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JERUSALEM STRICKEN, RESTORED
From the lips of Jesus Christ we learn much about what both was to be, and even now, is to be the case concerning Jerusalem. Let those who believe in Him, follow it, and those who do not, watch it; for it will surely be, just as in large part, it is already so.
First, as to the first noted step in the progression He outlined for it, notice in Matthew 23, of this city that He says that its house will be desolate, and it is of the city as such in its history and deserts that He has been speaking (Matthew 23:24-29). In Luke 21:41-45, we find further in the same kind of context, that the city will be levelled with the ground. The immediate cause is this, that firstly as in Matthew, though the tender call to His arms, not to military arms, was repeated to an extreme degree, and He was most willing to receive them (as shown eventually for them, in Jeremiah 31:18-20, for example), yet they were NOT WILLING and did not so act. Secondly, when God Himself came into their midst in saving mode, a day of divine visitation, they did not even recognise or know it, oblivious in their pursuits, blind in their blinking, and so this grandeur and glory avoided, this wonder unused for their good as a city, they instead went on to crucify Him as He foretold in Luke 13:29-35, 17:25 and 18:31-33 (amidst contempt and repudiation). To this (cf. Micah 5:3), there would be a follow-on, a next step.
What was that ? It reminds one of thoroughness at Hiroshima. Here, however, stone from stone would be to their anguish removed (Matthew 24:1-2); and the careless city would find the meaning of suffering, having become so expert in it towards their Messiah; for God is one, and where the way He chooses for mercy is disdained, and the method for it smashed like a glass jar, then where is it to be found! For Jew or Gentile, this is the same; but for the city, it had a particular application!
This of course happened, the crux in AD 70, after a generation where repentance might have come; but the insistence on sin, augmented by efforts to delete the Saviour, however vain, led to the insistence on undiverted wrath for it.
Next, in Luke 21:24, from His lips
who is Lord, we find this. This self-same Jerusalem, the one whose multiplied
sins moved to crescendo, killing, stoning those sent by the Lord to it, as
defined in Luke 13:34, Matthew 23:34-36, not only would suffer a trampling under
foreign military boots, but this for an indeterminate period; and indeed, this
would be augmented by persecution from city to city within the land, including
crucifixions (as under Titus notoriously).
All this has happened.
But what of the end of the matter ? Luke 21:24, like Matthew 23:39 spells it out. The subordination to alien rule by Gentiles will continue until a set time. It is not for ever.
It has a terminus. It comes when the times of the Gentiles are finished, fulfilled, complete. What are those times ? As in Romans 11, it is those appointed in heaven in which the nation of Israel being temporarily disconnected from its evangelistic and pattern role, becomes rather a butt for others some of whom proceed with this part of the task. Then at last (as in Romans 11:25), it is given back its sight (in a way rather reminiscent of the case with King Nebuchadnezzar), and this event to categorically stop the blindness under which it has been labouring, will be of such force and amazing wonder, that it is characterised as "life from the dead."
Indeed, in Ezekiel 36-37, it is exhibited in the two phase restoration, apparent also in Zechariah 12-13, first as a body of people no more scattered among the nations, like dry bones, but restored to their original site; and then as those who being restored physically, are brought back to life, as from a boney grave, to living vitality and people to know the Lord. In Ezekiel, each of these successive events is caused by a direct, divine command, and following this, events occur with smart alacrity.
When, thus, the Gentiles have had their innings, their time of prominence in the promise to Abraham dealing with blessing to all peoples (Genesis 12), then no more is Jerusalem to be trodden down, a captive city of a dispersed people. Israel is now back, and as soon as, or rather shortly thereafter, as in Zechariah 12, it returns to its own crucified Lord and finds in Him precisely the Gospel to which the Gentiles have been the guests, those who came, and own it also, it comes to the same Lord in the same spirit with that self-same Gospel (cf. Galatians 1, 3).
