If you have ever heard a sermon on the temptation of Jesus you have likely been exhorted to know and use God’s Word against the devil and his wiles, and rightly so, for each of the devil’s propositions was met with the Word of God. But what is sometimes missed is from where these quotations came. On each occasion Jesus quotes from Moses’ summary of Israel’s sins in the wilderness:

  1. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 6:13)
  2. You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Deut. 6:16)
  3. You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” (Deut. 6:13)

As we considered earlier in the week, we know the devil’s temptations take into account our particular strenghts, weaknesses, circumstances, and callings; and the temptations of Matthew 4 are no different. Yet there is something universal about them as well. Like the Israelites, we can grumble for more, or different, than we have believing that in such things we will find ultimate satisfaction. Only God fully satisfies, and thus we live for every word that comes from him. We also have a tendency to forget the Lord’s goodness to us, and thus we look for regular signs and reassurance, just as Israel did, rather than ‘walking by faith and not by sight’. Finally, all temptations are rooted in the desire to worship somebody, or something, besides God. But it is only him who deserves our devotion. The particular passages of Scripture Jesus recalled (all from Deut. 6-8) brought attention to the various tests Israel failed whilst they found themselves in the wilderness, but more importantly pointed to something far greater!

Something to Praise

The human inability to ‘pass the test’ is well attested to throughout the annuls of human history, all the way back to Adam. The tests of Israel in their wilderness frequently model tests we fail as well. But praise the Lord that Jesus passed every test! Trials and tests come, and sometimes with them failures, but we rejoice in the truth that we trust not in our own test performance, but Christ’s!

Since then we have great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb. 4:14-16