Targets & Hostages: Satanic Assault In the Last Days

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses thirty-one through fifty-three of the twenty-first chapter of this New Testament book. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou s halt thrice deny that thou knowest me. And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, t hat this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, and he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough” (Luke 21:31-38).

 

            “And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was was it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation” (Luke 21:39-46).

 

            “And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 21:47-53).

 

            SATAN HATH DESIRED TO HAVE YOU! SATAN HATH DESIRED TO HAVE YOU, THAT MAY SIFT YOU AS WHEAT! SATAN DESIRED TO HAVE! SATAN DESIRES TO HAVE! WHY DID SATAN DESIRE SIMON? WHY DID SATAN ASK FOR SATAN? IS THERE A DIRECT CONNECTION BETWEEN THIS DECLARATION OF JESUS AND AN EARLIER STATEMENT WHEN HE DECLARED, “GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN?” IS THERE A DIRECT LINK AND CONNECTION BETWEEN THIS AND WHEN JESUS DECLARED THAT IT WOULD BE UPON THIS ROCK HE WOULD BUILD HIS CHURCH AND THE GATES OF HELL WOULD NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT? SATAN DESIRED TO HAVE SIMON THAT HE MIGHT SIFT HIM AS WHEAT, BUT JESUS PRAYED FOR HIM! SATAN DESIRED TO HAVE! SATAN DESIRED TO SIFT AS WHEAT! JESUS PRAYED! JESUS PRAYED FOR SATAN’S TARGET! JESUS PRAYS FOR SATAN’S TARGETS! JESUS PRAYS THAT FAITH MIGHT NOT FAIL! JESUS PRAYED THAT THE FAITH OF SIMON MIGHT NOT FAIL! FROM SIFTING TO STRENGTHENING! SIFTED BY SATAN AND YET STRENGTHENING THE BRETHREN! “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:5-11).

 

            THE THINGS CONCERNING ME HAVE AN END! THE THINGS CONCERNING YOU HAVE AN END! THERE IS AN END IN SIGHT! EVERY STARTING POINT HAS AN ENDING POINT! “FOR I RECKON THAT THE SUFFERINGS OF THIS PRESENT TIME ARE NOT WORTHY TO BE COMPARED WITH THE GLORY WHICH SHALL BE REVEALED IN US. FOR THE EARNEST EXPECTATION OF THE CREATURE WAITETH FOR THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD” (ROMANS 8:18-19). “ BELOVED, THINK IT NOT STRANGE CONCERNING THE FIERY TRIAL WHICH IS TO TRY YOU, AS THOUGH SOME STRANGE THING HAPPENED UNTO YOU: BUT REJOICE, INASMUCH AS YE ARE PARTAKERS OF CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS; THAT, WHEN HIS GLORY SHALL BE REVEALED, YE MAY BE GLAD ALSO WITH EXCEEDING JOY. IF YE BE REPROACHED FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST, HAPPY ARE YE; FOR THE SPIRIT OF GLORY AND OF GOD RESTETH UPON YOU: ON THEIR PART HE IS EVIL SPOKEN OF, BUT ON YOUR PART HE IS GLORIFIED. BUT LET NONE OF YOU SUFFER AS A MURDERER, OR AS A THIEF, OR AS AN EVILDOER, OR AS A BUSYBODY IN OTHER MEN’S MATTERS. YET IF ANY MAN SUFFER AS A CHRISTIAN, LET HIM NOT BE ASHAMED; BUT LET HIM GLORIFY GOD ON THIS BEHALF. FOR THE TIME IS COME THAT JUDGMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD: AND IF IT FIRST BEGIN AT US, WHAT SHALL THE END BE OF THEM THAT OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL OF GOD? AND IF THE RIGHTEOUS SCARCELY BE SAVED, WHERE SHALL THE UNGODLY AND THE SINNER APPEAR? WHEREFORE LET THEM THAT SUFFER ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD COMMIT THE KEEPING OF THEIR SOULS TO HIM IN WELL DOING, AS UNTO A FAITHFUL CREATOR” (1 PETER 4:12-19). “NOW ALL THESE THINGS HAPPENED UNTO THEM FOR ENSAMPLES: AND THEY ARE WRITTEN FOR OUR ADMONITION, UPON WHOM THE ENDS OF THE WORLD ARE COME. WHEREFORE LET HIM THAT THINKETH HE STANDETH TAKE HEED LEST HE FALL. THERE HATH NO TEMPTATION TAKEN YOU BUT SUCH AS IS COMMON TO MAN: BUT GOD IS FAITHFUL, WHO WILL NOT SUFFER YOU TO BE TEMPTED ABOVE THAT YE ARE ABLE; BUT WILL WITH THE TEMPTATION ALSO MAKE A WAY TO ESCAPE, THAT YE MAY BE ABLE TO BEAR IT. WHEREFORE, MY DEARLY BELOVED, FLEE FROM IDOLATRY” (1 CORINTHIANS 10:11-14).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find perhaps one of the most powerful passages in the gospel narratives concerning the activity of Satan within the lives of men and women—particularly and especially during the days of Jesus. In all reality, it is truly astonishing to read the four gospel narratives and encounter the tremendous truth concerning the activity of Satan, for it wasn’t solely the unclean and evil spirits who were running amuck and creating havoc and chaos during those days. The four gospel narratives are replete with account after account of unclean and evil spirits tormenting, oppressing, possessing, and captivating the lives of men and women during those days. In fact, what makes this trully intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider how in the Old Testament you find absolutely no example of unclean and evil spirits tormenting and oppressing men and women. It isn’t until we come to the New Testament when we begin to see a tremendous and intense warfare and conflict that exists in the supernatural and spiritual realm. It is within the New Testament gospel narratives we find numerous accounts of unclean spirits who tormented and oppressed individuals. I can’t help but think about the man who was tormented and oppressed with the unclean spirit whom Jesus delivered and set free in the synagogue while all those present watched and witnessed His actions. I am reminded of the man in the regions of the Gaderenes who met Jesus when He and His disciples arrived safely at the shore and stepped out of the ship. This particular man was undoubtedly tormented and oppressed by a myriad of unclean spirits and devils, for when Jesus asked the unclean spirit his name he responded with “legion,” stating there were many. What’s more, is I am also reminded of the only son of the father who brought his son possessed with an unclean spirit while Jesus was atop the mountain with Peter, James and John as He was transfigured before their faces. Upon coming down from the mountain Jesus would be met by this boy’s father who earnestly, eagerly and desperately cried out to Jesus to deliver his son from the unclean spirit who had tormented and oppressed him.

