19 August 2009

Ye Would Not – 8.19.09

Matthew 23:37-38 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! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

In Matthew 23, Jesus Christ foretold the doom and destruction of Jerusalem and its temple (not to be confused with Matthew 24, dealing with prophetic matters concerning "the end of the world"). But as He closes the sermon, He reminds the people that it doesn't have to be this way.

Way back in the book of Genesis, God called out a people unto Himself. It was His desire and His intention that through this family all nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). But down through history, this nation forsook the Lord, rebelled against His law, and served other gods. Even still it was God's desire to gather them together and restore them to proper fellowship with Him. But they despised His word, ignored His messengers, and martyred His prophets.

There is coming a day when the Lord will set all this straight and bring blessing to all nations of the earth, but in the meantime that Jewish nation has sure missed out on the blessings God intended for them and has and will suffer much for being so hard-hearted, stiff-necked, and disobedient.

There are a couple of important lessons for us to take from this verse.

First of all, notice that God does not force His will on any of us. One of the tenets of Calvinism is this idea of "irresistible grace," but according to the Bible, no such thing exists. Here God had blessings He desired to give to Israel, but Israel refused them – ye would not. Acts 7:51 says that they always resisted the Holy Ghost. Likewise, He desires to give eternal life to all men (2 Peter 3:9), but so many refuse to repent. He has life more abundant to give His children (John 10:10), but so few lay down their lives on the altar of sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2) and submit to His perfect will. So while it is God's will to bless, He does not force His blessing on those who for whatever reason are not willing to receive it.

What follows from this is the fact that our failure to get in on all the grace and blessings God has for us is our fault, not His. If I'm not living my life under the power of the Holy Spirit, it's not because God has not made it available to me, it is that I have failed to avail myself of it. If I lack boldness or wisdom, it's not that God is intentionally withholding those things from me, but rather that I have in some way refused to receive them. If my life is not full of the blessings of God's joy and peace and comfort and rest, it's not His fault. It's mine.

Praise God that His love and His mercy continue forever. Regardless of the mess I've made in the past, His desire is still to bless, and the requirement is still the same. All it takes is a willing heart that is yielded unto Him. May He find such a heart in each of us today.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

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