Pop Quizzes

          I’m sure most of us can recall from our school days those foreboding words, “Please take out a paper and pencil, we’re having a pop quiz!”  If we had been keeping up on our homework and paying attention in class, it didn’t have quite the shock factor that it did for those who hadn’t been doing so. To them they were frightening words, indeed! It was one thing to know when a test was coming and to study ahead for it, but there was no way to predict when we might  have a “pop quiz,” and some teachers seemed to love to give them–frequently!  So, it paid to stay on top of the subject throughout the course.

     Tests, including “pop quizzes,” are always designed to evaluate where we are in comprehending the subject, and to reveal areas where we need more work. It is not only for the teacher’s benefit, but for ours as well.  As much as we would just as soon not have to take tests, it is essential for our progress.   

     Well, the same is true in our spiritual growth process. God periodically tests us to show us where we are and to demonstrate areas on which we need to work.  And they are  all “pop quizzes,” in that they come unannounced.  So, again, it pays to stay consistently in the Word and in fellowship with Him.  Throughout all my school years I noticed there were always a few students who never “cracked a book,” so come test time they would cram the night before, that is, providing the test was announced.   But if it was a “pop quiz,” they were in trouble.   Since all of God’s tests for us come unannounced, it is important to always be prepared.

     Abraham experienced many tests in his life, beginning with God calling him to leave his home in Ur and to go to the land that God would show him. God promised to make of him a great nation and bless him and through him to bless all the nations on earth (Gen. 11:31–12:3).  When God made this promise, Abraham had no son.  Hebrews tells us “By faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8).  God’s promise of a son for Abraham and Sarah wasn’t fulfilled until they were well past child-bearing years. Abraham was 100 and Sarah 90 when Isaac was born, for “Is anything too difficult for the LORD?”  (Gen. 17:15-21; 18:9-14).   But, an even greater test would come 

     When Isaac was about 13 years old, God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham…Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you’ ” (Gen. 22:1,2).  Talk  about a tough “pop quiz”!  I can’t imagine what a shock that must have been to Abraham and Sarah, but the very next verse says: “So Abraham rose early in the morning” split some wood for the burnt offering, and took two young men and his son Isaac and “went to the place of which God had told him” (v. 3).   Abraham didn’t argue with God about how that would destroy all plans for making of him a mighty nation. He trusted that if he had to sacrifice Isaac, God would raise him back up (Gen. 22:5). 

     Our earthly teachers test us for their benefit as well as ours. God, being omniscient, doesn’t need to test us to find out how we will do. It is primarily for our benefit to apply what we have been learning about God from His Word.  It gives us an opportunity to be “doers of the Word, and not merely hearers” (Jas. 1:22).  And it is a testimony to those watching our life of what God can do when we trust Him and depend upon Him. We know that it was Abraham’s faith in God’s revealed Word that resulted in his being counted righteous (Gen. 15:6; Ro. 4:3; Jas. 1:23), but he was also justified before others by his works, “when he offered up Isaac on the altar.  You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected” (Jas. 1:21,22).   In Paul’s writings, “justification” means to declare a sinner righteous in the sight of God; here in James it means “to vindicate” or “show to be righteous” before God and men. Abraham’s justification in Paul’s sense is recorded in Gen. 15:6. Abraham’s justification in James’ sense took place 30 or more years later in the patriarch’s crowning act of obedience in offering Isaac (Gen. 22). By this act he proved the reality of his Gen. 15 faith.  

     The tests God gives us provide an opportunity to demonstrate the genuineness of our faith.  It is during times of testing that we confirm the reality of our faith and others can see God at work in and through our lives.  

     We can’t avoid the “pop quizzes” in our Christian walk, but we can be prepared by abiding in Christ (Jn. 15:1-8) and His Word (Col. 3:16 cf Josh. 1:8). And when the tests come, we have the same promise God has given to every saint throughout history: “I will be with you wherever you go (and in whatever you go through)” (Josh. 1:9b).  God said: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Is. 41:10). 

Forever His,

Pastor Dave


About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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