Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, Part 1
Nov 02, 2013
Luke 4 begins, saying,
1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days; and when they had ended, He became hungry.
This was the second forty-day period in Jesus life as recorded in the gospels. The first, of course, was the forty-day cycle from his birth until Mary’s purification according to the law. The second was when He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
Luke uses the Greek word ago (“led about,” NASB). Gesenius Lexicon gives its primary meaning as: to lead by laying hold of, and this way to bring to the point of destination: of an animal.
Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of the second goat (animal) in Leviticus 16:21,
21 Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel, and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness [ittiy, “timely, ready”]
This was part of the ceremony on the Day of Atonement. The high priest was to kill the first goat and sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat and then send the second goat alive into the wilderness. In Leviticus 16:8 we read,
8 And Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for Yahweh and the other lot for the scapegoat (literally, “for Azazel”).
Because translators have not understood the law, most of them missed the significance of this prophetic act. The name Azazel literally means “goat-god,” because azaz is a “goat” and el is “god.” In this passage, Azazel is the devil, who was often pictured as a creature, half goat and half man—that is, a satyr. In later years the god Pan was pictured as a satyr.
Hence, the first goat on the Day of Atonement was “for Yahweh” to make atonement in the Sanctuary, but the second goat was to be given into the hands of the devil. This passage in the law does not reveal the reason behind this, other than to let us know that it was “the live goat.” In other words, this goat did not have to die as did the first goat.
It is not until we come to the New Testament that we may understand this prophetic law according to its fulfillment in Christ. Jesus came to John on the Day of Atonement for baptism, where He was baptized unto death as the first goat. Then He was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit—the “man who stands in readiness.” The purpose of the live goat, we discover, was to be tempted by the devil. In other words, the second goat was “for Azazel,” though not to be killed. This was a season of temptation or trial, from which He would return victorious.
By these events, where Jesus is seen to fulfill the law of the two goats in Leviticus 16, we understand that Jesus was baptized on the Day of Atonement. In fact, I believe His baptism occurred at the moment the priests were killing the first goat in the temple in Jerusalem. And then, as they prepared to send the second goat into the wilderness, Jesus Himself was led there by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.
The Two Birds, a Related Prophecy
Jesus was also prophesied in Leviticus 14 through the revelation of two birds used to cleanse lepers. The first was killed, as we read in Leviticus 14:5,
5 The priest shall also give orders to slay the one bird in an earthenware vessel over running water.
This was fulfilled first in Jesus’ baptism unto death, and later in His actual death on the cross. In His baptism, death was imputed to Him, while on the cross He actually died. Jesus was baptized bodily, that is, “in an earthenware vessel,” over running water, that is, the Jordan River.
The (second) dove then appeared over His head to picture Him being released into the open field, as we read in Leviticus 14:6,
6 As for the live bird, he shall take it… and shall dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was slain over the running water. 7 He shall then sprinkle seven times the one who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the live bird go free over the open field.
The healed leper in such cases was to be sprinkled seven times with water—that is, he was to be baptized in the manner seen in the 318th chapter of the Bible, which tells the story of Naaman, the Syrian captain who was healed of leprosy (2 Kings 5:10, 14). Naaman was told by Elisha to comply with the law of baptism in Leviticus 14:7, and when he did so, he was healed of leprosy.
So also Jesus complied with the law of baptism “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15) that had been prophesied in the law. I have no doubt that John sprinkled or poured water upon His head seven times as He stood in the Jordan “over running water.” It was important that Jesus should fulfill each law to the letter. The dove then appeared over His head to signify first the presence of the Holy Spirit, and secondly to introduce His second work as the second bird let loose into the open field.
The “open field” for the live bird parallels the “wilderness” for the live goat. They foretell of the death work in His first coming, and the live work in His second coming, when He comes with His robe dipped in blood (Revelation 19:13).
In the cleansing ceremony of the two birds, John (the high priest of God) pronounced Jesus clean of “leprosy” (i.e., death, mortality). At the same time the ceremony of the two goats shows the timing of Jesus’ baptism on the Day of Atonement, ten days after His thirtieth birthday (Rosh Hoshana). Later, in a greater fulfillment of the first goat, He entered the Most Holy Place in heaven as its High Priest and sprinkled His own blood there (Hebrews 9:7, 11, 12). He then fulfilled the second goat in His body, which was sent into the wilderness (the world) to be tempted forty Jubilees (1,960 years) by the devil, according to the same pattern that Jesus did personally for a period of forty days.
