Satan at the Pinnacle – Jesus’ Hour
(all five audio messages given at Hashawha Milton September 5-7, 2020 can be listened to and/or downloaded at https://biblestudyministries.sharefile.com/share/view/scdab5bccc1a44ab8/foda0aea-dc82-4885-bb60-2395b206a7c7 )
Full Transcript of Message #5:
By the Holy Spirit, God has put His truth in creation, and we can see His truth in creation. An unsaved person can go out in creation and if they don’t have the Holy Spirit, they could stare at a grapevine all their life, and they would never say, “What a wonderful picture of fruit bearing through union with Jesus.” They could look at a tree by the river, and they would never conclude, “This looks like a righteous man planted by the rivers of water.” They don’t get that from going out in nature. They can look at chaff blowing in the wind, and they wouldn’t say, “The wicked are like that – just being blown away.” They could look at the sun, and not think of the Lord, and see the wind and not think of the Holy Spirit, think of storms and not think of God’s handiwork. Nobody goes into creation and sees God. So, we come to the Bible and the Bible teaches us how to see God in creation. We need the Holy Spirit, and from the Bible we learn that He is a vine and we’re the branches. From the Bible we learn the tree planted by the river is like the righteous man. So, we come to the Bible to know how to see God in creation.
God reveals His truth, the Holy Spirit in creation, but the Bible also reveals His truth in Christ Jesus. And the Bible says that we want to be taught in Christ Jesus. Tom and I have been praying that the Lord would use the things He has shown us, and help you to see the Lord a little bit. But that’s not the goal. We’re not out that you would see how God uses our messages, but we do have a passion that you see how God has revealed Himself in Christ Jesus. Let’s pray together and ask the Lord to guide us.
Our heavenly Father, we thank You this morning that You’ve given us such a beautiful weekend, such a lovely place. Lord, we praise Your name for gathering us together and renewing our fellowship, and opening Your word and heart to us. Now this morning we pray if there are loose ends, that You would tie them altogether. We would pray that you would clinch the message that’s on Your heart in our hearts. We thank You, Lord, for truth. We thank You for truth in the abstract, but we also thank You for truth as it is in Christ Jesus, and for that we ask You to reveal Christ to us this morning, and we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
We don’t need a lot of review. One reason is I have a lot to share and I don’t want to take a lot of time reviewing. Malachi 3:1 is our key verse, “”Behold, I’m going to send My messenger. He’ll clear the way before me.” (That’s a reference to John the Baptizer.) “And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple. And the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He’s coming,’ says the Lord of Hosts.” And after a whole 38 books in the Old Testament, God’s heart is patterned on the temple, on the tabernacle. It had become a shell at the end, and it was exciting to read that God would revisit the shell. And in the shell, if He would find somebody who was seeking Him, somebody who is delighting in the covenant of grace, that He would come to that person and reveal Himself. I remind you what you know well, and it’s 1Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God. You are not your own.” (And be careful what you do with someone else’s property). “You’ve been bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.
I want to give this much review. The approach we’ve taken is that Jesus promises to come suddenly to His temple. When He lived on the earth for 33 ½ years in His incarnate body, there are stories in Matthew, Mark and Luke and John where He suddenly came to the temple. And we’ve suggested that the way He came then is the way that He will come now, and what He revealed when He came at that time, He’ll reveal when He comes to His temple now. We look at three stories together. I’ll just give you the main principle. When Christ comes to His temple, it’s to fulfil His heart’s desire to have a tabernacle, a tent, a building, a body made of skin that He could fill with His glory. That’s what is pictured in the tabernacle; a house of skin that he wants to fill with His glory. In that house comes the ark, the throne. He comes in His temple to reign, and He comes in His temple to rest. And that’s what the heart is. That’s you and that’s me. And that’s where He comes; into His temple.
We saw Him come when Jesus was a little baby. He suddenly came to the temple, and we learned the first principle; when He comes to the temple, we will discover by revelation that salvation is not a plan or ritual, or some kind of a doctrine or dogma. Simeon took that little baby and looked in His face, and he said, “My eyes have seen Thy salvation.” Everything we ever need to know about Jesus, to know about salvation, is in Jesus; all about salvation past, salvation present, and salvation future. So, that’s the first thing; salvation is a person.
Then we saw Him come to His temple when He was twelve years old, and there Mary and Joseph, the seekers, lost the Lord and the one question on their heart was, “We must find Him.” So, this second illustration Jesus revealed, “Must I not be about My Father’s business, my Father’s interest, my Father’s pleasure, my Father’s will, my Father’s purpose.” The One that lives in your heart, my heart, our hearts, is the One who is always doing the Father’s will. That’s what it is all about; to accomplish the Father’s will. We’ll look at that a little more this morning.
Then, finally, Tom shared with us last evening at the Feast of Tabernacles He comes in to our lives, when He suddenly comes to His temple, to fill the temple with His glory in such a way that what was filled with His glory comes out as life, a life giving stream. Tom went to Ezekiel 47 as a marvelous picture, as Moses could not get into the tabernacle because the glory of God filled the tabernacle, as the priest had to be driven out of the temple, because the glory of God filled the temple. So, in that picture Ezekiel is picturing the whole body. If he had stayed in the flow of life, he would have drowned. And God took him out and said, “This is My picture; the temple is filled with the glory of God, and life comes out, and you, separated, you just watch from the bank.”
Have you ever allowed the Lord to take you there where you watch what God is doing in your life and through you, from the bank? We stand apart, and as he looked, every place the river touched, lived. Everything it touched came to life. The Bible actually says that river went down into the south into Araba into the Dead Sea. That’s the lowest spot on the earth. That’s death; the Dead Sea. And when that river got there, the Bible says that the Dead Sea became alive, and fishing communities grew up around it. It was alive with fish; the Dead Sea! So, you see our principles. Christ is salvation. The will of God is supreme, and the glory of God wants to flow through you, and bring life to everything it touches. That’s God’s pattern, and that’s His blueprint, and that’s what He’s wanted from the beginning.
Matthew 4:4, this is a different kind of a text, “The devil took Him to the Holy City, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it’s written He’ll command His angels concerning you, and on their hands they’ll bear You up, so You will not strike your foot against a stone.” I have a goal in this message. I’m moving toward a principle, a revelation of the Lord, but I want to take steps, just to take us there. So, I’m going to gradually move to where I believe the Lord wants us to go.
In that connection let me state a couple of things that make this coming to the temple different than when He suddenly came to His temple. The first difference is this; in this case when Satan brought Him to the pinnacle of the temple, it’s not really fulfilling Malachi 3:1 because there were no seekers in this story. He’s coming to find the seeker, and there is no one who is delighting in the covenant of the Lord in this story. So, it’s a little bit different. Matthew 4:5, “The devil took Him to the Holy City, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple.” Matthew says that the devil took Him. Luke says that the devil led Him; that’s a little bit different. The second difference I want you to notice is this; the stories we’ve been touching, Jesus suddenly comes to His temple; we mean “in His temple”. That’s not what is happening here. He’s not going into the temple; not to reveal Himself, not to teach, and not even to cleanse it. He’s brought to the outside of the temple, and that will become an important point, but it’s a difference.
The third difference is that this is a temptation. Satan was attempting to tempt the Lord Jesus, a temptation which involves Jesus and the temple. That’s why we’re touching this story, because it has something to do with the temple, and it’s a temptation that Jesus resisted. He had absolute victory over it, and He said, “You will never, never, never get me to agree to what you are trying to get me to agree to.” So, Jesus would never submit; that’s very important. It’s a little different than the stories we’ve been looking at, because we’re not responding now to seekers and delighters, and because He’s not coming in; He’s on the outside. The important point is that He ends and we end this series with this great warning. There’s a temptation, and it’s a great warning.
I’m quite certain that you’re all familiar with the passages on the temptations of the Lord Jesus in the wilderness. That’s a study all its own, and it would take a lot longer than one lesson to go through that. Let me give some of the facts about the temptation, and then we’ll home in on the one we want to look at. We know it took place right after Jesus was baptized. Luke 4:1, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness.” And we know He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for a purpose; to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” We also know that we don’t know how many temptations took place, but we know that the Holy Spirit focuses on three. There were three.
Matthew is different than Luke’s record. They give the same three, but they give them in a different order. Matthew says the one we’re going to look at, pinnacle of the temple, was the second temptation. Luke says it was the third temptation. What I get from that is the order doesn’t matter, because it could be either way. The full text are in Matthew and Luke, but Mark does gives us something the other two do not mention. Mark 1:13, “He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and angels were ministering to Him.” We don’t get those facts in Matthew and in Luke.
