Our first discussion, found in the books of Matthew and Luke, centers on Satan and his forty day temptation of Jesus. The other two times the devil speaks are in the book of Revelation. The first of these transpires in the third heaven and the second occurs on the earth.
Jesus versus the Tempter
|3. And when the tempter (the devil) came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread" (Matthew 4:3, HBFV throughout)|
Many who quickly read the Bible believe the devil spoke to and tempted Christ only three times. What Scripture lists, however, is the three greatest temptations leveled at our Savior, which occurred toward the end of his fasting. Our Savior was consistently tested the ENTIRE time he fasted (Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2).
The first temptation both Matthew and Luke (Luke 4:3) lists appeals to Christ's humanity and the need to eat food. It also appeals to any vanity he might have regarding who he was. Lucifer always uses his wealth of information about vanity in any tempting he does, as it was the tool he used on himself to turn into the great adversary (Ezekiel 28:11 - 17, Isaiah 14:12 - 15).
Note that the devil tries to cast doubt about whether Jesus is REALLY God's son and asks him to prove it. He, of course, knew Christ was the Messiah. He heard the booming words uttered from heaven when, after the Lord was baptized, a voice stated, "This is My Son, the Beloved, in Whom I have great delight" (Matthew 3:17).
Matthew's second, but Luke's third (Luke 4:9 - 11) temptation listed involves Jerusalem's temple. The "edge" of the temple where this test took place was likely at least 700 feet (213 meters) above the valley below it (Barnes' Notes on the New Testament).
5. Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him upon the edge of the temple. 6. And said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, cast Yourself down; for it is written, 'He shall give His angels charge concerning You, and they shall bear You up in their hands, lest You strike Your foot against a stone' " (Matthew 4:5 - 6)
Here again, the adversary appeals to any vanity Jesus might harbor regarding being the Messiah. The scripture quoted is from Psalm 91:11. Written by priests who served under King David, this verse concerns God's aid and protection if a person has an ACCIDENT. The devil wanted Christ to intentionally and willfully place himself in need of help, and thereby put the Eternal to a test to see if he would respond. This, of course, would be a sin, the act of which the Lord rejected.
The last time Lucifer speaks in Matthew (the second in Luke's account), taken together, tells us some interesting information about our adversary.
8. After that, the devil took Him to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, 9. And said to Him, "All these things will I give You, if You will fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:8 - 9)
6. And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this authority, and the glory of them all; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I desire. 7. Therefore, if You will worship me in my presence, all things shall be Yours" (Luke 4:6 - 7)
Note that Luke adds the statement from Lucifer that he had the authority to give the kingdoms of the world to whomever he chooses. While some Biblical commentaries deny he had this authority, Scripture teaches that, at the time of the temptation, he did.
The Eternal did "deliver to" Lucifer a throne of authority (Isaiah 14:13). This throne was over the earth, the place from which he mounted his assault against God when he turned evil and the place he was cast back down to when he failed (Isaiah 14:12, Ezekiel 28:16 - 17, Luke 10:18). Although cast down, he retained this authority at the time of the temptation. Two of the reasons Jesus was born was to destroy the works of the devil (1John 3:8) and to annul his rule which brings death (Hebrews 2:14). Christ, through his sacrifice, qualified to dethrone Satan, which is why he said the following just days before his crucifixion.
31. NOW is the judgment of this world. NOW shall the prince of this world be cast out (John 12:31)
Although his right to rule was overturned, Satan is still allowed to act as the "god of THIS world" (2Corinthians 4:3 - 4, see also Ephesians 6:12) until the King of Kings come back to rightfully claim what is his (Revelation 17).
The temptation, therefore, was to offer Christ immediate rule over ALL humans (under Satan, of course) without having to endure 3+ more years of temptations to sin, then suffer torture, die a painful death by crucifixion, be resurrected and STILL wait 2,000+ years for his rule to kick in.
The 6,000 year whine
10. And I heard a great voice in heaven say, "Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ because the accuser of our brethren has been cast down, who accuses them day and night before our God" (Revelation 12:10)
Ever since righteous Abel (Matthew 23:35) the devil has been constantly accusing humans before God. This constant whining about man's sins continues to this day. It continues even though Jesus, now sitting to the right of the Father (Acts 2:33, Hebrews 12:21, Peter 3:22), almost 2,000 years ago completely paid for the sins of ALL humans who will ever live.
There exists a breathtaking irony in the devil's constant finger pointing before the Eternal's throne. Scripture calls him not only the father of lies but also a murderer (John 8:44) and someone who destroys (Revelation 9:11). He is the one who, in the distant past, deceived countless angels to go AGAINST their Creator (Revelation 12:4) and commit spiritual suicide. He led a massive angelic assault against the Eternal with the goal of kicking him OFF the throne and assuming control over all creation (Ezekiel 28:11 - 17, Isaiah 14:12 - 15). Nevertheless, Satan, a being dedicated to evil, has the audacity to not only accuse EVERYONE ELSE of sin but also request from the Being he hates that he should punish all others who are disobedient!
Satan's sick mind is unwilling to accept one incredibly obvious fact. God has been merciful to tolerate his nonsense for far more than 6,000 years and endure his gross hypocrisy without (until Revelation 12) permanently casting him out of heaven (or putting him to death). If the Almighty is longsuffering toward Lucifer, the greatest sinner who will ever exist, why should he not also be so for humans, whose greatest disobedience cannot match what he has done?
The devil and his heavenly tantrum, however, will finally be ended. No wonder there is JOY and HAPPINESS in heaven when he is finally thrown out, never to return!
Evil speaks for 42 months
5. And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies was given to him; and authority was given to him to continue for forty-two months. 6. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven (Revelation 13:5 - 6)
In Eden, the devil first made his case that he was a better friend to man than God was. In the End time just before us, however, he will finally have his chance to prove his theory. He will be given 42 months to speak whatever he wants (see Daniel 7:25, 11:36) and do as he pleases on the earth to bring the fullness of his kingdom to all humans. He will finally have his chance to be treated like a god by humans (Daniel 11:36, 2Thessalonians 2:3 - 4).
One Biblical commentary summed up this three and one-half year demonic speaking engagement as follows.
"God will allow Antichrist (a human possessed by the devil) to blaspheme to give full expression to the satanic wickedness that will cover the earth at that time. He will exhibit a total disregard for the true God by continually speaking arrogant words and blasphemies. Antichrist's blasphemy will not be subtle, but open, outrageous, and monstrous . . . He will be Satan's mouthpiece, voicing his master's frustrated rage against God" (MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Revelation 13:5 - 6)