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The Temptation of Christ (Part 2): Lusts of the Flesh

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The Temptation of Christ (Part 2)

Lusts of the Flesh

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The Temptation of Christ (Part 2): Lusts of the Flesh

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When Satan began his temptation of Christ, he started with Christ's most pressing desire and need in that moment... His physical hunger as a result of His fasting. With a word, Christ could have made the stones of the Judean desert become bread. He didn't - instead, he referred the adversary back to the events of the Israelites time in the wilderness. To those listening at that time, they would have understood that reference, and the passages that came before it and after it, as well as the events that went with it. What are the lessons we can learn from the first temptation of Christ in our own lives, and how can we consider these things in the examination of our own lives?

Transcript

Well brethren, last week we examined the account of the temptation of Jesus Christ and the concept of temptation by way of trying to introduce here a series of messages that we’re going to be going through based on the accounts in the gospels. Take a look at Christ’s example for us in dealing with the temptations and the trials that He faced at the hand of our adversary. Now we talked in that message how this scenario that we see in the gospel accounts, as is played out in Matthew 4, and in Luke 4, and in Mark 1, that this particular example that Christ has provided to us is really critical. 

And it’s critical because symbolically, Christ, in many ways, served as an antitype of the congregation of Israel in the wilderness. Now remember, when we’re talking about typology, there’s the type, and the type is looking forward to the antitype that will be fulfilled into the future. And as Christ worked through the experience that He experienced, where he was forty days fasting in the wilderness and being tempted, that is symbolically representative of the forty years that Israel spent in the wilderness as well. And so, in that way, you think about Christ and His example, and ultimately, His successful countering of our adversary’s temptations, it’s something that’s important to us to consider for a couple of reasons. 

Firstly, His example illustrated to us a method by which we, too, through the use and the help of God’s Spirit, can also do the same. So, Jesus Christ showed us that it is possible. That it is possible through the use of God’s Spirit to overcome these things. 

But secondly – and this is what we want to explore as we go through this particular series – is that His referencing of scripture, in contrast to the temptations which were provided to Him by Satan, ultimately pointed back to the congregation of Israel in the wilderness. And it pointed back to their failures in confronting some of the exact same issues that Jesus Christ dealt with as Satan was in the process of tempting Him as well. And so, Christ, in the way that He responds, is drawing the reader’s attention back to those events. And so, what I’d like to do in these messages is take a look at some of the lessons that we can pull from that today. 

Scripture records that Jesus Christ fasted in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. Let’s go ahead and begin by turning over to Luke 4. We’ll pick it up where we left off, generally, in the last message. We know that Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days and for forty nights – again symbolic of that time in which Israel spent in the wilderness – and we know that during that time He was tempted by the devil, as Satan made every effort to instill doubt in Christ, made every effort to try to get Him to trip up by somehow responding in a very human way, as opposed to in a way that was in accordance with the Spirit of God. Rather than yielding to God’s Spirit, and doing things in that fashion, Satan tried very, very much to get Him to respond to those base things.

We talked in the last message about temptation as we looked at it, that it happens when someone is drawn away by their own desires and enticed. The temptation takes place, according to James, when someone is drawn away by their own desires and ultimately enticed. And he talks in the book of James about how, when that desire has conceived, ultimately, that it gives birth to sin. And that sin, when full-grown, brings death. James also talks about how God is not the cause of temptation, or trials, in that sense, but God does allow temptation to take place in order for Him to be able to determine the heart of His people.

In Luke 4 again – if you want to place a ribbon here, we’re going to bounce away here for just a second in a bit and then ultimately come back to Luke 4 – Luke 4, we’ll go ahead and pick it up in verse 1. We see in this particular example, Luke 4 says:

Luke 4:1-2 Luke 4:1-2 [1] And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, [2] Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungry.
American King James Version×
- Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days, He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

We jokingly said this is one of the biggest understatements in the Bible. After forty days of not eating, He was hungry. He was famished, right? Not just hungry. Famished. That’s a long time to go without food. 

What’s interesting is that when you look at these accounts, as you compare the account that’s here in Luke 4 and as well the account that’s in Matthew 4, you’ll notice that they’re not in the same order from a standpoint of the temptations that Christ faced. It’s kind of interesting to consider. Matthew’s account has a few more “then”s in it than, say, Luke’s does, so it seems to be kind of chronological. But also Luke said that he was doing the best that he could to provide an ordered account for Theophilus, so that Theophilus could know what was going on. 

I found it kind of interesting, there’s a theory – and I think it stands to reason – that part of the reason for the difference is with regards to the way the Jewish mind and the Gentile mind thinks. Matthew’s account largely was written from a Jewish perspective for a Jewish audience, whereas Luke’s account was more written for a Gentile named Theophilus – now, a Gentile who had converted and was learning about Jesus Christ and was someone who was a part of the body, but they think in different ways. And you look at, kind of, that difference between Eastern thought and Western thought. It’s a different kind of process, in some ways, as to how things go. 

