Mat 23:37                          O Jerusalem, Jerusalem                            8/06/2017      ßŕ   

 

#1.      Behold, your house is left unto you desolate (Mat 23:2,3,36-39, Gal 3:28-29)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       God Has No Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked (Isa 45:22, Heb 11:36-37, Eze 18:23, 33:11)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.      Two Points of View of the Will of God (Mat 23:37, Isa 65:2, Gal 3:13, Rom 11:11)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew, Mat 23:36 (2X). This is a famous chapter in the Gospel of Matthew. This chapter opens with the Lord Jesus saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you to observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not”. And then from verse 4 all the way almost unto the end of this chapter the Lord Jesus scolds the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy. They are the leaders of the nation of the Jews. Therefore their sins will affect the entire nation, and eventually their sins will lead to the destruction of the nation of Israel. The Lord Jesus said to them:

Mt 23:36  Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

Mt 23:37  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

Mt 23:38-39  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.    For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate”. These words can be interpreted two ways. First of all, the Lord Jesus is undoubtedly referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and to the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70 by the Romans. But secondly, Jesus is referring to God divorcing the nation of Israel as His people. This is the difference between the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. After Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians there was still a return some years later, and God reinstated them as His people, and they could have a temple where they could worship Him, and God would still give them priests and prophets to speak to them the messages from God. But after the destruction by the Romans in AD 70 there would be no such return possible, for at the cross God has divorced Himself from Israel as His special people, and God has put in their place a nation of believers chosen out of every nation of the world. If Israel would physically move back to Jerusalem, and even if they would reinstate their worship in another temple on Mount Moriah, God would not be pleased with them for the Lord Jesus said, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate”. No longer will they be considered as a special people in the sight of God, for he nation of believers in Christ has now replaced them, for God says to us in Gal 3:28-29 (2X),

Ga 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Ga 3:29  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

There is neither Jew nor Greek”, means that there is no more any distinction between believers in Christ from the Jewish nation and believers in Christ from the Gentile nations. Those who in the sight of God are called Abraham’s seed are not the children according to the flesh, but the children who have faith in Christ. And thus, when we look into the world today and we see again the nation of Israel seemingly revived, we should not imagine that the nation of the Jews has again turned into the favor of God, for God does not have two plans of salvation; only one. God has other plans for the nation of the Jews, but, except for a remnant chosen by grace, the nation as a whole remains in unbelief.

But now we want to turn our attention to Mat 23:37, where the Lord Jesus said,

Mt 23:37  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

What picture of God do we get from this verse? Is He a God who would like to save these people in Jerusalem, but He was not able, because they would not listen to the prophets? Is God not able to do something that He wants to do? Does this look at all like the God whom we serve? How does God save people? Does God wait until we listen to the prophets and then He saves us? Does God not save through election? And indeed, if you look to the page on your right, the Lord Jesus speaks of election in Mat 24:22 (2X), where He said, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened”.

For the elect’s sake the length of time of the FTP shall be shortened. It means that the elect shall go through the FTP like everyone else, but for their sakes God shall shorten the time. The Lord says in:

Mt 24:24,  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

The FTP shall be characterized by false Christs and false prophets who shall bring false gospels that are so close to the true Gospel that, if it were possible, they would even deceive the elect; and they shall back up their message with great signs and wonders. But of course, the elect cannot be deceived; God will not allow it because the elect are destined to be saved. If the Lord says in Mat 24 that He saves and preserves people through election, but in Mat 23 the Lord says that He waits until He sees the response that people have for the Gospel before He saves them, then these are two different plans of salvation. But Christ is not a liar in one place and speaks the truth in another place. If we find such contradictions, our interpretation needs to be corrected. Please turn in your Bibles to Mat 1:21 (2X). If we value the Bible as the Word of God, and we refuse to call God a liar, then we are obligated to harmonize the verses that seem to contradict one another. Does God really save people through election? The answer is indeed a resounding YES! We read in Mat 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”. How is Jesus going to save people from their sins? He is going to die for them on the cross. And for whom is Jesus going to die on the cross? For “His people”, which is not referring to all the Jews, but it refers to all those who will be saved by grace, through faith in Christ that God will give them as a free gift. If Mat 1:21 refers to the Jews only then I, and most of you, and all Christians who are not of Jewish bloodline, would fall outside this salvation of Christ on the cross. But that is impossible, for John 1:13 says, “not of blood”, meaning “we are not born from above because we are of the right bloodline”. And so we see that if we isolate Mat 23:37 from other verses in the Bible we obtain a concept of God that does not agree with the concept of God from the rest of the Bible. Let us see if we have another view on Mat 23:37. Please turn in your Bibles to the prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 45:22 (2X).

