Last week my number 3 son had an altercation with a teacher.  She had given an assignment without explaining the instructions, and when the students turned them in done incorrectly, she gave out F’s…to nearly half the class.  Then, after promising to put that grade on the first quarter report, where it would be quickly absorbed, she changed her mind, and made it the first grade of the second quarter;  my son flipped his wig.  He is very concerned about his grades, and takes pride in receiving good ones.  He also does not respond well when he feels he is being treated unfairly.

That incident brought back memories of my own teacher training.  I remember being taught that giving any kind of assignment, quiz, or test is as much a test of the teacher as it is the students.  If a large percentage of students fail, then I must have either not communicated something correctly, or didn’t teach it in a way that they were able to learn it.  So the purpose of a test is dual fold, to see what the students have learned, and to see if the teacher has taught successfully.

Skip ahead to this week.  I was driving down the road listening to a preacher on the radio, as I often do with my many hours of windshield time.  He was talking about the Gentile woman who pleaded with Yeshua to cast the demon out of her daughter.  Yeshua said, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

To which she replied, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”  (This story is from Mark chapter 7.)  The pastor explained that Yeshua was testing this woman to see what she would do.

I wondered, “Why does God test people?  He is all-knowing, so He knows what they are going to do anyway.  What is the purpose?”  Then the Spirit spoke to my heart.  God doesn’t test us because He wants to see how we are going to react.  He is not checking to see if we will have enough faith in Him, or if we will be obedient.  God is not like a teacher who uses a test to make sure that He is doing a good job with us.

God tests His people for our own sakes.  It is to allow us to see how He will respond when we are obedient.  It is so that our faith can grow further when we witness how He fulfills His promises when we trust Him.  God tests us so that when we pass with flying colors, we have a deeper understanding of who He is, and a strengthened relationship with Him.

Genesis 22:1-2 (NKJV) – Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”  And he said, “Here I am.”  Then He said, “Take now 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.”

If you have read your Old Testament stories, you know that Abraham took Isaac to the mountains, built an altar, bound his son, and laid him on the altar.  Just as he was about to bring down the blade to Isaac’s heart, God stopped him, and showed him a ram that was caught in the nearby thicket.

So, Isaac was spared and Abraham called that place YAHWEH Yireh, which means The Lord Will Provide.  Abraham’s test was of obedience.  He passed, and as a result, he learned two lessons. The first is that God provides for His people.  The second is that God blesses obedience to Him.

Genesis 22:15-18 (NKJV) – Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said:  “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore, and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.  In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

God has given man free will to obey or not obey.  But that doesn’t change the fact that He is almighty, all-knowing, all-seeing God.  Abraham had the option of disobeying God, but he chose not to.  Because God knows the end from the beginning, He knew that Abraham would choose obedience.  The test was not so God knew that Abraham would be obedient, but so that Abraham would know how God would respond to his obedience.

In Luke 8, Yeshua calmed the storm before the eyes of a very frightened group of disciples.  It was a test.  Was it so that Yeshua would know if the disciples believed that He had the power over the wind and the seas?  No!  He already knew their level of faith.  He knew the heart of each one of them, and how close, or far away each of them was to accepting that He was indeed the Messiah.  He used the test to show them in another way that he not only had the power of God, but that He was himself, God incarnate.

The next time you find yourself being tested, seek to learn what God is revealing to you about who He is; His character, His power, His love, His mercy or grace…what is it that you need? Watch how He responds to your response to the test.  Are you blessed?  Is your faith strengthened?

“But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  Deuteronomy 4:29 (NKJV)