Second part of the message delivered during the vesper service last July 8, 2011. First part could be read here as well.
The opening chapter of the Great Controversy shows us a clear picture of where our choices would take us. Here we find Jesus Christ standing on top of the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, looking at the peaceful scene below. I immediately imagine the scene. Looking down from atop a mountain always has this serene feeling. It’s as if God suddenly opened up a great curtain and showed you His latest masterpiece. The view is enough to humble you, to make you cry even.
Yet Jesus wept for a very different reason. Sure, he, too, must have been humbled by the majestic scenery. As Ellen G. White put it, “He, the Son of God, the Promised one of Israel… was in tears, not in ordinary grief, but of intense irrepressible agony.” Jesus was in agony. I have tried crying out in awe and humility at the splendor of the view before me on each of the mountains that I have tried to conquer, but never in agony.
Christ wept because He knew what will happen to the city of Jerusalem. He knew of the destruction of the city below. “Not far distant was Calvary, the place of crucifixion. Upon the path which Christ was soon to tread must fall the horror of great darkness as He should make His soul an offering for sin. Yet it was not the contemplation of these scenes that cast the shadow upon Him in this hour of gladness. No foreboding of His own superhuman anguish clouded that unselfish spirit. He wept for the doomed thousands of Jerusalem—because of the blindness and impenitence of those whom He came to bless and to save.”
If you were able to read and absorb the chapter, you would discover how vivid the author painted the picture. The agony of the Jews as their great city was broken down and its inhabitants massacred, could be felt with every word Mrs. White painted. It’s as if God Himself wanted us to feel the depressing moment. It seems that God Himself couldn’t stand the agony of bearing down at each and every life lost during that day.
According to the book:
“Although Israel had “mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets,” He had still manifested Himself to them, as “the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth;” notwithstanding repeated rejections, His mercy had continued its pleadings. With more than a father’s pitying love for the son of his care, God had “sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling-place.”When remonstrance, entreaty, and rebuke had failed, He sent to them the best gift of heaven; nay, He poured out all heaven in that one Gift. The Son of God Himself was sent to plead with the impenitent city. It was Christ that had brought Israel as a goodly vine out of Egypt.”
Yet as I have mentioned earlier, our choices and decisions lead us to our destruction. For the Jews, they have made their choice when they refused the Messiah who walked with them. They refused to believe the God that they were supposed to serve and follow, and instead followed their own hearts and desires. In their pride, they filled their temple with splendor and converted their city into a fortress. They tried to set thing straight with their own power. And, we all know that our power is equivalent to nothing in God’s sight. But the Jews chose themselves over God. Thus, in AD 70, Josephus, Roman mediator to the Jews and eye witness to the massacre recorded that 1, 100, 000 people died, and 97, 000 people were captured and tortured. That number is several millions shy compared to the 37.5 million military and civilian casualties during the First World War; and the 62,171,400 to 78,511,500 people who died in the Second World War.
Yet all three, as well as all the other wars tell one thing in common: a world that has rejected a loving God and the salvation God has to offer. Mrs. White tells us the whole point in saying
“By stubborn rejection of divine love and mercy, the Jews had caused the protection of God to be withdrawn from them, and Satan was permitted to rule them according to his will. The horrible cruelties enacted in the destruction of Jerusalem are a demonstration of Satan’s vindictive power over those who yield to his control. We cannot know how much we owe to Christ for the peace and protection which we enjoy. It is the restraining power of God that prevents mankind from passing fully under the control of Satan. The disobedient and unthankful have great reason for gratitude for God’s mercy and long-suffering in holding in check the cruel, malignant power of the evil one. But when men pass the limits of divine forbearance, that restraint is removed. God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but He leaves the rejecters of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown. Every ray of light rejected, every warning despised or unheeded, every passion indulged, every transgression of the law of God, is a seed sown, which yields its unfailing harvest. The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from the sinner, and then there is left no power to control the evil passions of the soul, and no protection from the malice and enmity of Satan.”
Finally, the realizations maybe sad and disturbing, but it is true. More often than not, we are given the choice. Are we to let God lead us, or are we going to play dumb to the workings of His spirit? Are we to remain blind and deaf to the messages that tell us that the end time is near? As we ponder upon these thoughts, may we make a resolve to always find it our choice to listen to God.