a water drop on a mountain
The Life of Faith

The Proving Ground: What Meribah in the Bible Reveals to You

Have you ever experienced seasons of testing from God? Maybe you are in a season right now where you feel God is testing you in your spiritual journey. If so, God has a wise purpose in the testing, and it means He has answered your prayer for stronger faith! 

In order to have stronger faith, you’ll need to walk through situations where your faith is put to the test. Faith is like a muscle in your body. It needs to bear weight, be fed properly, be stretched, and even tear in very small amounts in order to grow stronger.

In the Old Testament, in Exodus 17, God’s chosen people were faced with a crisis of faith when they were surrounded by a wilderness and dealing with a lack of water, with nothing to rely on to supply for their needs. They’d been told of a promised land, but it was a long way off.

At this point in time, the Israelites had just been brought out of Egypt, and they did not really know God – and that made all the difference.

You cannot (and will not) trust, put your faith in, hope in, serve, worship and praise, or rely on a God you do not really know.

~Alicia Purdy

You cannot (and will not) trust, put your faith in, hope in, serve, worship and praise, or rely on a God you do not really know! It is through seasons of testing that the wisdom, power, and glory of the Lord is revealed in a new way, so take heart – God has a plan for you! 

a water drop on a mountain

What is the Difference Between a Trial and a Testing?

A season of testing is one that will come over and over in your life and it doesn’t always mean you did something wrong. Sometimes God will test your faith, as He did to Abraham, to show you something you couldn’t see before.

Other times, God will test your faith to help you see yourself more clearly – where your weaknesses are, your blind spots, areas where you need to mature spiritually, where you may be struggling with a lack of faith, or that it is time to let something go.

The major difference between a trial and a testing of God is the origin.

In times of testing, you are spiritually vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks, so you must press into the Lord more to become spiritually stronger.

~Alicia Purdy~

If you’re in a season of testing by God, you are completely safe as long as you remain close to the Holy Spirit in God’s presence. You will be covered by God’s grace, even though the season may be long, or difficult.

This is why the Psalmist wrote, in Psalm 42:1,As the deer pants after the water brooks, so my soul pants after You, O God.” (MEV) In times of testing, you are spiritually vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks, so you must press into the Lord more to become spiritually stronger.

In the Bible, and still today, times of testing from God come for two reasons: 

  1. God wants to reveal something about Himself to you
  2. God wants to reveal something about yourself to you

If you’re in a trial, the origin is usually: Your own choices, or the choices made by another person.

Ultimately, however, the true origin of the trials and tribulations Jesus Christ spoke about in John 16:33 is your Adversary who seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy.” (John 10:10)

In any spiritual battle, whether you opened the door to a spiritual attack, or you have been attacked as a result of the evil of the dark, fallen world, God’s power is mightier! 

quote about being victorious

God’s Word will reveal to you what season you are in. Prayer will empower you to empty yourself of your troubles so He can fill you with His peace. Praise and worship will keep your spirit and soul protected because God inhabits the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3)

How the Waters of Meribah Reveal What’s Inside of You

In the eyes of the people of Israel, the Wilderness of Sin (also called the “Wilderness of Zin” or the “Desert of Zin” – which is the Hebrew word for “thorn” or “clay”) was a place of certain death by dehydration, even though God had promised to lead, guide, and provide for them.

The Israelites doubted God’s ability because they were still culturally Egyptian. That’s why, when Moses was gone for 40 days on Mt. Sinai, they immediately went back into idolatry and crafted a golden calf to worship!

Idolatry is the natural behavior of people who do not actively praise and worship the Lord. Idolatry, even among God’s own people in the congregation of the Lord, runs rampant. How does that happen? Because praise and worship are ministry to the Lord through a willing sacrifice of thanksgiving, not ministry unto you.

Idolatry is the natural behavior of people who do not actively praise and worship the Lord.

~Alicia Purdy

God is faithful to minister to people in praise and worship, He said He would do so! (Genesis 22:17, MEV) But that is not the “WHY” of worship and praise. Without the connection to God that true praise and true worship bring, the risk of idolatry increases because the enemy has always desired to be worshipped like the Most High God.

Even God’s people struggled with idolatry because they did not remain close to the Lord in worship. They had the behaviors, the mindset, and the experiences of the pagan lands around them like land of Egypt, and had never known a god that was good.

