Stepping into Lent #2

Matthew 4:1-11

Do you struggle with the hardships you face in life, or do you cling too tightly to life’s comforts?

Read HERE Matthew 4:1-2

I am fascinated by the science of Bible Numeric. To find out more click HERE

By numerics, we mean observing that God has planted order in the world and His Word. The number seven, for example, recurs throughout the Bible – as in the number of days of creation, the days of a week, the number of biblical feasts, and others.

Both the Old and the New Testaments sync with numeric patterns of seven. No writings of other religions display the phenomenon.

We draw the conclusion that only God could have created such a pattern. It could not have occurred by chance. It is further evidence of the seal, or signature, of God. It is proof of divine authorship.

Firstly– 40 is also a significant number. In scripture, it is used over 140 times.

For example, the rain during the great flood lasted 40 days and nights. Each time Moses went to Mount Sinai, he remained there 40 days and nights. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared for 40 days before ascending to heaven. And there are many uses of 40 throughout the Bible. 

In science, forty is the unique temperature at which the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales correspond. 

In mathematics, 40 is a semi-perfect number. 

In Antiquity, beginning around the second millennium BCE, a Sumerian God was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40”, occasionally called his “sacred number”.

In Judaism

In the Hebrew Bible, forty is often used for periods, forty days or forty years, which separate “two distinct epochs”.

· Rain fell for “forty days and forty nights” during the Flood (Genesis 7:4).

· Noah waited forty days after the tops of mountains were seen after the flood before releasing a raven (Genesis 8:5–7).

· Moses sent spies to explore the land of Canaan (promised to the children of Israel) for “forty days” (Numbers 13:2, 25).

· The Hebrew people lived in the lands outside of the promised land for “forty years”. This period of years represents the time it takes for a new generation to arise (Numbers 32:13)

· Several early Hebrew leaders and kings are said to have ruled for “forty years”, that is, a generation. Examples include Eli (1 Samuel 4:18), Saul (Acts 13:21), David (2 Samuel 5:4), and Solomon (1 King 11:42).

·        Goliath challenged the Israelites twice a day for forty days before David defeated him (1 Samuel 17:16).

·        Moses spent three consecutive periods of “forty days and forty nights” on Mount Sinai:


Christianity similarly uses forty to designate essential periods. 

· Before his temptation, Jesus fasted “forty days and forty nights” in the Judean desert (Matthew 4:2, Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2).

· Forty days was the period from the resurrection of Jesus to the ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:3).

· According to Stephen, Moses’ life is divided into three 40-year segments, separated by his growing to adulthood, fleeing Egypt, and returning to lead his people out (Acts 7:23, 30, 36).

· In modern Christian practice, Lent consists of the 40 days preceding Easter. In much Western Christianity, Sundays are excluded from the count; there are 46 days total Lent; in Eastern Christianity, Sundays are included.

In Human life

·        Quarantine, the practice of isolation to prevent the spread of epidemic disease, derives from a Venetian dialect of the Italian quaranta giorni meaning ‘forty days’, the period that ships were required to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during the Black Death.

  • Interestingly, 40 is even significant in human nature in that we develop within our mother’s 
  • We are in the Womb for 40 weeks before being born.  

We commemorate the forty days and nights spent in the desert by our Lord while he fasted. Here, 40 is a time of testing, temptation, or trial. 

Saint Bede commenting on this, points out that this period is also a symbol of our entire life on earth, which includes the idea of days and nights.

In St Matthew’s version of events, he primarily uses – 40 days and 40 nights. 

The days represent the many blessings we receive, while the nights symbolise the crosses we endure. 

Thirdly, as we begin our Lenten journey, we must apply the lessons we learn from Jesus’ time in the desert.

What Can We Learn?

First, we see that the spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. This teaches us that not only did Jesus endure temptation, but he also was not afraid to face the devil and did not fear his attacks. Instead, he willingly faced the temptations of being led by the spirit and overcame them.

This also enables us to confront and overcome every temptation through power and initiative. We must never be afraid to confront temptations directly and confidently when the Holy Spirit leads. 

The second important lesson is that Jesus voluntarily fasted during this time in the desert. This stresses the importance of moderation, self-restraint, and self-control. 

If we see the pattern of 40, we will understand that self-control is always a part of our daily lives.

Therefore, when we experience the joys and blessings of life, symbolised by 40 days, we must indeed celebrate them.

But we must always do so with self-denial, in that we must never allow the passing things of this world to hinder our relationship with God and our discipleship walk. 

St John of the Cross wrote that we could even become overly attached to spiritual solace and embrace the 40 nights of testing and trial by not letting the difficulties of our lives discourage or distract us from seeking and fulfilling the will of God.

Fasting helps us with this. Fasting restrains us from looking inward unduly and plants our focus squarely on God the Father, strengthening us through life’s ups and downs.

