You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested [Him] at Massah.
Moses, as he is giving his farewell address to the Israelites, continues to remind them of both where they are going and where they have come from. And, in reminding them of where they have come from, he commands — in very strong terms — that they not repeat their mistakes.
Massah was the first instance of the Israelites testing God over whether or not He could provide water. It was the first time that God told Moses to go interact with the stone. In this case, God tells Moses to strike the rock. Moses does so. The Israelites are provided with water. But this is personally significant for Moses, as the Israelites later leveled the same complaint and Moses, exasperated and done with the Israelites’ whinging, hits the rock when he was told to speak to the rock the second time.
I cannot say, for certain, that Moses’ point was to communicate to the Israelites that they should never again doubt God’s provision and that they should never again push so hard as to drive a leader to exasperation.
What I can say is what a dear friend has pointed out. The language used is contract language — most of us do not use the word shall any more. And the word shall, in legal and contract terms, is an imperative. It is something that must, without exception or failure, be done. Add the word not and I have an imperative prohibition. Do not, under any circumstances or for any reason put God to the test in the same way as was done at Massah.
Do. Not. Do. It.
Several possibilities present themselves and all have validity. First, because it shows a lack of faith. Second, because it ignores God’s track record. Third, because it questions God’s faithfulness — which can easily be proven out by His track record. Fourth, because it discounts God’s ability to provide for my needs.
The list could keep going, but the thrust of the argument is that it shows a lack of faith on my side and a limited view of my God’s ability on the other. If God cannot provide for my merely physical needs, then how do I expect Him to be able to provide for my spiritual needs?
My takeaway is that I need to take God on His track record — both in the scriptures and in my own experience — and that I need to trust Him to provide for my needs.
Father, thank You for providing all my needs thus far. I know that You can and trust that You will continue to do so. Thank You. Please calm my heart in those moments when I lose focus and begin to doubt Your ability to provide my needs. Please draw me back in those moments and restore my trust.