FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
November 21, 2014
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER TWO – Part XI
A WILDERNESS OF TEMPTATION AND A GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
Thank God! There is growing class of people upon earth who consider each day a day of Thanksgiving and spiritual growth—not merely a holiday that precedes “Black Friday that kicks off the start the wild Christmas shopping season”—that’s by their own words, not mine. Gratefully and joyfully, every true Christian—the spiritual Jew “whose circumcision is not of the flesh but of the heart” (Rom. 2: 28, 29), daily petitions God’s throne of grace for fresh provisions for the battle and the promised deliverance and victories over sin and temptation in and through Christ for that day and that day alone (1 Cor. 15: 57). The immediately thank God for answering their prayers. Do we belong to this class? As in the type, their numbers have and always will be in the minority.
Or are we part of the vastly numerically superior class—the constant murmurers, sighers, and complainers who seem to have lost all reason and ability to thank and praise God for His unnumbered unmerited favors and blessings. They are the antitypical hard-hearted, ungrateful Israelites, so wonderfully delivered by God’s miraculous acts from their centuries-long Egyptian [sin] bondage and were in the process of being de-programmed of their acquired slavish and idolatrous habits and tastes; were being tested, trained, and fitted by God in their Wilderness passage and experience, not merely to inherit the “land flowing with milk and honey” but more specially to be God’s representatives to the heathen Canaanites of the earthly Promised land—what today is the whole country west of the Jordan known as Palestine.
Sadly, since after the time of Abraham and the two different sons he fathered, this earthly promised land became a cauldron of constant strife and bloodshed, particularly over control of two “holiest sites” by both ethnic Jews and Moslems—Mount Moriah, where Abraham offered Isaac and Mount Jerusalem, the site where the temples were built but were ransacked and desolated first, by the Babylonians, and later by the Romans in 70 C.E., on account of their apostasies.
The rational mind struggles to fathom how any place or person filled with strife, hatred, prejudice, mutual distrust towards one another, engage in non-stop war and bloodshed and temporary truces ad infinitum, and even draw practically the greater part of the world powers into the vortex of their conflict can still be called “holy.” Unless there are two different meanings of it—man’s definition and God’s. Biblical holiness is defined as freedom from sin (1 John 3: 5); guilt (John 8: 46), and moral defilement (Heb. 7: 26, 27). It is manifested in the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22, 23). Now where are these to be found in these venerated places? Many are confused and disgusted with professed Christianity and are driven into becoming agnostics and atheists.
Judaism and Islam (and Roman Catholicism as well as all other major world polytheistic and monotheistic religions) deny that Jesus Christ is the promised Seed (Genesis 3: 15), the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1: 29); Emmanuel, God in the flesh (Matt. 1: 23), the Messiah, Savior, and Redeemer of the world, and the only High Priest, Mediator, and Advocate between the penitent sinner and the Father in heaven. They likewise deny the person, office, and work of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus clearly declared His vicegerent on earth after His ascension. One look at the terrible condition and confusion prevailing in the so-called religious world today says it all. “By their fruits you shall know them.” Now let’s hear the explanation and conclusion of the whole matter:
“The secret of unity is found in the equality of believers in Christ. The reason for all division, discord, and difference is found in separation from Christ. Christ is the center to which all should be attracted; for the nearer we approach the center, the closer we shall come together in feeling, in sympathy, in love, growing into the character and image of Jesus. With God there is no respect for persons.’ [Acts 10: 34, 35; Rom. 2: 11; Gal. 2: 6; Eph. 6: 9] ”- E.G. White, That I May Know Him, p. 99. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to them who believe in His name.” John 1: 11, 12.
THE WILDERNESS OF TEMPTATION. Matt. 4: 1-11.
