1.            Ps.78:18, They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved.

2.            78:41, Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel.

3.            78:56, But they put God to the test and rebelled against the Most High; they did not keep his statutes.

4.            106:14, In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test.

5.            Mt.4:7; Lk.4:12, Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' "

6.            Acts 15:10, Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?


Matthew 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (KJV DBY WBS YLT RSV)

Matthew 22:18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? (KJV BBE DBY WBS YLT)

Mark 12:15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. (KJV DBY WBS YLT)

Luke 4:12 Jesus answering, said to him, "It has been said,'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" (WEB KJV DBY WBS YLT RSV)

Luke 20:23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? (KJV DBY WBS YLT)

Acts 5:9 But Peter asked her, "How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." (WEB KJV DBY WBS YLT RSV)

Acts 15:10 Now therefore why do you tempt God, that you should put a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? (WEB KJV DBY WBS YLT)

1 Corinthians 7:5 Don't deprive one another, unless it is by consent for a season, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer, and may be together again, that Satan doesn't tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

1 Corinthians 10:9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. (KJV DBY WBS YLT)

1 Thessalonians 3:5 For this cause I also, when I couldn't stand it any longer, sent that I might know your faith, for fear that by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor would have been in vain. (Root in WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Hebrews 3:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. (Root in KJV DBY WBS YLT)

James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God," for God can't be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. (Root in WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. (KJV WBS)

Exodus 17:2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? (KJV ASV DBY WBS)

Deuteronomy 6:16 You shall not tempt Yahweh your God, as you tempted him in Massah. (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS)

Psalms 78:56 Yet they tempted and rebelled against the Most High God, and didn't keep his testimonies; (Root in WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS)

Isaiah 7:12 But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, neither will I tempt Yahweh." (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS)

Malachi 3:15 Now we call the proud happy; yes, those who work wickedness are built up; yes, they tempt God, and escape.' (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS YLT)


Certain kinds of tests are okay.

The wet / dry wool test worked well for Gideon.

And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground. -- Judges 6:36-40

The Elijah light-my-fire test is another option.

Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. -- 1 Kings 18:36-38

And the turn-the-sun-back-10-degrees test worked well for Isaiah and Hezekiah.

And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me...? And Isaiah said ... shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward. -- 2 Kings 20:8-11



The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?  (Ex.17:1)

Moses replied… “Why do you put the LORD to the test?”  They were without water, thirsty, and they did ask God through Moses to provide for them.  In what way were they testing the Lord?  Almost 38 years later, just before the Israelites were going to cross over into the Promised Land, Moses reminded them of all God had taught them, and he reminded them of this incident, “Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah.” (Dt.6:16) Just after Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit, before entering into His 3 year ministry, he was led into the desert we he was tested by the devil.  Jesus had to pass a similar test when the Adversary took him to the top of the holy city and setting him on the highest point asked Him to jump so that Heavens angels would catch Him.  Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Mt.4:7) If both Jesus and the Israelites were required to pass this test before entering the fullness of what God had called them into, we too will need to pass this test before entering into the fullness of all God has called us to.

What is this test really about?

“But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”" (Ex.17:3) Their request for water was rooted in deeper concerns - their concerns for their lives.  They so doubted Gods promise and plan that when they looked at the severity of the circumstance around them, their hearts failed them and they came to doubt the God who had just parted the Red Sea, who had just wiped out the Egyptian military, and with ten incredible plagues, set them free from a life of slavery which they had come to know for almost 400 years.  Still they doubted God’s promise, and out of this doubt came their request for water.  They needed God to change their circumstance so they could trust His promise, if God provided water, perhaps then they would come to trust Him.  Isaiah wrote of these people, saying, they say, ‘We want God to speed up his work, to hurry it along, so we can see it!  We want the Holy One of Israel’s plan to come true right now, so we can be sure of it!’" (Is.5:19)

If God gave them what they asked for, would they trust him then?  David the Psalmist said of them, “but they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High.  They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the desert? When he struck the rock, water gushed out, and streams flowed abundantly. But can he also give us food?  Can he supply meat for his people?”" (Ps.78:17-20)  [This is the background for Jesus’ statement in Jn.6:26 “Truly, truly I say to you, you are seeking me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”]  When God delivered them from slavery, still they doubted, when He parted the Red Sea and swallowed up their enemies, still they doubted, when God provided water from a rock, still they doubted, when He provided bread from heaven, still they doubted, and when God provided meat, they still doubted.  They tested God ten times in the desert and continued to doubt His faithfulness and His provision.  [They continued to impugn His motives (question His goodness) at every hardship.]

