Normally this would be a Communion Sunday, as the bulletin indicates, but I asked that we postpone one Sunday so that I had a little more time, because I wanted to speak to you in light of all that’s going on in our world, and in particular, the atrocities that occurred over in the land of Israel. That is on everyone’s mind. We understand the horrors of it. It is, for some of us, unimaginable behavior and conduct, although it is nothing new in the world. And I was, really, asking the Lord to direct me in a particular way because there’s so many aspects and perspectives on what is going on in Israel and in the Middle East and in the conflict and the war that has begun. But as I thought about it, I began to list the things we could talk about and be informed by Scripture.
We could look at this event and take a look at the Arab-Jew conflict, not only as it is today, but when it started back in the book of Genesis between Ishmael and Isaac, which was the beginning of this conflict. We could even look forward into the future, where this conflict will continue until the final battle of Armageddon. So it really goes from Ishmael and Isaac all the way to Armageddon. That is all of redemptive history.
We also could look at the fact that through history God has preserved the Jewish people while at the same time punishing them for the rejection of His Son. That’s why our Lord looked at Jerusalem and said, “Your house is left to you desolate until you come to the knowledge of your Messiah.” We see the desolation of Israel. We could look at all the suffering of the people of Israel through the centuries in the desolation that was pronounced upon them because of their rejection of Christ, which still goes on today. We could talk about that. We could talk about preservation and punishment at the same time. We could talk about the fact that no nation will ever exterminate the Jews. It’s been tried through history; it will not succeed, because God has future plans for their salvation and their kingdom.
We could also talk about the desperate wickedness of the human heart, what it is capable of—such atrocities. But we have to remember this: that killing babies is nothing new. We do it here before they’re born, but it’s the same crime. And even going back in history, Israel was guilty of offering their babies to idols, sacrificing their own children. Atrocities are nothing new in human life. We could talk about the desperate wickedness of the human heart,, and how it’ll go as far in its wickedness as society will allow for it or as ideology or culture will permit.
We could also talk about the fact that Israel has a right to retaliate—that when you are struck with such fierce aggression and death is the result, you have a right to retaliate. I think about 1 Samuel chapter 30, where the Amalekites came into the land of Israel and they took away all the women and children—kind of a kidnapping—and the people of Israel gathered together collectively and pursued them and slaughtered them as a result of that, for the future protection of their own lives.
We could talk about the fact that the Bible says the government has a sword, and a sword is an instrument of death, and it wields it in the case of evildoers. We could talk about the words of Jesus: Live by the sword, die by the sword.
We could also talk about the evil of false religion. False religion is Satan at his best, if you can use that term. False religion is not noble; false religion is demonic and satanic, and we see that played out in Islam. We would talk about the character of Islam itself. In its purest form it is violent, and the Quran calls for murder, slaughter, as expressing the will of Allah. And people are motivated to do it because in Islam, if you kill the infidels or offer yourself as a martyr in some attack on the infidels, you go to heaven, and that’s in their own literature. They’re motivated by the most carnal kinds of desires. You would think that some of them would have a conscience, but the conscience is informed by the culture’s morality; and if God, or you believe to be God, tells you to kill infidels, then that’s the noblest you can do. That’s why they start training their children in elementary school to that end.
We could also talk about the fact that what we’re seeing in the Middle East now is a preview of Armageddon, the final, great battle that takes place in and around Israel and Jerusalem. And we will talk about that in our study of the book of Revelation.
While all of those are important, and things that need to be understood biblically, there is a universal issue that I think is most relevant to everyone. As I thought about the approach I might take,, I was reminded of the fact that Jesus faced a similar massacre. And you ask the question, “What did He have to say about that? Did He talk about history? Did He talk about sociology? What did He talk about? Did He talk about the future of Israel? Did He talk about anything in the past of Israel? Did He talk about human wickedness?”
No, He focused on one great reality that involves everyone. And so that’s what I want to draw to your attention and let Him be our teacher. It’s Luke 13, Luke 13. No one escapes the personal application of this perspective, and our teacher is the Lord Himself. Luke 13. Let me read the opening nine verses.
“Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.’
“And He began telling this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, “Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?” And he answered and said to him, “Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; if not, cut it down.”’”
