Yeshua’s Teaching on Deuteronomy 6-8
Have you noticed that the enemy often increases his efforts just as we’re about to approach a victory? We don’t always perceive what’s happening in the moment, but we notice that things get very difficult. Then all of the sudden, there’s a breakthrough in an area where we’ve been struggling or praying for.
Parashah #46 is Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25. It’s called ‘Ekev which means “Because” (or considering, in light of, or since) It starts out in verse 12 with:
“Because you are listening to these rulings, keeping and obeying them, Adonai your God will keep with you the covenant and mercy that he swore to your ancestors.”
It starts with a promise, a covenant made between Yehovah and our spiritual ancestors. By keeping the commandments laid out to them, this Israelite generation is continuing the same covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and by doing so Yehovah brings about the blessings he promised to them:
- Numerous descendants
- The Land
- Being a blessing to the nations
(This is summarized in Deut. 9:4-6.)
But “the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) – Steal your blessing, kill your faith and destroy your life. What are the things in our lives that the enemy tries to exploit in order to keep us from inheriting our full blessing? The weaknesses he preys on to keep us from our abundant life here on earth, and our eternal rewards?
Yeshua spells it out for us and provides a deeper understanding of how to discern and defeat the schemes of the enemy.
On the Cusp of Victory
The book of Deuteronomy is a recap of the Torah (instructions) to the second generation of Israelites just before they are about to enter and possess the Promised Land.
Up to this point they’ve conquered other nations and possess the land to the east of the Jordan River. They’re now crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land, the land originally promised to their ancestors.
So Deuteronomy is Moses’ final speech of before they enter and begin living as they were meant to, inheriting all that Yehovah intended for them and their ancestors, the inheritance Yehovah has been promising since Abraham’s time – hundreds of years. This is an exciting time!
And remember, Moses won’t be going into the land with them, so this is literally his last speech to them. This is everything he wants them to know and remember when they get there. He knows if they don’t do these things, they will not succeed in the Promised Land, they will not inherit all that Yehovah has for them. He even knows that eventually they will turn away (as he says in Deut. 31-32).
But right now they are on the cusp of victory, inheriting all the promises. A new life of abundance and prosperity lie ahead for them, their children and grandchildren, as long as they stay in covenant with Yehovah.
This is the tone of the whole book of Deuteronomy, this anticipation of finally making it, being the generation that is blessed with and responsible for inheriting the promises.
Four 40-Day Fasts
With that context some things in this parashah caught my attention. Look at the following verses from Deuteronomy 9-10:
“I had gone up the mountain to receive the stone tablets, the tablets on which was written the covenant Adonai had made with you. I stayed on the mountain forty days and nights without eating food or drinking water.”
“Then I fell down before Adonai, as I had the first time, for forty days and nights, during which time I neither ate food nor drank water, all because of the sin you committed by doing what was evil in the sight of Adonai and thus provoking him.”
“So I fell down before Adonai for those forty days and nights; and I lay there; because Adonai had said he would destroy you.”
“I stayed on the mountain forty days and nights, as previously; and Adonai listened to me that time too — Adonai would not destroy you.”
In these two chapters Moses reminds the Israelites of four times where he fasted and prayed for them for 40 days: 1) when he received the tablets with the commandments, 2) when he interceded for them after the golden calf incident, 3) when he went to get the second set of tablets, 4) and when they refused to go into the Land.
It seemed peculiar to me that in this short span of his speech he refers to all four of these 40-day fasts. He’s reminding the Israelites of their 40-year history and these four fasts and the reasons for them are what stands out to him. These were critical times for Moses, crucial times waiting on the Yehovah – twice for his laws and twice to plead with Yahweh for the future of the Israelites. These were critical times in their history – in our history – where things could’ve gone a completely different direction.
Why did Yeshua quote from this section of the Torah?
These three verses also piqued my interest about this section of scripture.
“He humbled you, allowing you to become hungry, and then fed you with man, which neither you nor your ancestors had ever known, to make you understand that a person does not live on food alone but on everything that comes from the mouth of Adonai.”
“Do not put Adonai your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.”
“You are to fear Adonai your God, serve him and swear by his name.”
These three verses have something in common: All of the scriptures Yeshua quotes during his 40 days in the wilderness are from this section of the Torah. I wondered why. Yeshua could have quoted verses from any part of the Torah, but chose these in Deuteronomy 6-8 – why?
Because he identified this time in his life as this same situation that Moses and the Israelites were in. It’s a time where he’s right on the cusp of victory, just like the Israelites were when Moses reminded them of these things.
