Faith And Fleeces

Not only is the practice of setting out fleeces an indication of an immature faith, but it has some built-in problems associated with it. One
problem is that you can never be really sure with a fleece! Suppose you ask God for a sign from heaven in order to know if you should go on a certain trip or continue a certain relationship, and 3 days later you see a shooting star! “Wow!” you say. But then you begin to wonder, “Was that a sign from God or just a coincidence?” So what do you do next? Chances are that you’ll do exactly what Gideon did–you’ll “tighten the boundaries” on the sign to be really sure. “Lord, may I see 3 shooting stars in the northern sky in the next 48 hours, if my decision is Your will!” But can you ever put out enough fleeces to be 100% sure? And where does faith end and manipulation of God begin?

Tightening the boundaries leads to another built-in problem. Fleece-setting may not be wrong but it comes dangerously close to testing the Lord, which definitely is wrong. When the Pharisees and Sadducees asked Christ for a sign, the Scriptures says that they tested Him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven (Matthew 16:1). The Bible explicitly teaches that putting God to the test is a sin. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Deuteronomy 6:16). If you walk across an Interstate highway and expect not to get hit by a truck because God promises to protect us, that’s testing God!

A Christian who puts out a fleece and asks God for a sign isn’t exactly putting God to the test, but when we begin to tighten the boundaries on the signs we request we’re moving in that direction. If we ask the Lord to, “Make the phone ring by noon tomorrow if You want me to take that new job (or move to that new location),” we’ve really boxed God in–into a box of our making! We have set the conditions and we are forcing God to confirm His will for us on our terms! Doesn’t this come perilously close to testing God? The more we tighten the boundaries to force God’s hand, the closer we come to the “Interstate” illustration. How much better to use the normal means that God has given us to make decisions (primarily the guidelines of Scripture–including sanctified common sense!), and then ask God to confirm our decisions or guide us to different decisions in ways of His own choosing.

Asking God to confirm our decisions without restricting Him to doing it our way is not the same as setting out a fleece. To request that the Lord show us in some clear way if we’ve made or are about to make a decision that is not in accordance with His will is not the same as demanding a particular sign from God. The Lord does not play games with us. He desires that we make right decisions, and He delights to confirm us in these decisions! We do not have to put out fleeces to remind our heavenly Father that His well-loved and intimately known children need His perfect confirmation in their walk of faith. We really can trust His promise: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).
(RON REID)

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