Very dramatic discussion on the part of Jesus. And what triggered the discussion is in verse 1. It was a massacre. It was a bloody massacre, to the degree that the blood of the sacrifices was mixed with the blood of the people offering the sacrifices as Pilate’s men slaughtered them in the Temple.
So what is the message in a massacre? What is the message? What should we learn? What would God say to us? And again, for that we have a direct answer because we know exactly how Jesus responded to this. This text is really the words of Jesus in response to a massacre.
Now a little bit of background to start with. The common Jewish view was that calamity happens to bad people. Calamity happens to bad people, not to good people. So if calamity came your way, you’re a bad person. You can go all the way back to the patriarchs, to the book of Job, and you will find that very early in the counsel that Eliphaz gives to Job, when Job is trying to figure out why he is suffering and why so much calamity and death and disaster in his family. And Eliphaz gives him the standard answer: “Whoever perished being innocent?” It doesn’t happen to you if you’re innocent. “Or when were the righteous destroyed?” says Eliphaz.
Bad things happen to bad people, not good people. That was their theology. And it survived from the patriarchs all the way into the New Testament era of our Lord. And in John chapter 9, you remember the blind man about whom the Jewish people said this: “Who sinned, him or his parents?” Somebody had to sin for him to be blind, because blindness is a bad thing, and it’s reserved for bad people. That was the standard Jewish perspective. It may still be the perspective for many people. So Jesus is about to overturn that in this confrontation.
Let’s look at the first two verses, and this is the first calamity, we’ll call it. “On the same occasion”—that is, the same occasion as the sermon he preached in chapter 12, a large crowd of people listening to Him. “On the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had missed with their sacrifices.” Now this is a massacre of Galilean Jews in the Temple. You only offered sacrifices in the Temple. The gory details are that it’s a bloodbath so that the blood of the people offering the sacrifices is mixed with the blood of the animal sacrifice itself.
Now there was only one time a year when Jewish people offered sacrifices, and that was the Passover. So this must have been the Passover. They are offering a sacrifice, and in the midst of it are slaughtered in a surprise attack from the troops of Pilate. There had been other slaughters similar to this even with more people involved, like the slaughter of Archelaus, who killed three thousand Judean Jews in 4 BC. So the people of Israel had experienced that and other calamities.
We don’t know exactly what precipitated this, but we do understand the basic reality is that they were in the Temple doing what the Old Testament prescribed for them to do. They were following Old Testament ceremony and law. You could say they were the good people. They were the good people.
Now this kind of action on the part of Pilate, we don’t know what precipitated it specifically, but it fits the profile of Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. He ruled from 26 AD to 36 AD, the fifth Roman prefect or procurator in Israel with the Roman occupation. And he had a deserved reputation of being implacable, inflexible, self-willed. His rule is marked by briberies and robberies and insults to the Jews, outrages, abuse, frequent executions without trials, savage ferocity in all of this going on relentlessly. It was this kind of thing that eventually led to the Jewish Revolt in 70 AD, that then led to the Romans crushing them in the destruction of Jerusalem and 985 other towns in the land of Israel. So Pilate would have been in Jerusalem for the Passover because so many people were there, and it was some event—the event of all events during the year that needed careful cover. So Pilate likely would have been there. And for some reason, he decides to massacre Jews in the Temple at the altar. Everybody knew about it. If there was a Jerusalem Gazette, it would have been front page.
So Jesus said to the crowd in verse 2, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate?” He’s saying, “I know you imagine this. I know this is how you think, that bad things happen to bad people. Bad things don’t happen to good people.” He reads their minds—literally, “Do you imagine?”
Sometimes, certainly, there are judgments by God on individuals for evil. Certainly, there are certain kinds of sins that have a built-in judgment. For example, if you kill someone, the Bible says you will then give your own life, a life for a life. There are links between certain sins and consequences like drunkenness and immorality. But that’s not what’s being talked about here. What you have here is not some kind of natural effect of sin, or even a gradual effect of sin. What you have here is an unexpected calamity—something sudden, something unknown, something that was virtually a surprise disaster. And nowhere in Scripture will you find that accidents or calamities or catastrophes are viewed as always being judgment for those that die and, on the other hand, an affirmation of the goodness of people who survive. That’s not in Scripture.
