Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Manner of Men Ought We Be?

Matthew 23:13-39
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in [yourselves], nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged [to perform it].'
Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
And, 'Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged [to perform it].'
Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it.
He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it.
And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier [matters] of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead [men's] bones and all uncleanness.
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.'
"Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' [guilt].
Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?

There comes a time when the grace of God is exhausted, and the Triune God says, "I have had enough!" At such a point, there is no more repentance; beyond which there is no turning back from the ordained and appointed judgment.

Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: [some] of them you will kill and crucify, and [some] of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

The "this generation" that Jesus was talking about, was the generation that lived in the period of His last days on earth, before His crucifixion.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under [her] wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed [is] He who comes in the name of the LORD!'"

The Temple that had been God's house, was deserted by God, and had become the house of apostate Judaism. Its desolation came in AD 70, at the Coming of the Son of Man, in the instrument of the army of Rome.

The following passage of Revelation is a description of Jesus coming to Jerusalem in AD 70, and the blood that His robe is dipped into is the blood of those He trampled under foot in judgment.

Revelation 19:11-21
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
His eyes [were] like a flame of fire, and on His head [were] many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
He [was] clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
And He has on [His] robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God,
that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all [people], free and slave, both small and great."
And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

In the first instance, this is a picture of an event that has passed. It happened in AD 70 at the destruction of the Temple (the house deserted by God, and identified with apostate Judaism); the destruction of Jerusalem, the Great Harlot who prostituted herself with other lovers; and the destruction of the people who Jesus said of them, "How can you escape the condemnation of Hell?"

In the second instance, it is a picture of the end of any and every civilization that has turned its back upon its Biblical heritage. Western Christendom is at the precipice. We who have much more light than the Jews of Jesus' day have also gone the way of the Pharisees. Our culture is a white-washed sepulchre, full of dead men's bones. The question is, "Will the Lord breathe into those dry bones the breath of life, as He did in Ezekiel's vision? or have we crossed the line and face judicial blindness and a sure judgment from an angry God?"

I do not know the answer to the question, but I do know that my heart trembles before the Lord. My repeated cry is, "Lord have mercy! In Your wrath and anger, Lord have mercy!"

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