When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is ajealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.Deuteronomy 6:10-15
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.Matthew 4:8-11
Jesus was tested in the wilderness in the same ways that Israel had been tested in hers.
Then he faced a third and final test.
The devil proposed a trade: worship in exchange for the world. Jesus answered, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Once more, Jesus passed a test Israel had failed long before…and many times over her history.
In Deuteronomy 6, Moses reminded the Israelites that it was the LORD who’d brought them out of slavery and scarcity in Egypt and it was the LORD who was about to bring them into freedom in a land brimming with abundance…and full of people who worshipped other gods.
“Do not follow other gods,” Moses commanded, “for the LORD your God, who is with you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.”
It was the LORD’s land. As long as the Israelites worshiped the LORD, the land would be shared with them.
The LORD crossed the Jordan with his people and the land was everything Moses said it would be. Vineyards, wells, fruitful fields, homes already built for them…and lots of other people worshiping lots of other gods. The Israelites failed the test. Again and again, they bowed before gods and goddesses who hadn’t come to their rescue in Egypt, couldn’t part a sea or bring water from a rock or rain bread from the sky.
It was the LORD’s land. The LORD’s to give and take away.
Jesus looked out on the kingdoms of this world and the devil made his offer: worship in exchange for land.
Unlike Israel, Jesus refused to bend his knee and serve anyone but the LORD. He served the LORD all the way to the cross, to the grave and back, to deliver all those exiled into the scarcity and slavery of sin into the freedom and abundance of life with God…and on to paradise.
• What have I worshiped to avoid the difficulties of serving the LORD?
LORD, you alone are worthy of worship.
We have bent our knee and served other gods in exchange for shallow and temporary riches. You alone offer deep and lasting freedom and abundance.
Today, we choose to trust your provision, promises, and plans.