·      God Has No Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked (Isa 45:22, Heb 11:36-37, Eze 18:23, 33:11)

In order to understand Mat 23:37 we first have to understand a few basic principles which God lays down in the Bible. One basic principle of the Bible is that God does not delight in sending anyone to Hell. But all mankind is born with an innate desire to sin. And thus, the Gospel call goes out into all the world, calling all men to be saved from their slippery slide into Hell. God says in Isa 45:21 that there is no God else beside Him. He is a just God and a Savior, and there is no other Savior beside Him. In other words, we do not have to look for other plans of salvation, for there is only one way to God, and that is the way through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. God says in Isa 45:22,

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else”.

The call for salvation goes out to all the ends of the earth to look unto God, for knowing God is equivalent to being saved. And we must not look for any god, but only the God of the Bible; the God who wrote the Bible. And thus we must dig into the Bible to find out who God really is. Please turn in your Bibles to the prophecy of Ezekiel, Eze 18:23 (2X). The theme of this chapter is, Accountability and Repentance (2X). In this chapter God portrays two people: One who lives a wicked life, and one who is labeled “righteous”, who lives a life filled with doing what is right. This is where accountability enters into the picture. But then God pictures a change in both those lives. The righteous man commits one sin, and all his righteous acts are no more remembered by God. One sin is all it takes to land a person into Hell. The wicked man repents, and all his wickedness is no longer remembered by God. All his sins are done away by Christ on the cross. It is within this background that God says in Eze 18:23,

Eze 18:23  Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

You see, God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked repents from his sins. And the death that God has in view is the Second Death for an eternity in the Lake of Fire. Likewise, when we look at Mat 23:37 we see that God has no pleasure in the condemnation of Jerusalem. God has been very longsuffering with them. God has sent the Gospel to them over a period of about 1500 years. That is about six times longer than these United States have been in existence. That is a long time. There were moments of repentance, as in the time of David, or in the time of Hezekiah, or in the time of Josiah. But most of the time Jerusalem was immersed in wickedness. Immediately after the death of Josiah the entire nation of Judah and Jerusalem were engaged in idolatry. But none of the prophets sent to them was received very well. God says in Heb 11:36-37,

Heb 11:36-37  And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:      They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

Yes! This is how the nations of Judah and Israel treated their prophets. Please turn in your Bibles to chapter 33 of this prophecy of Ezekiel, Eze 33:11 (2X). In this chapter God states very clearly that the true believers must evangelize; not only in all the world, but also in their own congregation where there are always unsaved people. God says to Ezekiel, “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel”. Likewise God says to each one of us, “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel”, for our church is presently representing the house of Israel. We must guard our church so that we reject all teachings that might move our church in the direction of apostasy. At the same time we must proclaim to the world what the true Gospel of salvation is, as we have learned it in our church. It is within this background that God says to Ezekiel, and to us, in Eze 33:11,

Eze 33:11  Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

God says this for our comfort. This is both a warning and a word of comfort, for our God delights in mercy. God has no pleasure in casting the wicked into Hell. Now let us look at the second principle:

Please turn to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 46:9 (2X). What does it mean that God is sovereign? It means that God does not wait for the response from mortal man. We are created beings. We have no authority over the One who created us. It would be a ridiculous situation if the Almighty maker of the universe would have to wait until we are ready to obey His bidding. That is not the language of the Bible. The Bible says that God takes the initiative. God says in Psalm 100:3 (2X),

