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Divine Compassion for Those Deserving Condemnation, Part 3

Luke 13:34-35 May 08, 2005 42-189

2005

We are drawn back into the text of Luke 13 in our worship this morning. Luke Chapter 13 and we are looking at the last two verses, just two verses, but oh are they monumental verses. We find ourselves in the third message on these two verses with even more to come. Verse 34, our Lord is speaking, Luke 13. "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills that prophets and the stones those sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together just as a hen gathers her brude under her wings. And you would not have it. Behold your house is left to you desolate. And I say to you, you shall not see me until the time comes when you say blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

Obviously there is finality in these words. A final expression of compassion. A final condemnation and the anticipation of an ultimate conversion. These words gather up the whole history of Israel from the past, chronicling how they killed the prophets and stoned those sent to them. To the present, the desolation of Israel whom God has, for the time, abandoned. And the future, when they finally say blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. And again with that remarkable economy of words with which our God speaks and Christ speaks in just two verses, so much is gathered up.

Here we have been looking at the compassion of our Lord, the condemnation of our Lord, and finally the promise of conversion from our Lord. His compassion on Israel is indicated in verse 34 in the words "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I wanted to gather your children together like a hen or bird who brings her brude under the protection of her wings and you would not." The condemnation is clear. Your house is left to you. Ichabad has been written. The final sin has been committed. You didn't just kill the prophets and stone those sent to you in the past, you have now rejected me.

Here is the affirmation that their rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and Messiah is final and judgment is passed. And the judgment will last until that third element, the conversion of Israel, in the future when they will finally say, "blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." We have looked at this passage under the title The Desolation of Israel. We have chronicled it in the past and in the present and for the foreseeable future. But as you come to the last half of verse 35, you begin to look at the time when the desolation of Israel ends.

And He says, "I say to you, you shall not see me until the time comes when you say blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." The word until gives us hope that the story is not over. That the last chapter has not been written. Until a future a time when you will see me, recognize me, and say "blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." The Bible is very clear on the future of Israel, very clear, unequivocal, unmistakably clear. In spite of that, there are many people who doubt that God still has in His purpose a plan for the restoration and the salvation and the blessing and the glory of the nation Israel as such.

But we cannot leave this issue alone, because there's something at stake here. And what is at stake is the faithfulness of God. To put it simply, if God cannot be trusted for what He promised Israel why would I trust Him for what He promised me? If God is not a covenant keeping God, if God is not a faithful God, if God is not trustworthy, with regard to Israel and what He pledged and promised to them, why would I trust Him with my life and my destiny?

So the issue is bigger than just the story of Israel that has interest and in fact, it has more than interest. It has a high level of fascination for anybody who has followed this sad saga of Israel's woeful history. To think about the fact that there is a future for that nation raises all kinds of interesting realities in our minds, but there's something far beyond that that touches our lives personally. That is the issue of whether or not God can be trusted. Does He keep His word? If He made promises to Israel and cancelled them what hope do I have? At the heart of God's character is His integrity. At the heart of His character is where all of His attributes coalesce and mingle in perfection.

God is who He says He is and He is consistently who He says He is. In that sense, faithfulness or trustworthiness touches every attribute. He says He is sovereign, and you can trust that He is because that is what He said. He says He is just and you can trust that He is. He says He is wise and you can trust that He is. He says He is gracious, you can trust that He is. He says He's merciful, etc., etc. You see at the heart of everything is this issue of faithfulness, this issue of trustworthiness because it wouldn't matter to us what God claimed for Himself or what He pledged or promised to us if His word wasn't good.

If we cannot trust what He has revealed in the scripture, if we cannot trust what He has said about Himself, then how can we trust what He has said about us? There would be no way to be sure that if He failed in one place, He might not fail in another. That is why the Bible celebrates God's trustworthiness, His faithfulness. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, it says, "God is faithful." True to His word. Peter calls Him in 1 Peter 4:19, "A faithful creator."

