Matthew 4: 5-7 Then the Devil took Him up into the holy city and set Him upon a pinnacle of the Temple. 6 And he said to Him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down. For it is written, “He shall give His angels charge concerning You, and in their hands they shall bear You up, lest at any time You dash Your foot against a stone.” 7 Jesus said to him, It is written again, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”
Pinnacle: Pterugion – pter-oog’-ee-on. A winglet, that is, (figuratively) extremity (top corner)
I believe this definition may be applied to the very top corner of the highest point of the Temple in Jerusalem prior to 70 A.D. Both Matthew and Luke correspond with each other that it was the Devil who took Jesus to Jerusalem, and both also wrote that it was at the pinnacle where Satan set Jesus to be tempted. Easton’s Bible Dictionary claims that, “the south-eastern corner the roof of this cloister was some 300 feet above the Kidron valley. The pinnacle, some parapet or wing-like projection, was above this roof, and hence at a great height, probably 350 feet or more above the valley.” The pinnacle then or the highest part of the temple was about 650 feet above earth’s surface.
In verse 6 again Satan suggests to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God cast yourself down.” It is important to realize that this is not a command from Satan. Satan does not command the Lord to turn stones into bread, or jump from this pinnacle. Satan does not have the authority to command anything from the King of Kings, who all including every devil is subject too. Instead Satan had to approach his desire to Jesus in a more elusive manner. Satan forms his sentence with two clauses, if you are the Son of God, and cast yourself down. The only way Satan could justify his second clause commanding anything from the savior, was to make his first clause a conditional clause with the word “if.” “If you are the Son of God cast yourself down.”
Remember in the first temptation of verse 4; Jesus replies to Satan with scripture and with the common Jewish custom of introducing scripture, “it is written.” We see now Satan attempting to use the same logic as Christ; by practically mimicking Jesus in using scripture against Christ, and to give credibility to his temptation. Satan said, “it is written, “He shall give His angels charge concerning You, and in their hands they shall bear You up, lest at any time You dash Your foot against a stone. Satan quoted ” Psalms 91:11, 12 “For He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You in all Your ways.12 They shall bear You up in their hands, lest You dash your foot against a stone.”
Satan did two things when he quoted this passage to Jesus. First he left out “to keep you in all your ways.” Second he miss applied the context of Psalms 91:11 and 12; not to the person, who is Christ, because the scripture does concern Christ, and believers, but he miss applied it to the situation for the sake of manipulation.
To better understand this we have ask ourselves why he left out the phrase “to keep you in all your ways.” To understand this we have to look in scripture to see how it has been used throughout the Old Testament. There are sixteen verses found in the Old Testament with this phrase; the following are 7 of them.
Deuteronomy 5:33 You shall walk in all the ways which Jehovah your God has commanded you so that you may live and that good may be to you, and you may make your days longer in the land which you shall possess.
Joshua 22:5 Only, diligently take heed to do the commands and the Law which Moses the servant of Jehovah commanded you, to love Jehovah your God, and to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, and to cleave to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
1Samuel 8:5 And they said to him, Behold, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
1Kings 2:3 And keep the charge of Jehovah your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn yourself.
Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Ezekiel 16:47 Yet you have not walked according to their ways, nor done according to their hateful deeds; but, as if it were a very little thing, you were corrupted more than they were in all your ways.
Daniel 5:23 But you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of Heaven. And they have brought the vessels of His house before you; and you, and your lords, your wives, and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver, and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see, nor hear, nor know. And you have not glorified the God in whose hand is your breath and all your ways.
It is obvious from these passages that “all your ways” is in reference to our everyday life of practical obedience to our God as we are called to walk in His ways. In reference to Psalms 91:11; “to keep thee in all thy ways,” John Gill interprets it as; “walking and travelling from place to place, as Providence calls and directs; and in all civil ways, in all lawful business and employment of life; in all spiritual ones, as the ways of God and religion,” (Gill). John Calvin claims that Psalm 91:11 “relates to all believers, yet it belongs peculiarly to Christ, who is the Head of the whole Church, possesses authority over angels, and commits to them the charge of us,” (Calvin). Matthew Henry wrote, “They shall keep thee in thy ways, that is, as long as thou keepest in the way of thy duty;” those that go out of that way put themselves out of God’s protection,” (Henry).
The reason why Satan removed from the verse “keep thee in thy ways” is because he knew that in context it directly meant that God would charge His angels over Jesus to keep Him in all the ways of the LORD’s will. By removing “keep thee in thy ways” from verse 11, then joining it with verse 12 reading, “They shall bear You up in their hands, lest You dash your foot against a stone,” the deceiver makes it sound as if it means that no matter what Jesus does no danger would come to Him because God has charged His angels with the safety of the Son of God. So Satan says to Jesus; if you are the Son of God jump from the wing of this pinnacle. What are you worried about? You have nothing to fear, no harm can come to you. God has ordered angels to protect you. If you cast yourself from this pinnacle; you will not die and cannot die, and all who witness your fall and survival beneath will also believe you are the Son of God, and you will not have to endure the suffering and pain you will otherwise have to bear.
