The Coming Kingdom 011Matthew 12:24 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 22, 2017 • The Coming Kingdom
Andy Woods The Coming Kingdom
4-5-17 Ephesians 3:5 Lesson 11
Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 12 and verse 24. Matthew 12:24. We didn’t meet last week, I hope you didn’t show up last week because you’d have thought you missed the rapture if you’d shown up last week. That’s one of the reasons I like to review is you guys have your minds on a lot of different things so I want to just review before each class just to bring us back up to speed.
But as we’re talking about this subject of the kingdom the first major topic is what does the Bible say about the kingdom. We’re starting from Genesis and going all the way through Revelation looking at the high points, trying to understand what this Scripture says about the kingdom. And we saw that the kingdom program began in Eden, as God governed a man, who governed the animals. And that kingdom was lost when our forbearers started listening to the animals and rebelling against God.
So ever since Genesis 3 the kingdom that God established is lost and so the goal of the Scripture is how is God going to retrieve this kingdom over this earth. We learned that He’s going to do it through a special nation, called the nation of Israel and that’s the significance of the Abrahamic Covenant. That’s the beginning of Israel and that’s where God gave to Abraham three blessings which are land, seed and blessing. And Israel at this point is the owner of those blessings; that’s eternally settled.
Six hundred years later He gives a second covenant, called the Mosaic Covenant which is not unconditional but conditional, and that is the covenant that sets forth the circumstances, not for ownership, ownership is already settled with the Abraham six centuries earlier, but the condition for possession or enjoyment. And ultimately that covenant points to who? Jesus! So the whole kingdom program and whether the kingdom comes to the earth really rests upon Israel’s response to Christ. And then you get into the reign of Solomon, after Solomon leaves the throne and the kingdom is divided between the north and the south. Which if the two is the more important? The south and Judah because there’s a tribe in the south called Judah and we know that the Messiah is coming through Judah.
But tiny Judah is taken into captivity to Babylon 350 miles to the east and that starts the times of the Gentiles. And that is the whole ministry of Daniel; he’s explaining that time period prophetically and he describes this terrible time period when Israel won’t have a king reigning on David’s throne, the nation is going to be trampled down by various Gentile powers and he explains that the kingdom will not come until the times of the Gentiles are over. And the last 42 months of the times of the Gentiles are yet future from our point of view; that’s the empire of the antichrist, which must run its course before the times of the Gentiles end and the kingdom can come. So during this time period (and we’re still in it now) the kingdom is not in cancellation but what? Postponement, and this is where God begins to use the Old Testament prophets to give the nation hope by sketching a beautiful picture of what the world is going to be like one day when the kingdom comes.
And then the nation comes back from the Babylonian captivity under the reign of Persia and the nation of Israel is actually in her land for a little over four centuries. And the times of the Gentiles hadn’t ended: Persia is followed by Greece, Greece is followed by Rome, and that takes us right into the New Testament to the time of Christ and that’s where Jesus shows up and offers to the nation of Israel the kingdom. So with the king present the nation of Israel had a golden opportunity to enthrone Christ on Christ’s terms; had they have done that the condition of the Mosaic Covenant would have been satisfied, they wouldn’t just be the owner but also the possessor and the kingdom would have come. So that’s what’s meant by the offer of the kingdom.
As I’ll remind you tonight, it’s faithfully preached, first by John the Baptist, second by The Twelve, and third by Christ Himself. And tragically the nation of Israel, we learn from the Gospels, turns down the offer of the kingdom. So that’s where we ended last time, we’re right in the middle of Number 9, the rejection of the offer. And when we think about that we have to ask ourselves three questions: number 1, why did Israel reject the offer of the kingdom? Number 2, what was the turning point? And then a very important question that I’ve received a lot of inquiries about is was the kingdom reoffered in the book of Acts? So those are the subjects we’re looking at tonight.
