Matthew 3:1 (John the Baptist in the Wilderness)
Matthew 3:3 ESV
Matthew 3:13-17 (John baptizes Jesus)
Matthew 4:1 ESV
Matthew 4:3a (Satan challenged Jesus)
Isaiah 40:3 ESV
The Prophet Isaiah saw and heard a voice crying in the wilderness centuries before the event occurred.
In Matthew 3:3 we read, “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”
The voice of John the Baptist was crying out to prepare the way for the Lord.
Isaiah saw and heard it centuries before; preparation was underway.
Even though everything had been prepared for the One coming the reality of Jesus’ coming was announced by John the Baptist in the wilderness. In Matthew 3:13-17, John the Baptist and Jesus met at the Jordan River where John baptized Jesus.
Immediately after Jesus was baptized the heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended in the form of a dove that rested on Jesus.
Then in Matthew 4:1 we read, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
Now it was Jesus who was in the wilderness face to face with the devil. The succession of events is interesting. First, John the Baptist announced Jesus’ coming, John baptized Jesus, then Jesus went to the wilderness to face the devil and the temptation.
God prepared John the Baptist to announce the ONE coming. God had also prepared Jesus for His meeting with the devil.
God prepared His Son and paved the way for Jesus’ temptation.
When I read again about Jesus’ meeting with the devil I was struck by how difficult it would have been. He had been in the wilderness for a while and He was tired and hungry. The devil confronted Jesus.
I was reminded of the first time I was face to face confronted by the devil. It wasn’t like what Jesus faced, but when God allowed me to see the devil, it changed me.
The year was 1979.
I remember the year because I was pregnant with my third child.
To this day I do not know how to describe what happened that night…
I still remember the horror of it like it was yesterday.
It was late summertime. I was far enough along in the pregnancy that I was uncomfortable and sometimes found it hard to sleep.
When I went to bed that night I never expected what would happen. I experienced something that night that is difficult to explain. It wasn’t the first time (or the last) that God warned me in a dream that something was about to happen. I do not know if what I experienced was a dream.
To this day I do not know if the devil actually came or if I dreamed he came.
As long as I live I will never forget that night. There was some evidence that the devil actually came.
In the middle of the night I woke up and the devil was standing beside me on my side of the bed. His appearance was awful. He had eyes everywhere and he had what looked like snakes on his head. They were alive. He had many arms but I was too scared to count them. He was reaching for me and he came close to touching me.
The only thing that kept Satan from being able to touch me was a very bright beam of light that made it so he could not reach me.
I woke up screaming. I was in a cold sweat. My husband told me when he heard my screams he immediately knew Satan was in the room. He also said there was an awful stench in the room. I was screaming uncontrollable and as I recall I kept saying, “He’s here!”
My husband knew who was in the room.
The instant we were both awake we started praying. I cried and cried. I’ve never been more frightened in my life (before or since).
We prayed for a long time.
I remember being afraid that Satan came for my baby. To this day I do not know the answer to that question. The baby was a boy. He was my third child and my second son.
As I write this 43 years later I still don’t know why I had the visit that night. I only know I will never forget the reality of the visit. Because of what I saw that night and experienced I have never (ever) doubted the reality of Satan.
Through the years a few people have told me they don’t believe in the reality of a personal devil. UN categorically i tell them I HAVE seen Satan and he is REAL.
That night I was challenged by the reality of Satan. I saw the presence of pure evil. I smelled his stench. I felt the fear that feeds him. I fully experienced his evil. Still, he could not touch me because Jesus God Spirit stood in between us.
“And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command…” (Matthew 4:3a). Satan was challenging Jesus to prove He had power.
The experience I had makes me realize (only a bit) what Jesus experienced in the wilderness. That’s because while Jesus was fully divine, He was also fully human. The human part of Jesus was with Satan and had to face the evil, the stench, the fear He felt, and seeing Satan face to face. Jesus had to hear Satan’s challenges one by one. Jesus had to face him.
Years later as I write this I think about the impact that night had on my overall theology. I learned I do not face anything in this life alone. God is always by my side.
Unquestionably I know my need for God is ever before me. God is my ever constant guide.
When I write, I spend a great deal of time praying and listening for The Spirit of God to speak. I wait for the movement of God when I plan lessons. I’m really not telling you that in order to make me seem special. I’m telling you that because I know my need for God is real. I desperately need to hear God. I listen and wait for God to move and speak every day several times a day. I listen because I KNOW I need God. I need God. I desperately NEED God. I know God protects me.
In Isaiah 40:3 the prophet heard, “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Today, God still prepares for His coming. We stand in the desert. We long for God to speak to us. We long to hear His voice. Every minute of every day we long for God to touch us and we wait.
God never disappoints. God has never and will never fail us. That’s because God is here. The Spirit of the living creator God is faithfully IN us.
And God WILL NOT fail.
Spiritual Practice: Listen
Turn off all the “noise”. That definitely includes the Telly and the Tunes. Spend time sitting in silence with God. Wait for God to move in your heart. God WILL move but more than likely it will not be instant (at least that’s been my experience). I think that’s because God just really loves spending time with us. God loves it when we come to sit WITH Us. God will not fail. God will come…
In God, Deborah