“And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
This passage describes one of the three temptations of Jesus after the Spirit led Him into the wilderness for forty days and nights of fasting. In this temptation, the devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him in Luke 4:9-11, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and” ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”
Jesus then responds in Luke 4:12 saying, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
Through this temptation, the devil was trying to force God to fulfil His word as described in scripture by manipulating the situation – in essence, attempting to place a seed of mistrust or questioning God’s word and His faithfulness in the mind of Jesus.
The devil’s statement starts with, “If you are the Son?” then prove it. Will God protect you, as it says in scripture? This was the same cunningness used to deceive Eve in the garden of Eden. Genesis 3:1 says, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Jesus responded perfectly by quoting from part of Deuteronomy 6:16 where it says, “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.” Likewise, what can we learn from Jesus’ response to the temptation of the devil? Often when people test God, it is due to a “lack” of faith or trust in Him.
Similarly, this was the case with the people of Israel too. They were continually testing God on their journey to the promised land. Some of these instances are when:
- they were trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea, they cried out, saying, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have led us out into this wilderness to die? Didn’t we tell you when we were in Egypt to leave us alone so that we could continue serving the Egyptians? It would have been better for us to have died back there than to die here.” (Exodus 14:10-12)
- they complained against Moses at Marah because the water was bitter to drink (Exodus 15:22-24)
- they tested God when He provided them manna to eat but commanded them to collect twice as much before each sabbath due to the sabbath being a day of rest. Yet the people go out and gather the manna, but they find none (Exodus 16:25-30)
- and many more instances throughout their journey to the promised land.
You see, a test rooted in unbelief is unacceptable to God. When you read through scripture, there is one time God invites the Israelites to “test” Him. Malachi 3:10 says, “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.”
The difference in this testing is where God commands the Israelites to come in faithful obedience and trust in God and bring their full tithe into the storehouse. When they do that in faith and obedience, then they will see His abundance and faithfulness as promised in His word. In contrast, testing God in unbelief and complaining is unacceptable.
God is faithful in keeping His promises, according to scripture. Still, if we try and manipulate and force God to move by purposely putting ourselves in situations and testing God to keep His word, then this is unacceptable testing of God. You see, this is precisely what the devil was trying to achieve while tempting Jesus.
Friends, in our Christian walk, we may go through tough and trying times. Don’t test the Lord your God from a heart of mistrust, doubt or manipulate the situation for your benefit. Instead, through it all, trust God that He is sovereign and in total control of every single situation. Don’t let your situation guide your thoughts and actions toward God, but let it be your unwavering trust in the word of God and Him. Amen!
Faithfully keep His precepts and His word, and pray that He may increase your faith so that you may glorify Him and bring praise to His name. By doing so, you will be pleasing to Christ and an example to many around you.
Let us close by reading Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”