If you have ever felt frustrated trying to help somebody who would not accept your help, or listen to your advice, you would have experienced the same problem as God. The Creator is the only One who is able to solve the problem of death; however, even He cannot solve this problem unless we are willing to listen and heed His advice.
Approximately 500 years before Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, a prophecy was made concerning the events surrounding the birth and ministry of Christ. In Zechariah 9:9, it says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold your King is coming to you: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on a donkey, and a colt, the foal of a donkey.” This was fulfilled as prophesied on what is today called Palm Sunday, the celebration of the day Jesus made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey.
Mark describes this event, saying, “They brought the colt to Jesus, laid their clothes on him and set him on him. And a very great multitude spread their garments on the road: others cut down branches from the trees, and spread [them] on the road.” Mark 11:7, 8. As they proceeded down the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem, the multitudes began to rejoice. It says in Luke 19:37, “As he was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen.”
Triumphal entries were not new. Each time a Roman general returned from war or battle, there would be a triumphant entry into the city. Behind the victorious soldiers and the army followed the band of chained captives. These miserable creatures knew, of course, that some of them would be thrown to the lions or forced to fight as gladiators and others sold as slaves, thus it was a very mournful procession. Jesus’ happy procession, however, was unlike any procession that had been before, for the people following, were rejoicing and singing.
Many in the crowd were those who had been healed by Jesus. Some could have said, “I was blind until Jesus came, but now I can see.” Others could have said, “I was deaf until Jesus came, and now I can hear,” and still others might have said, “I had leprosy and I was ostracized and quarantined until Jesus came, and now I am whole.” Some of those who walked and rejoiced with the crowd might have been paralyzed before being healed by Jesus. There was even one in the crowd who could say, “I was dead and buried for four days in a cave, but Jesus came and now here I am alive and rejoicing.” There were also people in that crowd who were able to say, “I was under the control of demons; I had no control over my appetite or my passions, until Jesus came and set me free.” Remembrance of all of these wonderful things that had happened gave each and every one a reason to rejoice.
As the joyous procession approached the city, all eyes turned toward the beautiful temple with its walls of white marble, with its gold and precious stones blazing in the sunlight. The beauty of this scene was impressive; thus it was with great amazement that they turned to Jesus and saw that He was weeping.
This was a time of rejoicing, yet there was Jesus, the Majesty of Heaven, weeping at the sight of Jerusalem and the beautiful temple. In Luke 19:41–44, it says, “As he drew near, he saw the city, and wept over it, Saying, If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! but now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you, and close you in on every side, And level you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another: because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Everybody rejoiced, but Jesus, knowing both past and future, wept for the people who would be destroyed with Jerusalem 39 years later.
Jerusalem was the city that had been honored by God above every other place in the world. For ages, God’s prophets had uttered messages of warning to this city. It was in this city where priests had waved their censors and a cloud of incense had risen with the prayers of the worshippers and ascended before the God of heaven. It was in this city that the blood of thousands of slain lambs had been offered, pointing forward to the real sacrifice of the Lamb of God who would later come. It was in the temple in this city where Jehovah had revealed His presence in the Shekinah glory above the mercy seat. There in the heart of God’s chosen people, was represented the base of the mystic ladder dreamed of by Jacob and spoken of by Jesus, the ladder which connects the human race into the holiest of all.
Jeremiah had pleaded with the people to heed his warning, promising that if they changed their rebellious ways, Jerusalem could avoid destruction and stand forever. “Thus says the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they did not obey, nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction. And it shall be, if you diligently heed me, says the Lord, to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work in it; Then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, accompanied by the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain forever. And they shall come from the cities of Jerusalem, and from the places around.” Jeremiah 17:21–26.
Jeremiah goes on to say, “But if you will not heed me to hallow the sabbath day, such as not carry any heavy burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” Verse 27.
The Old Testament records a history of backsliding and rebellion on the part of the Jewish nation. They continually resisted Heaven’s privileges and grace and slighted the opportunities repeatedly offered to them.
“They mocked the messengers of God, despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till [there was] no remedy.” II Chronicles 36:16.