 

            Perhaps one of the most astonishing truths surrounding the New Testament gospel narratives is the activity of unclean and evil spirits, as well as the activity of Satan. We know within the Old Testament there were specific instances and occurrences when Satan rose up against those who walked with and followed the living and eternal God. We know that there was the instance in the garden when Satan manifested as the serpent and beguiled Eve concerning the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and tempted her to eat of it. We know that it was Satan who appeared among the sons of God when they came to appear before Him and even attempted to incite Him against His own servant Job. It would be Satan who would leave the presence of the LORD the first time and would strike within the life of Job by killing all of his children, as well as all of his possessions. Moreover, it would be Satan who would also once more attempt to incite the living God against Job and would leave his presence securing permission to strike the physical body of Job with sores and boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. We also know within the Old Testament that it was Satan who was referenced as standing up to oppose David and Israel while inciting and tempting David to number the whole host and number of Israel. Furthermore we know that Satan stood at the right hand of Joshua the high priest before and in the presence of the LORD to accuse him before he was emphatically and powerfully rebuked by the angel of the LORD. These are just a few of the powerful examples found within the Old Testament concerning the activity of Satan within the lives of men and women whose lives were dramatically impacted and shaped during those days.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this reality, for when we come to the New Testament gospel narratives written by the gospel authors we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that there seemed to be a heightened increase in the activity of the supernatural and spiritual during the days of Jesus. While it was indeed true that we read of the activity of Satan in the Old Testament and his attempt to destroy, accuse, condemn and deceive men and women, we find unclean spirits manifesting themselves in the New Testament. What’s more, is that not only do we find unclean and evil spirits manifesting themselves in the New Testament, but we find them tormenting and oppressing the lives of countless men and women during those days. This is something we must needs recognize and understand, for when you come to the New Testament gospel narratives you will not only find the activity of the unclean and evil spirits, but you will find it coupled together with the activity of Satan. In fact, I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we are to understand that which is found in this particular portion of Scripture we must needs recognize and understand the heightened and increased activity in the supernatural and spiritual realm. What’s more, is that we must also recognize and understand these in light of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in his second epistle to the Corinthian saints, as well as the words he wrote in his epistle to the Ephesian saints and congregation. It would be in each of these epistles the apostle Paul would indeed highlight and underscore the tremendous conflict that would exist within the supernatural and spiritual realm and the war which we face within this life. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the sixth chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesians, as well as the words written and recorded in the tenth chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints:

 

            “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

 

            “But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:2-6).

