Certain places, families or individuals have long histories of chronic dysfunction. Though there is every advantage and opportunity, tragedy and failure seem to always prevail.
The nation of Israel, and specifically the city of Jerusalem was like this. Though they had every advantage as the people whom God had chosen out of all the nations of the earth, they consistently failed to obey God and truth, serving Him alone.
As certain Pharisees come to Jesus to tell him that he had best leave town, reporting that Herod Antipas was determined to kill him, it has been debated whether this was a true situation or merely a ruse to get him to move on. Either is imaginable.
In any event, Jesus tells them that his schedule will not be affected by that “fox.” He will do his divinely-prescribed work today, tomorrow, and on the third day.
There is more than a hint of humor in verse 33 … “for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
In other words Jesus is saying, “I’m safe here because this is not Jerusalem, and as a prophet I have nothing to fear, since the history of the nation is to kill prophets there!”
But Jesus immediately affirms his special love for the city and the people of the nation, in spite of their rebellion. The warm picture is of a hen with her chicks safely under her wings. This is the way it could be for Israel, but their rejection made them like a desolate house – trading security for danger … life for death … blessing for destruction.
Quoting Ps. 118:26, a passage with clear, Messianic overtones, it was indeed to comprise the words of the crowds upon the occasion of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
The grand picture of this passage is of the readiness of God to forgive and prosper, a position far beyond the readiness of the people to receive, trust and follow. In the bigger view that extends even to our day, the masses of the people who do not trust in Christ continue, not because God is unwilling to forgive them, but because they are unwilling to yield and receive Him.
Luke 13:31 – At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” [from Psalm 118:26]
“In the bigger view that extends even to our day, the masses of the people who do not trust in Christ continue, not because God is unwilling to forgive them, but because they are unwilling to yield and receive Him.”
Yet don’t forget one other factor!
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:4 NIV)
“when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Eph. 2:2 NIV)
Satan has always been in the deception business. Remember what happened to Eve!
Two times the Apostle Paul said that he did not want the people who he was writing to to be ignorant.
He did not want them to be ignorant of the fact that our ancestors were all under the cloud and enjoyed a certain measure of spiritual blessings. Yet Paul went on to make the point that God was not pleased with most of them. The point Paul was making there is that we as Christians need to be on our game. Or rather doing what God wants — to not be distracted either by following idols or by sexual immorality or any number of sins that caused the people of Israel to go astray.
Yet at another time when Paul urged the church to not be ignorant it was a “mystery” that he didn’t want them to be ignorant of. Yet the point Paul was making was difficult to follow — almost “beyond tracing out.”
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Rom. 11:33 NIV)
What was the context he was getting at here? “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved.” (Rom. 11:25-26 NIV)
He remarked that we gentiles who are grafted in where the Jewish branches were broken off. He didn’t was us to be “conceited” and think we are better than them. It is only God that gives us grace to follow him and so we should be maintaining a proper perspective on the branches that were cut off so that we could be grafted in. (The reason here is the mystery Paul was referring to.)
At some points in history Christians have lost sight of what Paul was saying. “As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Rom. 11:28-29 NIV)
Anti-Semitism has swept the church at certain times in history because people did not fully appreciate what Paul was saying.
Paul wrote about certain Jews being able to be grafted back in if they did not persist in unbelief. He even made a broader statement that perhaps seems unfair to many people. “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” (Rom. 11:32 NIV)
Perhaps the phrase God “may have mercy on them all” which immediately precedes “How unsearchable his judgments” is what is difficult to grasp. Some theologians try to maximize the amount of people they think God will send to hell, and some have argued that only a minimal or no one will go to hell. Both are wildly wrong. Figuring out what is meant by “hell” is a difficult question because the Bible uses different imagery. “Blackest darkness” or the imagery of Revelation and a “lake of fire” or what a certain “rich man” in one of Jesus parables went through. The word “Gehenna” was used with worms and what not. Other imagery suggests a permanent destruction. Perhaps there will be a destruction and yet the final moment will be eternal and yet frozen in time in some way. It is hard for us to adequately judge people … probably impossible for us to do this since we don’t know the soul of each person.
This idea that “God has bound everyone over to disobedience” — it seems so unfair to people. Yet the reason he did this … well it involves a bit of theology … and explaining that would take quite a bit of writing on my part. I’m not trying to duck the issue by not writing that much here … people read the entire book of Job and don’t see what is going on or why.
Lot’s of what happens to the church so to speak is happening not because of a man-centered perspective but from another perspective. God isn’t only working in the church. He is working in the heavenly realms and using the happenings here to teach lessons in the heavenly realms. Now to us that seems very unfair.
Perhaps it is ironic that atheists and skeptics reject the higher realms spoken about in scripture, and yet in order to explain all the great order in creation they postulate an infinite number of realms generating an infinite number of universes with varied laws of nature …
This is probably all very odious to read for most people … for how few people enjoy theology! Atheists see theology as myth and human thinking and some seminary graduates may have not seen the love of God in theology.
Yet people would like to see a perfect God who has the power to stop all “evil” and who stops it now. Because God doesn’t act on our timeframe humans often dismiss him in some way.
Scripture nowhere argues that God solves all problems for us now. And if scripture did argue that … as appealing at that “God” would be to modern humans it would be a fantasy because it would not reflect the world we live in. So therefore such a “God” can not exist apart from the human imagination.
So attacking such a “God” is merely an argument in human futility. It is a “straw-man argument” attacking a “God” that scripture doesn’t teach exists … it merely shows that we humans haven’t adequately “traced out” God’s paths.
Well since I can’t adequately trace out all God’s paths and judgments, I should probably stop writing and stick to what I know that he wants me to do. The two major commandments are to love Him with all my being and to love my neighbor as myself. That is quite a lot … certainly enough to keep me busy!