“I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.” (Judges 2:21–22, ESV)
I heard this verse mentioned on the radio and even though I have explored it loosely in the past, I though it might be interesting to look a little deeper into the scripture and see how I can know the my Lord better through these verses that talk about His testing. So starting in Genesis I want to explore a handful of these verses and what the theme is surrounding them.
1 . The testing of Faith
“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:1–2, ESV)
The Lord had finally given Abraham the child of promise, the one whom the promised blessings would come from, so what does he ask him to do? Offer him as a burnt offering. I would love to peal back the curtain of Abraham’s mind and see what he was thinking, maybe the statement to his son gives a small clue…
“Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.” (Genesis 22:8, ESV)
Either way you look at this passage, the one thing is very clear, God was testing Abraham to see if he was faithful. The result is something that would be a theme for a walk of faithfulness…Blessing!!
“And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.” (Genesis 22:15–19, ESV)
What is really important to see in this passage is that faith is tied intimately with obeying God’s voice. Faith and Obedience go together.
2. Testing of our walk
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my Torah or not.” (Exodus 16:4, ESV)
This is not just a once and done test, this is to see if they will walk in His Torah. Are the people willing to walk (lifestyle day by day) by the instructions God has given to them. When you think about it, what an amazing God we have, he has told us His desire for our lives. We don’t have to guess what will please Him. That is true freedom. The other god’s represented by idols, where silent, and the people who worshiped them did all kinds of crazy things without ever really knowing if they were pleasing their god.
3. Testing the fear of the Lord
God spoke directly to the people from the mountain his 10 words which would form an outline for the rest of his instruction. Moses then said this to the people…“Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20:20–21, ESV)
What is the purpose of His testing in this passage? “that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” This suggest something we should understand about the fear of God. How can the fear of Him bring us to a point of not sinning?
This is fleshed out later on in the instructions…
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Deuteronomy 6:1–3, ESV)
How does one fear God…by keeping all his statures and his commandments!!
4. Testing to refine or perfect us
God may test us directly, or he may test us by way of the adversary. The best example of this is the entire book of Job. But it is very important to see that all of the testing of Job came by way of God’s control.
“And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (Job 1:8–12, ESV)
Job walked a life of obedience. God continually promises that if we walk in obedience then His desire is to bless us. But, that does not mean that He will not test us. Here the testing is designed to refine Job, because in the end Job sees God even better. Look at what he says in Job 42…
“Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1–6, ESV)
In the end he sees the Lord more clearly, and what is the result…repentance!! Is that not so very true in our lives? The more clearly we see our Lord, the more dirty we feel and thus we should be driven to have the same attitude as Job…”repent in dust and ashes”
Job is the example that maybe Peter has in mind as he encourages us also in times of testing…
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6–9, ESV)
Our faith is tested, sometimes by fire, but the outcome is wonderful, praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah, and the outcome of our faith…the salvation of your soul.
Lord, help me to see you more clearly, may my attitude be one of humility and repentance. In all things good and bad may I look to you, and you alone who purifies and perfects us into you image…“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2, ESV)