“Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it.  Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God. Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” 1 Kings 18:23-24

I have always loved the story of Elijah and the Baal priests at Mt Carmel. It reminds me that God is bigger than any man-made story or false religion. I am also very comforted knowing that when it comes down to a fight that the true God is always going to show himself to be more powerful. This is all good stuff but…

As I was reading chapter 15 of “The Story” I stopped and paused after the Elijah story. The same story was present but I read it completely different. Was Elijah putting God to the test? God never told him to put on a battle of the gods showdown. If God wanted it to go down it would have been a pay-per-view event of the decade. But there is no indication in Scripture that this was God’s idea at all. So, if this wasn’t God’s idea then was Elijah putting God to the test? Was he tempting God to perform a magic trick before the eyes of the people?

I am a little conflicted because Jesus was tempted by the Devil when he said throw yourself down, God will save you. Jesus said, “Do not put the Lord to the test.” But God says through the prophet Malachi,

“…test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

So what are we to do…test God or not test God?

There is a difference between the way that we test. I think it goes back to the motives in which we are asking. Do we test God so that we can prove to be right in front of someone else? Do we seek to test God so that we can get something we want from him? There are a lot of impure motives that we can attempt to test God but I think God says with pure motives he wants us to test him, to see that he will fulfill his promise. To be clear, praying for God to act is not putting him to the test.

Elijah was facing an epic battle, the likes of which no one had ever witnessed. He was the only prophet left of God in all the land. People were being enticed away from the true God to one of evil. Elijah trusted God and simply asked him to fulfill a promise. He knew that God would honor his promise with right motives and a right heart.

Would God still be God if he wouldn’t have listened to Elijah? Yes. God chooses to break into our world so that his plan and purpose is fulfilled. It gives us a glimpse of a now and not yet reality. We know that God is all-powerful we see glimpses of it now but will see it fully when Jesus returns.

God wants you to know that he is faithful and true to his promises. Put God to the test and see that he will be faithful.

What have you been holding back from God because you were afraid to put him to the test? How do we judge whether our motives are right? What would be a good thing to test God in? What would be a bad example to test God with? What has God promised to do that you have seen him fulfill?