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5. The Temptation and Satan

Updated: Apr 28, 2023


New Testament


When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22 (NIV)


Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. Luke 4: 1-2 (NIV)


In the River Jordan, a seemingly mere son of man, Jesus, is revealed to be the Son of God, Christ. John’s very purpose in life from before his birth, even before his conception, is now. Here is the Trinity in supernatural glory. The heavens opened, a dove descended and a voice from above announcing, “You are my Son.”


Immediately following His baptism and full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, the Christ in flesh and blood, incarnate, is led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted by “the devil.” The word “devil” means “the slanderer.” This slanderer is also called “the tempter” in Matthew’s account. Christ will call him by name, Satan, which means adversary and accuser.


The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”


The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”


The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:


“‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;

they will lift you up in their hands,

so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’


Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test. ‘” When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Luke 4: 3-13 (NIV)


Think for a moment about this meeting. These two know each other from a long, long time ago, Satan and this mere man, wasting away in the wilderness. What do you imagine Satan looks like? I’m asking, what is his appearance like? We aren't given any detail as to his physical attributes. But pause for a moment and remember who created him. Jesus, this emaciated man, is in truth the very creator of Satan. Christ, the Son of God, through God and with God, created the entire heavens and earth. At the time of his creation, Satan was so beautiful but is now a fallen angel to him. Throughout time, in heaven’s throne room, Christ in all his glory and light saw Satan many times as this accuser stood before Him and His father, God. The last time Satan saw Christ face to face must have been such a different encounter.


But now Jesus, a mere man, is so hungry. Actually by this time, He is starving, His body thin, His strength gone. Here stands an angel before Him. This Satan is so seductive. What does Satan tempt Him to do? Cloth Himself in his divinity, reject His human body, and perform a miracle for Himself. Why trust God and the Holy Spirit when He, Christ, can feed Himself?


What drives our world to this day? Food, or the lack of it. Our most basic need is nourishment in order to endure, to survive each day. Christ, as Jesus, has learned by this time in His 30 years of life on this earth that His creation, man and woman, is desperate for this one simple thing that is so difficult to gather day by day. The earth is full of hunger and need. But Christ also knows that in truth we need more than just earthly bread to eat: “Man shall not live on bread alone.” Jesus quotes sacred Jewish law.


What does Satan, the tempter, the enticer, offer to this weary man next? Power and its wealth from all the kingdoms of the earth. Satan offers Jesus Christ luxury, things of beauty. Remember Joseph the carpenter? Jesus has followed in the footsteps of His father. He is a mere carpenter who’s responsibility is to provide for his family. Joseph has died by this time and Jesus has a widowed mother and several younger siblings. He lives in a city that is oppressed by a harsh overlord. The taxes demanded by Rome are severe. Good, faithful Jews are caught beneath the Romans and the corrupted wealthy Jewish leaders. God, His father, must feel very remote and inaccessible. All this earthly power is offered to a weary man by the ruler of this world, Satan, if only Jesus Christ will worship him. But Jesus, a son of man, counters him, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” Again, Jesus quotes the words of Moses, spoken to God’s people.


For the last and third temptation, Satan takes Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem and entices Him to throw Himself off the top of the holy temple in order to prove to Himself that God is present and will save Him from death. Quoting sacred Jewish testimony of David, Satan dares Christ to call on Satan’s fellow but loyal angels to rescue Jesus from a fall from the most holy earthly place. This fallen angel of God does so know God’s creation. He knows that this mere man, Jesus, so far removed from His Father, God, and so weak in the flesh, must at this moment doubt the memory of His divinity. The kingdom of the heavens where His father dwells must feel so far away. This is how His beloved family and people living and suffering in Jerusalem must have felt. This is how we, living and suffering in the broken world, feel today. We wonder, does God really exist? Does He care about me and my life? Why does He allow us to suffer? Again, quoting Deuteronomy, Jesus responses, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”


When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Matthew adds: Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! ... and angels came and attended him. Jesus, hungry, weak, and so very far from His father’s home, but with the Holy Spirit, has remained faithful and resolute. He has been tested but an opportune time for a greater test is promised.


If Satan can give Jesus food, wealth, and protection immediately, if he has this power and authority as prince of the earth, why doesn’t he give these things to all of us here then and now, his subjects of his kingdom, why doesn’t he give us what we need? His kingdom is failing. His “beloved” subjects are hungry and dying. He is not the king we need. What do we need? More than food, power, luxury, and fear from pain and death, we need God’s spiritual provision for our future, for an everlasting future. We need to learn to trust that God has a plan for us, his children.


 

Discussion

  • Have you been baptized? Do you remember it? What does it mean to you?

  • Have you been tempted? Did you succumb to the temptation? What does the word “succumb” mean?

  • Have you ever faced a trial that was life threatening? Have you ever faced a trial that was life changing?

  • What have you lost in your life that was devastating?

  • Have you ever prayed for something that you desperately needed and not gotten It?

  • Have you prayed for something that you’ve needed, and your prayers were answered?

  • What is your greatest fear in life?

