Today was gardening day. I stopped working at 2pm for lunch and by the time I returned at 2.30pm it was drizzling. I started to pack my equipment away … and then decided that as the drizzle seemed so sparse, I would continue cutting the edges with the sheep shearer. My faith seemed to be strong enough to accept the test of possible rain. In no time, the drizzle stopped and I could not only complete the edges, mow the lawn, rake and sweep up … and water the entire garden ending at 7.30pm … and it has not rained at all.
The Bible speaks of another test, way back in Exodus 15:25 where God says, “put them to the test.” The context is Israel starting their “desert journey or wandering” after passing through the Red Sea with God closing the sea on the Egyptian Defense Force. After three days they find themselves in the Desert of Shur without having found water to drink. When they reached Marah, there was water … but it was bitter … not drinkable. Exodus 15:24 tells us the people grumbled against Moses. Moses in turn calls out to God in earnestness and God shows him a piece of wood to throw into the water making the water fit to drink. Immediately after this, we read:
Ex 15:25 There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” 27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.
Maybe the thought of dying of thirst coupled to the bitter water at Marah caused Israel to think that the water would make them ill if the drank it. Now the decree and law God designs for them seems to lend itself to them being obedient and then God would be their healer. Maybe they thought of the water and river that stank when Moses cursed it in Egypt … and God responds (v26) “I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” So the test of verse 25 is linked to the obedience required (v26a) … with protection (v26b) for the obedience … and provision (v27).
Allow me to ask you a question now. Why is it necessary to know God’s Word properly? For Israel the question might have been: “Why are you grumbling when God promised Father Abraham the Land of Promise that we are on our way to possess?” They had God’s Word … His Promise and yet as soon as the going got a little rough, they grumbled. Against whom did they grumble? Verse 24 says they grumbled against Moses! But who were they really grumbling against? God! So let’s ask the question again … Why is it necessary to know God’s Word properly?
It is necessary to known God’s Word properly so that when preachers preach (proclaim, expound, teach), you will know whether it is his word or God’s Word that is preached! And here is the acid test … If you grumble against the preacher because of what he says … would you be grumbling against God or against the preacher? The point is this … if you get angry and grumble against the preacher who is expounding the Word of God correctly, your anger and grumbling is actually against God. In fact, you are actually rejecting the Word of God! Are you aware that God hears all your grumbling? Especially when it is directed against Him! Look at Exodus:
Ex 16:9 Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’”
In Exodus 15 and 16 we see ‘grumbling’, ‘a decree and a law’, ‘a promise or commitment’ and ‘required obedience’ … but it all started with a test! It seemed they were struggling to acknowledge the presence of God with them because of the water and food problem (thirst and hunger). The object of the test is found two verses later:
Ex 16:11 The LORD said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’”
Then … “you will know that I am the LORD your God”. Not just the Sovereign One … but the Sovereign One with you! One of the huge problems with Israel is that they were out of Egypt but Egypt was not out of Israel!
Ex 16:1 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
The drizzle this afternoon was to test my faith … but bigger tests are given regularly by God when we grumble against Him, be it through rejecting His Word preached by faithful men or through arrogantly wanting to live and do as we please. There are two reasons for these tests. The first is to discipline us:
Heb 12:6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.
The second is to test your faith:
1 Pet 1:7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine
Dear God, thank You that You test me to prove my faith genuine and at times to discipline me. Help me to know Your Word so well that I know when You are speaking to me for my benefit. For Jesus’ sake, amen.