Jul 17 2012
Because of His absolute holiness, it is impossible for God to do evil, to cause others to do evil or even to entice anyone into evil: "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted, neither tempteth he any man..." (James:1:13-14).
But what about the many places in Scripture where it says God tempted someone or was tempted? For example, "God did tempt Abraham" (Gen:22:1). The Hebrew word there and throughout the Old Testament is nacah, which means to test or prove, as in assaying the purity of a metal. It has nothing to do with tempting to sin. God was testing Abraham's faith and obedience.
If God cannot be tempted, why is Israel warned, "Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God" (Deut 6:16)? We are even told that at Massah, in demanding water, "they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the LORD among us or not?" (Ex 17:7). Later they "tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust... they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Yea...they provoked the most high" (Ps:78:18, 56, 41).
God was not being tempted to do evil, He was being provoked, thus His patience was being tested. Instead of waiting upon Him obediently to meet their needs, His people were demanding that He use His power to give them what they wanted to satisfy their lusts. Their "temptation" of God was a blasphemous challenge forcing Him either to give in to their desire or to punish them for rebellion.