 

            With these passages we are brought face to face with the absolutely incredible truth that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against unseen forces and powers in the supernatural and spiritual realm. What’s more, is that it is within these passages we are brought face to face with the fact that although we walk in the flesh and although we walk according to the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. Clearly the apostle Paul was seeking to bring us to the place where we recognized and understood the tremendous spiritual and supernatural conflict that was present before and all around us. What makes this even more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that what you find in the New Testament gospel narratives is not Jesus wrestling and contending with flesh and blood, but with unseen and unclean evil spirits. With this being said, however, it is actually something worth thinking about and considering as you read the gospel narratives, for there were times when the warfare and conflict would indeed be manifested before and in the sight of all those who were present during those days. There were times during those days when the conflict which took place in the unseen and spiritual realm would be manifested in full view of the public’s eye and focus. Time and time again—regardless of whether or not Jesus was in synagogues or in the streets—He would have to contend with unclean spirits, and not only silence them, but also cast them out. In fact, if you read the accounts of the unclean spirits which tormented and oppressed men and women during those days you will more often than not find Jesus silencing their voices before ultimately and inevitably casting them out and forcing them to give up their grip upon those whom they tormented and oppressed.

 

            As I sit here thinking about and considering the words which are found within the gospel narratives I can’t help but think that there were essentially three different aspects of the spiritual warfare and conflict that was taking place during those days. In fact, I would dare say that because of the physical presence and manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ during those days there was a heightened and increased measure of the activity of the unseen and spiritual realm during those days, as unclean spirits would possess, torment and oppress men and women. There were unclean spirits who would cause individuals such as the man from the Gadarenes to have his dwelling among the tombs, to cut himself with stones, and be such a threat to those around him that they would bind him with chains and fetters which he would break apart like kindling for the fire. There were unclean spirits which would throw men and women into the fire and into the flood as was the case of the only son of the father who came unto Jesus when He descended the mountain together with Peter, James and John. It is absolutely undeniable when reading the four gospel narratives that there was a heightened and increased activity of the unseen, spiritual and supernatural realm. In fact, I would dare say that perhaps never before was there so much heightened and elevated activity of the unseen and spiritual realm than there was during those days. You cannot read the four gospel narratives without encountering and coming face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ having to silence and cast out unclean spirits which were present within the lives of those whom He encountered. There were several times when the Lord Jesus Christ would encounter those individuals who were tormented, afflicted and oppressed by unclean spirits, and He would not only silence them, but He would also cast them out, thus delivering and setting that one who was previously tormented and oppressed completely and utterly free. Perhaps one of the most beautiful and wonderful truths found within the four gospels is the tremendous manifestation of deliverance that would take place in the lives of those whom Jesus delivered and set free from the activity and power of unclean spirits and demonic activity.

 

            With all of this being said it is absolutely necessary that we call and draw our attention to the absolutely incredible truth that while Jesus was in the flesh here upon the earth He contended with spiritual warfare and conflict on multiple different levels and fronts. We of course know that there was the conflict that existed between Jesus and the unclean and evil spirits which tormented, afflicted and oppressed men and women during those days. We know that there were countless times when the Lord Jesus would exercise authority over unclean and evil spirits, thus casting and driving them out. There was indeed and there was in fact a spiritual warfare and conflict that was very much tangible and real during those days as men and women would have not only encountered the manifestation of unclean and evil spirits, but would have also encountered Jesus silencing and casting them out. It is truly something worth thinking about when reading the four gospel narratives, for within the four gospel narratives we are brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful and remarkable truth that there was a spiritual warfare and conflict that was very much public and in view of all those who were present during those days. With this being said, however, I would dare say there was another conflict and struggle that took place during those days—one that might be considered as being evidence and manifested, and which one might not consider as being evidenced. If the apostle Paul was in fact true and correct when he wrote that we wrestle not against flesh and blood then this brings us face to face with the fact that when Jesus contending and strove with the religious system and the religious elite during His day He was not necessarily contending with flesh and blood, but with unseen forces in the supernatural and spiritual realm.

 

            If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the four gospel narratives it’s that while it was indeed true there was a conflict that did in fact take place in the physical and natural realm which was visible to those present, there was another conflict that took place in the physical realm and yet had its roots in the unseen and spiritual realm. There is not a doubt in my mind that the number of times Jesus strove together with the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, the Pharisees, and the religious elite during those days, He wasn’t necessarily striving against flesh and blood alone, but against principalities, against powers of darkness, against rulers in high places. It would be very easy to say that Jesus was indeed and was in fact contending with flesh and blood when we find the countless conflicts and confrontations which took place between Himself and the religious system during those days. The truth of the matter, however, is that I would dare say that there was an even greater struggle and conflict that would take place during those days. What’s more, is that when we read the gospel narratives—not only do we see Jesus bringing deliverance into the hearts and lives of those who were tormented, oppressed and afflicted by unclean spirits, but we also find Jesus bringing deliverance into the hearts and lives of men from the spirit of religion. We must needs recognize and understand when reading the gospel narratives that while there was indeed a physical and tangible deliverance from unclean and evil spirits which would take place during those days, there would also be a different deliverance that would take place. During those three and a half years Jesus would walk among men as the Word made flesh dwelling among them we find Him seeking to deliver men and women—not solely from the teaching and “righteousness” of the scribes and Pharisees, but delivering them from the seductive and captivating spirit of religion. The four gospel narratives serve as a powerful picture of a Jesus who not only sought to deliver men and women from unclean and evil spirits which tormented and oppressed them, but also sought to deliver them from the spirit of religion.

