In the Wilderness of Temptation

Wilderness comes to everyone, without exception. One can never be ready enough to go through it without feeling the pain it brings. In the wilderness of life temptation always waits eagerly to test us. Be it physical, emotional or spiritual. Elijah, after he had killed Jezebel’s false prophets, had to run for his life afraid of her. He went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a lone broom or juniper tree, and asked that he might die. He said, It is enough; now O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers (I Kings 19:1-4). Elijah was not only going through a physical wilderness, but a spiritual one as well and asked God to take his life. His body, lacking food to provide him fuel for the journey, suffered depression. After a day’s journey into the wilderness, Elijah desired to die, for his physical body had become weak, his emotion low to the point of experiencing depression. We see this in his prayer: “It is enough; O Lord, take away my life.” But the Lord knowing his needs, answered him not with death but sent him an angel with a cake baked on the coals, and a bottle of water; not only one time, but two times. He ate and was strengthened with that food for forty days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God (I Kings 19:5-8). Elijah could well have said, “I can do all things because the Lord strengthens me.”  Elijah, like Enoch did not experience death. He was taken to heaven through a chariot of fire and horses of fire and a whirlwind (II Kings 3:11).  Elijah, the faithful servant of God went through his wilderness experiencing the presence of God and was supernaturally cared for.

Life in the wilderness of temptation can either strengthen our faith, or it can discourage it; we can either become dependent completely on the Lord, or run away from Him. When faith depends on the invisible, we become overcomers of temptation; but when we depend solely on visible things, faith is no longer existent and we fall into temptation. In the case of Job, when temptation took the best of his health, his wife advised him to renounce God and die; but Job looked beyond his wilderness of temptation, remaining strong in his faith, replied to her, You speak as one of the impious and foolish women would speak. What? Shall we accept [only] good at the hand of God and shall we not accept [also] misfortune and what is of a bad nature? In all this, Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:10).

When YAHSHUA went through the wilderness of temptation for forty days and nights without food, Satan tried to put doubt in His mind, among other things, by using Scriptures to tempt Him, saying, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will give His angels charge over you, and they will bear you up on their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone (Matt. 4:6). Satan in his pride as before, knowing Whom YAHSHUA was, disregarded Him as God and tested Him on the very thing that He was- the Son of God. His pride elevated him to want be like God and that has never changed. Now he tried to dishonor and mock YAHSHUA by tempting Him. YAHSHUA then replied to him, It is written also, You shall not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God (vs.7).

In the wilderness, Israelites tried to undo God’s plan by wanting to go back to Egypt, to their slavery life style. Many of them were left in the desert without experiencing the amazing fulfillment of the blessing given to Abraham- the Promise Land; they also missed being part of the nation God formed, a nation through whom God would bless the other nations, a nation of priests to the only true God, from whom the nations would learn to worship and love Him. But Israel did not want any of that; they wanted the false gods of Egypt. They failed the calling and the desert was their place of burial. YAHSHUA suffered the wilderness of temptation in the Garden before His arrest. He fought hard to go through what He had to come to do. Father, He prayed, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. ..And being in agony He prayed more earnestly and intently, and His sweat became like great lots of blood dropping down upon the ground (Luke 22: 42,44).  The temptation was intense in His wilderness. So with intensity of will and mind and heart, He did not fall into the temptation to give up. Satan had come in his “opportune time,” but there in the Garden of Gethsemane he was defeated. The world would have died lost in sin, and we condemned forever, had our Lord walked away from it all. Thank God, He did not.

David also went through the wilderness of temptation a few times, some of the times for having sinned against God, but others as a result of jealously and envy from King Saul and rebellion from his son. It was there in his wilderness that David wrote prayers of supplication to God and songs of praises in the form of Psalms, as well as several others like him while in their wilderness left prayers and praises to God which serve us well today as means of prayer and worship.  Some of Job’s words uttered in his wilderness of temptations were words of faith and hope: Oh, that the words I now speak were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron pen and lead they were graven in the rock forever! For I know that My Redeemer and Vindicator lives, and at last He will stand upon  the earth, and my skin, even after this body has been destroyed, then from my flesh or without it I shall see God, Whom I even I, shall see for myself and on my side! And my eyes shall behold Him, and not as a stranger! (Job 19: 23-27).  Job was rewarded with riches and his prayer was heard when his words were registered forever in the pages of the Bible to encourage and to guide us to a successful life in the wilderness of temptation.

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