“these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel” Judges 3
When I read this verse in Judges, I thought NO! That’s horrible, no more testing! They need a break, but wait…. He did this to teach warfare to generations of Israelites who had no experience in battle. In the wilderness, the tests and trials they experienced were to refine them, to humble them, to know what was in their heart, to see if they loved the Lord with all their heart and whether they would keep His commandments. Deuteronomy 8:2 Deuteronomy 13:3Judges 2:22
The people of Israel finally reached their promised land after wandering for 40 years but God did not destroy all their enemies. The Lord left Israel’s enemies so that they might be tested. I couldn’t believe it when I read it, why!? They experienced plagues, death, sword, leprosy, sickness, they even saw those who rebelled be swallowed up by the ground. Finally – they reached the promise land, the promise given to Abraham but their testing and proving still was not completed. You’d think, phew! Finally! They made it, but they were still not at their final destination, they needed more testing in order teach the next generation.
Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.1 Peter 4:12-13
HE RIDES ACROSS THE HEAVENS TO HELP YOU
Even in all Israel’s trials, God always wanted them to know how much He loved them. This same truth is for you today, He wants you to know that He loves you and He has always loved you. His thoughts for you outnumber the sands on the shore, He loves you with an everlasting love. Isaiah 40:30 tells us that those who wait on the Lord (that means to reach out to Him/trust) will renew their strength, mount with eagle wings, run and not be weary, walk and not be faint. He is your source of strength. Reach out to Him. “ Indeed He loves His people, His holy ones are in His hands” Dt 33:3 and also “He will never leave you nor forsake you” Dt 31:8. Jesus said “and lo, I am with your always, even until the end of this age”
Who rides the heavens to help you,And in His excellency on the clouds Dt 33
To Him who rides on the heaven of heavens, which were of old!Indeed, He sends out His voice, a mighty voice.ps 68:33
Even though the people of Israel endured many trials and still had much more ahead, they knew the Lord was with them. We know the Lord doesn’t change, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He still rides the heavens to help you. Every time the people cried out to the Lord, He came to help them. They cried out to the Lord 50X
We, like the Israelites in the wilderness, look forward to our heavenly country
Hebrews 11:10, 13-16 : Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God……. All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
As I read the verse above, I wonder if the walk of the Israelites through the wilderness to the promised land represents our walk on this earth as we journey to our promised land. Just as Israel reached their promised land, so we have received our promise but our enemies are still here – just as they were with Israel. Jesus defeated death, He made a way for us but we still have much work do to. We are told we wage an invisible war, we are soldiers of the cross not to be entangled with the things of this world. We embrace these promises as we walk as strangers and pilgrims on this earth.We, like the Israelites, are headed to the promise, our heavenly country. We, like them, will die in faith seeing this promise afar off. We don’t see the heavens, we don’t see eternity just as Israel didn’t see the promise, but they knew it was ahead- it was in their heart. We know that there is a heavenly country ahead that we journey to also. Maybe the walk of the Israelites is symbolic of our walk today. Yet, we are also told that as we walk here, we are citizens with the saints and members of the household of God because of Christ Jesus. Even on this journey, the Lord is with us just as He was with Israel as they walked. (Eph 2:19)
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.1 Peter 1:11-12
In Ecclesiastics 3, King Solomon wrote that everything has it’s time
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.
How do we handle life during seasons of testing?
- Cry out to Him
- Patiently Endure
- Reach out to Him and He will help you Isaiah
- Don’t give up
- Put on the Armor of God- we don’t fight flesh and blood, but the unseen
- Rejoice and Count it all Joy (it develops great endurance)
Sometimes life can feel overwhelming and then there are other times when God brings peace and lets you rest for a while. It’s good to know that in whatever circumstance you are in, God is always there for you. Have you cried out to Him? Are you too overwhelmed to pray? Ask someone for prayer to help you though this time. Romans 5:3-5 tells us to rejoice in our trials, because it is during these times that we change. James 1:12-15 promises God’s blessing on those who patiently endure testing and temptation.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-4
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:12-15
The testing of our faith produces patience and this testing refines us as silver is refined or gold is tested.
- Revelation 2:10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
- Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
- 1 Peter 1:7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
- James 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
- Psalm 11:4 The Lord is in His holy temple, The Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
- Psalm 11:5 The Lord tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
- Psalm 17:3 You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
- Psalm 66:10 For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.
- Zechariah 13:9I will bring the one–third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
- 1 Corinthians 13:7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
- In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. 2 cor 6
- James 5:11 We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy
The great men and women in the bible had to go through testing and trials. Consider Joseph, Job, Abraham, Joshua, Moses, David, Jeremiah, the prophets, Jesus, Paul, Esther, Gideon, Elijah and many more. Every great man and woman of God endured trials.