 

            It is with all of this in mind that we must needs recognize that during those three and a half years Jesus walked among us as the Word which was made flesh He would directly contend and confront unclean spirits which tormented and oppressed the lives of countless men and women. There is absolutely no denying this particular truth and reality, for it is directly before us and before our faces here in the gospel narratives. Time and time again Jesus would indeed and would in fact deliver men and women from the oppression and affliction of unclean spirits, thus bringing an overwhelming spirit of deliverance during those days. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider this particular truth when you truly take the time to consider it, for it calls our attention and our focus to the fact that Jesus did indeed bring about a great deliverance during those days within the hearts and lives of men and women who were oppressed and afflicted by unclean and evil spirits. At the same time Jesus was waging war against unclean and evil spirits which tormented, afflicted and oppressed men, He was also waging a secondary war against the religious spirits which were present during those days. It would be very easy to read the words found in the gospel narratives and simply think that when Jesus confronted and collided with the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel He was simply and solely colliding with flesh and blood. The truth of the matter, however, is that this simply is not the case. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that during those days Jesus sought to expose the religious spirit and its seductive grasp and hold on the hearts, minds and lives of countless men and women. This is something we have great need to recognize and understand, for it brings us face to face with the truth that in addition to Jesus waging a warfare and conflict against the unclean and evil spirits, He would also wage a warfare against those spirits which weren’t seen.

 

            The four gospel narratives written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus are absolutely incredible and astounding when you consider them, for what we find within them are powerful examples and accounts of Jesus waging an all out war against the unclean spirits and demons which tormented, afflicted and oppressed men and women. What’s more, is that we also find Jesus waging a second war during those days—a war not against flesh and blood, but a war against religious spirits which sought to ensnare, entrap and captivate men and women. It was indeed true that Jesus delivered men and women in a very real and tangible way when He delivered them from the unclean spirits which tormented and oppressed them, however, it was also true that Jesus sought to deliver men and women from the seductive snare and grasp of religion and the religious spirit. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words found within the gospel narratives that Jesus waged a secondary war and conflict during those days—a warfare and conflict that was aimed and set against the religious spirits which sought to captivate the hearts and minds of countless individuals during those days. In fact, I would dare say that perhaps the single greatest reason there was such a contention and confrontation which took place between Jesus and the scribes, and the Pharisees, and the chief priests, and the elders of Israel, and the teachers of the Law, and the rulers of the synagogue is because Jesus sought to deliver men and women from something that was just as oppressive as the unclean spirits which were running amuck during those days.

 

            As I write all of these words I am finding myself encountering and coming face to face with the words which are presented before us in this passage of Scripture and how we encounter something which appears to be entirely and altogether different from everything else we find in the gospels. When you come to the words written and recorded in the twenty-second chapter of the gospel narrative written by Luke you will not only find Jesus speaking of Satan, but you will find Him speaking about Satan’s desire toward one of Jesus’ own disciples and followers. I happen to find the words presented before us in this portion of Scripture incredibly challenging when you take the time to truly consider them, for they call and draw our attention to the fact that in addition to the unclean spirits which were running amuck during these days as they tormented and oppressed men and women, there was also the activity of Satan which was present as well. The more you read the four gospel narratives you will encounter and come face to face with the presence of Satan during those days—and not only the activity of Satan, but the activity of Satan within the life of Jesus, as well as within the life of two of Jesus’ disciples. If you read the gospel narratives—specifically what are known as the Synoptic gospels—you will find three distinct accounts of Satan appearing and coming unto Jesus in the wilderness after He had fasted and after He was hungry, and perhaps even weak and vulnerable. Satan would come unto Jesus there in the wilderness during those forty days and would indeed and would in fact tempt Him on three different occasions, which might very well be categorized and characterized by what the apostle John would write as being the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. If we are going to understand the activity of Satan within the four gospels we must needs first consider how before He came after two of Jesus’ own disciples he first came after and targeted Jesus Himself in the wilderness. Consider if you will the following narratives which are found in the fourth chapters of the New Testament gospel narratives written by the apostle Matthew and the physician Luke:

 

            “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the LORD thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the LORD thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him” (Matthew 4:1-11).

 

            “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungred. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season” (Luke 4:1-13).

