I recollect my high school year in New Zealand. It was time for our final examinations. My physics teacher Mr Young at Selwyn College had been observing that my performance in exams had been much lower than that during class hours. He would notice that I would help my classmates in understanding concepts and to solve problems. Yet in the exams, I wouldn’t get it right while those who I taught would ace it! I will never forget how this teacher would come searching for me outside the relevant exam hall for EVERY paper, not just Physics. He would come and tell me, “Priya, just relax. Take a deep breath. You will do fine”. In fact it was him who made me sit for the scholarship exams – that meant taking 8 papers instead of 5!
Yup, I admit it! I used to HATE tests. It made me nervous – I would get performance anxiety and butterflies in my stomach! Well, it didn’t help that my parents expected a perfect score from me for everything and that really made me get scared.
What do you think and how do you feel when it comes to tests? Whether we like it or not, we need to face tests in most courses that we do. It is a way to check how much we actually learnt and retained during the course – keeping in mind that some actually score less than their capacity! A good teacher would respond to our questions during the course. However, during the test he/she would remain quiet.
Likewise, God is with us all the time even though there are times He may appear quiet. God also does test us. Scriptures record of Him testing Abraham (Genesis 22:1), the Israelites through Moses (Exodus 15:25, 16:4, 20:20
God tests us for several reasons:
“God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” – Exodus 20:20
Some other reasons are:
- In order to know what is in our hearts, whether or not we would keep / obey His commands (Deut 8:2, Judges 3:4).
- So that in the end it might go well with us (Deut. 8:16).
- To find out whether we love Him with all our hearts and with all our souls (Deut. 13:3).
- To test the heart (1 Chronicles 29:17, Proverbs 17:3) from which testing the intent follows and to know everything that is in our hearts (2 Chron.32:31).
- To see whether we will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it (Judges 3:1).
God uses several ways to test us – by our praise (Proverbs 27:21), by wicked nations, by false prophets (Deuteronomy 13:1-3), in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10), through the miracles He brings to pass (e.g. Abraham called to offer Isaac as a sacrifice – Hebrews 11:17) etc.
If the seed of God’s Word falls on people who are like rocky ground, “in the time of testing they will fall away” (Luke 8:13). On the other hand, the testing of our faith produces perseverance (James 1:3).
Sadly God is put to the test too! We read of the Israelites putting God to the test (Exodus 17:2-7, Psalm 78:18,41,56, Psalm 106:14, Numbers 14:22 … ). How did they do this? By quarrelling with Moses who relayed God’s messages to them, demanding the food they CRAVED and giving into their craving, by rebelling against the Most High and not keeping His statutes, they questioned Him, “Is the LORD among us or not?” etc. What happened to them? They were killed by snakes (1 Corinthians 10:9).
Ananias and Sapphiras had sold a piece of their property to share with others (awesome idea) yet they held back an amount and lied about the price. Peter rebukes her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord?” (Acts5:9). The consequence was death.
Satan too tried to test Jesus and that using scripture! Jesus was led into the wilderness for that reason (Matthew 4:1). He answers, “‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (The devil mis-used scripture: to read more read an earlier blog post: https://priyanthiv.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/the-devil-quoted-scripture/ )
Paul uses the example of the Israelites to warn us:
We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes – 1 Corinthians 10:9 (NIV)
“Nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents” (NKJV).
The original Hebrew terms for the words ‘tempt’ and ‘tempted’ in this verse are to test thoroughly:—tempt and to test (objectively), that is, endeavor, scrutinize, entice, discipline:—assay, examine, go about, prove, tempt (-er), try.
- What are the areas that you may be testing God?
Remember the devil used scripture out of context to tempt Jesus. If we demand God to deliver something and He doesn’t, we make a liar out of Him although that is not what He said in the first place, but rather what our flesh craved for twisting God’s Word to fit. Isn’t it interesting that those who tested God through their grumblings were destroyed by serpents!
The definition of the Greek word for serpents is a snake, figuratively (as a type of sly cunning) an artful malicious person, especially Satan:—serpent. We need to watch out in testing God else we will be destroyed by Satan!
Peter addressed the apostles and elders:
“Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” – Acts 15:10
We test God by putting on the necks of others – especially unbelievers – yokes that even we are unable to keep, laws that are not of God. Putting these yokes – chaining people down – with what they cannot do, with man- made laws is testing God! Jesus tells us to place our yokes on HIM! As we get rooted in God, we are led by the Spirit on the narrow path that He has for each one of us in accordance to His perfect will for our lives and our specific callings.
Of course testing for the confirmation of God’s will with a desire to do His perfect and pleasing will is a different story altogether (Judges 6:39).
Let’s take some time to be quiet and allow the Holy Spirit to shed lights on areas where we are testing God. Let us be aware and watch out not to test Christ!