As Jesus stood at the highest point of the temple, Satan whispered to him, “Go ahead—jump! If you’re really God’s son, he’ll save you.”
“And [the devil] saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:6).
Do you see Satan’s deviousness in this? He isolated a single promise from Scripture—and he tempted Jesus to cast his whole life upon it. He was suggesting, “You say God is with you. Well, show me the proof. Your Father has already allowed me to harass you. Where was his presence in that? You can prove he’s with you right now by jumping. If God is with you, he’ll provide a soft landing. Then you can base your confidence on that. If not, you might as well die rather than go on wondering if you’re on your own. You need a miracle to prove the Father is with you.”
How did Jesus respond? He stated, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7). What exactly does Jesus mean here by “tempting God”?
Ancient Israel is an example. Ten times the Lord had proved himself faithful to the Israelites. God’s people received visible proof that their Lord was with them. Yet, every time, the people asked the same question: “Is God among us or not?” God calls this “tempting him.” Jesus uses this same phrase—“tempting God”—in his reply to Satan. What does this tell us? It shows us it is a grave sin to doubt God’s presence; we’re not to question whether he’s with us.
As with Israel, God has already given us an entire body of evidence. First, we have in his Word multiple promises of his closeness to us. Second, we have our own personal history with God—a testimony of his many past deliverances in our lives. Third, we have a Bible full of witnesses to God’s presence in past centuries.
The Bible is clear: We’re to walk with God by faith and not by sight. Otherwise, we’ll end up like faithless Israel.