The Testing of Christ

Miscellaneous thoughts on the passage this Sunday.

Jesus was led BY THE SPIRIT into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Jesus’ human nature felt hunger.

Jesus is the New Israel (out of Egypt, through the waters, 40 periods in wilderness etc.)

Israel in wilderness (1) no bread – murmured – doubted God’s PROVISION as Father (2) entry into Canaan – God will not save us – doubted God’s PROTECTION as Father (3) worship of the golden calf – doubted God’s GIVING INHERITANCE.

Jesus overcame temptation through resources available to his human nature – God’s word, Prayer, reliance on the Spirit. He felt the full force of temptation on his human nature (because he did not give in early)

Jesus overcame what Adam and Eve did not – Lust of the flesh (Good for food), Lust of the eyes (good to the eye fruit/kingdoms), Pride of life (wisdom/angels will save) – see 1Jn 2:16.

Jesus is a second Adam whose obedience is credited to those who belong to him.

Behold the angels came and served him food. Psalm 91 is true of the faithful man.

Up into the WILDERNESS, set on the pinnacle of the TEMPLE, taken to a VERY HIGH MOUNTAIN – three eschatological locations of increasing altitude

The devil quoted Psalm 91 to Jesus about angels not letting him fall but left off the next verse about his crushing the serpent underfoot.

John the Baptizer

In Isaiah 39 God speaks of Israel’s judgment and exile. Then in Isaiah 40 God speaks of comforting his people by his coming in the wilderness to reveal his glory and character. Before he comes there will be ‘a voice’ in the wilderness calling people to make drastic preparations for God’s coming – described in terms of poetic road works filling in valleys and removing mountains.

In Matthew 3, after four hundred years, the silence is broken by ‘a voice’ in the wilderness saying, “Thus says the LORD” – John the Baptizer. Like Elijah he called on Israel to repent for God’s rule was coming.

And then God appeared … but not in all his divine majestic power riding the storm clouds through the wilderness – rather a plain ordinary Jewish man walking down from the hill – “God-in-the-flesh” – Jesus.

John said he would baptize with Spirit and fire but when he was baptized (in obedience to his Father’s will that he identify himself with sinners) – the Spirit came upon him like a dove.

Why a dove? It has echoes of new creation (from Genesis 1 and Noah’s flood) … but also of gentleness and meekness. Isaiah’s God – God-in-the-flesh – baptizer with Spirit and fire – gentle and meek towrd brusied reeds and smouldering wicks.

Two quotes:

Every time we say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it. – J. B. Phillips

The Holy Spirit destroys my personal private life and turns it into a thoroughfare for God. – Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

This insect was highly prized as nourishment, either in water and salt like our prawns, or dried in the sun and preserved in honey and vinegar, or powdered and mixed with wheat flour into a pancake.


Last night we finished our study of Leviticus. Talks can be found on the “Bible Talks” page accessed on the sidebar. Below is a summary.

Sacrifices and Offering (Leviticus 1-7)

  • Burnt offerings – removal of wrath and whole-commitment to God
  • Grain offerings – thanksgiving and tribute to God as king
  • Fellowship offerings – restored table fellowship with God
  • Sin offerings – cleansing from the defilement of sin
  • Guilt offering – giving back what was taken away

The First Priests in Israel and their Fall (Leviticus 8-10)

  • When the first priests were ordained and the first sacrifices made fire came out from the LORD and burned the sacrifices indicating God’s acceptance of the people.
  • When two of Aaron’s sons presumed to offer God ordinary fire(rather from the fire God had initiated), they presumed to worship God in a way of their own choosing rather than obey his Word – fire came out from the LORD and burned them in judgment.

Clean and Unclean (Leviticus 11-15)

  • This led to many chapters teaching Israel and the priests the importance of distinguishing between ritual clean and unclean with respect to the tabernacle.
  • The division of clean and unclean animals reminded Israel of their need to be separated from the unclean nations and their idolatry. We do not keep these food laws today because in the gospel the division between Jews and Gentiles has been removed in Christ.
  • Others laws about ritual clean and uncleanness had to do with who could come to the tabernacle. Anything to do with disease, loss of blood, loss of life fluids was associated with death and rendered a person unclean and unable to come to the tabernacle. We do not keep the ritual clean laws today because now Jesus is the tabernacle of God.

The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16-17)

  • We looked at how Jesus is like the sin offering that brought cleansing from sin and also like the scapegoat that removes our sin far from us. Jesus is the perfect high priest who removes wrath and judgment from us.

Laws of Holiness (Leviticus 18-20)

  • We considered the sexual laws regarding moral cleanness and uncleanness. We also talked about how these are applicable today and the foolishness of those who seem to suggest Christians pick and choose in Leviticus which laws to obey ignoring context etc.
  • We also saw that holiness had to do with imitating God e.g. God acts in kindness to vulnerable people and holiness for us is doing the same. Leviticus 19 gave us many practical ways in which holiness is imitating God.