This being the biblical setting, we note then from the lips of Jesus, that it is UNTIL the "times of the Gentiles" are fulfilled, that Jerusalem in particular will be lorded over by aliens, but that then the other side of the UNTIL RANGES comes into sight, and so NO MORE are they so trampled down; and this is what has happened to that city, under Jewish rule since 1967. We have had over half a century of that already.
As to its next phase, its restoration spiritually, this is the time that awaits a specific happening. It is not UNTIL they at last say with heart, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord (Psalm 118:26, cf. Matthew 21:9ff.), that they will be finding Him; and that, it will be both an epic and epochal, terminating in glory, the long subjugation of the city during the times of the Gentiles.
It is not the Christian Church which had persecuted the prophets from the days of Zechariah, son of Berechiah (Matthew 23:34-36), nor which had been unaware of the day of His visitation as in Luke 19:42-44; it is Israel.
It is this self-same nation, through Jacob source of the name:
not a temporary partial, though
crucial replacement now,
not a fleeing people disbanding
It is a segment with a special past,
just as the Gentiles had a different one,
but it comes to the same Gospel for entry into the kingdom,
as in Romans, grafted back into the same tree,
of which as a people they had previously had no small experience!
The spiritual crux now, it is the kingdom of heaven, with entry, repentance. Here was rejected at first, the reality of the mystery, the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Here is received with enthralled repentance and faith, now that the set time has come, a city invested with grace, welcoming Him who comes in the name of the Lord, this same Jesus who was crucified. The city is not only a past servant, but a hand-set, a teaching method, with dispersed content and grief, now restored in reconciliation, with no more waiting, no more 'UNTIL' to pass.
Such data proceed through the words from the lips of Christ: destruction of the temple and great and sustained suffering for Jerusalem, the site of His sorrows, judgment with mercy disregarded, a long dominion time over it for Gentiles, a return when such trampling ends, in a new epoch to be consummated in repentant restoration from such invasive subjection. His return to this dismissive city comes when - and not before, their hearts, no more set on cursing as last time He came, are fixed on blessing, saying, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
It is not an allegory, for no allegory so acted as Christ exhibited, in defining Jerusalem and smiting its noted and specific deeds directly with His tongue. It is an act of God, like so many; and far beyond any jot or tittle, though that would have been enough. It is the nadir, as defined, both of vagueness and of symbolism, for it is a city with a citable past, and a cited reward for it; and that by name and in detail. Its state and status is consequential on what it did, and this consequence is terminated when the Lord pleases, and this He says. Such is its way and such its day.
Now the former unhappy recalcitrance of the city outside of which Christ found no place for a sacrifice of unbelief (Luke 13:33), for it was there He must die. Indeed, their kingdom, they declared to the judge, Pilate, was that of Caesar, not of Christ; but now it becomes a plentiful obeisance, a repentant barrage of cries to heaven for mercy. Instead now, of a rowdy farce, a fulsome focus for unfilial folly, they return as did the prodigal to His waiting father. Their day arrives at last, the 'until' turns on its hinges, and now you find a falling world, conspicuous in unwilling Gentiles who, having carried the palm for Christ (that is, distinctively, some of them, some amid the nations), are now joined by others of the brethren, in an end-time match and joint march, each from its place handing the sceptre to the Lord of grace. Thus comes that spiritual blessing, where Jew and Gentile as in Isaiah 66, are one, and where, as in Galatians 3, they all belong to a new race.
Their historical chutes do not cease to exist; and these have their own fulfilments, as in the other promise to Abraham in Genesis 12, focussed in Genesis 17:7-8; but BOTH NOW have access to the Father through the same, one Messiah, the pathways of pilgrimage clearly marked for all to see, the fulfilments of promises magnificently clear and faithful, and the unifying blessing to all peoples, all believers, one brilliant composure, till all is fulfilled on this earth, whether in site, to sight, or by grievous loss where applicable (cf. Revelation 19:19ff.,Micah 7:15ff.). The times of peace and vindication proceed till the finale, when a new heavens and earth are made by the Creator, whose grandeur has no limits (Psalm 145:3, 147:5). As Christ put it, Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away (Matthew 24:35)!