In fact, the real punishment for all people, all sinners, comes in the next world, not this world. You may be a righteous person and die in a plane crash. You may be an unrighteous person and survive a plane crash. But in any case, that’s not your final judgment. In calamity, both Christians and non-Christians die. In earthquakes, both Christians and non-Christians die. In volcanic eruptions, both Christians and non-Christians die. All kinds of calamities are indiscriminate when it comes to who dies.
Sometimes the righteous are killed and the wicked survive. Wars, plagues, disasters, accidents—they do not separate so that the only ones who die are the wicked, and the good are spared. Even in crime, criminals don’t act as instruments of God to kill only bad people. Terrorists don’t destroy only morally bad people. I think back to 9/11 and the crushing of the towers in New York City, realizing that from the top to the bottom when that building came down, there were people in there at every level of society and every level of moral responsibility and moral character, all the way down to infants who were crushed at the bottom. The calamity did not discriminate. But that is not where judgment takes place. For the believers who die in a calamity, far better to depart and be with Christ. For the nonbelievers who die in a calamity, eternal hell and tragedy.
So the Jews, though, had supposed as the general perspective that people killed in a calamity were the bad people, and the fact that they were surviving that was some affirmation of their goodness. That is a wrong supposition, and Jesus is about to straighten it out. Look at verse 3. So the question: “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners . . . because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no.” I tell you, no, emphatically. I tell you, no. The calamity did not make the judgment. Calamity is not discriminating in that sense. “I tell you, no.”
And He says it again in verse 5, we’ll see, in line with another calamity. This time it’s accidental. The first one was intentional, a massacre. This one is accidental. So let’s follow that in verse 4.
“Do you suppose”—are you imagining? I know how you think about this—“that those eighteen”—eighteen people—“on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits . . . ?” The word for “culprit” there basically means “debtor.” The people who were killed by the tower that fell over—they were walking by; this was an accident. “But were you supposing that the people who were killed had the greater debt to God, and God exacted punishment by killing them and sparing those with lesser debt? Is that how you think?” And of course, that’s exactly how they thought. “Do you suppose?” He’s aware of their thinking.
Now, we don’t know anything more than what verse 4 says about this event. Siloam was an area of Jerusalem where the south and eastern walls of the lower city met. And there was a pool there, according to John 9, and it was fed by the Gihon Spring outside the wall, and the water was brought into the city through the wall in a tunnel that was built in the days of Hezekiah. So it was just a water supply for the city of Jerusalem.
Pilate also built an aqueduct which, no doubt, moved that water in this direction. Literally, an aqueduct above ground, from what we can tell. This may well indicate that while the building of that aqueduct was going on, there was some scaffolding that collapsed on people and killed them. They were just passing by and ended up crushed in the calamity.
Now in the first case, you have people killed who were obeying God at least externally. In this case, they were killed without obeying or disobeying, it was simply that they were passing by. Neither of these two groups are assigned any particular culpability or any sin. It’s not like the Flood, that drowned the world because it was only evil continually. It’s not like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, where there was rampant evil and homosexuality in those cities and God buried them under a volcanic eruption. It’s not like that. This is people living life, living life even on the right side of it, you could say, by worshiping God, living life in just the normal way, going about your business and ending up dead.
So were the people on whom the tower fell worse than the people that it missed? Verse 5: “I tell you, no.” “I tell you, no.” Your theology is wrong. Bad things do not only happen to bad people. Calamity is not God’s way to single out evil people for death. Righteous people die in a plane crash, a car crash, or whatever other unexpected calamity might come along—an epidemic, a war.
There’s a third calamity, and this is the one you want to make careful attention to. Back to verse 3. Here’s the real calamity: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Verse 5: “But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Twice He also says, “I tell you. . . . I tell you.” That’s emphatic.
