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II.  The Field of Temptation

Secondly, the lists [field for competition] where this temptation was used, was the mountain.

The reason why he chose this place rather than any other, is the fitness of it, in regard of the prospect. The wilderness (we know) was a melancholy place, and in no wise fit for this temptation, so, neither was the pinnacle: for besides that it might have hindered the working of this temptation, being the pinnacle of the Temple; the prospect was not good enough. For though it were high, yet there were divers [many, various] hills about Jerusalem, which would have hindered the sight of many things.

And though Zion were a mountain, yet in respect of Mount Hermon and Lybanus, it is said to be but a little one, Psal. 42. 6[1] and Psalm. 68. 16[2] Basan is said to be the great hill. Therefore, as good chose a convenient hill, both for height and nearness, where he might behold the whole Land of Canaan, Deut. 32. 49[3]. So here the Devil chose an exceeding high mountain, where a high mind might best take view and contemplate: such, where his horizon might be as spacious as was possible, & where his sight might not be hindered by any mean object.


At one level, this section of the sermon could be seen as at best beside the point, or perhaps even silly. Plainly, no one could see the entire world from one point, no matter how high the mountain. Andrewes was no ignorant of that fact. Why then this discussion of mountains?

The point to be understood is that temptation will take place in a fitting place. A temptation to rob a bank would be meaningless for someone alone on a raft at sea. But that is not how temptation proceeds. Consider, for instance, the introductory scene in the 7th chapter of Proverbs:

Proverbs 7:5–9 (ESV)

                      to keep you from the forbidden woman,

from the adulteress with her smooth words.

                      For at the window of my house

I have looked out through my lattice,

                      and I have seen among the simple,

I have perceived among the youths,

a young man lacking sense,

                      passing along the street near her corner,

taking the road to her house

                      in the twilight, in the evening,

at the time of night and darkness.

The temptation to adultery takes place when he is alone and wandering the streets in the dark. The temptation of the adulteress would have been very difficult in the daytime in the midst of many people.

The Devil does not merely use the right bait, but he fishes at the right time.

I remember fishing at the “wrong time”.  I could see  the trout in the stream, but nothing would tempt them. I spoke later to a man who had grown up in Montana and knew the fishing well. He said, “They’re spawning. They won’t bite now.” The Devil does not make that error.

[1] Psalm 42:6 (ESV)

and my God.

                                    My soul is cast down within me;

therefore I remember you

                                    from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,

from Mount Mizar.

[2] Psalm 68:15–16 (ESV)

                  15               O mountain of God, mountain of Bashan;

O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!

                  16               Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain,

at the mount that God desired for his abode,

yes, where the Lord will dwell forever?

[3] Deuteronomy 32:49 (ESV)

49 “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for a possession.