For a Gentile reader…both accounts start with the biggest, basest need of them all, which is hunger. You know? If you’re hungry, you are hungry. Right? But then notice that, in the Gentile side of things, if you look at Luke’s account, it moves then to rulership – kind of that power, that ability to rule over someone. And then on to this very public display of God-like power – throwing yourself from the temple and being miraculously and divinely saved.

Whereas for the Jews, the temptation to command stones to bread, that makes sense, because you’re hungry. But then you move into instead that divine power, and then ultimately the kingdoms of the world, which are very Messianic concepts. They’re very Messianic concepts. Either way, regardless, ultimately, these things are tempting to people, regardless of whether they’re a Jew or a gentile, because they play off of our base human desires to satisfy that which we crave – whether that is various physical things, or whether it’s things that are a little more ethereal like power, authority, etc. 

Actually, let’s – put a bookmark in here really quick. I want to turn over to Acts 8 – thought process here for a second. Remember the story of Simon Magus? Of course, you do! Acts 8. What did Simon Magus do when he saw the power of God at work? He desired it. He wanted it. Now we notice Simon Magus prior to this point, he was a big deal in Samaria. He really was! He was a sorcerer. He was somebody who was practicing sorcery, but he was a big deal. It says in Samaria – individuals who were in Samaria:

Acts 8:10 Acts 8:10To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
American King James Version×
– …from the least to the greatest regarded Simon Magus as a great man. 

That’s what it says. When Phillip came along and began preaching the gospel and Simon Magus saw real miracles, real signs, real wonders that came from the power of God, ultimately Simon was baptized. We see that he actually submitted to baptism. He did not yet have hands laid on him, and so when Peter came to lay hands on those who had been baptized, what did Simon do? He offered Peter money for the ability to do the same. He said, “I want what you have. I want this power. I want this ability. I’ll pay you for it.” Peter said, “Your money can rot with you,” basically. “Absolutely not. In fact, you need to go and repent and pray that God forgives you.” Simon saw that power. Simon saw those things. He wanted that, and ultimately, sinned in the process. That desire turned into something more. 

Let’s go ahead and go back to Luke 4. Luke 4, once again, in verse 1, says:

Luke 4:1 Luke 4:1And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
American King James Version×
- Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days, He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

Satan here started with Christ’s most pressing need at that point in time. You think about, and put yourselves in His shoes – sandals, so to speak – imagine going forty days without food. I mean, I remember…you think how you feel after the Day of Atonement. Imagine multiplying that, then, by forty. And then, Satan comes along, or at least somewhere in there at least – it says He was being tempted during that time frame – so it’s possible that was happening throughout as He was getting hungrier and hungrier too. But then Satan comes along, and Satan says, “You know?” (Holds up a rock.) “All you have to do is tell this rock to turn into bread and you could eat your fill. That’s all it takes. You don’t have to be hungry anymore. You don’t have to feel hunger anymore. You don’t have to feel weak anymore. Just make this stone become bread.” He started with His most pressing and base need at that point in time. 

When I was in education, one of the things we came back to regularly was work that was done by a guy named Abraham Maslow. It’s called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and some of you are probably familiar with the concepts that are therein. Basically, Maslow discovered that for people to reach a certain point where they could actually understand complex things and their place in it, that their most pressing needs had to be taken care of first. So what Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says is that it starts with food and shelter. Once those things have taken place, and once those things are taken care of, then you can move on to security and safety. Once those things have taken place, then you can start to move on to some of these higher order things. And so, from an education standpoint, we had kids that we served in our Title I programs that they hadn’t eaten in three or four days. They’re hungry! Starving hungry! They’re not getting fed at home properly, or they’re bouncing from couch to couch to couch to couch, because they’re homeless, they don’t have a place to live, and they don’t have food. And so, I’m asking them to do biology on top of all that? They’re like, “Uh uh! I haven’t eaten in three days. I can’t…this is not important to me right now. The next meal is important to me.” That’s where Satan started was in that lowest, or in that, I guess, highest priority need that’s lowest on Maslow’s pyramid – that most pressing psychological need – before he started then moving up the ladder so to speak.

Go ahead and leave, again, a bookmark in here. We’re going to go over to Matthew 4. While we do that, there have been studies that have been done on the effects of long-term lack of food on the human body. And it’s a little bit, kind of, eehhh, as to how this research was done, but it turns out that there are individuals in federal prisons who go on hunger strikes. And in the process of individuals going on hunger strikes, they were studied in that process because they wanted to understand what needed to be done in order to keep individuals alive as they decided to undergo a hunger strike. And so, this research has been done in that sense – to be able to better understand, to be able to support individuals that have chosen to go this road. But it’s been found that if a person is in, I don't know, decently good health prior to starting a hunger strike, that they’re usually at very little risk of dying for at least six to eight weeks. Some of us may be a little bit longer than that, but, six to eight weeks by and large. Okay? If someone who goes and begins to refuse fluids, however, deterioration is very rapid, with death setting in within seven to fourteen days, especially in months that are hotter. 

