Dear Glorious and Fruitful Bride of Jesus, are you hungry today? So far in our mini-series on the Bride in the Wilderness, we began by looking at how our Bridegroom prepared in the wilderness for the ministry which lay before Him, and immediately after, during a wedding, His glory was made manifest. We then saw how the Bride is prepared in the same way as her beloved and so will also be drawn into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, so that she can be beautified and prepare for Her wedding day. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” Hos 2:14. The fragrance of the Groom is myrrh, and so it is also how the Bride will be beautified. Let’s read again in Song of Songs “Who is this coming out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the merchant’s fragrant powders?” SOS 3:6 The Bridegroom is coming out of the wilderness perfumed with myrrh as the Lover, and frankincense as the Lord. Myrrh is obtained by cutting or “bleeding” the tree from which it comes. Through the cuts inflicted, out bleeds a beautiful aromatic resin that is used as the number one fragrance of love. So today I want to see what it was about the Lord’s time in the wilderness that was so vital to His preparation as the Groom. We know that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, and when he had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. Then look what happened next:
Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”Matt 4:3,4
First notice here, that the test was on the identity of Jesus as the Son of God. Satan uses this as the basis on which to launch his assault, and he says, “If you are the Son of God”. Jesus was hungry, he had a physical need, so the accuser comes to say: surely you don’t need to go without, if you truly are the Son of God, why should you suffer like this? Why should you be hungry? The Bride will face the same temptation. Surely you are the beloved of God, why should you be hungry, or thirsty, or have need of this or of that, surely God loves you, doesn’t He? It’s a test of our identity, so Satan has set the trap and given the bait. Now look at what happens next. Satan instructs Jesus to “Command”. To exercise His authority, to use His position so that the “stones become bread”. Do you have stones in your life today? Are you being prompted to command a change in your life, so that your physical circumstances are changed, and your needs met? I’m treading on toes I know, and don’t misunderstand me, yes, we should ask the Father for our needs, we have not because we ask not, right? Well, almost. There’s a subtlety, and it’s about the heart.
Here’s today’s lesson: The Bride must exalt the Word of God above personal need, craving or desire, and not as a means to satisfy it.
When Jesus said, “man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”, He honoured the Word, by saying that the Word was not a way to satisfy His hunger, but was sufficient for Him alone. In the same way, we cannot satisfy spiritual hunger through earthly satisfaction. We cannot grow by prioritizing human need over spiritual growth. Spiritual growth takes place in the context of physical hunger. If we feed the flesh we deny our true self the opportunity to grow strong.
This can be seen in the “name it, claim it Gospel” which is no Gospel at all, or the “prosperity teaching”. Such teaching has an appearance of truth, but has nothing to do with the Bride. We cannot wield the Word or quote scripture as some formula for success or reward. To do such a thing is to dishonour the Word, by placing human desire above it, or making the Word a servant to our own appetite. This cannot be. There is a Bridal fast, which is different. The Bridal fast is one of longing and desire. A denial of self, and a placing of dependency upon the One who is the Word. It doesn’t look back, or fasts for any other purpose, but a deliberate act of looking forward to the day of the Bridegroom’s coming. By such a fast, the Bride aligns her heart with His, and experiences the “love that is awakened deep within her”. There is only one way for the Bride, and it is through the wilderness on a journey of intimacy, where she learns that the One who is the Word, becomes all sufficient, and where the cravings of the flesh, and all earthly desires are consumed by the longing passion of One who is greater.