Jesus Christ knew He would have to suffer and die for the sins of the world. It may have been tempting for our Lord to accept Satan’s offer by leaping off the pinnacle, which would have been extremely easier than the method God had planned for the Son of God to redeem His people. For Christ to accept Satan’s offer meant that Christ may have fallen for Satan’s scriptural manipulation, or may have been a result of cowardice and direct disobedience to God’s will. Satan removed “keep thee in all your ways” Christ knew the God would keep Christ in all the ways of God’s will, and Christ knew that death by method of suicide was not one of God’s ways.
Verse 7 Jesus replies to Satan; “It is written again, you shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Notice that in this situation where most of us apologists, which are those in the practice of defending God’s word; would have revealed the flaw of our opponents argument by revealing their lack of scriptural cognizance, neither did Jesus contend about Satan’s manipulation by taking a scripture out of context, but again Christ shows how important it is for us to be very familiar with His word. Jesus said again “it is written.” “Then He quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 which reads;
“You shall not tempt the LORD your God, as you tempted him in Massah.”
Interestingly Deuteronomy 6:16 is Moses reminding the Israelites not to tempt God the way they tempted God in history referencing Exodus 17 verses 1-7. These passages in Exodus give us a clear understanding of what it means for us to test or tempt God.
Exodus 17:1-7 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Why the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said to them, Why chide you with me? why do you tempt the LORD? 3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Why is this that you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? 4 And Moses cried to the LORD, saying, What shall I do to this people? they be almost ready to stone me. 5 And the LORD said to Moses, Go on before the people, and take with you of the elders of Israel; and your rod, with which you smote the river, take in your hand, and go. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
It may seem to us that after all God had done for Jews by freeing them from the captivity of Egypt; they would have faith that God would provide for them. They witnessed the power of the ten plagues, the splitting of the red sea following the destruction of Pharaohs’ Army; yet still they doubted and tempted the LORD. In implication they tempted God by saying, “we are thirsty, and where is God? Is He with us or not? If He is then prove it by supplying us with water lest we all die!? To demand anything from God to prove His existence or attributes to us is to tempt our LORD our God.
Remember Jesus Christ was asked to show a sign, or a miracle to the Pharisees; Jesus replied to them in Matthew 12:39 “But he answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.”
They were an adulterous generation because since the arrival of Christ, the Jews were now under the pretense of false religion. These Jews were already familiar with the miracles Jesus had previously performed, such as healings and exorcisms, but they required more signs from Him to supposedly believe, that He was the Son of God, and that was the same temptation Satan was giving to Christ; to throw Himself down from the pinnacle not merely to destroy Christ and the will of God, but to test Christ and see if He was the Son of God. Jesus told the Jews the only sign they would be given is that of the prophet Jonah. Not meaning that they would not see any more, because Christ did perform many more miracles from that point forward, but that none would be provided as result of them tempting Christ. Furthermore the sign of Jonah was a reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That was a sign the Jews would receive for their conviction of unbelief.
As for the rest of the world no further signs need to be provided, to ask for more is to tempt God. God has provided every miracle, astronomical, historical, archeological theological and philosophical evidence to prove the existence of God to us. No other sign or miracle is necessary. But for the un-repented man who continues to deny Christ for the sake of his desire to live in sin; which is disobedience to God’s commandments, one more sign will be provided, the sign of His return to judge the wicked and cast their soul to everlasting torment. Repent of your sins now while the grace of God is still to be found in this life.
Take notice how ready Satan is with his knowledge of scripture. It may be said he knows scripture thoroughly far better than us. I would have no doubt that he may know every word written in the bible from beginning to end. Scripture says that men are saved by believing in Jesus Christ, and that alone comes by hearing and understanding the Gospel of Christ. Satan knows the Gospel and knows the Son of God, yet it does nothing to cause the slightest sense of repentance from the evil he sets to do. That is because grace and faith is not given to him by God, but only to men so they may believe in Christ. It is not until we receive that grace that we will believe. There is no hope for Satan and his demons, and they know it. They are completely predestinated in every sense of the word to the torments of God at the Day of Judgment, and their free will or lack thereof will not help them by any means at all. Nothing can turn back whatever God has decreed for them. They are completely hopeless and their time is running out. If any have need of repentance then repent before facing judgment. If you are a Christian and believe in our Lord repent even still of whatever sins we may be struggling with. It is better to go to heaven with one eye, than to hell with two eyes if one contributes to your sinning.