In the Fulness of Time/Part 135
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2010|
|In this final woe the beautifying was condemned because it was another example of their hypocrisy. There was nothing wrong with perpetuating the memorials of righteous men. The matter of hypocrisy entered in by way of the claim that if the scribes and Pharisees had been living in the days of their fathers, they would have had no part in the slaying of the prophets. After all, why would they be going to all the trouble of preserving and adorning their tombs?|
- 1 Building tombs of old prophets, but slaying new prophets. Matthew 23:29-36
- 2 His Weeping over their unrepentant City. Mt 23:37-39
Building tombs of old prophets, but slaying new prophets. Matthew 23:29-36
Their hypocritical claim for the past. Mt 23:29-30
- Mt 23:29-30 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.”
As was pointed out with regard to the sepulchers in the previous woe, it was not the white-washing, but the adorning of these tombs which was referred to in making them beautiful. The contrast there was between the beautiful outside and the dried bones on the inside. In this final woe the beautifying was condemned because it was another example of their hypocrisy. There was nothing wrong with perpetuating the memorials of righteous men. In Acts 2:29 Peter mentioned concerning King David, that: “his sepulcher is with us unto this day.” The matter of hypocrisy entered in by way of the claim that if the scribes and Pharisees had been living in the days of their fathers, they would have had no part in the slaying of the prophets. After all, why would they be going to all the trouble of preserving and adorning their tombs?
Their real condition in the present. Mt 23:41-32
- Mt 23:31-32 “Wherefore, ye are witnesses against yourselves, that ye are the sons of them who killed the prophets. Fill up then, the measure of your fathers.”
The very words they used in such hypocritical speech were to witness that they were sons of those who killed the prophets. Jesus was not merely expressing physical relations to their fathers, but that they had inherited the murderous manipulations of their fathers. Jesus had tried for three years to show them that he was the promised Messiah/King, but repeatedly they rebuffed Him and plotted His death: “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you” (John 8:37). Even in the parable of the householder (Matthew 21:38) when Jesus said: “But when the farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir, come, let us kill him, let us seize on his inheritance” the Pharisees and chief priests “perceived that he spoke of them” (21:45). The only thing that kept them from slaying Jesus right then was that they feared the multitude. But even that would soon change and they would give ample evidence that they were, indeed, “sons of their fathers.” They would certainly “fill up the measure” of their fathers’ sins; God would only take so much, until the cup of their wickedness became full and His judgment would fall upon them!
Their inescapable condemnation in the near future. Mt 23:33-36
- Mt 23:33-36 “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.”
For the third time in Matthew, the word “viper” is used to describe the scribes and Pharisees, once by John the Baptist (3:7) and once before by Christ (12:34). This time, however, Jesus links this word with “serpents” as part of their description. It is significant, that in John 8:33-44 where the Pharisees sought to kill Christ, claiming that Abraham was their father (v. 33); indeed, that God was their Father (v. 41), Christ declared that they were of their father, the Devil, who is the “serpent” of Genesis 3:1-6; Revelation 12:9, 20:2. As sons of the serpent, who was a murderer from the beginning, they would simply carry on the serpent’s work. Christ would send unto them prophets, wise men and scribes, and some of these would be killed, crucified, scourged and persecuted, Much of the fulfillment is recorded in Acts and in Paul’s Epistles. Even Paul felt that he was serving God by persecuting and killing Christians (Acts 26:9-11).
Jesus finally told the scribes and Pharisees that they could not escape the condemnation of hell, and that they, as a result of these atrocities, would be guilty of all the righteous blood shed from Genesis 4 to the end of Israel’s history in 2 Chronicles 36:16: “But they mocked the messengers of God and despised His words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” The specific example Jesus gives probably refers to 2 Chronicles 24:21, where Zechariah, son of Jehoiada was actually slain “in the court of the house of the LORD.” Jehoiada may well have been his grandfather and Barachiah the father of Zechariah. Some others believe it was the Zechariah who wrote the book of Zechariah, since he is called the son of Berechiah in Zechariah 1:1. Also, his ministry (520 BC) was much closer to the end of Israel’s Old Testament history than the Zechariah of 2 Chronicles 24 (800 BC). In either case, Jesus was spanning the history of the Old Testament, summing up the bloodguiltiness of the scribes and Pharisees, who, contrary to their claim, were as bad or worse than, their fathers!
His Weeping over their unrepentant City. Mt 23:37-39
Their Past: Rejection of Christ and His Messengers. Mt 23:37
- Mt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.”
Throughout His three-year ministry Christ attempted to show proof of His Messiahship and how He fulfilled the Scriptures concerning Himself. Finally, in the woes presented in Matthew 23 He poured out righteous indignation against the rulers of Israel. But now, in most compassionate language He laments for them, using the name of the city of Jerusalem as a symbol of the nation. Often Jesus would have gathered them under His wings; this probably refers to Hs willingness to establish the Kingdom, which was “at hand,” since the word “gathered” is an aorist infinitive, signifying that which He would have done as their Messiah/King. Unfortunately, He came unto His own creation and His own people received Him not: “and ye would not” (from the verb thelo, “ye did not will this”).
Their Present: Desolation of the Nation. 23:38
- Mt 23:38 “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
It would be less than 40 years when “all these things” (v. 36) would be fulfilled. Luke 19:41-44 gives more detail: “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hidden from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side. And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” The generation then present would witness the desolation brought on by the Roman armies in 70 A.D.
Their Future: Restoration of the Nation Israel. 23:39
- Mt 23:39 “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Although the awful judgment has long since fallen on the nation, all is not lost! The Messiah did not say that they would never see Him again, but used the word “until” (hoes). At that time they will say “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
It is noteworthy to list some of the occurrences of this same idea, and how it is associated with the restoration of Israel:
- Matthew 26:29: “But I say unto you, I will not henceforth drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new in my Father’s kingdom.”
- Luke 21:24: “Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
- Acts 2:34-35 “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.”
- Acts 3:21 “Whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the age began.”
- Romans 11:25-26: “Blindness in part is happened unto Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.”
Jesus closed His lament using Psalm 118:26: “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the LORD” which is an official title of Messiah, “The Coming One.” Thus it will be, “In the fulness of time,” when Israel receives Him as such, they will “see” Him as their Messiah/King!