Is God responsible for the tests we go through? Why are we tested? How should we respond to tests from God? What does the Bible say about being tested by God?
The Hebrew word “nasah” translated as “test” means “an attempt to prove the quality of someone”. Often a time of pressure and difficulty constitutes the test. God uses it to see whether His people will follow/obey His instructions/commands – Dr. L. Richards, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 593.
Ex. 15:22-25 How did God test the Israelites?
How did the Israelites respond to the test (Ex. 15:24)?
Why should the Israelites have known that God would take care of them (Ex. 13:5, 11)?
[Even though the Israelites flunked the test, so to speak, because they grumbled instead of trusting God to provide, as He promised to bring them into the promised land, God provided water for them to drink (Ex. 15:25).].
God has commanded His followers (believers/Christians) to make disciples/converts/evangelize/share the gospel (Matt. 28:19-20; 2 Tim. 4:5; Eph. 4:11-13). When you’ve attempted to do so, did you get tested by God through some difficult situation (like a hostile reaction from the person you were evangelizing, or some civil authority telling you that you can’t evangelize at that location/place, or being ridiculed by family, friends, classmates, fellow employees, neighbors, relatives; or people refuse to listen to you; etc.)?
If so, did you pass the test by continuing to share the gospel as a way of life, or did you quit evangelizing completely, and why?
Ex. 16:1-5, 19-29
God was going to provide bread for the Israelites on a daily basis (except on the Sabbath/Saturday). They were to gather each day as much as they could eat in that one day (except on Fridays, they were to gather twice as much so they’d have bread for Saturday, the Sabbath). Though they were told not to leave any bread until the next morning, what did some of the Israelites do (Ex. 16:20)?
Though they were told not to gather bread on the Sabbath, what did some of the Israelites do (Ex. 16:27)?
Why did God set up this bread situation the way He did (Ex. 16:4)?
When God tells you to do something, do you do it just as He tells you to, or do you do it any way you want to, and why?
For example, God tells us to worship Him in spirit and truth. Do you worship (give allegiance and reverential service to and/or praise to) God in spirit (inwardly, from His Spirit controlling our spirit) and truth (correctly, as He’s dictated, e.g., Heb. 13:15-16), or do you worship Him any way you want, and why?
Ex. 20:20 Why shouldn’t the Israelites be afraid of God’s presence?
[Being tested by God is a good thing, not a bad thing, because it shows us what we are really like on the inside. And if our motives are wrong, our attitudes bad, our character or commitment lacking, then we’ll know, so that we can do something about them/it to change so as to be more godly (read Deut. 8:16).].
Is this how you view God’s testing of you, and why?
Give an example of where you’ve used God’s testing of you to change something that needed to be changed in your life, so that God would do good to you in the end.
Judg. 2:19-23; 3:1, 4
The Israelites were told by God to conquer all the Promised Land (Josh. 1:11; 23:12-13; Judg. 1:2-4, 21, 27 – 2:3), but they disobeyed; therefore, God was not going to drive out the nations left there after godly Joshua died. Why?
Did Israel pass or flunk this test (Judg. 3:5-7), and how?
God tells Christians to not be bound together with unbelievers, 2 Cor. 6:14 (as in marriage), and when a beautiful/ charming or handsome non-Christian comes into your life, do or would you marry that person anyway, rationalizing that God must have brought her/him into your life, and why?
Do you ever find that God tests you by not removing “your enemy nations” (i.e., temptations) from before you, but rather leaves them there to see whether or not you’ll obey Him?
For example, maybe you’re tempted by illicit drugs, alcohol, pornography, an immoral relationship, materialism, or a job that consumes your time, attention, and energy so that you fail to “regularly” pray, read your Bible, evangelize the lost, build up other Christians spiritually, or get trained to be a more excellent Christian worker, and you’ve asked God to remove it, her, or him from your life, but He doesn’t. Could the reason that He hasn’t removed it, her, or him from you be because He wants to test you to see whether you’ll obey Him or not by not getting involved in that sin or distraction?
If so, what should your responsibility be if these temptations are around you (read 1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Tim. 2:22)?
Or, maybe you’ve been challenged and offered an opportunity to be taught and trained to be an effective Christian worker by a godly, full-time Christian missionary, and all of a sudden your parents are opposed to it, or a beautiful girl comes into your life and is opposed to it, or a good-paying job is offered to you, do or would you flunk God’s test by not being trained in order to serve God excellently?
2 Ki. 20:12-19; 2 Chron. 32:20-22, 27-31 God saved king Hezekiah from his enemies and allowed Hezekiah to have immense riches and honor. Why (2 Chron. 32:31)?
If and when God allows you to have a lot of money, a great job or ministry, prestige, and/or peaceful circumstances in life, do you think you will pass or flunk the test of being humble and appreciative to God, and why?
Will you get prideful, independent, and push God in the back of your life, or will God remain the top priority and love of your life and will you continue to obey all His commands, including evangelizing?
Gen. 15:3-5; 22:1-3 How was godly Abraham tested by God?
Though Isaac was Abraham’s only son through Sarah, through whom God promised a multitude of descendants, how did Abraham respond to God’s command (test), Heb. 11:17?