 

            Each of these passages bring us face to face with the fact that after Jesus was publicly manifested and revealed there at the Jordan River He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. It would be there in the wilderness where there would essentially be a showdown in the desert as the devil would come unto Jesus to tempt Him. There in the wilderness Satan would come unto Jesus seeking to tempt Him on three different fronts—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—seeking to somehow gain an inroad into Jesus. What makes this all the more incredible is when you consider the words which Jesus would later declare and proclaim when He would state that the prince of darkness and the prince of the power of the air has absolutely nothing in Him. Despite the fact that the devil sought to come against and come at Jesus there in the wilderness tempting Him in three different areas, Jesus would not cave in, nor would He crack before this enemy and adversary. This is all the more intriguing when you take the time to consider how Jesus would indeed and would in fact be the first—perhaps even the main target of the activity of Satan. Although Scripture does not necessarily reveal and/or even support this, I can’t help but wonder if after Satan departed from Jesus there in the wilderness he did not immediately turn up the heat during those days as unclean and evil spirits would begin tormenting, oppressing and afflicting men and women. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if during those days after Jesus overcame Satan in the wilderness he turned and dialed up the heat in the lives of countless men and women as he would essentially dangle and present countless victims which were tormented, oppressed and afflicted by unclean and evil spirits. The devil would indeed leave and depart from Jesus after He overcame him in the wilderness, however, there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if after that time he did not begin taking hostages by raising up unclean and evil spirits to torment, afflict and oppress men and women.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering how absolutely incredible this truly is, for we know that Satan would first come at, come after and come against Jesus there in the wilderness, and we know that Jesus not only overcame him, but would also emphatically and authoritatively command and instruct him to depart from him. In fact, the same language which Jesus would use later on in the company and presence of Simon also called Peter would be first used there in the wilderness as Jesus would command Satan to get thee hence, and to get thee behind Him. Scripture makes it perfectly clear that Satan would depart from Him for a season—perhaps looking for a more opportune time and means to assault, assail and attack Him. With this being said, I am quite convinced that although Satan would indeed and would in fact depart from Jesus there in the wilderness after Jesus overcame and shut him down, he would immediately begin going to work in an entirely different way. There is a part of me that can’t help but see within the gospel narratives a powerful picture—not only of Satan beginning to take hostages during those days, but also dangling before and presenting those hostages before the Lord Jesus Christ. The more you read the four gospel narratives the more you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that throughout those three and a half years there were countless men and women who were essentially hostages as they were taken prisoner and taken captive by unclean and evil spirits. If you want to truly understand those days who must needs recognize and understand that while Satan’s first activity after the public manifestation of Jesus was to tempt Him in the wilderness, his second act and assault was to begin taking captives and begin taking hostages of men and women which were present during those days.

 

            A DIVINE RESCUE MISSION! Oh there is something which we must needs recognize and understand when reading the gospel narratives, for within them we are brought face to face with Jesus embarking on a wonderful and powerful rescue mission. During those three and a half years Jesus would undertake a divine rescue mission as He sought to deliver men and women from the unclean spirits which would torment and oppress them. Time and time again we find Jesus silencing and casting out those unclean spirits which tormented, oppressed and afflicted men and women during those days. Whether it was in the synagogues, or whether it was at the base of the mountain, or whether it was on a shoreline, Jesus would indeed engage Himself in a powerful and palpable rescue mission as He would deliver and set men free from the oppression and possession of unclean spirits. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus undertake this divine rescue mission Himself, but He would also appoint the twelve disciples who would be ordained apostles to cast out unclean spirits as well. As if this weren’t enough, Jesus would also appoint unto Himself another seventy individuals whom He would send out to cast out unclean and evil spirits. We know that both the apostles and these other seventy were successful, for both groups would return unto Jesus describing how the unclean spirits were subject unto them in His name. In addition to this, we also know that there was another whom the sons of thunder—James and John—would see casting out devils who was not numbered among them. These two disciples of Jesus sought to have this individual silenced and stopped from engaging in this ministry of deliverance, and yet Jesus would correct their thinking and declare that those who are not against them are for them. Oh stop and think about the fact that the gospel narratives are indeed and are in fact a wonderful and powerful picture of a divine rescue mission as the Lord Jesus Himself would deliver men and women from the oppression and affliction of unclean spirits, and would even appoint and ordain His twelve apostles, as well as seventy others to cast out unclean spirits as well.

 

            The reason we must needs recognize and pay close attention to this is because while it is true that Satan would initially and originally come against and come after Jesus in the wilderness, he would depart from Him seeking a more opportune time to vehemently assault, oppose and attack Him. With this being said, I would dare say that Satan would immediately turn and dial up the heat and pressure during those days, as he would begin tormenting and oppressing men and women through the countless unclean and evil spirits which were present upon the earth. During those days we know that Satan was indeed present, however, we also know that there were unclean spirits which were also present—those who were under the control and command of Satan himself. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely astonishing truth surrounding those days and how Jesus would indeed engage in a divine rescue mission as He would deliver men and women from the oppression of unclean spirits which sought to afflict and torment them. What’s more, is I would also dare say that Jesus would engage Himself in another divine rescue mission, as He would deliver men and women from their infirmities, their sicknesses, their ailments, their diseases, and the like. During those days Jesus would not only deliver men and women from unclean and evil spirits, but Jesus would also deliver men and women from infirmities, from illnesses, from sicknesses, and from diseases. Oh there is a great and powerful need for us to recognize and understand this, for we must recognize that during those three and a half years Jesus would indeed make Himself available to bring deliverance to and for the captives—those who had indeed been bound by unclean and evil spirits. Not only this, but Jesus would deliver men and women from their infirmities, their illnesses, their diseases, and the sicknesses which would be present within their physical bodies.

