Out of Egypt – Testing God 10 Times

Not to confuse this testing with the promise in Malachi 3:10 these are the testings that the children of Jacob did to anger God. In Numbers 14:22 God has forgiven the people again but He has had enough, yet even here we see God’s mercy. Moses’ spies have returned and pushed the people into the 10th testing of God. He sentences them to 40 years of wandering in the desert until the adults have died off. His mercy is that He credits them for the two years they have already been in the wilderness. Deuteronomy 2:14 clarifies this, they were at Kadesh when the spies were sent out and after 38 years of wandering, they have returned to Kadesh to enter into the Promised Land. (see First Two Year’s Timeline) These “10 tests” are also shadows of things we should avoid in our Christian walk.

  1. Exodus 14:11 – Wanted to be left in Egypt – at the Red Sea
  2. Exodus 15:22 – Grumbled about no water – Marah
  3. Exodus 16:3 – Grumbling about food
  4. Exodus 17:2 – Again grumbling about no water – Massah/Meribah
  5. Exodus 32:1 – Golden Calf – Mount Sinaiworshipping the calf
  6. Leviticus 10:1 – Nadab and Abihu – Mount Sinai
  7. Numbers 11: 1 – Complained about hardships – Taberah
  8. Numbers 11: 4 – Complained about the food – Kibroth Hattaavah
  9. Numbers 12: 1 – Miriam and Aaron talked against Moses’ marriage
  10.  Numbers 13 + 14 – The story of the spies – Kadesh Barnea

These were the 10 tests I found. There are other rebellions after the “10”, for example, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram in Numbers 16 rebel against Moses’ leadership; probably in reaction to going back into the wilderness. All of these testings took place in a two-year journey that should have taken about three weeks. I feel that part of the reason for the extended time was that the Lord had to train people who would trust in Him, establish His worship, establish a corporate identity and train an army who would/could fight. Remember they had been in Egypt for *430 years and had been reduced to slaves and indoctrinated into an Egyptian mindset.

The examples of what these “tests” represent/foreshadow will be matched to the numbers above. (I am sure there are other things that you can see in these tests. Please comment on what you see these tests represent.)

  1. This is “looking back” and not wanting to leave “Egypt.”
  2. Numbers 2 and 4 need to go together both are not trusting God for your needs but # 2 is a teaching that is a set-up for God “testing” them in #4.
  3. Believing and asking God for provisions
  4.  A test to see what they learned in 2 & 3.
  5. Making something else God.
  6. Doing things your way even when you know better; probably being drunk did not help.
  7. Not getting things right away, remember it was 2 years and no “milk and honey.”
  8. They got bored with God’s provision and wanted something else and listened to wrong influences.
  9. Talking against God’s leaders and racism to justify your actions.
  10.  Friends talking against God’s plan for your life.

Side Notes: (see Test, Attacks and Storms and Test, Test, Test)

  1. The number thirty-eight appears twice in connection with waiting and being put in a state of freedom. Deuteronomy 2:14 and the invalid in John 5:5
  2. The number forty deals with testing.
  3. The number 10 deals with Commands and Rulers (see Number 10)
  4. The Hebrew word “test” in Malachi 3:10 and 15 are the same words used in Psalms 81:7 when describing the waters of Meribah. It will depend on the translation you use.
  5. See Psalms 95:8, 106:32 for comments about Meribah.
  6. *Josephus in 2.15.2 states a different idea about the 430 years and splits it in half then there is a footnote confirming that as correct? I am looking into this idea, it is the only place I have ever seen this commented on. (see comment about Josephus)


Test Revisited

Spiritual test like tests in school are tools that are used by the Master Teacher for our good.  Now, most students are fearful of tests.  So here are some thoughts about testing that may help rearrange our thinking.

1. A test show what we know.

2. A test show what we don’t know.

3. A test show what we need to learn. (It really is different than #2)

I think we associate grades or our worth with a number instead of viewing test, especially spiritual test, as a learning experience and not a symbol of failure and stress.  Jesus being the Master Teacher knows that if you cannot pass the test we should not move on but when we do pass He starts us on a whole new course of study.  So retesting is part of spiritual training. Ex. – John 21 when Jesus asked Peter three times about his love. (see Rock or Chip) So remember passing test are needed to move you to the next grade/level. (see Test, Attacks, and Storms part 1)

Depending on the translation of the Bible you read the word for a test is rendered in several ways: try, prove, examine, tempt, assay, investigate, know, challenge, etc.  I think there are four major groupings of the ideas prove/test or search /know.

1. Malachi/Meribah

2. Testing of Metal

3. Search and Know (the heart/mind)

4. Miscellaneous

Malachi/Meribah may seem like a strange pairing of verses but the same word for test/challenge is what ties them together.  The famous verse about testing God and open windows are in Malachi 3:10 but most of miss 3:15 where it talks about people who test God because they believe it is futile to serve Him.  But the intensity of that testing is reflected in Psalm 81:7, 95:9 and refers to Exodus 17 and Numbers 20 where the people wanted water and Moses was to speak or strike the rocks.

The comparison of us being tested as metals is used in a number of passages.  This was done with great heat and air.  The picture is that something pure is going to come from this type of testing. (see What Type of Metals Are You Part 1)

Psalm 11:4, 139:23 and 17:3 are verses that refer to God searching, knowing and testing us. (see Fight)

Other examples of testing are when Joseph tested his brothers in Genesis 42: 15,16 and God testing Levi in Deuteronomy 33:8.  (see Timeline)

I guess if there is a thought I want you to take away from this it would be; God tests us for our good so that He can promote us to better things and that tests are not attacks, storms or trials. (see Test, Attacks, and Storms part 2, part 3)