“Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if you will worship before me, all will be Yours’” (Luke 4:5–7).
There are a number of important distinctives between the temptation of Eve and the temptation of Christ. Eve was in paradise, Jesus in the desert. Eve had Adam with her; Jesus was alone. Eve was well fed; Jesus had not eaten for 40 days.
But the two temptations share this—the Serpent offered both Eve and Jesus an opportunity to “be like God.” With Eve, the bait worked; with Jesus, it failed. Eve believed the Serpent; Jesus believed His Father in heaven. For both, however, their belief was intimately connected with believing who they were. Eve, we are told, was like Adam, made in the image of God. Jesus, before going to face His temptation, heard this from His Father: “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). Eve bears the image of God; Jesus is the express image of the Father.
This month we have looked at what theologians call the “communicable” attributes of God, those traits that we, albeit to a lesser degree, share in common with our Maker. The church has under stood the connection between God and man in terms of these attributes. We, for instance, bear God’s image because we, like God, are moral creatures. We have a will, and He has a will. We have a mind, and He has a mind. We do indeed have these things in common.
This is not, however, all that we have in common. We intersect not only in what we are, but in what we are called to do. God, after all, having created Adam and Eve, didn’t tell them that the most important thing was that they should be this way or that. Rather, the call on their lives was to exercise dominion over the creation. They were to rule over it, just as He rules over all things. We bear the image of God as we do His work.
We are obedient, then, as we do His work in a manner consistent with His character. It is not sufficient that we should rule. God not only rules all things, He rules all things well. He rules all things with wisdom. The question before Eve, and the question before Jesus, was this: “You can rule. But you will have to serve somebody. Will you rule by serving yourself or by serving God?”
I believe this is the reason the Bible’s historical books spend so much time focusing on the lives of the kings. God is not guilty of elitism, wherein only the lifestyles of the rich, famous, and powerful have import. Instead, He shows us, time and time again, the very choice of man. All men rule, because all men bear the image of God. Some men rule well, recognizing the true Ruler over them. Others rebel, foolishly thinking they can sever the chains of the Creator.
We see that very antithesis in the struggle between David and Saul. In the latter part of 1 Samuel, Saul is trying frantically to get rid of the Lord’s anointed. He has forfeited his own rule by bucking the Word of God. And now, rather than responding with repentance (which David later will model after his grievous fall), he seeks to destroy the one who is obedient. At the end of chapter 22, we see Saul mercilessly put to death those who have been of only minor assistance to David. Then, in chapter 23, we see David twice seeking the wisdom and direction of God. Saul, like his fathers before him, does what is right in his own eyes. David, like his Son and Lord, hungers and thirsts to do the will of God. Both rule, one autonomously, the other under the law and authority of God.
I would suggest that what empowers the obedience of faith is faith. Jesus was able to resist the temptation of the Devil not because He did not want to rule, but because He believed God’s promise that He would rule. In like manner, David was able to wait patiently for his own ascension because he knew it was coming. While Saul tried desperate measure after desperate measure to hold onto power, David simply waited upon the Lord.
David’s rule not only reflected the rule of God the Father, the Creator of all things, but also pointed forward to the rule of Jesus Christ. It is, after all, David’s throne upon which Jesus sits. But David sits there as well, as he, too, is seated in the heavenly places, ruling now not just Israel, but all the world, together with all the saints who have gone on to their reward.
We need not wait for the Serpent to offer us, in exchange for our worship, rule over all the creation. It is no longer his to give. For now all authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto Christ. If we are in Him, then we also sit upon seats of authority. We, too, are called to reflect the glory of our Maker, of the Ruler of the universe, by ruling well under Him. May we be like David, ruling in accordance with the very Words of God. May we reflect the character, by our rule, of Him who rules over us.