I have been provoked by the quoting of Scripture in the mouth of ‘the adversary’ when confronting Jesus in the temptations. Three intertwined temptations related to mammon, religion and power. Interrelated because they impinge on one another, and are seldom ever totally separate. The Scriptures are a dangerous set of writings as can seemingly bend them for my own purposes. The three take place in three separate locations: the wilderness (the journey through with enough but not an over-abundance) hence a good place to throw the temptation of abundant provision; the high mountain to see whatever oikoumene (imperial domain) might be appealing to us to be the king of the castle over; and then the Temple (religious context) – the context in which the Scripture was quoted by the adversary.
In Revelation (the book that corrects our sight) the wilderness was the place where Babylon was manifest (Rev. 17:3) to John; unless we learn how to navigate the wilderness it is unlikely we will see Babylon manifest. Likewise it was at the top of the mountain that John saw the New Jerusalem come down (21:10) and we are going to be tormented by the seemingly eternal existence of Babylon unless we can refuse status, domination and hierarchy.
So to the temptation where Scripture is quoted:
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
This is the temptation in the temple. God is with you in a unique way. Always this is what seems to be the signs that surround those who can tell us the way to go. God is with them, thus proving they are beyond me. Or… God anoints the person who is embodying the great rejection of heaven (the king); the disciples (not the 11 but the 12) come back with ‘even the demons are subject in your name’. Says a lot about God; does not speak about the approval of deviant behaviour or position.
There are those who carry the presence of the Lord in unique ways – that is the nature of the anointing… but super-stardom is not the way of the kingdom.
One of the big concerns I have is when the three temptations come together in a way that ‘a three-fold cord is hard to break’… Economic promise, political power and religious uniqueness, then add to that the quoting of Scripture. Warning bells sound!