Saturday, November 8, 2014

Jesus Gathered His Chicks Despite "Jerusalem" (Mat. 23:37)

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling."  --Mat. 23:37

A beloved brother in Christ asked my thoughts on this verse as it relates to the old issue of God's sovereignty versus man's will.  The brother is not "Arminian", just asked my ideas about it, but as this verse is one of the "big 3" that Arminian/Pelagian's cite as a proof text against "Calvinism" or "Reformed" interpretation, I will address that aspect of its usual said use. . . . 

So, there are those (of the Arminian/Pelagian view) who use the verse to say, "see, Jesus WANTED to "gather His chicks under wing" but couldn't on account of their "free will" choice not to be gathered!  Which means to them . . . that man's "free will" to refuse ie., salvation, rises above God's will to "gather."  In essence it would appear that God values man's "free will choice" so much that he limits His own sovereign will "that none should perish" . . . to allow man his freedom.  God elevates man's freedom . . . over His own, in other words.

And they use this passage to prove it.

BUT, as usual in such cases, they do not bother to consider the full context of the verse, and tend to not place it in context with all the other verses that clearly express that God's will is absolutely sovereign and His freedom to do with His creatures (include elect some while punishing others) is unfettered by man's so-called "free will choice."

One of my favorite verses, which shows that even our "good works" are designed and willed by God (not us) is: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."  --Eph. 2:10

GOD PREPARED OUR GOOD WORKS BEFOREHAND! . . . So that we would walk in them!   For we are HIS workmanship (not our own!)  Is choosing God over Satan a "good work"?  Surely it must considered the best work of all!  He is saying here that even that initial "good work" was prepared BEFOREHAND for us to "walk" into.

As to God's sovereignty, which must first be seen and accepted as THE foundational context in interpreting all verses related to His various expressions of intent/will, the proofs are abundant:

"The Lord Almighty has sworn,
  'Surely, as I have planned, so it will be,
    and as I have purposed, so it will happen'  . . .
 This is the plan determined for the whole world;
    this is the hand stretched out over all nations.
  For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?
    His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?"
     --Isa. 14:24, 26, 27

"Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure;" --Isa. 46:10

Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps - See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Sovereignty-Of#sthash.vTd9dIDe.dpuf
Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps - See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Sovereignty-Of#sthash.vTd9dIDe.dpuf
"Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps."  --Psalm 135:6

"If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, 'What are you doing?"  --Job 9:12

And there are scores more, of course, showing God will do just what He will according to His own "good pleasure".

But I'm digressing a bit from the verse in question. . . . Let me return. . . .

Context-wise Mathew 23:37 follows on the diatribe Jesus just met out to the Scribes and Pharisees, the "serpents", "brood of vipers".  When He cites "O Jerusalem who kills the prophets" He is citing these same leaders of Jerusalem specifically and NOT generically all the people of Jerusalem.  He further clarifies by making a simple indicative statement that as He sought to gather the "children" of Jerusalem . . . the LEADERS of Jerusalem--the Scribes and Pharisees etc.--were "unwilling."  

Here is He is continuing His diatribe against them, the "vipers", pointing out again their refusal to recognize Him as the Savior.  It certainly cannot mean that there were "children" among the city whom He wanted to gather but couldn't, for we know, considering the clear, foundational context and scriptural proofs of His sovereign will, that He accomplishes ALL that He wills to do!  [We know He gathers and "saves to the uttermost" ALL who the Father gives Him (see Heb. 7:25 and John 6:37).]

The leaders of Jerusalem, who Jesus elsewhere called "sons of the devil" in explaining their inability to "hear" His message as they sought to do HIS (their "father" Satan's) will . . . are again by Jesus being marked as to their intransigence, "unwillingness" to recognize Him.

The verse, in context, is not teaching that Jesus "wanted" to gather the Jerusalem's "children" but couldn't on account of the Satanic leaders' unwillingness.  For He certainly DID gather some of them (those He willed to be gathered as His will is always and wholly EFFECTIVE) . . . and He is merely pointing out that whenever He was in the mode of gathering, "Jerusalem" (the Scribes and Pharisees) were constantly opposing Him.  In no way should it be seen that they succeeded against Him.  Simply that they were always agitating to do so. . . . 