Back in the Old Testament, there's a wonderful text Joshua just prior to his death was giving confident and Holy Spirit inspired witness to the trustworthiness of God. The people coming into the land, settling in the land, ready to receive in the land of Canaan the promises of God. And they needed to know that God was going to keep His promise. And it says in Joshua 21:43, "So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers and they possessed it and lived in it. And the Lord gave them rest on every side according to all that He had sworn to their fathers." You see He did exactly what He said He would do and no one of all their enemies stood before them and the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand. Just exactly as He had said.

He had promised that to them many times earlier. And so in verse 45 we read this. "Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed, all came to pass." Critical. At this juncture in Israel's history they have now come out of 400 years of bondage in Egypt, 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, entered into the land, and they can look back and say not one single thing that God promised failed. All came to pass. Again, in Joshua Chapter 23, the testimony is repeated again as Joshua speaks, verse 14. Chapter 23, "Now behold today I'm going the way of all the earth." I'm going to die. "And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed. All have been fulfilled for you not one of them has failed."

Verse 15, "It shall come about that just as all the good words which the Lord your God spoke to you have come upon you so the Lord will bring upon you all the threats until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you. You have seen the blessings and you will also see the curses." Believe it, if you are disobedient, God keeps His word. History showed them that. They had the blessings, there they were in the land. All of it was as He said and they would receive the curses. And that takes us back to Deuteronomy 27, 28, and 29 where before they entered the land God said to them, "If you obey me, I'll bless you. If you disobey me, I will curse you." Told them when you go into the land hold this ceremony on the two mountains Gerizim and Ebal, recite the blessings, recite the curses in an indelible and unforgettable drama so that you never forget. "I will keep my word to bless if obey, to curse if you disobey."

And history vindicated God not one good word of all He promised had failed. Psalm 31:5 calls God the God of truth. Titus 1:2 says, "He is God who cannot lie." It is impossible for Him. The writer of Hebrews says "God who promised is faithful," Hebrews 10:23. Solomon in 1 Kings 8 said, "Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to His people Israel according to all that He promised." And repeating what Joshua said, Solomon said "there has not failed one word of all His good promise which He promised." And here we are years later and they can still say what He promised He has done, what He promised He has done, what He promised He has done.

And if you've traced the history of Israel, you will find that God has fulfilled everything He promised. You come into the life of Christ into our text, into the time of the coming of Messiah and the long awaited promise of the Messiah, God has fulfilled. As He said He would, He has sent His king. He has sent His son of David, His genealogy is as it should be as indicated in the gospel record. His birth is as it should be, a virgin born son of Mary, son of God. Everything as God said, it was in Bethlehem as it should have been. He has come who is the Savior of the world, the angels attest to it. God always keeps His promise.

Back in the Old Testament early on in the book of Genesis, God began the promises to a people called Israel. Those are referred to in Romans 9:4 where the apostle Paul says to the people of Israel were given the covenants and the law and the promises. And what exactly are those promises? Well in the main, there was the promise of God to Abraham. When God picked up Abraham out of the city of Ur in the Chaldeans and brought him down into the land, He gave him promises. He said out of his loins would come a great nation. They would number as the stars and the sand of the sea. Simply a hyperbole for the vastness of the people that would come from the loins of Abraham. And that they would be blessed and that God would make a covenant with them to bless them and through them to bless the nations of the world. And God gave that covenant to Abraham in Genesis 12 and God reiterated in Chapter 13 and repeated it again in Chapter 15 and repeated it again in Chapter 17 and then repeated it again to Isaac, the son of Abraham and repeated it again to Jacob, the son of Isaac because that's the line through which the promise came. And God repeated that blessing.

