“Yield Not To Temptation…!”(Mk.1:12-13).
The number 40 was in use before organised Judaism. “And rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights (Gen.7:12,17, 8:6). Moses spent forty years in exile before coming back to Egypt to lead the exodus that marked the early beginnings of Judaism (Acts 7:30).
Moses “stayed on the mountain for forty days and forty nights to receive the tablets of the Ten Commandments (Ex,24:18). Moses had to intercede for Israel for forty days and nights(Dt.9:18,25). Forty lashes was the set limit a man could receive if found guilty of a crime(Dt:25:3).
It took forty days for the Israelite spies to spy out the land of Canaan (Num.13:25). The desert wanderings of the Israelites lasted forty years Dt.8:2-5). Israel served the Philistines for forty years before Saul delivered them(Jdgs. 13:1). Saul’s army were taunted by Goliath for forty days before David catapulted him to death(I Sam.17:16).
When Elijah was fleeing from Jezebel, he traveled for forty days and forty nights to Mt. Horeb(I Kgs19:8).
Coming to the New Testament; more specifically to today’s text, as soon as Jesus was baptized, “At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended to him”(Mk.1:12-13).
We note that Scriptures does not attach and significance to the number forty. However, it may be inferred, since the number appears often in contexts that deals with testing or judgment.
Nevertheless, the Bible uses the number forty to emphasize some spiritual truth. We must not seek to add what is not mentioned in scripture by forcing some hidden meaning behind the number forty. The external source of temptation (Satan) can have his way if the heart harbours evil desires. Satan took advantage of Jesus’ hunger to ask him to transform stones into bread. When he did not succeed he asked Jesus to demonstrate his supernatural powers by jumping from a height. When he did not succeed he further asked Jesus to worship him and he will offer all the world to Jesus(Mt.4:1-11). Foolish Satan; wanting to give to Jesus the things that have come into existence thtough the same Jesus!
Satan used food for which a glutton would easily succumb. He wanted Jesus to demonstrate his power which those who want to exhibit pride would easily fall prey. And finally, he used wealth, riches which the gullible would easily fall for.
The difference is that when the desires are pure we can easily overcome.
The Spirit was the one who led Jesus to the desert, where Jesus faced the dangers of temptation by Satan, starvation and of being torn into pieces and eaten by starved revenous wild animals. But he was attended by angels.
Indeed, God’s will cannot lead you to where his grace will not be enough for you! Temptations are not a once for all event. They come so often. According to Luke, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time”(Lk.4:13). Satan continued to tempt Jesus through out his ministry right up to when he was on the cross where “The Last Temptation “ took place.
Our journey in faith is to submit our wills to God so that his angels can always be there to attend to us so that we can be overcomers.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, even when you lead me to the desert of temptation, let the angels come and attend to me. Amen!
Have a blessed day! Peace be with you!
Rev. Babila Fochang.