Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Putting God to the Test

Meditation for the week of August 26, 2012

Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, "Give us water, that we may drink." So Moses said to them, "Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the LORD?" (Exodus 17:2)
Jesus said to him, "It is written again, ‘YOU SHALL NOT TEMPT THE LORD YOUR GOD.’ " (Matthew 4:7)

Obviously, the God does not want us to tempt Him.  The word tempt probably means that we shouldn’t put Him to the test.  When are we doing that?

In Matthew, Satan wants the Lord to put Himself in unnecessary danger to prove that He would be protected by God.  I wonder if Satan actually believed that God would fulfill his promise made in Psalm 91.  The Lord didn’t have to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple in order to prove that God  (His Father) was faithful.  He knew that He was without “testing” Him. 

In the old testament passage referred to by the Lord, the children of Israel were in a bind.  They had been delivered out of Egypt by the passover lamb, they had miraculously crossed the Red Sea and now they were in the wilderness without water.  What were they going to do?  They certainly didn’t think that this God that had brought them this far would be able to provide water for them.  This was not a case of putting themselves needlessly in harms way in order to test the reality of God’s promises.  This was a case of simply not believing that the God Who had saved them physically  was the God who could sustain them in the wilderness. 

I have often wondered just when a person is committing this sin. The Lord didn’t need to jump from the pinnacle of the temple so his situation was different from that of the children of Israel who obviously needed water for themselves and for their animals.  God tells us in  Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.“  Instead of expecting God to “prove” Himself, the Lord wants us to trust Him.  Sometimes it is hard to trust Him, but trust Him we must because that is what pleases God.  It appears that we are putting God to the test when we ask Him to do something that we don’t believe He can or will do.

I had a man tell me that whenever we see a promise in the Bible we should put a TTP beside it.  I asked him what that meant and he said it meant “try to prove.”  Is this the test that God despises?  No, because this is the test of a believing heart that believes that God is on the throne and will fulfill His promises.  He may not fulfill his promises when we want them fulfilled or the way we want them fulfilled, but a person who trusts the Lord has every confidence that the promises will be fulfilled.  A believer does not complain and grumble about the way God fulfills those promises.  After all it is the promises of God that give us the assurance of salvation.  The reason we know rather than hope that we are saved is because of the promises that God has given us (See 1 John 5:13).  So living with the peace that comes from believing that God fulfills His promises is what pleases God.

The test that God despises is the test of an unbelieving heart.  It may be that only an unsaved person can put God to the test in the way that these passages describe.  Not all of those who were saved from Egypt were believers in the Lord  (See Jude 1:5).  However, even those of us who are saved need to be reminded that God wants to be trusted.  He doesn’t want us to be questioning whether He is able and willing to fulfill His promises to us.  He doesn’t want us to come to Him with an unbelieving heart asking Him to prove Himself to us.

We trust surgeons we don’t really know.  They usually have never “proven themselves” to us.  Surely, the Lord is worthy of that kind of trust.  The Lord wants us to trust His promises without “putting Him to the test.”  When we do that, that is, when we trust Him just because of Who He is, God does prove Himself to be faithful. 

Bruce Collins


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