The nature of that covenant is very important, so turn to Genesis 15, because it's in Genesis 15 that we come to understand the inviolable character of that covenant. That is to say that it cannot be broken. In Genesis Chapter 15 God reiterates His promise, verse 5 of descendants that are going to belike the stars of heaven. Abraham believed in the Lord and God imputed righteousness to him, which is the way all people are saved. He said in verse 7, "I brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess it." And Abraham says, "Lord God how may I know that I shall possess it? Can you give me some promise?" And He said to him, "Bring me a three year old heifer and a three year old female goat and a three year old ram and a turtle dove and a young pigeon." A little menagerie. And he brought all these to Him and cut them in half. Each half on the opposite side and one dead bird on one side and one dead bird on the other. He didn't cut those in half. You just get a pile of feathers.

And the birds of the prey came down on the carcasses and Abram drove them away. Now what in the world is going on here? Now here are these bloody pieces of animals and a little path in the middle because this was the way people made covenants in ancient times. When you made a promise to somebody you killed an animal or animals and indicating the seriousness of your promise, you sacrificed something very valuable in an agricultural environment. The animals which were your livelihood and you laid them out in a blood sacrifice which was also a way of saying may I die before I break my vow. And together you walked between the pieces and this is how you bounded your covenant visibly while people watched.

You made a pledge in blood to keep your promise. This was like a serious contract. Abraham knew that, so he knew exactly what God was saying when He said get the animals. It doesn't say God told him what to do. He just automatically did it. He cut them up and laid them on two sides. Verse 12 then gives an interesting note that the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. God anesthetized Abram, still called Abram here. And a great terror and darkness fell on him. He was in a coma basically or a semi-coma. And God said to Abram, "know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years." He promised the Egyptian captivity, but "I will also judge the nation whom they will serve and afterward they will come out with many possessions."

That's what happened, that what happened two million people or so came out. They came out with all their possessions to go to the promised land. "But as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace, be buried in a good old age." That happened. "Then the fourth generation, they shall return here for the iniquity of the Amorite," meaning all the Canaanite is not yet complete. God didn't bring them back to that land until the sin of the people in that land, the Canaanite had reached its final culmination. And the God would cause them to be used as a judge. And when the son had set and it was dark there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between those pieces. What is that? That's God.

God puts Abram to sleep and then God, Himself, passes through the pieces. Not Abram, why? Because God was not making a promise dependent upon Abram. It was not a conditional covenant. It was a covenant that God made with Himself. Verse 18, "On the day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, it was a covenant to give them the land." And more than just the land, all that came with that Abrahamic covenant. God sealed Himself to His promise. Hebrews 6:13, go there for a minute because this is so very important. Hebrews 6:13, and the writer of Hebrews says this, "For when God made the promise to Abraham," his name later changed to Abraham, "when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself saying I will surely bless you and I will multiply you."

In other words, God swore by Himself because there was no greater. God, it says, the end of verse 17, "by the unchangeableness of His purpose interposed with an oath." God swore not to Abraham, but to Himself to keep His promise. This is what we call an unconditional promise. That is to say it is not based upon anything man might do. It is a promise that God makes with Himself. And what was that promise? To bless that nation, multiply that nation through that nation to bless the nations of the world to give them a land and blessing spiritually.

Later on that Abrahamic covenant was enriched by a promise made to David in 2 Samuel Chapter 7 in which God also unilaterally unconditionally found himself to bring out of the line of David a greater son who would bring an everlasting kingdom that would stretch across the world and last forever. God made this the beginning of His promise to Israel. The Abrahamic covenant and later the Davidic covenant sum up all that God promised Israel, a land, blessing, salvation, a kingdom. The question is will God be faithful to His promise? Because of God's promises to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob and to the Jews, God is bound by His nature to fulfill those promises.

And it is no small curiosity, it is rather a monumental reality that the nation Israel still exists. That the Jews still exists as Jews in their national heritage and even in their own land, though only a small portion of what God originally gave them the original gift would swallow up most of the Arab world. They have outlasted all the surrounding nations, all of them because God had promised.

When the Messiah came, God was bringing the most important element of His promise. For Israel could never be blessed, they could never have a land, they could never have a kingdom, they could never have salvation unless a final and complete sacrifice was offered. Unless a Savior and a Deliverer was provided. In fact, the whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament just mounted frustration upon frustration upon frustration, killing animals, killing animals, killing animals over and over and over and over endlessly and never did they finally take away sin. They all longed for a final sacrifice.

