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Trust but Do Not Tempt

May 23, 2020
By Martin Luther

When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, . . . "Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die."

GENESIS 42:1-2

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Trust but Do Not Tempt

At the end of the preceding chapter Moses said that the famine prevailed all over the earth and that for this reason people gathered from all regions to buy food in Egypt (Genesis 41:57). In the meantime, however, Jacob, together with his people, also began to be hungry. Therefore he addresses his sons in this manner and urges them to go to buy grain. . . We are ordered to believe, and to trust in the goodness of God, but not to tempt God. For we cannot live our life according to the rule which He Himself has, but we must live as opportunities and the times decide. Yet faith and hope must be preserved. Therefore Jacob does not say: "Remain. Wait. The Lord has the power to send bread from heaven. Perhaps He will cause grain to rain in this land and nourish us." This is not what the promise means. Although there is no doubt that God is able and willing to nourish and defend you, you must not avoid the opportunities offered for help and protection. You can avail yourself of these without sin. Otherwise you will be tempting God.

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