The Temptation to Place Something Else Before God
Just this week, I saw a video clip of a “worship” service in Boston, Massachusetts. This gathering was a group from The Satanic Temple. The main attraction for the evening was to watch and cheer and clap as a lady picked up a copy of the Bible and ripped out all of its pages from the binding. Concerning Christians, the lady said, “We stand here today in defiance of their ‘siege’ and destroy their symbol of oppression.” They were lifting their hands to say, “Hail to Satan.”
Thanks be to The Father; Jesus was given words from scripture memory to put Satan in his place on all three points of temptation. The Holy Spirit joyfully gave Jesus’ recall of these responses. Jesus stood firm (with a growling, human, hungry stomach!), and put Satan in his place. In Luke 4:13, we read, “…when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” Satan was done with this moment of temptation, but he was far from done. Hallelujah, Jesus was not done either!
From the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem to a high mountain, the temptation journey continues toward its final act. The mountain is not named but I believe it could have been Mt. Hermon in the northernmost part of Israel. From many vantage points, this mountain can be seen as you tour Israel. Year-round, this mountain usually has snow on top. Melting snow joins with the springs of Banias to form the Jordan River which feeds waters into the Sea of Galilee before continuing southward and into the Dead Sea.
This journey of spiritual torment between Jesus and Satan began in the south in the wilderness of Judea with the first temptation. It moved slightly eastward and northward into Jerusalem for the second temptation. Finally, it re-convened all the way to the north on this (or some other) exceedingly high mountain for the third temptation.
Never forget that Satan was promising Jesus something that was not even his to give!!
Satan displayed the kingdoms of the world before the eyes of the One Who had participated in the creation of ALL of it. “All of this will be Yours if you fall down and worship me!”
In His reply to the third and final temptation, Jesus literally told satan to hit the road and get out of town. With the same tone Jesus would later use to calm the storm on the Sea of Galilee, Satan was shown the highway. This would be the same tone used when Jesus sent the demons out of the man of the tombs and into the pigs. Jesus was in charge.
Satan departed from Jesus for a time. He would not be very far away during the entire three-year earthly ministry of Jesus. The name “Satan” means accuser, enemy, adversary. He was plotting and planning his next move at all times, pulling out all the stops in his quest to avoid and subvert Calvary.
After the “Be gone!” command, Jesus closed by quoting once again from Deuteronomy. He said, “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him alone shall you serve.”
Worship and service are reserved for God alone. Someone should have stepped onto that stage in Boston this week and informed the modern-day worshippers of Satan of these facts.
To “worship” is to fall down at the feet of another and “kiss toward or give single-focused honor toward” the one being worshipped. God and God alone is worthy of this behavior. To “serve” is to employ all of yourself in answering the call to do what brings honor and glory to God. Service is the human response to such a great and mighty Lord. The word for serving here is the same word used for deacons in the early church.
Satan fell from heaven because of his pride. One third of the angels joined him in his departure from the presence of Holy God. This cataclysmic event divided the angel band into two distinct groups—faithful angels and fallen angels. The faithful angels were bookends for the ministry of Jesus and were there at every point as His earthly story unfolded. They were there at His birth, His time in the wilderness sparring with Satan, in the Garden of Gethsemane, at the empty tomb and at His ascension. However, Jesus would face the cross without their help. He could have called out to them for help but as we know, thank goodness, that never happened.
Satan knew Calvary was coming according to Genesis 3:15. I don’t think he could ever have dreamed about that empty tomb and the rolling stone!