So critical to the promise of a kingdom, critical to the promise of blessing, critical to the promise of salvation was God sending His son, the Messiah and the Savior. And so He did send Him. And an angel came, first of all, as we remember early in Luke and told Zacharias and Elizabeth, Zacharias was an Old Testament priest, and his wife Elizabeth and he were barren in their old age. They had never been able to have children and the angel came and said you're going to have a son and that son is going to be the forerunner of the Messiah, John the Baptist. The long awaited prophet who had announced the arrival of Messiah. Zacharias was so overwhelmed at this prophecy and completely understood its implications. In fact, Zacharias in response to this at the end of the 1st Chapter of Luke gives what is known as the benediction. He gives this pay on of praise and it is monumental.

I remember when we went through it many months ago. It is a watershed text of scripture because it bridges the Old Testament and the New. If you want to be able to interpret the Old and the New in light of each other then you have to get into head of Zacharias. He understood the Old Testament perfectly. He understood the meaning of the coming of the forerunner and the Messiah and he lays it out there. And what he does at the end of that 1st Chapter of Luke is he reaches back to the sure promises that God gave to David and the sure promises that God gave to Abraham. He touches the Abrahamic and Davidic covenant, covenants of blessing and a kingdom and salvation and all of those great realities and then he says and finally the Messiah is going to come to make them all a reality.

The sunrise is going to dawn at last. And the long awaited salvation is going to come. And that's exactly, of course, the reason the Messiah did come. He is going to come said Zacharias to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace. He began his words, "blessed be the Lord God of Israel for He has visited us and accomplished redemption and raised up a horn of salvation." They knew there had to be a deliverer. They knew there had to be a prophet like unto Moses. They knew there had to be one who would come and offer the final sacrifice.

And He came, and the sad reality is "He came to His own," John 1:11 and "his own received him not." In fact, they were adamant that they did not want Jesus Christ to be their King to be their Savior, to be their Messiah. They rejected Him outright. In fact, the people along with the leaders told Pilate crucify, crucify, crucify. We have a law, they said. And by that law He ought to die, because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.

They didn't want Him. In parabolic language Jesus told a little story and in the story He used this line, "we will not have this man to reign over us," Luke 19. They had long killed the prophets and stoned the people who were sent to them from God. They had long disobeyed and rejected, but here came the great moment of all redemptive history. The Messiah arrives, surely they will understand. Surely they will see. Surely they will believe, but they did not. Rather than loving Him, they hated Him. Rather than honoring Him, they persecuted Him. Rather than exalting Him, they executed Him.

Paul, in Acts 13, says "we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus." God sent His son. Sent His son as an offering for sin, raised Him from the dead as He had promised He would back in the Psalms where the promise of the resurrection is clearly laid out. God did exactly what He said He would do. He would send the Messiah and the Deliverer. He would send the sacrifice, the one who would provide life and they refused Him.

Peter says in Acts 3, "You disowned Him, the Holy One and you killed the prince of life." Paul in Romans Chapter 9 at the very conclusion of that great chapter says, "They stumbled over the stumbling stone." And then he quotes from the Old Testament, Isaiah 8, "I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling in a rock of offence and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed." They stumbled over the stumbling stone. The Messiah said the prophet will be a stumbling stone. They will trip over him. They won't believe. They won't understand. And they still don't.

The Jews continue in this same rejection of Jesus Christ. And they are adamant about it and their leadership is adamant about it. I remember speaking with a rabbi in his office and I started to talk about Jesus Christ and he dropped his fist loudly on the desk and said, "Do not mention that name in my presence." You see it is inconceivable to them that the Messiah would be killed. That is why Isaiah 53 is such a mystery. "Wounded for our transgressions, bruised for iniquities, a lamb to the slaughter." They don't know how to interpret that.