Now subject 1 we’ve already asked and answered the last time we were together—why did Israel reject the offer of the kingdom? And we basically said there’s two reasons: number 1, Christ’s kingdom was not just political, it was political but it was also moral and ethical in tone. And frankly the nation of Israel wasn’t interested in that kind of a kingdom; they loved the political part of it, they loved the prophecies of overthrowing Rome and all of those kinds of things. But they really weren’t interested in the moral teachings of Christ that accompanied the kingdom.
And then the second reason we’re given in the New as to why the nation of Israel rejected the offer of the kingdom is Israel (like many people today) wanted to be saved through self-righteousness. But the benefits that God offers to people, including the kingdom, and even including personal salvation today are never offered on the basis of works. They’re always offered on the basis of faith alone and grace alone. And when you offer somebody grace it’s like offering to pay for their lunch, it’s easier to give a gift than to receive a gift. And whenever something is offered in grace they always say well can I leave a tip or whatever, because it goes against pride and so people want to believe that they’re earning something from God. Israel thought that they could earn the kingdom and it wasn’t offered on that basis so they turned it down.
Now that’s the why question, the second question is what was the turning point? In other words, when did they specifically turn down the offer of the kingdom? And that’s why I had you turn to Matthew 12:24 which is the turning point in the whole kingdom program. [Matthew 12:24, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”’] If you were just to read Matthew 1-11 and then you were to skip chapter 12 and start reading in Matthew 13 you’d be totally confused because Matthew 12 is one of those pivot chapters which explains the transition.
So the turning point really is in Matthew 12:24, Christ had performed a series of miracles and the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the nation couldn’t deny the miracle so instead they attributed it to who? The devil. So once they attribute His plain miracles to Satan they just crossed the point of no return and it’s like this a lot with Israel, even in the Old Testament, that a generation reaches a point where they can’t go back. You remember the Kadesh-barnea generation, the generation that came out of Egypt and how they went and they saw giants in the land and they fell into unbelief, Numbers 13 and 14. That was a turning point for them that they couldn’t retrieve or get back. So Matthew 12 is one of those chapters. Matthew 12:24 says, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”’ And the moment that happens this offer of the kingdom, which had been faithfully extended to national Israel, is withdrawn, it’s rescinded. And the expression, the gospel of the kingdom, which has been fairly prominent up to this point, disappears from Matthew’s Gospel.
In fact, that expression will not reappear until Matthew records the words of Christ describing the great tribulation period. That’s when the offer of the kingdom will come back for the nation, in the midst of the tribulation period following the rapture of the church. So Matthew 12 is huge.
And here’s a little chart that I’ve put together that sort of shows you the difference between the first twelve chapters of Matthew and chapters 13-28. In Matthew 1-12 Christ is doing public ministry by offering the kingdom; He’s proving who He is through miracles and signs, and He’s offering the kingdom to the nation. Now you get into Matthew 13-28 you don’t have public ministry anymore; it’s private ministry and he’s privately ministering to the remnant, that smaller group that went against the pattern of the rest of the nation and trusted Him.
The focus in the first part of the book is the nation; the focus in the second part of the book is the remnant. The purpose for His miracles changes; in Matthew 1-12 His miracles prove to the nation that He’s the Messiah and the heir to the covenants; but that’s not what His miracles are doing in the second half of the book, He is training the remnant because they’re going to be the foundation stones of the coming church age which they know very little about and He’s preparing them for their roles, largely narrated for us in the book of Acts. Miracles are things like Peter walks out on the water and these kinds of miracles and He’s doing these things really to prepare the remnant. He’s no longer publicly doing miracles (in public) for the benefit of the nation. The offer of the kingdom, “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” which is faithfully offered in the first half of the book disappears in the second half of the book. You don’t find it except when we have descriptions of the end time tribulation period.