  • The Egyptian gods had enslaved them.
    • The One True God, Jehovah, had set them free. 
  • The Egyptian gods had abused them.
    • The One True God had protected them.
  • The Egyptian gods had demanded their blood.
    • The One True God planned to one day shed His own blood for them.

Even so, when hard times came they not only murmured against Moses and criticized Moses’ leadership, but they also had no gratitude for what God had already done in leading them out of Egypt, miraculously parting the Red Sea, and drowning the “divine” Pharaoh and his pagan armies.

According to Exodus 17:1-3 (MEV):

“All the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the Wilderness of Sin, from place to place, according to the command of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people contended with Moses and said, “Give us water so that we may drink.” And then Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you test the Lord God?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people murmured against Moses, and said, “Why is it that you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

The same people who once celebrated the goodness and the great power of God after being rescued at the Red Sea immediately turned on Him when the ravages and despair and wandering in the desert began to overwhelm them…and then they realized they had no water! That’s when the truth of their inward condition was revealed.

In the New Testament, Christ Jesus said, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 

When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him.” (John 7:37-39, NLT)

During seasons of testing, spiritual drought, wilderness seasons, and emotional exhaustion, what’s inside of you will come flowing out – and that is the point!

water flowing in the desert

The Waters of Meribah Make You Bitter or Better

James wrote:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces patience. And let patience have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:3, MEV)

At the waters of Meribah, the Israelites, “…tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7) Even after all He had done! 

Meribah was a proving ground for the sons of Israel and they failed miserably, because God had already proven Himself so many times that, by this point in time, their faith should have been solid and their testimonies written on their hearts forever.

But, in the desert seasons, every believer faces the conflict of faith over fear – to accuse and “test” God, even after all He has done – or to run to Him and find shelter.

Psalm 81:7 says, “You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested your faith when there was no water at Meribah.” (NLT)

In reality, God’s chosen people were still culturally Egyptian, and had been so for many generations. So they did not follow God’s divine command. They did not know God’s character or nature- and they did not truly trust Him. After all:

At your Meribah, God wants to reveal to you if your faith is in your head or your heart. Your enemy wants to know too!

​The Testing of Your Faith Reveals God is Faithful

“…Put Me to the test!” the Lord said in Malachi 3:10.

The Word of God shows that the Lord does permit His people to test Him, but – it is by invitation only! You have the spiritual right to test the Lord- when He invites you to do so. And He will test you, too, at your invitation.

How do you put God to the test? By speaking the language of the Word of God where He made promises to you. God always honors His promises. (Jeremiah 1:12) And He will prove it!

The miracle of water at Meribah shows that God is faithful to keep His promises, but it wasn’t the literal water at Meribah that truly provided what people needed. There, the eyes of the children of Israel began to open and see that God is faithful to keep His promises and that He could be trusted.

In seasons of testing, it is easy to slip into unbelief, doubt, fear and anxiety, accusations, and bitterness against God if you don’t commit to staying close to Him, believing in faith that the “trying of your faith” will produce in you what God knows you need for your betterment, strengthening, spiritual growth and ability to wage war in the heavenlies. 

Psalm 95:7-8 says:

“Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, and as in the day of Massah in the wilderness…”

You can’t have any secrets from God. He already knows where your heart is and there is no greater love you’ll ever have than His – but in the day of testing, your response reveals who you are… to you. What is God trying to show you? 

  • Ask the Lord to reveal to you you where you’re angry
  • Admit the areas where you are hurt
  • Wi​​llingly expose areas you’ve been hiding
  • Confront areas where you have unforgiveness
  • Reveal areas where you fight against your flesh 

Invite the Lord to test you in those places. Why?

So He can prove to you who you are and so He can prove Himself to you! The Lord wants to equip you, arm you, invigorate you, strengthen you for battle… but that means you’ll need to invite Him to test you in areas that you’re weak, dry and fading in your faith, at your Meribah.

Remember this: The work God wants to do will first be within you, before you experience it outside of you.  

You are part of His plan of salvation for the world. Your testimonies of His faithfulness, power, goodness, mercy, salvation but when hard times come and you fail the test of faith, after seeing all the many ways God has been faithful in your life, your testimony of faith doesn’t reach the world who needs it!

Temptations in the Bible are the Same as Temptations Today

Satan wants to expose your weak areas so he can use them to destroy you. The Lord wants to expose your weak areas so He can use them to destroy Satan! Will you let Him test you so He can prove Himself? 

