Luke 4:1-13 Jesus is the Son of Man: The Temptation of Jesus

Luke 4:1-13

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Temptation of Jesus

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Luke chapter 4! OF course if you do not have a Bible, see me after the service and we will get you a Bible.

Last week we looked at the transition in Luke’s Gospel from the pair of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. Luke showed that Joh was fulfilling his ministry and calling by preparing the way for Jesus to come as the Messiah. This culminated in what we saw last week, which was the baptism of Jesus by John and the appearance and approval of Jesus by God the Father and the descending of God the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.

Now, we didn’t spend much time on verse 23 last week, which tells us that Jesus was about 30 years of age when he began his ministry. Luke tells us that right after the baptism and we see, especially through the other Gospels, that there was little to no time between the baptism and the events we will look at this morning. They were, quite literally, back to back events.

But Luke is putting an emphasis on the shift from John & Jesus to Jesus only and so he buffers the baptism and the temptation in the wilderness with Jesus genealogy. And so, today, this story really marks, especially for Luke the beginning of Jesus ministry.

Now, we know that the Bible is filled with stories that we are all familiar with, to various levels and degrees. We actually get so used to and familiar with the story that we lose sight of some of the meanings and purposes of the story. Often we will hear the simplest or most shallow teaching on those stories, because they are so widely known. That doesn’t mean that those teachings or perceptions are necessarily wrong, but it does mean that often, the most well know stories in the Bible, the way we know them are often incomplete or partial.

I think todays text is one of those too well-known stories. When we come to them in our Bible reading, we don’t even think too much about them, we just kind of skim over them to get to the deeper and more interesting parts. However, we know that Gods word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. There is no limit to the depths of scripture that we can mine if we commit to reading it, studying it, being taught by God and being led by the Holy Spirit.

So, this morning we are going to read Luke chapter 4, verses 1 through 13. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to grab your Bible, in your preferred translation and follow along as we read Gods Word. Luke 4:1-13, Luke writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit:

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

 

May God Bless the reading of his Holy Word.

 

Now we see immediately that Jesus was both filled with the Holy Spirit and he was led by the Holy Spirit. He was on a spiritual high, so to speak. We all have experienced this. Some of us, it might have been right after our baptism, maybe when we were first converted. Some of have various times during our walk with Christ that we just feel extra close to him and extra set in our life with Christ. But we also sometimes have the opposite. We have those times in our life where we are just physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. We are not feeling very holy, not feeling close to God, feeling like we are constantly tripping and messing up.

Satan is going to come and hit Jesus with temptation throughout these forty days in the wilderness through both Jesus spiritual and physical highs and his physical and spiritual lows.

Scripture says that Jesus was tempted throughout the 40 days he was in the wilderness. But going back for a moment, through those 40 days, and in fact, before he went into the wilderness, Jesus was being led by the Holy Spirit. He was specifically and purposely brought by God to the wilderness in order to be tempted and more accurately, to resist the temptations.

This time in the wilderness was planned by God from before the beginning of time. This event had to take place because it was a part of Gods plan. That’s important to remember, that God is in control, that he had this all set out from the beginning.

So, Jesus spends 40 days out in the wilderness. And that 40 days is an important number. This was a parallel to Israel wandering through the wilderness for 40 years after leaving Egypt. And this is a complete fulfillment and reversal of what was broken in the world.

Israel failed time and time again in the wilderness. They failed in their obedience. But Jesus come through and was fully obedient. Jesus was the fulfillment; he was the better Israel.

We see Jesus first, going into the wilderness and was fasting. He was there for a time of prayer and fasting. I like how Ligon Duncan describes and explains fasting, especially in this context. He says:

Fasting is designed to deprive you of the comfort of the very basic necessities
of life in water and in food, so that you will remember (1) that everything that
you have comes from God; (2) so that you will remember that you are utterly
dependent upon God; (3) so that you will remember that God is better than any of
the gifts that He gives — that He’s better than food and water, and He’s the
giver of food and water, and that you’re utterly dependent upon Him for it.

 

And so, at the end of 40 days Jesus was a bit hungry. The common scientific consensus is that an otherwise healthy man can live up to 60 or so days with no food. Jesus just went 40 days. He was physically weak. He was quite literally starving.

That’s when temptation hits. First thing we need to know, Jesus says of Satan, John 8:44:  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 

          There is no truth in him, but there is a lot of almost truth. And that’s the key. Temptation works, it tempts, it is so appealing because it offers us what we want, what we crave, but what we know is wrong. It offers us what we want, but offers it in a way that seems ok, that seems acceptable, even discreet, so that no one will know.