And then the teaching method of Christ changes. Prior to Matthew 12 He taught in open discourse form; that would be very clear teaching. But when you get into Matthew 13 suddenly He starts talking in parables which is an interesting transition in pedagogy because He never gave the Sermon on the Mount in parables so why is all of a sudden is He speaking in parables? Well the purpose of a parable is to conceal truth and reveal truth so you’re talking just a little bit under the surface so the nation as a whole can’t understand what He’s saying. And He’s actually doing that out of mercy towards them because “to whom much is given much is required.” It’s already clear they’re going to reject Him so the more truth He gives them just enhances their degree of punishment really, on the day of day of judgment. So He hides truth from the nation but He delivers it in such a way that the remnant can start to understand what He’s talking about.
The interim program, like the church, is absent in Matthew 1-12 but suddenly you get into the second half of the book and he starts making statements, like, “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” [Matthew 16:18, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”] What church is He talking about? We’ve never had any information about the church up to this point in time.
What He’s revealing there is an interim program that’s going to unfold, it’s a program that we’re in now, in between the time period when the nation rejects the kingdom and when they receive it again in the distant future. So the interim program starts becoming very prominent in the second half of the book. Now what’s interesting is you go all the way through Matthew 1-12 He never mentions His crucifixion; He never mentions His coming resurrection. But suddenly you get into the second half of the book and He starts talking about how He’s got to go up to Jerusalem and be crucified, and be betrayed to the Gentiles.
Now take a look for just a minute at Matthew 4:17, because if you can catch this phrase you can pick up on the two divisions in Matthew’s Gospel. [Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”’] You see where it says “From that time on” some versions say, “From that time Jesus began to preach … ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Now go over to Matthew 16:21, this is the second half of the book, and what does it say? “From that time” same expression, see that, “Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things [from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day].”
So the expression “From that time on” that’s used twice in Matthew’s Gospel in the two major sections is revealing the two purposes that Christ came into the world. The first reason, these are more in order of chronology rather than importance because I think they’re both equally important to God. The first reason Jesus came into the world is to offer the kingdom to Israel, since they were the covenanted people they were given “the first bite of the apple,” so to speak, to enthrone the king so that the kingdom would come.
We know what happened, they turned down the offer of the kingdom and so what God does is He takes lemons and turns them into what? Lemonade. He takes a tragedy and turns it into a triumph. He took their rejection of Him to lead the way to the cross so Jesus could pay the sin debt for the entire world. And that is the second great reason for which He came into the world. And the repetition of the expression “from that time on,” Matthew 4:17, then repeated again in Matthew 16:21, gives you these two great purposes.
So He came first to offer the kingdom but God, through infinite foreknowledge knew that Israel would reject the offer, which would lead to the second great purpose, it would lead to His betrayal and crucifixion which would be used to pay the sin debt of the world. So those are the two purposes for which He came. The first section of the book highlights the first purpose; the second section of the book highlights the second purpose.
So we can organize Matthew like a giant chiasm. Remember on Sunday morning we talked a little bit about chiasms, in other words, according to this chiasm, chapters 1 and 2, the content is sort of repeated in chapter 28. Chapters 3 and 4 the content is sort of repeated in chapters 26 and 27. And we can kind of work our way in and the center of the chiasm is the rejection of the King, Matthew 11 and 12. So Matthew 11 and 12 is the hinge chapter which transitions us from the public ministry of Christ to the private ministry of Christ.
And after the nation of Israel rejects the offer of the kingdom in Matthew 12:24 where they attributed His miracles to Satan the rest of the second half of Matthew’s Gospel simply explains how that decision that they made became ratified. In other words, a decision was made, the die was cast, and all the second half of the Gospel of Matthew is doing is explaining how that decision became ratified. It was ratified through the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem where He offered His Messianic credentials to the nation but the leadership rejected it. It was ratified through the legal trial of Christ which was, to put it mildly, a farce or a joke.
There have been a lot of academic articles written on this, in fact I quoted some when we were in John, explaining all of the legal rules that the Jews just ignored to rush Christ through the judicial system to get Him turned over to the Romans so He could die. They violated their own Scripture over and over again; they violated even their own traditions in the Mishnah and the Talmud. And Matthew is explaining all of that to basically show us that the decision that’s been made in Matthew 12 is just simply being ratified in the second half of Matthew’s Gospel. And then of course that decision is ratified through the crucifixion, chapters 21-23 of Matthew’s Gospel.
