The Paradox of Divine Faithfulness - Part 2 - In The Hour of Trial
For instance: Scientists say that Light is a wave, and then also say that Light is a particle. Now, something cannot be both a particle and a wave at the same time. Thus, when you look for light as looking for a wave, light appears to behave like wave, and when you look for it as a particle, it appears to behave as a particle…
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1Co 10:13 NKJ)
However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew (azab) from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart. (2Ch 32:31 NKJ)
At that time Berodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah was attentive to them, and showed them all the house of his treasures -- the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory -- all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, "What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?" So Hezekiah said, "They came from a far country, from Babylon." And he said, "What have they seen in your house?" So Hezekiah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them." Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD: 'Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the LORD. 'And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.' " So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!" For he said, "Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?" (2Kings 20:12-19)
2Chronicles which is a priestly chronicle of Israel interprets this event as God’s forsaking of Hezekiah in order to test what is in his heart.. And, what was found was nothing but foolishness, pride, credulity, and inability to foresee the results of one’s actions. But, what looks amazing is the fact that we are told that God withdrew or left Hezekiah alone to himself in order for him to be tested.
Let’s go back a little and look at the Original Fall of Man. Calvinists tell us that the Fall was itself in the foreplan of God, was part of His Plan. God knew that Adam would inevitably fall into sin if He withdrew His grace from him, and so in the First Test of Humanity, God withdrew Himself from man. They say this because they argue, “Suppose Adam didn’t fall, how would it be possible for Christ to incarnate as man and die for our sins, making available for us a greater glory than that which Adam ever had?” They believe that the Fall of Adam was predestinated.
I believe this is a very erroneous view of the nature of God and the nature of temptation as well.
We are strongly told that God is faithful, who will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that we may be able to bear it.
But, this is where we encounter the Paradox of Divine Faithfulness again. THE GOD who promised to be with us even in the hour of testing is the one who is said to have left Hezekiah alone in order for him to be tested…
When the Chroniclers tell us that God withdrew from or left Hezekiah alone, the Hebrew word used is azab – to leave, to forsake, to loose. What is paradoxical is that the Bible uses this same word azab to remind us that God will never leave us nor forsake us again and again in the Scriptures.
Moses says to all Israel:
"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." (Deu 31:6 NKJ)
Moses tells to Joshua:
"And the LORD, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with (Deu 31:8 NKJ)
GOD says to Joshua:
"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. (Jos 1:5 NKJ)
David said to his son Solomon, "Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God-- my God-- will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD (1Ch 28:20 NKJ)
"May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us, (1Ki 8:57 NKJ)
The Writer of Hebrews tells the Christians:
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Heb 13:5 NKJ)
THE PROMISE IS CLEAR: GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE NOR FORSAKE…
And yet we are told that Hezekiah was left alone by God.
What does it mean to be left alone?
What does it mean to be tested?
I don’t think there is any person here who has not experienced at sometime in his life a feeling that he is left alone and that the tests of life are too hard beyond strength.
One of the greatest cries in history was when from the cross, Jesus cried, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Mat 27:46 NKJ)
In the midst of his fiery trial Job calls out in chapter 23:3-9
Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, That I might come to His seat! (Job 23:3 NKJ)
"Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. (Job 23:9 NKJ)
The paradox is painful because it is also true at the same time that the God who forsakes at the time of our test is the same God who is there to hold us up.
Here is the point of Job’s victory: verse 10
But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10 NKJ)
David prays to God:
Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation. (Psa 27:9 NKJ)
Jesus taught us to pray
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. (Mat 6:13 NKJ)
1. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of our Testing Does Not Mean God’s Abandonment of His People. God only abandons those who have been tested and proven to be thoroughly godless (Rom.1:24).
2. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of our Testing Does Not Mean God’s Presence is Not With Us. This is impossible; because He is everywhere, and secondly because His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us can never change. So, how is it possible for God to leave us alone and at the same time be with us? How is it possible for the Son of God, God Himself, to cry out “My God and My God, why have you forsaken me?” This is the paradox of divine faithfulness: He leaves us and still He is with us.
3. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of Testing is not in order to make us fall, but in order to allow our faith to be seen as it is; in order for our love to be seen as it is. After Abraham was tested, God said “now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." (Gen 22:12 NKJ). Peter talks about our faith coming out of the fire of trials as pure gold. Testing is not in order to make us fall but to reveal to us what we are and where we are so that we can move forward. There is difference between exercise and test. Exercises help us be strong, but it is only a test that leads us to the next level.
4. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of Testing does not mean that God is Not with us in the Hour of Testing. He promised to walk with us when we walk through fire, through waters…
5. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of Testing is Real. But, His Presence is also equally Real. That’s why Christ who cried to God on the Cross, “Why have you forsaken me” could also say “Father, into Your hands I submit my Spirit”. We experience this withdrawal in the form of the silence of God, the absence of any feeling of God’s power, the great pressure of the trial that seems to almost crush us. Paul tells of one such experience in 2Cor.1:8-10, He says, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, (2Co 1:8-10 NKJ)
6. We must differentiate between TESTING and TEMPTATION. The goal of temptation is to cause someone to fall into sin. The goal of testing is to help us move forward. God never tempts anyone. The devil is the tempter. James tells us to be careful not to say when we are tempted that we are tempted by God, for God never tempts anyone nor is tempted.
7. Prayer is the door of faith that connects us to the invisible. Therefore, Jesus said “Watch and pray so that you do not enter into temptation.” It is through prayer that one stays connected with the God who is still with us, while He has also withdrawn from us. Therefore, James says that when we face trials and we realize we lack wisdom, we must ask it of God. Solomon reminds us to fear God first for it is the beginning of wisdom and then says that we must not rely on our own understanding, not be wise in our own eyes, but trust in the Lord with all our heart. Not to live as if God is not there, but to walk in the Spirit and be led by the Spirit. Hezekiah missed this. He had become OVER CONFIDENT, so much that he thought prayer was not necessary. When he was about to die, he prayed with tears; but, now all that passion had died. There is nothing more godless and infernal/ hellish than a prayerless lifestyle. We must pray that God will not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. And, we must pray for each other.
GOD IS FAITHFUL, the Bible says. who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
When trials come, what is more important is not how fiery the trial is, or how overpowering and strong it looks like; what is more important for us is to BELIEVE and be unshaken in this faith that GOD IS FAITHFUL. THIS FAITH IN THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD IS THE KEY TO OUR VICTORY OVER THE FLESH, THE WORLD, AND THE DEVIL.