Physiologically, the hunger pangs go away. They found that the individuals that undergo these hunger strikes, they don’t complain of hunger anymore. Actually, they don’t “feel hungry.” And on about day three, there’s evidence that the body begins to use muscle protein to make glucose. So, the body starts to break down the muscle in order to provide the sugar that the rest of the body needs in order to function. Levels of electrolytes begin to fall to dangerous levels and the body begins cannibalizing fat stores and muscle mass for its basic functions. After two weeks – two weeks’ time – no food – a person may have difficulty standing. They can suffer from severe dizziness, sluggishness, weakness, loss of coordination, low heart rate, and chills as the body begins to further break down. After two to three weeks, vitamin B1 levels become dangerously low, and severe neurological problems set in, cognitive impairment occurs, vision loss, lack of motor skills can ultimately be the result. After more than a month – after more than one month’s time – thirty days – and if a person loses 18% of their body weight, severe irreversible complications can take place. It is at this point in which death is near certain after a month. A person can struggle to swallow water after that, even if someone comes along to provide them with assistance if they’ve been, say, lost in the wilderness or something, they don’t have the motor skills and the strength to even swallow water. There can be hearing and vision loss, breathing can become labored, and organ failure can occur. Beyond 45 days, death due to cardiovascular failure or infection takes place.

But what’s interesting is, in some of these individuals that have undergone these things, there’s also psychological changes that take place. Individuals in these circumstances become impulsive and aggressive. In fact, in some cases becoming so stubborn that they’ll starve themselves to death because of the psychological changes to their brain. Matthew 4:11 Matthew 4:11Then the devil leaves him, and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
American King James Version×
– because I want us to understand where and what was Christ’s situation in this process. Okay? Jesus Christ was God. Yes - is God – but He’s also human. He also feels things in the same way that we do. He understands things in the same way that we do. Matthew 4:11 Matthew 4:11Then the devil leaves him, and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
American King James Version×
, it says:

Matthew 4:11 Matthew 4:11Then the devil leaves him, and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
American King James Version×
- Then the devil left Him – which to Christ must have been a “hallelujah! Get that presence away from Me!” Right? Now, it must have been a powerful moment. But notice what it says; it says: …behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

I don’t want to gloss over the importance of that statement. Does that mean the angels showed up and they spoke a sermon to Him, and they….? No, that’s not what that means. What that means is they served Him. They likely gave Him encouragement, respite, they fed Him, they likely nursed Him back to health, in some ways, as a result of the weakness that would have come from this scenario. It’s hard to think of our Savior like that. But after 40 days, He would have been absolutely wiped – absolutely, complete, and total. God sent angels to care for Him – to nurse Him back to health, so to speak. 

And this is something that was an incredibly challenging trial for Him, not just because of the lack of food and the heat and the exhaustion, but because of that constant presence of Satan the devil for 40 days – that presence, tempting, trying, that voice, so to speak, that’s causing the issues. We talked in the last message about how Satan’s trying of Christ, it didn’t end here. It didn’t end here. This wasn’t a one-and-done battle. This was a war. This was a skirmish that had been won, yes, but that battle was going to be ongoing. 

In fact, when Christ was crucified, once again, Satan tempts Christ in the attitudes and the mindset of the people who were there watching. Remember the language that Satan used – let’s turn back to Luke 4 – the language that Satan used repeatedly throughout this process. Luke 4:3 Luke 4:3And the devil said to him, If you be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
American King James Version×
says:

Luke 4:3 Luke 4:3And the devil said to him, If you be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
American King James Version×
- And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” The people who sat and watched Christ die in that crucifixion said, “if You are the Son of God, come down from there. Save Yourself.” It’s the same playbook. Exact same playbook. Christ’s response – again, Christ’s response here – looking at verse 3 here of 4: And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”

So, what does He mean? What is the significance of this statement? Obviously, Christ is rebuking Satan, but what is He telling us who are reading this account much, much later down the road, and those who would have heard it at that point in time?

Today, with the time that we have left, we’ll take a look at this and explore this further. The title today is “The Temptation of Christ, Part 2 - The Lusts of the Flesh.”

