Martin Luther was exceedingly bold. To some it may seem extremely audacious to make such a bold command, even in such circumstances. Yet through the years God has often sought and found a man who would stand with Him—and in authority exercise some kingdom rights. In 1540 Martin Luther’s good friend, Myconius, became deathly ill. Along with others, Myconius expected he would die within a short time. One night he wrote with his trembling hand a farewell to Luther, whom he loved very much. When Luther received the letter, he immediately sent back the following reply. “I command thee in the name of God to live because I have need of thee in the work of reforming the church. The Lord will never let me hear that thou art dead, but will permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying. This is my will, and may THY will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.”
Myconius had already lost the faculty of speech when Luther’s letter came. But in a short time he was well again, and actually some years later survived Luther by two months. How shall we explain this unusual boldness of Luther? You have, no doubt, heard individuals boldly command God to perform some miracle for His glory. For most of us, it is hard to accept the creature commanding His Creator! Many years ago the message in a booklet written by a veteran missionary urged folk to “Command ye Me according to the work of My hands.” He insisted that under certain circumstances it was appropriate and necessary to use authoritative praying to deal with the Enemy and claim lost ground for God. Using this approach we saw victory come in several crises when the Enemy was forced to yield ground. Because we were standing with God—acting on His behalf—it was necessary to use the Name of Jesus to win victory.
However, we soon came to recognize that this verse in Isaiah 45:11 is actually a question God is asking us, not a promise that He will respond to our initiative. Thus God, the Holy of Israel, Israel’s Maker, says:
This is what the Lord says—
the Holy One of Israel and your Creator:
“Do you question what I do for my children?
Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?”
How shall we interpret this verse? Is it our privilege? Or is it mere presumption—that God will respond when we claim a victory “according to the work of My hands?” Once again, we need to understand; it is clearly a matter of discernment. Too often it is man presuming to command God—and that is dangerous. But, we believe Luther was not acting on his own. If we can receive it, God is seeking to give on-the-job-training in overcoming the forces hostile to His purpose. Luther could look into God’s heart and claim, “God you know I am not pleading for personal advantage, nor trying to avoid hardship—I am only standing with You that Your full purpose may be accomplished—and Thy name be glorified.”
DE VERN FROMKE