So the crucifixion is a done deal (as far as Matthew is concerned) by the time you hit Matthew 12:24; we know what’s going to happen. So we have these statements from the nation of Israel towards the end of His ministry. They say things like this, in John 19:15, “We have no king but Caesar.” [John 19:15, “So they cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’”] That is a very clear rejection of the offer of the kingdom, it’s there to ratify or explain what’s already happened in their hearts in Matthew 12.
And consequently Jesus, very late in His ministry, gives the parable of the minas, and in that parable one of the figures in the parable says, referring to Israel, “We do not want this man to reign over us.” [Luke 19:14, “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’”] So that’s the attitude of the nation of Israel towards their king. And all of these things are being skillfully weaved together to show us that they indeed did reject the offer of the king and the kingdom.
And this is why John, in his gospel, summarizes this whole point in his prologue. It says of Jesus in John 1:11, “He” that’s Jesus, “came to His own,” now who were His own? The nation of Israel, “He came to His own and those who were His own did not receive Him.” So it was a tragedy what happened.
That’s why I have that sort of lengthy quote by Dr. Toussaint and Dr. Quine in my book, I think it’s footnote 2, chapter 8, on page 64 and 65, but they write this: “Matthew 12 is one of several passages in the Gospels on the contingency of the coming kingdom. Three times before Matthew 12 the kingdom was said to be near, Matthew 3:2, Matthew 4:17, Matthew 10:7. Then after Jesus’ opponents accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Satan, Matthew 12, the nearness of the kingdom is never mentioned again in the Gospels. Why was the kingdom said to be near and then after Matthew 12 was never again announced as being near in Jesus’ ministry? The answer is that Israel rejected Jesus as the Messiah. This refusal to receive Him was true, not only of the religious authorities but also of the nation in general. The majority of the miracles, demonstrations of His sovereignty, were performed in Galilee and the people in Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum failed to repent.” That’s in Matthew 11. “This rejection was then climaxed by the opposition and blasphemy of the religious authorities, Matthew 12. This did not mean that Christ stopped presenting Himself to Israel as their Messiah; He did this particularly in His triumphal entry but the die had already been cast, the kingdom was no longer near, Israel’s tragic decision had been made much earlier. Clearly the coming of the kingdom was conditioned on Israel’s response to Jesus.”
Now all the way back in the 6th century B.C., 600 years in advance, in the prophecy of the 70 weeks which we’ll eventually get to on Sunday mornings, this is what Gabriel said to the prophet Daniel. Daniel 9:25, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.  Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.”
So this is a prediction that exactly 483 years after the book of Nehemiah records a decree in Nehemiah 2, the Messiah is going to show up on Palm Sunday. And when we get to this on Sunday mornings those of you that are mathematical in nature will enjoy that because it involves a lot of mathematical calculations and computations but I’ll be showing you that that prophecy was fulfilled to the exact day.
But notice that in this prophecy the Messiah, that’s Jesus, is called “the prince.” He’s not called the king, He’s called the prince. Now why is He called “the prince”? Because He was never enthroned as king by his own nation. So even to this very day He is not King Jesus, He is at the right hand of the Father functioning as high priest but He’s not reigning as king because the nation of Israel never enthroned Him. It’s similar to David who was anointed as king in 1 Samuel 16 but he did not actually rule and reign as king until 2 Samuel 2, and then he got Jerusalem back in 2 Samuel 5 and during that interim Saul was on the throne. So in the same way Jesus has been anointed as king, we know He’s going to rule as king one day, but He’s not yet functioning as King because there’s a Saul on the throne currently, and who’s that Saul I’m referring to? Satan.
And so humanity is being forced to make a decision. Just like a decision was being forced on the people during this transition period in the time of David; those that walk by sight followed Saul that’s why there’s so much information in the Samuel books about Saul’s good looks and those kinds of things. And those that walk by faith followed David, trusting that the day would come when Saul would be deposed and David would be put on the throne. So to follow David, who was not yet on the throne, required faith. To follow Saul required no faith, it required sight because he was already on the throne. See that.