Some commentators, very most all of them, say that those three temptations were comprehensive. In other words, they include every possible way that anybody could possibly be tempted. Some say that Jesus was tempted in His body, in His soul, and in His spirit, and that’s how they look at it. Others say that it’s close, but He was tempted in His mind, in His emotions, and tempted in His will. Some take the illustration from 1John and say that He was tempted in the temptations of the world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life. Some go back to the Garden of Eden and say there were three temptations. It was good for food and pleasant to the eyes, and it was desirest to make one wise. Some say that God was just appealing to the three God-given, from the Lord, desires that He built in us. One was the desire to enjoy, one was the desire to acquire, and one was the desire to accomplish. So, God in a comprehensive way is covering all temptations. I see where they are coming from. I understand all of that. Some call attention to the three places. He was tempted in the wilderness. He was tempted on the mountain. He was tempted in the temple. And that’s sort of an overview of everybody’s life; we all have wilderness in our life; we can be tempted in the wilderness. We all have mountaintop experiences. We can be tempted on the mountain. And we can be tempted in the temple, in things spiritual, which, of course, would be the most subtle of all.
Quite apart from that, we’re going to focus on the temptation when Satan took Him to the pinnacle of the temple. Let me make a couple of comments. Like I said, I’m moving slowly into this. I want you to get this little bit of a background. I want to make a couple of observations about the temptations as a whole. The first is, and maybe you have light on this, I do not, that there is great mystery the way this is recorded. We know the Spirit led Him into the wilderness. Did all three temptations take place in the wilderness? The Bible says that Satan took Him to a high mountain. How high? I don’t know. But it’s says that from that mountain He saw all the glories of all the kingdoms of the earth in a moment of time. I can’t identify that mountain.
Then, is it literal? Did He actually go to Jerusalem, to Herod’s temple, where he had enlarged and beautified Zerubbabel’s temple? Did he really pick Jesus up and take Him there? Was it a vision? A lot is mystery. There’s a lot of mystery in this. I’ve studied it and I’ve studied those who have studied it, and I still scratch my head. That’s mystery. So, I leave that there.
The first thing I want to say about the three temptations before we home into our text, I know you’ve heard before, and I think God’s people generally know this, and it bears repeating. The first is this; Jesus was not tempted in the wilderness as our example. A lot of Christians have that idea that we’ve got to look how He was tempted, and then follow that example. When Satan tempted Him He quoted scripture, so when we’re tempted we should think of some scripture quote, and all that kind of thing. He did not do it as our example. He represented us. He did it as our substitute. He was not tempted first to teach us how to be tempted second. He was tempted once in our place, so we don’t have to go through this. That needs to be unpacked, but I’ll leave it there. Rick says he’ll straighten you out on that. Whatever it means, He gains a glorious victory over that, and those who have learned to rest in the Lord, have learned to rest in His victory when He was tempted. He had victory in the days of His flesh, and He has victory in the days of my flesh, and your flesh. Praise God for that!
With that as background, let’s then move to our story. It takes place in the Holy City. I don’t know if it’s vision or literal, but the Holy City on the pinnacle of the temple. Matthew 4:5, “The devil took Him to the Holy City, and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple.” The challenge that Satan made was in verse 6, “If you’re the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written that He will command His angels concerning you, and on their hands they’ll bear you up, so that you will not strike Your foot against the stone.” One commentator I read had a very pithy comment, and I appreciate it. It said, “Satan can tempt you to throw yourself down, but Satan can’t throw you down.” I’m glad of that truth.
Matthew 4:6, Satan quotes scripture challenging Christ to act on what was written. He’s quoting Psalm 91:11&12, “He’ll give His angels charge concerning You to guard You in all Your ways. They’ll bear You up in their hands, that you do not strike Your foot against the stone.” I’ve read some that make a big deal out of the fact, “How could He be tempted on the pinnacle of the temple? The temple doesn’t have a pinnacle.” So, there are books written on that. I’ve gone through that. I’m not going to bore you with that. Where was the pinnacle? Was it in the outer court? Was it the royal porch that is described on the southeast corner of the temple which overlooks the four hundred and fifty foot drop in the Kedron Valley? Where was the pinnacle? I don’t know and they don’t know, but for our purposes the pinnacle of the temple is going to become an illustration, a principle; the high place in the temple. Okay, that’s pinnacle. In fact, pinnacle actually means “highest place”. So, we’ll use that; that He was tempted in the highest place.
Now let’s see if we can apply all this to Malachi 3:1. Two things that we need to be clear about, if we’re going to see God’s heart, to go back to the blueprint, and so on… The first is Matthew 4:6, “Satan said, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. It’s written He’ll command His angels concerning You, and on their hands they’ll bear You up, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.” So, I’m going to try to answer, “What did Satan mean when he said, ‘If you are the Son of God..” We need to understand that. That’s the same charge he said in the first temptation, Matthew 4:3, “The tempter came and said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’” I want to give you my twilight on what I think that might mean.