Ps 100:3  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Almighty God, who is greater than the universe He created, looks upon the creatures He has created and who are living in a corner of this great wide universe on a speck of dust that is called earth. And God chose us to be His people, the sheep of His pasture. We should count it a great honor that God has chosen us as His sheep, and we should be eternally grateful for such an honor. But most of mankind ignores this fact, and they go on living as if God does not exist. Most of them are unaware that God is not pleased with such a lifestyle. In their pride most of them believe that God must be well pleased with them for being such upright, decent, moral citizens. But God is sovereign, which means that God has an active part in the history of this world, and in the lives of everyone living on this world. It means that God has a definite plan for this world and for the people of this world, so that nothing escapes His attention. Nobody gets away with anything, for Almighty God is also infinitely righteous. His righteousness demands that He must punish every sin. When will that be? God promised in 2Pet 3 that there will come a day when this earth shall be destroyed, and then shall the judgment begin. And God shall remember every detail out of everybody’s life. God says in Isa 46:9-11,

Isa 46:9-10  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,                Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Isa 46:11  Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

Who is this “ravenous bird from the east”? It is Cyrus, the commander of the combined armies of the Medes and the Persians who shall overthrow the kingdom of Babylon, and shall establish an empire that eventually became the empire stretching from India to Ethiopia. Cyrus was not a saved man. But God controlled him just as well as He does each one of His sheep. God says in verse 9 that there is none like Him. Man cannot imagine an idol that can do greater things than the true God does, for He declares the end from the beginning. We must not think that God declares the end from the beginning because He is omniscient, which means He knows all things in the future. No! God declares the end from the beginning because He brings it to pass, for He says in verse 11, “I have purposed it, I will also do it”. God gives the reasons for His actions in verse 10, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure”. The counsel of God is the plan of God that He designed before He created the first speck of dust in this universe. God repeated all these things in chapter 48. Please turn to Isa 48:3 (2X). In this chapter God is not speaking about Cyrus, but now He is speaking about salvation. God says in:

Isa 48:3  I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.

What did God refer to here in this verse? God referred to the entire history of the nation of Israel, and how God prophesied that they were an obstinate people, a rebellious people. And for those in the nations of Judah and Israel who would become saved God says in verse 8, drop down to verse 8,

Isa 48:8-9  Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.    For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.

Isa 48:10  Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

Isa 48:11  For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.

Some people imagine that God looked down the corridors of time to see who would turn to Christ, and then God poured His grace upon those individuals, and God rewards them for their faithfulness. That is a bunch of nonsense. In Isa 46:9 God said that He is doing it for His pleasure. In Isa 48:8 God says that we were spiritually deaf, and could not hear the Gospel. We were transgressors from the womb, which means we were rebels against God from the moment we were conceived in the womb. If God first had to wait and see who would turn to Christ, then no one would be saved. No! God saves someone for His own sake, according to verse 11, and not because He saw some wonderful character traits in some of us. He will not share the glory of salvation with some of us, for then His name would be polluted. God receives 100% of the credit for anyone who becomes saved. This is what the sovereignty of God is all about. God saves whom He will, where He will, and when He will. God does that according to His good pleasure, and not when we have to ask for it. Please turn in your Bible to the prophecy of the Psalms, Psalm 65:4 (2X). This is a Psalm concerning the work of God the Holy Spirit in salvation and in sanctification. God declares here His sovereignty in all these things. He says

Ps 65:4  Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

God chooses the person whom He will cause to approach Him. God causes it. He does not look down the corridors of time to see if we will respond to the hearing of the Gospel. He causes us to hear the Gospel and He causes us to approach to Christ. That is how a sovereign God saves people.

Now let us look at the third principle that we find in the Bible: It is called:

What is Anthropomorphism? It is assigning to God characteristics that are typical of human beings. For example, in Gen 6:6 we read that God is sorry that He had made mankind. We read in Gen 6:6,

Ge 6:6,  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

It reads as if God has human feelings and human tendencies to turn back from what He has started to do. Of course that is not possible, for God knows the end from the beginning. It just seemed so that God repented that He had made man. At this stage in the history of mankind God could not disclose what His real intentions were. It is only when we endeavor a study of the Revelation of Jesus Christ that we begin to understand that God rescued the situation for the saving of mankind by destroying all the wicked and preserving His elect for the continuation of mankind. When I searched the Bible for another example of Anthropomorphism, I landed in the story of Jonah. Please turn to the Prophecy of Jonah, Jon 3:1 (2X). You find Jonah as the 4th prophecy after the Major Prophets that are ending with Hosea. The sequence is: Joel, Amos, Obadiah and then Jonah. God commanded Jonah to go to the wicked city Nineveh to preach against it. Instead Jonah fled in the opposite direction, because Jonah did not want to give God’s warning to the Ninevites. As a result, Jonah ended up in the stomach of a great fish. While in the stomach of the fish Jonah prayed. But Jonah did not know that the fish was an Arminian fish. And when Jonah uttered the words, “Salvation is of the Lord” the fish could not take it any longer and the fish vomited out Jonah on dry land. Well so it seemed anyway. But God in His mercy gave Jonah a second chance. We read in Jon 3:1,

Jon 3:1 ¶  And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

Jon 3:2  Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.