So in the same way Jesus is just like David before Saul was evicted. Jesus is anointed as King but He’s not yet ruling as King so those of us that follow Christ must do it by faith. If we decide to walk by sight we follow the Saul that we currently have on the throne, the devil himself. So that’s why Christ here is called the Prince.
And then you’ll notice this other underlined section, it says after the showing up of Jesus “the Messiah will be cut off” that’s His crucifixion, and notice what else it says, and He will “have nothing.” Some Bible translations say He will inherit nothing. So why did He inherit nothing at His First Advent? Because he was never enthroned by His own people. Had He been enthroned by His own people He would have inherited the kingdom, which He never did. So currently the kingdom is not cancelled, it’s in a state of postponement awaiting the time in history where the nation of Israel will enthrone the king on His own terms and the king will inherit His kingdom.
So currently He is not king, although He’s anointed to be king one day He’s but a prince. Currently He does not have the kingdom, He’s inherited nothing. But in the Second Advent He will, number 1, be king as He’s enthroned as king and He will inherit the kingdom itself. So it’s sort of interesting how everything started to move according to the prophecies that Daniel articulated.
So because the nation of Israel never enthroned her king in the first century they remain the owner of her blessings but not the possessor. So that’s why we still have respect for the nation of Israel, the Jewish people, but we realize they haven’t entered their full inheritance yet. So the kingdom is not in a state of cancellation but in a state of what? Postponement. And in this pause period God is working through a new man called the church, and that’s where we come in. And we’ll say more about the church when we get to the interim program.
Now one of the things that’s important to understand is Israel is still under this covenant, the Mosaic Covenant. Remember we described the Mosaic Covenant? Remember one of the provisions of the covenant? Blessings for obedience and what? curses for disobedience. That was articulated in Deuteronomy 28. At the height of Israel’s disobedience what would God do? [Deuteronomy 28:49] “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,  a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old nor show favor to the young.”
At the height of Israel’s discipline under God, under the Mosaic Covenant that we (you might recall) identified as a suzerain vassal treaty, God said He would bring a foreign nation against His own people. Now Moses spoke those words all the way back in 1406 B.C. And the rest of the Old Testament vindicates how God made good on His promise over and over again. First of all, after Solomon sinned the kingdom was divided, that’s covenant discipline. Then the northern tribes were swept away by the Assyrians; the remaining southern tribes, tiny Benjamin and Judah who was maybe a little bit bigger than Benjamin, was taken into captivity by the Babylonians.
What is all of this an outworking of? It’s an outworking of the blessings and curses. It’s an outworking of Deuteronomy 28:49-50; Moses is just describing a cycle and the rest of your Old Testament (and New Testament for that matter) is describing how this cycle played out.
So guess what? What did Yogi Bear say? deja vu all over again, something like that? The whole cycle is about to repeat itself. Why is that? Because what we just studied is the nation of Israel rejected the King and His kingdom. And so God, who is faithful to His Word is now once again going to bring a foreign power against His own people and this time the foreign power would not be the Assyrians, it would not be the Babylonians but it would be the Romans. And so forty years after the time of Christ come the horrors of A.D. 70. And Daniel, in chapter 9, verse 26, in the verse I just read a little earlier, describes not just the rejection of the King and His kingdom and Him being cut off and inheriting nothing, but he goes on and he describes the covenant discipline that would be meted out by the Romans in A.D.. 70. Daniel, 600 years in advance, says as a consequence of these things (Israel’s rejection of Christ) “the people of the prince,” now this is a different prince, this particular prince is Titus of Rome, “and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood.” [Daniel 9:26]
So this is a description, if you will, of the horrors of A.D. 70 and we know it was a terrible time because Josephus, a historian that wrote just a tad after the time of Christ, talks about how difficult this time period was, and probably over a million Jews were put to death during this time period.
