Q: “What does it mean to put God to a foolish test?”
A: To understand the meaning behind this question, you have to look at the context in which it was stated. This was during Jesus’ temptation. Satan was tempting Jesus at the point of the pride of life to prove He was who He said He was by basically jumping off the cliff. It is clear that Satan was tempting Jesus to prove He was God in the flesh by showing that even in His humanity He had charge over the angels. It was at that time that Jesus clearly stated that the Lord, thy God, Satan’s God was not to be put to a foolish test.
Keep in mind in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13 who was being tested to prove He was God. Jesus was being tested and He was clearly stating that Satan was not to put the Lord (Adonai), Satan’s God (Creator) to a foolish test by insisting He prove His identity to the devil who already knew He was the Son of God. We know Jesus is Creator because of what John 1:1-5 and Colossians 1:15-16 says. In fact, James 2:19 declares that the devils know there is one God by nature and tremble. In the Gospel of Mark, they were one of the first ones to declare that Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 1:17-28)
Remember in the garden of Eden, Eve was brought into a state of unbelief towards God when Satan first tempted her as to the validity of His one main instruction and warning to Adam about not eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The second test was leveled at God’s character as to whether He meant what He said and in the third temptation, His very intention towards them was questioned (Genesis 3:1-6). During His temptation, Jesus was being tempted in the same way as Eve but with different means. Instead of the deadly fruit of tree, it was bread and in the case of the false promise of being like God, Jesus was being offered the kingdoms of the world by bowing to Satan in agreement and worship. Instead of Satan telling Eve that God did not want them to eat of the tree because they would be like Him, implying He would not like the competition, Jesus was being tempted to prove He was God.
It is important to note the temptation Jesus faced was designed from keeping Him from going to the cross as God’s perfect Lamb. If He had failed any test in His humanity, He could not be the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. If at any point, He gave way to even a snippet or inkling of pride to prove His identity, He would not be able to present Himself without spot and wrinkle when it came to His inner character. If He had called the angels to fight His cause to prove His authority or save Himself on the night that He was so unjustly accused to prove His identity instead of submitting to the way of the cross, He would have never finished His mission as OUR Redeemer (Matthew 26:52-54; John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:5-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:20-24).
Testing is a type of proving something is true. We know from Scriptures that God does not mind His words or works from being tested because it will prove whether they are His or not, for His Word has been greatly misconstrued and His works undermined. He does not mind the spirit behind something to be tested because there are different spirits in operation in the world, including the anti-Christ spirit that must be properly discerned. He does not mind His true servants being proved because there are many false workers of righteousness that are among His sheep, causing much damage (Psalms 95:6-11; Acts 17:10-12; 2 Corinthians 11:3-13-15; Hebrews 3:8-13; 1 John 4:1-3).
However, when it comes to asking, requiring or demanding that God prove He is God, such inquiries show themselves to be a form of unbelief, rebellion, or utter contempt for a God who never changes His mind because His plan is right and His conduct in all matters perfect; nor, will He adjust His Word to cater to self-pity and murmurings, His ways to foolishness, or cease to be holy because it a consuming fire towards the things of the flesh and the world. You never have to prove a phone is a phone or a bear is a bear, a man is a man, or a woman is a woman because they can be nothing else but what they were designed to be. Likewise, you can’t ask God to prove that He is the only true God when He is (Isaiah 44:6; 45:18, 22; 46:9). There is none that can hold His position, create things in an innocent or perfect state, maintain consistency in His righteous ways, and do the impossible in the midst of the that which operates in a limited, hopeless realm.
As He told Moses in the wilderness in Exodus 4:14, “I AM THAT I AM,” He is ever present and the past and future comes together in who He is and is lined up to His plan. Since He is the one true God, He deserves our total adoration and worship and does not deserve our contempt because of unbelief, our smirking and judgment because of arrogance, or our disrespect because in the delusion of our foolishness He will not convince us we are wrong by showing us He is God. He will not entertain us with miracles to prove He is real as Herod requested on the night Jesus was betrayed or like Satan in the wilderness tempted Him to bow down to certain demands to prove that He cares about us, for the cross of Christ has made His commitment and intentions towards us real. Nor, is He like a “big Sugar Daddy” or a “Santa Claus” that will make all the wrongs and hurts in our life alright for us so we can run back to the old way and settle back into our nominal, worldly life without seeing a matter through to the end by exercising faith towards Him (John 3:16-18; Hebrews 11:6).
It is important to point out that, unlike us with our selfish motives and wicked agendas, when God proves us, it is to reveal our life, attitude, and faith towards Him. There are those who state the Lord tells them to do something but when it comes to the real time of testing, all of a sudden God has changed His mind and they are no longer obligated to see it through as they scramble to justify their lack of love, commitment, and obedience towards Him. There are others that make bargains with God, and when all is well, they forget, and there are some that throw crumbs at God in hopes He does not recognize or care that they are surface in their commitment to Him.
The Lord will never tempt us to do evil but He will prove us to reveal our heart towards Him, our level of obedience, and to humble us so we can be used in greater ways. If we are righteous like King David, we will ask Him at different times to prove our character and try our hearts to expose any wicked way in us. If our character proves steadfast, our lives, attitudes and conduct will prove all things to be genuine including our love, faith, and works as we hold fast to that which is good (Exodus 16:4; 20:20; Deuteronomy 8:2, 16; Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 8:8-9; 13:5; Galatians 6:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; James1:13).