The Warrior in the Wilderness

Chapter 4.....The Conflict for World Dominion

This is the third temptation according to the record of Matthew; the second in the record of Luke Ch.5:

"And the Devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, showed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said unto Him, All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them: for that has been delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If Thou therefore wilt worship me all shall be Thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."

So now, for this temptation " an exceeding high mountain" is chosen. From that great height our Lord was permitted to see the kingdoms of this world. Why Satan took Him to this great height we cannot tell except that sometimes " distance lends enchantment to the view."

Sometimes when you have been on holidays, and you have just arrived at a hill-top before descending down into the valley where the town is, it looks so lovely nestling down there. How lovely to live there! What a beautiful place! But then when you arrive in it, you discover narrow little streets, cottages that ought to have been pulled down years ago, miniature slums here and there that quickly dispel romance.

Perhaps it was something like that. The Devil was anxious to make the best show possible, of the kingdoms of this world. He showed them to our Lord, says St.Luke adding a graphic touch: "in a moment of time."

I wonder whether Satan saw what our Lord saw. He said that Daniel was a prophet so by this time we may be perfectly sure that our Lord was familiar with the prophecy of Daniel. I wonder whether He merely saw some of the little kingdoms that were round about, or something greater?

Since he knew that Daniel was a prophet, He knew Daniel had testified of a stone kingdom that was yet to be, a stone that should fall upon the feet of the image, crushing it to powder. We may believe that whatever the Devil showed to Jesus, He indeed saw the kingdoms of this world as they really were. After Nebuchadnezzar had seen those kingdoms in all the splendour of the image in the second chapter of Daniel, the man of God saw them under the symbols of wild beasts.

Perhaps their attraction to Satan was much greater than their attraction to our Lord. Luke says that he showed Him " all the kingdoms of this habitable globe." That is to say, he showed Him all the kingdoms, the fruit of settled government. As if to say, "Behold, here you have got man, in the exercise of civilised government under my complete and absolute sway.

Now that is an aspect of political things that does not dawn upon one man in a million outside of the Christian Church; " All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them, for that has been delivered unto me. The perfect tense! " It has been delivered unto me," and the perfect tense always implies that it has not only been delivered unto him, but it is still there in his grip. "All this has been delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it."

Now that is a very strong assertion to make. And the very first thing that you have to notice about this temptation is that our Lord does not question the accuracy of what Satan says. It is a truth about which surely, every child of God ought to be most concerned to get really right down to the very bottom of it. It touches the whole basis of civilisation.

Now in what way, or by what means, Satan was in the possession of the civilised order of the nations, we are not told here. It was we might conclude by legal right, based upon Divine decree. That would appear from Ezekiel 28. The Anointed cherub under the figure of the king of Tyre, is there described to us as the one who was magnificent in beauty and marvellous in wisdom, to whom God committed the first creation; and made him His viceroy. Satan rebelled against God. But God never withdraws what He has given, and Satan, when he rebelled, still retained his sovereignty, and when he fell, the creation committed to his charge, fell with him. When man sinned, he put himself right into the hands of Satan. " The Prince of the power of the air," says the Apostle Paul: " The spirit that is now working in the children of disobedience." So that our Lord later said: " The Prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me." " The Prince of this world " mark you! And Paul could speak about the god of this world who blinds the minds of the unbelieving."

We are not competent to understand the hour in which we are living, we are utterly incapable of finding a solution unless we recognise very clearly the implicit truth of this temptation. Our Lord faced Satan in this issue, and Satan declared that he had got the kingdoms of this world in his hand; he was the master of the situation.

Now the Devil knows Scripture. We noticed in the last chapter, that he quoted from the Psalms; and therefore we may conclude that the Devil knows that kingdoms of this world are to become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. And may I draw your attention to the fact that in Revelation 11. I5, the kingdoms of this world are not to become the Kingdoms (plural) of our Lord and of His Christ: they are to become the Kingdom (singular). " The kingdoms of this world are to become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever."