See, Satan tempted Jesus with something that he could do. “You’re hungry, you’re the Son of God, you can take care of this situation. Turn this stone into bread. I mean, you ARE the Son of God, aren’t you?”

And the reason that this was a temptation was, in fact, a temptation, was that Jesus really could have turned the stone into bread. Its not a temptation if he couldn’t do it. We see in Johns Gospel that he turns water into wine. He could do this.

This will never, ever be a temptation for us. WE will not be tempted to turn stone into bread. We can’t do that, not even theoretically. So, its not a temptation. But for us, our takeaway is not the literal temptation that Satan puts in front of Jesus, but the type and the purpose of those temptations.

Jesus was hungry. Our bodies need food to live. Food, in and of itself is good. It’s a gift from God. God didn’t need to make food taste good, but God loves us, so he made food how it does. It is something we need to live, but, within the correct context, it is something to enjoy as well.

And the temptation is always to make something that God has given us as a gift, and to make that something that we elevate it and to make it ultimate. Food, sex, comfort, acceptance, whatever else you can think of. These are things that we can be tempted to put above God and put as an ultimate thing, even above God. In Genesis we see Esau putting Food and comfort above everything else and trading his birthright for a bowl of stew.

So, we see Jesus tempted to do for himself what he could do but wasn’t supposed to do. His answer to Satan was to use scripture of course, but he rebuffs Satan and says that we are to depend on God to provide for our needs. We might desire food. We might desire comfort. We might desire pleasure.

And we don’t trust God give us what is best for us. We don’t trust God will give us what we need. Jesus tells us however, Matthew 6:25 & 26:

“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

 

Now, its important, especially as we look at the second temptation, to remember that Satan has real power here in this world. Jesus calls him three times in Johns Gospel, “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31, 14:30 & 16:11) So when he offers things, he is offering from somewhere.

And his next temptation is simply for Jesus to simply be here and now, what you are already going to be in the future. Satan offers him the kingdoms of this world if he simply bows down to him.

How tempting is that? You already know this is all going to be yours, how about getting it now, without all the pain and the waiting and the stress. Its already yours, you just haven’t taken possession of it! Take it now.

I heard a great line by Voddie Baucham this week. I’ve heard this said in many different ways many times before, but the way he said just struck me. He said: Doing a good thing the wrong way for the wrong reasons (and any reason other than to give God the total glory is a wrong reason) is sin.

That’s what Satan was offering here. A good thing, done the wrong way, for the wrong reasons. Jesus’ response, God alone is in control of our situation and he alone is in control of the timing. And of course, scripture is what Jesus uses to refute Satan and his temptations.

Something to remember, if he brings us through with pain, or if he makes us wait, its because he has something so much better than we can even imagine, We might know that we are going to live eternally in the kingdom of heaven, but the reality is going to be so much grander and so much sweeter than anything that we can imagine. We don’t always understand his will and his timing, but we trust that God does and that he is in control and that he is good, and he will do what’s best.

The third and last temptation, Satan learns just a bit. He uses scripture, wildly out of context of course, and he uses scripture to try to tempt Jesus. He says, IF you really are the Son of God, God won’t let anything happen to you, jump and let God catch you.

That temptation that is so manipulative, so enticing and so unbiblical for Christians today. God wont let anything bad happen to you. You are a child of God. He wants you healthy, wealthy and wise, living your best life now! Just let him know what it is that you want and what would make your life easier and better and pray faithfully enough and God will give it to you.

Jesus response this time is to use scripture again! Don’t put God to the test. Here’s the thing. You and I are not owed anything. Not by the people around us, not by the government and certainly we are not owed anything by God. And God will not give in to technicalities and loopholes, or what we think those are anyway. But they are not technicalities, they are out of context. I forget who said it, but “out of Context means your wrong.”

Satan is trying to use a technicality, he is trying to use scripture, knowing full well it doesn’t mean the way that he is using it. But that idea of putting God in a corner, making him into Santa Claus or a genie in a bottle. God you said this, so If I do this, you have to do that!

Israel thought that because of what God said to Abraham back in Genesis 12, and in other parts of Genesis, that God owed them salvation and blessing, they thought they were “in” because of their birth and genealogy.  Jesus spends much of his ministry telling the Jewish religious leaders that they could not be more wrong.

Galatians 3:29, And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

God always fulfills his word. Always. He always keeps his promises. Always. But rarely, if ever is it fulfilled and kept in the way that we expect it to.

