This Is Only a Test
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The scene is a jubilant one. The entire Israelite community had been miraculously delivered from the heavy bondage of slavery. Their jaws dropped as they watched God part the Red Sea so they could walk triumphantly into freedom. The book of Exodus gives us the account.
Miriam, Moses’ big sister, led the procession with clashing tambourines in what must have been the biggest “Praise Celebration” of all time. They had witnessed first hand how their mighty Jehovah had brought them out from under the cruel demands of Pharaoh and his chariot officers.
You would have surely thought that they would be riding this “wave of faith” for quite some time to come. But only three days later, they were complaining to Moses, “Why did you take us from Egypt and drag us out here only to have us die from thirst?”
Moses himself even got out of sorts. He complained to God, “What am I to do with these people”?
God calmly answered Moses (as if He was not surprised at all by their behavior),
“Walk out in front of the people ... Strike the rock, and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink.” So Moses struck the rock as he was told, and water gushed out as the elders looked on. Moses named the place Massah (which means “test”) and Meribah (which means “arguing”) because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord here with us or not?” (NLT)
They tested God ... but in reality, God was testing them.
As we continue to journey with them in the hot desert sand through the Old Testament, we begin to realize that the picture only becomes more dismal. What the Israelites failed to see was that God was continually bringing them into a “wilderness of testing” for one purpose: to see what was truly in their hearts, to see if they would trust and obey Him without a grand display of miracles.
Even in our own lives, we travel through different places of testing. God has historically used this story of the Israelites as an example of how not to respond when faced with trials. (See.)
The bottom line is that God is after something in each one of us. This thing called life is simply our own desert of testing. Why not allow God to part the “red seas” of your life? He has a “promised land” that He wants to bring you into so He can show Himself mighty and strong on your behalf.
With boldness and courage let us learn from our predecessors the valuable lessons of faith and let us remind ourselves, “This is only a test.”
Copyright © Missey Butler, used with permission.
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