And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
There is a difference between being tested and being tempted. The Lord does not tempt anyone (James 1:13), but he does test the faith of his children. Temptation comes from an evil source, but testing comes from the love of a father; an instructor.
It’s the test that produces the testimony. It’s the test that brings an ownership and a working out of faith. Without a test, our faith in God is abstract, an idea, or an intention; or as James puts it “faith without works is dead.”
In this passage, Israel is being tested for two reasons: (1) so the young might know war, and (2) so that they might learn to obey the Lord.
We too are tested with war, but as New Covenant believers we fight not against flesh and blood but against an enemy in the spiritual realm (Ephesians 6:12). We must learn war for it is in the fight that we discover our absolute dependence on the Lord, His Word, and the need for constant communication through prayer and worship. The tests can build and forge new testimonies that not only strengthen our faith, but also the faith of others.
We also must learn obedience. This is ultimately a relationship test, for if we trust God then we will listen to what He says. We must learn that He knows best, and in this we will learn to obey. Israel failed time and time again, and so have we. The beauty in the failed test is the opportunity for God’s amazing grace to bring healing. Failure can either cause a nasty spiral into condemnation, shame, and ultimately destruction, or it can bring the grace of God, the resurrection power of Jesus, and the life-giving Spirit.
You are facing a new test today, for there is always a fresh one before you. Allow yourself to embrace the test as from the Lord. You must learn both war and obedience–for there you will find such sweet communion with your Savior. Be encouraged and stand firm in Christ.