Here is the point: When you see a calamity and people die in a disastrous way, in a calamitous way, what does this say to you? It says you’re not in control of your death. You’re not in control of your death. And Jesus wants you to get one lesson. He doesn’t talk about what happened to the people themselves. He doesn’t talk about how this fits into theology or how it fits into redemptive history or how it relates to the position of Israel in the plan of God. He goes right to the most extensive aspect that all of us should learn, and that is this: “You had better repent, or you will be caught in a calamity that is everlasting. You will die and experience the terrible judgment of God.” It’s not how you die, or from what, or even when. The real calamity is dying without repenting. Then you will face divine judgment. Then you will perish in everlasting hell.
The Galilean Jews and the people in Siloam were like everybody else. And everybody else, frankly, had rejected the Messiah, and they did perish not just that they were dead, but they perished, apollumi. They were destroyed. They perished everlastingly. That’s the lesson.
Pilate’s soldiers missed other people: that doesn’t make them safe. The tower missed other people when it collapsed; that doesn’t make them safe. You’re not safe unless you’ve repented. The possibility of death can come a thousand ways, but the real calamity is to fail to repent; then you perish eternally. Everybody’s headed for death. The people listening to Jesus were headed for an unexpected death that would be disastrous for them. Some of them would die at the hands of the Romans some years later when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.
There were a lot of other calamities in ancient times as well. But Jesus’ words are this: The lesson for everyone is, be ready to die. How can you be ready? By repenting. Strong message for self-righteous Jews who thought they did not need to repent. That’s the issue. They were steeped in legalism, steeped in a kind of ceremonial self-righteousness, and they were the last people they thought who needed to repent. In fact, it was that kind of talk that caused them to kill Jesus.
Why did they call for Jesus’ death? Jesus says why in John 7:7, “They hated Me because I told them their deeds were evil.” They were convinced they were righteous; Jesus told them they were evil. They could have believed that, repented, and been saved. But instead, they rejected that and executed the messenger.
To see themselves as sinners headed for judgment is out of consideration, consist—inconsistent with their self-evaluation. And our Lord did not try to prove they were sinners; they knew they were sinners. They had the basic knowledge; they knew they violated the law of God, but somehow they thought that it wasn’t serious enough to render them to be judged by God.
So the bottom line, the thing that you want to learn from all of this, the thing that Jesus wanted the Jews to learn that day is, the only way you will escape eternal judgment is by repenting. The question is, are you prepared if the next calamity hits you?
Now what is this repentance? Well basically, it has two aspects. And I know there’s a lot of discussion about repentance, but it’s really pretty simple; it has to be. Here’s the first aspect: You have to change your mind about yourself. You have to change your mind about yourself.
In other words, you have to acknowledge that you are a sinner, you are a law-breaker. You have to acknowledge the truth and holiness and binding obligation of the law of God. You have to recognize that you are a law-breaker, you are a violator of God’s law, and that is sin, and this is a very deep-seated problem. It isn’t just in your conduct, it’s in your heart. The deepest recesses of your heart are full of rebellious attitudes toward God.
Repentance means you look at yourself, and you don’t say, “I’m OK. God will accept me because I’m a good person.” You look at yourself and you say, “I’m headed for judgment. I’m not a good person. I break His law. I violate His law. I have just judgment coming my way.”
Repentance, then, is the sinner agreeing with the righteous condemnation of the law, not only in his conduct, but in the evil of his own heart; a recognition that as a sinner, “I have no right to God’s presence and God’s heaven. I have no power to rescue myself. I have no moral pathway to reconcile with God. No religious conduct, no ceremony will get me there.” Which is to say it is to realize that you need mercy and grace and forgiveness, you need righteousness that you cannot possess of yourself, and you need the debt of sin to be paid by someone else, because if you’re left—as chapter 12 closed—to pay the last cent, that’s hell.
So the first aspect of repentance is: Change your mind about yourself. And then, to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the only Savior: changing your mind about Him. Repentance is coming to Christ as Lord and Savior, the only one who can give forgiveness, because He paid the price Himself. You don’t have to pay down to the last cent; He paid it all.
Those who refuse, then, to repent and trust in Christ as Savior will all likewise perish—verse 3, verse 5. You’ll be destroyed—apollumi again—lost, killed. This is not talking about physical death, because even those who do repent die. Neither is the intent death by calamity, since not all who refuse to repent die in a calamity. The warning is very clear. “Perish” has to do with everlasting judgment, everlasting judgment.
