In Malachi 3:10, God said to the Israelites, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this (emphasis mine)…. See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out for you blessing without measure.”
It is not clear how many of the Jews heeded God’s word on that day, but in verse 16 we learn that those who feared the LORD “spoke with one another,” and the LORD heard them. Prosperity preachers like to use Malachi 3:10 to promote their message of a divine quid pro quo, but I don’t believe that is what is intended from the passage. In fact, those specific words were intended for the ears of a specific set of people living under a specific set of circumstances at a specific time in history--and that time not now.
Nevertheless, there is at least one way where Malachi 3:10 has something to say to modern man. The injunction “Test Me in this” clearly signals that God can be tested. He invited the Israelites to do so, but should we?
The Negative Side of Testing God
Deuteronomy 6:16 speaks of a different form of testing God.
Do not test the LORD your God as you tested Him at Massah.
The passage appears within the context of God commanding Israel to obey His commandments, statutes, and ordinances, and to teach their children do the same. This negative injunction was to inform them that disobedience has consequences, and they are severe. The word Massah is a reference to Exodus 17:7 when the Israelites quarreled with Moses because they were thirsty and without water. They were doubting God, who had promised to lead them to the land of plenty.
When the devil took Jesus to the highest place of the temple in the holy city and told our Lord to throw himself down so that the angels could save him, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16. Clearly, testing God is a bad thing.
If We Can’t Test God, What Can We Do?
The study of scripture sometimes involves reconciling apparent contradictions. In Malachi, God told the Israelites to test Him on the giving of tithes. In Deuteronomy, he told them not to test Him concerning his laws and ordinances. I cannot help but wonder, then, is God testable? Should we or should we not test God?
The Apostle Paul, quoting the prophet Habakkuk (2:4), wrote to the Romans “the righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17). This divine truth is repeated in Hebrews 10:38, and again in Galatians 3:11. It is clearly a divine principle that God wants His people to know. But can that faith, does that faith ever, involve testing God?
That is the question I will attempt to answer in this series. Is testing God relegated only to the realm of tithes and offerings? Was it intended only for His chosen Old Testament remnant? Can modern man put God to the test and live by faith?
This series is an outgrowth of discussions I had with a Buddhist teacher on a social media site I played around on last year (no, not Facebook). Other Christians reading the discussions conveyed to me several times how they were encouraged by my arguments. I decided I would share them in a broader format. I hope those of you who belong to the household of faith will share this series with your friends. Spread the message far and wide.
Throughout the series, I will discuss the following points in various ways:
- What is belief in God, and why is it necessary for putting Him to the test?;
- The importance of studying God, and where He can be studied;
- Why aligning oneself with God’s purpose is paramount;
- And how to check for results.
I hope to show that testing God is possible, and even desirable, as long as that testing is done through acts of faith rather than bouts of grumbling doubt. Indeed, it might even be said that walking by faith is putting God to the test. If we are to prove God at His word, we ought to be willing to test Him in this, “this” being the promises He has made in history and by His own authority.
Are you ready to take this journey with me?
Allen Taylor has been walking (and wavering) with the Lord for 28 years. He has served local churches as a Sunday school teacher, a small group leader, a worship leader, a prayer group leader, and a minister of the Word. His journey isn’t over yet, and he still needs discipling.