14th January 2023
Read (Matthew 4v1-11)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
It is hard to read Matthew without quickly realising that a great focus of his Gospel is to underline that Christ is the fulfilment of the promises of God. Do you remember Matthew 2v15? Jesus was taken to Egypt to protect Him from Herod's rage and He remained there until Herod's death. Matthew states "This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, 'Out of Egypt I called my son.'" Matthew takes Hosea 11v1 and applies it directly to Christ. Hosea says "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son."
This verse of course speaks about when the Lord brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. Who was Israel and who were his children? Israel was the new name given to Jacob after he wrestled with God in Genesis 32. Jacob is a name that means "usurper" or "supplanter" and spoke of Jacob's often underhanded methods. But after wrestling with God, Jacob was given the new name "Israel" which spoke of his striving with God and in a deeper way, God's striving for Jacob. The children of Israel therefore were descendants of Jacob who eventually found themselves as slaves in Egypt.
But if we apply Hosea 11v1 to Christ we realise that it finds its true fulfilment in Jesus. He is the true Israel called out of Egypt and eventually into the wilderness like the Israel of old. In the wilderness the children of Israel moaned and complained against God and wandered for forty years. Christ on the other hand spent forty days in the wilderness and stood firm under the temptation of Satan.
Who is Satan? He is a fallen angel who rebelled against God and led a multitude of angels in opposition to the Lord. Satan is not another god nor is he God's equal in any fashion, instead we confess him to be part of God's creation. Angels are ministering spirits and are sometimes called God's host. Satan's original purpose was to serve the Lord but now he is the enemy of God's people and he rages against the church.
In the wilderness Satan tempted Christ to ease His hunger by turning stones into bread (v3) but Christ responded by quoting from Deuteronomy 8v3 saying "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Satan then took Jesus to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem and urged Christ to throw Himself off. The enemy was so sly that he used Psalm 91v11-12 to try and win the day saying "it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" But Christ could not be swayed drawing from Deuteronomy 6v16 and saying "Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" (v7) Finally the Devil's attack focused on power. Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory if only Jesus would worship him (v8-9). Jesus would be pushed no further and stated "Be gone, Satan!" before quoting Deuteronomy 6v13 saying "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"
What was Satan trying to accomplish? For Christ to make bread from stones would have seen Jesus not resting in the Word of God but taking matters into His own hands. For Christ to jump from the top of the temple would have been to put God to the test which is expressly forbidden by Scripture. For Christ to worship Satan was pure idolatry and would have brought division to the God who we confess to be one. Satan launched an all out attack on Jesus but the thunder of the enemy made no mark on the Rock who is Christ and soon Satan would leave and the angels would come to minister to Jesus (v11).
All of Christ's responses drew from Deuteronomy 6-8 where Moses was speaking to the Israelites before their entry into the promised land. He reminded them that they had wandered for forty years in the wilderness but now it was time for a new day. They were to be men and women who relied not just on bread but every word that proceeded from the mouth of God. The Israelites were to understand that they should never test the Lord and they were to make Him alone the object of their loyalty and worship. History shows that Israel rarely matched these standards and would know division, idolatry and finally exile.
But Christ is the true Israel and His time in the wilderness was not marked by failure. He was tired, tempted and tried but was not found wanting. Jesus left the wilderness and today continues to lead His people on another exodus to the promised land of glory. My brothers and sisters, regardless of your fears and failures...the one who rests in Christ rests secure. As we sometimes like to sing "I will trust in You alone, For Your endless mercy follows me, Your goodness will lead me home."
Q50 What is required in the second commandment? The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his Word.