Read Matthew 4:1-3. What is happening, and why? How do we see the great controversy being played out here?
“When Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted, He was led by the Spirit of God. He did not invite temptation. He went to the wilderness to be alone, to contemplate His mission and work.
By fasting and prayer He was to brace Himself for the bloodstained path He must travel. But Satan knew that the Saviour had gone into the wilderness, and he thought this the best time to approach Him.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 114.
There are dramatic parallels between the account of Jesus’ temptations and the experience of the Israelites in their Exodus wanderings. After coming through water, Jesus went into the desert, where He ate nothing and was tested for 40 days. Similarly, the Israelites passed through water (the Red Sea), entered the desert where they had no bread, and stayed there for 40 years. Notice how it is described in Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (NKJV). “‘And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, [and] allowed you to hunger.'”
The gospel account says that after 40 days Jesus was hungry (Matt. 4:2). Then someone appears with “helpful” advice, a bit like Job’s comforters. This was not the first time Satan is depicted as coming to “help” someone in crisis. Zechariah 3:1-10 records the story of the high priest at the time of the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. As he stood before God in vision, someone appeared at his right hand. The one who stood at the right hand was always the most trusted friend, to protect and guard against any would-be attacker. But the trusted right-hand man in Zechariah 3:1-2 was none other than the “accuser,” pretending to be a trusted friend.
The same thing happened to Jesus in the wilderness. The one who came to “help” revealed himself when he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matt. 4:3, NKJV). An angel from God would have no doubt about Jesus’ divinity.
Again notice how Jesus’ reply (Matt. 4:4) is a quotation linked to the Exodus. “‘[God] fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD'” (Deut. 8:3, NKJV).