In that there are two prophecies linked together, each having two parts to it, there are really four aspects of His appearances on earth that we ought to understand.
The first goat is killed to make atonement for sin—that is, it “covers” sin—for that is meaning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (Covering). Through Christ’s death on the cross, we are imputed righteous, for we are given perfect legal standing as if we were Christ Himself.
The second live goat removes sin from the temple—that is, it requires a second coming of Christ to remove sin from the temple which is our body. This final condition is delayed until the end of the “wilderness temptation.”
The first bird that is killed deals with the problem of death (mortality), pictured by leprosy, a type of slow death. Christ’s death on the cross as the first bird imputed resurrection life to us, pictured by our baptism over “running water,” that is to say, living water. The Hebrew word translated “running” is chay, “living, alive.” Baptism was meant to portray not only death but also life. In fact, the death part is only incidental to the ceremony, for it portrays us coming out of death, not into death.
Baptism pictures us as the recipients of imputed life, whereby we are to live in resurrection life (Romans 6:4) during our sojourn in the wilderness. This is the empowerment by which we may overcome the temptations of the devil and the world in general until the actual resurrection, when we actually become immortal.
The second bird is released into the field after being dipped in the blood of the first bird. Jesus said in Matthew 13:38, “the field is the world.” Hence, He must come a second time into the world to complete the work of bringing us into immortality. Revelation 19:13 pictures Him coming with His robe dipped in blood in order to identify Him as this second bird being released into the world.
Hence, the implications of Jesus’ baptism and His subsequent temptation in the wilderness are enormous. What Jesus experienced for forty days is what His Body also has experienced for the past forty Jubilee cycles.
The interpretation of these laws rests upon the revelation of Jesus’ baptism and His forty-day temptation in the wilderness, after which time He begins His ministry on earth. Though Jesus was baptized on the Day of Atonement, His ministry was delayed forty days until He had fulfilled the law’s requirement to go into the wilderness “for Azazel.” So also is it with the Body of Christ. Pentecost in Acts 2 was a partial commission for the Church, giving the Church a Pentecostal level of the power of the Spirit. But the real ministry lies at the end of the forty Jubilees of testing in the wilderness, when we are given a Tabernacles level of power—that is, the double portion.
This time of Pentecostal power extended from Jesus’ death in 33 A.D. until 1993, which was 40 x 49 years later. These forty Jubilees were also prophesied in the forty-year reign of King Saul, the type of the Church in the Pentecostal Age. The reign of “Saul” was a time of trial and testing for the Church to see if it could be tempted in three main principles, which we shall study in due course.
At the end of this time of testing under the reign of “Saul,” those who have passed the test (as Jesus did) are privileged to rule the Kingdom as part of the House of David, who is the prime overcomer. Those who overcome will experience the blessing of the Feast of Tabernacles, that greatest anointing.
The Church’s time of testing began to come to a close in 1993. “Saul” died on Pentecost, May 30, 1993, the anniversary of the event in Acts 2.
I too found myself to be a microcosm and a prophetic type, for I came out of my own twelve-year “wilderness” time of trial and testing on November 12, 1993 and was then led to begin the ministry of spiritual warfare. The Jubilee Prayer Campaign began November 21, 1993 and was designed to overthrow all false contenders for Christ’s throne. Our work is to promote the right of Jesus Christ to rule the earth as the Heir of all things. This work has taken longer than expected, of course, but yet we have seen steady gains, while the foundations of the world system have crumbled.
Our time of spiritual warfare lasted thirteen years from 1993-2006, after which time God led us in a new direction. In 2007 the birth of the Elijah-Elisha ministry was prophesied, and this began April 12, 2009. We are currently engaged in the work of preparing the way for Christ’s return, along with all others who are led by the Spirit, however conscious or unconscious they may be of the divine plan.
Hence, in a sense, 1993 was the start of the second ministry of Christ, which we call the Open Door Ministry, but yet there remains a greater beginning point for this work. For this reason, we are yet doing a preparatory work that is comparable to what John the Baptist did before Christ’s first ministry. John was “Elijah,” but we are the “Elisha” company, destined to receive a double portion of the anointing upon Elijah (and John).
When this preparation work is completed, we will then be ready for the next phase that will be revealed at that time.
This is part 1 of a mini-series titled "Jesus' temptation in the wilderness." To view all parts, click the link below.
This is part 12 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones