FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER FOUR & FORTY– Part X
Christ’s Forty Days in the Wilderness of Temptation
See Matt. 4: 1-11. Satan knew that everything concerning his prosperity depended on his success or failure in overcoming Christ in the wilderness of temptation. Disguised as an angel of light, apparently in answer to Christ’s prayer, he appears when Christ is at His weakest, most vulnerable condition in His forty-day fast. Satan submitted Christ to his “very best,”—the subtlest of artifices and force of his powerful temptations to allure Christ from His allegiance to the Father and adherence to the moral law He himself established as the foundation of His eternal throne. He came “to magnify the law and make honorable” (Isa. 42: 21), not abrogate it.
Main Source: Confrontation, originally published under the title of Redemption; or The Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness by E.G. White, pp. 31-37:
“It is impossible for man to know the strength of Satan’s temptations to the Son of God. Every temptation that seems so afflicting to man in his daily life, so difficult to resist and overcome, was brought to bear upon the Son of God in as much greater degree as His excellence of character was superior to that of fallen man.
“Christ was tempted in all points like as we are [Heb. 4:15]. As man’s representative He stood the closest test and proving of God. He met the strongest force of Satan. His most wily temptations Christ has tested and conquered in behalf of man. It is impossible for man to be tempted above what he is able to bear while he relies upon Jesus, the infinite Conqueror.
CHRIST AS THE SECOND ADAM. “In the desolate wilderness, Christ was not in so favorable a position to endure the temptations of Satan as was Adam when he was tempted in Eden. The Son of God humbled Himself and took man’s nature after the race had wandered four thousand years from Eden, and from their original state of purity and uprightness. Sin had been making its terrible marks upon the race for ages; and physical, mental, and moral degeneracy prevailed throughout the human family [the exact opposite of the theory of evolution].
“When Adam was assailed by the tempter in Eden, he was without the taint of sin. He stood before God in the strength of perfect manhood. All the organs and faculties of his being were equally developed and harmoniously balanced.
“Christ, in the wilderness of temptation, stood in Adam’s place to bear the test he failed to endure. Here Christ overcame in the sinner’s behalf, four thousand years after Adam turned his back upon the light of his home. Separated from the presence of God, the human family had been departing, each successive generation, farther from the original purity, wisdom, and knowledge which Adam possessed in Eden. Christ bore the sins and infirmities of the as they existed when He came to the earth to help man. In behalf of the race, with the weakness of fallen man upon Him, He was to stand the temptations of Satan upon all points on which man could be assailed.
“Adam was surrounded with everything his heart could wish. Every want [of his yet unfallen human nature] was supplied. There was no sin, and no signs of decay in glorious Eden. Angels of God conversed freely and lovingly with the holy pair. The happy songsters caroled forth their free, joyous songs of praise to their Creator. The peaceful beasts in happy innocence played around Adam and Eve, obedient to their word. Adam was in the perfection of manhood, the noblest of the Creator’s works. He was in the image of God [Gen.1: 26, 27], but a little lower than angels [Heb. 2: 6, 7, 9].
“What a contrast the second Adam [1 Cor. 15: 45, 47] presented as He entered the gloomy wilderness to cope with Satan single-handed. Since the fall, the race had been decreasing in size and physical strength, and sinking lower in the scale of moral worth, up to the period of Christ’s [first] advent to the earth. In order to elevate fallen man, Christ must reach him where he was. He took human nature, and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race. He who knew no sin became sin for us [2 Cor. 5: 21]. [Not even in thought did He yield to any of the temptations of Satan]. He humiliated Himself to the lowest depths of human woe, that He might be qualified to reach man and bring him up from the degradation in which sin had plunged him.
NOTE: Christ did not humiliate Himself to the lowest depths of human degradation but of human woe!Not even in thought did He yield to any of Satan’s temptations. Temptation is no temptation unless there is the possibility of yielding, and, temptation in and of itself is not sin; yielding is.
“For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Heb. 2: 10.
“Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered, and having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” Heb. 5: 8, 9, N.K.J.V.
“Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For that He himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor [not “justify]” them that are tempted.” Heb. 2: 17.
“For we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Heb. 4: 15.
“Satan had been at war with the government of God since he first rebelled.[Rev. 12: 3, 4]. His success in tempting Adam and Even in Eden and introducing sin into the world [Rom. 5:12] had emboldened this arch foe; and he had proudly boasted to the heavenly angels that when Christ should appear, taking man’s nature, he would be weaker than himself and that he would overcome Him by his power.
