The Mistake of Making Fleeces

And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground. (Judges 6:36–40)

Have you ever put out a fleece before God as Gideon did? A fleece is a set of circumstances that must be fulfilled exactly as you’d like to confirm God’s direction to you. “God, if You want me to do that, then please do this so I can know it’s really You. Then I’ll do it.” I can guarantee that if you try to receive direction by putting out a fleece, you’re going to get fleeced.

Gideon lived back in Old Testament times and didn’t have the Holy Spirit in him. God had to minister to him externally through signs. He didn’t even have the Holy Spirit upon him because the Holy Spirit only anointed kings and priests, of which Gideon was neither. God had to show him in some way and that was the way God chose to show him.

In the Church today, we’re filled with the Holy Spirit. We don’t put out fleeces. If you do, you’ll get fleeced and wish you hadn’t done it. You’ll get confused and wonder, “Does this stuff really work?”

This idea of fleeces is subtle and can happen to you without thinking about it. For example, I did this as a young pastor, when I’d only been in the ministry a couple years. I had this game I played when I was driving somewhere. I’d go through a stoplight and see that it was green way down the road. I’d say, Well, if I can get under that light before it turns yellow or red, it’s going to be a good day. If it starts turning yellow or red, I’d better watch out. Things aren’t going to go as well.

It was a seemingly harmless game that unknowingly took on a momentum of its own. One spring day I had an appointment with the bank. We’d only banked with them for 2–3 years; that’s how old the church was. We had just moved into our building, and I had miscalculated how the air would flow through it. After the first service, it reached around 110 degrees—and this was only in May. Everybody was miserable. We had the doors open and fans on, but you couldn’t hear me preach because the rented fans were too loud. We clearly needed some air conditioners, and I didn’t want to wait until the money came in to buy them. My plan was to go to the bank and borrow $70,000 to buy two 25-ton units for our building.

I didn’t know the banker very well and hadn’t asked him for anything before this time. Since we were a new church, we didn’t have much of a track record. About two or three blocks away from the appointment, I saw a stoplight ahead. I said, “Okay, if that light will stay green until I get through, that means I’m going to get my loan.”

What do you know? The light turned blood red before I was anywhere close to it. You know what I did? I turned around at the next intersection and went back to church.

I called my banker about 20 minutes later and said, “I just can’t make it today. Something has come up.”

He said, “Isn’t that a shame, Pastor Hammond? It just so happens that the president of the bank had some free time and I was going to introduce him to you today.” I had wanted to meet him badly, and God had it set up for me, but without realizing what I did, I got fleeced! I hadn’t followed the leading of the Lord; it was just stupid superstition.

I’ve heard lots of people over the course of my ministry say things such as, “I told God if that guy is the one I’m supposed to marry, have him come up and say something to me before I leave.” “If God wants me to work for that company, then that employee needs to come talk to me.” “If God wants me to do so-and-so, He has to do such-and-such.” Whether or not you realize it, these are fleeces. When a fleece is the basis for your decisions, it will bring confusion and all sorts of negative things to bear as you’re trying to get God’s direction in your life.

So if God doesn’t use fleeces, what are the three primary ways the Spirit directs us? Find out in an upcoming blog post.

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About Mac Hammond

Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a nondenominational church located in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. Pastor Hammond also hosts the Winner's Minute and the Winner's Way television broadcasts and has authored several internationally distributed books . Mac Hammond is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living. Mac Hammond graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1965 with a Bachelor's degree in English. Upon graduation, he entered the Air Force with a regular officer's commission and reported for pilot training at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. Mac received his wings in November 1966, and subsequently served two tours of duty in Southeast Asia, accumulating 198 combat missions. He was honorably discharged in 1970 with the rank of Captain. Between 1970 and 1980, Mac was involved in varying capacities in the general aviation industry including ownership of a successful air cargo business serving the Midwestern United States. A business acquisition brought Mac and his wife Lynne Hammond to Minneapolis where they ultimately founded Living Word Christian Center in 1980.

2 responses to “The Mistake of Making Fleeces”

  1. shad baker says :

    I don’t disagree with your application of the passage, but your statement that Gideon “didn’t even have the Holy Spirit upon him because the Holy Spirit only anointed kings and priests, of which Gideon was neither” seems to be at odds with the biblical account. Judges 6:34 says, “But the Spirit of the lord clothed Gideon …”.
    I hope you got the air conditioners!

    • Mac Hammond says :

      When I said Gideon didn’t have the anointing upon him, I should have clarified I was talking about how he learns God’s will. I wasn’t referring to when God’s anointing was upon Gideon to meet the enemy in battle.

      Gideon didn’t have the Holy Spirit in him the way we do. God speaks to us in our spirit man; Gideon did not have that. He wasn’t a king or priest so he didn’t have anointing “upon” him. He had to rely upon making fleeces with God to know His will.

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