They refuse to interpret it as it should be as a prophecy of the sacrificial substitutionary death of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is inconceivable that the Messiah would be killed. It is inconceivable that the Messiah would come, be killed, and the Romans would sack Jerusalem and destroy it and smash the temple to the ground without leaving one stone on another. It is further inconceivable that their ancestors, the religious elite, the literate, the knowledgeable, the scholars of the Old Testament would have led the killing of Jesus. It's inconceivable that the religious leaders and scholars of Judaism would not know the Messiah.

It's inconceivable that they could have been so wrong about the Messiah. It's inconceivable then that Jesus could be the Messiah because He died. He couldn't possibly be the Messiah because the kingdom didn't come. The Romans came in with power and destroyed the place. And He certainly could be the Messiah when all the religiously wise and insightful scholars of Israel so totally rejected Him. So Jews today just cannot accept that Jesus is the Messiah. Then you can add to that the tragic times in the history of Christianity when Christians have persecuted Jews, so-called Christians. I always have to say that to people. Well, why do Christians hate Jews and why do Christians persecute Jews and why in the crusades in the name of Christ did they massacre Jews all across Europe? And you say to people those people call themselves Christians. They are not Christians. Don't you understand that the enemy of the true Christian gospel and the enemies of Jesus Christ would like to have people call themselves Christians who are not.

Because in the counterfeit comes the greatest deception. And so they're now in a situation of having rejected Christ and they continue to reject Christ. They are still in basically the desolation of the beginning of verse 35, "Your house is left to you." You're on your own. I'm out. God is saying I've abandoned you as we saw last time. And that raises the question, is this permanent? Is this it? Many, many people who are theologians and Bible teachers say this is it. Israel's done, they're finished. The only way in the future that Israel will ever be a consideration is when individual Jews come to Christ. There's no future for the nation as such.

One very prominent Bible teacher was in a conference in Europe and he was asked the question, "What is the biblical significance of the existence of the nation Israel?" He said, "It has no biblical significance." Well, that's a nice thing to say. It's just pretty silly. It just happens that they are a nation still, still connected to their national genetical heritage and in their own land or a portion of it. That has immense significance if you believe God keeps His promise. It would have huge significance if there were no Israelites. Then we would have to question anything and everything God said.

You see, what we're talking about here is not just a lesson about the history of the Jews; this is a lesson about the character of God. The apostle Paul understood that there was a future for Israel. Jesus says it right here. "You shall not see me until," the word until is the word of hope, "until," literally until a time coming or until coming and saying. This implies that there will be such an event when they will say "blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

And the character of God is at stake. Turn to Romans 11. At this point, there is so much to be said that I find myself struggling to eliminate anything. Years ago when I was teaching through Romans for the second time, and it took us a long time to get through Romans, but when I got to Romans, 9, 10, and 11 I was so determined to affirm the faithfulness of God, it really wasn't so much about Israel as such. It is about Israel. Romans 9-11 is about Israel, but it's about Israel as a demonstration or an illustration of the faithfulness of God, faithful to His word.

And because that issue of the future of Israel is so often attacked and there are people who say the church is the new Israel and we're the only Israel that matters now and you know, the church has become the Israel of God and all the promises are now going to fulfilled in the church. And God has no further future for Israel. That is such a really difficult situation because it calls into question the very promises of God that I felt I needed to carefully go through this section.

And so I determined to make the most powerful argument that I could and I'll never forget it, because Chapters 9, 10, and 11 of Romans took us over a year. Really, over one year. I think I preached about 50 messages in this section of scripture. And toward the end, the people were saying we get it. We get it. We can't wait to hear the words, "I urge you brethren by the mercies of God." That's Chapter 12, verse 1. Please. They were feeling frankly like they had been the Jews 40 years in the wilderness. And they were happy to cross the Jordan into Chapter 12. But it is just so important and if you want to dig in a little deeper the commentary on that section, even the notes in the study Bible or all those messages will be available for you.

