If You're Waiting For A Sign

Bible Book: Judges 
Subject: Will, God's; Will of God; Graduation; Commencement

Paul Cortichiato, a man known for practical jokes and a good sense of humor, handed me an envelope addressed TO DR. FRANK FROM PAUL. With his mischievous grin and the knowledge of Paul’s previous pranks, I did not know exactly what to expect. After expressing thanks for the gift, I carefully opened it. I discovered a black wooden postcard with the following message in white letters: “IF YOU’RE WAITING FOR A SIGN THIS IS IT”. While this message could be interpreted several ways, my thoughts immediately went to Gideon, also known as, Jerrubbaal (Judges 6:32) or Jerubbesheth (2 Samuel 11:21). As you likely know, we find Gideon’s story in the Book of Judges chapter 6 through 8.

Note three instances of the word “if” as it relates to Gideon and his relationship to God.

I. Note the “if” of divine prudence

Judges 6:13b reads, “. . . if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us?” What God allows!

Judges 6:1-13 reads, “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD. And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed My voice.’’ Now the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!’  Gideon said to Him, ‘O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.’”

Remember God’s omnipotence, His almighty power. He is all-powerful. Rev. John G. Butler explains, “The purpose of God’s power is controlled by the prudence of God. God exercises His power with great wisdom—something man seldom does with his limited power. Man often uses his power foolishly.”1

Remember God’s omniscience, His complete knowledge of all things. He is all-knowing. Puritan divine, Stephen Charnock, (1628-1680) writes, “In murmuring and impatience. One demands a reason why he hath this or that cross? Why he hath been deprived of such a comfort, lost such a venture, languisheth under such a sickness, is tormented with such pains, oppressed by tyrannical neighbours, is unsuccessful in such designs? In these, and such like, the wisdom of God is questioned and defamed. All impatience is a suspicion, if not a condemnation, of the prudence of God’s methods, and would make human feebleness and folly the rule of God’s dealing with his creatures. . . . We that are not wise enough to know ourselves, and what is needful for us, presume to have wit enough to guide God in his dealing with us.”2

II. Note the “if” of divine presence

Judges 6:17 reads, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me.” What God affirms!

God gave Gideon a sign. Judges 6:14-24 reads, “Then the LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?’ So he said to Him, ‘O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.’ Then he said to Him, ‘If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me. Do not depart from here, I pray, until I come to You and bring out my offering and set it before You.’ And He said, ‘I will wait until you come back.’ So Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. The Angel of God said to him, ‘Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.’ And he did so. Then the Angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the LORD departed out of his sight. Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the LORD. So Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Lord GOD! For I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face.’ Then the LORD said to him, ‘Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.’ So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it The-LORD-Is-Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.”

Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) writes, “Gideon’s first work was to go and cut down his father’s sacred grove which stood on the top of the hill, and enclosed an altar to Baal. He could not effect this business by day because the foolish worshipers would have rallied to the defense of their dumb idol and have overpowered the reformer. Therefore, with his 10 men, he performed the work by night. I think I see him and his people in the dim darkness, with their axes and saws, doing the work as quietly as they could, felling all those trees. A splendid clearance was made that night. ‘Now,’ he cries, ‘over with that detestable altar to Baal!’ Some people would have said, ‘Spare it as a fine piece of antiquity.’ Yes, and leave it to be used again! I say, down with it, for the older it is, the more sin it has caused, and the more likely is it that it will be venerated again!”3

III. Note the “if” of divine providence.

Judges 6:36-37 reads, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” Then, Gideon asked yet for another sign that the fleece would be dry and the ground wet (Judges 6:39-40). In his book titled, Does God Still Guide?, Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter (1903-1999) explains, “. . . sign-dictating is both presumptuous and hazardous. Gideon and his fleece are not safe example to us. Signs and miracles of that kind are seldom if ever needed today. We have a completed Bible such as Gideon never knew. We live in the full light of Christian revelation, which Gideon did not. At the time of the fleece incident Gideon had only just been converted from Baal-worship apostasy, and he had no earlier experience of the true God to fall back on. The faith which always needs supernatural ‘signs and wonders’ is still the kindergarten.

