At the birth of Christ, Satan saw the plains of Bethlehem
illuminated with the brilliant glory of a multitude of heavenly angels.
He heard their song, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,
good will toward men." The prince of darkness saw the amazed shepherds
filled with fear as they beheld the illuminated plains. They trembled before
the exhibitions of bewildering glory which seemed to entrance their senses.
The rebel chief himself trembled at the proclamation of the angel to the
shepherds, "Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city
of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." He had met with good success
in devising a plan to ruin men, and he had become bold and powerful. He
had controlled the minds and bodies of men from Adam down to the first
appearing of Christ. But now Satan was troubled and alarmed for his kingdom
and his life.
The song of the heavenly messengers proclaiming the
advent of the Saviour to a fallen world, and the joy expressed at this
great event, Satan knew boded no good to himself. Dark forebodings were
awakened in his mind as to the influence this advent to the world would
have upon his kingdom. He queried if this was not the coming One who would
contest his power and overthrow his kingdom. He looked upon Christ from
His birth as his rival. He stirred the envy and jealousy of Herod to destroy
Christ by insinuating to him that his power and his kingdom were to be
given to this new King. Satan imbued Herod with the very feelings and fears
that disturbed his own mind. He inspired the corrupt mind of Herod to slay
all the children in Bethlehem who were two years old and
under, which plan he thought would succeed in ridding the earth of the
But against his plans, Satan sees a higher power at
work. Angels of God protected the life of the infant Redeemer. Joseph was
warned in a dream to flee into Egypt, that in a heathen land he might find
an asylum for the world's Redeemer. Satan followed Him from infancy to
childhood and from childhood to manhood, inventing means and ways to allure
Him from His allegiance to God, and overcome Him with his subtle temptations.
The unsullied purity of the childhood, youth, and manhood of Christ, which
Satan could not taint, annoyed him exceedingly. All his darts and arrows
of temptation fell harmless before the Son of God. And when he found that
all his temptations prevailed nothing in moving Christ from the steadfast
integrity, or in marring the spotless purity of the youthful Galilean,
he was perplexed and enraged. He looked upon this youth as an enemy that
he must dread and fear.
That there should be one who walked the earth with
moral power to withstand all his temptations, who resisted all his attractive
bribes to allure Him to sin, and over whom he could obtain no advantage
to separate from God, chafed and enraged his satanic majesty.
The childhood, youth, and manhood of John, who came
in the spirit and power of Elijah to do a special work in preparing the
way for the world's Redeemer, were marked with firmness and moral power.
Satan could not move his integrity. When the voice of this prophet was
heard in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths
straight," Satan was afraid for his kingdom. He felt that the voice, sounding
forth in trumpet tones in the wilderness, caused sinners under his control
tremble. He saw that his power over many was broken. The sinfulness of
sin was revealed in such a manner that men became alarmed; and some, by
repentance of their sins, found the favor of God and gained moral power
to resist his temptations.
He was on the ground at the time when Christ presented
Himself to John for baptism. He heard the majestic voice resounding through
heaven and echoing through the earth like peals of thunder. He saw the
lightnings flash from the cloudless heavens, and heard the fearful words
from Jehovah, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." He saw
the brightness of the Father's glory overshadowing the form of Jesus, thus
pointing out in that crowd the One whom He acknowledged as His Son with
unmistakable assurance. The circumstances connected with this baptismal
scene had aroused the most intense hatred in the breast of Satan. He knew
then for a certainty that unless he could overcome Christ, from thenceforth
there would be a limitation of his power. He understood that the communication
from the throne of God signified that heaven was more directly accessible
As Satan had led man to sin, he had hoped that God's
abhorrence of sin would forever separate Him from man, and break the connecting
link between heaven and earth. The opening heavens, in connection with
the voice of God addressing His Son, was like a death knell to Satan. He
feared that God was now to unite man more fully to Himself, and give power
to overcome his devices. And for this purpose Christ had come from the
royal courts to the earth. Satan was well acquainted with the position
of honor Christ had held in heaven as the Son of God, the beloved of the
Father. And that He should leave heaven, and
come to this world as a man, filled him with apprehension for his safety.
He could not comprehend the mystery of this great sacrifice for the benefit
of fallen man. He knew that the value of heaven far exceeded the anticipation
and appreciation of fallen man. The most costly treasures of the world,
he knew, would not compare with its worth. As he had lost through his rebellion
all the riches and pure glories of heaven, he was determined to be revenged
by causing as many as he could to undervalue heaven and to place their
affections upon earthly treasures.
It was incomprehensible to the selfish soul of Satan
that there could exist benevolence and love for the deceived race so great
as to induce the Prince of heaven to leave His home and come to a world
marred with sin and seared with the curse. He had knowledge of the inestimable
value of eternal riches that man had not. He had experienced the pure contentment,
the peace, exalted holiness, and unalloyed joys of the heavenly abode.
He had realized, before his rebellion, the satisfaction of the full approval
of God. He had once a full appreciation of the glory that enshrouded the
Father, and knew that there was no limit to His power.
Satan knew what he had lost. He now feared that his
empire over the world was to be contested, his right disputed, and his
power broken. He knew, through prophecy, that a Saviour was predicted and
that His kingdom would not be established in earthly triumph and with worldly
honor and display. He knew that ancient prophecies foretold a kingdom to
be established by the Prince of heaven upon the earth, which he claimed
as his dominion. This kingdom would embrace all the kingdoms of the world,
and then his power and his glory would cease and
he would receive his retribution for the sins he had introduced into the
world, and for the misery he had brought upon man. He knew that everything
which concerned his prosperity was pending upon his success or failure
in overcoming Christ with his temptations in the wilderness. He brought
to bear upon Christ every artifice and force of his powerful temptations
to allure Him from His allegiance.
It is impossible for man to know the strength of Satan's
temptations to the Son of God. Every temptation that seems so afflicting
to man in his daily life, so difficult to resist and overcome, was brought
to bear upon the Son of God in as much greater degree as his excellence
of character was superior to that of fallen man.
Christ was tempted in all points like as we are. As
man's representative He stood the closest test and proving of God. He met
the strongest force of Satan. His most wily temptations Christ has tested
and conquered in behalf of man. It is impossible for man to be tempted
above what he is able to bear while he relies upon Jesus, the infinite