Matthew chapter 4 gives an account of the temptations Satan offered to Yeshua following his mikveh in the Jordan River. What insights can we learn from this dialogue between Yeshua and the adversary? We usually look to Yeshua’s words to glean the take-away message; we cling to the fact that Yeshua prefaced every rejection of the temptations by saying, “It is written!” And that is a great lesson! He was clear! All the rebuttals are to be found in Scripture. Quoting ‘holy writ’ worked for him, and it will work for us! However, were the temptations designed to test the Word of God, or was Satan on a fact-finding mission? Is there a larger lesson here?
Does Satan really KNOW who Yeshua is?
Paul didn’t think so!
1Co_2:8 None of the rulers of this age understood it—for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Since no one recognized who Yeshua was, perhaps all Satan really wanted to accomplish had more to do with detective work than finding a new convert to his kingdom.
Let’s Set The Scene.
Yeshua was at his weakest (physically). He had just endured 40 days and nights of fasting in the desert. Forty days of no food! The text doesn’t say if he had a fast of only food, or lacked food and water. If he was there without food and water he must have been near death after forty days in the desert! And that is when Satan showed up!
ACT I: First Temptation – Do You Need Bread?
Matt 4: 3 …If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
As we will see in a later verse (Matt 4:11) angels were sent to minister to Yeshua after the Adversary left. It is important to understand that Yeshua was a human being, just like us. Otherwise he could not die in our place! (1 Cor 15:21)
He didn’t use any supernatural power to feed himself. No. The Father sent His angels to provide the break in Yeshua’s fasting.
But, let’s look further into what Satan was saying here. Satan used Yeshua’s weakened physical state to tempt him. He was hungry! Therefore, it must have been tempting to wish the stones were bread! But, is that really what Satan was saying? What would he care if Yeshua ate or not? Did he think it was possible for Yeshua to command the stones be turned to bread?
Satan knows the scriptures as well as anyone. But, where did he get the idea that the Son of YHVH could transform a rock into food? Was he confused?
Maybe Satan was looking for the prophet like unto Moses!
Deu 18:18 I will raise up a prophet like you (Moses) for them from among their brothers. I will put My words in his mouth, and he will speak to them all that I command him.
Neh_9:15 And You gave them bread from the heavens for their hunger, and brought forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst. And You said to them that they should go in to possess the land which You had lifted up Your hand to give them.
YHVH gave the Israelites manna to eat while they were wandering in the desert. Moses demonstrated a miraculous event when he struck the rock and it was split to provide water in the desert! Was that what Satan was thinking? If Yeshua is a prophet like unto Moses, might miracles like those during the Exodus be manifested for him?
Or can we see a deeper significance to exactly how he framed the first temptation? Was this part of a spiritual battle?
Spiritual Meaning of the First Temptation
‘Command these stones to be made bread.’ Huh? What is ‘spiritual’ about that?
We read in Jeremiah:
Jer 31:31 Behold, the days come, says Jehovah, that I will cut a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
Jer 31:32 not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt (which covenant of Mine they broke, although I was a husband to them, says Jehovah).
Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will cut with the house of Israel: After those days, declares Jehovah, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Two Witnesses from Ezekiel:
Eze_11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
Eze_36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Is Satan speaking of Stones and Bread, or Stony Hearts and the Word of YHVH?
Was Satan trying to determine if Yeshua was indeed the Son of God that was prophesied to be the Messiah?
After all, if Yeshua was the Messiah, he would accomplish all of the prophetic words spoken by Jeremiah and Ezekiel! Satan’s kingdom (the world) was about to be overturned! Yeshua was there to reclaim the lost sheep! The Messiah would establish YHVH’s Kingdom on the Earth! Satan wants to hold onto the world! He wants to build up his own kingdom! He wants to be greater than YHVH!
Isa_14:13 For thou (Satan) hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Manna, the Bread of Life: Foreshadow?
Did the manna provided by YHVH foreshadow the Messiah? Would Satan know this?
Yeshua told his disciples:
Joh_6:33 For the bread of God is the One coming down from heaven and giving life to the world.”
Joh_6:35 Yeshua said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.
Joh_6:48 I am the bread of life.
Where does this claim come from? Bread is associated with covenant meals! (see Bread of Life)
Exo_16:4 Then Adonai said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. The people will go out and gather a day’s portion every day, so that I can test them to find out whether they will walk according to My Torah or not.
