God Knows and Tests Us

God knows the hearts of men

Acts 1:24/ Ps 139:2,3

God tries men to find out what is in their heart

Deut 13:3/ Deut 8:2/ Gen 22:12

1) What is the supposed contradiction and why is it believable?

GOD KNOWS THE HEARTS OF MEN

Psalm 139 2-3 says, “2You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thought afar off.3You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways.”

Acts 1:24 says, “24And they prayed and said, You, Lord, Who know all hearts (their thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, purposes, and endeavors), indicate to us which one of these two You have chosen

GOD TRIES TO FIND OUT WHAT IS IN THEIR HEART

Genesis 22:12 says, “12And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your son, your only son.”

Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “2And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

Deuteronomy 13:3 says, 3You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being.”

We can see here in the first two examples, it is stated that God knows man’s heart. That is plain to see. In the following 3 examples, one would ask, “why would God need to test my heart to know me if He already knows me?” That is an excellent question. Why DOES God test us? Why does it seem to us that sometimes God does things when He doesn’t have to?

2) What is the truth in these verses and why do they NOT actually contradict each other?

Psalm 139 2-3 says, “2You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thought afar off.3You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways.”

This is the beginning of the same Psalm we looked at in our last contradiction. As I explained last time, this psalm is written in a popular format of the time where a statement is made, and then it is detailed by examples, as a way of explaining how he (David) feels or what it looks like to him. Let’s see the whole verse (of the song), shall we? “ 1O LORD, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.2You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thought afar off. 3You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways.4For there is not a word in my tongue [still unuttered], but, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.5You have beset me and shut me in–behind and before, and You have laid Your hand upon me.6Your [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high above me, I cannot reach it.” I’m starting to believe that the people who pulled their quotes from the text did not do so very diligently. The rest of the stanza here is far more descriptive about God being all knowing than verses 2-3. In fact, verses 2-3 are the weakest in comparison to the other verses we see here. It is just another sign of someone’s ignorance when they are trying to glorify themselves instead of God Himself. As man we want to just prove ourselves right instead of truly digging for the truth. Why? The truth sometimes hurts.

Acts 1:24 says, “24And they prayed and said, You, Lord, Who know all hearts (their thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, purposes, and endeavors), indicate to us which one of these two You have chosen” Firstly, when reading this verse we must recognize the purpose of the Book of Acts. It is a record of events between the day of Pentecost to the day the apostle Paul arrived in Rome to begin his ministry. It is an account of the spread of the Gospel, as Jesus commanded before leaving earth. This verse is an excerpt from a speech of the Apostle Peter. The two men mentioned here are the two men who were nominated for a vote to join the 11 apostles (since Judas committed suicide after delivering Jesus to the Romans). The plea of the people to God was to show them and guide them to make the decision that He wants them to make, rather than their own…an example we should emulate if we want to follow God’s will for our lives.

Genesis 22:12 says, “12And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your son, your only son.” Let’s take a look at what is going on here. This chapter is the story of God testing Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son and a gift from God. (a “miracle baby” given the human factors dictating the impossibility of having a baby with Abraham’s age and his wife’s inability to conceive). We see this command in verses 1-2, “ 1AFTER THESE events, God tested and proved Abraham and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Here I am.2[God] said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” Let’s look at this logically. If we assume God knows all things and the hearts of man, what would be the purpose of this testing? To provide an example. If the text simply read, “God knew Abraham had a good heart, so he multiplied his descendents to cover the earth,” how would we know what a “good heart” looks like? Not at all. Rather, Abraham led by example. Look at the story. God blessed Isaac with a son. Abraham loved his son with all his heart. However, he loved and trusted God more. This is how God wants us to serve Him and worship Him…above ALL else. Without these examples we have no benchmark to go by. It represents the faith we have. James said it in the New Testament when discussing the purpose of works in regards to faith in chapter 2, “17So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead). 18But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith.” So, did God know Abraham’s heart? I truly believe He did. If not, then there was a possibility that Abraham would have refused God in this instance, providing the incorrect example for God’s nation. Would anyone want to rise up a leader or founding father that did not follow the correct principles? So why did God say what He did? To congratulate Abraham for his actions. It was a pat on the back saying, “I am proud of you and approve you worthy to be the father of My nation.” He states this in verses 16-18, “16And said, I have sworn by Myself, says the Lord, that since you have done this and have not withheld [from Me] or begrudged [giving Me] your son, your only son,17In blessing I will bless you and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore. And your Seed (Heir) will possess the gate of His enemies,18And in your Seed [Christ] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed and [by Him] bless themselves, because you have heard and obeyed My voice.”

Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “2And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” Before we begin looking at Deuteronomy, we must understand why it was written. These were the speeches or sermons given by Moses just before he died. So far in this story, Israel has wandered the desert for 40 years so that the rebellious generation would die off before they entered the Promised Land. These speeches are a reminder of what God expects from His nation, especially since this new generation did not personally experience deliverance from Egypt, the issuing of the 10 commandments, etc. This is a recap, a history lesson, and a refreshing of Israel’s covenant with God. In this verse, I can see where it may seem as if God spent those 40 years in the desert to figure out what they were thinking. If you read back when He commanded them to wander those 40 years in the first place, He already knew what was on their hearts…which is why they went in the first place! You see, the part “to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” is a description of what Moses means by “to humble you and to prove you,” The purpose of the 40 years of wandering was to prove to Israel that God would take care of them and as a reminder to future generations that God would always provide. We see this in the next verses, “3And He humbled you and allowed you to hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you recognize and personally know that man does not live by bread only, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.4Your clothing did not become old upon you nor did your feet swell these forty years. 5Know also in your [minds and] hearts that, as a man disciplines and instructs his son, so the Lord your God disciplines and instructs you. 6So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and [reverently] fear Him.” It was a testing that proved Israel as a nation and proved God as the Lord of Israel to always be faithful as well.

Deuteronomy 13:3 says, 3You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being.” This sums up the purpose of the previous two verses! This section is devoted to teaching against false prophets and the purpose of them in God’s plan. It is to develop us against false teachings to remain steadfast in our faith and dependence on God instead of being easily swayed towards other gods. Again, this is an outward expression of our faith in God, not God trying to figure out what we think of Him. He already knows, but it is through our actions we prove to ourselves and others if we are following God’s will or not. This is a testing of the commandment seen in Exodus 20, “ 3You shall have no other gods before or besides Me.”

3) How can we use this to educate ourselves and others to further the Kingdom?

God knows our hearts. He tests us to build us and refine us. Our perseverance through this testing is a way to

1) Lead by example

2) Prove to ourselves where are hearts truly are

3) Worship God

4) Show others what faith looks like

5) To reaffirm God’s faithfulness to us if we are obedient

We see this in the book of James, chapter 1, “2Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. 3Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.4But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.5If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.6Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind.7For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord,8[For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].9Let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his elevation [as a Christian, called to the true riches and to be an heir of God],10And the rich [person ought to glory] in being humbled [by being shown his human frailty], because like the flower of the grass he will pass away.11For the sun comes up with a scorching heat and parches the grass; its flower falls off and its beauty fades away. Even so will the rich man wither and die in the midst of his pursuits.12Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.13Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one.14But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).15Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.

God knows what is on our hearts, He tests us so that we can face our hearts and it forces us to be honest, even when we don’t want to be.

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