Tag Archives: Test

Judgment

Studies in Genesis 3

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. (Genesis 3:14 ESV)

God immediately pronounces judgment and sentence upon the serpent. Yet, the serpent is only an animal, a creature of the earth. We do not know what the serpent looked like before the rebellion of the man and woman. God’s sentence suggests the serpent changed, its appearance becoming different. Perhaps it had legs and God took away those legs as part of the sentence. Making such an assumption is beyond the truths taught in Scripture.

When God pronounced judgment and sentence without questioning the serpent, and the Deceiver inhabiting the serpent, the implication was He already knew the Deceiver’s motive and personality. The Deceiver was created by God a spiritual being and had already rebelled against Him. God allowed it to tempt the man and woman as a test. It, the Deceiver, did not have the image of God, and therefore, did not have an intimate relationship with God. Still, the actions of the Deceiver in lying to the woman suggest prior rebellion against and hatred of God.

Scripture is filled with “types” or physical representations of spiritual realities. One example is relationship between the man and woman, a husband and wife, showing the mystical intimacy of the relationship between people and God. Another example is the relationship between parents and children. Children are subject to their parents just as people are subject to God. In the middle of the garden was the tree of Life. Jesus Christ is viewed as the tree of Life. Eating His flesh and drinking His blood brings life to those condemned to death because of sin (see John 6:53-58). This last example fills libraries.

God pronounces judgment and sentence upon the serpent. The serpent is a physical representative of a spiritual being. There is no evidence to suggest God created the serpent one way and then changed its physical appearance. Because of God’s omniscience, He knew (we have no evidence to suggest otherwise) the created serpent, in its current physical appearance, would be used by the Deceiver and consequently judged and sentenced by Him.

God’s judgment and sentence is toward the Deceiver, who inhabited the serpent in its quest to subvert and compromise God’s creation. It was the intent of the Deceiver to corrupt those created in the image of God. The temptation of the Deceiver against those created in God’s image, was focused upon God, and was the first shot in a war of rebellion. The Deceiver is fighting against God and those who are His in an all-out effort to destroy whatever it can with no hope or expectation of winning the war.

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Giving to God

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [Matthew 5:8 ESV]

God tests the hearts of men, not because He needs to know what is in the heart. We need to know the thinking of our hearts. Testing is a good thing for those willing to see themselves through God’s eyes, measure themselves by His standard, acknowledge Him as the only Authority and Judge.

When God called His people out of Egypt He told them to plunder the Egyptians. Hundreds of years earlier God told Abraham, without naming Egypt, what would happen. “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions” [Genesis 15:13-14 ESV].

When God sent Moses to bring His people out of Egypt God instructed His nation what to do as they were leaving.  “And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians” [Exodus 3:21-22 ESV]. To “plunder” is to gather the “spoil” from the battlefield or a country and people after a military defeat.

He gave them plunder for several reasons. First, as payment for years of slave labor. Secondly, when it was time to construct the tent of meeting they would have the necessary materials and would give freely. Finally, when they went into the Promised Land and followed His instruction to keep nothing for themselves they would have plenty and not covet what was devoted to God.

Between the plundering of Egypt as they left their enslavement for freedom, and the giving of an abundant offering for the tent of meeting, God tested His people so they would see the thinking of their hearts. While Moses was up on the Mountain receiving the commands of God the people rebelled and made an idol, attributing to the idol the work of God. Aaron listened to them and instructed them to bring their golden earrings.

So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”

So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” [Exodus 32:2-4 ESV]

People wore gold earrings for decoration, insurance and a sign of devotion to a idol. Should they die in the open and were found by a stranger, the stranger would bury them and take the gold earring as payment. Or they could, when they died, bribe their way into the god’s presence. Most likely they were simply vain. Whatever is true the gold in their ears was the only thing of value they carried from Egypt which belonged to them. God gave them everything else of value they possessed. It was “their” property used to construct and idol. It was “God’s” property used to construct the tent of meeting, a place to offer worship to God.

God’s test of the heart is what I see is mine versus what I know is His. If I think it is mine, that I earned it and possess it, then it becomes an idol. This “thinking of the heart” focuses upon me, separating me from my true place as God’s servant. It is an issue of control. When Adam fell after rebelling against God, the image of God in him was corrupted, not excised. Part of that image is “dominion.” We fight God for control refusing to give Him what we think belongs to us. God tests the purity of the heart through the act of giving.

Abraham and Isaac

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [Matthew 5:8 ESV]

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” [Genesis 22:1 ESV]

Do not think God simply winds us up and lets us go wherever we may.  He is intimately and intricately involved in our lives as He prepares us for eternity.

Genesis 22 is a heart tearing and gut wrenching story. Abraham had shown his willingness to obey God, had received God’s blessing, believed God when He spoke. Now, he is told to sacrifice the promise and blessing of God. “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” [Genesis 22:2 ESV].

God tested Abraham. “Test” is also translated “tempt.” We know God does not tempt anyone though He will allow all to face temptations. This word does not carry the idea of driving Abraham toward sin. God seeks obedience which is never sin. Nor did God tell Abraham to do what He was unwilling to do Himself. “Test” means to prove or assay, as in find out what the level of purity is within the substance. In this instance, the substance is a man, created in God’s image, corrupted by sin, chosen by God. We are not to test God, but He is perfectly justified in testing us.

What raced through Abraham’s mind and heart as he, his son, and his servants traveled to the place where God directed him to sacrifice his son? I am a father. Not knowing what he thought and felt I can imagine his turmoil. Before leaving I imagine Abraham wrestling with himself through a sleepless night, struggling with obedience. Every step of the journey brought a search for compromise, or manufactured an excuse to disobey. Every compromise and excuse fell at his  feet trampled as he journeyed. He pondered the promise of God, finally seeing His trustworthiness.

Every step brought him closer to God who is not some dumb idol, chiseled from stone, carved from wood, empowered by corrupt imaginations. He  is God, the Creator of All, the One Who Sustains All, the Giver of Purpose to All, the Owner of All. At sometime during the journey, from the moment of the command to the raising of the knife, Abraham decided God is worthy of such worship. Abraham will do what His God commanded.

Notice Abraham’s confidence in the God of the Universe. “Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you’” [Genesis 22:5 ESV]. We will worship. We will return.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. [Hebrews 11:17-19 ESV]

From the first time God spoke to Abraham until Genesis 22, and beyond, God prepared Abraham, teaching him, working in him, changing him. This test was not so God could determine Abraham’s progress in his studies but to drive out more of the impurities brought by the corruption of sin. Obedience tested by sacrifice reveals the motivation and purity of the thinking of the heart toward God.

God’s intent is not to change the world and us so we can live in the world but to change us so we can be with Him wherever He puts us. He uses the world to test and assay His new creation in preparation for eternity. He will purify our hearts, for only that which is pure will be in His presence.