The Lord has been teaching me so much on the topic of trials lately. I have been reading through the Old Testament in my quiet time and came across 2 passages that really struck me:
“2And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. 3And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” -Deuteronomy 8.2-3
“20 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he said, “Because this people has transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, 22 in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the LORD as their fathers did, or not.‘” – Judges 2.20-22
God, knowing all things, did not need to test Israel in order to discover something He didn’t already know about them (that is, the deceptive sinfulness of their hearts). After all, man’s heart is declared to be truly unknowable by anyone (even himself), except for God alone (Jeremiah 17.9-10). So, who is this “testing” for? Who was it meant to benefit? What was the point of it all?
In light of God’s omniscience, the obvious answer to the above stated questions is: Israel. God ordained and orchestrated these times of “testing” in order to reveal to Israel that which He already knew about them. That is, God knew the weakness of their flesh and the propensity of their hearts to lust after other gods. However, Israel was apparently blind to this fact so God used circumstances in their lives to bring their abiding sin to the surface. When confronted with their sin, they could then be presented with the opportunity to confess and repent, or further harden their heart (and conscience) by continuing to pursue their sin. Unfortunately for Israel, they often chose the later option, bringing God’s heavy hand of discipline on them for their disobedience.