The hope of things unseen

Have you ever suspected something was happening “behind the scenes” of your life? I got that feeling one evening when a group of friends threw a surprise birthday party for me. Upon opening the door to the house, I quickly discovered why there were so many cars parked out front. There was, indeed, something going on. But there is also a greater spiritual reality that we must live by.

In Matthew 4, Jesus encountered the alluring temptations of Satan. During a 40-day fast from food in the wilderness, Satan tried to lure Jesus into disobeying the Father. But by pointing to a reality greater than the one Satan was tempting Him with, Jesus emerged unscathed by Satan’s seductions, ready to accomplish His Father’s work.

In Matthew 4:1–2 we read, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting 40 days and 40 nights, he was hungry” (NIV).

At first glance, it seems a bit odd that Jesus, who was sinless, would be asked to experience the temptation to sin. One clue may be found in Deuteronomy 8, the passage from which Jesus would quote to answer Satan’s questions.

In Deuteronomy 8, Moses recounted how God had allowed Israel to wander in the desert for 40 years for the purpose of testing them to see if they would remain faithful to God. In some cases, Israel failed these tests (Deuteronomy 9:7–24).

But here was a Man who would not fail!

Jesus, in overcoming these temptations, fulfilled the requirements of the perfect Man who would obey the Father in all things and became for us an example of personal righteousness. To minister effectively as Jesus did or to just live a life of peace and joy, one must walk in righteousness with purity and without hypocrisy.

Upon being lead into the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus.

Matthew 4:3 reads, “The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.'”

Was Satan questioning Jesus’ identity as the divine Son of God? He wasn’t.

Other demonic beings clearly understood who He was. Rather, Satan was suggesting that since Jesus was the divine Son of God, He ought to end His hunger by using His supernatural power to “turn stones into bread” to eat.

A harmless suggestion, right?

Under ordinary circumstances, Jesus would not have sinned by simply preparing some food for Himself any more than we would sin today by buying groceries at the supermarket.

But this was a special circumstance. The Father had asked Jesus to fast until God provided for Him.

Satan was tempting Jesus to disobey His Father’s directive to fast and to use His supernatural powers to feed Himself despite His Father’s will. If Jesus had followed Satan’s suggestion, He would no longer have been acting in His finite nature as a man, but He would have tapped into His unlimited divine nature as the Son of God to fulfill His own desires.

But Jesus would have none of it.

Quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus answered Satan’s temptation by pointing to a higher reality that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (NIV).

Jesus recognized that despite His awkward situation, He was safe in His Father’s hands. At the right time, the Father would merely speak a word and Jesus’ hunger would be satisfied.

Do we live conscious of the fact that our circumstances, our provisions and our future are tied directly to God’s will? Are our decisions dictated by what we can see or by the greater reality of our faith in God?

Obedience is sometimes quite easy. I remember one day having forgotten to bring money or food with me to work for lunch. Later that day, the Lord answered my need with a seven-course meal of all the Florida lobster, fish, salad, desert and every side dish I could eat, all at no cost to me! Looking back on that meal, I can’t recall too many meals that were that good, before or since. My senior pastor, Bob Coy, has rightly remarked that “God always gives His best–but in His time.”

Obedience, that day, was easy for me.

But obedience can also be quite difficult. At times, God may ask us to do something that seems uncomfortable for a season.

Perhaps, we are asked to remain in a job circumstance we do not like. Those who are single and praying for a mate are asked to obey God by remaining pure and self-controlled until He provides.

On the other hand, married couples currently experiencing a difficult season in their marriage can obey God by remaining faithful to their vows nonetheless.

In either case, obedience to the Lord is always the best choice and results in joy, a greater depth of spiritual growth and compassion for others. Paul, that great apostle of the early church, learned contentment in any circumstance (Philippians 4:12–13) and became thankful for everything he had or did not have. In Jesus’ case, His roughly three-year Life would rewrite the course of history and impact millions for all eternity.

Is the Lord asking you to exercise faith through a difficult situation? Are you praying and trusting in Him for a provision that seems to be nowhere in sight?

If so, Jesus walked in your footsteps and demonstrated that faith in God is always rewarded, either in this life or in eternity. Make the choice today to live by the reality that God loves you and will provide for you.

Allen can be reached at [email protected]

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