When we look at the Scriptures knowing without a doubt that God is beautiful and absolutely good, we are compelled to seek deeper than we did when we assumed that God was harsh. And throw away all the assumptions we made based on that false premise. And ask, and seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7-11). for the Holy Spirit to illuminate the greater story of God’s loveliness that is hidden, waiting in the Scriptures for us.
For the Holy Spirit is the only One who can reveal the true beauty of God within the living, powerful, God-breathed Scripture. It is impenetrable to the human mind. And as we see, some will seek God’s mysteries through the occultic arts, but those revelations are always laced with sabotage and destruction, and even death.
In this episode, the Holy Spirit illuminates Matthew 4:1 “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” And so here I tell a story that offers a magnificent revelation of our beautiful God in this, beyond anything you might imagine.
And this is just Part One. Part Two is an even more wonderful revelation of how beautiful God is. Next week I will be building on this and telling you the next part of the story. And if you receive it, it will change your life forever. I know it did mine.
I encourage you to study these things for yourself this week. Here are the Scriptures dealing with parts of the story I told:
- Matthew 1:18 through 2:23
- Matthew 3:13 through 4:11
- Mark 1:9-13
- Luke 1:26-38
- Luke 2:1-20
- Luke 2:39-52
- Luke 3:21-22
- Luke 4:1-15
And these are the Scriptures I quoted from in the video:
- Matthew 4:1
- I John 3:8
- Philippians 2:5-7
- Luke 2:52
- Mark 1:10-11
- Numbers 4:24-26
Plus, many other truths from throughout the Scriptures were woven into the story that I have not cited.
God is beautiful, absolutely good, gentle, light of heart, rich in tender mercies, and filled with loving kindness.
Hi, I’m Gail Ruth, and today we’re going to look at the time in Jesus’ life when the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be temped by the devil for 40 unimaginable, probably hellish, days. And the Holy Spirit wants to share through this event a revelation of our beautiful God. So I shall tell you a story. All glory to God!
Matthew 4:1 “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”
The story doesn’t start at that verse. It goes way back into eternity, but I’m going to start the story with a miraculous pregnancy. There was no earthly father. Just the Holy Spirit, who had chosen Mary to gestate and raise the Messiah, the Son of God. She received the call humbly.
Few understood of the miracle of it; what they saw was an out-of-wedlock pregnancy in a devout young woman. After she was clearly pregnant, an angel explained the situation to her betrothed, Joseph, in a dream, and he faithfully married her. All this happened in the small remote town of Nazareth in Israel.
The story goes on. Late in her pregnancy, Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem where… Jesus is born! The Messiah has come to earth! The Son of God is here! This was a universe-shattering event! The hope that had been promised for millennia was being fulfilled! Break out the trumpets! Announce the good news!
And God did that. He sent His angels to celebrate and announce this astounding event… to… a few poor shepherds. Isolated. Out in the fields. At night. Why all the camouflage and secrecy?
Well, because the Scriptures tell us that Jesus had come to earth to “destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8). And the devil knew about this plan. It had known about it from the beginning, and it had prepared a counter-offensive for that time.
This evil one and the heavenly Son of God knew each other well from even before the foundations of the earth, back when it was a created being that served the Most Beautiful God. And that was before it had developed its lust for power and domination, before it had twisted itself from a beautiful creation into pure evil.
It knew of God’s so offensive plan to rescue humanity from its grasp through a Messiah, who would be God’s own Son. It detested the Son of God, but at the same time was very afraid of Him.
The devil knew it had to prevent God’s redemptive plan from going forth. It was its only hope to win in its fight against God. And the best way would be to kill this wannabe savior of humanity. Because in order for the Son of God to complete his mission, He had to be on the earth in the flesh. This devil had lived on alert throughout the history of humanity, watching for the appearance of this Messiah so it could destroy Him before the Messiah could seal its destruction.
And therein was the problem. For the Scriptures say, “Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (from Philippians 2:5-7)
In other words, the heavenly, magnificent Son of God was starting out on earth as… a fertilized egg! He was going to be leaving His glory behind in heaven. And He would be living life like everybody else has to––growing up slowly one day at a time, learning everything from nothing, subject to the ways of the earth. Thus the problem––he had to live through the process of growing up and preparing. And the devil was laying in wait for Him.
And so He had to be protected and hidden. For 30 years.
We see this problem in living color after the Magi enter the picture. Using their occultic arts, they barged into God’s story. And they alerted both the powers of darkness and powerful evil men to the fact that the Messiah had been born. That was not God’s intention. He did not want the forces that would seek His Son’s earthly life to know He was there. Not yet.