But I want to take you to Chapter 11, verse 1 and we're not going to get much beyond this, but a little bit. "I say then," even though verse 21 of Chapter 10 ends with "all the day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." That's borrowed from Isaiah 65, but it was still true. It was true through their whole history. It was true and Isaiah wrote it and it's true when Paul says it. God is still stretching out His hands to a disobedient obstinate people.

Now the big question is, "I say then," or consequently, "God has not rejected His people has he?" I mean, is there continued obstinacy? Is there continued rebellion? Is there continued unbelief? Their continued hostility toward the gospel and toward their Messiah, Jesus Christ - an indication that it is over for them. His answer may it never be is magenoitah, that is the strongest negative in the Greek language, no, no, no, impossible, can't happen.

It can't happen. And he gives you some sort of escalating responses. First, "For I too am an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham of the tribe of Benjamin." His first illustration is God isn't finished with the Jew because I'm one and I'm saved. So we know then there is individual salvation still for the Jew. But further, verse 2, "God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew or do you not know what the scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel." This is 1 Kings 19, and he says, "Lord they've killed Your prophets, they torn down Your altars and I alone a left and they are seeking my life. I'm the only guy left."

And what does the divine response to him? "I've kept for myself seven thousand men who've not bowed the knee to Baal." So look is God finished with Israel? No, Paul says. Here's one illustration. I'm an Israelite and I'm a believer. Secondly, God always a remnant. He had a remnant in Elijah's time and He has a remnant now, verse 5. "There has come to be at the present time a remnant." There's always a remnant. In Isaiah's time there was a remnant just as in Elijah's time. Elijah's time, seven thousand, Isaiah's time, it was a tenth. Isaiah 6, the last verse, "a stump, a holy seed." Even in the time of Jesus there was a remnant. Do you remember who the remnant was? Zacharias and Elizabeth, they were part of the Messianic believers. They were part of God's true saints.

Joseph and Mary, how about Anna, Simeon, how about the shepherds? And after Christ left there were 3,000 in that remnant who came to the belief in their Messiah on the day of Pentecost and then next time five thousand by the time you get to Chapter 4 there may have been 20,000 believers. God always has a remnant of Jews, always, always. But that's not really the point. It's not just that through this era there will be Jews being saved and there will be a group of Jews who make a sort of Jewish remnant included in the church. There's more than that and for that you have to go down to verse 25.

And notice please verse 25 toward the end, A partial hardening has happened to Israel. A partial hardening, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. But whenever God is finished gathering His Gentile church, verse 26, and "thus all Israel will be saved." Just as it is written in Isaiah 59 again, "The Deliverer will come from Zion. He will remove ungodliness from Jacob and this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." God binds Himself to His personal covenant, my covenant. Not the covenant, not a covenant, my promise, my promise.

This can't change, verse 29, "the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." Yes, individual Jews come to Christ. Yes, there's always a collective remnant, but more than that, the time will come after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. That's a term to describe the church when Gentiles are all gathered in. When that is over, then all Israel will be saved. That has yet to come. There will come a time then, back to our text of Luke 13:35, "when you see me and you will say blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

That finally you will recognize your Messiah. And let me just support this and then we'll conclude. 1 Samuel 12:22, "The Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name." There is the bottom-line dear friends. The Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name. His name is who He is. And who He is, is faithful. And if He says it, He will do it. And He cannot break His promise without destroying His name.

Look at Psalm 89 and I have to draw you to Psalm 89 because it is a very clear and important text. Psalm 89 and you can look down about verse 30 of this great Psalm. Verse 30, "If his sons," you can read the whole Psalm, it's such an incredibly wonderful Psalm. But "If his sons forsake my law and do not walk in my judgments, if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will visit their transgression with the rod and their iniquity stripes." God says look if the sons of Israel disobey me, they'll be punished. The curses will come to pass.