 

            HOSTAGES AND TARGETS! Oh the more I think about and consider the words which are found within the four gospel narratives the more I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that during those three and a half years there were indeed and there were in fact hostages—those whom Satan had indeed bound and taken captive—as well as targets. During those three and a half years there were those whom Satan would take hostage and take captive by and through the unclean spirits which would be under his control, but there would also be those whom Satan himself would bind. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for the gospel narratives are replete with account after account and example after account of the countless hostages which Satan would take—primarily through the use of unclean and evil spirits. In fact, we also read of Mary Magdalene of whom Jesus had delivered from seven evil and unclean spirits which tormented and oppressed her. This isn’t even to mention the man in the region of the Gadarenes whom Jesus had delivered from the legion of unclean spirits which had tormented, afflicted and oppressed him. How absolutely remarkable land incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful picture of Jesus and His engagement in a divine rescue mission during those days as He delivered men and women from the oppression and affliction of Satan and the countless unclean spirits which were present during those days. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that during these days there was an incredibly heightened sense of spiritual activity as unclean and evil spirits would consistently torment, afflict and oppress men and women. Not only this, but we also know that there were others who weren’t necessarily tormented and oppressed with unclean spirits possessing their physical persons, but were nonetheless afflicted and oppressed by the devil who would seek to bind them in their physical bodies through various illnesses and diseases.

 

            With all of this being said we must needs recognize and understand that within the four gospel narratives we find two distinct operations of Satan who is known as the devil and the ancient serpent. On the one hand we find the element and realm of hostages, as Satan would undoubtedly assault and attack men and women and keep them bound for as long as he could. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the fact that there was a woman who was bowed over and could in no wise straighten herself out. Jesus would have compassion on this woman and would not only restore her physical person to its original design and intention, but Jesus would also make a truly powerful declaration to those who were present at this time.  When speaking unto those who were present during this time Jesus would ask if this woman—whom Satan had bound these eighteen years—deserved to be delivered and set free since she was indeed a daughter of Abraham. Oh stop and think about how absolutely incredible this truly is, for this woman would be bound by Satan for eighteen years, which undoubtedly means that Satan had bound her before Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. What’s more, is I can’t help but be reminded of the woman with the issue of blood who would experience healing when she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. This woman would have the issue of blood for twelve years, which would also place this oppression and affliction before Jesus would be baptized at the Jordan River, and before the heavens were opened, and before the Holy Spirit would descend upon Him in the form of a dove. In addition to this, we also find the man at the pool of Bethesda who suffered from being crippled by the enemy and adversary for thirty and eight years before Jesus showed up in the place of expectation and anticipation and offered to heal and deliver him. Here are but three examples of individuals whom Satan undoubtedly bound and held captive and hostage for an extended period of time before Jesus showed up and brought deliverance, freedom and healing.

 

            It is truly something worth noting and pointing out when reading this particular portion of Scripture, for what we find within it is a powerful picture—not of Satan taking hostages and prisoners as was the case throughout the life and ministry of Jesus, but rather his targeting certain individuals. If there is one thing that makes the gospel narratives so incredibly challenging when you consider them it’s that we find Satan not only taking hostages and prisoners among those which were present during that time, but also targeting specific individuals. What’s more, is that we find Satan targeting two of Jesus’ disciples, for Scripture reveals in this passage how Satan desired to have Simon Peter that he might sift him as wheat. In other places within the gospels written by the apostle John and the physician Luke we find Satan targeting and coming against Judas Iscariot, which would ultimately betray Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous fact that while it was indeed true Satan took hostages and prisoners during those days, it was also true that he targeted others as the objects of his rage, his wrath and his fury. Oh he initially came against and came at Jesus there in the wilderness, however, later on in the gospels we find him doing more than coming against and coming after Jesus. As you continue to read the gospel narratives you will find Satan seeking to come against two of Jesus’ own disciples—one who would ultimately betray Him, and another who would deny Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that Simon Peter’s denial of Jesus could very well have been satanically induced within his life, as Satan appears to have been given permission to sift him as wheat.