So, when Yeshua called himself the Bread of Life, he was saying that he was the embodiment of the Bread from heaven (manna)! He performed (and modeled) the test given by the Father to see if man would walk by Torah or not!
Ironic, isn’t it? Satan was asking the bread of life to be satisfied with bread for his stomach.
Even though describing himself as the bread of life happened after the temptation, Satan was looking for the Messiah! All the clues were in prophesies! The Messiah can be identified by what he was prophesied to accomplish! Satan’s just trying to connect the dots!
ACT II: The Second Temptation – Are you the Messiah?
Mat 4:5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and placed Him on the highest point of the Temple.
Mat 4:6 “If You are Ben-Elohim,” he said, “throw Yourself down. For it is written, ‘He shall command His angels concerning you,’ and ‘upon their hands they shall lift you up, so that you may not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Mat 4:7 Yeshua said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put Adonai your God to the test.’”
Was Satan luring Yeshua to His death while quoting words of Scripture? Or is this another way to identify his greatest threat? Either outcome would satisfy him. He’d either rid the world of Yeshua by causing his death before he could establish the Kingdom of YHVH, or he would know for sure that Yeshua was the Messiah when angels came to rescue him from harm!
Psa 91:9 Because You, O Jehovah, are My refuge; You make the Most High Your habitation,
Psa 91:10 no evil shall happen to You, nor shall any plague come near Your tent.
Psa 91:11 For He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You in all Your ways.
Psa 91:12 They shall bear You up in their hands, that You not dash Your foot on a stone.
Satan could secure his worldly kingdom from YHVH’s plan. All he had to do is eliminate the Messiah! Certain death, or at least he’d know his identity and could fight another day!
ACT III: The Third Temptation (Which Kingdom?)
Mat 4:8 Again the Devil takes Him to a very high mountain, and shows to Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
Mat 4:9 And he said to Him. I will give all these things to You if falling down, You will worship me.
First of all, Yeshua did not dispute that Satan was making a legitimate offer! He is the god of this world and Yeshua understood that. If he chose worldly kingdoms he would renounce the Kingdom of YHVH! He would accept temporary wealth but lose eternity!
Satan was playing his last card! Worship me! Take what I have to offer! If Yeshua could be spoiled by the world who would be able to accomplish YHVH’s plan?
What did Yeshua reply?
Mat 4:10 Then Yeshua said to him, Go, Satan! For it has been written: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and you shall serve Him only.” (Deut. 6:13 )
Mat 4:11 Then the Devil left Him…
After Yeshua had met the challenges and the Adversary had fled, the Father sent his angels to minister to Yeshua! (Matt 4:11)
Yeshua made no claims, he refused to compromise His Father’s instructions, and he refused to identify himself to Satan! He merely quoted what was ‘written!’ as if to say, ‘you may draw your own conclusions.’ There is no argument with the Word of YHVH.
Satan sought to ruin YHVH’s plans! Who was Yeshua and what could he do? Not only did Satan fail to identify Messiah, he was unable to supplant the Father’s Kingdom with his own!
Satan wasn’t able to get Yeshua to kill himself by falling, become a new convert, or admit he was the Messiah. Satan left unsatisfied!
What can we glean from this? Is this only a test for Yeshua, or is it a lesson for our benefit?
1Co_3:16 Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that the Ruach Elohim dwells among you?
1Co_3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1Co_6:19 Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Ruach ha-Kodesh who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
When the Adversary attacks us, will he use the same tactics? Does he tempt our appetite? Does he suggest that we are immune from the consequence of this world because YHVH loves us? Does he offer temporal wealth that distracts us from the Kingdom of YHVH?
It is written that we are the Temple; His spirit lives within each of us. So if the Temple is our body, can we can live however we want?
Yeshua understood that he could not challenge the Father by breaking the Torah! He wouldn’t even ignore the law of gravity! He wouldn’t put his Father to the test by casting himself from a high building. He knew he could die!
Can’t we die? Shall we abuse our bodies and trust that since we are sons of YHVH that He will save us from ourselves? Will he give His angels charge over us?
Shall we cast ourselves down from high buildings, or eat contrary to His instruction just to test whether or not He loves us?
If Yeshua is our model and guide, the answer is clear. It is written.