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Temptation in the Wilderness

Luke 4:1-13; Matt 4:1-11; Mark 1:12,13

The Devil
"If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Deut 8:3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deut 8:3
"I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.  So if you worship me, it will all be yours." "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'" Deut 6:13; 10:20 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Deut 6:13
"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;  they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" Psalm 91:11,12 "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Deut 6:16 "Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah." Deut 6:16 
Ref to "Massah": Ex 17:1-7

Just as "Out of Egypt I called my son." Matt 2:15, so also Jesus' Temptation in the wilderness was a reflection of Israel's own experience in the desert under the Law of Moses. In fact here Jesus quotes exclusively from the book of Deuteronomy which was a book given to Israel during their own desert wandering. And just as Israel was led into the desert by the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, so these represent the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the desert. (Mark 1:12) And thus is also the case for many who come to Christ. As they cooperate with the Holy Spirit, he will lead them into the desert to prepare them to enter the promise land.

#1 The Bread of Life

While in the wilderness God gave Israel bread from heaven - manna. Jesus did the same in John 6 in feeding the multitudes and he even made reference to manna in that chapter again drawing an analogy between what Israel experienced in the wilderness and his own life. It wasn't turning the stone to bread which was itself the issue, for he not only had to ability to do so, but also later would do so in John 6 for example. The issue was the appropriateness of doing so at this time. For he was attempting to accomplish what Israel had failed to do. As Job once said, "I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread." Job 23:12 Israel had not valued the Word of God. So too today most people value their material things more than the Word of God.

But Deut 8:3 indicates that the way God attempted to teach Israel to live on the Word was by taking away their material things and humbling them, making them dependent on his provision by faith. Humility is the most essential of character qualities prerequisite to coming to faith in Christ. For without it one will not be convicted of sin nor appreciate the Word of God. Thus humilation is often the path through which one comes to Christ.And we see that literally to follow Christ one would have to trod a path of humilation.

#2 Worship & Serve God ONLY

The people of Israel in the desert would have took up Satan on his offer. For they erected a golden calf and worshipped it. And many today unconsciously "sell their souls to Satan", to coin a phrase. For people will give their lives over to the accumulation of material things and to the search for personal power and go on to live for themselves and not for God, and not only so, but also promote such behavior and attitude within the society. These are the servants of the devil. But this can be found also in the Christian community among, for example, those who interpret freedom in Christ as freedom to live a lifestyle of sin, not accepting Christ's Lordship in accordance with 2Cor 5:15 "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."

It is interesting also to note that the Deuteronomy verse doesn't use "worship" but "fear". We have lost this correlation in many evangelical circles, even eliminating the fear of God in the presentation of the gospel. Yet Paul says, "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men." 2 Corinthians 5:11 As was also characteristic of the early church "Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord." Acts 9:31  Yet many today even in the Christian community do not live in the fear of the Lord.

#3  Testing God

Yes, the devil can quote the Bible too! But applying it properly in the right spirit is another matter. For there are many who boast of their knowledge of the Bible, but then don't interpret it in the spirit in which it was written. Thus they come out of their Bible study with unBiblical applications.

It is interesting to note that according to Matthew's gospel angels came to minister to Christ after these temptations which is an application more in line with the proper interpretation of Psalm 91:11,12. It seems that the appropriate sense of the application of Psalm 91 is more passive than active. That is, in carrying out God's will He will protect you from such harm as is contrary to His will, rather than proactively throwing yourself in front of a truck.

In response to the devil Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6 which makes reference to an incident in Exodus 17.

Exodus 17:1-7 The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?" But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?" Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me." The LORD answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.  And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"
"Massah" means "temptation", and "Meribah" means "strife or contention". Notice carefully the manner of their contention. For their request was for a legitimate need - water. But it was the manner in which they requested it that constituted contention and testing God. They were not asking in faith with a spirit of submission, but rather in a doubtful complaining manner. This is not to say that God will not necessarily answer such requests. But they are not reckoned as acting in Biblical faith.

Verses quoted from the NIV version
The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jan 29,2022