Reading: Matthew 4:1-11, Exodus 17:1-7
Additional text: Deuteronomy 6:16, Psalm 95, Psalm 114
Have you read the book called Deuteronomy in the Bible?
Of course, you did.
Deuteronomy means "second law" or "law repeated."
Deuteronomy is like Moses’ last sermon.
He was summarizing his teachings to prepare the new generation as they were about to enter the Promised Land.
About 3400 years ago, Moses gave many lessons there.
But one of them was about not to test God but to trust God.
Moses said: Deuteronomy 6:16
“Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.”
What happened in Massah?
In order to know this, we need to go to Exodus 17:1-7:
About this time, the Jewish people began traveling in the wilderness.
They were traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded.
So they passed through the Desert of Sin.
And they camped at Rephidim near Mount Sinai, or Mount Horeb.
But by this it seemed they spent all the water they had.
So they were thirsty for water.
But in Rephidim, there was no water for them to drink.
So they grumbled against Moses and argued with Moses.
They were like:
“Give us water to drink.
Why did you, Moses, bring us out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
They spoke as if Moses were trying to kill them in the desert.
But Moses was like:
“Why do you quarrel with me?
Why do you put the Lord to the test?
Why can’t you just trust God?"
If they had faith, they might have said at least:
"We're thirsty, Moses.
But we trust that God will give us something to drink, right here, right, Moses?”
But they were testing God:
“Can God really give water in the desert?
Can God give us water here?
Can God do something here?
Is there God?
Is the Lord among us?”
When God humbled them again to be thirsty, they spoke against God.
They had not yet learned to trust God.
They still lived by sight, not by faith.
So God wanted to teach them to have faith and to trust in God, as God does not like to be doubted.
Then God has done many things for them.
So they experienced many miracles as God brought them here.
God released them from Pharaoh Thutmose II.
God parted the Red Sea and let them to walk across the red sea.
God gave them Manna and Quails for their food: Exodus 16.
God gave a pillar of cloud to guide them and a pillar of fire by night to give them light when they traveled: Exodus 13:21.
They saw God’s miracles every day.
God provided for every physical need.
God is performing miracles so that they learned to trust in God.
But they questioned God and were trying to kill Moses.
They demanded Moses to give them water and tested and doubted God’s ability to take care of them.
So Moses cried out to the Lord:
“What am I to do with these people?
They are almost ready to stone me.”
Moses also didn't seem to live in faith.
This leader and his people didn't have faith.
But the Lord answered Moses:
“Go out in front of the people.
Take with you some of the elders of Israel.
Take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile.
I will stand before you by the rock at Mount Horeb.
Strike the rock.
And water will come out of it for them to drink.”
Just like God said, from the rock, water continuously flowed more than 10 miles passing through their camp.
And Moses called this place Massah.
Then many years later, Moses was talking to the second generation who were about to enter the promised land.
Moses reminded them like this: Deuteronomy 6:16
“Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.
Just trust in God and his words.
Believe that God provides for your every need.
Remember all the things that God did to save you.
Remember what God has done for you.”
Then, we read about Gideon in the Bible: Judges 6:36-7:23
About 3100 years ago, God spoke to him.
But then Gideon was talking to God like this:
“In order to see whether you God will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said, I am going to lay a fleece of wool on the threshing floor.
If there is dew on the fleece alone, and dry on all the ground, then I will know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said.”
And it was so.
The fleece only was wet.
Then Gideon said to God again:
“Do not let your anger burn against me.
Let me speak one more time.
Let me, please, make trial with the fleece just once more.
Let it be dry only on the fleece, and on all the ground let there be dew.”
And God did so that night.
The fleece was dry and the ground was wet.
Gideon tested God to know for sure that he heard from God who created heaven and earth.
He wanted to know that it was God who was speaking to him.
Even though God understood that Gideon tested God, at that time, God kindly and patiently proved that it was God who was speaking to him.
Then Gideon learned to have faith and to obey God who wanted to help him.
But in general, God does not like be doubted.
So we don't test God.
Rather, we discern God’s will.
We learn to discern God’s will to know God’s intention for our life.
Then when we are willing to obey God, his will will be done.
Then we live peacefully.
But Satan didn’t like this.
So Satan tests people to bring out their unbelief and sin against God.
Satan tempted people to sin and doubt God.