Let me show you some other prophecies where Jesus predicts A.D. 70. Notice, if you will, Matthew 23:37-39, who’s speaking here? It’s all in red so it must be Jesus, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” who’s He speaking to? The nation of Israel. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather” now that word “gather” is very interesting, it’s the Greek word episunagō, where we get the word what? synagogue. So what is a synagogue? It’s a Jewish gathering. So what Jesus is saying is I wanted to have synagogue with you in My first coming. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling!” See, the problem wasn’t Christ, the problem was the nation of Israel.  “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!” What would be the house of God? The temple.
Now isn’t it interesting that all the way through the Gospels Jesus always called the temple His Father’s house? Now He no longer says it’s My house or My Father’s house, it’s “your house.” Why is it “your house”? Because you drove Me out of it so now it’s your responsibility, not Mine anymore. And my wife’s in here so I don’t know if I should talk about this but I notice that when my daughter acts up the pronouns shift in our family. When my daughter is doing something cute my wife says “isn’t our daughter wonderful?” But then when she acts up the pronouns shift, she says “Did you see what your daughter just did?”
So he’s basically saying it’s your house. Now you would think that it would be over for Israel, right? But fortunately we have verse 39 where Jesus says, “For I say to you, from now on you” that’s Israel, “you will not see Me until” see, there’s a condition, what’s the condition: The condition is the nation must respond to the King. “For I say to you, from now on you will not see me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” which is Psalm 188:26 which is a Messianic Psalm and what He’s saying is I am not coming back for this nation until you publicly acknowledge Me as Your Messiah; that’s what He is saying.
And that’s the confusion of Romans 10:9, that everybody wants to use as an evangelistic tract, what does he say there, if we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart then we’ll be saved. [Romans 10:9] “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;”] And people say well, to get saved today you’ve got to believe in Jesus and make a public confession but that’s in the section dealing with Israel in the book of Romans. Romans 9, Israel in the past elected. Romans 10, Israel in the present rejected. Romans 11, Israel in the future accepted. Romans 10 is explaining the conversion of Israel in the tribulation period when they will confess Jesus as their Messiah.
And so you have to sort of put Romans 10:9 together with Matthew 23:39 [Matthew 23:9, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.”] and so that’s why I’ve got all these gray hairs on my head now because I’m trying to explain to everybody that you can’t use Romans 10:9 in your gospel presentation because it’s been institutionalized and parachurch ministries make that part of their format in all of their workbooks and all of their brochures; they don’t want to rethink everything, they don’t want to listen to theology, I mean, we’ve got our system down, who are you to interfere with it. And by the way, we’re a global organization and you’re just a pastor of a local church, what do you know? And so you get constant pushback on people related to this but I wouldn’t make an issue out of it if I didn’t think the point was valid.
Romans 10:9 has nothing to do with what you have to do to get saved. The condition to get saved is believe in Christ. Romans 10:9 is explaining the confession of Israel publicly during the tribulation period so He can come back and rescue them from the antichrist so he can set up His kingdom through them. That’s what Jesus here is speaking of.
Take a look at the next chapter, Matthew 24:1-2, He just said it’s your house, right? But what does he say there in Matthew 24, “Jesus came out from the temple” the house they just kicked Him out of, “and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.” See they haven’t listened to anything He has said; they’re still attracted to the temple, they looked at it sort of as a good luck charm, and look at what he says in verse 2, “And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things?’” That’s the temple they’re so enthralled with,  “Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” What is He speaking of here? He’s speaking of covenant discipline. Part of covenant discipline, which is coming about 40 years later through Titus of Rome in A.D. 70, is going to be the destruction of the temple.