 

Old Testament


Adam, Eve, and the Serpent


Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”


When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.


Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3: 1-13 (NIV)


The gospels don't mention Satan until Jesus is thirty years old; this meeting between the creator and his creation is so very supernatural. We have to go back in time to find out who this Satan is. When I lead Bible studies, I love to ask my students what God’s first heartache was. Of course, they ask, “Do you mean what was the first sin?” Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. Their response is always, “Adam and Eve and the apple?” Then we get to really stretch our thinking and try to see through God’s eyes. The first mention of Satan in the entire Bible seems to be in the above passage in the form of the serpent. But we get no context as to where this serpent came from here in this perfect place of God’s creation. Is this Satan himself or merely a snake that has been tempted by him?


“In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.” But listen to the order of the creation; the heavens were created first. The blessed Trinity’s first heartbreak caused by the creation’s first sin happened within the creation of the heavens before man and woman were ever created. The Bible offers us clues throughout about this mysterious source of evil. Listen to the intriguing prophecy delivered by God to the prophet Ezekiel deep within humanity’s story:


“‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.

You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.

Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.

Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.

All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.’” Ezekiel 28:12-19 (NIV)


This outcry against Satan expands from the very beginning of time and the very creation of the exquisitely beautiful guardian cherub, Satan, among the angelic in the heavens to the end of time prophesied in the Book of Revelation when Satan will come to a horrible end and will be no more. What was Satan’s sin? Pride because of his beauty: “you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.”


In the Garden of Eden, Satan has deceived the serpent who in turn has deceived the newly created man and woman. The serpent through Satan offered Eve delicious food, a promise of everlasting life, and power equal to God. That sounds familiar. What did Satan offer Jesus in the desert? Why is Satan allowed to interfere with the Trinity’s creation?


Job


One of the most troubling and perplexing passages recorded in the entire Bible has to be that of the conversation that takes place between God in His throne room and the fallen angel Satan. This conversation is found in the first chapter of the Book of Job and it details the agreement between God and Satan that allowed, gave authority, to Satan to go down to the broken Earth and ruin all that Job holds dear.


One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”


The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. Job 1: 6-12 (NIV)


God gave Satan authority to tempt and try Job. This is so very disturbing to us. Satan repeats this permission from God Himself to His son, incarnate in the desert, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.”


Sin entered the new kingdom of heaven by way of betrayal in the heart of Satan, the old red dragon. What an anguish that was, and for us, still is. He continues to lead the whole world astray. This is a chapter in God’s Story that has from the very beginning of time destroyed the perfect unity that the Holy Trinity desired for us and all of their beautiful creation. One of the most puzzling but important things to understand about God’s Perfect Story is that sin was foreseen, foreknown, and allowed by God to happen. The Holy Family of God - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - knew before the creation was made that sin would enter and pervade but would in the perfection of time be defeated.


 

Discussion

  • What is your biggest sin? Satan’s is pride in his beauty. Are you attractive? Are you intelligent? Are you wealthy? What are you proud of? Did you earn your gifts?

  • Have you ever cursed God to his face? Have you ever felt betrayed by him?

  • Does the Trinity know of every move Satan makes? Is this cosmic battle like the game of chess?

 

The 29:11 Story


Every 29:11 Story includes the presence of sin and Satan in God’s Story. These beads are always red as the apple in Genesis was red and Satan is described as “the old red dragon” in Revelation. These beads are also always beautiful as Satan was before the fall. The fallen Satan’s enticements and temptations appear so appealing. The first Satan bead on the 29:11 Stories is located on the downward side of the 29:11 Stories that illustrates the Old Testament. This very beautiful red bead follows the beads of Adam and Eve. The cherubim follows next as the gates of heaven are closed. This represents the first sin experienced by humanity very soon after the kingdom of the earth is first brought into "very good" completion.


Job’s brown bead is part of every 29:11 Story because his story is one of such horrific destruction and powerful faith. He precedes the sequence of beads that begin the story of Abraham.


Our enigmatic clues as to Satan’s origin occur in Ezekiel, a bronze bead that is found deep within the Old Testament’s downfall as Israel is allowed by God to be taken into exile.


The corresponding Satan bead is found in the sequence of beads that make up John’s Book of Revelation. This “old red dragon” is found next to his consort, Babylon, another beautiful, seductive bead of red.

 

Discussion

  • Satan offers Jesus Christ, both a man and God’s Son, provision, power, and protection from death. What does Christ know about that he as Jesus must do in order to secure the things Satan tempts him with?

  • Provision, power, and protection are all healthy good things that each of us desire and need. How will Jesus secure these necessities for us, Christ’s creation and adopted children?

 

Salley's Story


I have cursed God to His face. William was 15 years old, a freshman in high school. He was enjoying a new artificial knee and was walking without crutches for the first time since his tumor had been removed three years prior. He was a beautiful boy, six feet tall, surrounded by wonderful friends. He had his whole life ahead of him. One weekend, my husband was enjoying hiking with some of his best friends. That weekend, William was having trouble breathing. My fear began to escalate and when my husband came home, we took him into the emergency room. The doctor drew off over a liter of fluid from his lungs and warned my husband that there was a mass on William’s chest X-ray. My husband had to go home to care for our other two children and I spent a horrible, dark and sleepless night with my precious son in the hospital.


