Deuteronomy 6:16, “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.”
Massah is the place where the recently freed Israelite slaves complained of having no water, which was true. Is that what tested God? Exodus 17 tells the story and verse 7 says, “they tested the LORD by saying, ‘Is the LORD among us or not?'” There is such a difference between complaining about no water and questioning God’s Presence. These are the people who had just tangibly seen God’s Presence in ways that I can’t even imagine. They saw the signs and plagues in Egypt, their seemingly impossible escape from slavery, the seen Presence of God in Pillars of cloud and fire, the parting of the Red Sea, and the raining down of bread from heaven (all this in Exodus 4-16). But then they got thirsty and they questioned if God’s presence was among them.
I guess I feel no judgement toward the Israelite people because I can so relate. It seems so hard on earth to fathom fixed, constant things. All we see is consistently changing, aging, and moving. We seem to have a hard time really getting that God is forever and unchanging. We have no reference point for that. The Israelite’s circumstances dictated their belief about God, and that tested Him. I almost think of that “testing” like when a parent may say to a misbehaving child, “Don’t try me” (or in my language, “uh-uh, no you didn’t little man”). I don’t want to see my God provoked. And God didn’t show that here. Instead, He mercifully gave them a spring of water right out of a rock to quench their thirst and then kept changing their hearts through the consistency of His Presence.
I’ve often let my circumstances dictate my thoughts about God. In difficult times, I have wondered before if He left me. Lord, I’m sorry. Thank You for teaching me how backward this is. You have intended me to know You and let that truth dictate the way I feel about my circumstances. In my case, You specifically used a time of trauma, hurt, and despair several years ago to begin teaching me this. Thank you for that time. Not only did you show me that my life can only be viewed in light of your Character, but also You mercifully healed me from all that hurt. Thank you. Again in your mercy, show your children Yourself. Change our hearts so that circumstances no longer dictate our beliefs about you. You have impeccable character. You see the masterful timeline of the world and where we fit into it. Show us Yourself O God and help our unbelief. Thank you merciful Healer. Amen