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Testing God in the Bible: Gideon’s Example

How my cat keeps doing crazy things in the laundry room right before I write about Gideon is beyond me. Today, I put him in kitty jail. He jumped on the washer and into the dryer one too many times while I folded clothes. Like my cat, Gideon ventures into territory he’s really not supposed to go, but God allows it. Let’s finish up Judges 6 and see what Gideon shows us about testing God in the Bible.

The Passage

Now all the Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.

Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised – look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew – a bowlful of water.

Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

Judges 6:33-40 NIV

Commands about Testing God in the Bible

Because the Israelites didn’t trust God to provide for their needs in Exodus, Moses struck a rock to provide water for them at a place he named Massah. Of course, the Israelites, like us, often forgot God’s provision. So, in Deuteronomy 6:16, the Israelites are commanded, “Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah.” Jesus then quotes this verse when Satan tests Him in the wilderness. The devil tells Jesus to jump off the roof of the temple and have the angels save Him. Jesus says no (see Matthew 4:7 and Luke 4:12.)

So, the Bible condemns testing God out of disbelief in His power. This would indicate that Gideon’s tests are wrong. However, the Bible also records instances of casting lots to seek God’s will. The process occurs for things as simple as dividing up land to things as complicated as determining whose sin incurred God’s wrath. It seems to me that Gideon’s tests lean toward the casting lots side. He trusts God to do what He says. Gideon just seeks clarity about which path to take.

Kitty Jail and God’s Kindness

When the cat jumped right where I was folding clothes for the fifth time, I put him in kitty jail. By “kitty jail,” I mean a laundry basket with some of his favorite curling ribbon inside. He quite contentedly chewed on the ribbon and reached for my phone through the holes in the side of the basket. As expected, he didn’t like when I turned the dryer on with him sitting on top of it. So, I let him out of kitty jail. It was not my smartest move. As I refilled my detergent dispenser, he jumped on the washer and dipped his paw in the soap. He did not enjoy me chasing him with a wet paper towel to wipe the soap off his paw.

Thankfully, God knows far more about our attitudes and intentions than I know about my cat’s. He knew that Gideon intended to obey. He also knew that Gideon needed to feel God’s support in order to overcome his anxiety. In His kindness, God responded to Gideon’s tests with signs to show Gideon that he understood God correctly. I really don’t understand why God permitted Gideon to do the second fleece test. After all, God had already answered Gideon once. It just proves to me that God sees us in love. When we seek to follow His will, God responds with kindness, even when we follow imperfectly.

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