Secondly, I want to discuss Jesus’ response to the temptation, Matthew 4:7, “On the other hand it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” KJV says, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord Thy God.” What does it mean to tempt the Lord? What does it mean to put God to the test? I think it’s important that we at least begin to understand that. Jesus could have been saying, “I shall not tempt the Lord Thy God. I’m the Lord Your God. Why are you tempting Me?” It could be that. Or Satan could have been tempting Him to presume on His Holy Father God, and so on. Either way, I think it’s important to be crystal clear. What did Satan mean when he said, “If you are the Son of God…’” in Matthew 4:6?
I don’t think he was trying to get Jesus to doubt His relationship with His Father. I don’t think He’s saying, “Are you really the Son of God? Think about it. You might be mistaken. You might only think you are.” Matthew 3:16, “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water. Behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, lighting on Him. Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” That’s the last thing He heard before He went into the wilderness; “You are My Son; My Beloved Son.” Jesus knew who He was. Whatever Satan was trying to do, you can’t tempt somebody for something that is not in doubt. There was no doubt in Jesus’ mind who He was. When he said, “If you are the Son of God,” he wasn’t saying, “Are you sure that you are related to God?” He wasn’t saying that. Instead, he was setting up a challenge. He quotes Psalm 91, a promise, “He’ll give His angels charge concerning you.” What he’s saying is, “If these things are real, don’t be afraid to jump. God has given you a promise. Prove it. If you are the Son of God, prove it. That’s what the temptation is about. “Cast Yourself down. Give some evidence. Then they’ll see it, and then they’ll know that You are the Son of God.” He wasn’t trying to get Jesus to doubt His relationship. He’s trying to get Jesus, without a word from His Father, to prove that He is in the Father’s will, and the way to prove it is to claim a promise that God had given; a faithful promise.
Matthew 4:7, “Jesus said, ‘On the other hand, it’s written that you shall not tempt the Lord Your God, or put the Lord your God to the test.” What did He mean when He said that? Whatever it meant, you know it can’t contradict James 1:13, “Let no one say when he’s tempted, ‘I’m being tempted by God.’ God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” It’s not possible to tempt God to do something contrary to His glory; His nature; His character. That’s an impossibility. I’m going to try to spell it out, and in order to do this, God gives in picture form (when I say that, I’m usually talking about Old Testament) in a story form where He comes right out and says, “What you just did tempted the Lord your God.” So, if you look at the story, we might get an idea what it means.
Tom made reference to this story last night. It’s Exodus 17 when the people grumbled for water. Later they complained about not having food. Exodus 17:2, “Therefore, the people quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water that we may drink.’ And Moses said, ‘Why do you quarrel with me,’ (here’s the verse), ‘why do you test the Lord?’” Whatever they did there is testing the Lord. Now, you need to see what they said with their lips. Exodus 17:2, they quarreled with Moses and here’s what they said with their lips, “Give us water, that we may drink.” They weren’t talking to God. They were talking to Moses, and they said to Moses, with their lips, “Give us water to drink.” But God doesn’t just listen to the words of your lips. He goes a little deeper. He listens to your heart. He goes down inside. He knows what is really the issue. Exodus 17:7, “He named the place Massah and Merribah because of the quarrel of the Sons of Israel, because they tested the Lord saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’” They never said that. They never said, “Is the Lord among us or not?” They talked to Moses and said, “Give us to drink.” And God looked in their heart, and said that what you are really saying is, “Is the Lord among us or not?” God saw the heart, what they were really saying, and He called that “testing the Lord”.
In their heart, by testing God, they were saying this, “We are thirsty. We have been redeemed. If God is real, prove it. Is He here? We wouldn’t be thirsty. Why are we going through this experience?” God saw their heart and they were saying that God was not here. The same story is referred to in Psalm 78, and it’s the same occasion, Exodus 17, but this time it has to do with food. Psalm 78:18, “And in their heart they put God to the test by asking food to their desire. They spoke against God. They said, ‘Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?’” They never said with their lips, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness.” They said, “We’re hungry. Give us quail.” And they’re talking to Moses. They aren’t talking to God, but God looks into the heart, and God sees what their heart was saying, and they were saying this, “We are the people of God, and we’re out here and we’re thirsty. Is God among us or not.” That’s their heart. “We’re out here and we’re hungry. Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?” They never said those words. That’s what God heard; that’s what the Lord saw, and He called it “tempting the Lord”. “If God is here, prove it, and give us water. If God is here, prove it, and give a table and feed us.”
When Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple, and said, “Cast Yourself down, he wasn’t trying to get Jesus to doubt His relationship. He was attempting to get Jesus to presume on His Father. He was attempting to get Jesus to prove that God was there, and God was real, and God has given a word, and if God gave that word, you can trust that word – jump!” All through Jesus’ life He acted on this principle. John 5:30, “I do nothing on my own initiative. As I hear, I judge. My judgment is just. I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me.” Jesus said, “I will never act.” We saw that in another occasion, “I’m not going to act until My Father tells Me. I’m on a schedule. I have to wait for Him.”
Let me ask you this. I want you to picture Jesus at the highest point on the temple on the outside. If at that moment He had received the commandment from His Holy Father God, and God said to Jesus, “Jump!” do you think He would have jumped, if He got it from God? Absolutely He would have, and every promises God ever made concerning Him would have been fulfilled. He would have jumped if God told Him to, but Satan saying, “Claim the promise, and don’t wait for God, the One who made the promises, and don’t think He has to fulfill it, but you can claim it at any time,” timing was a big part in the ministry of Christ.
Tom didn’t have time to get to it last evening, but in chapter 7 at the beginning His family wasn’t saved yet. They didn’t know the Lord yet, and they had this same idea. They came to Jesus, and they don’t use the word “Messiah”, but it’s in their mind, and they say, “If you are who you claim to be, your great opportunity is right there at the Feast of Tabernacles. There will be millions of people. Why don’t you come and do a few miracles, and let them see You, and jump through a few hoops. You’ve got to prove Yourself. Go to Jerusalem.” Jesus made this interesting comment. He said to them, “Your time is always opportune. My hour has not come.” What did He mean by that? I think what He was saying is, “You are not a believer, yet.” Actually, He told His brothers they weren’t believers. He said, “If you were believers, the world would hate you, but you can get along with the world because you aren’t saved, yet.” He told His own family that. What He was saying is this, “You guys who are of the world, you don’t have to worry. Your time is always opportune. You decide when you want to go. Do you want to go on a trip? Just make a decision. You want to go on a cruise? Make a decision. You want to move from here to there? Make a decision. Jesus said, “I don’t have that privilege. I have to wait. My hour has not come. You go on to Jerusalem. If God tells me, I’ll see you there.” And He didn’t leave for four days into the meeting. This is all going to apply.
May God help us here! I used to describe these principles as Christian honey; it’s sweet but it can get thorny and sticky. Have mercy on me! Jesus did not live His life by claiming promises. He lived His life by trusting the One who lived inside of Him, and waited for His hour to come, and when His hour came He moved knowing that the One inside of Him had made many promises, and all of those promises would be fulfilled when His hour came. Why do I bring that up? It’s because that same One that lived on the earth in His incarnate body lives again, and has a new body now. He lives in you, and He lives in me. When He came to live in you and me, He does exactly what He did when He was on the earth. That is, He comes in us, as we saw twelve year old Jesus, to do the Father’s bidding, to the Father’s everything. But there’s an hour. He waits for His hour to come. He comes in your life, and you say, “Act now. We’re trusting a promise. We’re claiming this. Work for us.” He said, “My hour is not come. When My hour comes I’ll do it.” And there’s not one promise in the whole book that won’t be fulfilled when I do it. So, we’ve got to trust him to wait for the hour to do the Father’s bidding. I’m so glad He comes in to my heart, being one with God and knowing the Father’s will, He waits for that, and I don’t have to wait for a word. That’s too subjective. So many Christians are just, “I don’t know what to do, but I’m waiting for a word.” You don’t have to wait for a word. You just trust the One who lives in your heart. He has the word, and in the fullness of time He’s going to perform what He’s promised, and not one promise will ever not be fulfilled.
That’s an important principle. Let me give you an example. Take Psalm 23. I think we all know that; the great Shepherd Psalm; claiming promises. I’m going through a dry spell in my life, and I’m parched, and I come to the Lord and say, “Lord, you promised. I can read the words. I’ll quote it back to you. You promised green pastures. I don’t have green pastures. I have sand and I have wilderness. I claim green pastures. You promised me still waters, and I have a right, because You don’t lie, and You gave Your word, and You promised still waters. I’m a sheep. I claim still waters.”