If God told you to give up something (e.g., college, sports, or career) that or someone (e.g., girl/boyfriend or family) who was very precious to you, would you do it, and why?
[Jesus told a group of people that to be a disciple/follower of Him, they would have to give up everything and follow Him (Lk. 14:33, 26; 18:28-30; Matt. 4:19-22; 10:34-38).].
[Jesus tested the loyalty and commitment of people in order for them to qualify as a disciple of His, Lk. 9:57-62.].
Would you pass the test of giving up everything and everyone in order to be equipped by a spiritually-gifted Christian, so that you could serve God more effectively (Eph. 4:11-13)?
Why (1 Thes. 4:1, 10; Col. 3:23)?
The Greek word “peirazo” translated as “test” means “to make proof of”; “a difficult situation, a pressure that brings a reaction through which the character or commitment of the believer is demonstrated” – L. Richards, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 593.
Rev. 2:10 Some of the believers in the church at Smyrna were about to suffer and be tested. How?
[God tells them not to fear, but be faithful until death.].
Has God ever allowed or caused you to be tested by the devil so that He could give you the crown of life if you passed?
If you haven’t yet been, do you think you’d pass the test by being “faithful to God” if Satan put you through the wringer of suffering (e.g., physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially) because of your Christianity?
1 Ki. 17:2-7 God commanded the prophet Elijah to hide himself by the brook Cherith and that He would provide water for him from the brook. So Elijah obeys. But how is he tested by God (1 Ki. 17:7)?
Even if you’ve been basically obedient to God’s commands, has your brook –– basic necessities; joy; peace of mind; assurance of salvation; forgiveness for your sins; the ability to master sin or enduring a trial; courage; victory over demonic spirits; wisdom in decision-making; laboring for the Lord not being in vain; or any other promise from God –– dried up, though God promised you these things as a Christian (Phil. 4:6-7, 19; 1 Jn. 5:13; Col. 2:13-14; Rom. 6:14; 1 Cor. 10:13; 15:58; 2 Tim. 1:7; Eph. 6:16; Jas. 1:5-7; 4:7)?
[As for Elijah, God takes care of him by sending him elsewhere for his provisions (1 Ki. 17:8-9).].
[Though you may be an obedient Christian and God has made various promises to you as a Christian in the New Testament epistles, you probably will be tested by God regarding them, if you haven’t been already.].
Have you passed or flunked the tests by trusting God to keep His promises in one way or another on His timetable?
1 Ki. 17:9-12 God commanded Elijah to go to Zarephath where a woman would provide for him. So Elijah obeys. But how is he tested by God (1 Ki. 17:12)?
Has God ever tested you by delaying/postponing the answer to some promise of His?
If so, what?
How did you respond when you didn’t know the promise was merely postponed rather than not answered at all, and why?
[In Elijah’s case, he believes God’s promise and so tells the widow to make him a little bread cake first before her own (1 Ki. 17:13-14).].
Though you may be an obedient Christian and God has made various promises to you in the New Testament epistles, you probably will be tested by God regarding them. How are you going to respond, and why?
1 Ki. 18:1-2, 13
God commands Elijah to show himself to king Ahab to tell him that He was going to send rain on their area/kingdom. So Elijah proceeds to obey. But Elijah is tested when he meets Obadiah and is told that queen Jezebel killed many prophets of the Lord. In spite of this information, what does Elijah do (1 Ki, 18:15-18)?
If God puts it in your mind to do something, like evangelize in a dangerous place or to a dangerous people, will you do it?
It may be God’s will that you get hurt or even killed, but will you still obey Him anyway?
Judg. 20:18, 23
God tells Israel to go up and fight/war against the tribe of Benjamin. Though Israel obeys, they get beaten two times and lose 40,000 soldiers. Though Israel is severely tested, how do they respond (Judg. 20:28-30)?
When God tells you to do something and you do it, but it flops/fails, do you quit or continue to do what God tells you to do?
God has told Christians to build up other Christians spiritually (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thes. 5:11), and you’ve tried, but no one is interested or wants to learn or be trained by you. Or, you start to build up and/or train a Christian, but he quits. Do you quit or do you keep obeying God by trying again and again, and why?
Num. 13:1-3, 28, 32
Moses sends out 12 spies to spy out the land that God said He was going to give to the Israelites. The spies are tested when they see large, fortified cities and strong, gigantic people there. What did 10 of the 12 spies do (Num. 13:31)?
However, what did Caleb and Joshua do (Num. 13:30; 14:6-9)?
When God tells you to do something, like not being bitter or unforgiving toward someone (Eph. 4:31-32), but the “giant” of some really bad things this person did or said to you looms in your mind, do you flunk the test of being kind and forgiving, or do you pass the test of obeying God by being forgiving, and why?
Deut. 8:2-3 Why did God test the Israelites for 40 years?
Does it seem like God is testing you over and over again for many years to see what is really deep down inside of you, whether you love Him supremely, are humble, are loyal to Him in obedience continually, and are learning to trust Him completely?
If so, are you passing the test, and why?