“He exulted that Adam and Eve in Eden could not resist his insinuations [of distrust] when he appealed to their appétite. The inhabitants of the old world [antediluvians] he overcame in the same manner, through indulgence of lustful appetite and corrupt passions. [Gen. 6: 1-7, 11-13, 17]. Through the gratification of appetite he had overthrown the Israelites [Exo. 15; Num. 11]. He boasted that the Son of God Himself, who was with Moses and Joshua, was not able to resist his power, and lead the favored people of His choice to Canaan [Heb. 3: 1-19; Ps. 78]; also, that he had tempted the meek man Moses to take himself glory which God [alone could] claim. David and Solomon, who had been especially favored of God, he had induced through the indulgence of appetite and passion to incur God’s displeasure. And he boasted that he could yet succeed in thwarting the purpose of God in the salvation of man through Jesus Christ.
“In the wilderness of temptation, Christ was without food forty days. Moses had on special occasions been thus long without food. [Exo. 24: 18]. But he felt not the pangs of hunger. He was not tempted and harassed by a vile and powerful foe as was the Son of God. Moses was elevated above the human [on such occasions], and especially sustained by the glory of God which surrounded him.
The Terrible Effects of Sin Upon Man. “Satan had succeeded so well in deceiving the angels of God and ruining noble Adam that he thought he should be successful in overcoming Christ in His humiliation. He looked with pleased exultation upon the result of his temptations, and the increase of sin in the continued transgression of God’s law for more than four thousand years. He had worked the ruin of our first parents, and brought sin and death into the world, and led to ruin multitudes of all ages, countries, and classes. By his power he had controlled cities and nations until their sin provoked the wrath of God to destroy them by fire, water, earthquakes, sword, famine, and pestilence. By his subtility and untiring efforts he had controlled the appetite and excited and strengthened the passions to so fearful a degree that he had defaced and almost obliterated the image of God in man. [Man’s] physical and moral dignity were in so great a degree destroyed that he bore but a faint resemblance in character and noble perfection of form to the dignified Adam in Eden.
“At the first advent of Christ, Satan had brought man down from his original exalted purity and had dimmed that golden character with sin. The man whom God had created a sovereign in Eden, he had transformed into a slave in the earth groaning under the curse of sin [Gen. 3: 17-19; Rom. 8: 22]. The halo of glory, which God had given holy Adam to cover him as a garment, departed from him after his transgression. [Adam and Eve saw that they were “naked.” Gen. 3:7]. The light of God’s glory could not cover disobedience and sin [much less “justify” it!] In the place of health and plenitude of blessings, poverty, disease, sickness, and suffering of every type were to be the portion of the children of Adam.
“Satan had through his seductive power led men to vain philosophy, to question and finally disbelieve the divine revelation and the existence of God. He looked abroad upon a world of moral wretchedness and a race exposed to the wrath of a sin-avenging God with fiendish triumph that he had been so successful in darkening the pathway of so many, and he had led them to transgress the law of God. He clothed sin with pleasing attractions to secure the ruin of many. [His main agency, “the man of sin,” “the son of perdition began forming in the church in Apostle Paul’s time! 2 Thess. 2: 3-12 .
“But his most successful scheme in deceiving man has been to conceal his real purposes and his true character by representing himself to be man’s friend—a benefactor of the race. He flatters man with the pleasing fable that there is no rebellious foe, no deadly enemy that they need to guard against, and that the existence of a personal devil is all a fiction; and while he thus hides his existence, he is gathering thousands under his control. He is deceiving many as he tried to deceive Christ, telling them that he is an angel from heaven, doing a good work for humanity. And the masses are so blinded by sin that they cannot discern the devices of Satan, and they honor him as they would a heavenly angel while he is working their eternal ruin.
THE FIRST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST
“Christ had entered the world as Satan’s destroyer and the Redeemer of the captives bound by his power. He would leave an example of His own victorious life for man to follow, and thus overcome the temptations of Satan. [1 Pet. 2: 21-25; Rev. 3:21].
“As soon as Christ entered the wilderness of temptation His visage changed. The glory and splendor which were reflected from the throne of God and His countenance when the heavens opened before Him, and the Father’s voice acknowledged Him as His Son, in whom He was well pleased, [at His baptism in the Jordan], were now gone. The weight of the sins of the world was pressing His soul, and His countenance expressed unutterable sorrow, a depth of anguish that fallen man had never realized. He felt the overwhelming tide of woe that deluged the world. He realized the strength of indulged appetite and unholy passions which controlled the world and had brought upon man inexpressible suffering.
“The indulgence of appetite had been increasing and strengthening with every successive generation since Adam’s transgression, until the race was so feeble in moral power that they could not overcome in their own strength. Christ, in behalf of the race, was to overcome appetite by standing the most powerful test upon this point. He was to tread the path of temptation alone, and there must be none to help Him, none to comfort or uphold Him. Alone He was to wrestle with the powers of darkness. [See Eph. 6: 10-18].
“As in his human strength man could not resist the power of Satan’s temptations, Jesus volunteered to undertake the work and to bear the burden for man, and overcome the power of appetite in his behalf. In man’s behalf He must show self-denial, perseverance, and firmness of principle paramount to the gnawing pangs of hunger. He must show a power of self-control [temperance] stronger than hunger and even death.”
(To be continued next week)