Take a look at Luke 19:41-44 this is the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, which I think is coming up in a few weeks, isn’t it? “When He approached Jerusalem,” now this is the specific day that Daniel predicted, “When He approached Jerusalem He saw the city and wept over it,” now why in the world would He weep over the city? He’s weeping over the city because he knows well Daniel 9:26, He knows what’s going to happen, the Messiah is going to be cut off, He’s not going to inherit the kingdom, and the people of the prince, Titus of Rome, will come and destroy the city and the sanctuary and its end will come with a flood. [Daniel 9:26, “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.”] He’s seeing forty years in advance what’s going to happen in A.D. 70. He over a million lives lost, that’s why he’s crying as He’s riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. In other words, He knows they’re going to reject Him as their King and they’re going to be put back under the discipline of God which is expressed in the Mosaic Covenant. [Luke 19:41]
“When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,  saying, ‘If you had known in this day,’” why would He emphasize this particular day? Because this is the day that Daniel said would come, to a mathematical certainty, exactly 483 years after Nehemiah 1. That’s why He’s emphasizing the day, “If you had known in this day even you, the things which make for peace!” what peace? The kingdom, you could have had the kingdom. “But now they have been hidden from your eyes.”
That’s very important to understand, that God put the nation of Israel under judicial blinding; He put blinders on them so they could not see once they rejected the offer of the kingdom. That’s not saying that an individual Jew can’t occasionally come to Christ but what you’ll discover in the world, and it’s been this way ever since Paul’s first missionary journey starting in Acts 13 is the majority of people that come to Christ are not Jewish people, they’re Gentiles because the nation is under a judicial blinding for their rejection of the offer of the kingdom.
Verse 43, “For the days will come upon you when your enemies” what enemies? Rome, “will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side,” now when you study the fulfillment of this prophecy, the details given by the historian, Josephus, what you’ll discover is this is an exact description of what Titus of Rome did. He built a barricade around the city of Jerusalem so even if you wanted to get out you couldn’t. And you were basically as good as dead if you were a Jewish person.
Verse 44 says, “and they will level you to the ground” now look at this, “and your children within you,” see that, Josephus talks about how the Roman soldiers, and I don’t mean to be grizzly about this, but they actually tore open the wombs of the pregnant Jewish women and strangled the child inside of them so as to snuff out Israel from under the sun. And by the way, the Bible, no extra charge for this, when it says “your children within you,” the Bible is prolife. The Bible doesn’t make any distinction between pre-born and born. And I know it’s always a risk to say something like that because in any audience you could have had someone that’s had an abortion and usually in that circumstance I like to also preach the grace of God. The grace of God covers over any sin when we trust in Christ, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s no distinction biblically between pre-born and born.
“And they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another,” that’s the destruction of the temple and how it was torn apart brick by brick, and Josephus talks about how when Titus came 40 years later the temple got set on fire and it caused the gold to melt because of the heat, and the gold oozed down and dried in between the bricks of the temple. So what do you think the Roman soldiers did to get their hands on the gold? They took the temple apart brick by brick. That’s exactly what Jesus said would happen.
By the way, didn’t Jesus also say that in the verse we looked at earlier, Matthew 24:1-2? And I’ve been to Israel and I’ve seen the temple, I should have brought some pictures with me, it has been torn down brick by brick, exactly like Jesus said would happen. Now why? Look at this, “because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” Why emphasize “time”? Because Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks predicts the exact day that Jesus would show up. You should have recognized the time of your coming Messiah; you should have recognized the time when the kingdom would be offered. See, “to whom much is given much is” what? Expected. God expected His chosen people to respond properly to all these prophecies and they didn’t so they went back under the discipline of the Mosaic Covenant which was meted out this time, not by the Assyrians, not by the Babylonians but by the Romans.
And this is why Peter, on the day of Pentecost, go over to Acts 2:40. Peter is preaching the gospel on the day of Pentecost and it says this, recording Peter’s words; this is the beginning of the church age now. “And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’” See when Peter preached the gospel on the day of Pentecost he was preaching totally to a Jewish crowd on a Jewish feast day. And what he is telling people to do is “be saved from this perverse generation!” In other words, get saved and come out of the nation of Israel. Why do you need to come out of the nation of Israel? Because the nation of Israel is under discipline, the discipline is coming in A.D. 70.
