“If I have found favor in your sight, then show me a sign (Judges 6:17)
He sat under a mango tree when an angel appeared, addressing him as “thou mighty man of valor”. Bereft of pedigree and social class, he questioned, expressing both apprehensive fear and anxious doubt. “Why then Lord have you permitted the Midianites to scourge us? They take all that we have each harvest time”.
In the awesome presence of the Divine, he rushed back to the winepress, his secret hiding place, gathered up a hidden forty-two-pound bag of flour (an ephah) that he had sequestered, fetched a young goat, bleating pitifully on the outside and sacrificed the goat, as the blood poured heavily onto the rock, the flour making little islets in the sea of red. Gideon intoned, “if I have found favor in your sight, then show me a sign. Please, oh please, show me a sign.”
Years ago, in my ministry, I uttered the same, “then show me a sign”. As I pondered whether I should accept an invitation to serve as president of a certain college, I visited the home of my parents, where my pastor father was in an advanced stage of dementia. To my horrified shock, He was able to tell me all about this new job offer describing details that we had never shared with him—medically impossible. Dumbfounded and shocked, I wept and packed and wept again. Sometimes God sends you a sign when you are minding your own business. God expects us to act forthwith by faith in Him. We need not be afraid, although it is natural to be. God sees and understands our fears and our hesitations and offers us signs along the way. There are three types of signs:-
Sign 1—Up-front signs—Intended for the leader–The up-front initial sign of accepted sacrifice at the start of the journey appeared as fire consumed the sacrifice (Judges 6:21). Gideon pleads again to be doubly sure and the reverse sign of fleece joins the throng of signs. The fleece remains wet on dried ground and in reverse, remains dry on a wet ground (Judges 6:36-40).
Sign 2—Mid-term signs –Intended for the stakeholder followers–in the brutal face of calamity, whether of pestilence, famine or economic challenge, God sends signs, to weed out the faint-of-heart. The enemy had 135,000 men and Gideon 32,000, too many men for God to grant success. Those are fearful are invited to return home–10,000 men depart. Then God applies the ‘water test’ so that those that ‘lap like a dog” remain, leaving a remnant of three hundred men—21,700 return home. Gideon is dumbfounded. Are they any fearful among us and you feel like quitting?
Sign 3—The Final Assurance Sign-Intended for the leadership team—God assures victory just before the battle in the loaf of a barley and the dream of an opposition soldier. Sometimes, God will give you the fullest assurance, just in the nick of time. You’ve really got to trust him.
The Divine-Human Collaboration—Gideon’s men blow their trumpets, shout and cast their flares at the fourth watch (10:00 pm). The Midianites flee and fall on each other. Gideon pursues. God gives the victory. COVID-19 has come like the Midianites in our midst—it is taking our food, our time, our energy, especially us common, ordinary folks. Nothing will be the same again except God intervenes. Christians may use this event as a self-defeating moment or wring the opportunity out of this fleece. Do we need any more signs today? We may need to thresh wheat in a winepress, so help us God. God can do anything; He chooses to work through us; are you ready for a Gideon experience? https://youtu.be/nRbOqtSwUro