord wants them to do. Some of them probably thought of the following,
- If she is the one that I’m going to marry then let her accept this white rose from me.
- If he is the guy that I am going to be with for the rest of my life then let him visit me today in my office this morning.
- If the business is meant for me then let him call me at this very hour.
- If this house is meant for us, then let them give it at this very amount that we are requesting.
- If the Lord wants us to have a baby then He will lead us to a place with many children.
This practice labeled as “fleecing” is not proper for a follower of God. Gideon had his doubts if God can use him to defeat the Midianites because of his clan’s standing being the weakest in Manasseh and the least in his father’s household (see Judg. 6:15). The Lord never wants us to doubt Him. He wanted us to trust in Him. Yahweh already gave Gideon His word yet he still chose to doubt by putting Him to the test to which God said earlier, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judg. 6:12).
Gideon’s behavior is not worth emulating, rather an unfortunate action that we need to learn. As James 1:6 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” I don’t think God was please when Gideon tested Him because faith pleases God (see Heb. 11:6). Remember, the Lord Jesus explained, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen” (Matt. 21:21).
The insight of Dr. K.L. Younger, an Old Testament researcher is very helpful when he explained about Gideon’s behavior which is “is nothing short of a pagan divinatory test of the deity…. The fleece incidents are far from a model for the discernment of God’s will. . . . His problem is his lack of willingness to trust the lord, to take him at his word. Thus the fleece incidents are about Gideon’s unbelief and stubbornness in response to God’s call. In such cases, God is not obligated to respond, and if he does, it is only by grace. Those who use this passage as a means of discerning God’s will are simply misapplying Scripture.” *
Although some people will say, “But God answered me when I asked HIm about it.” They think God was honored with their request but that is not faith in God but faith in circumstance and situation. There was a time that Jesus tested a Roman centurion whether he would place his faith in his present circumstance. The Roman officer can also place his faith in his present circumstance by putting God to the test thinking, “If Jesus comes with me to our house then I know my servant would be healed.” Surprisingly, the high official did not take that route of doubt rather he took the way of faith by saying, “Sir, I don’t deserve to have you come into my house. But just give a command, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8). The Lord Jesus was so amazed that he commends him telling the people around who were following Him, “I can guarantee this truth: I haven’t found faith as great as this in anyone in Israel” (Matt. 8:10).
There is a huge difference between the response of Gideon and the Roman officer. The former had to resort to “fleecing” or circumstantial faith, a faith that goes up or down depending on the current set of circumstances. While the Roman officer had no doubt but pure faith. Learn to trust God and follow Him than to subjectively test Him for confirmation based on the things around us because of our doubt and fear. Let’s please God by our faith not by “fleecing” Him.
The tithing test is different because it is coming from God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promise of opening the windows of heaven for His and pour down for them a blessing until there is no more need (see Mal. 3:10).
KL Younger’s quote was lifted from Bill Muehlenberg’s Weblog.