Today’s readings.. (1 Chronicles 4), (Ezekiel 17), (Luke 13), (Luke 14)

Sin is not a word people use these days.  People who do wrong, try hard to avoid any punishment.  The prominent and wealthy employ expensive lawyers to help them avoid or minimize punishment.  In the days of Jesus, people were expected to recognise that God was involved in causing events which brought punishment for their sins; the Old Testament shows the prophets repeatedly made this point to the people.
Our reading in Ezekiel 17 shows this – the prophet is to tell a parable about 2 eagles and a vine, and then say, “Do you not know what these things mean? … behold the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem … that the kingdom might be humble … and keep his (God’s) covenant that it might stand.  But he rebelled …” [v.12,14,15].
There comes a point when God acts because the people are fixed in their godless ways, although he keeps showing mercy to individuals.  In the end God brought total destruction on Jerusalem because of the abundance of their sins and lack of repentance,
Now we see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem because he could see this was going to happen again; the last 3 verses of today’s 13th chapter in Luke show Jesus agonising over the future of the people.  See the very interesting point he makes in v.4; evidently people had been saying that when a tower collapsed in Siloam and killed 18 people, those people must have been worse sinners than others.  How did Jesus respond?  “No” he says, and “I tell you; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”  If we are not on God’s side, trying to do his will, there is no future for us. There are only 2 options, if we are not on his side, we are against him, recall ch.11 v.23.
Jesus followed up his warning with a parable about a man who planted a tree (v.6-9); for 3 years he looked for fruit, but found none.  It was given one more year to produce fruit and a special effort was made to fertilise it.  If it did not produce fruit it would be destroyed. Jesus made a special effort to fertilize the “tree” of Israel (Matt. 15 v.24).   Most would not heed; those who did were largely the common people who “heard him gladly.”  Forty years later there was terrible destruction.
Now that “the times of the Gentiles” [Ch.21 v.24] are at an end, the same grim warning applies to us! “Unless you repent you will …”   Are there still some who hear his message gladly?

 

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