Holy Days (Leviticus 23-24)

  • Sabbaths – Not to live like atheists as if life comes from our striving but to joyfully thank and trust God for his goodness.
  • Passover and Unleavened Bread recalling Israel’s being redeemed from slavery in Egypt – Jesus’s death, the removal of sin, saved from slavery to sin
  • First Fruits of the barley harvest given in thanks to God – Jesus as the first fruits of the resurrection
  • Seven Weeks of the wheat harvest (Pentecost) –Jesus’ giving of the Spirit
  • Seven month festivals of Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles pointing to Jesus’ return – the last trumpet, the earth cleansed with blood and fire, the establishment of God’s dwelling with us forever.

Sabbaths, Jubilees, Blessings and Curses (Leviticus 24-26)

  • Sabbatical Years and Jubilees were about resting and restoration. The land gave an abundance of food produced without cursed human toil. Its abundance was shared peacefully by all the people, livestock and even wild animals – Eden restored for a year. In the Jubilee slaves were released and restored to their inheritances. Obedience to Sabbath in all of life brought blessing.
  • Disobedience brought curses, the opposite of Sabbath rest (loss of crops despite toil, wild animals took life) and exile (slavery and disinheritance).
  • Sabbaths and Jubilees pointed to the work of Jesus in bringing restoration now (Post-cross) and in the new heavens and earth.

Gifts to God (Leviticus 27)

  • The book ends as it began – with people bringing gifts to God in worship.

Personally I learned a lot this year in Leviticus about holiness and once again came to appreciate this as a book of the bible very relevant for life and godliness.

Maclean Evangelical Church

cross-sphere-logo-Copy.jpgWe are an evangelical church in Maclean. We value learning the Bible together, we desire to glorify God, and are choosing to be a loving and joyful church.

God has been so good to us.

We meet at 5:00 p.m. in the CWA hall on the main street in Maclean (40 River St near the Post Office roundabout)  Click for Google Map You are welcomed to stay for a meal after the service.

Contact: Rev Andrew Groves (02) 6647 6658

Also check us out or ‘Like’ on FACEBOOK

BIBLE TALKS can be found on the ‘Bible Talks Page’ or from the sidebar. (Current talks are on Matthew’s gospel)

More about our church and our beliefs can be found below

Affiliation: Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches


Short series on “Go and Make Disciples”

Having just done three talks on Church Leadership where we thought about how the Word of God must be at the center of what we are doing … we are now looking at making disciples and evangelism.

Email for talk links

Go and Make Disciples (Love as our Father loves)  (28.09.2014)

Go and Make Disciples (Jonah) (21.09.2014)

Go and Make Disciples (Matthew 28) (14.09.2014)

Evangelism (The Problem of the Human Condition) (05.10.2014)

Evangelism (The Power of God in Regeneration) (12.10.2014)

Jacob’s wrestling

John Calvin’s comment on God’s wrestling with Jacob (Sunday’s Bible passage). It really helps in life to have this perspective and hopefully I explained it well enough.

There wrestled a man with [Jacob] … to teach us that our faith is tried by him; and whenever we are tempted, our business is truly with him, not only because we fight under his auspices, but because he, as an antagonist, descends into the arena to try our strength. This, though at first sight it seems absurd, experience and reason teaches us to be true. For as all prosperity flows from his goodness, so adversity is either the rod with which he corrects our sins, or the test of our faith and patience. And since there is no kind of temptations [testings] by which God does not try his faithful people, the similitude is very suitable, which represents him as coming, hand to hand, to combat with them. Therefore, what was once exhibited under a visible form to our father Jacob, is daily fulfilled in the individual members of the Church; namely, that, in their temptations [testings], it is necessary for them to wrestle with God. He is said, indeed, to tempt us in a different manner from Satan; but because he alone is the Author of our crosses and afflictions, and he alone creates light and darkness, (as is declared in Isaiah,) he is said to tempt [test] us when he makes a trial of our faith. But the question now occurs, Who is able to stand against an Antagonist, at whose breath alone all flesh perishes and vanishes away, at whose look the mountains melt, at whose word or beck the whole world is shaken to pieces, and therefore to attempt the least contest with him would be insane temerity? But it is easy to untie the knot. For we do not fight against him, except by his own power, and with his own weapons; for he, having challenged us to this contest, at the same time furnishes us with means of resistance, so that he both fights against us and for us. In short, such is his apportioning of it is conflict, that, while he assails us with one hand, he defends us with the other; yea, inasmuch as he supplies us with more strength to resist than he employs in opposing us, we may truly and properly say, that he fights against us with his left hand, and for us with his right hand. For while he lightly opposes us, he supplies invincible strength whereby we overcome.

Subsequent to this Jacob ‘Deceiver’, who has striven all his life for God’s blessing using deception and strategy, becomes Israel ‘Strives with God’ who in a maimed state clings desperately to God begging with tears for the blessing. Jacob is a changed man reliant on grace alone.

Jacob’s struggles with men have in fact been struggles with God as his ultimate antagonist – hence when he sees Esau he states that seeing Esau’s face is as seeing the face of God.

(See Genesis Page for talk)