Ask, seek, knock

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8

Repetition is a brilliant thing.  Especially when things are repeated a second time but not exactly the same, yet emphasizing the same thing. How is it different? Ask, seek and knock and give, find and opened seem to be static actions and responses in verse 7. This Implies a kind of man’s action – God’s response cycle between man and God. But the words used in verse 8 use the Greek present imperative, indicating continuous and constant asking, seeking and knocking and the promise behind this is a constant receiving, finding and opening. If there’s no limit to our God’s desire and ability to give, find and open, there is no limit to our asking.

And that is the guarantee of the repetition here. In verse 7, ask, seek and knock are repetitions of the same human action and give, find and open are repetitions of the same response from God. In verse 8, we find the exact same actions and responses. Jesus is placing His guarantee on God’s response to meet our needs. We have a need, God will respond with provision. It is that simple. Let us not be limited by our asking, seeking and knocking, but instead have full assurance that He will meet ALL of our needs.

שַׁדַּי

May the sovereign God bless you! May he make you fruitful and give you a multitude of descendants! Then you will become a large nation.
Genesis 28:3

Then God said to him, “I am the sovereign God. Be fruitful and multiply! A nation – even a company of nations – will descend from you; kings will be among your descendants!
Genesis 35:11

because of the God of your father,
who will help you,
because of the sovereign God,
who will bless you
with blessings from the sky above,
blessings from the deep that lies below,
and blessings of the breasts and womb.
Genesis 49:25

When God commanded reproduction (Genesis 1:28), He had already enabled it in His nature. El Shaddai meaning God who nourishes, supplies and satisfies. “Shaddai” seems to have its meaning from a number of sources:

  • The root word shadad (verb), meaning “to overcome” or “to destroy” indicating omnipotence
  • Shad meaning “breast”, or shadairn meaning “breasts” (Genesis 49:26) indicating sufficiency and nourishment
  • Dai meaning enough, indicating sufficient provision

El Shaddai is often mentioned when God’s providence/ reproductive fruitfulness is needed particularly in Genesis (Genesis 17:1-2, 28:3, 35:11, 48:3-4, 49:24-25). Children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) because reproduction comes from Him. Not just the command, but the design and ability.

We need to treat the ability and responsibility to reproduce with respect, never to downplay it (as is the case with homosexuality) or to disrespect it (as is the case with abortion). Life is sacred and life comes from God.

Practical Paganism

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:33-34

To worry is to anticipate potential lack in a negative way and focus on self-preserving behaviour. To live like a pagan is to worry about what we need. Pagans chase after provision for themselves. They secure stability for the future with their own hands. They engage their thoughts and actions on having enough; not having enough is not acceptable.

God knows just as well as they do that we all need these things. The difference is that the Christian runs after God and gets provision and stability from Him. This is the nature of His kingdom, as long as we seek His reign, we will come under His provision. To focus ourselves on self-preservation is to lose ourselves (Matthew 16:26). So why spoil today by worrying about tomorrow? We have enough to worry about for today, lets not burden ourselves even more by worrying about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry for itself.

Again and again, I fall into this trap of seeing provision as something that comes from my own effort. I look at the savings we have gathered from our hard work and find comfort and security in the numbers. What a lie that security is! The truth is that it can all be swept from under our feet in a matter of seconds. We may stand on that little security that we’ve worked for, but God who is sovereign over all creation stands on the ability to give us all things. If we see ourselves as our own saviour from potential lack or harm, where then is the need for the true Saviour?

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” is the key to freeing ourselves from being our own saviour.