“We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes.”
1 Corinthians 10:9 NIV
This matter is a little tricky, but we cannot neglect it since this was what cost some people their place in God’s plan for Israel. We are being warned here not to test (or tempt) the Lord, as some people did it and became cast away. What does it mean to test the Lord?
Looking at the incident Paul cited, we could actually see what Israel did. As they journeyed in the wilderness, and the trip itself became longer and longer, the Bible said that the people became impatient and discouraged because the journey was seemingly not coming to an end (Numbers 21 vs. 4-6). The troubles and challenges that they faced really got on their nerves, so they began complaining. They started querying the goodness of God, they started arguing as to whether He really loved them, and they began querying His goodness and His faithfulness. This, was what the Bible called, testing the Lord.
Another incident where the Israelites tested the Lord was at Massah in Exodus 17 vs. 1-7. They queried whether the Lord was really with them, they wondered if He really had any good plans for them. Simply because of challenges in their way, they opened their mouth and expressed their lack of confidence in the Lord Almighty, they essentially cast a vote of no confidence on Him. This is what the Bible calls, testing the Lord.
How do we relate this to our lives today? What do we say and do when we see life becoming rather difficult for us? What do we say or do when we see that we are not where we thought we would have been by now? At such points when you feel you are a failure or haven’t made much progress, what is your reaction? What do you say?
To some people, they turn and begin to cast aspersions on the Lord. They begin to query His love and His faithfulness. They begin to wonder, is He really with us? Does He really love us? Can He really help us? Are you even sure He knows what to do under our circumstances? They ask many questions, essentially casting doubt on the Lord and His person/promises. Now, that may look like something innocent, a mere fit of emotional outbursts. But is it really just that?
The Bible said that the just shall live by faith. So, where does that leave any man who stops having faith. The reason why we still go on living holy lives, walking with the Lord, reading our Bibles, and talking about the Lord to others, even in the midst of our troubles, is because we believe Him. We believe He loves us, He cares for us, and He is working out something for us. The day you stop believing, the day you start doubting His good intentions, it is that day you commence your journey into sin and worldliness. You have began to attack your Christian journey at its very root – your faith.
So, be careful what you say in the midst of trying times. No matter what the circumstances around your life are like, do not test the Lord. Do not doubt Him. There is no need for that. He is faithful to His word, and no one who trusts in Him will end put to shame.
PRAYERS: Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I have doubted you, your love, your care, and your plans for me, because of my long journey and the challenges in the way. Like the Israelites who called manna ‘horrible’, I have despised your word at times because I felt they were not practical to my present challenges. Thank you for showing me that there is no need to doubt you in any way. You are faithful to your word and your promises. I commit myself never to put you to test again no matter the challenges I face. I will trust you to carry me through it all, in Jesus Name. Amen.
For further reading: Exodus 17 vs. 1-7; Numbers 21 vs. 4-9; Numbers 14 vs. 20-23; Deutoronomy 6 vs. 14-16; Psalm 95 vs. 8-9; Luke 4 vs. 9-12.
Afterwords: When Satan asked Jesus to jump down from the temple heights, he was essentially asking Jesus to test the Father. His jumping down would have been an expression of the Lord’s doubt as to whether the Father was with Him. The Lord, however, was not in doubt about it, and hence did not need to ask the Father to ‘prove Himself’, which some believers do today.