Belief is beyond lip service and going along with the crowd to ‘look’ good.  Belief means trust.  And trust is demonstrated by your choices.

God made it very clear that His people were to have no other gods before Him; “You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you — for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.” (Deuteronomy 6:14-16)

What happened at Massah?

 The occasion where the Israelites tested God at Massah is found in Exodus 17.  As God was leading Moses and His people toward the Promised Land, they camped at a place where there was no water. The Israelites’ immediate reaction was to grumble against God and quarrel with Moses (Exodus 17:1–3). Their lack of trust in God to take care of them is evident in their accusations toward Moses: “They said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?’” (Exodus 17:3). The Israelites were obviously in a situation where they needed God to intervene. The point at which they tested God, though, is when doubt and fear overtook them and they came to the conclusion that God had abandoned them (see Exodus 17:7). They questioned God’s reliability because He was not meeting their expectations.

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Satan tried to lure Jesus into this sin when He was forty days and nights in the wilderness:

 Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16 in the wilderness, in response to one of Satan’s temptations. “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 4:7—10). Essentially, the devil was telling Jesus to “prove” God’s Word was true by forcing God’s hand—if Jesus was in peril, God would have to save Him. Jesus refused to test God in such a way. We are to accept God’s Word by faith, without requiring a sign (see Luke 11:29). God’s promises are there for us when we need them; to manipulate situations in an attempt to coerce God into fulfilling His promises is evil.

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I know of two instances in the Bible where God invited people to test Him.  The first instance involves King Ahaz:

 “‘Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above. But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!’ And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  (Isaiah 7:11-14)

King Ahaz seems to be very pious and righteous but he didn’t fool God.  God told Isaiah to confront Ahaz; “. . . but will ye weary my God also?”   King Ahaz was really a ‘double dealing’ hypocrite.  King Ahaz had other plans. He was going to ‘take care of business’ himself. He’d made a deal with the King of Assyria to come and help him; “So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am your servant and son. Come up and save me out of the hands of the kings of Syria and of Israel, who are attacking me. And Ahaz took the silver and gold in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria.” (2 Kings 16:7,8)  Not only did King Ahaz trust men more than God he also stole from God to pay for his ‘deliverance’.  Ahaz was so unlike Jesus who had compete and utter trust in God!

King Ahaz was into idolatry. He set up an altar to the god of the King of Assyria; “King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria. When he saw the altar that was in Damascus, King Ahaz sent a model of the altar and complete plans for its construction to Uriah the priest. Uriah built the altar according to all the instructions King Ahaz sent from Damascus. Therefore, by the time King Ahaz came back from Damascus, Uriah the priest had completed it.” (2 Kings 10;10,11) There is always an unfaithful priest willing to pander to idolatry if a ruler of this world asks for it. And both double-dealing ruler and his priest flunky think no one notices!

In this instance, God through his prophet Isaiah was confronting King Ahaz calling him out for his double-dealing idolatry and theft from God!

The second place where God invites people to test him is in the last book of the Old Testament;

Malachi 3:10 says, “‘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.’” This is the only situation given in the Bible in which God tells His people to “test” Him. Interestingly, the Hebrew word used for “test” in this verse is bachan, which means “to examine, scrutinize, or prove (as in gold, persons, or the heart).” Just as gold is “tested” with fire to prove its quality, God invites Israel to test Him in tithes and offerings and see that He proves His faithfulness in response.

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This instance differs from the first because God was confronting Ahaz  as an individual and here, He is encouraging the Israelites as a nation to trust Him.  And yet, this instance is similar because God is confronting the entire Israelite people of stealing from him like King Ahaz did; “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” (Malachi 3:7,8)

So far the only Person living a flesh and blood existence in the world  that could be completely faithful to God was Jesus.  Times haven’t changed.

Individually and corporately we fail to trust God time and time again.  As a nation we have turned from Him and now chase after other gods.  Some of the false gods we chase after as a nation are ‘political correctness’, tolerance, and science.  These golden calves trump all common sense.  The first to grab the horn of the altar to these false gods wins all.

Individually we stumble in fear and fail to trust God’s promises every day.  Does disease and illness scare you more than being abandoned by God?  Personal gods of success and happiness are empty silent idols when the dark night of troubled times comes upon us.  If God has delivered you from an illness do you ever doubt Him and think; ‘Oh no! it’s coming back!’  I have!  Sometimes in great distress people will even grumble against God as they did at Massah.  If things aren’t going your way and misfortune looms do you get angry at God and blame Him.   I have.   Maybe you have.

Our modern day idolatry and our fears rob God of the offering every person can make – our trust!   God will forgive our fearful stumbling.  Pride full double dealing like King Ahaz’s will destroy us not only individually but corporately as a nation!

Here’s a promise that we can all count on.  Here’s a promise that we all desperately need; “. . . if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Thank you Jesus for repentance and grace!