What if He said, “My child, this is the time that I want you to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil. It’s not the time for green pastures and quiet waters, but it’s the time to lead you with My rod and my staff. It’s not that time. It’s the time where you have a testimony and I give you a table in presence of your enemies.” We go out and we claim promises, and we say that God said it, and I believe it, and that settles it, and I claim it. Usually we think presuming on God is going without a word from God. That’s presuming. I had a friend one time, and he’s in heaven now, and knows better by now. He used to think that he was the white line in the street. We’re talking about our dear brother Pat. He enjoyed walking in traffic because he said that the Lord will protect him. We had so many times that we had to pull him out of the road; here comes a semi-truck, and we’d try to save Pat. He was claiming a promise.
When I was pastoring, this is quite a few years ago, I got a call from a lady. She said, “I have children and they don’t have any clothes. So, a brother and I went to visit. She had burned all the kids’ clothes. She took them all and burned them. I said, “Why would you do that?” She said, “I never saw God provide, and I wanted to see God provide.” That’s why she burned all their clothes. We didn’t know what to do. Of course, the church rescued her, and got clothes for the kids. She got all excited that the Lord came through, and all of that.
We think the idea is moving or presuming on God when we don’t have a word, and I want you to understand, that if you don’t understand the warning, and this is only for seekers, for those who delight, it’s a great temptation to presume on God when you do have a word; not when you don’t have a word. Satan quoted the word, “You’ve got this word, now jump.” That was his temptation.
Let me just wrap that principle with James 5:7&8. This is a tremendous passage on the coming of Christ. Listen carefully when I say “the coming of Christ”. It’s not the second coming of Christ. Most people read this passage as if it were a passage on the second coming. It may have reference to that remotely, but its main context is that He comes to me day by day, and comes to you. It’s His coming. James 5:7, “Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You, too, be patient. Strengthen your hearts for the coming of the Lord.” You say, “How do you know that’s not the second coming?” I know it because a couple of verses later He uses Job as an illustration. He had patience and waited for the coming of the Lord, and saw the end of the Lord. That’s not the second coming. So, my whole point is this, that we wait until the One who lives inside us finds that His hour comes, and then He moves, and every promise He has ever given will be fulfilled; not one promise will fail. You ought to believe every promise in the book. I would be cautious about claiming in your time every promise in the book. They will all be fulfilled and He’s not going to fail.
I had a pretty sure word when Lillian was pregnant with David, that she was pregnant. I couldn’t claim it. As soon as we got the doctor’s report that she’s pregnant, I claimed that child right then. There’s a time period. The farmer goes out and he plants the field and he throws in seed. He can’t go the next day and say, “Where is the harvest?” I planted the seed. He’s patient, and he waits. And what God is doing in your life, and doing in your heart right now, you may not understand. Ponder and consider it. God lives in you to do the Father’s bidding, and there’s an hour and there’s a time, and you are to be patient. You are not to claim a promise and say, “I demand this now.” You are to trust the One inside you to know when that promises will be fulfilled, and you wait patiently for Him. It’s a lot easier to trust Jesus than to try to claim promises and wonder why it didn’t work. And many Christians are in that situation. You can claim whatever prayer you want, but God has given these words from Psalm 69:13, “At an acceptable time, answer me with Your saving truth.” Isn’t that a great prayer? At an acceptable time, answer me with Your saving truth.
Let’s move closer to the actual story. Satan’s attack seems to be in terms of ministry. When Tom closed last night, He gave us God’s heart on ministry. God’s heart on ministry is when the glory of God fills the temple, and so full that it flows out as the water of life. That’s a great picture; filled with the glory of God; really, the God of glory; filled with His presence in such a way that living water flows from the beneath the temple. You say, “Yeah, and I’m right in the middle of that, and God is using me.” You better get out of that stream, or you’re going to get swept away. God took Ezekiel out and from the shore he said, “Wow, look at how God used me. Look at God use His temple.” He separates; it’s the exchanged life. It’s Him flowing, and you’re observing, and you are seeing every place He goes and everything it touches lives, and comes to life.
Well, that’s real soul winning. That’s missions. That’s evangelism. That’s the exchanged life. That’s ministry. In this temptation Christ is not seen flowing from the temple, from within. In this temptation Christ is on the outside of the temple. Matthew 4:5, “The devil took him to the Holy City, and had him stand on the pinnacle of the temple.” This is not what Tom shared; a life filled with the glory and life of God, and flowing out as life giving stream to others. That’s not what this is. In this situation the temple is supporting Christ. He’s on the temple, and the temple is holding Him up, and it’s the pinnacle of the temple. This sounds so spiritual. The temptation is… Satan hates Christ in you. He hates that. He wants Him on the outside, but then he says subtly, “Make sure you hold Him high. Give Him the high place. As long as He’s not inside. Give Him the high place. In fact, give Him the pinnacle. Give Him the highest place. That’s the temptation.
“It’s the temple’s ministry,” Satan whispers, “And you have a duty to proclaim Christ, to take Him to the high place. Bring Him to the outside, and then have Him do something without waiting for the Father’s pleasure, and have Him do something that will be a sign and a wonder, and appeal to sight, and people who are standing beneath, they will see You jump and God will keep His word, and You’ll float down like a feather, and they will be so amazed, and they’ll see this great miracle, and they will accept You as Messiah.” And Satan whispers to Jesus, “Isn’t that what You want? Isn’t that what’s on Your heart. Isn’t that what Your mission is? Don’t You want people to accept You? Then do it. Prove it. Show Yourself. Jump. God has promised, and You aren’t going to get hurt. In fact, everybody will receive You.”
You see, that’s the exact opposite of what Tom shared. Missions, ministry, soul winning, being filled with the glory of God, so full, that His life flows out, and it gets so tremendous, that you can’t stand it, and you get on the bank, and you watch what God does. That’s His pattern, and that’s His blueprint, and that’s His heart. That’s what God wants. He doesn’t want a temple, a church that holds Him high, very high. If He’s on the outside, you can’t hold Him high enough. Satan is saying, “The church will help you minister Jesus. The church will make you known, and they’ll be talking about, and You’ll be as high as You can be. And then, without waiting for the Father, jump. Trust the promises of God. It sounds so spiritual. But there is no pinnacle high enough to satisfy the heart of Jesus, if He’s not living in His temple. The temple is His house, and His dwelling. It’s where He lives, and where He longs to live.
Someone says, “You can’t accuse me of violating God’s word. I’m holding Him high. Don’t you think I preach Him every week? I talk about His holiness. I talk about His attributes. I talk about His judgment. I talk about His coming. I talk about His salvation. I talk about His death.” Does He live inside, or are you just holding Him high, and then are you demanding signs and wonders so that people can be amazed, appealing to sight, and not to faith? Let’s say it worked. Let’s say that Jesus did jump down, and the angels caught Him, and everybody clapped and applauded. What has been accomplished? Were there any weak and heavy laden that found rest when that happened? Were there any guilty, addicted to sin that found relief when that happened. Is there any sinner, leper, so dirty with sin, needing cleansing, that found forgiveness? After that was all over, people would die and go to hell. It sounds so spiritual, “Lift Jesus high. Claim the promises. Have signs and wonders.” The Lord Jesus said, “I will never submit to that.” That’s the one temptation where Jesus is related to the temple and Jesus said, “I’ll never allow that. That is not My ministry. I’m not going to prove anything. I want to flow. I want to touch lives and give life, while standing on the bank.” I’ll tell you, your eyes and mouth will be opened wide in amazement. You won’t believe how God will use you, if you get out of the way, the way God will use me if I learn to trust His life and not mine, to let Him flow. It’s awesome. But this “deliver now and provide now, and claiming your word now, heal now, you gave a promise and do it now, and we’re trusting You for that.” No, you’re trusting the One who lives in your heart who is always busy about the Father’s business, and in the fullness of time He will make every promise He has every given fulfilled in your life. That leaves you a wonderful rest. You can rest in the Lord, and just trust Him
Someone says, “How come the Lord isn’t delivering You?” I’ve got a good answer now. “His hour hasn’t come! I’m doing fine. It doesn’t matter. I’m waiting for His hour.” When His hour comes I’ll look back and say, “Look at the promises God has fulfilled.” Believe all the promises, but be cautious about claiming them in your time schedule. That’s what is on my heart to share with you.
I want to remind you that we have an illustration of this, as I get to wind it up I want to give this illustration. The same thing, when he gives the seven churches, the church of Laodicea. Many Christians say, “Their sin was worldliness.” I think they need to look a little closer and study under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That wasn’t their problem; worldliness. Of all the churches, including Ephesus, as you go from church to church, you get more spiritual. Laodicea was the most spiritual of all the seven churches. How so? Revelations 3:17, “Because you say, “I have become rich and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, do you not know that you are wretched and miserable, poor and blind and naked?” When they said, “We are rich,” we always think gold, silver and money. No they were saying, “We’re rich in Christ.” When they say, “We’re clothed,” they’re talking about the righteousness of Christ. When they say, “We have need of nothing,” they are saying, “We’ve arrived. We have need of nothing.” Revelations 3:17, “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, you do not know that you’re wretched, miserable and poor and blind and naked. Revelations 3:18, “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so you may become rich; white garments that you may clothe yourself; the shame of your nakedness not be revealed; eye salve to anoint your eyes that you may see.”
