Thursday, January 19, 2017

Judges 6:36-40 -- On Sign Seeking

"And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground."
Judges 6:36-40

This story is so cool in some ways and so sad in others.  It is amazing, isn't it, that God is so patient with us when we doubt him? He works to help us understand and confirm our knowledge of him when we really need that confidence. And yet, we know that sign seeking in general isn't a very good thing (D&C 63:7-10, Mark 8:11, Luke 11:29, etc.).  Signs often backfire to the detriment of the seeker as well; one clear example is Korihor in Alma 30, who demands a sign, and who is struck dumb as the proof that he sought. There are also signs that God offers to us, such as Moroni 10:4-5 when we are promised that God will manifest the truth unto us, about the Book of Mormon, and about the truth of all things.  Those kinds of signs often aren't showy enough for us though, and we want something more dramatic.

Now, I can't tell you for sure why Gideon sought a sign.  It seems like he firmly believed in God, but perhaps he doubted himself, and his ability to do what the Lord had asked.  We do that a lot too.  And certainly, Gideon wasn't just asking for nothing.  He was willing to do God's will, and he was indeed convinced at some point and accepted God's word rather than asking over and over every day for new signs and proofs, which is better than we sometimes do. :)  One thing we can work on is being more like Gideon than like Korihor... in trying to confirm and follow God's word than in denying and trying to tear it down, and in recognizing a sign when we see one, and accepting it (at least on the second try) rather than seeking them over and over in every decision or new circumstance.  But it seems like there is progression even beyond this.  The difference might be what it talks about in D&C 63:12: "Wherefore, I, the Lord, am not pleased with those among you who have sought after signs and wonders for faith, and not for the good of men unto my glory."  Ideally, God wants his power (and the signs thereof) to be used for good... to help others, to help the world, rather than just to bolster our faith.

Today, let's try to bolster our own faith so that we can move past sign-seeking for the wrong reasons. If we can't move past it, and we need to do it, let's try to be as pure about our motives as Gideon, so that we build our testimonies and hopefully end up doing some good rather than ending up like Korihor.  But if we can go further, let's remember all of the goodness and mercy that the Lord has shown to us, and to humanity, throughout our lives and throughout history.  And let's think about that before we go on to ask for further proof.  Let's pray and listen, and learn from our everyday communication with God rather than asking for something mega-miraculous with extra drama sauce.

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