Contrast the trust of the Israelites to that of their forefather, Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice His only son (Gen.22:1-18), his son of promise which he his wife Sarah had born to him when he was 100 years of age.  Abraham did not doubt God as he packed the firewood but no sacrifice, and when his son asked his only response was that God would provide.

Gods love for us cannot be determined by our circumstance

We run the risk of putting our God to the test when we determine God’s love for us [or measure His goodness] by looking at our circumstances.  We must look at our circumstances through His Love.  The book of James puts it this way, “Regard it all as joy, my brothers, when you face various kinds of temptations; for you know that the testing of your trust produces perseverance.  But let your perseverance do its complete work; so that you may be complete and whole, lacking in nothing” (Jas.1:2-4)  [ie, the work of perseverance is character-building and therefore for your good]  God is interested in our happiness, and it’s true that he does want the best for us, even on earth, however, more important than our happiness is that we be found having trust.  To God our trust is worth far more than pure gold, “even gold is tested for genuineness by fire.  The purpose of these trials is so that your trust’s genuineness [real confidence in God], which is far more valuable than perishable gold, will be judged worthy of praise, glory and honor at the revealing of Jesus the Messiah.” (1 Pt.1:7)

The Bible has many accounts of those called by God and as a result faced great opposition.  It was this opposition when endured with faith that established the promise.  When Abraham had not withheld his only son, God said, “that because you have done this, because you haven’t withheld your son, your only son.  I will most certainly bless you; and I will most certainly increase your descendents to as many as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on the seashore.” (Gen.22:16b-17)


Before we will enter into the fullness of what God has called us to, we will need to pass the same tests the Israelites did during the wilderness, one of which is learning not to put our God to the test by doubting His love and faithfulness to us.  When God gives us an assignment, there will be opposition.  God will not always seem near to us either, but we must come to trust Him even when he seems distant.  When the Israelites wandered the desert facing their trials and the harshness of the desert, “There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” (Dt.1:31)  We may not see God carrying us through our trials, but He is there not only helping us, but carrying us.  “Who among you fears ADONAI?  Who obeys what his servant says?  Even when he walks in the dark, without any light, he will trust in ADONAI’s reputation and rely on his God.” (Is.50:10)



1All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2(B) Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." And Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you(C) test the LORD?" 3But the people thirsted there for water, and(D) the people grumbled against Moses and said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" 4So Moses cried to the LORD, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready(E) to stone me." 5And the LORD said to Moses, "Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with(F) which you struck the Nile, and go. 6(G) Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink." And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not”? (Ex.17:1-7)

The ESV notes here point out that Meribah (v.7) is often used in legal contexts having to do with bringing suit (ie, plead your case, Mic.6:1).  God is being tested in the judicial sense, accused of abandoning Israel to die in the desert.  Normally man stands on trial before God, but here God takes the place of the accused, Behold I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb (6a).  Moses passes before the people, taking some of the elders as witnesses.  He is told to take the staff with which God meted out judgment upon Egypt beginning at the Nile, the very wooden staff that had become the rod of God’s judgment resulting in Israel’s deliverance from slavery (v.5).  There Moses struck the rock bringing judgment upon God himself and water poured out of it vindicating God’s justice.

Rom.1:16-17 "In the Gospel [the good news that Jesus has born the penalty for our transgressions], the righteousness of God has been revealed."  3:9-26 "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested…the law and the prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.  For…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God's righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins."

Paul is arguing not only that God delayed judgment of Old Testament believers by leaving previously committed sins unpunished, but also that He transferred their sins to Jesus where they were punished and thus righteousness upheld.  That is the core of what the discussion of Abraham's justification in Rom.4 is about.

