There were those three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. Let’s call them the classic temptations since he faced several other temptations in his lifetime. The devil only left him FOR A SEASON after those temptations. (Luke 4:13) Remember that time Peter was trying to dissuade him from going to the cross? That was Satan. It’s why Jesus rebuked Satan. That was a temptation. (Mathew 16:23)
But if you want to know what was really going down during the temptation in the wilderness, you have to change your paradigm. You have to stop viewing Satan through a moral prism. O yes, he’s evil and does evil, but evil to Satan is nothing but a political tool. It’s a tool of political subjugation. Satan has no moral lens whatsoever. He has no compunctions about evil. All Satan wants, all he’s ever wanted is power – raw political power. And he wants it where it counts – Heaven! It’s why he fomented a revolution in heaven. Isaiah captured his thoughts during that period: “I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb the highest heavens and be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14) Satan is a power hungry megalomaniac.
Once you view Satan through the prism of power, a lot of stuff will fall into place about that third temptation of Jesus – the “bow down and worship me” temptation.
Satan makes no bones about his lust for power. He’s blatant about it. His organisational organogram is structured politically. He’s not running an NGO (non-governmental organization), he’s running an alternate government. Look at the titles of his principal officers: “Powers,” “Principalities, “Rulers of Darkness,” “Spiritual Wickednesses.” You’ll find that information in Ephesians 6:12. Now you see “Wickedness” is an executive title in Satan’s organogram, it’s not a moral issue. These are government officials. An example of principality is that guy who waylaid the courier bringing an answer to Daniel’s prayer. Daniel was told he was “Prince of Persia.” (Daniel 10:12-14) That’s one of Satan’s principalities. He’ll have changed title now though to Prince of Iran. There’s no more Persia. Iran is ancient Persia. There was also “Prince of Greece” mentioned. (Daniel 10:13, 20) He’ll retain his original title since Greece is still Greece. But from this we can see Satan has carved out the world politically. And he has appointed officials to exercise political control over nations. These executives influence politics, government, religion and culture.
With this background let’s now take a look at those temptations of Jesus. So here’s what happened.
In a reprise of the Israelite journey, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to fast for forty days and forty nights. The Israelites spent forty years in the wilderness. In other words, Jesus endured in one day what they endured in one year. The temptation was an intense experience. Part of the temptation was based on food because that was the main issue the Israelites had with God. At some point God even sent them angel bread to eat. There were no bakeries in the desert. We know the experience was a reprise because Jesus responded to the temptation in the exact same words he spoke to the Israelites back in the wilderness. They were the physical Israel. But now Jesus had come to establish spiritual Israel. The physical Israel relied on physical bread but the spiritual Israel would rely on spiritual bread, God’s word. Which is why Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. Jesus was already pointing to the Church in the desert. And he was defining the new man (in Christ), the man who’ll live by every word that proceeds from God’s mouth. That man is the one Paul spoke about in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature…” In fact in all those three temptations, Jesus quoted himself from the days in the desert. He was the one who led the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. He was the manifested God. (John 1:18, 6:46)
The devil presented three temptations to Jesus. First, he tells him to create wonder loaf – turn stone into bread. Jesus deflects the temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, that man shall not live by bread alone. (Matthew 4:4) Then he tells Jesus to attempt suicide. Took him to the top of the Temple in Jerusalem, tells him to jump off to prove he’s the Son of God. And it gets crazier at this stage. Satan quotes the Bible to support the suicide solicitation! He quotes Psalm 91:11-12, that God would order the angels to provide soft landing. So we know the devil quotes scriptures. The devil knows the Bible. Here we see Satan was matching Jesus scripture for scripture. Jesus quotes another scripture to rebut the second temptation, this time from Deuteronomy 6:16. Don’t tempt God he said! James 1:13 literally says “God must not be tested by evil people.”
Then comes the coup de grace. Satan takes Jesus to the peak of a mountain, gives him a virtual reality tour of the kingdoms of the world, their glory and majesty. Jesus can have them all he says, if he’ll bow down and worship him. This was a short cut offer that avoids the cross. There was no need to go to Golgotha Satan was saying. But Jesus answers by quoting yet another scripture, this time Deuteronomy 6:13: “You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” So this temptation was not about a five-second genuflection to Satan, or a cursory bending of the knee to the devil. This was about worship and service. From this narration we can see Satan desires worship, which is why he set up so many religious systems including Satanism. He remains true to his original ambition of wanting to be like God hence desire for worship. (Isaiah 14:14) Indeed, when he told Adam and Eve they would be like God if they disobeyed God, he was merely channeling his inner frustration of wanting to be like God.
But what if Jesus had bowed to Satan? What would have happened? Well, that would be a serious violation of too many spiritual laws, including the law regulating the immutability of the oath of God. Jesus made an oath 700 years before the temptation in the wilderness: “For I am God; there’s no other. I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to me.” (Isaiah 45:22-23) Therefore Jesus CANNOT bow to Satan. Only the reverse can happen. If Jesus were to bend the knee to Satan, God would have lied about every knee bowing to him. And it’s impossible for God to lie. (Hebrews 6:18)
That particular oath was actually referenced in Philippians 2:10: “Therefore God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” If Jesus bowed to Satan this word would fall to the ground, and if the word of God ever fails all natural laws would fail. That’s because of what Hebrews 1:3 says. That passage tells us Jesus is the one “upholding and maintaining and propelling all things – the entire physical and spiritual universe by his powerful word.” Gravity being an expression of that word of power would thus fail if that word fails. The planets would fly out of orbit if gravity fails. And the universe would collapse under its own weight if gravity fails. Gravity is one of the four fundamental forces of nature. The universe would spiral into chaos, planets would fall, crashing into one another. As they collide thermonuclear energy would be released. There would be nuclear Armageddon. That’s because Jesus is the official Word. If the word of God fails, he fails. Which means he can’t hold up creation, can’t sustain creation. And not just planets will fall, governments as well. Colossians 1:15-17 says, “Christ is the invisible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as THRONES, KINGDOMS, RULERS, and AUTHORITIES in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” In other words, if the word of God fails which it would had Jesus bowed to Satan, that would be the end of everything – thrones, dominions, kingdoms and authorities. Bowing down to Satan would have been the end of creation. Who would have thought such a seemingly innocuous act as bowing to Satan would have such ramifications!
If you’ll like to give your life to Jesus, please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.
© #Illuminare Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information about the temptations, read What if Jesus had turned stone into bread.
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