God Tests His People to “Know” Them

God reveals Himself through the pages of Scripture. He shows His character and the ways He deals with people. One of God’s most common approaches is giving His people tests:

  • Exodus 20:20—And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.”
  • Psalm 66:10—For You, O God, have tested us;
    You have refined us as silver is refined.
  • Job 23:10—But He knows the way that I take;
    When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

See also Genesis 22:1, Deuteronomy 8:2, Judges 3:1, and 2 Chronicles 32:31

Why Does God Test People? To Know Them!

The Old Testament makes this clear if we understand two Hebrew words:

  • Nacah is the Hebrew word for “tested” or “proved,” and it means, “To test, try, prove, tempt, assay.”
  • Yada is the Hebrew word for “know,” and it means, “to know,” but, like ginōskō, it is describing intimate knowledge: “Adam knew (yada) his wife, and she conceived and bore a son” (Genesis 4:1).

David used both words when asking God to “test” him to “know” his heart:

  • Psalm 26:2—“Examine me, O LORD, and prove (nacah) me; Try my mind and my heart.”
  • Psalm 139:23–24—“Search me, O God, and know (yada) my heart; Try me…see if there is any wicked way in me.”

Continue reading “God Tests His People to “Know” Them”

Taking Types Too Far

01022001-RLW-Genesis-22-1-Abraham-and-Isaac-climbing-Mt-MoriahThe last few Sundays I’ve been preaching on Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, really focusing on the typology between them. Here are the parallels I used. Isaac and Jesus…

  • Were named by God (Gen 17:19 cf. Matt 1:21).
  • Were loved by their father (Gen 22:2 cf. Matt 3:17).
  • Were only begotten sons (Gen 22:2; John 1:18, 3:16; 1 John 4:9 cf. Heb 11:17).
  • Were offered up in Jerusalem (Gen 22:2; 2 Chr 3:1).
  • Were raised on the third day (Gen 22:4 cf. Heb 11:17-19).
  • Carried the wood for their sacrifices (Gen 22:6a cf. John 19:17).
  • Were placed on the wood for their sacrifices (Gen 22:9).
  • Silently laid down their lives (Gen 22:9-10; Isa 53:7; John 10:11, 15, 17-18, 15:13; 1 John 3:16; Matt 26:52-53; 1 Pet 2:23).
  • Met on Mount Moriah (Gen 22:11-12).
  • Were burnt offerings (Gen 22:2; Lev 1:9, 13, 17 cf. Eph 5:2; Lev 6:11 cf. Heb 13:12; Lev 1:4 cf. Isa 53:6).

One of the difficulties with types is making sure they aren’t taken too far. Below are the parallels I chose not to use because I thought they were too much of a stretch…

1. Jesus and Isaac were “offered” or “lifted” up.

Genesis 22:2 [God] said, “Take your son and offer him as a burnt offering.”

The Hebrew word for “offer” is ‘alah, but it doesn’t mean “give” or “present” as we’d expect. It means, “to go up, ascend, climb, be taken or lifted up.” The idea is when you sacrificed something you “lifted” it up to God.

Of the 889 times `alah occurs in the Old Testament, 676 times it’s translated as “up”. When Abraham was commanded to “offer” Isaac, he was basically commanded to “lift him up.”

Jesus spoke of His sacrifice this way:

  • John 3:14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
  • John 12:32 If I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.

2. Jesus and Isaac were accompanied by two men on their way to be sacrificed.

Genesis 22:3 Abraham took two of his young men with him.

Like Jesus was accompanied by two men when He was crucified, so too was Isaac accompanied by two men on his way to be sacrificed. But in Genesis 22:5 Abraham said to the servants, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

The two men were only able to go so far: they were not able to witness what took place between Abraham and Isaac. Similarly, when Jesus was sacrificed, nobody was able to see exactly what took place between Him and the Father. Three hours of darkness (Matt 27:45) helped conceal the divine transaction when our sins were placed on Christ.

3. Jesus and the ram had a “crown of thorns” around their heads.

Genesis 22:13 There behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham took the ram, and [sacrificed it] instead of his son.

The words “instead of his son” are one of the clearest pictures of substitutionary atonement in the Old Testament. The ram that died in Isaac’s place had a crown of thorns around its head, like Jesus – who died in our place – had a crown of thorns around His head (Matt 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2).