Fasting helps us keep our eyes on the truths God has revealed to us while rejecting the ideas that the devil speaks to us.

Reflect Today 

Reflect upon the importance of embracing the 40 days and nights model. It will help give you courage throughout life. It will help you make sense of the ups and down’s joys, and sorrows we encounter.

We must embrace the blessings and crosses and, through it all, allow ourselves to be led by the spirit, facing every circumstance with courage and self-control. 

Reflect upon the crosses you endure or may cling unduly to life’s consolations. 

Let’s seek to embrace the road of virtue this lent, imitating Jesus 40 days and nights in the desert.

LET Us Pray

Our temperate and courageous Lord, you confronted all temptation with courage and strength. You fasted throughout the 40 days and nights to teach us how to navigate the ups and downs of life. Please give us the virtues of temperance and courage. May your Holy Spirit empower us to meet any life challenges so we may follow you into the desert of our lives. 

Jesus, we trust in you- amen.

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Remember to live life on purpose, in Hope. Faith and Love 

Paula Rose Parish💕 

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Lessons in Lent, Can Jesus Really Save Us?


Evil. We must recognize that evil is a personal issue as well as a sociological one.  It wells up, not only in our neighborhoods but also in our hearts.

Is this true temptation or a rite of passage that Jesus cannot fail?  If failure is possible, does God set the bar so low that there is no danger to Jesus? 

The author of Hebrews says, “For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). 

The Christ who “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7) is subject to every human experience, from birth to death.  He experiences hunger, pain, grief, and anger.  Otherwise, the Incarnation is incomplete, and his ministry is defective.  If Jesus cannot fail, his temptation is less than our everyday experience.  

 A savior who cannot endure our everyday temptation cannot save us.

An issue for Christians today is the existence of the devil (diabolos).  Does such a being exist or is it simply a primitive myth?

Is Evil Real?

  Today we are tempted to see evil as the product of flawed social systems––poverty, racism, ignorance, etc.––and to discount the existence of the devil. 

However, “the church teaches the existence of the devil because the biblical writers…taught such an existence and instructed us that Jesus reckoned with such an existence, too – by calling the devil a HE.

The idea of temptation is in short, is a Conflict with Satan… is the underlying aspect of the temptation conflict between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world, which is the plot of the whole Gospel of Matthew, and Jesus was no stranger to temptation…

  • Peter tempted Jesus to avoid the cross (Matthew 16:23). 
  • Jesus also commends the disciples for standing by him in his trials (Luke 22:28). 
  • At Gethsemane, Jesus struggled with temptation once again (Luke 22:42-44).

Jesus in all aspects fulfilled the Old convent with the new. In fact, Jesus’ temptations were the very temptations––and in the same order––experienced by the Israelites in the wilderness after the exodus. Israel was led to its testing by God, just as Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. 

Jesus Identifies with Israel

Jesus experienced baptism & temptation which paralleled the experience of Israel, whose baptism in the Red Sea was followed by their temptation in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:1-13).  

Israel failed the many tests, going after other gods and reaping bitter fruit.  God punished them but did not abandon them.  Punishment was intended to redeem instead of to destroy.

Let’s briefly look at this parallel.

• The Israelite’s first temptation had to do with hunger––about which they complained bitterly––and which need was satisfied by God’s provision of manna (Exodus 16). 

• Their second temptation had to do with testing God at Massah with complaints about water (Exodus 17:2). 

• Their third temptation was to fall down and worship a golden calf at the base of a high mountain (Exodus 32)––a high mountain also being the site of Jesus’ third temptation.

But there is Another Parallel—

There is certainly a parallel between Jesus’ baptism and his temptation:

“It is no coincidence that Jesus’ temptation immediately follows his baptism.  Many of God’s people have had similar experiences. 

Right after conversion or some other significant spiritual event, precisely when a certain level of victory or maturity seems to have been attained, temptations resume more strongly than ever -Elijah in 1 Kgs 19:1-18 and Paul in Rom 7:14-25.

• And we see In all three Synoptic Gospels, the temptation immediately follows Jesus’ baptism. 

• Both baptism and temptation take place in the wilderness. 

• The Spirit that descended upon Jesus at his baptism now leads him into the wilderness.

• At baptism, God announced Jesus’ sonship, a relationship that the tempter uses in the temptation––”If you are the Son of God….” 

• At his baptism, Jesus was faithful despite John’s protest of not being worthy to baptize him. 

  • At his temptation, he is faithful despite the tempter’s best (or worst) efforts.

Let’s Now Look at the Temptations Themselves

  1. Idenity & hungerIf you are the Son of God” (v. 3a).  Following the baptism, a voice from heaven announced, “This is my Son.”  Now the devil says, “If you are the Son of God”––introducing doubt––challenging Jesus to prove the authenticity of his identity. 

command that these stones become bread (v. 3b).  The devil attacks Jesus at his weakest point––his compelling physical hunger.  Such hunger drains us, not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually. 