"It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (4.21-26)  "so that grace might rein through righteousness." (5:21)

When John expressed his reservation to baptize Jesus, Jesus answered "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness." (Mt.3:13-15)

This is how God resolves the tension between judging sin and forgiving the sinner.

2 Pt.1:1 "To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ"  > 1 Jn.1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."




For this reason late Saturday night I apologized to God that, like in high school, I had presumed upon His kindness.  It was an honest "I'm sorry," feeling like he'd given me that memory in high school to say that I should be careful not to put him to the test, especially when I only have limited mental and physical energies.  So it was, when He began to help me put thoughts together late in the night, and at about 7am I found myself with a sermon that was something substantive and intelligible, I was thankful but humbled; like my earthly father, my Heavenly Father had stayed up.  I deserved embarrassment but in God's mercy, He gave the people the manna they needed.

This experience makes me ponder in what OTHER ways I presume upon God. Do I force Him to come through with money, energy, grace, protection, etc when I really should be exerting God-given wisdom, prudence, self-control, and intellect?  Do I respect the kindness of God, or do I just Expect it?

In my heart I don't plan on continuing this habit - expecting God is always going to 'come through'.  Just like I shouldn't walk through downtown Durham with a racist slogan on my back, expecting Divine protection; or I shouldn't just go on a spending spree and expect 'God will provide'.  But I am concerned that I am always respectful, always thankful, and never presumptive.



In Josh.7:1-5, we find the continuation of Achan’s story. Jericho was a great success and Joshua and the Israelites are pumped about who’s next. Josh sends out some spies, just like they did with Jericho, and the spies came back with great news. Ai, the next town to get their eviction notice, was a small town and the guys checking out the land figured that it would only take a few thousand men to do the job.

“Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there.”  Josh.7:3

So, with the wall-crumbling success of Jericho still ringing fresh in his ears, Joshua sent three thousand men to take care of business at Ai, and the Israelites got creamed.

What happened? We were coasting along, enjoying the spoils of victory against Canaan’s varsity team and then we get slammed by the JV squad? “Only a few men are there.” It should have been a cakewalk. Why didn’t we win?

Now before you jump to conclusions and pin this whole thing on Achan, let’s reexamine the facts. Before Joshua led the people into battle against seemingly impossible circumstances (Jericho), what did he do?

He sought the Lord.

The Captain of the Army of the Lord told Joshua exactly what to do and he did it - and thus led the Israelites to victory. Joshua was desperate because the battle against Jericho seemed beyond his ability to win. Ai was nothing compared to Jericho. So Joshua figured that if he was able to win against the seemingly impossible battle of Jericho, then he should be able to easily win the battle of Ai.

This is where Joshua teaches us our next lesson. We must never presume upon God. We can never assume that just because God brought us through difficult times before and led us to success that He is obligated to do it again just because we are His children.  [That conclusion is neither axiomatic nor automatic.]

Here’s the positive way to put it: We must always remain men and women of prayer. We must live every moment as though we desperately need God to come through for us, because if we do not, we will quickly discover that we can get a lot of man-sized things accomplished under our own power - we will just miss the God-sized things that God wanted to do through us if we would have only been desperate for Him. It doesn’t matter how many battles we’ve won, we can never presume upon God to do His thing just because He did it last time and we’re pros now. We discover time and time again in the Scriptures that God will let us fall flat on our faces when we substitute past successes for present submission.

So today’s question is: Where are you presuming upon God? Where are you leaning on past success to carry you through rather than moment by moment desperation for God? What project are you venturing forward with without consulting God first? His plan may not be your plan. It rarely is. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Proverbs 21:31 says, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.” Go to Him now with whatever project you are currently working on and get His perspective. You’ll be glad you did.



And especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed … 2 Pt.2:10

David prayed, “Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression” (Ps. 19:13). As we live our lives by faith, we have to understand the difference between faith and presumption:

Faith is a response to the initiative of God. Presumption takes the initiative away from God so that the believer acts on his own initiative. Presumption is acting according to our own human will. “But they continued to sin against Him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High. They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved” (Ps.78:17-18). Presumption is a sin against God. In almost all cases, presumption is classified as such a deadly sin, it is punishable by death!

