Tuesday, August 4, 2009

“Taking a Test…” (Exodus16:4b)

S-1132 8/02/09 9SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #457; (S) #521; (C) #50

Texts Exodus 16:2-15; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:22-35

Theme: “Taking a Test…” (Exodus16:4b)

Question: “Do you like taking tests?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Old Testament lesson: “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not” (Ex. 16:4).


Saints in Christ, I personally don’t enjoy taking tests! They make me study long and hard. I have to remember a lot of information to be able to answer the questions the teacher gives me. There will be many long hours of studies as I review my notes and prepare for the upcoming test. Some tests have so much weight on them because if you don’t pass them, you can’t do what you suppose to do. Consider the would-be doctor; he needs to pass the Medical exam in order to practice medicine. Consider the would-be accountant; she needs to pass her CPA exam to be an accountant. Consider the lawyer; he needs to pass the Bar exam to practice law.

Tests are not fun, but they challenge you to dig deep into your heart and soul and determine if this is really what you want to do. When I attended the seminary, I took summer Greek. That is to say, you try to learn the language in two months. After this period you have a major exam as a qualifier to move on in your studies. You pass the test; you continue to prepare for the Office of the Ministry. You don’t pass the test; you have to take another shot at it. For a week before the exam, all of my classmates and I spent hours and hours in preparation for the big day. Finally the day of the test came. My stomach was churning, hands were sweaty, mouth was dry and lips moving in prayer. When the test was over, I barely made it, but I passed. What a good feeling it is to pass the test. You know that feeling too, don’t you?

In our text today, God informs Moses that He is going to give a test to His chosen people. This test is given by God to see if those who have been delivered with outstretched arms and mighty hands from the slavery in Egypt would walk in His ways or not.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has been their protector by day and by night. He has done mighty things for them. Through the finger and voice of Moses ten plagues came over Egypt. They saw God’s mighty power as He fulfilled His promises. His agent Moses finally demanded that Pharaoh let God’s people go. These people had been witnesses to one miracle after another and this chapter falls on the heels of the day that God destroyed all of the Egyptians army in the Red Sea; they walked on dry ground to safety.

In Chapter 15 we hear Miriam as the cheerleader of God’s people in signing and dancing. This is what Moses and the people of Israel sang to the LORD: “I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and will exalt Him. The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is His name… (Ex. 15:1-3).

But that was before. Now the people of God are grumbling again. They grumble Gimme, gimme, gimme, because they don’t have any food and God intervenes and says, “I will give them a test to see if they will walk in my WAYS.” PAUSE.

Did you know that the whole life of the believer is a life of testing? Look at God’s inspired and inerrant Word and you will see God’s people being tested often. In the Garden of Eden God gave Adam and Eve a “Test of Love” to obey Him and NOT eat of the forbidden Tree. But they failed miserably.

God gave Noah a test telling him to build an Arch which will be his floating home while the rain came down for 40 days/nights. Noah obeyed and walked in the ways of the Lord. Abram had been promised a uniquely gifted child by God from his aged wife Sarah. And when Isaac was born, God gave Abraham “The Supreme test of obedience” on Mount Moriah to offer his son as a sacrifice. Both Abraham and Isaac passed it and God was pleased with them. Joseph was put to the test by his brothers when they sold him to slavery. He was put to the test by the seductive wife of Potiphar; and was put to the test when thrown in jail. By God’s grace, Joseph passed the tests.

God’s chosen people were put to the test to see if they would trust the Almighty Father to provide them with what they need. He gave them specific instructions to collect just enough for a day’s ration to eat and no more. And throughout all of this no one was hungry because God’s hands are never short. The Psalmist reminds us of this saying: “For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Ps. 107:9).

We, too, as God’s chosen and redeemed people are given the same test to see if we would walk in God’s ways. But how often we do really trust God to fulfill all that He promises to us? How often do we not loose sleep because there is not enough money to go around? How often do we question God’s decisions and look for another to supply our needs?

You see saints in Christ; the whole life of the Christian is truly a life of testing and trouble. Our opening hymn for today even challenges us to come to Him and see how He meets all of our needs as is evident in the Gospel reading today where the heaven-sent Savior, Jesus provided food for them to eat. The opening hymn is a very familiar one but have you really looked at the words, studied the words and understood the words? Listen again please: What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Beloved in Christ, we are not immune from troubles, trials and testing. We grumble. We ask, “By what sign will you show us that we may believe in You? ... Even when the manna falls from heaven! Still we ask, “Anything new? What have You done for us lately?” Oh, it makes sense; we get distracted by our stomachs. He remains faithful. I’ll give you quail in the evening and manna in the morning, water from the rock (that is water and blood from My riven side). Oh, and the God of this first wilderness wandering - He has not changed - He walks with you now, feeding and keeping you, even when you grumble. What He gives you is not even what you can bear, that would be too human, to fallen, too limited. Rather, as Paul reminds the Ephesians: 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift! This is the Gift that is Christ, and the Gift that flows from Christ - Christ our host and Christ our meat. It is the fullness of knowing that forgiveness lacks nothing in its scope, for He lacks nothing in His giving of Himself! It is the fullness and measure of Christ’s gift, the Cross and Empty Tomb - His complete love! Here He reveals God not as awful judge, but as Our Father, ready to forgive and heal, ready to supply every need, all granted by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Is this arrangement “fair?” No! He shouldn’t die on that cross if things were to be fair - you should have, and I should have! Not fair, but not foul... Gracious!

I am so thankful that I don’t have to take the test today. Because I would fail miserably! As a sinner, I don’t take time to study all of the things God has done for me. I don’t remember His goodness to me. I am no different than the people of Israel. I know on my own I fail the test. But Jesus on the other hand has taking the test for me. You might say He was my proxy. Stood in my place and fulfilled all that the Heavenly Father has given Him to do—walk in His ways always.

You and I may fail the test but Jesus never did or does. In His sermon of the Mount He stated, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Mt. 5:17). Yes, Jesus passed the test of obedience. Jesus passed the test of following the decrees of God completely. Jesus passed the test by filling every demand of the Law. Jesus passed the test of the cross. Jesus passed the test of death. Jesus passed all tests given and because He passed it we get an A+ for our life’s test. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

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