There is a great difference between asking for God’s counsel and testing/ tempting God. Asking God for his counsel is a demonstration of humility and trust that God is in control and knows what is best. Testing God says, “I don’t know if God is really in control, so let me be in control of a situation, and dictate to God what he has to do for me before I will follow what He has told me to do.”
Have you ever been placed in a position of responsibility with no idea how to accomplish that task? It’s quite a frustrating and nerve-racking experience! When we think of leaders in the Bible, we forget that many of them were in the same place at one time or another. Think about Moses on the back side of the desert being told that he was going to represent God and the children of Israel in front of Pharaoh. Remember David, the “runt of the litter” in his family being anointed the future king of Israel. And then there’s the most unlikely candidates: the disciples. Fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor, and a zealot just to name a few! What an unlikely band to be sent “into all the world [to] preach the gospel to every creature.”
Similarly, Aaron found himself in an unlikely role in Numbers 18. After a remarkable miracle in Numbers 17:8, Aaron and the Levites are tasked with the work of the tabernacle, but Aaron and his sons are given even greater responsibility.: the priesthood, representing the people of Israel before God.
James, however, gives us the simplest solution to handling these adverse conditions in James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” When you don’t know what to do, ASK GOD!
Similarly, the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 55:22, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
Some people take this to mean that if we just ask God any question, he is obligated to answer it, either by word, or by a sign. “Ok, God, if you really want me to do _________, then show me by doing ________ for me.” For example, Gideon was commanded by God to prepare an army against the Midianites. By the time we get to the story of the dew and the fleece, Gideon already asked for and received a sign that God was at work (Judges 6:17-21). Gideon asked for a sign three separate times, and God granted them all.
Yet, Ahaz in Isaiah 7 was given that same opportunity from God to ask for a sign, but Ahaz refused, saying, “I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.”
Often in life, we will find ourselves in positions where we are outside of our comfort zone, and outside of the scope of our understanding. It is in those moments that we must cry out to God for His wisdom and guidance, but sadly, we often resort to our fleshly tactics of control. The secret to success is not in being the most talented, or the most well prepared, but rather in trusting the One is able to do things that we can’t even begin to think of! “Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)