Finally, after sending many prophets and messengers, God sent the Majesty of heaven. All of heaven was poured out upon this world in the gift of His Son. For over three years Jesus pleaded with the impenitent city trying to save them from destruction, but they would not listen. Jesus went about doing good, healing the sick and all who were oppressed by the devil. He passed through villages healing the sick and giving hope to the hopeless. His mission was to “Bind up the brokenhearted, to set at liberty those that were bound, to restore the sight of those that were blind, to cause the lame to walk, and the deaf to hear, to cleanse the lepers, to raise the dead, and to preach the gospel to the poor.” See Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; Matthew 15:31. His gracious invitation to all was the same, “Come unto me, all of you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
His love and good deeds were rewarded with evil and hatred, but He steadfastly pursued His mission of mercy, never rejecting any who sought His grace. Waves of mercy were beaten back by stubborn hearts, and Israel turned from her best Friend and only helper. He was the only One who could save her from destruction. But the pleadings of His love were despised. His counsels were spurned. His warnings were ridiculed. Today also, the hour of hope and pardon is temporary, and if we do not accept the invitation of mercy while it is still available, then, like Jerusalem, we can only receive the just consequences of our deeds.
God’s long deferred wrath against Jerusalem was about to be fulfilled. A cloud had been gathering over the city through ages of apostasy and rebellion and now it was about to burst upon a guilty people. The only one who could save them from the impending destruction was the one person to whom they would not listen. His warnings and invitations had been slighted and abused. He was rejected, and would soon be crucified. In less than a week, when Christ would hang upon the cross of Calvary, Israel’s day as a nation favored and blessed of God, would be over.
The loss of even one soul is priceless in the eyes of God, but here was the whole nation of Israel about to be destroyed. Prophets wept over this vision, “O that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” He continues, “But if you will not hear it, my soul will weep in secret for [your] pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.” Jeremiah 9:1; 13:17.
The Messiah Himself knew what the consequence of their rejection of mercy and truth would be, prophetically seeing the walls surrounded by an enemy army. He heard the tread of armies being marshaled to war and the voice of mothers and children crying for bread. He saw the temple and all the beautiful houses and structures around it destroyed, until not one stone was left upon another. He saw the holy city leveled in total destruction.
Looking through the ages, He also saw the covenant people scattered in every land like wrecks on a desert shore. In the temporal retribution about to fall on the children of Israel, He saw but the first draft from that cup of wrath which, at the final judgment, will be completely drained. Divine pity and yearning love found utterance in the mournful words, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her; how often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen [gathers] her chicks under [her] wings, but you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate.” Luke 13:34, 35, first part.
There is no other God, no other person, no other intelligence or power that can give you eternal life except Jesus Christ. “The one who has the Son has life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” I John 5:12.
Jesus also saw in Jerusalem a symbol of the entire world at the end of time, hardened in unbelief and rebellion, rushing to meet the judgments of God. He also saw the record of sin, human misery, tears and blood, and in His infinite pity for an afflicted human race, He yearned to relieve them. But even He could not turn back the tide of human suffering because few would seek Him, the only Source of help.
He was willing to pour out His soul unto death to make salvation possible, but few would accept Him and His gift of eternal life, so the Majesty of heaven was in tears. The Son of the infinite God was troubled in spirit, and bowed down with anguish revealing to us the exceeding sinfulness of sin. This demonstrates how difficult a matter it is for even infinite power to save the guilty from the consequences of breaking the law of God.
Jesus saw the world in the last generation in a deception similar to that which caused the destruction of Jerusalem. The great sin of the Jews was their rejection of Christ. The great sin of the Christian world in the last generation would be their rejection of the law of God, the foundation of His government in heaven and earth. In the last days, the precepts of God would be despised and set at nought, and millions of human beings in bondage to sin, doomed to suffer the second death as slaves of Satan, would refuse to listen to the words of truth.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus predicted what would happen to a large portion of the Christian world in the final day of judgment.
“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? cast out demons in your name? and done many wonders in your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” Matthew 7:21, 23.
Jesus predicted that the last days would be a time of great lawlessness, a time when people were breaking the law of God, even professed Christians. Revelation 12:17 says, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 14:12 says, “Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] those who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” John also says, “Blessed [are] those who do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.
Speaking to Christians many decades after the crucifixion, the apostle James points out that it is not sufficient to respect only that part of the law of God which we find convenient. “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one [point], he is guilty of all. For he who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak, and so do, as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:10–12. God’s law is the standard of the judgment revealing which spirit controls our lives, be it the Holy Spirit or some other spirit.
The Jews made a great mistake in rejecting Jesus Christ and have been suffering the consequences of their actions throughout the centuries. The great mistake of the Christian world in the last days will be the rejection of the law of God.
“If you keep the whole law, but you offend in one [point], you are guilty of all.” James 2:10.
Be ready, for you know not the day of your visitation.
Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.