We cannot make things happen on our timing. We cannot force history in our timing. The date and the time of all these things we see in scripture, but also, everything we are seeing today has been set and determined by God back way back when, before time was created. The date and time of Jesus return is already determined by God. There is nothing that we can do to change it. There is nothing we can do to speed it up. We trust God and his timing above all else. We trust God and his ways, and the trials and joys that he has us walk through above all else. We trust God to provide for all our earthly needs, above all else.

We end this passage, seeing that Satan was rebuff, and he leaves, at least for a time. He retreated, but in order to regroup and watch for a better time to try again. Jesus was able to resist the temptations thrown out at him. And that should be a great comfort for us.

 

We will be confronted with temptation. Its going to happen. We have Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit. And we have the sword of the spirit, the Word of God. Jesus has already won the war; we are just trying to win the individual battles.

And Satan is cunning. He looks for the opportune time.

1 Peter 5:8 & 9: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

 

The ultimate point and question are this. Do you trust God?

Bruce Larson writes: Our Basic sin against God is mistrust. The devil hints that God is withholding something from us and he suggests ways in which we can take care of ourselves and get what is our due.

And he is right. The devil hasn’t changed his tactics since Genesis 3. He adapts them for the times and for us individually, but the tactic is the same. Sowing mistrust of God. As he says to Adam and Eve, Did God really say?

Did he really say that you couldn’t touch the tree?

Did he really say that Jesus is God?

Did he really say that sin causes death?

Did he really say that sin is a big deal?

Did he really say that the Bible is really true?

Did he really say those things? Or is he holding out on you with this book of archaic, prudish, patriarchal, racist, homophobic, culturally out of date stories and letters?

 

The temptation is already there, bombarding us. But because of Jesus we have hope. Adam, the first man, was tempted with food, was tempted to be like God, was tempted to exceed his authority. HE failed. He gave in to his disobedience. He brought sin and death onto this world. He was in the perfect Garden and was exiled out into the wilderness.

Jesus, the last Adam, redeemed all of that. He won. He obeyed. He brought life and forgiveness. He went out into the wilderness and brought the exiles back in so that we may experience the perfect garden for eternity.

Satan tried to get Jesus to doubt his identity as the Son of God. He tries to get us to doubt our identity as children of God. He encourages us to doubt our forgiveness, our salvation and our eternal destiny. But scripture always assures us of our identity in Christ.

Ill finish us up with Hebrews 4:15 & 16:

 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

Let’s Pray.

 

Daniel 10 God of All Nations: A Glimpse of Gods Glory

Daniel 10

God of All Nations

A Glimpse of Gods Glory

 

          Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Daniel chapter 10. IF you do not have a Bible, if you do not own a Bible, please grab one from our table in the back as our gift to you.

Well, we have entered the endgame now. Chapter 10 through the end of chapter 12, which is the end of the book, are all telling about one vision that Daniel would receive.

As we get into this mornings text, we wont actually be getting into the vision yet, that will start next week as we get into chapter 11. This week we will set the scene and we will be introduced to some angels and possibly more. We will see a lot of behind the scenes ideas and revelations regarding spiritual warfare and prayer. One commentator says that this chapter shows that life is hard, and it shows why it is hard, and it shows us that we are not alone in this battle.

Sinclair Ferguson writes, “As we shall see, chapter 10 contains vital biblical insight into the nature of reality. It emphasizes that human causes and effects are not the only forces or influences operative in the history of the world.

 

          So, with that being said, lets go ahead and take a look at the start of our scripture this morning. WE will be looking at all of Daniel chapter 10, but we will be starting with verses 1-9. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to read along in your Bible, whether that’s the same translation, or another one that you prefer.

Daniel 10:1-9, Daniel records:

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict.[a] And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris) I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed,[b] and I retained no strength. Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

 

So, we see from the beginning that this chapter and the rest of the book takes place two years after the events of Chapter 9. I don’t know if it has any theological or practical application, but one thing I did find interesting is the pattern with the visions over the last few chapters. We had visions taking place in the first and the third year of Belshazzar, and now we see the visions taking place in the first and third years of King Cyrus.

Now, we do know that the timing of this does have some importance. See, in Ezra 1, taking place in the same year as Daniel chapter 9, we see this in verses 1-3:

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.

 

So, some had already made their way back to Jerusalem from Babylon. They would have gone and been back in their home city and their home country. Now, we also see that they would have troubles back home as they attempted to rebuild the temple.

