Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Desolate! Matthew 23:38 - 24:2

Misery. Seven charges of hypocrisy, seven woes, leveled against the scribes who have appointed themselves the guardians of Torah and the Pharisees who claim to live life by the standard of Torah. The actors (for that is what a hypocrite is) are suddenly swept into drama that they did not foresee. Though YHVH himself longed to gather them under his wings*(1) as a hen gathers chicks, to protect them from the cold world and from themselves, they arrogantly refused. They made a choice to resist truth and lovingkindness*(2) offered at the Mercy Seat.

Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.  But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down."

Matthew 23:38--24:2 RSV
Drama. The Mercy Seat was a place to experience the lovingkindness of YHVH when a soul is deserving judgement. Jerusalem is guilty of sin, guilt worthy of death. But Jerusalem is Beloved of YHVH who longs to shower them in lovingkindness. Within the walls of the Temple, the children of Israel were close to their Elohim-God. Being close is not enough. They needed to go all the way into the heart of the Sanctuary. To confess their arrogant sin and come humbly before their Elohim for Mercy. But they refused.

Behold. This house, this precious temple of YHVH, the one piece of real-estate in The Beloved Land that made the Hebrews uniquely Jewish is pronounced desolate, empty. Was this a snap decision on Y'shua-Jesus part?
"Behold, you (Jerusalem) trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Ba'al, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, 'We are delivered!' - only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, says the LORD. Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things, says the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house which is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. Jeremiah 7:8-15 RSV
"I have forsaken my house, I have abandoned my heritage;
I have given the beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies.
My heritage has become to me like a lion in the forest,
she has lifted up her voice against me; therefore I hate her.
Jeremiah 12: 7-8 RSV

Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their servants, and their people. But if you will not heed these words, I swear by myself, says the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation. Jeremiah 22:3-5 RSV
YHVH (the LORD) has warned His beloved again and again. He sent men who hear Him. Men who speak warning from YHVH, begging the people to repent, but it fell upon stone hearts. The children of Israel continued in the way of hypocrisy. Even when Y'shua, the Son of YHVH came they would not "shemah" (listen with an intention to obey) The story of misery and arrogance, of people who honer themselves above all else is well documented in the gospels. BEHOLD, your house (not My house) is being left to you..........DESOLATE!
For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Matthew 23:39
Israel has a choice to make. One sentence, spoken in sincerity will bring YHVH, the Elohim-God of love, back to the object of His delight. "Blessed is he who comes in the name (HaShem) of YHVH. Have the ears of YHVH heard the longed for sentence? From the beloved nation, no. From individual Hebrews, yes.
And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" Matthew 21:9  RSV
But from the people as a whole, especially those who "sat in Moses seat" (Matthew 23: 2-3) there was a stubborn heart, false dignity born of arrogance and self-love." With open ears and heavy heart, Y'shua walks away from The House of YHVH. He knew all that was about to come (Matthew 24 and 25 for instance). He knew that if they did not gather "under His wings" they did not stand a chance of surviving the coming tempest.  The Glory had departed. Not even the splendid building would stand without its primary occupant, YAVH of Y'srial. It will not stand as a museam to the formar glory of Israel. It will be flattened. Even today, only a wall that once encircled the Temple of YHVH stands in memorial. But the foundation of the house itself supports a building whose people are opposed to those who call upon the name of YHVH.

Are we a people without hope? Is there no place in creation to meet with our Elohim? We do have hope, and we who believe have become the Temple of YHVH. The mercy seat, the throne of YHVH, is the hearts of believers. When we come together, Y'shua, the Word of YHVH is in our midst (Matthew 18:20). It will not always be this way. The Temple will be built again and YHVH will again take His throne in Jerusalem. But until that day we who believe have an amazing privilege.
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  2 Corthians 4:4-11  RSV
Just like the Children of Israel, Believers in Y'shua will face the tempest. But it will not crush the soul that trusts in Y'shua. There is a way to live, not to ourselves as the Scribes and Pharisees did. Not seeking honor for ourselves. but for our God and His Son. We can live Torah observant as unto YHVH. Stand by your faith (life on the foundation of Torah, the Word of God). Do not be conceited, but fear...
But if some of the branches (Children of Israel) were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree, do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. You will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."  That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.  Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written...
Romans 11:17-26  RSV
"Stand fast through faith" and you need not fear desolation. Y'shua has promised we who believe that when we choose Him, He will stand with us.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."   Matthew 28: 16-20  RSV
*(1)Wings of cherubim overshadow The Mercy Seat. Exodus 25:20 (for instance)
*(2) Lovingkindness is what Hellenized Christians refere to as Grace

Robert H. Gundry, "Matthew: A commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church Under Persecution". William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids

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