As I was reading from John Piper’s “A Hunger For God” today I learned something new and just so amazing.
After Jesus was baptized He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to begin forty days of fasting. This we are all pretty familiar with. Did you know that when Satan came to tempt Jesus He quoted verses that all came from Deuteronomy?
“Man shall not live by bread alone.” Deut. 8:3
“You shall not tempt the Lord Your God.” Deut. 6:16
“You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” Deut. 6:13
Why is this significant? Let’s look closer. Here is Jesus led by the Spirit into the wilderness- into the wilderness-and in order to fight the temptations of Satan, Jesus quotes these passages all from Deuteronomy, all of which are spoken to Moses to the Israelite about their time in the wilderness.
Here is a helpful way that John Piper teaches it in the book comparing Deuteronomy 8:2-3 to Jesus’ time in the wilderness:
You shall remember all the ways which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness (as Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness) these forty years (Jesus was there forty days) that He might humble you, testing you (as Jesus was tested) to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you be hungry (as Jesus was hungry by fasting) and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord (just as Jesus says to Satan).
So obviously there are too many similarities in these two stories to think it is coincidence. But what does it mean?
It means “that God is now, with the incarnation of His Son, preparing to deliver his people-the new Isreal-from the Egyptian bondage of sin into the Promised Land of forgiveness and righteousness and eternal life.” Wow. Incredible.
I hope this makes your heart pound a bit the way it does for me. I see significance in pressing in through fasting when I find myself in a wilderness place. I see that it is through the test of fasting that my heart is revealed and my need for a Savior becomes so evident. I see that Jesus, in order to triumph, looked back on the promises of God and dug deep inside of Himself to stand on faith that above all His deepest appetite was for God and His will alone. I find strength and encouragement to know that the Israelites were tested, and even more so, Jesus was tested and in my testing I will triumph through my hunger for God over this world and what it has to tempt me with.
I would rather sit and feast at Your table, O God, then indulge in all the richest foods the world could bring me. Awaken in me an appetite for You so great that my hunger for You is insatiable and the more I eat the more hungry I get.
“The weakness of hunger which leads to death brings forth the goodness and power of God who wills life. Here there is no extortion, no magic attempt to force God’s will. We merely look with confidence upon our Heavenly Father and through our fasting say gently in our hearts, ‘Father, without You I will die; come to my assistance, make haste to help me.'”-Joseph Wimmer