So that in this issue Satan is prepared to barter with our Lord, in order that he may save himself from an ultimate full and abject surrender. " All this will I give Thee : they have been delivered into my hand, therefore I have got them in my grasp. The people don't know it, but you know it: I know it; and the struggle for the kingdoms of the world is between you and me: you shall have them if you will fall down and worship me."

That, of course, is the international struggle at this moment. This poor, blinded world that thinks the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so beneath its contempt, does not know, has not the slightest idea that it is in the grip of a vast supernatural power which is hurling it to destruction.

So here is the barter: " All this will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me."

That is a strange challenge. Worship! Think of it! God manifested in the flesh. The audacity, the impudence, the impertinence to suggest that God manifested in the flesh should fall down and worship Satan.

Do you think you have ever been tempted like that? Do you suppose that if our Lord could be tempted like that, that Satan would never dream of doing it to us? Do you suppose that you have never done it? Do you suppose that you are entirely free from it? Well, John with all the perspective of an enlightened vision, said: "'The whole world lieth in the Wicked One."

The masses scorn worship. I well remember the very first Monday I spent in business, somebody said to me: " What did you do yesterday? " And I said: " Well, I went to Chapel in the morning." " To where?" To Chapel." And with an oath he said, "Whatever do you want to go there for?" " What did you do in the afternoon?" "Well, I went to Bible Class." And with a greater oath he said: " What's the matter with you? What did you do in the evening?" "Well, I went to Chapel." And I could not now record the words with which he expressed his amazement. That, is how the masses scorn worship. Yet they do not know that the Devil has brought them to their knees to worship him. He is the god of this world and he demands, and he secures, the worship of every living creature outside of the blood-bought band of Christ's Redeemed Church. That is a terrible truth. It is the very truth at this hour. Satan loves worship. By worship he holds the kingdoms of this world. And once again an incomprehensible possibility much needing to be understood: you can be on your knees in worship, and in doing so be sinning against God. Mere religion may be a most dangerous thing for the Devil is a religious zealot!

"And now," says he, in effect: "such is the supreme value of the soul of Jesus that if I can capture it, the kingdoms of the world can well be gambled away."

So now, what is worship? There are three possible interpretations of the word that is used both by Matthew and by Luke for " worship." It may mean: " to render homage; an act of obeisance." I don't think it means that here, because that seems to be altogether too cheap.

It may mean: " to worship and adore." But that seems to me impossible for Jesus to have contemplated the idea of worshipping and adoring Satan. He had been sent into the world that He might by death bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is the Devil. I do not think that that was the temptation to our Lord.

But there is a third meaning, and I feel this is the explanation here: " To appease, to buy off the enmity." That is the root idea in the worship of heathen tribes and in pagan religions-worship that buys off natural enmity.

So when Satan met our Lord, he said: " Look here, you know that religion is bankrupt; you saw that when you came to the pinnacle of the temple-the utter bankruptcy of religion. Now you know that these kingdoms that you seek, they belong to me, they are m my possession now. In effect, you are threatening my field. Nevertheless, if you are ready to respect my sovereignty and to recognise my right, if you are ready to negotiate a settlement, it can be done, but if not, then in the mastery of the kingdoms of this world I am your implacable enemy."

How does Satan rule the world? Well, he rules it by supernatural force; because in such force he never suffers. He is a spirit. No treaty that men may make can bind him. No bomb that they can manufacture can touch him. He rules by spirit force. To hold his position, millions have been bathed in blood, for he is a wicked, foul monster.

He rules by deceit; for ever stirring up the emotion of men, their fears, their suspicions, and plunging them into sin which brings them into moral chaos. Then blackmails God so that men in their blindness (and even Christians who refuse to believe in his reality) are asking: "Why has God done this?" When this foul monster of iniquity is alone responsible.

He rules it by compromise; not by rooting out evil, but by seeking to circumvent it; He deals with evil, not because it is repugnant to God, but because it becomes inconvenient to men. Hence you can get Governments and Societies to take up a social morality, but not Redemption. That is impossible for a Government. The world outside never looks at morality except in connection with its fruit. It always looks at the effect upon men, and never upon its aspect of rebellion against God.

So Satan is willing to withdraw his opposition if Jesus will co-operate by incorporating Satanic energy in His Kingdom. When I worship God truly, in spirit, I receive the energy of God. " Now," says Satan: "you worship me, and co-operate, by incorporate, co-opt my energy for ruling the world." Hence the kingdoms of the world are to be carried on very much as they have been. There is going to be no rooting out and no redemption. Our Lord might have remembered the example of Nehemiah, when Sanballat would compromise with him about the building of the wall of Jerusalem: " I am about a great work; I cannot come down." That is the position. It is a perilous temptation to day. Oh, the people who are talking about the inculcation of Christian principles and bringing in a new era of peace to the nations! It is impossible; it means a treaty with the Devil.

Here, then is the challenge: By a treaty with the Devil, to take over instantaneously the kingdoms of the world.

A French writer says that this mountain to which Satan had taken our Lord was near the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, and says he: " even as Satan tempted Him, He could see the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, that He must one day take with His disciples on His way to death." There are the kingdoms of the world and there is the tempter with all his consummate subtlety, breathing into his heart the easy way by which to take the kingdoms of the world, and down below, the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, the way to the Cross, the way of death. That is the challenge.

So what is the Warrior's response? Will He make a friend of the greatest power outside of God, or make him an enemy? How would we look at that? Put yourself in the position, and then see the instantaneous and decisive answer of our Lord, whether it be from Matthew or from Luke: " Get thee hence " or " Get thee behind Me, Satan. I am not come into the Universe to worship thee, but to cast thee out." That requires courage!

And again from Deuteronomy, He bases His attitude upon the Word of God: "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." No compromise. Better to struggle, better to suffer, better to hunger, better to thirst, better the spitting in the face, better the crown of thorns, better Calvary and blood, than to take the kingdoms by such a compromise. For God's way is different from the way of Satan and the way of men. God is not going to Christianise the nations. He is not going to infuse into men's civilian government stability, which is divine. God has another purpose in view. The kingdoms of this world are destined to destruction. The kingdom, which is eternal, is a kingdom the heart of which is in redemption. It shall be an everlasting kingdom. The mainspring of its life shall not be physical or moral or international, it shall be the Eternal Life of Jesus Christ God's Son. He has risen from the dead and in that, there is no room for corrupt fallen nature out of which earthly kingdoms have evolved. There is no room for satanic energy to carry it on. It is the work begun and completed in the Life offered up and taken again of Jesus Christ, God's Son.

So what is the call? The call to every child of God is to step out of the entanglement of this world. Step out of it! Don't be lured by it.

Don't put your affections and interests in it. Ask God to deliver you from it. Take the way of the Cross. For after all, what is the worship that is vital? The worship that is vital is the worship, which brings me to the place where I say: " Oh, Lord, in my life Thy Will shall be done." That is what God wants: men and women who have caught the vision of Jesus Christ, Who has redeemed them by His Blood: men and women who see the nations in their blindness in the grip of the enemy, to be delivered by the Cross of Jesus Christ. What a vision! How it ought to thrill a young man or a young woman who has the opportunity and who can see (oh, thank God for the hour when you do see it) can see it is the Cross that delivers. The poor, shoddy, vain, empty, futile devices of men will perish with the kingdoms into which they have made the effort to weave them, but the Kingdom which is founded in the redeeming Blood of Jesus Christ, shall stand for ever.

Is God giving you such a vision? Do you see it clearly? Will you say: "Get thee behind me, Satan.' I refuse to be entangled in your worship. I stand by grace, with Jesus my Saviour, who is God's Hope, and for God's purpose in His Blood. To that I give myself afresh.

And in this dark hour when the nations are again being hurled to devastation by the powers of Hell, may God make you a witness, a herald, for the Kingdom that is Eternal, and the King Who is coming!

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