Yeshua has known this time would come his whole life (and since the beginning of time). He’s finally about to do what he was sent to do – uproot the enemy’s strongholds, conquer his territory, demolish the power of the enemy over his people, bring his people into a place of rest and abundance.
Remember John 10:10 – “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” He’s personally at this point of bringing his people into the Promised Land spiritually – the same point as Moses is in Deuteronomy. This is why his mind is on these passages. His time in the wilderness is the final test before he begins his battle for the Promised Land.
Yeshua’s Wilderness Experience
Let’s go there. Satan tempts Yeshua three times. Why does he choose these three temptations? What do they have to do with Yeshua beginning his ministry? And why does Yeshua quote these scriptures in response?
As a clue to these answers, I want to remind you of how Yeshua, and others of his time, spoke. We still do this today. If I say “turkey dinner” – what do you think of? What do you think of if I say “go ahead, make my day” or “May the force be with you.” Each of these well-known phrases brings up a whole context, all sorts of thoughts and memories of the scene when those lines were used. We’re immediately all on the same page.
The Bible is the same way. What if I say “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want”? Or, “May the Lord bless you and keep you.” When someone quotes from a known reference, the hearer immediately has the whole context of what the person’s saying. This is how our brains work.
This is what Yeshua did on the cross. Remember when he said, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46) This was a very familiar quote from Psalm 22. He quotes that verse because it brings to the minds of his hearers the context of what’s happening with his death. Psalm 22 says:
“I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And You lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;
18 They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.”
Then it goes on to talk about how God will use this for the salvation of the world.
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” is verse 1 of that Psalm. So people who knew the scriptures would immediately understand the context of his death and the prophecy that he was fulfilling as the Messiah.
This is how Yeshua is responding to Satan in the wilderness as he’s tempted. The verses he chooses indicate the context he’s referring to. So I wanted to look at the context of these to more fully understand Yeshua’s responses.
The temptation of Yeshua from Luke 4:1-13:
“Yeshua, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’
4 Yeshua answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone.”’
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.’
8 Yeshua answered, ‘It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”’
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
“He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”’
12 Yeshua answered, ‘It is said: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.”
1. Turning Stone to Bread
“If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Yeshua answers, “It is written, ‘man shall not live on bread alone.’”
This is a quote from Deuteronomy 8:3. Here are verses 1-10 so we can get the context:
“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.
6 Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.”
This is exactly Yeshua’s context: He’s hungry, but he understands that God is testing what’s in his heart. Will he let his immediate desires and needs compromise his mission?
Then in verses 7-9 it goes on to describe what the Israelites will get if they do not give in to the lust of the flesh – a land with brooks, streams, deep springs, wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce, you will lack nothing, the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.
If you follow Yehovah’s path, you will have more than bread alone. You’ll have an abundance, without scarcity, not lack anything and be fully satisfied! Remember, the promised land for the Israelites had already been inhabited. The wheat, barley, vines, fig trees, olive trees – everything had already been planted. There was a harvest just waiting for them.
This is figuratively where Yeshua is at this point, about to fulfill his destiny – the harvest is ripe for his message. Not only is he going to be seated again at the right hand of his father within three years, but once he follows “everything that proceeds out of the mouth of God” he’ll bring this promised land – the kingdom of God – to all of God’s children. Everyone will be able to live in abundance, lacking for nothing and completely satisfied.
Aren’t you glad he didn’t accept the bread from satan?
Satan was offering a shortcut – a way to get what Yeshua wanted right now. Yeshua is hungry, so he offers him bread. But it’s a trap that will steal Yeshua’s destiny and his full inheritance.
What immediate needs do we have where satan could tempt us to take shortcuts? Where are we hungry? Where are we settling for the immediate answer instead of waiting for the full blessing?
Yeshua’s answer reminds us that Yehovah has more for us. Wait for his provision. Follow everything that proceeds from his mouth.
2. Kingdoms of the World
“ 5 And he led Him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore if you worship before me, it shall all be Yours.’ 8 Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”’”
Yeshua quotes Deuteronomy 6:13. Here are verses 10-15 to get the context:
10 “Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, 12 then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.13 You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. 14 You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, 15 for the Lord your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.”
Yeshua could throw it all away right here. Yeshua knew that all the kingdoms satan was offering him and the glory he was promising was rightfully his, and soon would be his. Again satan is offering Yeshua a shortcut to what’s ahead. “You could have this now, why go through everything ahead when I could just give it to you now?”
