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Presuming On God's Kindness

posted Sep 2, 2017, 1:23 PM by Fccea Webmaster

The teacher asked, “Can people predict the future with cards?” One student answered, “My mother can.” “Really?” “Yes, one look at my report card and she can predict what happens when Dad gets home!” He’s got an accountability issue.

So do we all, although it’s not a popular subject in these postmodern times. But what if accountability and judgment are real? Wouldn’t it be worth consideration?

Jesus thought so. For example, on the day of His so-called triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), as acclaim was coming from all sides, what was Jesus doing? He was weeping (Luke 19:41)! Amazing! But why?

Jesus knew that as the crowd cheered, the religious leaders were in back rooms plotting His demise. He knew that within days the cheering crowd would be calling for his death. His refusal to assume leadership on their terms would turn them against Him. This is the official refusal by the nation of Israel of their long-promised Messiah.

With rejection, judgment became inevitable. So, Jesus warns, “For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:43-44).

And it all happened exactly as Jesus prophesied. Pushed to the limit by Jewish insubordination, the Romans came in April, AD 70 under General Titus. They surrounded the city, set up a barricade, and set siege. By the end of 5 months, Jewish historian Josephus tells of the ghastly conditions – raging famine, bodies piled like firewood, women eating their own children.

When the Romans broke through, thousands were slaughtered and others sold into slavery. Titus had ordered the magnificent temple be spared, but the enraged soldiers started it on fire. Gold and silver utensils, stored inside for safe-keeping, melted down, filling the cracks between stones. Greedy soldiers used long bars to pry apart the massive stones to get at it until not one stone was left upon another.

It all happened just like Jesus said. But why seventy years later? Why not immediately? The simple answer is God “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (II Pet 3:8). He often delays to grant that possibility -- 120 years before the great flood came, four generations for the Amorites (Gen 15:16), 400 years and ten plagues for the Egyptians. Jesus’ own generation got three years of personal ministry and forty years afterward to repent.

But too often God’s patience is read as acquittal. Paul warns in Romans 2:4: “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”

God is not anxious to judge but inevitably He will. Opportunity is not forever.

A couple years ago, my wife, Patty, and I visited England with brother Jon and wife, Anne. One cold and rainy day we journeyed by train to Hampton Court (one of Henry VIII’s palaces). On the return, Anne and I decided to get some coffee to ward off the cold. By the time we were served, the train had pulled in and loaded. We rushed downstairs to the platform, but despite our frantic waves, the conductor closed the doors and waved the train on. We were just in time to see Jon and Patty waving at us through the window with silly grins on their faces. When the time comes, the time comes.

It’s no different with God. Now is the time to remove the issue of judgment by receiving God’s solution in His Son (John 5:24). The judgment of Jerusalem is just a preview of coming attractions for all who reject His offer. We must not presume on His patience, but accept His love.

 Published in The Tribune July 22, 2017