When we think about temptation to sin, we might imagine “a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), a dangerous spiritual army rising against us, or a relentless Satan twisting the word of God to deceive us (John 8:44).
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were tempted to sin in many different ways. They faced literal armies that fought against them, they continually struggled with pride and rebellion against God’s commands, but also encountered temptation to walk away from God in much more pleasant ways.
In the book of Numbers, the Moabites are enemies of Isreal. After several attempts to cause them to fail physically and spiritually, a new temptation is employed. “For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods” (Numbers 25:2). The Moabites did not succeed by mocking God’s people or their beliefs, by physically threatening or harming God’s people, or by deceiving the Israelites in any way. Instead, the Moabites succeeded by inviting God’s people to their homes, feasts, and pagan worship. What must have seemed like kindness and hospitality was nothing more than a crafty temptation from the devil.
Today, while our culture has changed, the devil has not. Not all temptation will be obvious or threatening. At times temptation to sin may be so subtle that it seems like kindness. Our great responsibility is to be prepared, alert, to know God’s word, trust God’s power, recognize temptation however it comes, and remain faithful to Him.