We think about Israel’s example. We think about the way that it operated in the wilderness – their experience. Over and over and over and over again, Israel gave in to their base nature. They gave in to the desires of their wicked hearts – their hearts, which were made of stone and not of flesh. And I don’t know, you think back, you look at modern news today, you can see this mob mentality that takes over sometimes. I wonder how much of that was an aspect of what went on – that there were just enough people that were upset and complaining that everybody kind of got caught up in it? I don’t know how much of that was a factor, but ultimately, we see Israel again and again struggle with the desires of their hearts – follow those desires to their ruin – to their ruin.

Let’s go over to Deuteronomy 8. Deuteronomy 8, which is the location that Jesus Christ is pointing to when He quotes what he quotes here to the devil. Deuteronomy 8, and we’re going to pick it up in verse 1. Now, one thing that we need to keep in mind here: we need to understand that most Jewish individuals at this point in time would have had the first five books of the Bible practically memorized, if not memorized, by about age 12 – just based on their schooling systems that they went through. They studied and studied and studied. And so, when you see individuals that are quoting Scripture, there’s a really cool after-effect that comes from having those things memorized. And that is, you know the reference, you know what came before it, you know what came after it, you know what connected to it. So, Jesus Christ doesn’t have to take the time to explain all that. All He has to do is quote Deuteronomy 8, and verse 3, and the audience goes, “Oh! He’s talking about that, and that and that, and that.” And they’ve got all that context, whereas the rest of us are going, “Wait, what’s that say?” So, Deuteronomy 8, and verse 3 – and I think it’s critical that we look at this lesson that is here. I’m sorry, not verse 3, verse 1. Deuteronomy 8, and verse 1. And again, if you want to put a bookmark here, we’re done with our bookmark in Luke 4. You can move it over to Deuteronomy 8, if you’d like. We’re going to go back and forth just a little bit in here too. Deuteronomy 8:1 Deuteronomy 8:1All the commandments which I command you this day shall you observe to do, that you may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers.
American King James Version×
says:

Deuteronomy 8:1-3 Deuteronomy 8:1-3 [1] All the commandments which I command you this day shall you observe to do, that you may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers. [2] And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or no. [3] And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live.
American King James Version×
– “Every commandment which I command you today…. Here Moses is kind of providing a recap, so to speak, of the blessings that Israel had, the “chosen people” status that they had, the holiness which they had. “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. Verse 3: So, He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.”

There’s the quote. So that’s the scripture that Christ bounced the listener back to, is Deuteronomy 8, and verse 3. What came before it: “He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, fed you with manna” – oops, sorry, before it: “You shall remember the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart.” So, now we’ve got the connection to the forty days and the fasting that Christ had done. Verse 4, go to the next one:

Deuteronomy 8:4 Deuteronomy 8:4Your raiment waxed not old on you, neither did your foot swell, these forty years.
American King James Version×
- “Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell [during] those forty years.”

So, Christ referenced again this passage because their understanding would have made the connections. They would have been able to know, generally, what He was getting at at that time. Again, during that forty years, Israel was humbled and they were tested. They were humbled and they were tested. Now, the concept of testing and proving, as it’s often translated, is the Greek word peirazo in the New Testament. But interestingly enough, in the Septuagint version, which is the Greek Old Testament, essentially, peirazo is used for this passage in the terminology of test. Well, I want to see a couple of other places scripturally, where we see this particular word in context.

So again, bookmark here please, in Deuteronomy 8. We’re going to go to Matthew 16 first. Again, looking at this idea of testing or tempting – looking at the concept of this word peirazo. And similar to a lot of roots, or words, that are a root-based language, you’re going to see these words. They’re going to be in slightly different forms, but the root is the same. Matthew 16, and verse 1, we see an example here of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to test Christ. 

Matthew 16:1-4 Matthew 16:1-4 [1] The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven. [2] He answered and said to them, When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. [3] And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O you hypocrites, you can discern the face of the sky; but can you not discern the signs of the times? [4] A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.
American King James Version×
- Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him – again, the word peirazo is the root there – it’s peirazontes – testing Him, asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.

Essentially, they came trying to trip Him up in revealing Himself as Messiah at that time – doing something amazing, doing some sign, doing some wonder. “Show us who You are.” And He said, “You’re going to get one sign.” He says, “It’s going to be the sign of Jonah. That’s what you get! You’re going to have to work with that ultimately.”

Acts 5, verse 9 is another example. Acts 5, and verse 9 is another location. Acts 5, and verse 9, we see the example of Ananias and Sapphira. Just kind of background on the story: we know Ananias and Sapphira sold a property. Ultimately, they were going to go through, and they were going to do what everybody else was doing at that time, which was contribute to the coffers, so to speak, with the sale of that possession. But Ananias and Sapphira decided to keep back a portion of the proceeds. Ultimately, it got Ananias killed. So Sapphira shows up in Acts 5, verse 9, it says:

Acts 5:9 Acts 5:9Then Peter said to her, How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried your husband are at the door, and shall carry you out.
American King James Version×
- Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test – peirazo – gain, the root, in this case, peirasai is the official noun, root, verb, part of speech that it is. It says: ...you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” And then we know: Immediately, she fell down dead and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.