But Daniel didn’t go back to Jerusalem. There is no indication as to why. Likely he was too old. Certainly, God still had work for him to do here in Babylon. As we see through this chapter, God needed someone, Daniel, who would do, as one commentator says, “The hidden and strategic work of prayer for the defense AND the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”

Daniel knew about the troubles that they were having in Jerusalem. He had, at this time, dedicated himself to three weeks of mourning and prayer and fasting. The way that he says it, it seems Daniel is adhering to the same diet he spoke of and held to in Chapter 1. My guess is that he didn’t just randomly remember this event from 70 years ago, but this was a regular or semi-regular thing, too fast in this way.

Ezra 4:4 tells us:  Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build.

 

          We know that in this world, in our spiritual walk, we will have ups and downs. We will have spiritual highs and lows. Daniel was excited to see the fulfillment of Gods promise. He would have been overjoyed to see those in Exile return to their homeland. And he would have likely been heartbroken and for sure disappointed to see and hear about the struggles going on in Jerusalem.

But what Daniel took from all of this was not a lose of faith, or to doubt God, but all of what happened, highs and lows, good and bad, all of it drove him to prayer. And Daniel knew a truth that St John of Chrysostom put into words about 8 centuries later when he said, “God is everywhere. You decide whether you are close to him or not.”

          Daniel knew that God was still at work. He knew that God would continue and finish keeping his promises.  He knew a spiritual principle that one commentator says this way: Knowledge of Gods work of grace in the past encourages us to trust Him and seek His blessing in the present and for the future.

 

          V4 gives us the exact location and date of Daniel when all this happens. He was on the banks of the Tigris river, possibly only 20 miles from Babylon. Still well within the Persian empire. We can figure out through the date that the three weeks that Daniels was fasting and praying included the Passover. That’s how serious he was, that he did not observe and celebrate the Passover. Again, the Passover was to celebrate God leading his people out of slavery and a foreign land and leading them back to their homeland, the promised land.

 

As Daniel is there by the river, he lifted his eyes up and saw an appearance. He looks up and sees one described like we saw in the scripture reading this morning in Ezekiel 1 and like described in Revelation 2.

Did he see Jesus?

Did he see Gabriel?

Did he see Michael?

Did he see someone else entirely?

None of the answers are satisfactory, they all have reasons why not. Michael is mentioned separately in v 13. Gabriel has been mentioned before and not described like that. I lean towards it being Jesus. The reasons being, the description Daniel gives, the clothing and the appearances, give the impression of Jesus threefold office of prophet, priest and king. We haven’t talked much about this before and we don’t have much time today, but we see each of these offices from God in the Old Testament and Jesus is the fulfillment of these offices. He is the better prophet, the better priest and the better King. Also, the type of reverence, the reaction to seeing the person that Daniel saw is usually reserved for an appearance of Jesus.

Ferguson says about this, “More important than identifying the figure- it was, aside from that indefinable reality, a vision- is recognizing the impression the vision is intended to create. Even if the figure is not divine, Daniels vision is still essentially theophonic in nature because it communicated to him a sense of the omnipotence and all-gloriousness of God.

          And Daniel was the only one who could see him. This is very similar to Acts chapter 9, where Saul was on his way to Damascus and Jesus appeared to him. Those who were with Paul heard and knew something was going on, but only Paul could see Him. Daniel was the only one who could see this vision, this appearance. The rest of those with Him turned and ran away.

 

We see in scripture that the typical response to seeing an appearance by an angel or a heavenly body is usually the same. We see fear and trembling. We see Awe and shock. Daniel says here that he had no strength and that his appearance was fearfully changed. And he heard the sound of words, which along with what we will read in verse 11, seems to imply that he was not understanding the words being spoken at that point.

 

Let’s go ahead and read the rest of the chapter and continue our journey through the text. Daniel 10:10-21, he continues:

 And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”

15 When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute. 16 And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. 17 How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”

18 Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19 And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.

 

          The touch makes Daniel fall to his knees and tremble. But he tells Daniel, you are greatly loved, now understand the words that I am saying. Your prayers have been heard from the very beginning. He is saying, your prayers worked, they were heard. I am here because of your prayers.

I’ve always lived what EM Bounds has to say about prayer:

What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of prayer.”

 

And from this, we see the curtain pulled back a little bit. We get a glimpse of the spiritual warfare going on between angels and demons. We see behind the scenes, into the unseen world that is not flesh and blood, but powers and principalities.

This is why it took three weeks for this appearance, for this vision to come to Daniel. OITs not that Heaven is three weeks from Earth, but rather that there were obstacles and diversions that needed to be dealt with.