Every time life gets hard, you’ll need the discernment of the Holy Spirit to know if you’re in a season of testing, as at Meribah, or if you’re walking through a trial from the enemy or the world. Ready yourself for battle and remember:

  • You’ll be tempted to sin.
  • You’ll face the temptation to turn your back on God
  • You’ll be tempted to avoid praise and worship.
  • You’ll be tempted to give up
  • You’ll struggle with the temptation to let your faith die

Don’t fall for it! God has “a future and a hope” for you and “plans to prosper you and not to harm you”. (Jeremiah 29:11) Many believers mistakenly presume they’re in a season of God’s punishment, when in reality, a season of testing has come with a purpose and a plan! 

“…do not harden your heart” as so many do when the kind of place Meribah was intended to be reveals what God intended to reveal. The day of temptation will come right on the heels of testing and trials and in a wilderness, just as Christ Jesus experienced in Matthew 4.

Satan wants to expose your weak areas so he can use them to destroy you. The Lord wants to expose your weak areas so He can use them to destroy Satan!

~Alicia Purdy

The most important point to remember about your Meribah is that God has a fresh revelation for you, so put your trust in Him. “…do not rely on your own understanding…” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Your flesh will always conflict with your faith.

  • If you are having a struggle with your flesh, then your faith in the Lord needs to be made stronger.
  • If you’re having a struggle with your faith, then your flesh is winning the battle. 

This is why God’s people must develop the daily discipline of walking in praise, prayer, and the power of God’s Word.

Trials, testings, and temptations come to every, single believer, but not every, single believer falls – and not every, single believer stands. What kind of faith do you have in the Lord? Is it ready to be put to the test? It won’t feel like it, no.

But if you are willing, you’re ready and God will take care of the rest. You just stick very close to His presence through praise and worship. Make sure your weapon of God’s Word is sharpened.

Jesus Christ is the “Good Shepherd” and He said “…My sheep know My voice…” (John 10:27-28) Prayer is how you pour out to God so He can fill you, and you learn to better hear His voice.

as the deer pants for water quote

​All these things work together to keep your soul, spirit, and mind protected when you’re vulnerable during your “Meribah” season, where the Lord tested you, where you tested the Lord and where He proved Himself faithful!

Under the New Covenant, a new generation of God’s people faces the same conflict of faith versus fear. God’s command is the same that He gave in the place Moses led His people, through the wilderness:

“If you follow My decrees and are careful to obey My commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit.” (Leviticus 26:3-4, NLT)

The word “Meribah” means “contention”, “difficulty” or “strife” and the Lord said “I tested you” there – at the point of your weakness and struggle. God doesn’t test the areas of strength. Why?

Because the enemy isn’t interested in those areas where you are strong! Your adversary won’t usually attack in the areas where your strong in your faith. He’s going right for the jugular. 

Seasons of testing are not to prove your own strength, but to prove that in your weakness, God is strong, that God’s grace is sufficient to meet every one of your needs. (2 Corinthians 12:9) There is nothing that you can do on your own to succeed – in anything. 

“My welfare has no existence outside of You,” David wrote in Psalm 16:2. The Israelites turned their back on God when things got hard instead of turning their faces to Him. That is a strategy of Satan to keep the weak, weak – when God wants to be your strength. 

Maybe you’re exhausted from this long, dry season. That’s why you need “rivers” of living water, not just a trickling stream. “In Your presence is fullness of joy…” David wrote. (Psalm 16:11) If Satan can keep you out of God’s presence – the battle has already been won.

Your enemy wants to break you, to keep you weak, afraid, angry, hopeless, in pain and trapped in grief and doubt because he can defeat you there. God wants to protect you, and that’s why He has given you spiritual weapons to fight with and to protect yourself with.

If Satan can keep you out of God’s presence – the battle has already been won.

~ Alicia Purdy ~

And He fights with you! Exodus 15:3 says, “… the LORD is a Man of war!”

The water of “Meribah” in your life right now is your proving ground, the place where God wants to test you and prove Himself- the area of your greatest weakness, your greatest struggle, your greatest fear. What will the Lord reveal to you about Himself, and about yourself?

When you ask the Lord to transform you, to use you, to make you more like Him... He will! 

It takes a lot of humility and vulnerability to let God test you at “the waters of Meribah” – a place where you’re struggling and contending with the flesh. Do you trust Him?

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