So, we see that they tested the Spirit of the Lord. They tested the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 13 is another example. 2 Corinthians 13 – and we’ll see a passage that we read every pre-Passover season – hopefully, we go through this too throughout the rest of the year as well – because time of examination is always a good thing – doesn’t always have to be pre-Passover. But we read this, as part of this concept of examining ourselves, each and every year in that Passover season. 2 Corinthians 13, and verse 5 says:

2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?
American King James Version×
- Examine yourselves - examine there being the word peirazete, which is peirazo again – as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. That word test is not peirazo. It’s dokimazo. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. 

So, there are two different words here used for the concept of testing. Dokimazo is a word – that second one – “test yourselves” – is a word that’s used in the assaying of precious metals. So, if you were to go and pan a bunch of gold in a creek somewhere here in Oregon, and take it into the assayer’s office to have your gold determined – whether or not it’s really pure and whether it’s really gold – they would do an assaying test. They would put a process together and they would determine, “Yeah, this is gold,” or “No, this is not gold.” That’s the concept of dokimazo. That’s what that concept is. 

Peirazo, on the other hand, according to Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary, says, “the difference between a test and a temptation” (peirazo) “is found in the tester’s motivations and expectations.” He says, “The devil tempts that the believer might fail God’s standards of faith, and so sin, whereas God tests that He might determine and sharpen true character with no focus on making the believer fail.” He goes on to talk about peirazo, saying that there’s a legal component to this word as well, to make proof or trial of, to put to the proof, whether with good or mischievous intent. 

So, if we look at 2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?
American King James Version×
, with that as an example, and that word examine, in some ways, what Paul is saying is, “Put yourself on trial.” Put yourself on trial. Examine whether there is enough evidence to conclude whether you are in the faith. That’s generally what he’s saying there. And then test, as an assayer would test gold, the purity and the value and the purity, so to speak, of that metal.

When Satan tempted, or tested, Jesus Christ, he was seeking the point of failure. His test was designed for Christ to fail. Again, He had spent all this time, He hadn’t eaten, He was hungry, you put yourself again in those shoes. Picks up a rock and he says, “With one word, this can become bread. You can eat right now. Just say the word.” And what was Christ’s response? He pointed back to Deuteronomy 8, and verse 3 – pointed back to Deuteronomy 8:3 Deuteronomy 8:3And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live.
American King James Version×
, and said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” 

Think about the times in which God tested His people, in which He was trying to search out what their hearts were – trying to test out what their thought processes were as they experienced various challenges. God didn’t test them purposefully to the point of failure. He tested in order to sharpen their character – to improve their faith, to strengthen their relationship with Him. That was the purpose. 

You know, Moses records the examples of these passages and these things that were there to humble and test Israel to kind of prove what was in their hearts. In fact, if you want to turn over to Numbers 11, we’re going to move over here to Numbers for just a quick little bit here. You think about again Israel’s response to a lot of these things that they experienced in the wilderness. We know God cared for His people. We know that He took care of them from a standpoint of their clothing – it didn’t wear out for a forty-year period. He fed them regularly, He provided for them regularly. Again, as you think about the audience that would have been hearing these stories, they would have known these stories as well. Numbers 11 – to turn over to Israel’s response, ultimately, to God’s goodness.

Numbers 11:1-8 Numbers 11:1-8 [1] And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. [2] And the people cried to Moses; and when Moses prayed to the LORD, the fire was quenched. [3] And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them. [4] And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? [5] We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: [6] But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes. [7] And the manna was as coriander seed, and the color thereof as the color of bdellium. [8] And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.
American King James Version×
- Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and when Moses prayed to the LORD, the fire was quenched. So he called the name of the place Taberah, because the fire of the LORD had burned among them. Now, verse 4: Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat?” They go on, and they say: We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now – verse 6 – our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes! You might say, “Okay, Israel, you’re getting a little over-dramatic. It’s not that bad.” But they were struggling with the situation that they found themselves in, despite God’s goodness. This craving that Israel had at this point in time…. In fact, if you look back at the word that’s used there in – where is it? Verse 4. The word that’s used in verse 4, yielded to intense craving, that word literally means something that is beautiful, something that is lovely – that is desired and craved. In fact, if you look at some inline margins in the New King James, says, for example, a marginal note that says they lusted intently for something that was not manna. Verse 7, we hear a description. It says: Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its color like the color of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it, ground it on millstones or beat it in the mortar, cooked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and its taste was like the taste of pastry prepared with oil.

