Does God test us and if so, why? What is God’s purpose for testing His children? Why can’t we test Him?
God Tests His Children
The Bible is full of stories about those who had no other choice but to trust in God. Our trust is like faith and our faith is only as strong as the Object of our faith – and that is God. God is completely trustworthy and never breaks His promises but God does test us and there is a purpose behind this. God wanted to test or try Abraham’s faith when He told Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac. This was the son of promise which was given to Abraham in his old age. Abraham was old and thought past the age of being able to have children through his wife Sarah. When Abraham finally did have a son, God wanted him to sacrifice his son. We read this account in Genesis 22:2 where God told Abraham to “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Interestingly, Moriah was the same place that God the Father would literally sacrifice His only Son Jesus Christ at Calvary. Abraham was obedient and “Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance” (Genesis 22:3-4). Just think about that. Abraham didn’t delay. He left early in the morning and for three full days and nights must have thought about his son Isaac being sacrificed. This is the same son through whom the promised seed would bring “many nations” into being and through this same linage, the Messiah would be born.
One wonders what Isaac must have been thinking when “Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:7-8). What did Isaac think as he was being tied up (Genesis 22:8) and coming to a realization that he was to be the sacrifice? There is no indication that Abraham hesitated or that Isaac resisted. Talk about a test! Ironically, Abraham’s words would be fulfilled in reality that “God Himself will provide the lamb” and that would later be Jesus Christ, the Perfect Lamb of God…given as a sacrificial sin offering. Abraham passed his greatest test of all and God told him, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:12). This is why Abraham is called the father of the faithful and is said of him in Hebrews 11:17, “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son.” James wrote that “his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did” (James 2:22). God may not test us just to see how strong our faith is but to see our faith grow. God proves every son and daughter of His.
The Faith Test
Abraham is not the only one who had to be tested by faith. So too will believers be today as it is written, “we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). Paul sees God as testing our hearts and that this testing proves the strength of our faith. Joseph was also tested by God as “He sent a man before them [Joseph], who was sold as a slave. They afflicted his feet with fetters, He himself was laid in irons; Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him” (Psalm 105:17-19).
Trials can test us too as James wrote to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-5) because “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). When I bought my last car I took it for a test drive. Wouldn’t you? I never buy anything without first testing it and if I didn’t test it and it doesn’t work well or breaks down, then that is my fault. God also tests us with trials to ensure that our faith in Him is strong. Trials can not only test our faith, they can strengthen it, making us more dependent upon God and to be determined to trust Him in all circumstances.
Jesus Himself tested His own disciples once as recorded in John: “When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.” They obviously failed the test because Phillip and Peter said, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many” (John 6:5-9)? I cannot judge Phillip and Peter though for I can’t count the times that I failed in trusting God.
Do Not Test God
If God can test us, then why can’t we test Him? Why would we need to because God is faithful and just and never breaks a promise that He makes? He is completely trustworthy in every way. God is not pleased when we put Him to the test as Jesus rebuked the Devil in the Temptation in the Wilderness, where Jesus was tempted. “Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God, he said, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matthew 4:5-7). Jesus plainly said that we are not to put “God to the test.” Why not? If we are testing God then we are showing a lack of trust in Him. Here, Satan not only took text out of context, he used it as a pretext – and a false one at that.
God’s Appointed Leaders
God has not changed. He also forbid Israel to test Him as in Deuteronomy 6:16 saying “Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.” Earlier in Israel’s history, they tested God at Massah and Meribah when they said, “because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not“ (Genesis 17:7). Every time God is put to the test, it proves disastrous for Israel. In Genesis 17:3 they tested God by grumbling against their leader Moses, “But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
Today when we speak evil of pastors, elders, deacons, or church leadership, we are testing God for whoever God has put into the Body of Christ as His leader, He did so intentionally. When you grumble against church leadership, you are actually grumbling against God Himself. Paul must have heard his fair share of grumbling against church leadership, including himself, and perhaps this is why he wrote a serious warning to the church at Corinth, “And do not grumble, as some of them did–and were killed by the destroying angel” (1 Corinthians 10:10). In Numbers 16:11 we see that “It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?” Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt” (Numers 16:28-30). Read all of Numbers chapter 16 and you will see how displeased or angry that God gets when He is tested and by grumbling against leadership; you grumbling against that man that God put into that position. God warns us all throughout the entire Bible, “Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm” (Psalm 105:15).
Proving God is Not Testing God
In Malachi, many have the misconception that we can test God with our tithes and offerings as it is written, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10). The better translations have it right as it should read, “Prove me now” instead of “test me in this.” Besides, you can see by the context of Malachi chapter three that it is about trusting in God to provide for our needs when we are faithful and trusting in our giving to Him. Israel had been robbing God by withholding their offerings and wanted them to trust Him or prove that He would reward those who were faithful in their giving.
The example of Gideon putting out the fleece is not a good example to use that we can test God because God took the initiative in calling Gideon to do something for Him and not the other way around (Judges 6). Gideon’s clan was the weakest in Israel, they were the smallest, and they were farmers and not skilled in war or battle-hardened like those who God asked Him to destroy. Now if God comes down to speak to you in an audible voice and requires or asks of you something that seems impossible, then you can most certainly test Him but until that happens, I wouldn‘t recommend it. The Bible is full of examples where God is angered when tested. Why do we need to test God? He is the Supreme Creator, the Maker of the Universe, and He is omnipotent (all-powerful). God says, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son” (Genesis 18:14), “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37), Paul understood that “God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:21). Job who went through the greatest trial of any (save what Jesus endured) and said, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). So my question is why would we want to test God if nothing is impossible for Him?
Here is the greatest test of all. Will you put your trust in God? By trusting in Jesus Christ, you will be saved and receive eternal life. Jesus says to those who have put their trust in Him, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God’ believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3). Will He be coming back for you? It is your time now, if you have not already done so, to put your trust in Him and believe in Him because “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26)? I hope you will believe this. Jesus said it and since He is God, He can not lie (Hebrews 6:18).
Take a look at this list of related Bible verses:
Resources – New International Version Bible, The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblca, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. YouTube video “Cleanse Me” by George Younce & Glen Payne.