Friday, July 29, 2005

"Ask Me, Command Me," Says the LORD

Thus says the LORD,
The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker;
“Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons;
And concerning the work of My hands;
you command me.”
(Isaiah 45:11)
Here is a verse that makes a lot of Christians uncomfortable. Everyone is cool with “ask Me.” It’s when they get to “command Me,” that they start to get wobbly. They think, “Are we supposed to boss God around?”

No, that’s the kind of question people ask who don’t understand what intimate personal relationships are about. For them, to command means to insist that someone do something that is against their will. We need to grow up.

God is love, and the nature of love is to give and serve. When we get close to God and begin to understand His heart, our heart will become more like His, and we will begin to understand that this is about relationship, not about religion, rules or regulations.

In Isaiah 45:11, the word “ask” means to inquire, request, or even demand. Now, to demand does not mean to be controlling, abrasive, abusive, belligerent or petulant. It simply means to lay claim to or call for something. You might notice on any check you write or receive that is says, “Pay to the order of ...”

That check is a promise to pay the sum specified. The bearer of the check then demands that which has already been promised. He does this by endorsing the check and ultimately presenting it to the bank and account upon which it has been drawn. The demand presents no breach to the authority of the person who issued the check. In fact, the demand actually acknowledges and honors the sovereignty of the check writer.

For another example, if my father promises to do such and such a thing for me at such and such a time, it does him no dishonor when I go to him and say, “Poppa, the time has come. Do what you have promised.” Rather, it honors him because it honors his freely given word.

In the same way, God has made certain promises to His people. Therefore, to demand — to lay claim to or call for — that which He has promised does not in any way take away from the fact that He is God and that He is sovereign. No, it actually honors His sovereignty and pleases Him greatly. For it is taking God at His Word — and that is what faith is all about. In fact, it displeases God when we do not make demand on His promises. For without faith, the Bible says, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

The use of “command” in Isaiah 45:11 operates in the same way. It is not about bossing God around or getting Him to do anything against His will. It is about taking Him at His Word and honoring His authority by exercising the authority He has given to us. We command what He has promised.

So how do we know what that authority is? How do we know what we can call for and lay claim to? How do we discover what we can demand of Him and command His hand concerning?

One word: Ask.

The LORD says, “Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons.” The Bible says that if you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, you have the right to be called a “son of God” (John 1:12). God has also made certain promises concerning you and you have the right to ask what those are. And if you ask, God will tell you. He will reveal it to you in His Word and by His Spirit.

Don’t be afraid to ask God what He has promised concerning His children. Then boldly go to Him and command His hand concerning those promises.

(See also Commanding the Hand of God?)