Is There Ever a Time We Are Permitted to Test God?

Malachi 3:10 stands among the most unique verses in the Bible, for in it God grants His people permission to test Him. Through the prophet, He tells the Israelites to donate a tenth of their incomes (a tithe) to His work at the Temple. Then He issues a remarkable challenge: “And thereby put me to the test … if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (Malachi 3:10).
The phrase “put me to the test” translates the Hebrew verb bachan, which also can be rendered “examine” or “try.” Most of its uses in the Bible refer to God testing humans. For example, Psalms 11:5 says that “the LORD tests the righteous,” and in Job 23:10, Job says of God, “When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” Similarly, God told Jeremiah, “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind” (Jeremiah 17:10), and Proverbs 17:3 declares that “the LORD tests hearts.” In other instances, bachan references humans examining ideas or testing one another, as when Joseph tested the truthfulness of his brothers (Genesis 42:15-16).
But the word’s usage in Malachi 3:10 is one of only three instances in the Bible where it refers to man testing God. And in the other two, the testing under consideration is portrayed as sinful and arrogant (Psalms 95:9; Malachi 3:15). Indeed, only here does God invite man to test (bachan) Him legitimately.
By its uniqueness, this test emphasizes God’s seriousness about His people’s giving their resources to advance His kingdom—a principle that holds true in the New Testament as well as the Old. Though it takes faith to let go of hard-earned money, the Lord commands His people to give through their local churches and other worthy ministries. He incentivizes such giving by allowing them to test Him in this wonderful way. Of course, the blessing God returns to generous believers is not always material. Still, no giving Christian will ever lack concrete reminders of God’s favor and friendship.
(Note:  This article is presented within The Biblical Story Course as an Insight under Books of the Bible, Malachi – “Testing God”). 
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