This verse is immediately connected with the fifth chapter, and should not be separated from it.
Great multitudes - This, even according to the Jews, was one proof of the days of the Messiah: for they acknowledged that in his time there should be a great famine of the word of God; and thus they understood Amos, Amos 8:11. Behold, the days come - that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread - but of hearing the words of the Lord. And as the Messiah was to dispense this word, the bread of life, hence they believed that vast multitudes from all parts should be gathered together to him. See Schoettgenius on this place.
Decapolis - A small country, situated between Syria and Galilee of the nations. It was called Decapolis, Δεκαπολις, from δεκα, ten, and πολις, a city, because it contained only ten cities; the metropolis, and most ancient of which, was Damascus.
From beyond Jordan - Or, from the side of Jordan. Probably this was the country which was occupied anciently by the two tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh; for the country of Decapolis lay on both sides of the river Jordan. See Numbers 32:5, Numbers 32:33.
The account of our Lord's temptation, as given by the evangelist, is acknowledged on all hands to be extremely difficult. Two modes of interpretation have been generally resorted to, in order to make the whole plain and intelligible: viz. the literal and allegorical. In all cases, where it can possibly apply, I prefer the first: the latter should never be used, unless obviously indicated in the text itself; or so imperiously necessary that no other mode of interpretation can possibly apply. In the preceding observations, I have taken up the subject in a literal point of view; and it is hoped that most of the difficulties in the relation have been removed, or obviated, by this plan. An ingenious correspondent has favored me with some observations on the subject, which have much more than the merit of novelty to recommend them. I shall give an abstract of some of the most striking; and leave the whole to the reader's farther consideration.
The thoughts in this communication proceed on this ground: "These temptations were addressed to Christ as a public person, and respected his conduct in the execution of his ministry; and are reported to his Church as a forcible and practical instruction, concerning the proper method of promoting the kingdom of God upon earth. They are warnings against those Satanic illusions, by which the servants of Christ are liable to be hindered in their great work, and even stopped in the prosecution of it.
"Hence we may conclude, that the first temptation had for its professed object, 1st, our Lord's personal relief and comfort, through the inducement of performing a separate and independent act of power. - The second temptation professed to have in view his public acknowledgment by the people, as the Messiah: for, should they see him work such a miracle as throwing himself down from the pinnacle of the temple without receiving any hurt, they would be led instantly to acknowledge his Divine mission; and the evil of this temptation may be explained, as seeking to secure the success of his mission by other means than those which, as the Messiah, he had received from the Father. Compare John 14:31. The third temptation was a subtle attempt to induce Christ to acknowledge Satan as an ally, in the establishment of his kingdom." E. M. B.
The above is the substance of the ingenious theory of my correspondent, which may be considered as a third mode of interpretation, partaking equally of the allegoric and literal. I still, however, think, that the nearer we keep to the letter in all such difficult cases, the more tenable is our ground, especially where the subject itself does not obviously require the allegorical mode of interpretation. Among many things worthy of remark in the preceding theory the following deserves most attention: That Satan is ever ready to tempt the governors and ministers of the Christian Church to suppose that worldly means, human policy, secular interest and influence, are all essentially necessary for the support and extension of that kingdom which is not of this world! Such persons can never long preserve hallowed hands: they bring the world into the Church; endeavor to sanctify the bad means they use, by the good end they aim at; and often, in the prosecution of their object, by means which are not of God's devising, are driven into straits and difficulties, and to extricate themselves, tell lies for God's sake. This human policy is from beneath - God will neither sanction nor bless it. It has been the bane of true religion in all ages of the world; and, in every country where the cause of Christianity has been established, such schemers and plotters in the Church of God are as dangerous to its interests as a plague is to the health of society. The governors and ministers of the Christian Church should keep themselves pure, and ever do God's work in his own way. If the slothful servant should be cast out of the vineyard, he that corrupts the good seed of the Divine field, or sows tares among the wheat, should be considered as an enemy to righteousness, and be expelled from the sacred pale as one who closes in with the temptation - "All these things (the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them) will I give unto Thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship Me." However necessary the Church may be to the state, and the state to the Church, as some people argue, yet the latter is never in so much danger as when the former smiles upon it.