But Yeshua says, “No, I won’t forget who brought me and my people out of Egypt, out of slavery. I’m not in it for the earthly glory.”
He quotes this verse because this is how he sees his circumstances. He knows what’s at stake. He’s about to do what he was born to do, which is to save the people from Yehovah’s anger, turn them back to him, so that they aren’t wiped off the face of the earth, as this passage explains.
Yeshua has his mind on the eternal prize, not the lust of his eyes that satan is showing him. He’s committed to doing it Yehovah’s way, not his own, easier, more comfortable way. Again, he’s committed to fulfilling everything that came from the mouth of God – The prophecies that foretell Yehovah’s plan for redemption, not his own plan, or someone else’s ideas for how to get there.
Satan still uses this temptation on us today. We are not to follow any of the gods of the peoples who surround us. What things are we chasing for the immediate glory or earthly recognition? Where are we making our own plans instead of following Yehovah’s? These are places where satan will try to tempt you to compromise the commandments and throw away your full inheritance.
3. Throw Yourself Down
“Then he took him to Yerushalayim, set him on the highest point of the Temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here! For the Tanakh says, “He will order his angels to be responsible for you and to protect you. They will support you with their hands, so that you will not hurt your feet on the stones.”’ Yeshua answered him, ‘It also says, “Do not put Adonai your God to the test.”’”
Yeshua quotes Deuteronomy 6:16, which is a continuation from what we just read about forgetting God and worshipping the gods of the people around you. Deuteronomy 6:15 says,
“because Adonai, your God, who is here with you, is a jealous God. If you do, the anger of Adonai your God will flare up against you and he will destroy you from the face of the earth. 16 Do not put Adonai your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.”
“at Massah,” what happened at Massah? That’s where we need to go to get the context of Yeshua’s response.
The story of Massah is in Exodus 17:1-7
“The whole community of the people of Isra’el left the Seen Desert, traveling in stages, as Adonai had ordered, and camped at Refidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarreled with Moshe, demanding, ‘Give us water to drink!’ But Moshe replied, ‘Why pick a fight with me? Why are you testing Adonai?’ 3 However, the people were thirsty for water there and grumbled against Moshe, ‘For what did you bring us up from Egypt? To kill us, our children and our livestock with thirst?’ 4 Moshe cried out to Adonai, ‘What am I to do with these people? They’re ready to stone me!’ 5 Adonai answered Moshe, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and bring with you the leaders of Isra’el. Take your staff in your hand, the one you used to strike the river; and go. 6 I will stand in front of you there on the rock in Horev. You are to strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so the people can drink.’ Moshe did this in the sight of the leaders of Isra’el. 7 The place was named Massah [testing] and M’rivah [quarreling] because of the quarreling of the people of Isra’el and because they tested Adonai by asking, ‘Is Adonai with us or not?’”
This is what Yeshua is referring to in his response to satan. This sounds like a bunch of complaining, but it’s more than that – it’s called testing because of the attitude the Israelites took.
How would this complaint sound if they were testing God? They’d probably say, “We don’t even have water. Did you bring us out here so we could die of thirst? If God is really with us, why don’t we even have water? If you say you’re from God, Moses, why don’t you tell God to give us water? If we don’t even have water, we know you can’t really be from God.”
This is more than complaining; this is picking a fight with Moses and starting to doubt that he’s even hearing Yehovah. They’re about to kill Moses. They’re quarreling with Moses and testing God. This is what Yeshua is referring to.
Remember Satan’s words to Yeshua: “If you are the Son of God….” This is the same attitude – “if God really is with you as you think he is, he’ll protect you. If you really are the Messiah, he won’t let anything happen to you.” He’s trying to plant a seed of doubt. He’s tempting Yeshua to test God.
But Yeshua understands that that attitude will not lead him to his destiny. That’s why he quotes this passage – these people didn’t make it to their destiny. He is saying, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test as the people did at Massah, when they just about killed God’s prophet, Moses, and were eventually denied the Promised Land.”
Yeshua recognizes that this, again, could derail not just his immediate ministry, but the whole mission of ushering God’s people into the promised inheritance.
At first I thought, why would throwing yourself off a high point be tempting for Yeshua? Satan says in verses 10-11,
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here! For the Tanakh says, ‘He will order his angels to be responsible for you and to protect you. They will support you with their hands, so that you will not hurt your feet on the stones.’” (He’s quoting from Psalm 91:11-12.)
