The Test
Does God test people? Trace the repeated theme of testing in the Bible and see how God determines the loyalty and trust of his covenant partners.

Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion:

  1. Read Genesis 1:26-30 and Genesis 2:8-15. What does God provide for humanity, and how does he generously invite people to partner with him?
  2. Compare Genesis 2:16-17 and Proverbs 3:1-18. How does God warn and test humanity? What choices bring life, and what choices harm the partners and the partnership?
  3. How does the serpent exploit and test humanity’s choice in Genesis 3:1-5? How do humans respond in this circumstance, and what is the result (see Genesis 3:6-24)?
  4. Read Genesis 12:1-20, 15:1-7, 16:1-5, 21:1-19, and 22:1-19. How does God invite Abram and Sarai into a partnership, and what does he provide for them? How does God test Abram and Sarai? What choices do Abram/Abraham and Sarai/Sarah make, and what are the complicated consequences?
  5. These and other biblical stories ultimately lead us to Jesus, the one who passed the test on humanity’s behalf. What test does Jesus face, and how does he pass through it (see Matthew 4:1-11 and 26:36-42)?
  6. We may never face Roman execution, but we do encounter painful situations and decisions. How does Jesus’ example affect the way we face tests and choices today (see Hebrews 12:1-17)? What questions remain unanswered for you?
Trees of Testing

God wants to rule his world in partnership with his human images, and in the garden of Eden, God presents humanity with its first test, represented by a choice between two trees. Will the humans trust God to teach them wisdom, or will they do what’s good in their own eyes? We know how this story ends, and Adam and Eve’s choice begins a downward spiral of failed tests throughout the Torah.

Covenant Partners Tested

Throughout the Torah God repeatedly tests his covenant partners to see if they are willing to live by his wisdom. We see this testing in the stories of Abraham, Moses, and the nation of Israel. Though there are moments of faith in the face of extreme circumstances, humans continue to repeat the failures of the garden. Humanity is in desperate need of someone who can pass the ultimate test and make right the covenant that was broken in the garden.

Jesus Passes the Test

All of this leads us to the story of Jesus, the Messiah. He passes the ultimate test by giving up his life for the sins of his people, and through him, God’s life and blessing goes out to all the nations, this is the Good News of the Bible. So while these tests are rarely easy, they are actually important opportunities for God’s people to grow and change, so that they can become agents of God’s blessing to the world around them.

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