When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. — Hebrews 3:9
When we read Hebrews 3:9, it’s not hard to remember the Israelites’ time in the desert. Yet the wording here is quite strange and rather intriguing. Why would they use the word tempted? The original Greek lets us in on it a little more. Tempted is the word peiradzo, and it’s an old Greek word meaning “to put to the test; to test an object to see if its quality is as good as others have claimed, boasted, or advertised.” It simply means wanting to try something out, after hearing about it for so long, to see if it’s really as good as they have been saying.
Just like the Israelites, we sometimes find ourselves in a situation where our belief in God is tested to the fullest. In other words, in a place where we had the opportunity to see God demonstrate to us that He is who He says He is. He doesn’t lie to us. In fact, He is the real deal and He did what He said He would do.
The verse goes on to say the children of Israel “proved” God. Proved is a Greek word taken from the word dokimadzo, which describes something that is authentic, reliable, approved, trustworthy and real.*
Moses didn’t need to test or prove God. He had seen Him face to face but the Israelites were in a different place with God. They were learning about Him, they didn’t know Him. Many times when we face hard times we get to encounter a part, or side of, God’s nature in such a personal way that our knowledge about Him changes to knowing Him.
* Renner, Rick. Sparkling Gems (Page 595) Published 2003. Print.