Gideon's Fleece

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
SOME years ago I visited the city of San Francisco. While there I had several opportunities of preaching the gospel in the city prisons and in the streets.
One Sunday afternoon a friend, who knew the city well, suggested that we should go to a small open square at the entrance of what was then known as Chinatown, a place where most of the Chinese inhabitants of the city live. We found the square well filled with a motley crowd of people, composed of many nationalities, sitting or lounging in the sun.
Beginning our service by singing a hymn, we soon gathered a goodly number around us. I read Mark 10:13-1513And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. (Mark 10:13‑15), dwelling particularly on the 15th verse: "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, lie shall not enter therein," from which I tried to show how simply one must receive the truth, and that neither prayers nor tears, nor works nor money, can purchase salvation nor make one fit to enter heaven; but that the Lord Jesus by His atoning work on Calvary's Cross has fully satisfied God as to the question of sin, and cleared the way for Him to offer forgiveness and salvation righteously to all; that the precious blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin; and that all God required on our part was the simple faith of a little child, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal Savior, and receive through faith in Him the proffered gift of God's mercy.
When I had finished speaking, a fine, strong man in the prime of life said, "I have some questions to ask you, if you will answer them." He seemed deeply affected and much in earnest. He said, "Do you remember the story of Gideon, and how he tested God's power by first placing a fleece on the floor, and asking God that it should be wet by the dew, but all the ground around it remain dry, and when God had given him this sign, then asking Him that he might test Him again by making the dew fall on the ground and not on the fleece?" I told him that I remembered it well.
“Then," said he, "why have not I as much right as Gideon had to ask a sign of God?”
I said, “What would you ask God to do?
To this he answered: "I was once a rich man, as many of these people can tell you. I had a wife and home, and all that heart could desire. I have lost them all. What I would ask of God is that He would restore me my money again, and then perhaps I would be prepared to accept as true what the Bible tells me about Him.”
I said to him, "I fear you would be much offended, if I were to tell you what I thought of the man, who dared to make such a proposition to God." He assured me he would not.
“Well, then," I said, "I consider you are the most impudent man I have ever met." He seemed, in spite of his assurance to the contrary, very much taken aback and offended, but finally said, "What do you mean?”
I replied, "Simply this. See how your proposed bargain with God appears, when examined carefully. You are but a very small atom in God's creation, yet you deliberately refuse to accept that which He offers you: refuse with scorn and contempt the most precious gift that the Maker of the universe can give. In effect, to all His offers of mercy you say, I will not accept Your favors; I esteem them of no value to me, but I will tell You what I will do. On condition that You give me what I want, then I will consider accepting what You offer me; but if You refuse to give me what I want, then I do not desire, nor will I accept, any favors from You.'”
When I had finished he seemed much subdued, and quietly said, "Can you tell me, then, why God has taken away all that I prized so much?”
“According to your own story," I said,” when you had everything your heart desired, you forgot God, the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and never thought of nor desired the eternal riches that He offered you without money and without price. It may have been that in His mercy and goodness He saw that, if He left you to your devices, you would, like the rich man in the Scripture, die, and in hell would lift up your eyes, being in torment; and lest this should happen He mercifully took away those things that were blinding you to your eternal welfare, and gave you the opportunity of not only experiencing the uncertainty of earthly joys and riches, which take to themselves wings and flee away, but the unspeakable privilege of accepting the heavenly joys and riches which endure forever.”
This ended our conversation, which was listened to intently by a large number, who had gathered round us. My friend held out his hand, and, with tears in his eyes, thanked me and bade me farewell.
And now, reader, what can I say to you, except to ask you what is your heart set upon?
Oh I let me affectionately entreat you—" Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. ‘(Matt. 6:19, 20.) But remember the first step taken in that road is to own that you are a poor bankrupt sinner, and receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior. If you do not take this first step you cannot take a second. H. F.