There were 3 parts to Satan’s temptation for Adam and Eve: (a) Good to the eyes, (b) good for food and (c) desirable to make one wise. The most significant event that represents the process of recovery for fallen mankind in the History of Redemption, is the Exodus and the wilderness journey. Today’s passage about Jesus’ fasting was also in the wilderness. Act 7:38 tells us that we too are the congregation (Church) in the wilderness. In the church and wilderness, we face different kinds of trials and temptations. Revelation 2:7 says to him who overcomes the temptations and gains victory, will be granted to eat from the Tree of Life. This is a blessing of restoration of the Garden of Eden. Let us learn from Jesus.
1. Commonalities between the temptation of Jesus and the temptations of the Israelites in the wilderness
Both were in the wilderness, both were tested, what were the similarities between the tests and temptations?
(i) Jesus was led to the wilderness after baptism
Jesus was baptized (Matt 3) and afterwards led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. 1 Corinthians 10:1-2, the crossing of the Red Sea was spiritually baptism for the Israelites. The Israelites were defiled in Egypt. We too are defiled. Satan has a hold on mankind because of Adam’s defeat. God is rescuing us out of Satan’s hand. The first sign is baptism. After our baptism is the beginning of our official church life, the wilderness.
(ii) They were led by the spirit of God
(Matt 4:1, Mark 1:12, Luke 4:1) Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. God also forcefully led the Israelites into the wilderness after the 10 plagues. The church, the wilderness is a place of testing. It is only through those tests that Egyptian slaves can turn into firstborns of God. Jesus is teaching us how to overcome and finish this wilderness journey successfully (Deut 8:3).
(iii) The number “40”
Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, Israelites were in the wilderness journey for 40 years. 40 is a number that represents suffering, a time to get away from the devil Satan and from Egypt. Jesus stayed on the earth for 40 days after His resurrection. Because of those 40 days, the disciples who ran away because of fear and suffering, all became apostle who were fearless, proclaiming powerfully the gospel. After the 40 days, Jesus began His ministry as the Son of God, His public ministry began. Therefore, 40 represents the time for change, to become citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
2. Similarities of Jesus’ temptations and the temptations in the Garden of Eden by Adam
(i) The tempter is the devil
(ii) The task that God gave to the tempted ones (Adam and Eve / Jesus)
The original task God gave to Adam and Eve is to govern and rule over creation. Satan is trying to take that authority of God away, by exchanging it for something worse. The difference in the fruit: The Tree of Life contains life, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil contains death, it has the coating of goodness but inside it is evil. Satan’s purpose is to take us away from God’s purpose. Jesus did not take that bait, because the authority and power of God is greater than Satan’s.
3. What does the bible say about eating and food?
The serpent caused Adam and Eve to change their course of life away from the Tree of Life. What we need to ask ourselves is: Which direction is my life headed? In the Bible there are people who perished because of the wrong eating. Adam and Eve. Esau who ate the lentil soup and lost his birth right. The Israelites in the wilderness ate the heavenly food manna but still died, because they ate it the wrong way. On the contrary, by NOT eating, Jacob and Daniel gained victory. Jesus did not turn the stone to bread because He believed in the Word of God. Would we give up the temporary fleshly pleasure for the sake of spiritual life and blessings?
4. Let us think about the manna in the wilderness
John 6:48-51 God sent bread from heaven that gave eternal life. Yet the Israelites ate that manna and died, what happened?
(i) They ate the manna without recognising its source
Manna is from heaven; God told them the source and when it will come (Exod 16:1-4). Jesus came and said: I am the bread of life that came down out of heaven. Where did the Israelites find the manna? When they woke up in the morning and came out from tents, they found manna on the ground. We should not trust our physical eyes and judgment. Likewise, the Israelites saw Jesus on this earth, they thought He was from this world. Rather than depending on their physical senses, we need to remember God’s Word. Remembering God’s Word allows us to overcome temptations, and allows us to make the right judgment.
(ii) They did not understand God’s will in providing manna
Manna means “What is this?” They heard the teaching of Jesus and said “What kind of teaching is that?” The Israelites started to compare manna with the food from Egypt. They started to mix their physical desires and the pleasures of the earth with the blessings of heaven. We should never compare heavenly things with earthly things. Jesus was hungry too after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. Even then, He did not give up the Word of God. The purpose of giving the manna is to let the Israelites follow and depend on the Word of God (Deut 8:3). Let us not lose the purpose or dilute the purpose of God’s Word, because of our physical desire.
(a)Satan changes the impact and meaning of God’s Word.
(b)Satan mixes it with human thoughts, human emotion and condition to dilute the Word of God, and makes us compare the truth of God’s Word with the truth of this world.
(c)Satan also makes us more desperate for my current situation and circumstances; leads us to forget that there is true life in the Word. Unless we remember the Word of God, we cannot overcome these temptations.