Honestly, it doesn’t sound that bad. It actually sounds pretty good – like, at least, palatable and enjoyable, and we could be thankful for something very, very easily. But again, put yourself in Israel’s shoes for a little bit. This had been about a year and a month or so, since they’d left Israel at this point – it says it was the second year, second month – so about a year and a month or so, and this is what they’d been eating for a year and a month. Even your favorite food you might get tired of with that point of time. “Nope, I would not! I like it!” (laughs) It’s possible, definitely possible. But they had been going out in the mornings, they’d been gathering the manna, they’d been grinding it, they’d been making cakes out of it, but they had reached a point where they wanted meat, and they wanted it right now. Right now. Verse 10, what happens?

V-10-15 - Then Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and the anger of the LORD was greatly aroused; Moses also was displeased. So Moses is walking through the camp. You’ve got people at the door of their tents – sobbing to Moses as he walks by – as Moses is working with this, and dealing with this, right? Verse 11: 3 - So Moses said to the LORD, “Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,’ to the land which You swore to their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me,” Moses says. “They weep all over me!” – sobbing – “Moses, please, can we have meat?” I don’t know if that’s quite what it was like, but that’s how I picture it in my head. But he says: “For they weep all over me, saying ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. And in verse 15, Moses, “If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now.” He says, “Look, just, I’m not doing this. Can’t do it.” He says: “…if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness!”

So, Moses is struggling, because the amount of issues that they’re experiencing with regards to their desire for meat is a challenge. So, God has a plan, God tells Moses to bring the seventy elders to the tabernacle, that He’s going to put the Holy Spirit on those seventy elders, and to kind of spread out the burden, so to speak, on Moses and provide him with a little bit of extra assistance in that regard. Let’s go down to verse 18. Verse 18 says:

V-18-20 - “Then you shall say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore, the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. Verse 19: You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days…’” And if you’re an Israelite, at this point, you’re going, “Oh, please stop, please stop.”  …nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the LORD who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?” God tells Israel, “You want meat? I’ll give you meat. I mean, if you want meat, I’ll give you meat. You’ll eat meat until you’re tired of it, until you absolutely cannot eat another bite of meat.” 

In verse 31, he goes on, and he says:

V-31-34 - Now a wind went out from the LORD, and it brought quail from the sea and left them fluttering near the camp – so, it brought them up from the coastal regions – left them fluttering near the camp about a day’s journey on this side and about a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the ground. And the people stayed up all that day, all night, and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers), and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. Verse 33: But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was aroused against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very great plague. So, he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving.

Now again, perspective. I like perspective. I like to be able to consider and picture it in my head as to what we’re talking about here. A day’s journey in those days is about 12-15 miles. You could walk about 12-15 miles – on a good day, maybe 20 miles. But a day’s journey in all directions from the camp means that we’re talking about a 30-circular mile – I guess not a square mile, technically – well, I guess, you could go out this way and that way. Yeah, okay.  Anyway, 30 miles worth of quail! 30 miles worth of quail. That’s here to Woodburn – actually, a little further – of quail! Not only that, they were two cubits high. That’s three feet! So, either A) that meant they were flying around at about a three-foot level – just all over the place – or that meant there were literal piles of quail that were three feet high. I don’t know which one it is. I wasn’t there. But this is what’s recorded for us. 

Now, this is what I found fascinating. I wanted to get an idea of how much ten homers worth of quail was. I don’t know, I’m weird that way (laughs). I wanted to know. So interestingly enough, that was made possible because of research that was done in 1967, where a couple of researchers in the Sinai peninsula determined the average density of a quail – this is not Monty Python and the Holy Grail – and the wind velocity of a swallow. They literally figured out the density – average density – of these quail that are in this region. And it’s 0.98 grams per centimeter cubed. Which means you can calculate how much quail fit in ten homers, because you have the size of a homer. The answer is 1900 quail. 1900 quail – 457 pounds worth of quail. That was the least that was gathered. The least, meaning some people gathered more. Whack a quail, throw it in a bag. Whack a quail, throw it in a bag. I don’t know.

God told Moses, though, what did He tell him? God told Moses that these quail would stay in this area for a month. He said, for a month, they’re going to eat quail. They’re going to go out and they’re going to grab quail, and they’re going to eat it. What did Israel do? They stayed up all night, all day, and all day the next day killing quail – whack-and-stack – just one after another – because they wanted the quail so badly they could taste it – literally. And as they ate this quail, as God saw what they had done, it upset Him significantly.