I think it’s a fair assumption that the people who were killed in these two events perished, they perished. That’s why Jesus said, “You will [also] likewise perish.” That was a sad reality. And that’s the sad reality about what happened to Jews at the hands of the terrorists. That’s the sad reality of what happened to the Hamas terrorists when the retaliation came. That’s the sad reality of the death of Jewish people, or Palestinian people, or any people. Death came to them, and they were not prepared.
It really doesn’t matter how you die; that is no testimony to your character. Death comes to everyone. The message of our Lord is, the most important thing you need to understand is it’s coming for you, and you don’t know how, and you don’t know where, and you don’t know when; and you must repent, or you will perish.
Now this is strong language and portrays God in His holy justice, but it’s not the whole story. There are three verses—four actually, 6 through 9—that are critical. And Jesus tells a parable. Why this? Well, He knows what they’re thinking: “This is severe. This is harsh. What about the goodness of God? What about the love of God? What kind of God, if He loves people, what kind of God judges them with eternal judgment?” And the answer comes in verses 6 to 9.
“He began telling this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and didn’t find any. And he said to the vine-keeper, “Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?” And he answered and said to him, “Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.”’”
What is this? This is the other side of the story. This is a parable about patience, about patience, and it reminded me, just thinking about it, of Jeremiah 44. And Jeremiah, obviously, is God’s prophet pronouncing judgment on an idolatrous Israel. But there’s just a beautiful portion of this forty-fourth chapter that lets you in on the heart of God. He is Judge, of course, and He will judge, and He will punish everlastingly. But let’s look at chapter 44, and you can pick it up at verse 19. And it says that they “were burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven,” “burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven.” Back in verse 15, “burning sacrifices to other gods.” So Israel is engaged in idolatry.
Verse 17, again, mentions “sacrifices to the queen of heaven,” “drink offerings to her”—some goddess. And so in response to that, in verse 20, “Jeremiah said to all the people, to the men and women—even to all the people who were giving him such an answer—saying, ‘As for the smoking sacrifices that you burned in [your] cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your forefathers’”—to idols, by the way—“‘you and your forefathers, your kings and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the Lord remember them and did not all this come into His mind?’” Do you think the Lord has forgotten the history of idolatry? Do you think He’s forgotten? You probably think He has because you’ve gotten away with it for multiple generations.
And then verse 22: “So the Lord was no longer able to endure it.” Amazing statement. God does have endurance, but it has an end. When the Lord could stand it no longer, “endure it [no longer], because of the evil of your deeds, because of the abominations which you have committed; thus your land has become a ruin, an object of horror and a curse, without an inhabitant, as it is this day. Because you have burned sacrifices and have sinned against the Lord and not obeyed the voice of the Lord or walked in His law, His statutes or His testimonies, therefore this calamity has befallen you, as it has this day.” That calamity came on Israel when God ran out of patience.
We don’t know how long God’s patience is going to hold out for you. If you have not repented and embraced Christ, you are living on borrowed time; and that’s what the parable wants you to understand. A man plants a fig tree. He has every reason to assume that he’s going to get the fruit that his labors would have surely guaranteed. He waits for three years. Never any fruit in three years.
Verse 7, in disgust, he says, “Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?” This is useless. Cut it down. This is disgusting. And then, verse 8, the vine-keeper, the vineyard-keeper says to this man who is the owner, “Let it alone, sir”—kurie in Greek, “lord”—“for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down. Let it alone, sir; don’t judge yet. For this year too, just a short time, just another opportunity to bear fruit, and I’ll do everything I can to make that happen”—not that he hadn’t for the first three years. “I’ll dig; I’ll aerate; I’ll fertilize it.” He would have done that anyway for three years, but he said, “Let me take another run at it, please, before you cut this down. The tree is not to be left to itself, but it is to be given careful attention. Let me work on this for one more year; and if it bears fruit next year, fine.” “Fine” is in italics because it’s not in the original. It really says, “And if it bears fruit next year . . .”—ellipsis. “If not, cut it down.” This is a tree living on borrowed time, and a short time at that—just one more year.