The next morning, I called my minister, a very dear friend to my family. He was out of town and sent a very kind and very young associate minister to see me. He didn’t know me or William but he knew our story. We were that family in our community that had handled cancer and a child in crisis so well; our faith was talked about among our church members. He asked me what he could do for me, could we pray together? My reply, “You go back to church and you tell everyone there to pray for my son. I believe completely in God; I know he exists, but I want nothing to do with him. He has betrayed us and I am done with him. He is a god——liar.”


The next couple of days were horrific. Our life had changed beyond hope for William’s future. My world was so dark. The Holy Spirit that had sustained me for the last several years of my family’s crisis with William was gone. There was nothing inside my mind, heart, and soul but me. I was alone. God respected my will at that time in my life. I had closed and locked the door.


Satan did not touch me physically but he was allowed to touch and physically destroy my son. He also almost destroyed my marriage which could have destroyed the small but delightful family we enjoy today. I believe that my family was allowed by God to suffer and I believe that we were chosen to undergo a horrible trial. The reason why is still mysterious to me as it is to anyone who has chosen to believe in God in the face of pain and loss.


One of William’s most important verses from God’s word was Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

 

Discussion

  • Re-read Jeremiah 29:11. What does this well known verse say to you?

 

Closing

  • What surprised you today?

  • What new connections in the Bible did you make today?

  • What questions do you want to explore further about today's study?

 

Digging Deeper


  1. Read Jeremiah 29: 11-14. What does the rest of this passage add? Now read Jeremiah 29: 1-14 for more context. Are the Lord Almighty’s plans apparent to his beloved Jerusalem immediately? What is his good promise? How long will there be before his good promise is brought into being? What has happened to God’s beloved Jerusalem? Who carried the people of Jerusalem away into exile in verse 1. Now I’ll ask you again, who carried God’s people away into exile in verse 4? What has spiritually happened in this passage? What does Jeremiah 29 tell us about the Lord Almighty? How does this relate to Jesus’ temptation?

  2. What was manna? Read Exodus 16. Who supplied it? What was its purpose? How does this apply to Satan’s first temptation? Now read Deuteronomy 8.

  3. Read Exodus 32. Why did the Israelites desire a golden calf? How does this apply to Satan’s second temptation? Can you find the desire and lust for power and wealth here?

  4. Paul calls Christ “the last Adam” and “the second man.” Please read 1 Corinthians 15: 42- 49. What does he mean? How does this apply to Satan’s third temptation? Can you find Paul on the 29:11 Story?

  5. What was the Tower of Babel? Read Genesis 11: 1-9. What did the people desire to accomplish? Can you find the desire and lust for power and wealth here? Do these people want to trust God for their provision and protection? How does this apply to Satan’s three temptations? Do they want to rely on and worship God?

  6. Can you find the bead that represents the Tower of Babel on the 29:11 Story? What color is it? Why?

  7. Have you ever heard of the Prayer of Jabez? Can you compare his prayer to the temptations Satan offered to Jesus? Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.1 Chronicles 4: 9-10

  8. What name of Satan do you find in John 12:31? What name in 2 Corinthians 4:4? Ephesians 2:2? And in 2 Corinthians 11:14?

  9. Now another Old Testament passage from Israel’s beloved prophet: Isaiah 14:12-15. What name was Satan given by his creator in the beginning? What was Satan’s destroying sin in God’s eyes?

  10. How do these following verses, one from the Old Testament, the other from the New Testament, apply? The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. Job 1: 12. “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.” Luke 4: 6

  11. Satan’s authority is limited as to time, rank, and place. He is the prince of this world, the broken earth, he’s not the king. He is the god of this age-not the eternal God. He is the ruler of the kingdom of the air, not the ruler of all creation. He himself masquerades as an angel of light. He is a deceiver, liar, and seducer. Read Ephesians 6: 10-16. Can you count how many supernatural entities this passage mentions?

  12. Now read Luke 10:18: “He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Who said this? When and where did he see this? When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. What will be this opportune time?

  13. Read Revelation 6: 1-8. These are the four horsemen of the apocalypse. First of all, what is the apocalypse? What do these 4 horsemen represent? On whose authority are they allowed to come forth? Where are they going? Which of the horsemen rides a white horse and has been given a crown. Who is this? Have these four horsemen happened before? Is this past, present or future? Now read the rest of Revelation 6. When does all of this happen?

  14. Read Revelation12 in its entirety. What do you learn about Satan? What can you discern about the time frame here of Satan’s existence?

  15. Read Revelation 13. Read Revelation 19:1-16. Can you compare the two riders on the white horses?

  16. Read Revelation 12. Who is the woman? Who is her child? How many stars fell with the dragon? Can you find the second corresponding red bead of Satan on the 29:11 Story?

  17. Read Revelation 20. What will happen to Satan in the end times?

 


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