I am not saying that there is no place at all for signs; but I am saying that since Scripture revelation became completed, and the Spirit of God Himself came to indwell all Christian believers, there is not the same need for that long-ago kind of sign. Also, I am saying that to invent signs of our own and then, so to speak, corner God into using them for our own guidance, is a manipulating of things which is as risky as it is unauthorized.”4

God wants us to graduate into higher levels of trust and obedience. God tested Gideon. Judges 7:2-3, 4-9 reads, “And the LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.’” And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained. . . . But the LORD said to Gideon, ‘The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ the same shall not go.’ So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, ‘Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.’ And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. Then the LORD said to Gideon, ‘By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.’ So the people took provisions and their trumpets in their hands. And he sent away all the rest of Israel, every man to his tent, and retained those three hundred men. Now the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. It happened on the same night that the LORD said to him, ‘Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand.’”

Gideon passed the test! Judges 7:15-25 reads, “And so it was, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, that he worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel, and said, ‘Arise, for the LORD has delivered the camp of Midian into your hand.’ Then he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet into every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and torches inside the pitchers. And he said to them, ‘Look at me and do likewise; watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do: When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also blow the trumpets on every side of the whole camp, and say, ‘The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!’’ So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just as they had posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in their hands. Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers—they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing—and they cried, ‘The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!’ And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army ran and cried out and fled. When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath. And the men of Israel gathered together from Naphtali, Asher, and all Manasseh, and pursued the Midianites.  Then Gideon sent messengers throughout all the mountains of Ephraim, saying, ‘Come down against the Midianites, and seize from them the watering places as far as Beth Barah and the Jordan.’ Then all the men of Ephraim gathered together and seized the watering places as far as Beth Barah and the Jordan. And they captured two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued Midian and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side of the Jordan.” What God accomplishes!

Gideon is prominently mentioned in the Hall of Faith. Hebrews 11:32-34 reads, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” Gideon valiantly routed the Midianite army.


It is inspiring to see Gideon going the extra mile during a time when the majority was going the wrong way! Many people would like to stop at this point, but there is the rest of the story about Gideon. We must beware of practicing hero worship, whereby we ignore the negative aspects of a character and present only the positive side. The danger in hero worship is that we begin to treat men like God and God like men, and the result is disastrous. If Gideon could speak to you today, he would caution you about letting your guard down after a great accomplishment and he would encourage you to finish well. Judges 8:22-28 reads, “Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.’ But Gideon said to them, ‘I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.’ Then Gideon said to them, ‘I would like to make a request of you, that each of you would give me the earrings from his plunder.’ For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites. So they answered, ‘We will gladly give them.’ And they spread out a garment, and each man threw into it the earrings from his plunder. Now the weight of the gold earrings that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments, pendants, and purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were around their camels’ necks. Then Gideon made it into an ephod and set it up in his city, Ophrah. And all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house. Thus Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted their heads no more. And the country was quiet for forty years in the days of Gideon.” C. H. Mackintosh (1820-1896) exhorts, “If Gideon had refused the earrings [for an ephod] as well as the throne, it would have been well for him and for his brethren; but the devil laid a snare for him into which he fell and carried all his brethren with him. May we all take warning from Gideon’s fall, and draw encouragement from Gideon’s victories. May we remember that it is one thing to gain a victory, and another to make a good use of it; it is easier to reach a position than to occupy it aright. May God grant to the reader and writer of these lines, more simple confidence in Himself, and more of the true spirit of self-surrender!”5 Who told Gideon to make an ephod? Certainly, it was not God. Therefore, this was an act of presumption and not an act of faith. Further, consider as Dr. A. Graeme Auld, Professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Edinburgh School of Divinity in Edinburgh, Scotland, explains, “. . . the very name Abimelech which he himself gives to his concubine’s son in Shechem means ‘my father is king’! If actions speak louder than words, what then of Gideon’s refusal of kingship?”6 Judges 8:29-35 reads, “Then Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house. Gideon had seventy sons who were his own offspring, for he had many wives. And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, whose name he called Abimelech. Now Gideon the son of Joash died at a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. So it was, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-Berith their god. Thus the children of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; nor did they show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal (Gideon) in accordance with the good he had done for Israel.” William MacDonald advises, “We should strive under God to emulate Gideon’s virtues and avoid his vices.”7

