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—MATTHEW 21:1-17.—AUGUST 28.—
WHILE God foreknew and the prophets foretold that the Jewish nation would reject Jesus and not receive him as their King, nevertheless, everything was done as though the results were not foreknown and foretold. The prophecies were fulfilled. Today's study illustrates this. Jesus offered himself to Israel as their Messianic King, just five days before his crucifixion, and on the exact day upon which, as the Lamb of God, he should have been received by them, in order that they might have been "passed over" and, as a nation, become the antitypical Levites from amongst whom would have been selected the antitypical priests. Their failure to receive Jesus at the appointed time did not at all interfere with the Divine arrangement, for all of the Jews found worthy to be of the spiritual Levites and spiritual priests were selected, although the nation was rejected. The remainder of those spiritual, antitypical priests and Levites God has been gathering from amongst the Gentiles ever since. By and by all these, of whom Jesus is the Chief Priest, will be glorified on the spirit plane. Then will begin the great Messianic work for Israel, and through Israel for all the nations of the world. Thus in due time Israel's expectations will be realized on a grander scale than they ever dreamed of. Abraham, Isaac and all the prophets shall be made princes or rulers in all the earth. Israel restored to Divine favor shall "obtain mercy" of God through the glorified Church, and shall become the channel of God's favor for pouring out upon mankind riches of grace.
The Sabbath day prior to his crucifixion was spent by the Great Teacher at the home of Lazarus and Martha and Mary. His fame had spread by reason of the miracle performed upon Lazarus. A feast was given in his honor on Sabbath night after sundown. It was then that Mary anointed him with the precious perfume which Jesus said was an anointing for his burial. The fragrance of this perfume has come down to us through the ages. The next morning, to fulfill the Scriptures, Jesus sent for the ass and its little colt to be brought. The ass was probably a white one, for it is reputed to have been the custom of the kings of Israel to ride upon white asses. The multitude who had come to see Jesus, and Lazarus [R4669 : page 267] whom he had brought from the tomb, filled with admiration, hailed Jesus with shouts, as "The Son of David!" The Great King! The Messiah! Certain Scribes and Pharisees called attention to this and suggested that Jesus rebuke them. His answer was that, had the people refused to acclaim him, the stones would have cried out; because it had been prophesied centuries before, "Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold thy King cometh unto thee. He is meek and having salvation; lowly, and sitting upon an ass, with its colt, the foal of an ass." The little procession headed for Jerusalem, the multitude shouting and strewing their clothing and palm branches for the ass to tread upon, as marks of honor to the great King whom they imperfectly, indistinctly, recognized—not realizing the still greater glory and honor of his later revealing in the end of this Age, when "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to him."
Four months ago—on April 24—we passed over the historic road from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, thinking the while of the great incident of this lesson. The road sweeps around the side of the Mount of Olives on a reasonable grade until suddenly a turn of the road and the sharp declivity of the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) brings Jerusalem into full view in a moment. Time and again we walked over part of the road and noted where the Master halted the little procession and wept over the city, saying, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings [for safety], and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till [that day when] ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."—Matt. 23:37-39.
Our heart went out in sympathy for the Jewish people. We recalled how they have been nationally "left desolate" for eighteen centuries, and have been persecuted, even, alas, by those who have named the name of Christ! We specially rejoiced to think that "the time of Jacob's trouble" will soon be over—that the time when they will enter into the New Covenant relationship with God will soon be at hand. (Jer. 31:31; Rom. 11:27.) We rejoiced to think that soon Immanuel in the glory of his Kingdom will be revealed, and that all flesh shall behold the glory of that Kingdom. Then the Lord will pour upon Israel the spirit of prayer and of supplication, and they shall look upon him whom they pierced. (Zech. 12:10.) We rejoice to think that "that day" when they shall say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," is nigh at hand. But, we reflect, that the time of special favor to spiritual Israel must be correspondingly drawing to a close.
That spot where Jesus stopped to prophesy Israel's future was the same one over which, a little later, the army of Titus marched to the destruction of Jerusalem, and, amidst famine, finally accomplished the destruction of the city, taking, according to records, ninety-seven thousand prisoners. One million, one hundred thousand were said to have perished through famine and war. The ground around the City of Jerusalem the Romans planted thick with crosses, on which Jews were crucified, until there was room for no more, says history.
The Great Teacher's entry into Jerusalem caused considerable commotion. He went directly to the Temple and ordered from it the money-changers and dove-sellers, who had no right within its hallowed precincts. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy, "The zeal of thine house has consumed me." The poor, the blind, the lame, again had his ministries. Again the chief religionists of the times were vexed and considered him an intruder upon their arrangements, and were displeased with the multitude's shouting his praise as the Messiah, the Son of David. They rebuked the Teacher, who answered, Scripturally, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise."—Matt. 21:16; Psalm 8:2.