Once again the Lord God spoke to King Ahaz. This time he said, “Ask me for proof that my promise will come true. Ask for something to happen deep in the world of the dead or high in the heavens above.”
“No, Lord,” Ahaz answered. “I won’t test you!”
Then I said:
Listen, every one of you in the royal family of David. You have already tried my patience. Now you are trying God’s patience by refusing to ask for proof.
– Isaiah 7:10-13
Here the prophet tells the king to ask God for a “sign of confirmation.” The king refuses to, stating that he will not put the Lord to the test. This brings up a very interesting dynamic about testing God…
Deuteronomy 6:16 reads “Do not put the Lord your God to the test…” It seems clear that the king is trying to honor God’s word. Jesus also refused to put the Lord his God to the test when being tempted by the devil in the desert. What makes this interesting and really stand apart is that Isaiah gets snippy with the king and and says, “Now you are trying God’s patience by refusing to ask for proof.”
So the question is: What is different about this situation? Why is it okay to test God in this way?
This reminds me of the story of Gideon. Gideon is asked by God to lead the armies of Israel, but he really wants to know that it is God who is calling him. So he sets up a series of “tests” to confirm that it really is God who is speaking to him. Gideon’s fleeces didn’t seem to bother God in the least. In fact, God honored Gideon’s request for confirmation.
In today’s passage, Isaiah is instructing the king to ask for confirmation, and the king is refusing to “test God.” It seems to me that there is a distinct difference between “putting the Lord to the test,” and asking the Lord for a sign that confirms that what you are hearing is really from Him. God seems to delight in our confirming His calling, and even gets frustrated when we don’t seek out and clarify His leading. Asking for signs to confirm the way seems biblical indeed.
In my life and ministry, confirming and clarifying God’s leading is a critical part of my leadership. This is an area that I can be more intentional in, as I seek the Lord for confirmation in decisions moving forward from here. Stopping and asking God for a sign or “fleece” is a good habit to develop in the strategic decision making process. After all, only God knows the best way forward, and He does not want to withhold His direction from me. The practice of asking and waiting is one that I must develop more intentionally in my life. Otherwise I will be leading in my own wisdom and strength, and who wants to do that?
God, this day I ask that you will confirm the ways forward for my family and our church. Give us clear signs as we make big decisions concerning parenting, leadership, campuses, databases and hiring. Lord, make Your way clear and give me eyes to see and the wisdom to know when to ask for a sign…. In Jesus’ name, Amen.