1. THE PROBLEM IS THIS: SOME OF OUR FAMILY ARE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY NEGOTIATING FOR THE RENTAL OF A HOUSE FOR US. We put out a fleece that if the landlord would come down considerably from his original asking price to our price, then we would take the house.
2. He refused our first offer, but we just made him the identical offer & immediately after making it this second time we found out that we had been wrongly assuming that the servants would live out.—But he has now told us that they must go with the house‚ live-in, with room & board supplied by us.
3. This certainly changes the desirability of the house for us, as it would seem a severe breach of security in our particular situation to have live-in help. So under these circumstances, we'd now rather forget the whole thing. But we've put out a fleece, so can we back out now if he accepts our offer & comes down to our price?
4. IT'S NOT A FLEECE UNLESS YOU'RE WILLING TO STICK TO IT! You can find all kinds of fault with it now, but is your word worth anything? He can be a liar, a crook, a cheat & a scoundrel, but as the Christians that I'm sure by this time he knows you are, you have to be different!—You have to be honest! I don't see how you can back out of it, or you'll be a very poor testimony. If you back out & don't keep your side of the bargain, that's wrong!
5. Once you make an offer & you make a fleece, if you're honest, if you're a Christian, even if you find something afterwards that you don't like, you can't back down on your word! He'll find it hard to believe that you're backing down just because the servants happen to live-in. (Maria: Yes, especially since those whom we sent to negotiate never made a point about that before.)
6. A FLEECE is like a CONTRACT between YOU & the LORD! You make a bargain with God, you make Him an offer: "OK, Lord, if it's Your Will‚ it'll have to happen in such & such a way, etc." It's not His fault that you didn't ask about where the servants live.—It's your fault that you didn't find that out before you made an offer!
7. THE LORD WAS PRETTY PATIENT WITH GIDEON.—God honoured his first fleece & that should've been enough. But Gideon was a Jew so that wasn't enough, he had to have double confirmation. Well‚ the Lord tolerated it & put up with it & was patient & merciful.
8. Gideon was a tough customer. The Lord was trying to make a sale‚ but Gideon wouldn't buy it. But he told the Lord that if He'd come down on His price "thus & so", then for sure.—And the Lord did. But Gideon still wasn't sure!—"So do it the other way around next time & then I'll be sure." And the Lord was patient & merciful & did it twice, & then Gideon knew it was the Lord! (See Judges 6:36-40.)
9. But when you make a deal with God you had better STICK to it no matter what, & if you didn't make the right kind of deal or the right kind of conditions & you didn't go into it with your eyes open & know what you were getting into‚ well, that's your fault‚ not God's fault.
10. YOUR WORD BETTER BE WORTH SOMETHING TO THE LORD & THE PEOPLE YOU'RE DEALING WITH! We have made an offer‚ we have given our word, & if we are going to stick to our word & our fleece then we're going to have to have the faith that if it's not God's Will to take the place, God will harden the man's heart & he will not come down on the price. But if it is His Will, he'll come down.
11. It's a TEST of your FAITH! Don't you believe that if it's not a good place to be‚ that God is able to harden his heart like He did Pharaoh's? It's not hard for you to have faith for that, but do you have the faith that if the guy does accept the deal, that we can go ahead & occupy the place safely even if the servants are living on the property?
12. Quite obviously you have the faith to let him back out of it, refuse to let us have it, since you don't want it anyhow. But you made your offer & that's that! You can't go back on your word now! I don't believe in business like that, I just don't believe in it!
13. Once you make an offer, you're bound by your word! God's Word has a lot to say about making a vow & keeping it, even to your own hurt. (Ps.15:4; Num.30:2; Deut.23:21) We made a vow to take it at our designated price & that was our fleece, & now either we stick to it or we don't! And if you back out now, you've not only backed out on him‚ you've backed out on God if he comes down to our price!
14. WE MUST STICK TO OUR BARGAIN & OUR FLEECE OR IT'S NOT A FLEECE & WE'RE LIARS, WE'VE BROKEN OUR VOW & WE DON'T TRUST GOD! That's what it amounts to—you don't believe God! It's either a deal or it's no deal & you either keep your word & your vow when you make an offer & it's a fleece or it's not a fleece!—And if you don't stick to it, then it's no fleece!
15. You guys have got to learn what a fleece is! It's just as important for YOU to keep YOUR part of the bargain & keep YOUR word as it is for GOD to keep HIS! You can't back out just because you found out something that you should've known to begin with before you made an offer!
16. Maybe you need to learn a lesson that you'd better not make an offer & you'd better not give your word & you'd better not make a vow unless you plan to keep it, & if you have made the wrong offer & the wrong vow & you don't like the deal & you don't want to go through with it but you've given your word, then you've got to keep your vow to your own hurt whether you like it or not, as a good testimony!—As a man of your word, as honest, truthful, & not deceitful or lying!
17. So what are you going to do? Don't you think that God knows if it's a bad situation for us? And don't you think that He can harden the guy's heart, make him refuse the deal? And if He doesn't, if He meets the fleece & the man comes down on his price, that was our deal.
18. So what are you worrying about? I'm not worried about it! I don't care which way it goes! I know it'll go the way God wants it to go.—God's Will be done! That's the deal & we stick to it, servants or no servants! Either that, or you're not a man of your word!—You're not a good Christian & you're not keeping the Scriptures! You made a vow to your hurt, so you keep it & learn a lesson.
19. SO WHEN YOU MAKE A FLEECE WITH THE LORD, YOU'VE GOT TO STICK TO YOUR SIDE OF THE BARGAIN because you know then God'll keep His. But when He answers a fleece, then you've got to have the faith that it was God & that that's the right answer & not start backing down at the last minute.
20. If the Lord lays it on your heart & you feel that's the thing you have the faith for: "Now, Lord, if You meet this condition, we'll consider it's of You.—If You don't, then it's not!"—You can't chicken out at the last minute! You have to stick to it whether you like it or not & whether it hurts or not! If He meets your fleece, then you've got to take the place whether you like the servants or not!—Even if you have to pay'm double salaries to take a six month's vacation.—Ha!
21. (TTL! THE LANDLORD MET OUR FLEECE, we took the place, servants & all, & they proved a great blessing! We just had to be very cautious about our security & behaviour & made special rules about theirs—& we still have it! TTL! Make a WISE fleece, then stick to it, & you'll know it's GOD'S answer—Amen?)