The glory of God was, is, and forever will be, the issue. Paul the apostle explains in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.’” Dr. S. D. Gordon (1859-1936) comments, “It is true that over and over again God has used men utterly weak and foolish and despised in the light of life’s common standards. He wants men of the best mental strength, of the finest mental training, and He uses such when they are willing to be used, and governed by the true God-standards of life. But talent seems specially beset with temptation. The very power to do great things seems often to bewilder the man possessing it. Wrong ambition gets the saddle and the reins and whip too, and rides hard.

Frequently some man who had not guessed he had talent, born in some lonely walk of life, without the training of the schools, is used for special leadership. It takes longer time always. Early mental training is an enormous advantage. [William] Carey the cobbler had mental talents to grace a Cambridge chair. It took a little longer time to get him into shape for the pioneer work he did in India. [Alexander] Duff’s training gave him a great advantage. But God is never in a hurry. He can wait. What He asks is that we shall bring the best we have natively, with the best possible training, and let Him use us absolutely as He may wish. And always remember that every mental power is a gift from Him; that actual power in life must be through Him only; and that mental gifts are not serviceable save as they are ever inbreathed by His own Spirit.”8

Dr. Lawrence O. Richards exhorts, “If you know what God’s will is for you, don’t wait for a sign before you obey.”9 Remember this if you’re waiting for a sign.


In the lower right corner of the postcard given by Paul Cortichiato, there is a cross. Dr. Lewis A. Drummond (1926-2004) shares the following in his biography titled, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers: “[Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)] said of his pulpit work, ‘I take my text and make a beeline to the cross.”10 Paul the apostle writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 reads, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

1John G. Butler, Job: The Suffering Saint (Bible Biography Series) (Clinton, IA: LBC Publications, 2008), 415. Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.

2Stephen Charnock, Discourses Upon the Existence and Attributes of God, New Edition, “DISCOURSE IX ON THE WISDOM OF GOD” (London: Thomas Tegg, 1840), 386.

3Charles H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit "One War Over And Another Begun" (Judges 6:22-24) - Sermon No. 1679 - Delivered on Lord's-Day Morning, September 17, 1882. Accessed: 03/07/16 http://www.gospelweb.net/SpurgeonMTP28/spursermon1679.htm .

4J. Sidlow Baxter, Does God Still Guide? (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1991), 95-96.

5Things New & Old: A Monthly Magazine, for the Lambs and Sheep of the Flock of Christ, ed. Charles Henry Mackintosh (London: G. Morrish, 1871), 14:250. Accessed: 03/07/16 https://archive.org/stream/BrethrenMagazines_ThingsNewandOld_magazine/TNaO_14#page/n253/mode/2up

6A. Graeme Auld, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1984), 180.

7William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2008), 274. 

8S.D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Service, (New York, NY: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1906), 229-230. Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp. 

9Lawrence O. Richards, The 365-Day Devotional Commentary, “Gideon” (Judges 6-8) February 22, Reading 53 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1990), 154. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

10Lewis A. Drummond, Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1992), 222-223.

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on Amazon.com in hardcover, paperback and eBook]

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Miss-Revival-Spiritual-Awakening/dp/1462735428 & .http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Biblical-Preaching-hjGiving-Bible/dp/1594577684 / fkirksey@bellsouth.net   / (251) 626-6210

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