Jeremiah 20 … Consider Him Who Tests the Righteous

Yet, O Lord of hosts, You who test the righteous,
Who see the mind and the heart;
Let me see Your vengeance on them;
For to You I have set forth my cause,

Another day, another challenge. But we are certainly in good company. Jeremiah is massively challenged in a massive tug-of-war. In a somewhat disillusioned state, we find Jeremiah in a face-off between this compelling force to preach the Word and this gripping cynicism in wondering why he’d even been born.

But if I say, “I will not remember Him
Or speak anymore in His name,”
Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
And I am weary of holding it in,
And I cannot endure it,

Why did I ever come forth from the womb
To look on trouble and sorrow,
So that my days have been spent in shame?

It’s not difficult to sympathize with Jeremiah, and it is really easy to understand. Perhaps, like most of us, Jeremiah was not prepared for all the ramifications involved in surrendering everything to God in faith. Perhaps he expected to be rewarded for his obedience instead of becoming the laughingstock of his people and facing vengeance from their merciless hands.

And we are presented with this jumbled conglomeration of his emotions. Emotions are so like that, stirred up into one pot until it’s difficult to discern what is what; like a seesaw, never sure which one will come out on top; often, like a wrestling match between fear and skepticism contending against faith and hope. And in the midst of the bout, it can be difficult to determine who will ultimately come out as champion until the match is over.

At one moment, Jeremiah’s confidence is on top as he professes his faith in his Dread Champion and sings His praises, and in the next breath a reversal as pessimism pins Jeremiah’s faith and he curses the day of his birth. Emotions, powerful forces they are.

Yet, O Lord of hosts, You who test the righteous,
Who see the mind and the heart;
Let me see Your vengeance on them;
For to You I have set forth my cause.
13 Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord!
For He has delivered the soul of the needy one
From the hand of evildoers,

Cursed be the day when I was born;
Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me!

But in those bouts of cynicism, those times when we find ourselves in a head-to-head between sight and His faithfulness, it is in those times we must remember He Tests the Righteous.

We looked at this Hebrew word in Jeremiah 12. Yes, a repeat! And this may well be one of the most critical places in our heart that need His repeating work. Because Testing is hard, hard like this book; and if Jeremiah found himself in such a contentious struggle, we can be sure, if we have been made the righteousness of Christ through placing our faith in His spilt blood on the cross, we can be sure that the Test is on for us as well, for He Tests the Righteous.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Consider Him Who Tests the Righteous

Test: “974. בָּחַן bāḥan: A verb meaning to examine, to try, to prove. This verb can refer to any type of test… However, it generally refers to God’s testing of humanity… The biblical writers sometimes compare God’s testing to the refining of precious metals, like gold and silver,” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

The refining process of precious metals always involved heat. As the fire was turned up, the impurities would rise to the surface to be skimmed away until a pure gold or silver displayed the smith’s reflection.

Jeremiah was in the heat of the refining process. But he is not alone. Every believer will go through the testing fires to refine his or her faith.

Today, as we consider Him Who Tests the Righteous in four passages of Scripture, let’s keep Jeremiah’s conflict in mind as we also enlist the help of my favorite Christian writer, Oswald Chambers.

  • He Tests the Righteous that our faith would become our personal possession.
    • Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me, (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).
      • “Faith must be tested, because it can be turned into a personal possession only through conflict,” My Utmost for His Highest August 29.
  • He Tests the Righteous that God’s character would be proven trustworthy in our own minds.
    • It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons…11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness, (Hebrews 12:7-8, 11).
      • “Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven as trustworthy in our own minds,” My Utmost for His Highest October 31.
  • He Tests the Righteous that we would walk with endurance, lacking in nothing
    • Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, (James 1:2-4).
      • “The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting,” My Utmost for His Highest (March 19).
  • He Tests the Righteous that we would have deliberate confidence in God’s character, even when we don’t understand.
    • Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation, (1 Peter 4:12-13).
      • “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time,” The Oswald Chambers Devotional Reader: 52 Weekly Themes.

How do we respond to Him Who Tests the Righteous?

What we have to do is resolve to take on the Test, knowing He Tests the Righteous so that our faith would be purified.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers opens the year, January 1, with a look at the apostle Paul’s desire for purified faith so that he would live to exalt his Savior.

according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death, (Philippians 1:20).

Chambers goes on to write, “Paul says—‘My determination is to be my utmost for His Highest.’ To get there is a question of will, not of debate nor of reasoning, but a surrender of will, an absolute an irrevocable surrender on that point;” and later expounds, “that nothing shall deter [Paul] from doing exactly what God wants.”

Oh, that it would be our heart’s desire, earnest expectation and hope to have a pure faith to take on His Test in order to be our utmost for His Highest. Let us deliberately trust His Test, even when we don’t understand, so that Christ would be exalted in our life, that we would irrevocably surrender all to Him as we take on His Test, confident that the day is coming when we will be perfectly established in His eternal glory by Him Who Tests the Righteous.

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you, (1 Peter 5:10).

Let’s Grow Together!

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