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Chapter 10 - The Kingdom - Consequences for Refusing
Jesus associated his announcement of the kingdom with a call for national repentance.
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. - Matthew 4:17
There were two Hebrew words both translated 'repent'. One meant more a sort of regret and the other meant more of making a change. The Greek word translated as repent means to change ones mind. All have bearing on this call of Jesus. The entire nation was established to be a kingdom of priests through whom the knowledge of God could be spread throughout the whole world. Instead, people had largely lost interest in God and were seeking after their own interests.
Jesus gives a significant warning as to what the nation could expect if they persist in ignoring the offer of the kingdom.
There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. - Luke 13:1-5
The use of the word 'likewise' for these two examples is important. In the first warning, the government will act to kill them. In the second warning large stones will crush them to death. Following these two warnings Jesus gave an illustration.
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. - Luke 13:6-9
Rome decided to pacify the Jewish rebellion of 66 AD. After three years of siege, there was a year of respite as political adjustments were made in Rome, then in 70 AD Jerusalem was conquered and the Jewish diaspora began. At the end of the siege, catapults hurled large stones into the city of Jerusalem. That Jesus gave this illustration after the two warnings and that it included the specific timing testifies to the earnestness of the appeal to repent.
The bible often describes a 'hardening' of hearts often associated with those who have made wrong choices. It is a sort of 'compounding' of a bad decision.
And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. - Exodus 4:21
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, - Romans 1:21-22
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. - Romans 11:7-10
It is natural for us to think that this is 'unfair'. However, a sovereign God is completely just to withdraw mercy from whomsoever he chooses. Those who reject him themselves become rejected.
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