November 29, 2015
Read Lu 13:31-35 – I’ve told before of the rowdy little boy, running home after his 1st day of school, bursting thru the door shouting, “Mom, Mom! Guess what? They want me back!” That’s the message of our text today. God loves His rebellious creation and wants us back. Tragically, many of us are not nearly as excited about that as the little boy was.
Here Jesus draws a sharp contrast between human will and God’s will. Mid v. 34, “How often would I have (literally, I willed to) gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing (literally you will not)!” I will; you will not. Human history is the story of man’s will vs. God’s will. The paradise of Eden was the result of God’s will and man’s will being in perfect harmony. The Lord’s prayer calls for a return: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). That’s perfection! The question for all of us is whose will are we operating under? To move us God’s direction, Jesus gives us a glimpse into the very heart of God here. Then He shows us Israel’s “I won’t” response to God’s “I will”. The results are challenging.
I. God’s Will -- Redemption
When Jesus says, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,” He is giving expression to God’s perfect will. What does He will? Redemption for His creation. Gathering chicks under the wings of the hen is a beautiful picture of God’s great, loving heart. Ever been in barnyard when danger approaches? Chicks are wandering all over the place, seeking food and doing whatever baby chicks do. Then a snake slithers in. Mom signals and all the chicks come running – seeking shelter under the wings of the mother hen. And Jesus is saying, “That’s just how I feel about rebellious Israel.” Does He hate them for refusing? No. It breaks His heart to see them reject.
No one will ever be able to stand before God and say, “You didn’t care!” It will not happen. God’s heart has always reached out to His fallen creation. Even John Calvin, who emphasized election and God’s holiness said this: "Your idea of God's nature is not clear unless you acknowledge him to be the origin and fountain of all goodness". Scripture is filled with declarations of God’s patient desire that all men everywhere would be saved. II Chron 30:9, “For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.” Mt 9:36, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Ezek 33:11: “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” Ezek 18:32: “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.” God’s will is crystal clear, isn’t it? Turn and live. Repent and be renewed. The problem isn’t God. The problem is we who “will not” – who set our will against His.
And His reaction is in Jer 13:17: “But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears.” Listen, make no mistake, it is devastating to God to see people set their will against His. God’s will is clear in I Tim 2:4, “3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” II Pet 3:9 adds: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing [literally “willing”] that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God wills the repentance of everyone because He wills the redemption of everyone. God sees us as we really are and wills our cleansing.
Chuck Swindoll tells of performing with a Marine band at a leprosarium while serving in the Marines in Okinawa in 1958. He says that nothing prepared him for what he saw. “I saw stumps instead of hands. I saw clumps instead of fingers. I saw half faces. I saw one ear instead of two. I saw the dregs of humanity unable even to applaud our performance. I saw in the faces of men, women, and even some teenagers and anguish crying out. We could play music for them, but we could not cleanse them of the disease.” Then he goes on: “In Scripture leprosy is a picture of sin. And we see that it is cleansed rather than healed. Only Jesus’s blood has the power to cleanse us from our condition of sinful corruption. Now I understand what Scripture says, "He was moved with compassion." Beloved, God’s middle name is compassion. No one will ever be able to stand before God having rejected Jesus and say, “You didn’t care.” All the Father will have to do is point to the nail prints in the hands of His Son and say, “I beg your pardon. I loved you; you didn’t care for me.” God wills all people, everywhere to be saved.
II. Israel’s Will -- Rejection
V. 34: “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” What a tragic ending to the gracious will of Jesus. “I willed to gather you under my wings, to forgive, redeem and cleanse you; but you willed not.” The sentence ought to read, “I willed, and you willed, too.” Instead it reads, “You willed not.” Incredibly, they rejected their own Messiah. It’s a fatal rejection.
“He came to His own and His own and His own people did not receive Him” (Jn 1:11). God came from heaven, became a man to live and die for the salvation of these people, and they rejected Him. Amazing. How could that happen? Jesus knew. He says in Jn 3:19, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world (in the person of Jesus), and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” Why did these highly religious, devout, moral people reject the Savior? Because they loved their sin more than they love Jesus. Paul described it similarly in Eph 4:18, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” Rejecters are blind to spiritual truth – preferring their way to God’s.
They are like the man who sent $100 to enroll in a correspondence course on mental telepathy. A month went by and nothing arrived, so he called to inquire. He was told, “We don’t send that course by mail. We send it by mental telepathy.” He said, “Well, I haven’t received anything yet.” To which the receptionist replied, “I know. So far, you’re flunking the course.” Rejecters are flunking! The things of God are “spiritually discerned” (I Cor 2:14). Those who set their will against the will of God are flunking the course. They turn a blind eye to His truth; they do not want to be accountable. So they reject their only hope of salvation. God allows us to use our human will to do that – but there are consequences, Beloved. And that’s why Jesus goes on.
III. Israel’s Result -- Ruination
Rejection always results in ruin – sooner or later. You can’t pit your will against God’s and win. V. 35, “Behold, your house is forsaken.” “House” here symbolizes not only the Temple, but Jerusalem and the nation as a whole. Jesus is saying, “You’ve rejected me, and now I will reject you.” You will be abandoned and your house left desolate – empty of either me or you!