“When Jesus entered the wilderness, [as led by the Holy Spirit immediately after His baptism by watery immersion by John the Baptist, followed by the anointing the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, Matt. 31-17; 4:11], He was shut in by the Father’s glory. Absorbed in communion with God, He was lifted above human weakness. But the glory departed, and He was left to battle temptation. It was pressing upon Him every moment. His human nature shrunk from the nature of the conflict that awaited Him. For 40 days He fasted and prayed. Weak and emaciated with hunger, worn and haggard with mental agony, ‘His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.’ Isa. 52: 14. Now was Satan’s opportunity. Now he supposed that he could overcome Christ.
“Many look at the conflict between Christ and Satan as having no special bearing on their own life; and for them it has little interest. But within the domain of every human heart this controversy is repeated. Never does one leave the ranks of evil for the service of God without encountering the assaults of Satan. The enticements which Christ resisted were those that we find it so difficult to withstand. They were urged upon Him in as much greater degree as His character is superior to ours. With the terrible weight of the sins of the world upon Him, Christ withstood (1) the test of appetite, [also called desire, or lust] (2) the love of the world, 1 John 2: 15-17 (3) the love of display that leads to presumption.
These were the temptations that overcame Adam and Eve, and that so readily overcome us. .[particularly during these current holidays and traditional religious feast days! Many claim that it was impossible for Christ to be overcome by temptation. Then He could not have been placed in Adam’s position; He could not have gained the victory that Adam failed to gain. If we have in any sense a more trying conflict than had Christ, then He would not be able to succor us [Heb. 2: 18]. But our Savior took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation. We have nothing to bear which He has not endured.” DA 116, 117.
THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE. Lying at the base of Olivet (where He daily communed with the Father, praying through the night for grace and strength each day before dawn), just a few hours before His betrayal by Judas, the mock and grossly illegal trial by the Sanhedrin even by their own rules of jurisprudence, and cruel mocking, scourging, and crucifixion by the first collusion between church and state, the Jewish Sanhedrin and the Roman power. It was at Gethsemane where the Father hid His face from His Son while the weight of the guilt of sins of the whole world was rolled upon Him. He experienced what all incorrigible and impenitent sinners will suffer in the end. Christ could have died right there even before Calvary weren’t it for the angels sent to strengthen Him. It was at Gethsemane that the destiny of the world hung in a balance. If Christ failed there, the whole world would have been condemned to eternal death.
In his humanity, Jesus is our perfect and all-powerful Example and Pattern Man. This is the very assurance that we have at least one angel constantly guarding us, keeping us in all our ways. The promise is that He would even send a legion of angels to our rescue if need be. In the non-Biblical Roman usage, it was a body of troops numbering 6,000. In a second, nonmilitary sense, “a large host,” such as Matt. 26: 53.
The Finally Saved Will Then Fully Understand the Ministry of Angels
“Not until the providence of God are seen in the light of eternity shall we understand what we owe to the care and interposition of His angels. Celestial beings have taken an active part in the affairs of men. They have appeared in garments that shone as the lightning; they have come as men, in the garb as wayfarers. They have accepted the hospitalities of human homes; they have acted as guides to benighted travelers. They have thwarted the spoiler’s purpose, and turned aside the stroke of the destroyer.
“The rulers of this world know it not, yet often in their councils angels have been spokesmen. Human eyes have looked upon them. Human ears have listened to their appeals. In the council hall and the court of justice heavenly messengers have pleaded the cause of the persecuted and oppressed. They have defeated purposes and defeated evils that would have brought wrong and suffering to God’s children.
“Every redeemed one will understand the ministry of angels in his own life. The angels who was his guardian from his earliest moment; the angel who watched his steps, and covered his head in the day of peril; the angel who was with him in the valley of the shadow of death, who marked his resting place,who was the first to greet him in the resurrection morning—what will it be to hold converse with him, and to learn the history of divine interposition in the individual life, of heavenly cooperation in every work for humanity! All the perplexities of life’s experience will then be made plain. Where to us have appeared only confusion and disappointment, broken purposes and thwarted plans, will be seen the grand, overruling, victorious purpose, a divine harmony.”–My Life Today, p. 367. (To be continued next week).