Danger in the Desert

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1
Las Vegas (Spanish: “The Meadow”) was a natural oasis in the Mojave Desert. Raphael Rivera, who stumbled onto the area in 1829, was the first non-native to view the area. After explorer John C. Fremont arrived in 1844, his writings lured pioneers.
Underground water sources called “aquifers” provide water for an oasis. Oases may be as large as a city with irrigated cropland or as small as a cluster of date palms around a well. Dates, cotton, olives, figs, citrus fruits, wheat, and corn are common crops found around an oasis.
Blown sand threatens life. Another threat to life is poisoned water—poisoned by accident or on purpose! An inviting pool may be spring-fed and healthy, but by late summer evaporation would lower water levels, increasing the concentration of both harmless and deadly minerals.
When veteran scouts noted the absence of vegetation or bleached animal bones around a desert pool, they avoided the water. Arsenic was a frequent contaminant, leading to an agonizing, rapid death. Mining operations nearby could increase arsenic levels in ground water. As little as one liter of water from pools near a mine could kill a traveler!
Frontier doctors induced vomiting, gave large amounts of milk, gruel, and flax-seed tea, or even rust from old iron!
Some believe Las Vegas, known as “Sin City,” is more dangerous today than a polluted desert spring!
We know of no oasis on the barren heights above Jericho, where Jesus Christ submitted to severe temptation by Satan to prove His impeccable character. Repeatedly tempted during a 40-day fast, He was tempted in every way (Hebrews 4:15). He countered every temptation with scripture from Deuteronomy, the book of obedience. He never compromised God’s Word!
Jesus Christ is the God-Man. As God, He could not sin. As man, He would not sin!
Matthew records three specific temptations. To say “Jesus was hungry” (v. 2) is an understatement! In fact, when hunger returns after a prolonged fast, a person is starving to death. But, the will of the Father wasn’t to satisfy Jesus’ physical hunger, but for Him to remain in dependence upon His Father.
“Since You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread,” said Satan (4:3). In other words, “Step outside God’s will just once.” Jesus overcame His appetite. He never performed a miracle to benefit Himself. He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Man fell in Eden by eating, but Jesus overcame His appetite in the desert!
We have a deep hunger for God. Fulfillment in living comes when we live in fellowship and obedience. When circumstances determine our actions, when we place physical needs above spiritual needs, or when we act independent of God, we sin. Are you living in dependence upon God? Or, does your flesh dictate your every decision?
Satan’s second temptation took place in Jerusalem atop the temple. “Since You are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12). Satan left out “in all Your ways.” The enemy is a master of twisting scripture. He speaks it out of context, turning it into a pretext. God guards us when we live in all His ways. But foolishly presuming upon Him is sinful. We must not tempt God by forcing Him to work miracles to preserve us!
Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
The third test came from a high mountain, where Satan showed Jesus the kingdoms of this world, promising them to Him in exchange for worship.
“All this I will give You,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Satan has always wanted to be worshiped as God. When Adam sinned away our human authority, Satan became the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) and prince of this world (John 12:31). The entire world is under his influence (I John 5:19).
God has already promised that His Son will rule the world (Psalm 110). The kingdoms will become His (Revelation 11:15). Satan’s temptation was, “Take a shortcut. You can avoid the cross and still rule the world.” But such compromise would have left all of us in our sins! And Jesus came to pay the cost of sin!
There are no shortcuts to living in the will of God. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.”
Sin in every human causes us to yield to temptation. But Jesus had no sin. Nothing in Him could fall to Satan’s seduction.
“He (Satan) has no hold on Me,” said Jesus (John 14:30). Jesus was “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). As ordered, Satan left. But the low-down snake would be back. The King and His Kingdom
Why could Jesus not have sinned?
How was His temptation real?
How did Jesus overcome temptation?
“Haven’t We Met Before?” Satan was no stranger to Jesus Christ. They were well acquainted, for Lucifer (“Satan”) had once led the worship of the Son of God (Isaiah 14:12)! Jesus saw Satan’s fall from Heaven (Luke 10:18). Jesus defeated Satan in the desert, but the enemy would return…probably the very next day (Luke 4:13)! Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He appears as a creature of beauty, but he brings death. He uses religious folks like Peter (Matthew 16:21-23). He controls this world system by demonic power. In Daniel’s day, a demon controlled the kingdom of Persia (Daniel 10:13). Did you ever wonder which demon controls China? Or Russia? Or America? The Lord Jesus exposed Satan’s tactics and defeated him. As a man, Jesus lived in the power of God’s Spirit and God’s Word, just as we can live today. Are you living in the power of God’s Holy Spirit? Do you know and use God’s Word to defeat Satan?