"When the city came into view, He wept over it.’ If you had only recognised this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it's too late. In the days ahead your enemies are going to bring up their heavy artillery and surround you, pressing in from every side. They'll smash you and your babies on the pavement. Not one stone will be left intact. All because you didn't recognise and welcome God's personal visit.'" Luke 19:41-44 (The Message).
"Too late!" These are the saddest and most terrifying words ever to fall on human ears! They have been said and will be said in every kind of circumstance. Sometimes they are no more serious than a missed appointment or a missed flight, and can be remedied with a little inconvenience.
But what about those who heard Jesus' words and witnessed His tears on that day when He rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey to declare His right to rule over the hearts of people? Did they even understand or heed what He said?
This incident gives us a glimpse into the heart of God and into the absolute justice of His justice. Because He built into every human being the right and freedom to choose, it follows that every choice we make has consequences, and those consequences are the natural result of our choices.
We don't like that because we don't want to take responsibility for what we choose and what follows our choices. We prefer to blame someone else, usually God when some catastrophe overtakes us. A drunken driver causes a serious accident and it's God's fault, as though He were behind the wheel of the offending vehicle! An unwanted pregnancy follows irresponsible behaviour and the hapless girl cries, 'Why did God let this happen?' as though she were a helpless pawn in His hands!
Jesus saw the terrible destruction of Jerusalem, at the hands of the Romans, looming on the horizon and He wept at the horror of it, knowing that it was unnecessary and avoidable if only His people would have listened to Him, but now it was too late!
The justice of God's judgment lies in the choices we make. He is not like a heartless tyrant who feels nothing for those he oppresses. He always makes our options clear to us and warns us of the consequences if we choose our own way. The Bible is littered with warnings about the consequences of disobedience.
God treats us like responsible people. He does not beg or cajole. He tells us the truth and warns of the consequences of disregarding His words with the understanding that we listen to Him and heed His words because He does not lie and is true to His own nature.
Israel was a nation with a tragic history of the consequences of defying God's warnings. Through the prophet Ezekiel He had this to say to them: "The word of the Lord came to me, 'Son of man, this is what the Lord says to the land of Israel: The end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land. The end is now upon you and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look upon you with pity or spare you...Then you will know that I am the Lord.'" Ezekiel 7:1-4 (NIV).
Only once in history did God come to earth in person to show us what He is really like. He created man in His own image to represent Him on earth but man chose his own way and created a false and distorted picture of God. Throughout history, man made up false religions and worshipped idols that show what man is like.
This was Israel's opportunity to come back to the truth so that God's people could become His true representatives again. But they blew it, preferring their own way to the way of truth Jesus taught and demonstrated. They killed him for it, not realising that His very death was the crown of His revelation of God's true nature. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." John 3:16,17 (NIV).
So what option does God have but to give us what we choose? That's the justest justice ever! Right down to our eternal destiny He says, 'These are the facts. These are the options. You choose.'
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