As we begin to understand the goodness of God we will begin to be just as pleased with His “No” as we are with His “Yes.” We will not care so much how He answers our request, but that He does answer our request—however He wants to answer it.
Are you with me… or do you need some more convincing? If you still want to try to talk God out of His “No” then let's take a look at a couple of instances where men have talked God into changing His mind. And let's see what happened as a result.
When he was twenty‐five years old, Hezekiah began to rule over Judah from Jerusalem.
He did what was pleasing in the LORD's sight, just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan. Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the LORD in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the LORD had given Moses. (2 Kings 18:3–6 NLT)
Hezekiah became deathly ill. God sent the prophet Isaiah to tell Hezekiah to get his affairs in order because he would die, and not live (see 2 Kings 20:1).
Hezekiah did not trust in God's “No.” Hezekiah was not ready to die, so he decided to try to change God's mind, He tried to negotiate his way out of death by reminding God of his (Hezekiah's) goodness:
“Remember, O LORD, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single‐mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly. (2 Kings 20:3 NLT)
God gave Hezekiah fifteen more years. Apparently Hezekiah was only thinking about Hezekiah when he talked God into more time. Apparently his motives were selfish:
But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the LORD's anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 32:25 NLT)
(You can read the full account of Hezekiah's pride in 2 Kings 20:12–19.)
Hezekiah thought he knew better than God. But did he? It was during his extended lifetime that Hezekiah messed up. And as a consequence of Hezekiah's actions during those extra years, God told him that his palace would eventually be stripped clean, with everything carried off to Babylon. In addition, some of his sons would be castrated to serve the King of Babylon.
And after hearing about what would result from his additional years, a once great and mighty King is reduced to making this pitiful statement:
Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “This message you have given me from the LORD is good.” For the king was thinking, “At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime.” (2 Kings 20:19 NLT)
When Moses was delayed in coming down from Mount Sinai the Israelites made a golden calf to worship in the place of God. And God was ready to wipe them off the face of the earth and start over. But Moses talked God into sparing most of them. (See Exodus 32:9–14.)
There was more drama as Moses ground up the golden calf, scattered the gold dust on their water supply, and made the people drink this water. Three thousand men were also killed by the sons of Levi.
Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. (Exodus 32:30–33 NKJV)
We have two extremes illustrated in these two examples. Hezekiah was acting in his own self interest by trying to change God's mind. Moses was acting entirely in the interest of the Israelites by trying to change God's mind.
To act in our own self interest by trying to get God to change His “No” to a “Yes” is simply a bad plan. If we strip away all the emotion and look at this plan for what it is, we are essentially saying to God, “We know what's better for us than You do.”
Even more to the point: That would be like me, standing on a street corner with a bullhorn, yelling, “I know what is better for me than God does!” Wouldn't such a statement make even an atheist cringe?
On the other hand, to act entirely in the interest of someone else by trying to get God to change His “No” to a “Yes” is also a bad plan. Let me step right into it here, by using the most extreme example I can think of—bargaining with God over the life of someone we love.
Moses loved the people of Israel. He loved them enough that He was willing to trade his eternal life for theirs. Moses was not talking about shortening his life here on this earth; he was talking about having his name removed from the book of life for all of eternity. I can't imagine the love Moses must have had for the Israelites, to be willing to make such a trade. (See Revelation 20:11–15 for more on the book of life.)
It would be impossible for us to display a greater love than did Moses. And if God refused to let Moses (who lived before the Cross) take on this role, He will most certainly refuse to let us (who live after the Cross). This is Jesus' job—not ours. Jesus is the Savior—not us.
Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us? (Romans 8:34 Amp Bible)
There is a great deal we can do to help keep those we love from dying—physically or in any other way. But it is not about trying to get God to change His mind. He is more interested in their welfare than we could ever be.
Whatever is coming against those we love, whether of their own doing or someone else's, is no longer punishment from God. (See the series, “The Work We Do” for a more complete explanation about living under grace.) God put all that on His Son. Jesus came to give us abundant life—and not just in Heaven (see John 10:10).
So if you are praying for someone and seeing no results, please do not assume God is saying “No”—because He isn't. As difficult as it is to accept, sometimes we are just asking the wrong questions of God.
Think of God, for a moment, as the electric company. If the electric company has already run power to your house then they have done their part. If you are having trouble getting an appliance to work properly, it does you no good to ask the electric company if they will turn on your power. You can call them every hour on the hour and they still can't help you, because you're asking them the wrong question.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. (Psalm 66:18 NKJV)
Let me repeat what I said on Monday concerning this passage: To regard iniquity is, in part, to pant (hence to exert oneself, usually in vain; to come to naught). In other words, when I ask the wrong question, God's objective is to get me into a position where I can ask the right question. Otherwise, I'm just going to be wearing myself out by pursuing an answer where there is no answer. He's not going to encourage me to stay in a wrong mindset where I will get no results.
Tomorrow we will take a look at God's “Yes.” When we begin to act on God's “Yes” is when we begin to see results.
Have a good day,