Jon 3:3-4  So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.  And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

Jon 3:5 ¶  So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

Jon 3:6-7  For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.        And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:

Jon 3:8-9  But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.    Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

Jon 3:10  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

God saw their works, and “God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not”. What works did God see that made Him postpone the destruction of Nineveh? Not the sackcloth, not the ashes, not fasting, but God had respect on their repentance, because they turned from their evil way. God is not satisfied by external modes of penitence, but God looked on the change of heart of the Ninevites, for God the Holy Spirit had caused a change of heart to occur in these heathen Ninevites. That is what the Lord Jesus said in Mat 12:41. And thus the fruits of repentance were the works that God saw. Such a change of life could not have taken place within these Ninevites unless they feared God’s wrath. The fear of God had preceded their repentance, and this fear could not have been without faith. Of course, good works do not reconcile us to God. The Ninevites did not make compensations for their former sins. But God pardoned them because God decided to have Christ pay for their sins on the cross. And God made this decision long before the foundation of the world, for God not only knows the end from the beginning, but God caused the salvation of the Ninevites by turning their hearts around.. God had no pleasure in the death of the wicked Ninevites. And since there were now many saved persons in Nineveh, God postponed its destruction, for we read in Gen 18:23 that God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked. Through this story of Jonah and the Ninevites we see emerging:

With regard to the teaching in the Word of God, the words written are expressed as if God has human like characteristics. But from the information from the NT we understand that an inner change had occurred, which could not be seen externally. Jonah saw only the externally visible events, but God had mercy on them, and God saw the hearts of these people that they were changed. And so we see that in each case of Anthropomorphism we must distinguish between God’s point of view and man’s point of view.

God’s point of view is that the sovereignty of God must be maintained. God cannot change. And since God’s righteousness must be satisfied, God chose to have mercy on those whom He calls His elect. Before the foundation of the world God chose some of the Ninevites as His elect, for His own good pleasure, and God sent Jonah to preach to them. All this fit in the plan of God, for His own purposes. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

The spiritual picture of this event is that the salvation of the Ninevites represents our salvation. We were those wicked. But God had mercy on us and caused the Lord Jesus Christ to bear our sins, so that we could serve Him and be saved from our slippery slide into Hell.

Man’s point of view is that we read the words in the Bible as an Anthropomorphism. We understand that God has feelings, and that Christ has feelings, but His feelings are not at all like our human feelings. In the case of Nineveh what we see on the outside is the mercy of God for whosoever will, and we see that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

Let us now apply these things to the case of Mat 23:37. God says in Mat 23:37,

Mt 23:37  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

Man’s point of view is that we read these words in Mat 23:37 as an Anthropomorphism. The Lord Jesus Has feelings, and He expresses His feelings toward His countrymen who are so stubborn in their resistance to salvation. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. If we consider on the one hand the dreadful majesty of Almighty God, and on the other hand the mean and low condition of the leaders of Jerusalem, we can only be ashamed and astonished at such amazing goodness. In vain did God spread out His hands every day to embrace a hard-hearted and rebellious people. (Isa 65:2). And we recognize the crowning point of rebellion when men reject the goodness of God and refuse to come under His wings.

But from God’s point of view it was necessary that Jerusalem remained unconverted, for Christ had to be crucified. It was necessary that the Romans would occupy the country, for if the Jews would remain autonomous, then Christ would have been stoned, instead of nailed on a tree. And God specified in Gal 3:13 that Christ had hang on a tree for Christ had to be under the curse of God. Therefore, most of the leaders of the Jews had to be unconverted men, so that Christ could be nailed on a tree. God says in Rom 11:11, “Through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles”.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.