Monday, November 10, 2008

Jesus's Commands - Matthew 4:1-11

Alright, let's begin.

I have chosen to start with Matthew and go straight through the Gospels.  Don't worry though.  I'm going to do it section by section.  For instance, today's commands come from the period where Jesus' wandered the wilderness for 40 days.  During this wandering he was confronted by the devil who tempted him in three ways.  Each time Jesus was tempted Jesus responded by quoting a verse out of Deuteronomy.  So let's see what he said and how these commands apply to us.

Matthew 4:1-11

In this section Jesus is being tempted by the devil.  He quotes three passages of Scripture that I feel fall under commands of Jesus.

Vs. 4 says “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Though this sentence is not written in the form of a command it definitely serves to remind the Christian that life is more then just the physical.  Life is also, and arguably more importantly, spiritual.  The only thing that sustains the spiritual life, which extends into the physical realm, is God’s word found in the Bible.  What is the command?  Though not explicitly stated here, but definitely in other places, be in God's word, the Bible, regularly and live by what it says.

Vs. 7 says “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”  This definitely is a command from Deuteronomy 6:16.  The reference verse actually says “Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.”  Massah is the place where Moses produced water from a rock for the wandering Israelites.  Upon coming to the place where they were to camp they saw there was no water.  As a result they begun to grumble and complain even hinting at the idea that Moses had led them there to die.  It came to a head when they basically asked the question “Is the Lord really among us?”

How is this testing God?  I think the question “Is the Lord really among us?” was not a question of whether God was really there, but was a question to provoke God to act.  Sort of like “If he has all this power surely he can produce water, but the fact that he isn’t producing water shows he really doesn’t have power.”  It was a provocation, an attempt to get God to use his power to provide for their want.

The real problem behind this is that there was no faith on the part of the Israelites.  If they really understood God’s nature they would not have tried to provoke him into providing water.  They would have had confidence that God would provide.

A question needs to be asked?   Were the Israelites successful in provoking God to act?  It would seem so, but the answer is no.  God acted not because he was provoked but because he knew the need.  God promised to provide for them.  He didn’t need provocation.  As a result of this instance it is used again in at least two places.  One, in Deuteronomy, to remind the Israelites that God is in control and cannot be provoked and in the passage we are looking at right now.   Jesus is being tempted, or an attempt is being made, to provoke God into action based upon what Scripture says.

We should never presume that we have any influence over God beyond what he allows through petition and intercession.  We cannot provoke God to act.  To think that we can wield some influence over God is to have a view that he somehow seeks man’s approval or has something to prove.  He does not.  God is in control.  We need our life to reflect this truth.

Vs. 10 says “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.”  Is there anything else more worthy of our worship?  If one believes God to be as the Scriptures reveal him, then the answer is a resounding no!  Only God deserves worship.  Why is this such an important command?  Man’s natural tendency is to worship something.  Such worship stretches from mundane things to perceived spiritual things to self, but there is nothing that deserves worship except for the God who has created and continue to sustain all things.

Three commands we need to live by.  Study and live by Scripture.  Do not test God but trust His promise to provide the necessities of life.  Worship Him only for He is the only one who deserves worship.

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