Verse 33, "But I will not break off my loving kindness from him nor deal falsely in my faithfulness." My, my, my law, my judgments, my statutes, my commandments, my loving kindness, my faithfulness. God is true to Himself. Verse 34, "My covenant I will not violate." Verse 35, "Once I have sworn by my holiness, I will not lie to David." If God doesn't fulfill His promise, then He's not holy and He's not righteous. "I swore it and I will not lie." Verse 36, "His descendants, the descendants of David will endure forever. His throne as the son before me it'll be established forever like the moon and the witness in the sky is faithful."

God is faithful. Go back to verse 7. "What kind of God are you? "A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, awesome above all those who are around Him. Oh Lord God of Hosts who is like Thee Almighty Lord, thy faithfulness also surrounds thee." That's a great way to understand that faithfulness is what links all of God's attributes together. He is true to who He is.

Go back to Nehemiah, Nehemiah Chapter 9. Another tremendously important portion of scripture in this matter. Now remember the children of Israel in the time of Nehemiah have come back from the captivity. They have been restored again. Brought back to the land and Nehemiah is helping them rebuild the wall. They will rebuild the city. They will under Zerubbabel rebuilt the temple. God having brought them back after their captivity. The Levites get together and they talk to God in this section of Chapter 9.

And they speak what's in their hearts before God. And it's a great chapter. You can go all the way back to the beginning of the chapter, but I want you to look at verse 26. Among the things that they say to God they go through the history of what God has done for them and how He delivered them and led them. It's just a great rehearsal of God's care for Israel, His preservation. And then they come to verse 26 and they talk to God about the patterns, the cycles of Israel's life, rebellion, restoration, and reversion. That's kind of the way it goes. They just...they rebel, they're restored, and they revert, and they rebel and they're restored, and they revert, and they rebel.

It's just this cycle over and over and over and over. That's their history. Look at verse 26. "They became disobedient, rebelled against thee, cast thy law behind their backs, killed thy prophets," just what Jesus said in Luke 13 and again in Matthew 23, "killed thy prophets who had admonished them so that they might return to thee and they committed great blasphemies." They sent the prophets to heaven. They killed the prophets. They were disobedient. They rebelled.

Verse 27, "Therefore, thou didst deliver them into the hand of the oppressors who oppressed them." There they were in their oppression and "when they cried to thee in the time of their distress thou didst hear from heaven according to thy great compassion. Thou didst give them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors." That would take you back to their exit from the time in Egypt. That would take you back to the rescue after rescue after rescue that basically was accomplished by the judges through the period of Israel's history before the monarchy. There were times when their enemies oppressed them again and there were kings who came along like Josiah and some of the good kings that were used by God to bring a certain restoration and revival.

But verse 28 says, "As soon as they had rest, they did evil again before you." And of course, they know the history and now they're back in the land and they're anticipating the cycle all over again. "Therefore, thou didst abandon them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried again to thee thou didst hear from heaven and many times thou didst rescue them according to thy compassion and admonished them," verse 29, "in order to turn them back to thy law. Yet they acted arrogantly, didn't listen to your commandments, sinned against your ordinances by which of a man observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder stiffened their neck and would not listen. However, thou didst bear with them for many years and admonished them by their spirit through thy prophets, yet they would not give ear. Therefore, thou didst give them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless in thy great compassion thou didst not make an end of them."

There's the key, verse 31, "In thy great compassion, thou didst not make an end of them or forsake them for thou art a gracious and compassionate God." Same old cycle, same old cycle, but you never ever made an end to them. Verse 32, "Now, therefore, our God the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who doest keep covenant." There it is, because it's not a conditional promise, God could never destroy them. He must save them and give them the promise He made.

The prophet Jeremiah anticipating, of course, the people being taken into the captivity from which the text in Nehemiah describes them having been delivered says this, "Fear not oh Jacob, my servant," Jeremiah 30, verse 10, "do not be dismayed oh Israel for behold I will save you from afar and your offspring from the land of their captivity and Jacob shall return and shall be quiet and at ease and no one shall make him afraid. For I am with you declares the Lord to save you. I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely, but I will chasten you justly. And by no means will I leave you unpunished."

