Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Day 53: Matthew 23:37 - 24:2 & Psalm 54 - What is God's Plan for the Jewish People?

Today's Reading: Matthew 23:37 - 24:2 & Psalm 54

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What is God's Plan for the Jewish People? 

"See, your house is 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 23:38-39, ESV

One of the most heart-breaking aspects of the Gospels is watching the Jewish people reject their long-awaited Messiah and come under God's judgment as a result. For most of Jesus' ministry, the crowds of common people flocked to Him and surrounded Him, while the religious leaders stood far off, judging Him and plotting against Him. But by the end, the leaders had turned the crowds against Him. The Jewish people cried out for the Son of David to be crucified.

Jesus made the consequences of their rejection very clear: "Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." In His parable of the owner and tenants of the vineyard, the wedding feast and others, Jesus made it clear that the kingdom of God was going to be taken away from the Jewish people and given to others, to the Gentiles. The nature of the kingdom has been transformed from a geo-political power associated with a single ethnicity to a world-wide movement of people from every tribe, tongue, people and nation.

But is the story over for the Jewish people? Have they played their part and been set aside permanently? 

No! Jesus said that Jerusalem would not see Him again until they say (again), "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." This was the proper and triumphant cry on Palm Sunday. It was too quickly changed to "Crucify! Crucify!" Jesus said it will rise again from the lips of the Jewish people before they see Him again face-to-face. 

Zechariah the prophet foretold this day, the merciful turning of the hearts of the Jewish people to their Messiah: "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn." - Zechariah 12:10, ESV

Paul also tells of this turning of the Jewish people to their Messiah in Romans 11:

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
    he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”  (vv. 25-27, ESV)

So, pray for the Jewish people. God has not set them aside forever. He will bring them back to Himself through Christ. And work hard to advance the Gospel to the nations, for God says the Jewish people will turn to Him once "the fullness of the Gentiles has come in."  

Prayer Based on Psalm 54:

O God, save me by your name,
    and vindicate me by your might.
O God, hear my prayer;
    give ear to the words of my mouth.

For strangers have risen against me;
    ruthless men seek my life;
    they do not set God before themselves. Selah

Behold, God is my helper;
    the Lord is the upholder of my life.
He will return the evil to my enemies;
    in your faithfulness put an end to them.

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
    I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
For he has delivered me from every trouble,

    and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Heavenly Father, You have indeed saved me and vindicated me by Your mighty Right Hand, Jesus Christ. He took my sins upon Himself on the cross and rose again to conquer sin and death. 

But still my enemies surround me and seek my destruction. Still my own flesh runs after sin. Still the world tempts and entices. Still the devil mocks, accuses, tempts and shames me. 

You alone are my Helper, the Upholder of my life. I know You will rescue me. I know You can and will strengthen and fully deliver me, from the power of sin and, one day, from the very presence of sin in my life. 

And so I thank You. I praise You. I freely offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and I seek to offer why life as a living sacrifice, freely and fully dedicated to You. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

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