 

            As you read the words which are found within this portion of Scripture you will find Jesus speaking directly unto Simon who was also called Peter and declaring unto him that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat. Pause for a moment and think about what Jesus is actually saying to Simon, for Simon had already declared unto Jesus that the things which He spoke of concerning His suffering and death would not be—to which Jesus immediately responded by declaring and proclaiming, “Get thee behind me Satan.” What’s more, is Jesus would also declare that Satan was an offense to Him and that he did not savor the things which be of God but those things which were of men. Now here we are during the week leading up to the suffering and death of Jesus and we find Jesus declaring unto Simon that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat. Pause for a moment and just stop at the first part of what Jesus spoke unto Simon—namely, “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you.” I am convinced that we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found here in this particular verse, for with these words Jesus reveals unto Simon that Satan had in fact asked to have him. Scripture is unclear how Satan asked to have Simon and whether or not he asked to have Simon in a similar manner as when he appeared among the sons of God before the throne of God. We are entirely and altogether unclear concerning and regarding how Satan asked to have Simon, but we are nonetheless brought face to face with the fact that he did indeed and did in fact desire to have him. Oh it is something worth thinking about when reading these words, for within this passage of Scripture we find Jesus revealing unto Simon something very specific—something which he undoubtedly was aware of. On this particular occasion Jesus revealed unto Simon that Satan desired to have him, and I would dare say he even asked to have him—even if it was for a brief period of time—that he might sift him as wheat.

 

            What makes this all the more interesting when you take the time to consider it is that while it was indeed true Jesus revealed unto Simon how Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat—no such declaration was made concerning Judas. This is truly something worth thinking about and considering, for Judas Iscariot the son of Simon would be the second target and object of Satan’s assault and attack against the disciples of Jesus. Scripture makes it very clear that not only did Satan put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus, but Scripture also reveals how Satan entered into him. Stop for a minute and truly think about what Scripture reveals concerning Judas, for Satan would begin by putting something within the heart of Judas, and he would continue by actually entering into Judas to help him carry out that which was placed in his heart. We know that Satan desired to have Simon—and desired to have Simon that he might sift him as wheat—however, no such language was provided to us concerning Judas. This is quite interesting when you consider it, for Satan would also be involved within the life of this disciple of Jesus Christ. We know that Satan did in fact enter into Judas—not only because Scripture reveals it as such, but we also know it from the fact that Judas would not have been able to betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies and adversaries without and apart from outside (or I should say inside) help. With this being said, I feel compelled to also state that Satan’s desire to have Simon that he might sift him as wheat is directly linked and connected to his denial of Him three times that night before the rooster crowed the following morning.

 

            The question I find myself asking is why Satan asked to have Simon, and why Satan desired to have him. It is something truly interesting to read the words found in this portion of Scripture, for within them—not only do we find Jesus revealing unto Simon that Satan desired to have him, but we also find Jesus revealing that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat. What Jesus didn’t reveal unto Simon was when Satan came unto Him—or perhaps even appeared before the Father who was seated upon the throne—and entreated Him for permission to have Simon called Peter. Jesus didn’t reveal unto Simon how and/or even when Satan approached the subject concerning having Simon called Peter, nor did Jesus even reveal what the sifting would look like. If there is one thing I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated by when reading these words it’s that Jesus revealed Satan’s desire to have Simon, and Jesus revealed Satan’s desire to sift him as wheat, however, Jesus did not reveal unto him what that sifting would look like. Imagine what it would have been like for Simon to hear Jesus declare that Satan desired to have him, and that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat, yet Jesus did not reveal when that would take place, nor what it would even look like. This goes against absolutely everything within our hearts and our minds, for if Jesus were to speak something like this to us we would want to know when it would happen, how it would happen, and even why it would happen. There are those of us who would hear these words and would immediately respond to Jesus by asking Him what He said when Satan desired to have us. “Jesus, what do you mean Satan desired to have me?” “Jesus, what would Satan want with me?” “Jesus, what did you say when Satan asked to have me?” “Jesus, why is Satan after me?” “Jesus, why is Satan targeting me?” “Jesus, is there anything you can do to help me in this situation?” These are but some of the few questions I feel like I would ask of Jesus if I was in the same place Simon was in when he not only heard that Satan desired to have him, but also that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat.

 

            Although none of us were present when Jesus spoke and declared these words to Simon called Peter we must recognize and understand that Satan does indeed desire to assault and assail us. This reality is indeed present in both the first epistle written by the apostle Peter, as well as the epistle which was written by James. In the first epistle written by the apostle Peter we find the following words written by this same one whom Jesus declared that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9). In the epistle written by James the half brother of Jesus we find the following words which were written concerning the activity of the enemy and adversary known as the devil: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:7-8). In both of these passages we are instructed to resist the devil, while in the first epistle written by the apostle Peter we are actually informed that our adversary the devil is as a roaring lion who walks about seeking whom he may devour. Perhaps the apostle Peter looked back and remembered the words of Jesus when He declared that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as what. Perhaps the apostle Peter looked back and remembered that night when he denied Jesus—not once, not twice, but perhaps three different times before the rooster crowed.