Presumption is linked to the Word of God in two ways:

(1) To claim a prophecy to be a Word of the Lord when it is not - often leads to death (Dt.18:20, 22).

(2) To overstep the Word of the Lord and to do beyond what His Word has said - often leads to destruction (Num.14).

There are various occasions of presumptuous sin recorded in the Bible:

(1) The presumptuous sin of the children of Israel (Num.14:39-45).

(2) The presumptuous sin of Saul (1 Sam.13:8-14).

(3) The presumptuous sin of David (2 Sam.6:1-7).

While faith recognizes and yields to God’s sovereign will, presumption asserts self-will. Faith is totally dependant on God and His rhema (Word), but presumption is dependant on our own interpretation of the logos. Faith will bear fruits that glorify God, but presumption contains an element of human arrogance and self-glorification. Faith is yielding to God, but presumption demands, compels, forces, and insists.

So how can a Christian avoid presumption?

(1) Line-up your faith with the whole counsel of God’s Word.

(2) Do not do anything hastily (Prov.20:21; 25:8; Ecc.5:2).

(3) Never impose your faith on others (Rom.12:3).

(4) Live at your own level of faith (12:6).

(5) Always remember that in the multitude of counselors there is safety (Prov.11:14).

(6) [Don’t challenge the goodness, faithfulness, or integrity of God.]




"Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."  Ps.19:12-14.

This prophetic prayer represents the heart attitude of the fully consecrated and earnest Christian. While realizing forgiveness of the "sins that are past through the forbearance of God," through the grace of God which was in Christ Jesus, which imputed our sins to him and his righteousness to us who believe in him, nevertheless the well-instructed soul realizes his faults, his shortcomings.

These secret faults may be of two kinds:

(1) faults which were secret to ourselves at the time committed--slips, unintentional errors.

(2) secret faults in the sense of being unknown to any one but ourselves and the Lord--imperfections or faults of the mind before they take the outward form of actual and presumptuous sins.

All Christians of experience in the good way and in the battle against sin and self have learned that there can be no outward or presumptuous sins that have not first had their beginning in the secret faults of the mind. The sinful thought may be one of pride suggesting self-exaltation; of avarice suggesting unlawful acquisition of wealth; or of some other fleshly desire. The mere suggestion of the thought before our minds is not sin; it is merely the operation of our faculties, and of the influences which surround us, inquiring of [probing] our wills whether or not we will consent to such thoughts. Many consent to thoughts of evil who at the time would utterly repudiate any suggestion to commit evil deeds; but if the thought be entertained it is a secret fault, and the growing tendency would surely be toward the more outward and presumptuous sinful conduct, the tendency of which is always from bad to worse. The beginnings are always small, and correspondingly much easier to deal with than in their developed form. Hence, the prophetic prayer, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults" and thus restrain or keep me back from presumptuous sins.

In James 1:14-15 we read, "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own desire and enticed. Then, when desire hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Here we have the same thought differently expressed. The temptation consists at first in the presentation to the mind of suggestions which are impure or unkind or unfaithful to obligations; but there is no sin, no fault, as yet. The fault begins when we harbor the evil suggestions, begin to turn them over in our minds, and to consider the attractions which they may have to offer. This is where desire (taking hold of the evil thing instead of resisting it) causes a beginning of the secret fault; and it is only a process of development, which in many instances, under favorable circumstances, may be very rapid, that sin, the presumptuous or outward acts of sin, results--for instance, bearing false witness against a neighbor, or slander, or other evil deeds. And the evil course having begun in the fostering of the evil suggestion, and having progressed to presumptuous sin, there is a great danger that the entire course of life will be ultimately affected thereby.

The more attention we give to this subject, the more we will be convinced, from our own personal experiences, of the truth of the Scriptural declarations respecting the beginnings of sin as secret faults in the mind; and the more we will appreciate the statement of the Word, "Keep thy heart [mind, affections] with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."--Prov.4:23.

The difficulty with many is that they are looking for some great battles, instead of averting the great battles by availing themselves of the Lord's provision, and keeping their minds cleansed from secret faults. The little battles, which are much more numerous, are the ones in which we gain the victories with their ultimate rewards. "Greater is he that ruleth his own spirit [mind, will] than he that taketh a city."