We are continuing on with Jesus as He addresses His disciples on the Mount of Olives. They had come here after leaving the city that day. Jesus is sharing with them the signs of the coming of the end of the age; the days before Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom.
Matthew shares these words of Jesus in his gospel account. We looked at what was to come in the blog titled “The Abomination of Desolation.” You can pop back over there if you would like to. We looked at some of the events that would take place during that time. Today I feel drawn to a different point. I want to look at the “vengeance” that is being written about.
When God made man in the beginning He knew we were going to mess things up. He knew He was going to have to step in and make things right between us. He CHOSE freely to offer us hope. He wasn’t forced to by some sort of cosmic obligation. He loved us and wanted to restore what had been lost. He refused to give up on us completely.
Twice in recorded history God tells us that He is so fed up with our behavior that He wishes He hadn’t made the decision He did concerning us. The first time was in the days of Noah. We all know how that one ended. He wiped the slate clean, except for eight people and two of every kind of animal, and started again. The second time was with Moses. While Moses and God were busy with setting up the rules and regulations for the people He had JUST rescued from 500 years of slavery, they turned their backs on Him. He was so disgusted with this group He was ready to wipe them all out and start fresh. Moses interceded on their behalf, siting that it would look bad to those watching this band of people if their God destroyed them instead of rescuing them, as He had promised to do. From that point on, God recommitted Himself to working with those He had called to be His own.
This group gave Him no end of trouble! They were a “stubborn” and “stiff-necked” people. On the whole, they abandoned Him many times. They refused His direction and correction over and over again. They also received punishment for their disobedience on more than one occasion. And they came back to Him, at least partially, multiple times. God knew their weaknesses and that they would never really be able to live up to all He had called them to be, but He expected them to at least try.
During Jesus’ life here on earth He was rejected by the very people He was sent to. This wasn’t a surprise to Him or to God. They both knew all along that this was going to happen, but He came anyway. They had been rejecting God’s plans for centuries. This rejection though was even more personal.
Before Jesus came the people had learned of God through His blessings and cursings. They heard His words through His priests, judges, prophets and kings. They didn’t have an individual personal relationship with God. They met Him through their leaders. The nation was judged as a whole, rather than each individual on his own behavior. Each person was responsible for their own actions, but one person’s behavior didn’t stand in the way of the nation’s direction.
When Jesus arrived on the scene the nation’s leaders were on a self-prescribed direction with God. They took His “principals” and modified them to suit themselves. This was done by the religious leaders and passed onto the people. God was NOT willing to allow this to go any further.
Jesus brought relationship with God into a personal direction. He called for each of us to be personally responsible for where we stood with God. This removed the layer of leadership covering that previously existed. The religious leaders were adamant that this wouldn’t happen. They like their place of power and would do anything they could to hold onto it, even if it meant refusing to accept God’s Son. And that’s just what they did.
Many individuals came to believe in the words Jesus shared, but the nation as a whole rejected Him. They still continue to reject Him to this day. They will continue on this path for the rest of history. I believe this is the reason for Jesus’ words regarding Jerusalem’s future. Jerusalem, the heart of the nation of Israel will be repaid for ALL her behavior towards God and His Son.
On the cross Jesus prayed to the Father for forgiveness of those who placed Him there. I am not going to offer this statement as absolute truth, but I believe Jesus was praying for the Roman soldiers and the common man who got caught up in the religious leader’s schemes. I believe God was still holding the religious leaders and the nation accountable for their behavior. They DID know what they were doing, at least to some extent. So in the end, when the “days of vengeance, to fulfill all this is written” (verse 22) come about, Jerusalem’s predicament and destruction rightly flowed from their behavior towards Jesus and God.
The nation still continues to reject Jesus today and their accounting is getting longer by the minute. I cannot imagine how hard it will be when the full measure of vengeance is poured out on that city. Praise God that some of the people will escape this fate. Those who turn their life over to Jesus personally.
Father God, thank You for waiting so patiently for all to be accomplished in Your plan. Thank You for making a personal relationship with Your Son possible. I can’t imagine trying to live under the old system. I would have been one of those in trouble most of the time. Thank You once again for my time and place in history.
Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for ALL You suffered at the hands of those who should have welcomed You. I’m sorry for the sin and shame I contributed to You burden that week too. Thank You for allowing me to come to You and have a personal relationship. Help me walk out that relationship every day. I want to protect our time together. I want to grow deeper in love with You every day. I love You and want to please You with my life. Forgive me when I fail and fall short.