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?
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?
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)?
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?
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)?
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?
Tim: And at first things go well. But Abraham quickly fails: he lies to protect himself, and then he and Sarah scheme to get a son their own way, by abusing one of their servants.7
Jon: Definitely not passing the test.
Tim: But God doesn’t give up on Abraham. He gives him one final opportunity, a test to prove his loyalty. God asks Abraham to go up onto a hill and offer his son as a sacrifice.8
Jon: I can’t imagine a more intense test.
Tim: And Abraham does it. but in the last moment, God stops him and provides a substitute animal in the place of his son. God then says he will fulfill his promise through Abraham’s family, because he passed this test.
Jon: So Abraham passed this test, but he hasn’t proven to be a fully trustworthy partner. We are still waiting for someone who can pass the ultimate test.
Tim: Yeah, and as the family of Abraham grows and becomes a nation,God continues to test them.
Jon: Like when the Israelites wander in the wilderness for forty years.9
Tim: They have lots of opportunities to trust in God to provide water or daily bread.
Jon: But they instead blame God and even say that he trapped them in this desert to kill them.
Tim: And so the rest of Israel’s story in the Hebrew Scriptures, is pretty much the same. The Israelites don’t trust in God and his promise, they’re not loyal, and eventually the whole nation fails.
Jon: So humans have an amazing opportunity to partner with God, but no one is really qualified.
Jesus Passes the Test [03:44-04:59]
Tim: And so all of this brings us forward to Jesus. There’s a story where Jesus goes into the wilderness for forty days and nights, without food or water.10
Jon: Ah yes, the wilderness! And there he meets a sinister creature who tries to trap him.
Tim: But Jesus trusts in God’s wisdom...
Jon: ...and he passes the test.
Tim: Then later there’s a story about Jesus going to pray with some friends, and God commissions him to go up to Jerusalem and to give up his life.11
Jon: So he goes. And on the night of his arrest Jesus took his friends and went to a garden,
Tim: and he told them to pray because tonight, he said, is “the great test.”
Jon: And he prayed to God, “Please let this test pass from me. But not my desire, rather, may your desire be done.”12
Tim: In this garden, Jesus shows us what passing the test looks like. He trusted in God’s wisdom, he loved others more than himself, and he confronted evil with good...
Jon: ...even though it cost him his life.
Tim: Right, Jesus offered his own life as a sacrifice, to cover for all of the failed tests of his people Israel, and of all humanity. Jesus passed the ultimate test on behalf of us all.
A Test From a Good God is an Opportunity [05:00-05:47]
Jon: This is amazing. But that doesn’t mean everything is gonna be great in our lives. I mean, let’s be honest, we’re gonna face our own tests every day.
Tim: Right. Jesus said every generation of his followers would have their own tests that will force them to trust God in radical new ways.
Jon: And these tests can be difficult and often painful.
Tim: But remember, a test from a good God is an opportunity. This is why James, a leader in the early Jesus movement, said that we should be grateful when we face tests and trials because they offer us a gift. It’s an opportunity to surrender to God’s wisdom, and to become more like Jesus, the one who loved us and who passed the test on our behalf.13