“The place was named Massah [testing] and M’rivah [quarreling] because of the quarreling of the people of Isra’el and because they tested Adonai by asking, ‘Is Adonai with us or not?'”–Exodus 17:7
Back in Chapter 15, I talked about how we are told the Lord would “test” His people via his “laws” and “rulings”.
If you want to review, you can read that post again by clicking here.
Recall that the Hebrew word for “test” is NACHA and it refers to the judicial process of being brought before a judge in a court to be tried.
What’s interesting is that while back in chapter 15 we are told the people would be tested by God, here in chapter 17, the tables have been reversed.
Now it is the people who are testing God.
By their complaining, the people are literally putting God on trial.
Or to put it another way, by setting themselves up as a judge, the people are putting themselves in a position as God over their own Creator.
This is a no-no.
I’m sure we can all recall a time from our childhood when we did the same thing.
If my dad didn’t buy me the latest BB gun, toy, or gadget to hit the shelves at Toys R US, I put him on trial and the verdict was that he was one of the most unfair men to ever walk the face of the earth.
Well, in spite of the people’s grumbling, once again, we can see that God is merciful.
Instead of rebuking the people for their lack of faith, He graciously provides for them.
However, when we come down to verse 7, we encounter a different word than “testing” or NACHA.
Although many English translations will say “testing”, the Hebrew here is MASSAH.
This word has a different meaning than the idea of putting someone on trial to test if they’ve actually committed a wrong.
A more appropriate translation would be “to tempt” or “tempting”.
Why would “tempting” be more appropriate?
Because the people have been with God now for two months.
They have been reassured of God’s presence via a cloud by day and a fire by night and during this whole time God has never failed to protect His people or meet all of their needs.
Hence, by asking “Is the Lord with us or not?”, it was like slapping God in the face.
The truth is at one time or another we are all guilty of both testing and tempting God.
Have your ever doubted God or worried about the outcome of a troublesome situation even after God has proved Himself faithful time and time again?
What are some ways you have tempted God or may be even tempting Him now?
I think this is a great question that when properly reflected on and answered could result in much spiritual growth.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”