From Decapolis - Decapolis was the name of a region of country in the bounds of the half-tribe of Manasseh, mainly on the east of Jordan. It was so called because it included 10 cities - the meaning of the word Decapolis in Greek. Geographers generally agree that Scythopolis was the chief of these cities, and was the only one of them west of the Jordan; that Hippo (Hippos), Gadara, Dion (or Dios), Pelea (or Pella), Gerasa (or Gergesa), Philadelphia, and Raphana (or Raphanae), were seven of the remaining nine, and the other two were either Kanatha and Capitolias, or Damascus and Otopos. These cities were inhabited chiefly by foreigners (Greeks) in the days of our Saviour, and not by Jews. Hence, the keeping of swine by the Gergesenes Matthew 8:30-33, which was forbidden by the Jewish law.
The wretched condition of the world at the present time has been presented before me. Since Adam's fall the race has been degenerating. Some of the reasons for the present deplorable condition of men and women, formed in the image of God, were shown me. And a sense of how much must be done to arrest, even in a degree, the physical, mental, and moral decay, caused my heart to be sick and faint. God did not create the race in its present feeble condition. This state of things is not the work of Providence, but the work of man; it has been brought about by wrong habits and abuses, by violating the laws that God has made to govern man's existence. Through the temptation to indulge appetite, Adam and Eve first fell from their high, holy, and happy estate. And it is through the same temptation that the race have become enfeebled. They have permitted appetite and passion to take the throne, and to bring into subjection reason and intellect. 3T 139.1
The violation of physical law, and the consequence, human suffering, have so long prevailed that men and women look upon the present state of sickness, suffering, debility, and premature death as the appointed lot of humanity. Man came from the hand of his Creator perfect and beautiful in form, and so filled with vital force that it was more than a thousand years before his corrupt appetite and passions, and general violations of physical law, were sensibly felt upon the race. More recent generations have felt the pressure of infirmity and disease still more rapidly and heavily with every generation. The vital forces have been greatly weakened by the indulgence of appetite and lustful passion. 3T 139.2
The patriarchs from Adam to Noah, with but few exceptions, lived nearly a thousand years. Since the days of Noah the length of life has been tapering. Those suffering with disease were brought to Christ from every city, town, and village for Him to heal; for they were afflicted with all manner of diseases. And disease has been steadily on the increase through successive generations since that period. Because of the continued violation of the laws of life, mortality has increased to a fearful extent. The years of man have been shortened, so that the present generation pass to the grave, even before the age at which the generations that lived the first few thousand years after the creation came upon the stage of action. 3T 139.3Read in context »
Hundreds of thousands of copies of Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing have been printed and distributed in nearly a score of languages since it was first published in 1896. In English-reading countries several editions with identical textual content but with variations in format and pagination have been widely distributed. To eliminate confusion in the use of the volume in reference work, a standard page has been adopted which will serve as the basis of present and subsequent printings. MB v.1Read in context »
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15. AG 164.1
After His baptism, the Son of God entered the dreary wilderness, there to be tempted by the devil.... For forty days He ate and drank nothing.... He realized the power of appetite upon man; and in behalf of sinful man, He bore the closest test possible upon that point. Here a victory was gained which few can appreciate. The controlling power of depraved appetite, and the grievous sin of indulging it, can only be understood by the length of the fast which our Saviour endured that He might break its power.... He came to earth to unite His divine power with our human efforts, that through the strength and moral power which He imparts, we might overcome in our own behalf. AG 164.2Read in context »
After the passing of the time in 1844, fanaticism came into the ranks of Adventists. God gave messages of warning to stay the incoming evil. There was too great familiarity between some men and women. I presented to them the holy standard of truth that we should reach, and the purity of deportment that we should maintain, in order to meet the approval of God and be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Most solemn denunciations from God were given to men and women whose thoughts were running in an impure channel, while they claimed to be especially favored of God; but the message God gave was despised and rejected.... 2SM 29.1
We are not out of danger even now. Every soul who engages to give to the world the message of warning will be sorely tempted to pursue such a course in life as will deny his faith. 2SM 29.2Read in context »