Psalm 78, and verse 29, go ahead and pick this up here, in the book of Psalms, and kind of see what exactly was the result here. Psalm 78, and we’ll pick it up in verse 29. Psalm 78 is an interesting read. It’s essentially just a recounting of Israel’s history. But Psalm 78, verse 29…we’ll back up just a little bit. It says:

Psalms 78:26-31 Psalms 78:26-31 [26] He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind. [27] He rained flesh also on them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea: [28] And he let it fall in the middle of their camp, round about their habitations. [29] So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; [30] They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, [31] The wrath of God came on them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.
American King James Version×
- He caused an east wind to blow in the heavens; and by His power He brought in the south wind. He also rained meat on them like the dust, Feathered fowl like the sand of the seas. I mean, that kind of lends a little bit of credence to, just, three feet high of quail everywhere you…like, walking through quail, kind of thing. Kind of a funny picture. Anyway, it says: So they ate and were well filled…. Sorry, verse 28: And He let them fall in the midst of their camp, all around their dwellings. So they ate and were well filled, for He gave them over to their own desire. They were not deprived of their craving. In other words, the craving didn’t stop. He gave them over to their desire. But while their food was still in their mouths, the wrath of God came against them, and slew the stoutest of them, and struck down the choice men of Israel.

So, the King James Version and the New King James Version use a nice politically-correct word, stout. King James says corpulent, which is a little less PC for the ones that ate the most quail – that just went nuts on the quail and gave into their cravings.  

But realistically, this particular event would have been on the minds of those who heard what Christ had referenced. Because, again, you talk about manna, you’re talking about the rebellion that Israel had against God as a result of the meat that they desired. For those that – those, ultimately, that God killed, we might say in today’s day and age, you might say “big-boned.” But God punished Israel for their testing of Him – testing Him to the point of His wrath. They didn’t try to prove His goodness. His goodness was already established. He had provided for them. But they provoked Him to wrath. 

And so again, when you look at this, and when Christ uses this example, and He points us back, Christ is pointing out that where Israel failed, Christ succeeded. Where Israel failed, Christ succeeded. So, in Luke 4, again, when Christ quotes, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” the average Jewish audience is making those connections at that time. They’re bouncing through the context, and they’re making the connection as to what He’s bringing up. He’s recognizing that these things happened to Israel to humble them, to test them, to prove whether they would keep His commandments, and whether they would continue to desire the lusts of the flesh, to give in, again to their baser nature.

Let’s turn over to Galatians 5, verse 19, as we kind of shift into the “so what” part. Galatians 5, and verse 19 – because again, we want to be considering these concepts. We want to be thinking about these things as we face our own tests, as we face our own temptations, as we face our own challenges in various factors and in various ways. 

Galatians 5:19-21 Galatians 5:19-21 [19] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, [20] Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, [21] Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
- Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness – verse 20 says: idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

See, the apostle Paul says, the works of the flesh, they’re evident, they’re visible. They can be seen just like fruits that are outlined in the next couple of passages – that they can be seen just like those fruits in the next couple of passages. They are outward expressions, so to speak – the actions that come from a life that is satisfying the desires of the flesh. 

Now, when we talk about temptation, we mentioned this in the first message, when we talk about temptation, we typically think of the first few examples that are outlined here. We think of temptation, we think of adultery, we think of fornication, we think of uncleanness, we think of lewdness. That’s temptation. In our modern societal mind, that’s temptation. But every single one of these are works of the flesh. Every one of these are lusts of the flesh. That means that putting another god before our God is a lust of the flesh. It’s a desire that, when acted on, is sin. Sorcery – pharmakeia, in this case – pharmakeia – hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions. Do we think of these things in this list as temptations just like the other things? Do we consider them to be temptations that we’re being tempted to act upon? That we’re being tempted to engage in? Do we consider the same way our willingness to have enmity towards others whom we may disagree with in one form or another – driving a wedge in between people because we don’t agree? What about constant contention over controversial topics – just, we can’t let them go. We just want to keep going and going and going and going and going, and just, oh, we have to keep it up – just kind of keep banging the drum. What about jealousy? Anger? Outbursts of wrath? These are like the stone that Satan held up after Christ had been sitting for forty days, and said, “All you have to do is one little thing. It’s yours. You can have this outburst of wrath. You can have this dissension. You can have your quarrel. You can have your war, if you want it. All you’ve got do is say the word. It’s yours.” Brethren, these kinds of physical urges listed in this list, they tickle our human nature too – just like adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness. 

Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit here in Galatians 5. We won’t read those; we read those frequently. Ask a kid to sing it for you from pre-teen. Guarantee they still remember it. I still remember it. It’s crazy how well that still works. Galatians 5, though, verse 26, notice what Paul says. He says:

Galatians 5:26 Galatians 5:26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
American King James Version×
- Let us not become conceited – prideful – provoking one another, envying one another. Because that is giving in to the lusts of the flesh. That is giving into temptation. That is turning the rock into bread. 

Brethren, for us to effectively live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, it requires us to recognize something that is critical: We are not God. We are not God. And what that means is that God does not automatically agree with everything that we think is right. We don’t shape God into our image. We are to be shaped and conformed and molded into His. And that is critical – absolutely critical. God is not mocked. We will reap what we sow. Paul says it, a couple passages right after where we are now. God is not mocked; we will reap what we sow.

