If you are like most people, you want to know if your ideas and actions are sanctioned by the Lord. Therefore, you may seek a sign of confirmation before you act, and that whole process is called putting out a fleece before the Lord. That concept was first introduced in the story of Gideon, so let's go there now and see if there are any lessons we can learn from what Gideon did and why he did it.
God appeared to Gideon and appointed him the one to deliver Israel from the Midianites. This directive was not what Gideon was expecting, so he asked God on three separate occasions to give him a sign that God was indeed with him and guiding his steps. Here is one of those occasions:
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. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew." That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew (Judges 6:36-40).
You can see from this passage that a fleece before the Lord was just that for Gideon - a sheep's skin that one time was drenched with dew and another time was not, at Gideon's request. Gideon chose that sign and God chose to respond. It would be nice if God would respond to every request for confirmation like He did in this instance, but He usually doesn't. Why is that?
He doesn't because most requests are made not in faith but in unbelief, and God does respond very well to those who don't trust Him in the first place. When that happens, they get the response that Jesus gave to the Jews. Let''s look at that now.
NO SIGN, SORT OF
Jesus was confronted by some listeners who were challenging His claims to be the Son of God: "Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, 'Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.' He answered, 'A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah'" (Matthew 12:38-39).
Notice that Jesus didn't say that there would be no sign. He simply said it would be a sign of God's choosing and that sign was that Jesus would be raised from the dead after three days, just like Jonah was delivered after three days in the big fish. The problem with asking for a sign today is that a sign has already been given: Jesus has risen from the dead and is alive!
If God can raise the dead, then He can do anything! He can help you start your business, publish your work, find you a job or fund your missions trip. When you say, "Oh God, I need a sign to let me know whether or not this is something you want me to do," you run the danger of asking because you don't believe God will help you do what He is asking you to do. Your request is not made in faith, but in fear, and you are asking God to do something He has already done.
The Lord asked Gideon to lead a battle against opponents that far outnumbered Israel. What's more, Gideon had no military experience, so Gideon needed God's reassurance because many lives were on the line. Most of us won't ever face that kind of challenge. Yours is much less demanding, so the knowledge that God raises the dead assures you that God can do anything, especially when it comes to helping you to do what's in your heart.
HOLDING UP GOD
One time I was invited to go to Afghanistan to teach. I didn't want to go. I was tired, didn't have the money, and I was scared to go there due to the violence reported in the media. I put out a fleece: "God, if You want me to go, then I want all the money up front, before I will take the first step." The problem was that if the money came in slowly, then I would not have the visa or other requirements to enter that country.
Then one day, I had a vision of me holding a gun to someone's head, and I realized that was what I was doing to God. I was saying, "This is a stick up, God. Give me Your money now, or else I won't go!" I was reminded that God honored faith, and of all the times up to that point in my life when God had provided as I stepped out, not before I stepped out.
If I thought there was even a chance that God wanted me to go to Afghanistan, then I needed to do what I could do today while I waited for the money. I did that and the money came in bit by bit. I got the last of the money I needed on my way to the airport for my flight to London. When I got to Afghanistan, I saw that God had indeed summoned me there, and I am not exaggerating when I say that my presence there changed and even saved some lives.
Have you been requiring, even demanding a fleece, before you will take the first steps toward your purpose or a goal? Is that your way of putting God off, resisting what you sense He wants you to do. Do you see now that God is not required to honor your request? Don't be looking for ways to avoid God's will, but for ways to do God's will. When you approach serving God like that, He will send you all the confirmation you need at every point as you go, but not before you go. Have a great week!
KENYA HELP: I need your help as I prepare to depart for Kenya on February 25. Please read my update and then do what you can to help.