Everybody comes to this church and say, “Hot, cold, lukewarm, and He doesn’t like the lukewarm, and he spews it out of His mouth.” Did you ever ask the Lord, “What does it mean when a Christian is hot? What does it mean when a Christian is cold. What does it mean when a Christian is lukewarm.” Some people say, “Lukewarm; if you’re hot you’re zealous and are on fire for Jesus. If you are cold, you are just sort of detached and living your own life. If you are lukewarm, it’s a mixture of both.” That’s not what He’s saying. Let me give you a description for who is hot. What does it mean that a Christian is hot. It means they see that they are needy, and they see Christ as the answer, and they embrace the answer. What is a cold Christian? They see that they are needy, but they try to meet that need here, here, here, and here. They go to other places. What is a lukewarm Christian? “Because you say, ‘We have need of nothing.’” A lukewarm Christian is someone who has arrived. You say that you don’t need anything. “Why don’t you need anything?” “I’ll tell you why I don’t need anything, because I am rich in Christ, and I am clothed with the righteousness of Christ and I’m complete in Christ.” “Wow, where’s Christ?”
Revelations 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I’ll come into Him.” He’s on the outside. With all of their claims, “I have no needs. I’m rich in the Lord. I’m covered in the righteousness of Christ. I’ve arrived. I’m complete in the Lord. I have no needs.” Jesus said, “If you have no needs, you don’t need Me.” And He stands and He knocks, “Please, I want to be in. That’s My temple. I’ve got to get in.” Not on the outside. That’s His heart and that’s His blueprint.
I want to give two final pictures, and then end this series. The first is the cleansing ministry. You know His ministry began cleansing the temple, and His ministry ended cleansing the temple. It didn’t work. It ended up a shell, but He had a heart for this shell. Here’s an amazing thing, that when we were doing our research for the temple, I was very excited because I thought, “Let’s look at the times Jesus healed in the temple.” I thought this series would go in another direction. I wanted to show you how He can heal in the temple. He never did. He healed in the synagogue. I was looking at these temple passages, and wondering why in the world He never healed anybody in the temple. I thought maybe where the woman caught in adultery, that took place in the temple, but He was already in the temple teaching, and He didn’t come suddenly to the temple. She did, and they brought her in. That’s a little different. He never healed anybody in the temple, except once.
At the end of His ministry, Palm Sunday morning, after he turned the tables over, after He threw everything down, Matthew 21:14, “And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.” It’s not an accident, brothers and sisters in Christ, when we’re looking at temple truth, the only time He healed in the temple, He opened blind eyes and He took crippled people, and taught them how to walk, before man and before God. That’s His healing ministry. That’s what He does. He continues to open blind eyes and teach people how to walk. And the second illustration, and with this I promise we’ll close, when we study we always look for first mention, full mention, last mention. What’s the last mention of the temple in your Bible, because that has to wrap everything up. It has to be a consummation.
Revelation 7:15, now we’re in heaven; this is heaven, “For this reason, there before the throne of God, they serve Him day and night in His temple. He who sits on the throne spreads His tabernacle over them.” That’s an amazing verse. And they serve Him day and night in His temple, and His tabernacle is over the temple. That’s a reverse of the picture of the Old Testament where the tabernacle is in the temple. Revelation 21:22, we’re still in heaven, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Strange passage! They worship day and night in this temple, and there is no temple there. How do you worship God in God? He’s the temple, and He tabernacles over you. You see, He’s bringing everything to a climax, and He says that in eternity if you want to see My heart, they worship God in a temple, and He tabernacles them, and in fact there is no temple. It’s the Lamb. Christ is the temple.
We don’t want you to get four points out of this series. We want you to end up where God ends up. You say, “What is temple truth?” It’s Jesus. That’s temple truth. It’s Jesus. He’s salvation. It’s Jesus. He lives in me to do the Father’s will. It’s Jesus. He’s the One that fills with His glory, and then flows with His life. It’s Jesus. There’s no temple there; just the Lord Jesus. May God take some of these ideas and burn them into our hearts. Let’s pray.
Father, thank You for Your word, not what we think it might mean. We don’t want You to work in us our guesses, but all You’ve inspired it to mean. Will You work that in our heart? Thank You for Your victory over this temptation. Deliver us forever from just trying to lift You high, claim promises before Your hour has come, look for signs and wonders. Deliver us, and thank You for Your victory. Work these things in our lives. We ask in Jesus’ precious name. Amen