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Study 1 Picture Study 12: Angels and Jesus
12-1 Angels And Jesus || 12-2 Angelic Strengthening Of Jesus || 12-3 The Angel Gabriel || 12-4 The Wilderness Temptations Of Jesus || 12-5 "Angels that sinned" || 12-6 Angels And The Law || 12-7 The Devil's Angels || 12-8 The Judaizers || 12-9 Principalities And Powers 

12-4 The Wilderness Temptations Of Jesus


The evidence for the 'devil' in the wilderness being Christ's internal desires seems too strong to be dismissed. However, there are a number of hints in the records which imply that Angels had a part to play in the confused mind of Christ. His temptations show that He was thinking of misusing their power, and this must have constantly been with Him- not least on the cross (Mt. 26:53).

Both John and Ezekiel were shown by an Angel a future temple and a high mountain. Perhaps Jesus in His confused state (He had not eaten for forty days- cp. 1 Sam. 30:11,12) thought an Angel was leading Him in vision to the same scene. Jesus saw the state of the Kingdoms in the future (Lk. 4:5)- i. e. when the Kingdoms of men have become the Kingdoms of Christ (Rev. 11:15). It is noteworthy that there are many points of contact in Revelation 21 and 22 with the wilderness temptations- a "holy city", a great mountain, temple towers, a wrongful falling at  someone's feet. John was shown the visions (Rev. 1:1; 4:1) in the same way as Jesus was "shown" the Kingdoms by an Angel.

Because of Christ's love and respect for the Angels, He may have been tempted to resign His potential  superiority over them and worship the mighty Angel which had represented Him in Old Testament times. It was maybe this Angel that Jesus imagined offering Him all the Kingdoms of the world if He would worship him.  Bear in mind it is the Angels who rule over the Kingdoms of men. We have seen that Nebuchadnezzzar was humbled by seeing that the Angels were in control of the kingdoms of men. Dan. 4:32 says "the Most High ruleth in the Kingdoms of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will". Jesus being offered these Kingdoms cannot be just an incidental allusion back to this passage in Dan. 4. He was offered them by "the Most High"- an Angelic phrase, perhaps referring to the 'highest of the high ones'- the great Angel who represented Jesus, dwelling between the Cherubim?

Christ   overcame  all  His  temptations  by  quoting   from Deuteronomy, showing that His mind was seeking strength from the words of the Angel leading Israel through the wilderness. There are clear similarities between the Angel's leading of Israel through the wilderness and Christ's experience in the wilderness:

Deuteronomy 8                


Matthew 4

v. 2 "The Lord thy God [an Angel] led thee. . in the wilderness"


v. 1 Jesus led by the spirit (an Angel?) into the wilderness.

Forty years in the wilderness


Forty days in the wilderness

v. 3 "He (the Angel who led them in v. 2) suffered thee to hunger".


The Angel made Jesus hunger.

The Angel "fed thee with manna" (Ps. 78:25)


Jesus was tempted to ask the Angel to provide bread as He did to Israel in their testing.

“Man doth not live by bread alone"


v. 4 "Man doth not live by bread alone"

Considering In The Heart

Thus Jesus surveyed His own experience in the wilderness, and saw that He could take to Himself personally the lessons given to Israel. The Angel led Israel through the wilderness "to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments or no" (8:2). God Himself knows anyway, so this must be regarding the Angel, seeking to know the spiritual strength of Israel, as Job's  satan Angel sought to know Job's strength. Similarly, Christ's  Angel led Him into the wilderness, suffering Him to hunger, to humble and  prove Him, to reveal His real attitude to the word of God. His quoting of the word to answer the temptations surely proved this to the Angel, especially since Christ showed Himself so capable of thinking Himself into Scripture, and therefore taking the lessons most powerfully to Himself. Christ was made to realize the importance of His memory of the word, as He would have later reflected that this was the only way He had overcome- that man spiritually lives by "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God". As a result of their wilderness temptations, both Israel and Christ were led to "consider in (their) heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God (the Angel) chasteneth thee". The chastenings of Christ spiritually  in  the  wilderness  were therefore arranged by the Angels.

There did not have to be Angels actually tempting Christ in the wilderness temptations- because they can act directly on a man's heart, they can lead us into temptation. The fact we pray for Him not to implies that He does- through the Angels, as He Himself tempts no man (James 1:13), although the Angels tempted Abraham, Israel and Christ among others. In the same way as our spiritual strength is due to our personal effort in studying the word along with the Angel acting upon us, so our temptations come from our own internal lusts, but to some degree the Spirit-Angel is also active here. Thus the Angels may arrange an external stimulus, e. g. the  fruit of the tree of knowledge, knowing it must produce certain internal desires within us which tempt us.

The temptation to throw Himself off the top of the temple because of the Angelic care He knew was about Him, was also answered by a quotation which has an Angelic context- "Ye (Jesus) shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted Him in Massah" (Dt. 6:16). At Massah the Israelites put the Angel to the test by questioning whether He could provide water (Ex. 17:2-7).