The Scriptorium

The Walls Came Tumbling Down

Jericho, but on a much larger scale. Matthew 4.1-11

Matthew 4: Wilderness Victory (7)

Pray Psalm 111.1-3.
Praise the LORD!
I will praise the LORD with my whole heart,
In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.
The works of the LORD are great,
Studied by all who have pleasure in them.
His work is honorable and glorious,
And His righteousness endures forever.

Sing joyfully Psalm 111.1-3.
(Manoah: When All Your Mercies, O My God)
Praise the Lord! O let my heart give praise here amid His chosen race!
Your works are great, O Lord, and sought by all who know their grace.

For Your work is full of splendor, Lord, and of majesty most pure;
Your righteousness, O glorious God, forever will endure!

Read aloud and meditate on Matthew 4.1-11.

1. How many different ways did the devil try to tempt and defeat Jesus?

2. How did Jesus defeat the devil and his temptations?

When Joshua led Israel into Canaan, the promised land was filled with people who worshiped false idols, practiced devilish rituals, and fought constantly with one another. At the battle of Jericho, the walls came tumbling down, and with the walls of Jericho, the rule of pagan nations in the land of promise. The fall of Jericho was the death knell for paganism in Canaan, at least, for a season.

Just so, Jesus’ victory over Satan in the wilderness brought down the walls of his flimsy domain and sent him and all his ilk into captivity (cf. 2 Pet. 2.4). Jesus’ temptation was a great battle in the spiritual war for God’s throne, and He showed that nothing would keep Him from claiming the crown that had been prepared for Him from before the foundation of the world. Jesus’ victory in the wilderness sounded the death knell for Satan and his minions. Though the war continues until the King returns in glory to end it once and for all, ultimate victory was secured there in that Judean desert. All that remains is for Jesus and His followers to plunder the strong man’s domain, freeing people from the lie, and restoring the reconciled world to God and His goodness.

Matthew’s gospel will continue from here to reveal the Lord’s battle plan and strategy, and to enlist us in the glorious work of seeking His Kingdom and righteousness. But the foundation for everything was laid here, in Matthew 4.1-11. We are to learn from Jesus that, in whatever we do in life, we must choose the truth of God rather than the lies of the devil; we must resist the allure of the flesh – satiation, self-serving, power, and all the rest – and look to God and His Word to direct our steps. Only the Word of God is a Sword sufficient to keep the devil at bay, and to allow us to continue the conquest of the earth in the train of our conquering King (Rev. 6.1, 2).

1. Why is the Word of God so important to life as a disciple of Jesus Christ?

2. How can we know when we are being tempted to choose the lie rather than the way of the Lord?

3. God will always be ready to assist us to wield His Word with power. What role should we expect angels to play in this?

The Lord does whatever is necessary for our salvation by both acting and being acted upon. He submitted himself to being led up there to wrestle against the devil. Now we should not be troubled if, after our baptism, we too have to endure great temptations. We should not treat this as if unexpected but continue to endure all things nobly, as though it were happening in the natural course of things.
John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 13.1

Keep me strong in You through every temptation, Lord, so that I may…

Pray Psalm 111.4-10.
Praise the Lord for all His many wonderful works, especially the work of Jesus, in freeing us from bondage to sin, fulfilling the promise of God’s covenant, translating us into His Kingdom, and opening the treasures of His Word for understanding and wisdom.

Sing Psalm 111.4-10.
Psalm 111.4-10 (Manoah: When All Your Mercies, O My God)
You have caused Your many wondrous works to remain before our face.
For You are full of mercy, Lord, and abounding all in grace.

For all who fear You, You provide; Your covenant endures.
Your pow’r You show Your people, Lord, and make the nations theirs.

The works of Your all-sovereign hands are faithful, Lord, and just.
Your precepts ever more are true and worthy of our trust.

You have sent redemption, to us, Lord, in Christ of cov’nant fame,
and we in wonder, grace, and awe adore Your holy Name.

All they who would true wisdom know must learn to fear You, Lord,
And in that wisdom daily live and praise You evermore.

T. M. Moore

Worship the Lord!
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What really happened in the wilderness? What did Jesus accomplish? Our book
Satan Bound: A Theology of Evil, can help you to understand more completely the magnitude and importance of Matthew 4.1-11. Order your copy by clicking here.

You can download for free all the studies in this week’s series, and all the previous studies in the Gospel of Matthew, in a format suitable for personal or group use. Simply click here.

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore