Summary: As a nation, we need to repent of our sins and put our hope in God's forgiveness.
A Messiah's Hope For A Nation
Text: Matt. 23:37-39
1. Illustration: In 1863 President Lincoln designated April 30th as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. Let me read a portion of his proclamation on that occasion: "It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, who owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by a history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. The awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has grown, but we have forgotten God."
2. These words of Abraham Lincoln are just as true of our nation today as it was 148 years ago; for we have certainly forgotten God.
a. We have kicked him out of our government.
b. We have kicked him out our schools.
c. We have kicked him out of our lives.
3. As a result, we have seen our finances in chaos, increase in crime, and a decreased sensitivity to sin.
4. However, I believe there is still hope for America because of...
a. God's compassion in judgment
b. Our hope in repentance
5. Let's stand as we read together Matt. 23:37-39
Proposition: As a nation, we need to repent of our sins and put our hope in God's forgiveness.
Transition: We must understand God's love for this nation in seeing...
I. God's Compassion In Judgment (37).
A. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem
1. One of the truly amazing thing about God's character is that even though he is a just and holy God, he is also a God of infinite compassion and mercy.
2. We can see this is Jesus statement, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers!"
a. Some people wrongly think of God as a vindictive being in the sky watching what is going on and ready to pour out his judgment on us.
b. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When God sends judgment he does so with sadness in his heart, and only because we have deserved it.
c. The term "Jerusalem" has stood for the leadership of the nation, but here it seems to include a reference to the whole nation of Israel for whom Jesus is deeply burdened.
d. Jerusalem, the city of David, the city where God revealed himself in his temple, had become known as the city that killed the prophets and stoned those sent to her (Carson, Expositor's Bible Commentary: Matthew).
e. Israel stands condemned for eliminating the voice of God's messengers, soon to include Jesus' voice and those whom he will send after him .
3. There was great sadness as well as rebuke in His repeating the name, Jerusalem, Jerusalem.
a. It was much as when He had said, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things" (Luke 10:41);
b. and when He had said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat" (Luke 22:31);
c. and when He would say some years later, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4).
d. The name Jerusalem means "city of peace," and it was often called the holy city.
e. But over many centuries it had become the city of violence and of ungodliness.
f. In the book of Revelation it is called, "the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt" (11:8), Sodom representing moral perversion and Egypt representing pagan religion.
g. The city of God had become the city of Satan.
h. The verbs kills and stones translate two Greek present active participles and could be rendered, "who are killing... and stoning," indicating a process that was still continuing (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 16-23).
i. However, Jesus still shows his compassion and mercy towards the people.
j. This is not to say that God overlooks sin; that is something he could not do and be just and righteous.
k. Yet it does show that he is willing to do anything and everything possible to give us the opportunity to repent.
4. Jesus further shows him compassion when he says, "How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me."