2. Temptation of Proving who he is-“Then the devil took him into the holy city.  He placed him on the pinnacle (pterygion) of the temple” (v. 5).  We are not certain where this pterygion is located, but the temple is 100 cubits (150 feet or 46 meters) high––the height of a modern 15-story building.  “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down

“Again it is written, ‘Do not test the Lord your God (v. 7). 

Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:16, giving one scripture precedence over another.  No one, not even Jesus, has the right to put God to the test.  Such testing is evidence, not of faith, but of doubt.  To test God is to put us in the driver’s seat and to require God to follow our lead. 

3. Temptation of pride & greed “Again, the devil took him to an exceedingly high mountain” (v. 8a). Again, we are reminded of Moses, who met God on a high mountain. 

On this high mountain, Jesus confronts the devil.  Jesus has come to save the world, and the devil offers him the world.  and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” “for it is written, ‘He will put his angels in charge of you.’ and, ‘On their hands, they will bear you up, so that you don’t dash your foot against a stone” (v. 6b). 

The devil quotes from Psalm 91:11-12, verses that reassure the person “who dwells in the secret place of the Highest” (Psalm 91:1) of God’s help in adversity. 

4. Temptation of false worship for reward “I will give you all of these things if you will fall down and worship me“(v. 9). The devil names an attractive price.  “Jesus is not asked to spend his whole life at the devil’s feet.  He is given a real bargain:  one momentary bow––the verb is aorist, suggesting one single act”

But “the devil’s offer of all the kingdoms of the world is a parody in that God has already promised the messianic king, the Son of God, ‘Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession‘ (Ps 2:8; cf. Ps 73:8; Rev 11:15).

The devil’s offer would seem to be an attractive proposition, because even the New Testament acknowledges the devil’s power, calling him “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 16:11) and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) and “world’s rulers of the darkness of this age” (Ephesians 6:12). 

So, What has Temptation got to do With us Today?

Temptation has not lost its power but is still an active force today.  “If God is calling and empowering you to do something for him (John 3:16-17), you can expect to be tested…, and you can expect testing proportionate with the seriousness of your call….  Nevertheless, testing is for our good; when biblical heroes had matured through the time of testing, they knew the depth of God’s grace that had sustained them”.

 How to Resist Temptation

Jesus resists temptation with the use of scripture, as Jesus does here, Satan uses scripture but twists it out of context- so to protect ourselves, we must know the Bible and basic Christian doctrine. 

We must have our answer ready because the tempter will not give us time to look it up or to seek advice.  The tempter is a master of timing and insists that we make our decision now.  As the Scouts say, “Be Prepared!”

 Good or Evil, You Choose!

God allows the beloved to choose good or evil and hopes to bless the right choice– To tempt is to hope for failure; to test is to hope for success. 

IMPORTANT, however, that the Spirit does not tempt Jesus, but only leads him into the wilderness––goes with him into the wilderness––reminiscent of the 23rd Psalm, where God goes with us through the valley of the shadow of death.  The Spirit leads Jesus––accompanies Jesus.  The tempting is the devil’s business.

Very shortly, Jesus will teach us to pray, “And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).  “To be tempted (peirasthenai––from peirazo) by the devil (v. 1b).  so here in the Lord’s Prayer The word peirazo can mean tempt or test

So, as we enter into Lent, let us be aware of what we are dealing with & deal with it in the way Jesus did…

  • To tempt is to entice a person to do what is wrong.
  • To test, is to give a person the opportunity to choose what is right.

Let us choose what is right.

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Bye for now- and remember live life in Hope, Faith & Love!

Virtual Hugs

Paula Xx

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Paula Rose has a Bachelor of Pastoral Counselling and Theology, Vision Christian University, USA

Master of Arts In Counselling & Professional Development, specializing in Spiritual Abuse The University of Derby, UK.

BACP Life Coaching Course, Bristol, UK

A life member of (ISFP) The International Society of Female Professionals.

 Paula Rose Parish is an author, and the founder, of Hope. Faith. Love. She studied at the University of Derby and received a Master of Arts in Counselling in Professional Development. Over the years Paula Rose has served as a pastor, chaplain, counselor, coach and taught at Christian university, led workshops and retreats, and spoken worldwide on Christian spirituality. Author of over 100 articles and two books, Paula Rose continues to write on the spiritual life. Paula Rose is adding a string to her bow and is presently reading Health and Wellness. She has four grown children, five grandchildren, and lives in South Wales, UK.

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Paula Rose is a Wellness Coach Ordained Minister, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, Course Creator, Published Author and has a Master of Arts in Counselling. and many other qualifications and a lifetime so, I have heaps to share with you.

Paula is a life member of (ISFP) The International Society of Female Professionals




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