Again, verse 5 of Deuteronomy 8. I want to draw your attention to this. Some of you have children. Some have grandchildren. You know the absolute love that you have for your children and grandchildren. Verse 5 of Deuteronomy 8 – Moses writes:

Deuteronomy 8:5 Deuteronomy 8:5You shall also consider in your heart, that, as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.
American King James Version×
- You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.

“As a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.” Brethren, if we are prideful, if we will not be humbled, God will find a way to humble us. He absolutely will find a way to humble us, to bring us to the point to realize that we cannot do it without Him, that we cannot live by bread and physical food alone, that He is a necessity just like food, just like water, just like oxygen. But if we are prideful and we refuse to be humbled, He will find a way to humble us. And I think sometimes, until we recognize just how necessary God is, until we begin to recognize that fact implicitly, we cannot be in an effective covenant relationship with our God. We can’t, until we recognize the order of how this works. We have to desire our God like we desire nourishment after a long fast. If we’re putting other gods before Him, or pursuing our own desires over His will for us, we are not illustrating our submission to Him. We’re pursuing other things. We’re focused on other things. In those scenarios, we are guiding ourselves. We are not submitting ourselves to Him and His guidance. In that scenario, in that situation, God’s not the sustenance. He’s not the main course. He’s the appetizer. Maybe the dessert. Or maybe He’s the mint after dinner. But He’s not the main course, if we are “driving the bus,” so to speak.

These past couple of years have been a real challenge in a lot of ways. We as a congregation, we have been bounced from place to place to place. We’ve met in seven different halls in 20 months. Seven different places. We have dealt with an ever-changing societal landscape that is continuing to change, and twenty months later we are still debating mandates and our intersection point with the law, and how we respond to these things – how that connects with the law of the land and human government, and where we fit in. We have brethren, as you look around this room, that we haven’t seen in quite some time, as a result of a number of factors. And as we can all see, looking around, attendance is down. It’s been a rough twenty months. 

But in response to those things, and I think this is an apropos analogy, we did what people do when they’re under attack. We did what people do when they’re under attack. When you had wagon trains going west, back in the old days, and they came under attack, what did they do? They circled the wagons. They circled the wagons for protection and they stood in the inside and they fought off whatever that attack was. But you know the problem is, when you circle the wagons, the wagon train stops. It doesn’t go forward any more. You don’t go west when the wagon train is circled. 

Brethren, we debate over things we have no control over. We get upset with officials, we get frustrated at the situation while the one thing that we do actually have control over goes undone – preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. The past twenty months collectively, brethren, we have let off the gas on the work that God has asked us to do. We’ve become so focused on the things that are being done to us, drawing our focus inward and taking it away from our focus being outward. You know, this year at the Feast of Tabernacles, we had a substantial outbreak of COVID-19 at several of our Feast sites. And again, not just us. This was across the board in so many different fellowships. Again, we had 51 people here locally come down with it. And I, I don’t know, I’m sure you’re like me, and you’re working on wrapping your brain around that, and trying to understand that, and looking at that, and considering it. 

And brethren, I keep coming back to Deuteronomy 8:5 Deuteronomy 8:5You shall also consider in your heart, that, as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.
American King James Version×
. “Just as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.” That does not mean, that I believe that we are being punished for our egregious sin. But what that does mean is that I think that God is getting our attention. And I don’t know about you, but He’s got mine. I’m interested in the lesson that He has that’s going to come out of this. You think about your own children and how you interact with them. You love them dearly. You want what’s best for them. You absolutely want what’s best for them. There are times when they go off the path, when you have to lovingly turn them to the path, in love. And there are times, brethren, as God’s children, when we need rebuke and correction, because we’re not in line with our God. 

I’m going to ask you to join me…I’m going to invite you, I should say, to join me this next week in a fast. Looking at Wednesday and Thursday. Pick a day that works for you. But brethren, if we can ask God, specifically, for His will for us as His people, ask Him for His will in our local congregation, as individuals in our process going forward, so that we can learn what we need to learn from what we’ve experienced in the last month. I’m hoping that God may reveal to us places in each of our lives where we’re yielding to our own cravings, where we’re going through the process of not doing the things that we need to be doing, placing the lusts of the flesh, the desires of our own hearts, over Him – finding places where we need to be humbled, maybe a bit, and brought back to reality. In addition to that, brethren, as God reveals those things, join me please in asking Him that we could repent of them, and that, ultimately, we can restore a balance with God and more in line with Him, that we may serve Him more fully and more effectively. 

When we get into the next message, we’re going to take a look at the second of the temptations that Christ dealt with in the wilderness, and start to consider the lure of power and authority.