This Satan even came to Jesus when he was in the wilderness.
Then Satan tempted Jesus like this: Matthew 4:5-7
The devil took Jesus to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
The devil said to Jesus:
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here.
As the Bible said: Psalm 91:11-12
‘God will command his angels concerning you.
And they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
The devil knew the Bible but used in a wrong way to tempt Jesus.
Satan was tempting Jesus to seek a sudden fame.
Satan was tempting Jesus to seek a vainglory that does not help no one.
Now let’s see how Satan misused the Bible.
Yes the Bible said: Psalm 91:11-12
God can command his angels concerning Jesus.
The angels will lift him up in their hands, so that he will not strike his foot against a stone.
But Jesus didn’t need to jump to prove that God would protect him.
Jesus knows that God loves him.
When Jesus needed a help from God, God will do more to protect him.
So our Jesus was like:
“I know the Bible and God.
In this case, the Bible and God will say:
‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Jesus quoted what Moses said in Deuteronomy:
“Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.”
This Satan came back when Jesus was on the cross.
The devil was tempting people to say like this to Jesus: Luke 23: 35-37
“He saved others.
Let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
The soldiers also mocked him saying:
“If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
It sounds very similar, right?
They were asking Jesus to do something against God’s will.
Were they tempting Jesus?
They were like Satan who was challenging Jesus to jump from the high temple saying “God will protect you.”
But Jesus knew God’s intention and understood God’s words.
Jesus knew that he was supposed to produce God’s fruits in his weakness as the Son of Man.
So Jesus chose God’s way and obeyed God.
Jesus is God’s treasure through whom God will save the world.
But God did hide him in his painful cross.
God hides him and then reveals him only to the humble.
But those who didn’t know this might say to Jesus at the cross:
“If your God is almighty, why are you there?”
“If your God is all powerful, why doesn't God save you at this time?
“If God listens to your prayer, why don’t you succeed every time and do a great thing?”
Have you ever heard or been challenged like that?
Then, remember, ultimately, yes, we succeed in God according to God’s plan.
So we don’t test God to prove that God will protect us.
We believe God’s love.
We trust that our life is in the hand of our good God.
Knowing God loves us, rather, we choose to do all things in the name of Jesus: Colossians 3:17.
But whenever we were tempted, Jesus may teach us saying:
“No, that is not how it works.
I didn’t try to do some magic to prove that I am the Son of God.
I humbly trust God who provide all things.
I humbly trust God who is good to us.
I humbly trust that God knows what is the best for us and provides.
So I humbly entrust myself to God who loves me and is proud of me.”
In our life, there are times when we think we need something.
Then we humble ourselves before God and remember what God has done for us and trust that God who brought us this far would take care of us eternally.
We humbly and patiently follow God, because we know in his time, God will provide as God knows what we need.
We may worry sometimes.
Then we work to build up our faith in God and to trust in God.
In order to have the faith of Jesus, we may give thanks to God in all circumstances.
About 2000 years ago, Apostle Paul encouraged us like that: (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Trust in Jesus and live a worry free life.
Trust Jesus in every circumstance.
Believe that Jesus is working and we will see his great works.
God is able.
God really loves us.
When we trust God at all times, God can do wonderful things for them.
Because God loves to bless those who trust God.
So we will see God’s wonderful works.
So Paul also says: Philippians 4:6-7
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything you can imagine or understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
So we follow this peace of God.
Then we will eventually arrive when we rejoice.
God will help us to live for God.
So we pray continually and rejoice always trusting that God provides.
To have this kind of faith, we think about Jesus, his life, and his words.
Then when we hear his voice, we pay attention.
We study him and learn from him and fill our hearts with his words so that we may fully understand him: (Colossians 3:16)
When we understand his way, we will enter his rest.
Then, it will be much easier for God to save our souls and take care of the rest.
And by the grace of God, we harvest greatly for God.
Blessed are those who believe and trust Jesus!
Blessed are those who have a firm inner trust in God's love!
God will be very happy with them and do what only God can do.
God loves you.
So believe and wait as God will provide.
God will take care of you.
Do you believe that?
Jesus, thank you for taking care of us.
Thank you for helping us to experience more of you.
Thank you for speaking to us through the Bible.
Help us to live trusting that you are very good to us and that everything that you says is true.
In Jesus name, we pray.