This was not a first for Israel. Often God delivered them to enemies as a result of the disobedience. The greatest of these captivities in the past was when Babylon swept in in 606 BC and held sway for the next 70 years. God spoke thru Jeremiah in 12:7, “I have forsaken my house; I have abandoned my heritage; I have given the beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies.” You can hear the compassion in God’s voice even as He executes judgment. God’s love does not preclude God’s judgment. That captivity cured Israel of outward idolatry. Israel never went that direction again. But they still failed to realize that true salvation is a heart issue. It is about a relationship, not religion; it is about repentance, not ritual. And their failure to realize that led to rejection of their own Messiah. Now they would face the consequences.
Jesus talked about this coming judgment again in Luke 21:5-6: “And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” It all happened in AD 70 when Rome ended a long siege by sacking Jerusalem and destroying the temple. [Show picture of stones]. Gold fixtures melted during the process, and Romans literally dug up the stones to get the gold. Jewish historian, Josephus, said more than a million people died during the revolt and another 100,000 were taken captive. He describes how the city was starved into submission. Roofs were thronged with famished women with babies in their arms. Alleys were filled with corpses. He comments, “Children and young people swollen from starvation roamed like phantoms thru the market-places and collapsed wherever their doom overtook them.” Israel finally had no choice but to surrender and ceased to be as a nation.
The Jews became the most hated people in the world. By AD 630, the Emperor Herclius banished all Jews from Jerusalem, thus leaving their house desolate not only of their Messiah but of themselves. Anti-Semitism became fashionable worldwide. And we all know of the atrocities of the Holocaust of the 20th century. In God’s providence this led to the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948 – an unprecedented event of prophetic significance.
But the worst is yet to come, Beloved. Israel is being regathered in fulfillment of God’s ancient promises to Abraham, but as a nation, they remain today in rebellion against the will of their God. And so Rev 6-19 describes a time of unprecedented persecution yet future to us that will finally result in Israel’s turning to Him. But what suffering it will take to get to that point.
God’s love does not preclude God’s judgment. His compassion is staggering. He sent His own Son to pay the penalty for our sin. But if we will not repent and turn to Him, our house, too, will be left desolate. People outside of Christ are like the 2 guys in parking lot trying to unlock the door of their car with a coat hanger. One said, “I can’t seem to get this door unlocked!” The other replied, “Well, you’d better hurry up and try harder! It’s starting to rain – and the top is down!” That’s how foolish it is to pit our will against God’s. Rejecters think the way to avoid judgment is to try harder! Do better. Give more. All the time the top is down. The way is open. The solution is bought and paid for by the death of Jesus. But they will not accept what God offers. It is their will against God’s – and it is a losing proposition, just like for Israel.
IV. God’s Result -- Restoration
But now the good news. There’s a formula here. Man’s will yields ruination. God’s will yields restoration. V. 35, “And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” That hope is not going to be of help to the generation of Israel that was rejecting Christ. Not only would they suffer physical desolation, but that would represent the far great spiritual devastation that awaits those who are outside of Jesus Christ.
But God was not and is not done with Israel as a nation. He made promises to Abraham 4,000 years ago – unconditional promises – and He will keep them. In the end God will bring Israel to bow before Him just as He does every single person that He chose before the world began. Jesus says, “And I tell you, you will not see me UNTIL you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” That implies He’s going away. This most privileged generation in history to see Jesus face-to-face is at the end of its rope. Their privilege expires when they kill Him. Even in His resurrected body, He will not appear again to these unbelievers. Their privileged opportunity is over. He rejects those who have rejected Him. But the end of the story awaits a generation of Israel that pronounce blessing on Him whom these are rejecting. Some argue that with this judgment God was finished with Israel. But that is not true. God made promises and God keeps promises at great price.
So when will all this happen? When will Israel say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” At the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. Just as He came once, He will come again – this time to rule and to reign. Jesus anticipates this in Mt 24:29-31: “29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days [a reference to Rev 6-9] the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
He’s coming again! And listen to what will happen to that generation of Israel that survives the Great Tribulation. Unprecedented grace will be poured out upon them: Zech 12:10: “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” John picks up this same theme in Rev 1:5-7, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him [the Jews], and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” This is the result of following God’s will.
What did He instruct Adam and Eve in Eden? “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion” (Gen 1:28). What is the result for those who follow God’s will? They will rule and reign with Him forever, restored to the dominion they were intended to have in the first place.
This can be your future. But you must trust Christ. To provide the possibility of salvation cost Him His life. And to accept the invitation will cost you your life. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lu 9:23). You must exchange your life for His; your will for His will. But I hope you see that it is way worth it. It’s a decision you will never regret. It’s a move from the losing side to the winning side. Your will = ruin. His will – regeneration, renewal and restoration.
Conc – Ronald Pinkerton was a skilled hang-glider. But one day at 4200 feet he was hit by a powerful downdraft which sent his glider plummeting toward the ground. An airborne riptide. Nothing he tried was helping. Suddenly off to his right he saw a red-tailed hawk. He was fighting the same downdraft, but as Pinkerton watched the hawk suddenly banked and flew straight down, yielding to the winds insistent will. It looked like suicide. But the thought suddenly entered Pinkerton’s mind – follow the hawk! It went against everything he knew about flying, but his knowledge wasn’t helping anyway. He was at the mercy of the wind. So – he followed the hawk into a death spiral downward. 400 feet. 300 feet. 200 feet. But suddenly at 100 feet, the hawk started to gain altitude. And shortly, Pinkerton found himself suspended motionless as a warm source of air started pushing his glider upward until he could regain control. He was saved giving up his will to a greater will.
That’s faith, Beloved. And that’s God’s will versus ours. Choose His. It makes an eternal difference. Let’s pray.