Robert Wurtz II
From that time began Jesus to shew to his disciples that it is necessary for him to go away to Jerusalem, and to suffer many things from the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and to be put to death, and the third day to rise. And having taken him aside, Peter began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Be kind to thyself, sir; this shall not be to thee;’ and he having turned, said to Peter, ‘Get thee behind me, adversary! thou art a stumbling-block to me, for thou dost not mind the things of God, but the things of men.’” (Matthew 16:21–23 YNG)
I have chosen Youngs Literal Translation to capture a few details that can easily be missed when reading this passage in the KJV, NKJV, or ESV. As we know, Jesus was following God’s will in preparing to drink the cup of suffering that was necessary for the redemption of man. Satan (translated here as adversary) wanted to interrupt God’s plan and he used Peter to do it. These were Satan’s thoughts coming out of Peter’s mouth. I suggest that as he filled Ananias’ heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price, he filled Peter’s heart to be a stumbling-stone (Greek skandalon) to Jesus.
Notice that Peter began to rebuke him, saying, “Be kind to thyself, sir; this shall not be to thee.” The words could be translated, “Pity thyself!” Satan, at that moment, was the power behind Peter working desperately to turn our Lord Jesus’ attention off of God’s will and onto His own will. “Think about yourself!” Said Satan through Peter. “Be compassionate on yourself!” He was luring Jesus into a pity party. He could have thwarted the plan of God if he could have gotten Jesus feeling selfish and sorry for Himself. Notice our Lord’s resolve, “(…) and he having turned, said to Peter, ‘Get thee behind me, adversary! thou art a stumbling-block to me, for thou dost not mind the things of God, but the things of men.’”
Sometimes Satan is very crafty and schemes in ways that we don’t even recognize at the time. He has been known to set traps that took years to spring (so to speak). One of the most sobering and little known examples of this in 2 Samuel 5:11-13 when King David was a young leader.
And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house. And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David (2 Samuel 5:11-13 ESV).
On the surface, this seems like a fairly innocent event. Keep in mind that prior to this palace of cedar being “donated” to David, he had lived in the fort (2 Samuel 5:9), a word that could be translated as a stronghold, fortress, or citadel. The idea carries the notion of safety and security as of a eagles nest on a high cliff. The place was so fortified that the Jebusites said that even “the lame and the blind” could defend it. It was sufficient for the purpose and David and his men fought and took it and lived there in Jerusalem until the King of Tyre offered him a palace.
In Ezekiel 28 we have the “power” behind the king of Tyre being none other than Satan himself. Hiram, the king of Tyre, built David a house of Cedar that was so magnificent that David felt bad that he lived in such a palace while the Ark of the Covenant was in a tent behind curtains (2 Samuel 7:2). David moved out of the fort that was nearly invulnerable and into what I’m calling the palace of vulnerability. Satan wouldn’t whip David with armies, he would strategize to take him down with his weakness. We could almost see it coming.
And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David (2 Samuel 5:13). David is starting to drift at this stage, taking many wives in disregard of Deuteronomy 17:17 that prohibited kings from multiplying wives and riches. He is being seduced to behave like an oriental monarch. By now you probably know that years later David stayed home in his plush palace when the kings went off to war. It was on his porch that he spotted Bathsheba. It could have been prevented if only he had the foresight to see where things were heading.
An old-time preacher had a saying that comes to my mind from time to time. It expresses the situation a person may find themselves in as a consequence of doing something other than God’s will. He would simply say, “They missed God.” The enemy wants all of us to “miss God” and he works relentlessly to make it happen. We have examined a New Testament example and an Old Testament example. We watched one failure and one victory. What was the difference?
Jesus identified the source of temptation as the enemy. Satan tried to appeal to selfishness but found none in Him. Jesus wouldn’t as much as turn a stone into bread without knowing it was His Father’s will. What a sharp contrast when we examine David who received the palace gift without as much as asking God for direction. And this is why we must listen to the subtle dealings of the Holy Spirit.
We don’t know what the future holds, but God does. If the Spirit leads a certain way or convicts us of doing something that otherwise may seem good and wholesome, it is because He knows the enemies plan. multitudes have missed God because they refused to respond to the gentle nudgings of the Holy Spirit but rather ran roughshod over them.
I must stop and ask a question, “What motivates you?” In other words, “What could Satan use in your life to get you out of God’s will?” Is it money? Is it popularity? Is it ambition? If it a desire to increase your prospects and people watch? Satan built David a palace in a spot where he could spy out all kinds of women. The allurement of the proverbial “pitching your tent towards Sodom” can be powerful enough to change the trajectory of your life away from God and towards Satan and this present evil world.
I have lived long enough to watch people go after the money, popularity, ambition, women, and pleasure… only to see them miss God partially or completely. Some have even filled early graves. How did it happen? Satan came to challenge the will of God in their life and they didn’t discern it. Like David, some just took things as they came with no counsel from the Lord. Others ran roughshod over God’s dealings. God told them to do something and they didn’t do it or they gave up before the victory came. It’s cliché to say, but they doubted in the darkness what God had shown them clearly in the light. What a tragedy! What loss!
I pray that God would give us the discernment and sensitivity to follow the leading of His Spirit. Help us identify the “Trojan Horses” that Satan would like to bring into our lives. May we renounce the ways of men and occupy ourselves with the things of God. Perchance we may finish this course with joy and not “miss God” as so many have done before.