After some time, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
Does God really test us?
At the beginning of this very popular story, God is the tester. At the end, God is the provider.
It may rock our picture of God a little bit to read of Him as Tester, but we don’t get to choose, nor can we fully fathom, just how God operates. As Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann says in a commentary on this passage, “God is not a logical premise who must perform in rational consistency. God is a free lord who comes as he will.”
We see from Scripture that God does on occasion test His people to expose the quality of their faith. Today, let’s just look at that precedent.
- Probably the best known example is the wilderness wanderings which begin with the manna. God provides manna for Israel in the wilderness, but they are only to collect enough for one day at a time. The temptation will be to hoard for the future. What if God doesn’t send any tomorrow? But God said he would supply manna six days a week (two days’ worth on the day before the Sabbath). Can they trust God to give them enough for that day? Thus God tested His people Israel, as He did throughout the wilderness period (Ex 20:20; Deut 8:2,16). This theme runs all the way through to the NT in Jesus as He teaches us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Do we trust God to provide what we need for today? Whatever it may be? At times of stress, it can be good to stop and ask “Do I have everything I need right now?”
- God also tested later generations of Israelites. At the time of the Judges, God tested Israel using the nations that Joshua did not drive out of the land. Will Israel continue to follow God in spite of their presence? (Judges 2:22;3:1,4)
- Interestingly, the Psalmist on occasion will ask God to test him, like in Psalm 139 when he cries out, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
So it seems clear that God does indeed test His people in the Old Testament. But what about the New Testament? What about today?
We’ll look at that next time.