Because of the Magi, God had to warn Joseph in a dream to flee in the night with Mary and the young Jesus to Egypt. They escaped with their lives. But an enraged King Herod––who had been stirred up by the devil who needed him to fulfill its agenda––slaughtered every young child––(newborn through two years old)–– there in Bethlehem, in hopes he could eradicate this young King. And because He didn’t know which one of these was this Messiah, he just killed them all. That is the fruit of using occultic knowledge, even when it’s used with good intentions.
But in spite of this massacre neither Herod nor the devil could know for sure that the Messiah had actually been killed. It would always nag at them. The threat might still be out there somewhere.
King Herod finally died, and with that ever-vigilant threat out of the way, an angel of God instructed Joseph in another dream to return with his family to Israel, and then in a following dream, diverted him away from Bethlehem, where his family roots were, and back to Nazareth, the place where everyone remembered Mary’s supposed disgrace.
Why send them back to Nazareth? Because Bethlehem is close to Jerusalem, far too close. But Nazareth is off in the North, away from the centers of power: political power, religious power, spiritual power. The devil didn’t roam much in that insignificant place.
So life went on in Nazareth. Until Jesus was 12 years old. That’s when He got crosswise with the plan for His safety. He naively decided on His own that he should live at the temple in Jerusalem, rather than in backwoods Nazareth. It seemed like a good idea to Him––He thought He was doing a good thing. He had no understanding at that age of the jealousy that those in power could have toward a young prodigy, nor how quickly their marveling could turn to treachery. And He was also yet unaware that His ancient enemy, the devil, was seeking to pick up some sign that the Messiah might have escaped death in Bethlehem, so it could try again.
But his parents––they understood the need to protect him, and found Him and corrected Him, and He obediently returned with them to Nazareth, not at first understanding why anyone would have any concerns about this great plan of His.
And so in the backwaters of Nazareth, Jesus grew to manhood, and, like his earthly father, worked as a carpenter with His hands and His creativity, until He was 30 years old. And all that time, Jesus was growing deeper and deeper into the beautiful nature and character that would show the world who God is. The Scriptures say, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52). And He was being prepared to be able to stand unflinching in the face of his enemies, even in the face of the absolute evil that is the person of the devil.
All this time, for 3 decades, the devil uneasily roamed Israel. And hated itself for its own limitations––so unlike the God it wanted to conquer and dominate. For those limitations kept it from knowing whether the Messiah was still alive on the earth or not.
For the devil is not like God. There is no comparison. Its knowledge and understanding are severely limited. And it can only be in one place at a time.
The years passed… Drumroll… The fullness of time came. Jesus was fully prepared, and now needed to become fully equipped. And so His Father God drew Him down to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist.
And what happened there? The Scripture says, “And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:10-11)
Jesus was now fully equipped, for the Holy Spirit had come from heaven to help Him, and His Father had announce His presence into the earth, calling Him to begin His ministry.
This was the big reveal. Father God’s voice reverberated throughout the entire spiritual realm.
Woe! The devil shook in fear and rage as it learned that its enemy was not dead after all. Oh, the danger was intense. But it had more tricks up its sleeve. It pulled out Plan B and set off to play the hand that it had been setting up ever since it had been cast out of heaven.
Its plan made it confident again. This time it would use its wiles and turn the Messiah toward darkness. It knew it could win with this. All it needed from Jesus was one chink in His armer and one little indulgence. Just one small choice––that was all it would take to end this threat forever. No one had ever escaped before. God’s plan would fail.
The Holy Spirit, meanwhile, knew that the confrontation that had been brewing from ancient days was at hand. And the Spirit was ready with His strategies. The Spirit had already established the base camp for this––out in the wilderness––a place where Jesus would have everything He needed for this time. A place with no bystanders that could be harmed and no one to interfere. And the angels had already made it ready for their beloved Son of God.
Jesus was actually fond of the wilderness. He loved the solitude with His Father. He loved the creatures. He didn’t fear even the venomous beasts. The Scriptures say that he would withdraw himself into the wilderness, and pray. (Mark 1:10-11). It was a precious place to Him.
Jesus too was now prepared for this. He was ready to face down the devil in all its rage and evil, and prevail against it. But even WITH the help of the Holy Spirit, this would be a monumental struggle for the Son of God, who was living as a man. And so the Holy Spirit had appointed for Jesus to fast from food for the duration in order to strengthen Himself spiritually throughout the face-off.
And so the Spirit quickly led Jesus to this choicest of places in the wilderness, where this long-destined, cosmic battle would begin….
And this ends the first part of our story, which explains the Scripture in Matthew 4:1 “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”
And next week I will tell part two of this story. And if you receive that revelation, it will profoundly change your life.
All glory to Jesus Christ and our Most Beautiful God, and to the Holy Spirit who reveals the mysteries of God’s beauty and goodness to His children.
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee,
and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee,
and give thee peace.