Then I realized, this too would be a shortcut for Yeshua to get what’s rightfully his. Yeshua knows from the prophecies that his path forward will be treacherous. He knows it involves scorn, public arguments and ridicule from the leaders, betrayal, pain, and a torturous, miserable death. He knows he’ll have to sacrifice himself in every way, and afterward Yehovah will raise him up to “the right hand of the Father.”
So satan says, “Wouldn’t it be tempting to just skip all that and sacrifice yourself right here from this high point? You know the angels will catch you and guard you. You won’t even strike your foot against a stone.”
Satan is offering another shortcut. This way would be so much easier. Only it doesn’t lead to the same outcome. It may save Yeshua, but it doesn’t save anyone else. It doesn’t result in being seated at the right hand of the Father. It doesn’t bring the kingdom of God or the promised inheritance.
And this is what satan tempts us with… “There’s got to be an easier way. You could get what you want faster and easier by doing it this way. It’s the same thing only less painful or more comfortable or not as embarrassing or humbling. You can skip all that and get there this way instead.”
But if it’s not Yehovah’s leading, it’s not the same thing, and it won’t lead to the same results. It won’t lead to the full promises.
Think about where you’re uncomfortable, where things are taking longer than you thought or hoped. If Yehovah has led you there, there’s a reason for that specific path. He has results and blessings that are dependent on your obedience. Discern satan’s temptations in those areas. And determine not to give him any access. Resolve to follow Yehovah in those situations. James provides us the perfect response in 4:7-8:
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
Satan’s Three Old Temptations
As I looked at the three of these temptations, I discovered the key to discerning satan’s schemes in our lives. He’s got no new tricks, he uses the same things over and over and over, and the Bible spells it out for us. The key to temptations is right there in 1 John 2:16:
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
These are three things the enemy tempts us with. These are the exact three things he tempted Yeshua with…
- Lust of the flesh – Bread when he was hungry
- Lust of the eyes – Kingdoms of the world and glory
- Boastful pride of life – Testing God by our arrogant attitude of who we are –
thinking that we can do whatever we want and God will always have our back.
If we examine these three areas in our lives, we can determine the weaknesses that satan will try to use against us, access points that we need to be aware of in order to discern his schemes.
And remember, he will mix truth with lies. Satan used plausible, logical and truthful suppositions in his temptations of Yeshua.
- He offered him bread – The truth was Yeshua is the bread of life.
- He offered him kingdoms and glory – Yeshua will be the ruler of this world.
- He offered him an easier path with angels guarding him – and he was right. He quotes the scriptures, plus the text tells us that Yeshua was being attended to by angels while he was in the desert.
These things were all true – they were rightfully Yeshua’s. Satan is trying to make him see that he can have all of what’s rightfully his now. And that’s what he’ll tell us. “Here’s an easier way.” It will sound sensible, it’ll be based on truth. It comes down to who you’re going to serve. Discern Yehovah’s path and stay on it no matter what.
Now, let’s get back to Moses.
Moses is another great example of doing it Yehovah’s way
Four times Moses spends 40 days on the mountain fasting and praying. Was he tempted? Did he want to sometimes give up and take an easier way? He could’ve left the Israelites at any time and gone back to Midian or to shepherding, or started a whole new life. There were certainly much easier paths to take, more comfortable ways to spend his life. Yehovah even offered to destroy the Israelites and start over with Moses, But Moses didn’t agree with that idea, because he sought Yehovah’s glory, not his own.
Even knowing that he would never enter the Promised Land, and knowing he would be staying in the desert 40 years, he chose to stay with the people. Wow! He was not in a hurry to get on with his own life. He took the time that Yehovah’s plan required, so that He would get the glory, and so that the people would inherit the full promise.
Yeshua’s time in the wilderness is a token of the 40 years Moses spent in the wilderness. Remember, Moses was a foreshadow of Yeshua as our Messiah, and here we see another way their lives parallel each other.
So remember… God’s plan is to bring us into his full blessing – abundant life both now and eternally. Satan’s plan is to steal as much of that as he can from us. All of us will be tempted – even Yeshua was tempted. There will always be an easier way, a more expedient way, a shortcut, a way that seems right to us and seems to lead to the same place.
Know your weaknesses, the areas the enemy could exploit. “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.” Don’t give in to these. But wait on the Lord’s way. There’s a reason for the path he has you on. It will lead to the promised inheritance in the end.
Moses and Yeshua are our examples (among many others) of patient endurance in doing it Yehovah’s way no matter what.
When it gets particularly difficult, take heart – you are likely on the verge of victory, just as the Israelites were at the end of their 40 years in the wilderness, and just as Yeshua was at the end of his 40 days in the wilderness.