I Will Be With You
Does this sound familiar? You feel “led” by God to do something, to go somewhere, to take some course of action. But you want confirmation that it’s really God’s plan for your life, so you figuratively “put out the fleece.”
What’s that, you ask? Well, go back to Judges 6 and 7, and read the story of Gideon. The Israelites were under threat from the Midianites, and God directed Gideon to put together an army. In chapter 7 we read that God systematically whittled down that army from 23,000 men to just 300. Overwhelming odds? You bet! But Gideon obeyed—once he was convinced this was really God’s plan, and he did that by testing God. (By the way, this is not recommended as standard practice! See Deuteronomy 6:15; Matthew 4:7.)
But in this case God honored Gideon’s request. Judges 6:36-40:
“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 all 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.”
Gideon was convinced, and that 300-man army won a great victory. It’s a great story, and you should definitely take the time to read it. In particular note the times when the Lord said some variation of “I will be with you.”
But compare that with God’s response to Moses at the burning bush. In Exodus 3 we read about a massive task God gave to Moses. He is to rescue God’s people from slavery in Israel. Moses is understandably overwhelmed, so he argues with God and tries to push the task off to someone else—anyone else!
In response God does give Moses a sign, but Moses will have to wait for it. Here’s how James Sire describes it in his book, Beginning with God:
“Rather than upbraiding Moses for arguing with him, God simply said, ‘I will be with you.’ And he went on to give Moses a sign: ‘And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain’ (v. 12). God’s presence with Moses was to be enough to ensure the success of God’s plan. The sign itself would only be a sign when the action was complete! Till then Moses was to trust God and move out in obedience.”
Did you get that? Only in hindsight would Moses get that confirmation that God had been with him the whole time!
Isn’t it interesting that in the New Testament, when God gives us a massive task, He offers the same assurance? Here’s what we read in Matthew 28:19-20:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
God’s promise to be with us will give us the confidence to move out in obedience. His presence is enough, as Sire says, to ensure the success of God’s plan!
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- James W. Sire, Beginning with God: A Basic Introduction to the Christian Faith (InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition), p. 48, emphasis added. ↑