Those who don’t repent are living on that borrowed time. I don’t know in each case; it’s different how much cultivation of gospel truth has taken place in your life. But if you have not repented, you are living on borrowed time. You will be cut down. Maybe not this year; but when you are cut down, that is final judgment. All unbelievers live on borrowed time. The sand is running out of the hourglass. You’re enjoying a brief stay of execution.
And by the way, borrowed time is not due to one’s worthiness, because the tree was useless; it produced nothing. There was no reason to keep it alive, no reason inherently in the tree. “Why should it even use up the ground?” In a sense, those who live without repentance are no better than those who have died. You are enjoying divine patience. But it won’t last; it has an end.
Back to Isaiah 55, which I read earlier. Listen to verse 6: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Seek Him while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. It may not always be that He is so available.
So how did the people to whom He said this respond? Well sadly, you know the story. Go over to verse 23; you’ll get an answer. Luke 13:23, “Someone said to Him, ‘Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?’” It was apparent to His followers that even with the severity of the message of death and judgment to the impenitent, there seemed to be only a few who responded. Why? In verse 24, He says, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
It’s not easy to repent. That’s the message. It’s costly to repent. You have to change your entire view of yourself. And if you love your own life, you will lose it; but if you hate your own life in this world, you will keep it to life eternal, John 12:25. It’s hard to repent because you have to take the opposite view of yourself that you’ve cultivated your whole life, to recognize your sin and wretchedness to the degree that you want to turn from it; and you offer God nothing but your helpless, wretched, sinful self, and you reach out for a Savior who is Christ the Lord. That’s hard for sinners to do because sinners have spent their life protecting their pride and sense of self-worth. Repentance is hard, but it’s necessary.
The final comment that I would draw to your attention is at the end of the chapter in verse 34. I don’t know; I would like to think that if I was in the crowd that day and had not repented and heard Jesus say all of this, I would have repented as fast as possible. But only a few did. And you come to verse 34 and you hear this: “[Jerusalem,] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” They rejected Him. In fact, as I said earlier, they killed Him. No wonder their house is left desolate. That was their response to the urgency of the message that day. Repentance is hard, and faith in Christ is costly, but it’s the only hope. Apart from that, you will be left with the same desolation that Israel has experienced, and all who reject Christ will experience forever.
There’s grace in the final parable, isn’t there? You have some time. You have opportunity. Repent while you can. That’s the message, the message of grace. And the Lord’s so sad that they did not repent, He could hardly bear it. And in the nineteenth chapter of Luke, He looked at the city, and says He wept, He wept. If your theology doesn’t allow you to understand that Christ weeps over impenitence and unbelief, then you need to fix your theology.
What is the lesson of a massacre, slaughter, war? And I think we’ve just begun to see the death and carnage, whether it’s in Russia and Ukraine or Israel, or wherever it’s going to come from. There’s one great message our Lord wants us all to know: You need to repent, because you might be next.
Father, we thank You again, as always, for Your Word. It bears a power that penetrates deeply into our hearts and souls. We could talk about the politics and geopolitical scene. We could talk about nations and history. We could talk about the sinfulness of sin and atrocities of epic proportions that mankind are capable of. We could talk about false religion. But the one thing that You wanted us to think about was, “What if that had been us? What if that had been me?” That’s a reality.
We don’t see war around us now, but it may come. But there are so many other things that can take our lives. “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment.” So Lord, while Your mercy and Your grace is still extended, we ask, Lord, that You would be glorified in the salvation of sinners. We ask Your Holy Spirit to prompt true repentance and faith in Christ right here in this very service.
If You were here with us today, no doubt, You would look at this congregation or this city or anyplace with the same sadness that You had when you looked at Jerusalem. You have tried to gather us, and we would not. That resistance obviously compounds our eternal guilt, because the severest punishment is meted out to those who have known the gospel and rejected it. Of how much sorer punishment will they be thought worthy, who have trampled underfoot the blood of the covenant and counted it as an unholy thing?
So Lord, we ask that You would move in hearts and bring conviction, and that there might be genuine repentance this day, and transformation from being under judgment to being under grace, and in Christ, and free from condemnation. Do that for Your glory, we pray. Amen.
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