Introduction: As we return to Matthew 24, we must never forget Jesus’ grief over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-39. For in those tears which Christ wept over that city, we see not only His real, sacrificial humanity, which prompts us to call Him, ‘the man of sorrows’ – we also see Him reveal the heart of God. For on the road to the Cross, Jesus Christ in His tears expresses the grief of God regarding sin, and the sorrows which were involved in giving up His only begotten Son to pay sin’s debt. No one could cause God grief, as if the Divine nature were weak and vulnerable to outside disappointments and evils. But God, in Christ, chose Himself to show the measure of His love for sinners by piercing Himself with the very same sorrows which afflicted His Son. Our God, as B.B. Warfield said, is capable of sacrifice. And we see the Father grieving with His Son as He prepares to give Him up for sinners at the Cross. Christ’s tears are a part of that Divine movement of feeling by which God expresses His love for us in our lost condition.
Mon/Tues: read Matthew 24:1-2 and Romans 9:1-5. As Jesus on the road to the Cross wept over His lost people Israel, so Paul’s heart is full of grief concerning his own people Israel in Romans 9:1-5: because they rejected God’s saving righteousness in favor of their own works-righteousness according to Romans 9:32. The ugliest manifestation of this rejection of God’s way of salvation is Israel’s cruel rejection of God’s Son, the Prince of righteousness. In insisting that He be crucified and the murderer Barabbas released, (Luke 23:18-19), the Jews in general and Jerusalem in particular sealed their doom a few short decades after Christ’s crucifixion. In AD 70, the Roman army came in direct fulfillment of God’s promise to destroy the city because of their killing of His Son. This is what Jesus refers to in Matthew 24:2 when He says that, “not one stone would be left upon another”. The temple officials who drove Jesus out of their temple, declaring Him to be a blasphemer, would see their adored temple destroyed forever. How tragic!
Meditate and Pray: Ask the Lord to give you such a heart-broken love for lost sinners that you, with the Apostle Paul and our Lord Himself, may intercede with effective prayers to the ‘Father of Mercies’ for their salvation. Use hymn # 452 from the red Trinity hymnal:
The vision of a dying world
Is vast before our eyes;
We feel the heartbeat of its need,
We hear its feeble cries:
Lord Jesus Christ, revive Thy Church
In this, her crucial hour!
Lord Jesus Christ, awake Thy Church
With Spirit-given power.
The savage hugs his god of stone
And fears descent of night;
The city dweller cringes lone
Amid the garish light:
Lord Jesus Christ, arouse Thy Church
To see their mute distress!
Lord Jesus Christ, equip Thy Church
With love and tenderness.
The warning bell of judgment tolls,
Above us looms the cross;
Around are ever-dying souls—
How great, how great the loss!
O Lord, constrain and move Thy Church
The glad news to impart!
And Lord, as Thou dost stir Thy Church,
Begin within my heart.
Weds/Thurs/Fri: read Matthew 24:1-2 and Romans 9:1-5. As we said yesterday, it is so important for the church of Christ Jesus through the ages to maintain the level of love and compassion for God’s people the Jews that Paul expresses in Romans 9:1-5. In short, we must resist the kind of anti-Semitism which has plagued the Western world through the modern age. As a denomination, the OPC had need to clarify her position against anti-Semitism in recent public statements made in the wake of synagogue shootings – one of which involved a perpetrator who was a member of an OPC in California. This is what the OPC said about this scourge of violence against synagogues:
“On April 27, in an act of vicious and deplorable hatred and violence, a gunman entered a synagogue in southern California and proceeded to open fire on the gathered worshippers, killing one and wounding three others before he was driven from the building. Sadly, the 19-year-old shooter, John Earnest, was a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Pastor Zachary R. Keele and the session of our hundred-member Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Escondido, California, issued the following statement concerning that horrific event:
The atrocious crime of violence and hatred that took place at Chabad of Poway synagogue on Saturday, April 27, grieves us deeply and shatters our hearts. As a congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ, we devote our lives to the love and mercy of the Lord to all of God’s beautiful children, from every nation, language, and tribe. Our most sincere prayers, condolences, and cares go out to the victims, their loved ones, and the congregation of Chabad. We deplore and resist all forms of anti-Semitism and racism. We are wounded to the core that such an evil could have gone out from our community. Such hatred has no place in any part of our beliefs or practices, for we seek to shape our whole lives according to the love and gospel of Jesus Christ.
We join the session and congregation of Escondido OPC to express the sincere sympathies and grief of all Orthodox Presbyterians to the people of Chabad of Poway in their great loss and heartache. And, along with our Escondido congregation, we condemn in strongest terms the sentiments of anti-Semitism and racist hatred which apparently motivated the shooter. Such beliefs are contrary to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and have no place within our system of doctrine or in the teachings and practices of our church. We believe that God created man, male and female, in His own image in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. And in love we offer the gospel of the grace of God in Jesus Christ to every human being.
May God grant comfort to all who have been affected by this tragic and deplorable act. And may He help all of us, as His image-bearers, to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
For the Orthodox Presbyterian Church,
The Rev. John D. Van Meerbeke, Moderator of the 85th General Assembly
The Rev. Ross W. Graham, Stated Clerk of the 85th General Assembly