Later in the 31st Chapter he says, "He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him like a shepherd keeps His flock." God is not finished with Israel. One final text, Ezekiel 16, this is just one of the great Old Testament texts and when it comes to the promise of God to Israel, none is more dramatic or powerful than Ezekiel 16. I wish I had time to go through it, that would in itself be a study, but let me give you the feeling for it. Ezekiel is now in captivity, in the place of captivity in Babylon and he is rehearsing how they got here. Why this has happened, verse 1, "The word of the Lord came to me saying son of man make known to Jerusalem her abominations." Tell her why she's here. Jerusalem simply means Israel, the people. Why am I here? Why are we suffering this captivity? And then he goes into telling about how God found Israel.

And the picture is graphic. It's of a woman who has a baby and doesn't want the baby. The baby having come out of her womb is then thrown into a field, naked, squirming in its own blood with it's cord dangling out of its navel. And He says that's how you were when I found you. When I found you and brought you out of Egypt you were thrown out in a field. "And I took you to myself," verse 9, "and I bathed you with water and I washed the blood off and anointed you with oil and I clothed you and put sandals on your feet and fine linen and silk." And this is all talking about the early glorious years of the monarchy when He rescued them out of the field of Egypt and brought them to the land and made them prosperous and gave them everything and adorned them.

And verse 14, He says, you know, "Everybody in the world," you know, "the nations around on account of your beauty knew your fame." But verse 15, "You trusted in your beauty. You played the harlot, you poured out your harlotries on every passerby who might be willing." You became a prostitute in the rank a sense the most vial sense, the lowest sense. And you built this adultery or prostitution is their idol involvement.

"Abominations," verse 22, "harlotries," He describes them as building shrines and making high places in verse 24, "building a high place," in verse 25. They got involved in all kinds of horrible idolatry, unfaithful to God who was their true husband. And God says I'm going to have to judge you. And He speaks of judgment, terrible judgment and I'm going to have to judge you till my anger is spent He says.

And the rest of the Chapter down to verse 59 talks about judgment. Furious and terrible judgment and part of it was in this captivity, of course. But this would be true at any time in Israel's history whenever they rejected God and abandoned God. They would know His judgment and that is that which Jesus speaks of again as their desolation which even now exists. However, go to verse 60, He actually says "your sin is worse than that of Samaria," the capitol of the northern kingdom taking captivity years before. "Your sin is worse than Sodom," the horrible place that God destroyed. "Nevertheless," verse 60, "I will remember," not a covenant or the covenant, "I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth back in the days of Abram, back in the days of David. And I will establish an everlasting covenant with you and then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters both your older and your younger, and I will give them to you as daughters not because of your covenant. Thus I will establish my covenant with you and you shall know that I am the Lord."

You will remember. You will be ashamed. "You will never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation when I have," and here's the key, "forgiven you for all that you have done." It's just an incredible chapter. I gave you everything, picked you up when you squirming in your blood. I did everything for you. You were unfaithful. You played the prostitute, but it's not over. It's not over. There will be the salvation of this great nation. History is His story. History is God's story. The future salvation of Israel is demanded by the promises of God. The redemption of the Jews will come in spite of a long history of rejection. In spite of killing God's messengers and God's prophets, in spite of killing God's son. God took even that and turned it to His saving purpose. For without the death of Christ, there would be no salvation and therein lies the great providential irony of all history.

The protector, the shield, the shelter, the Father of Israel has abandoned them for now, but not forever. There will be a day when Israel will say "blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." And we'll see what the prophets say about that next time. Join me in prayer.

Father, we know that if You are faithful to Your promises to Israel, You will be faithful to Your promise to us. You are God who keeps His word. Not one word of all Your good promise has ever failed or ever will. And so we entrust our time in eternity into Your hands, our salvation, our hope of heaven. Father we pray that You will do Your work and seal to our hearts that confidence that our God is faithful. Indeed great is thy faithfulness for that we praise You in Your son's name, Amen.