Testing (Matthew 4:7)

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While He was clouded by the emotion and vertigo of standing on the highest point of the temple to look upon Jerusalem, Jesus was confronted with a verse of Scripture, misapplied to tempt Him into jumping. His response at this tense moment is revealing. “Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” As He did at the first prompt of Satan, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy. 

Jesus was not reciting an obscure text or little known verse. It was a familiar passage following the reiteration of the ten commandments. It was a passage about which Israel had been instructed, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” 

During the exodus from Egypt, the people had became hungry and had longed for the meat they used to eat in Egypt. In doing so, they had grumbled against Moses and Aaron. Moses took that complaint to the Lord, and the Lord subsequently gave all the people quail that night, and manna in the morning. Setting out from there, the people became thirsty. Yet in spite of having seen God’s great deliverance from Egypt, and in spite of having food miraculously provided, and again seeing that provision every single morning, they did not wait for God to do right by them. Instead, “they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”  

God subsequently tells Moses to strike the rock at Horeb, and water gushed forth to satiate the people. Exodus 17:7 ends the story, “And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?””  So when Moses later reminds Israel of the ten commandments and gives them instructions for living (Duet 5-6), he says, “Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.” It is that remembrance that Jesus now quotes back to Satan in response to his promptings. 

It is the most rudimentary of things to recognize that God is, and that God is faithful. We do not need to test Him, least of all when we are being tested. Indeed, a son who knows his father loves him does not need to put on a show to see if his father loves him. He can be secure in that love, and he can know that his father will care for him and meet his needs. So when he hears a voice encouraging him to do something foolish, he can know that it is not God’s prompting, nor a godly act being suggested. It is the devil’s voice spoken on the devil’s behalf, seeking to do the devil’s work. Thankfully, it is a voice that ceases its prompting the moment God’s Word is rightly remembered, rightly applied and rightly used.

The Lord, when he gave us the Scriptures, did not intend either to gratify our curiosity, or to encourage ostentation, or to give occasion for chatting and talking, but to do us good; and, therefore, the right use of Scripture must always tend to what is profitable.

John Calvin

APPLICATION: Intentionality

To spot a misapplication of God’s Word, we only need to know the text and context. Fortunately, Scripture is written, so even if we do not have it memorized, we can reference it and study it to ensure we are not misled. What tools (online or not) do you use for that?

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