 

            Oh as I sit here today thinking about and considering these words I can’t help but think about and consider how I would have responded if I heard Jesus declare unto me that Satan desired to have me—and not only that Satan desired to have me, but that he desired to sift me as wheat. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you consider the fact that certain translations and interpretations of this passage suggest that when Jesus declared unto Simon that Satan desired to have “you,” and desired to sift “you” as wheat, He was actually speaking unto all the disciples. There are some translations that don’t simply limit these words of Jesus to Satan’s desire to have Simon Peter alone, but all of the disciples who were present with Jesus. If this is indeed true then Judas who would might also have been present at this time would have heard of Satan’s desire to have him that he might sift him as wheat. Stop and think about what these words of Jesus would suggest and reveal if they weren’t simply referring to Simon alone, but were referring to all twelve of the disciples. Satan desired to have Simon that he might sift him as wheat, and Simon would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. Satan desired to have Judas that he might sift him as wheat, and he would betray Jesus into the hands of his enemies and adversaries. Satan desired to have Matthew and the rest of the disciples that he might sift them like wheat and they would all flee, abandon and forsake Jesus in the garden when He was seized and arrested. These words take on an entirely different meaning and understanding if you begin thinking about it in terms of Satan desiring to have each of the twelve disciples that he might sift them as wheat. Oh imagine what it would and could have been like for the twelve disciples to hear these words as they recognized and understood that Satan desired to have them that he might sift them as wheat. What’s more, is that these words would come directly on the heels of the disciples themselves arguing and disputing among themselves as to who was the greatest. Stop and consider just how incredible these words were which were spoken by Jesus and how when Jesus spoke them unto Simon He was doing so after they had just argued, debated and disputed among themselves as to who was the greatest.

 

            Regardless of whether or not these words were spoken concerning Simon alone, or whether they were spoken concerning all the disciples, we must needs ask ourselves how we would have responded were we in the same place and position. One of the most remarkable truths concerning Job is that he wasn’t aware of the activity and presence of Satan among the sons of God as he appeared before the throne of God. Job had absolutely no idea that Satan was accusing him before the throne of God—and not only accusing him, but also seeking to incite the living God against him. Job had absolutely no clue that behind the death of his children, behind the loss of his possessions, and behind the boils and sores upon his body was something sinister and evil. There is absolutely no indication within Scripture that Job was at all aware of the fact that Satan appeared before the throne of God and did in fact desire to assault and assail him. Here in the gospel narrative of Luke, however, we find Jesus speaking unto Simon and declaring how Satan desired to have him/them, and that he desired to sift him/them as wheat. This is something we must needs acknowledge and understand when reading these words, for these words not only speak of and reveal that Satan desired to have Simon and/or each of the disciples, but also that Jesus prayed for them that their faith failed not. Not only this, but Jesus would also go on to declare that when they were converted they were to strengthen their brethren.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the fact that while it is indeed true that Jesus revealed how Satan desired to have Simon—as well as possibly each of the other disciples—it is also true that Jesus prayed for them. What a stark contrast is found in this passage of Scripture between Satan desiring to sift like wheat, and Jesus desiring to pray for the disciples. Not only this, but in addition to Jesus praying for the disciples we find Him specifically praying for their faith—and not only praying for their faith, but praying that their faith would not fail. Jesus understood and recognized that faith was the ultimate target and object of the assault and attack of Satan, and rather than keep the disciples from the sifting process He prayed for them. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus pray for them, but He specifically prayed for them that their faith might not and would not fail. It is truly remarkable and necessary that we pay close attention to the words found in this portion of Scripture, for instead of revealing what the sifting would like, instead of revealing when the sifting would take place, and instead of revealing how the sifting would take place, Jesus instead chose to pray for them. Even more than this, is the fact that Jesus almost seems to give the impression that He did not refuse Satan’s desire to have the disciples that he might sift them as wheat. This particular passage seems to suggest that Jesus seemed to accommodate Satan’s desire to have the disciples that he might sift them as wheat, yet with the sifting would also come the praying and the intercession. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for this sifting would not and could not come without and apart from praying and without and apart from intercession. Jesus knew Satan would seek to sift the disciples as wheat, and Jesus knew that he would indeed attempt to sift them as wheat, and yet he would pray for them that their faith would not fail. This reality of Jesus praying that their faith might not fail not only lines up with the words which were written concerning the trying of one’s faith, but also concerning that which Simon Peter wrote concerning the same sufferings and struggles being experienced by our brethren throughout the world. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the New Testament—not only concerning the trial of faith, but also concerning the same struggles and conflicts being worked within and throughout the lives of our brethren throughout the world:

 

            “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though not for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9).

 

            “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways…Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:2-12).

 

            “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

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