This is a Test... This is MORE Than a Test

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, April 16, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

A test can show us our current state and the progress we have made so far.

Every year, public schools have academic achievement testing. At the time I am writing this, my kids are prepping for their two weeks of standardized tests. These are meant to measure their absorption of information, concepts, etc., and also demonstrate the effectiveness of the teachers and school district in their educational methods. The tests will be graded, and then ratings are assigned to each district base on the scores. The ratings will effect everything from government funding to the number of families that move into the district for their kids to get a good education. These tests are stressful for students, teachers, administrators, and local government leaders. And whether you believe in these types of tests and their effectiveness or not, whether you like tests or not, the bottom line is a “test” gives insight into our current state and our progress we’ve made since the last test.

The last couple weeks we looked at the book of Judges chapters 1-2, and what happened when God lead Israel into the land He promised them. (Go read the last two blog posts here and here if you need some context for this week’s.)

Israel not only ignored what God asked of them when the took the land, but they made bargains with the current inhabitants, and then went so far as to make them slaves - becoming the oppressors of another people, after having been oppressed themselves. God told them that because of their poor judgement and disobedience, that He would allow them to face the consequences of their choice. The people they had made slaves, the people they allowed to worship other gods in the midst of their villages, would cause them to stumble and struggle, and even deny God.

When we continue with Judges 2:6-23, we see it wasn’t long until this came true. When Joshua dies, verse 10 tells us the generation that followed did not know God and did not remember what God had done for them. They turned to and worshipped the other false gods. They continued to make choices apart from God’s best way of living, and God responded by delivering them over to plunderers and oppressors - people who did to them what they had done to the original inhabitants of the promised land. When Israel was finally broken and desperate, they cried out to God and He sent them judges - leaders/advisors to rescue them from oppression and point them toward choices that honor God and followed His plans.

  But even with the judges, they would forget God and abandon His ways. Read verses 10-21 again. Look at how they willfully turned against God, even when He had mercy on them. Look at how Israel abandoned God each time a judge died.

God knew Israel would continue to flip-flop, and their obedience would only last until they were out of trouble, or until the judge was no longer leading them. Their faith in God was self-serving, and only based in self-preservation. Their obedience and wise choices only lasted as long as someone was constantly reminding them and pushing them toward what is good. As a result, God decided to be really slow in removing the influences of the false gods and destructive paths that came from the original inhabitants they had let stay in the land. God let the presence of destructive influences become a test for Israel.

The test was not about a temptation to fail, but rather examining and EXPERIENCING the hearts of the people of Israel as they continued to face opportunities to do right, or do evil. God was testing the current state of their hearts, and searching for any progress toward good, as they faced each day with the other people and false gods among them.

What’s amazing to me about this section is that in this one decision, God demonstrates BOTH accountability for their choices and sets up a system of grace where they can progress forward toward good as they developed a distaste for evil. By allowing Israel to taste the consequences of each choice, by letting them be tested by the false beliefs and selfish practices of the people around them, God could see if they were growing and learning that life apart from Him would never satisfy them or bring peace.

So, think about your life and where you have gone your own way apart from God. Are you still experiencing consequences from that choice? Have you asked God to remove the consequence or any temptation to do wrong?

Consider for a moment that God may be wanting to experience your growth with you, and He may be testing the sincerity of your commitment to Him. He is not interested in worthless tests, so if He has allowed consequences or temptations to remain in your life, He is not wanting you to fail, and He is not being cruel. God wants us to be so sick of evil, so sick of how life is apart from Him, that we are never again tempted by it and seek only satisfaction in and with our relationship to Him. He graciously allows us the struggle and even goes through each struggle with us. He holds out hope and even offers us His power in order to succeed.

If you are already a follower of Jesus, God’s presence and power is already in you to live God’s way through any trial, temptation, challenge, or test. If, you are not a follower of Jesus, will you continue to be angry with God, frustrated that life isn’t going how you want, and continuing to flip-flop between good and evil, selflessness and selfishness?

What if God is testing you and wanting to experience and share in your growth toward good, toward a trusting and committed relationship with Him? Will you repeat the mistakes Israel made? Will you blame God for the consequences of your choices, or the choices of others? Or will you live the best way, God’s way, and trust Him with your life and choices? The choice is yours. I hope this test goes well for you.

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