A remarkable witness to creation—Satan
Matthew’s Gospel (4:1–4) has the following account of the temptation of Christ by Satan: ‘Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 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.’ ” ’
This is surely the most unusual testimony to the truth of Genesis Creation that we will find anywhere in the Bible or for that matter in the whole wide world—that of Satan himself. What Satan said in effect was: ‘If you are God, create …! Create the required organic molecules, organize them into the needed complex carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre, etc. with appropriate nutritional content, and impart the necessary chemical changes normally caused by cooking. Do all this instantaneously, and do it by a word of command.’
Why instantaneously? Well, suppose Christ had found a few grains of wheat somewhere, planted them in the ground and watered them while they grew. Then, several months later, He had harvested them, crushed the harvest into flour, mixed the flour with water, and baked it in an oven. This would hardly have complied with Satan’s request for a miracle. It certainly would not have been the immediate alleviation of Jesus’s hunger that was the motivation for the temptation.
Why by a word of command? And how would creating bread (whether from stones or ex nihilo) prove that Christ was God?
Answer: One of the attributes of God is His omnipotence, i.e., He is able to do whatever He wills (consistent with His own holiness).1 During Creation Week, the Creator God willed that certain events should occur by the power of His spoken word. For example, on Day 1, He commanded that light appear. On Day 2, He commanded that there be an expanse. On Day 3, He commanded the land to appear and to produce vegetation. On Day 4, He commanded the sun, moon and stars to be. On Day 5, He commanded that birds and sea creatures exist. On Day 6, He commanded that land animals be, and He created the first man and the first woman.
All of these miracles had two things in common. They happened in response to God’s will expressed through a spoken command, and they happened immediately. They did not happen via any ‘natural’ processes over millions of years.
In the temptation, Satan was challenging Christ to duplicate in miniature form the instantaneous and fiat creation that happened during Creation Week. And of course, for the temptation to have had any meaning at all, Christ must have had the ability to do it. Why? Because it would have been no temptation at all for you and me! So, truly, this is a remarkable testimony by Satan, not only to the truth of Genesis 1, but also to the fact that Christ was the Creator Son of God.2
In the event, Christ did not accede to Satan’s challenge to use miraculous means to satisfy His own physical needs.3 Instead he quoted Deuteronomy 8:3: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’
At the right time, and for the right reasons, Jesus did create.4 The Apostle John describes seven miracles by Christ which he calls ‘signs’, and in his Gospel he shows which way these signs point. He writes: ‘These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name’ (John 20:31).5 The seven signs recorded in John’s Gospel are:
- Turning water into wine (2:1–11);
- Healing a nobleman’s son (4:46–54);
- Curing a paralytic (5:1–15);
- Feeding 5,000 people (6:1–15);
- Walking on water (6:16–21);
- Giving sight to the blind (9:1–41);
- Raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1–44).
These all show Christ’s sovereignty over creation. They all have two aspects in common. They all happened in response to Christ’s command (whether spoken or just willed); and they all happened immediately. Did any of these miracles occur by chance random processes over long periods of time? No, not according to the eye-witness records. Christ, the creator of time, was not bound by time.
Jesus described Satan as ‘a liar and the father of lies’ (John 8:44). One of the lies he propagates in the world today is that the straightforward history recorded in Genesis is not factual. Nevertheless, Satan and his evil angels are well aware of the truth of Scripture. Concerning God, ‘the demons believe—and tremble’ (James 2:19). And the temptation account suggests that Satan knows that the Genesis record of creation is true—or at least, that he knew it would be no problem at all for Christ to instantly and supernaturally create complex organic materials.
Satan’s doom is revealed in Revelation 20:10, and so he is not a candidate for salvation. However, people (for whom Christ died) should realize that belief in creation (or Intelligent Design) alone is not enough to save anyone.6 The Gospel tells us how people can have a right relationship with God, and be saved, through repentance and faith in Christ.
Re-posted on homepage: 23 May 2012
References and notes
- God cannot do things that are contrary to His nature as God. E.g. He cannot look with favour on iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13); He cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13); He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Return to text.
- As the New Testament writers later affirm, e.g. John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:3. Return to text.
- In this case, directly attributable to the Spirit of God (Matthew 4:1), who had led Him into this situation of being hungry in the wilderness. Return to text.
- See Grigg, R., Is Jesus Christ the Creator God?, Creation 13(3):43–45, 1991. Return to text.
- There were other miracles, described by the other Gospel writers. John selects these seven. Return to text.
- See Grigg, R., A brief history of design, Creation 22(2):50–53, 2000. Return to text.