Is it OK to Test the Lord?

    If there is one thing certain about life, it is that we are frequently faced with uncertainty. The uncertainties in our lives range from needing direction on decisions to understanding how to navigate a current crisis. The question I’m asking is- Is there is a right and wrong way to seek the Lord’s help in my situation?

     The Bible, on the one hand, admonishes, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Deuteronomy 6:16).  But on the other hand, we read, “And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts,” (Malachi 3:10b) So on the one hand we are admonished not to put the Lord to the test, while in the second passage we are challenged to test Him. So, what is it? Well, actually it is both. There are times when we should not test the Lord and then there are those times when we need to test the Lord.

     Let’s start with the second passage first. The full passage in Malachi reads, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Malachi 3:10) The Lord is encouraging His people to put themselves in a place of blessing by being obedient to His Word. The Lord’s challenge is to give their Creator a chance to prove Himself. Many times we hinder God from working by not acting upon His instruction in our lives. The purpose of this test is to strengthen their relationship in the Lord and to build their faith. The Lord always encourages us to test Him through our obedience.

     The second passage, focuses on the opposite attitude of God’s people. It is a stubbornness of heart demonstrating their unbelief with complaint. The full verse in Deuteronomy reads, ““You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.”(Deuteronomy 6:16) Moses is recounting the event when God led the people to a site that lacked water. You can imagine the daily amount of water needed for over two million people and their animals to survive. If you have even been in a situation where things are not as you expected, you can imagine their frustration.

     The problem here is that just prior to this situation they had experienced God’s miraculous provision of manna. This is on top of all of the incredible works they had witnessed first-hand, like crossing the Red Sea and the defeat of what was probably the most powerful military at that time! Their response, “But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”” (Exodus 17:3) Notice any difference between the two passages. The first the Lord is encouraging His people to trust Him, in the second passage the people responding out of unbelief.

     So, is it OK to test the Lord? “NO,” if your response is one of unbelief and complaint, as a result of, your unmet expectations, as the situation at Massah. And “YES,” if you are instead trusting the Lord’s provision and direction in the midst of the crisis and through it!

     Moses retelling of the account in Deuteronomy 6 reminds God’s people to learn from their past failures so that they might have God’s blessing and success in the days ahead in the promised land. It was not going to be easy, but God is always faithful!

 -Pastor Joe Parkinson

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