We know, from scripture, Job 1, etc., that fallen angels, demons, have real power, but their power is limited by God. They could not stop Gods plans or his message, all they could do is delay it a bit. And even that is because God, in his complete sovereignty, allowed it to be so. We don’t know why, we probably never will, but we know it to be so.

There is a lot that we see from scripture that we know to be true, even when we don’t have any idea how it works or why it works. How our prayer affects this unseen spiritual battle is one of those things. But we are told it does. Daniel has been praying. HE is a prayer warrior. He knows and has seen time and time again the evidence of Gods Sovereignty and control over everything. But I don’t think even he could have had any notion of the reality of angles and demons locked in perpetual battle and the role prayer would play in it.

Listen to Abraham Kuyper speak on these things:

If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came to view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle ever fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game. Not here, but up there- that is where the real conflict is waged. Our earthly struggle drones in its backlash.

 

          This is not something we often like to think about. That Satan and his fallen angles are real, and they are active. Our two reflexes are to either credit him too much power or to not give him not enough. HE either give him too much credit by blaming him for everything that goes wrong in this world.

“The Devil made me do it.” That’s the common refrain. The reality is that we are sinful people. We did it because we wanted to. We did it because we did not resist temptation. We did it because of our sinful nature. He does not have the power to make us sin. Especially if we have been set free from sin, we are not bound to sin, we are not bound to give in to temptation. We still, in our earthly, fleshly bodies, still have our sin nature, but we are not bound by that sin.

On the other side, there is a great quote, from somewhere earlier, but I know it from a movie. The Greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convincing the world he didn’t exist.  People today don’t believe. If they can’t see it, touch it, feel it, study it, test it, they don’t believe it. And if they don’t believe, then they are not on guard against it and they definitely won’t pray against it.

When Paul writes in Ephesians 6 about spiritual warfare and putting on the spiritual armor, He ends with two things. First is to wield the only offensive weapon listed, the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. Knowing the Word of God and using it. Second, to pray at all times, in the Spirit.

Sinclair Ferguson gives us one warning about how we think of the power of prayer, saying: The power does not belong to the praying or to the prayer, but to God. Prayer has no power in and of itself; prayer is wholehearted dependence on God. It is a confession that we can do nothing, and that God alone can work.

IF we forget this, scripture is clear. God alone has the power. Again, as I said before, sometimes it can be hard to see how the truths of scripture work our mechanically or practically, but the truth of Scripture is that prayer matters and makes a difference and, at the same time, without contradicting, that God and God alone has the power to do anything.

After getting a glimpse of the spiritual world, Daniel again says that he has no strength in him. The vision and message have drained him of his strength. But he was told to be strengthened and he was.

Once we encounter the glory of God, we cannot be unchanged by it. Once we have encountered Jesus Christ, He will change us. And that’s a good thing. That encounter, Gods grace poured out on us, delivered to us by the faith that is given to us in Jesus Christ is what changes us from sinners deserving of Hell, to saints, given mercy and forgiveness by God.

As the messenger gets ready to tell Daniel the vision, he also lets him know that he will have to return soon to continue the battle, first against the prince of Persia, then later against the prince of Greece.

Now, of course we know these are spiritual opponents primarily, but I believe also, based on the vision coming up, a hint as to what’s to come at this point in history. We have already seen numerous visions referring to the kingdom of Greece coming up, and that’s what we will see in the vision that Daniel is about to get.

But the messenger ends by telling Daniel that he is going to tell him truth. Only Michael is by his side as he fights these enemies. This is two angels, or something like that. Two entities doing Gods will, fighting against a whole host of Gods enemies and they are enough. One of the would be enough if God wanted it done, truth be told. But again, God is allowing some power, for a time and for a purpose that we don’t ultimately know. We also don’t know the affect our prayers have on these battles, only that they do have an effect.

And so, prayer is the biggest takeaway today. Praying as if the future and Gods Kingdom depend on it. IT doesn’t, not quite. But God gave us a mission. Going back to the beginning of this sermon. God needs someone to do ““The hidden and strategic work of prayer for the defense AND the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”

If this is scary or overwhelming, I get it. Prayer is not my spiritual gift. But it doesn’t have to be. Be encouraged by Romans 8:26:  Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words

 

          It doesn’t matter where you start, just start. Let God do the work, you be faithful to him. Pray what you see in scriptures. Pray for his will to be done. Pray for those spiritual battles going on that we have no idea about. Just pray. With the right heart, the right motivation, God will hear, and God will answer.

Speaking of, let’s go ahead and end in prayer.

 

 

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