So the discipline is on the horizon; the discipline indeed is coming so consequently the nation of Israel, in Peter’s sermon here, is viewed as a perverse generation that Christ’s followers in the church age are to separate themselves from. See, this expression, “perverse generation” doesn’t make any sense unless you understand everything that was said thus far, that the nation rejected the offer of the kingdom and they were put back under the curses of the Mosaic Covenant, and the Roman incursion is just around the corner a few decades later.
Verse 41 says, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls,” now we look at that and we say whoa, look at the miracle, 3,000 people got saved and it was a miracle, I’m not trying to downplay it but 3,000 people is not a lot of people compared to the million that didn’t get saved. Josephus, in his writings, talks about there could have been as many… I can’t remember his exact number but it’s an astronomical number of Jews could have been there on the day of Pentecost celebrating that feast. So of all of the people that could have gotten saved a remnant got saved and so let’s not downplay what happened in Acts 2 but let’s not overplay it either.
In fact, I was looking at a kids coloring book of the book of Ezekiel because my daughter and I are reading through the book of Ezekiel just before she goes to bed in the evening and I’m always looking for kids type things, coloring books that would make the book more enjoyable for a ten year old, almost an 11 year old, and I found a coloring book in a Christian bookstore and they got to Ezekiel 36 and 37 and I was so excited because that’s my favorite part of the book and this coloring book gives you the impression that Ezekiel 36 and 37, the dry bones being regathered, was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. I was very disappointed so I had to get rid of that coloring book because Ezekiel 36 and 37 is talking about something way bigger than happened on the day of Pentecost. It’s talking about the conversion of a nation. I love the day of Pentecost and I don’t want to downplay its miraculous nature but it’s no Ezekiel 36 and 37, I’ll tell you that much.
In fact, I was listening to an amillennial preacher and he was preaching through the book of Ezekiel and he got to Ezekiel 37 and he says this prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. And he stopped reading at verse 10 and I kept saying to myself, I wish he would read verse 11 because when you look at Ezekiel 37:11 of the valley of dry bones, it says this, “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the” what? The church of Jesus Christ on the day of Pentecost… it doesn’t say that! “These bones are the whole house of Israel; [behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’] So there are greater things coming in the future that far transcend the day of Pentecost.
So the say of Pentecost is not any kind of fulfillment of Ezekiel 36 and 37; what it is a remnant believed and separated from that generation that was under a curse because of the discipline that was about to be meted out through Titus of Rome. And yet through this whole exchange of events God took lemons and turned it into what? Lemonade. Through this whole exchange of events our sin debt was paid for. Through this whole exchange of events, as tragic as it is, God started in Acts 2, the church, the body of Christ which we are all part of. So God is sort of a specialist in taking tragic events and bringing something good out of them. And that’s Paul’s point in Romans 11. He says if God could use the tragedy of Israel’s rejection of her King to bring out something good, just think the greater blessings that are going to come when the nation of Israel is restored one day. And there he’s talking about the coming kingdom. So he’s arguing from the lesser to the greater.
And the third part of this, which I’m not going to do tonight because I’m out of time, we’ve studied how the offer of the kingdom was presented up to Matthew 12. The big question is did that offer keep getting preached in the book of Acts and there’s a lot of confusion on that and so next week I’ll be giving you ten reasons why I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think the offer of the kingdom is being preached in Acts; there’s something totally new going on in the book of Acts called the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit which is of the work through the body of Christ. That’s the story of the book of Acts. And I know some have differences of opinion with me on that and there’s good people on both sides of that but I’ll try to sell you on the idea that the offer of the kingdom stopped being preached in Matthew 12. Anyway, that’s for next week. We’ll just continue on with chapter 8 and we’ll look at that next time and I’m going to stop talking at this point, I actually ended… someone needs to take a picture of the clock, I ended one minute early. And if you have to pick up your kids and so forth you’re free to go and if you want to stick around for Q and A we can do that.