And though I have not yet seen this following point in the various commentaries I've read on the verse, I personally think there is also the element of the MAN Jesus--His human side and emotions involved in this statement.  We know that God limited Himself in certain mysterious ways as He became a man, where He did not always exhibit His ie., omnipotent, omniscient abilities.  He wept as a man.  He was tempted as a man.  He developed from youth to manhood in a natural way, as "He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."  --Luke 2:52


I believe that while this verse (Mat. 23:37), in context, is not a weak bemoaning and complaint of Jesus in not being able to gather as He would have wanted, but instead is more a simple description of what happened according to "Jerusalem's" Satanic intransigence and opposition to His mission . . . AND that we get a glimpse, nevertheless of the fully human side of His character in play, which  does mourn the sad state of affairs in Jewish leadership, thanks to the Fall and the devil's (doomed but madly continuing) fight against the plan of salvation.  This is but His further piling up of wrath, exposition and implied judgement against the "synagogue of Satan."

Unless we believe that God's will can be frustrated by the will of man--his being "unwilling" . . . then the passage cannot mean that Jesus' will concerning Jerusalem's "children" was thwarted by the Jewish leaders.  There is plenty in the nearby context and the broader context of the Bible's declaration of God's absolute sovereignty of will (above any of Man's) to show that Mathew 23:37 does mean what it may appear to mean with but a brief and surface glance.  And this is not unusual.  Many parts of the Bible can be taken out of context, of course we know, where, standing alone and in agenda-driven hands, can be even made to show the opposite of their intended meaning or something altogether different.  Athiests and general God-haters, we know, often do this to show, ie., "the God of the Bible is a homicidal, sexist, racist narcissistic tyrant!"

Anyway,


here are some further thoughts by some great theologians covering this old contention re Mat. 23:37:

"They [i.e., our Roman Catholic adversaries] bring up a saying of Christ's: 'How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks, and you would not?' Here also it is the antecedent will of the sign that is meant. God through his prophets, preachers, apostles, and Scriptures invited the Jews to fly to him by repentance time after time, but they refused, but by his effective will, which is called consequent, he always drew to himself those who were his. Nor was there any age when he did not gather as many of the Hebrews as he had predestined. Therefore, as Augustine said, those that I would, I have gathered together, although you would not" -- Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562)

"[Matthew 23:37] signifieth quite another thing [than Arminius supposes]. Christ speaks to Jerusalem, and saith, that he would have gathered his children together; but Jerusalem herself resisted, with all her power. Jerusalem is one thing, and her children another, who here are expressly distinguished from the city: By Jerusalem understand the priests, the Levites, the scribes, and the prince of the people, for these did most of all withstand Christ: By the children of Jerusalem, understand the people. Christ saith, that he would have gathered together these children; neither is it to be doubted, but that he gathered together many of them, although the rulers were unwilling ... Saint [Augustine] thinks [Enchiridion, chapter 97] ... she indeed would not have her children to be gathered together by him: but even [though] she [was] unwilling, he gathered those of her children whom he himself would"  --Pierre du Moulin (1568–1658)

"Although Christ professes that 'he had wished to gather together the children of Jerusalem, and they would not' (Matt. 23:37), it does not follow that grace is resistible. (1) Jerusalem is here openly distinguished from her children and by it are denoted the elders, scribes, priests and other leaders of the city (who are gifted with the better name of city [as Matt. 2:1, 3] and who wished to be considered the fathers of the people). Nor does Christ say that those whom he wished to gather together were unwilling to be gathered together. But only that Jerusalem was unwilling that her children should be gathered and 'thou wouldst not' (to wit, ye leaders). And thus Christ does not so much complain of those who being called had not come, as of those who resisted the calling of others as much as they could (the key of knowledge being taken away); not entering as to themselves and prohibiting others who entered (i.e., who desired to enter) as much as in them lay, as we read in Luke 11:52. But still Christ did not cease, notwithstanding the resistance of the leaders of the city, to gather whom he wished, as Augustine has it"  --Francis Turretin (1623-1687)

"It is up to those parties still to prove that an efficacious and internal calling is spoken of in this passage [i.e., Matt. 23:37]; and even though we grant this, this passage still does not favour the wrong idea of these parties; for the Saviour very clearly refers to Jerusalem and her children; and they tried, were this possible, to prevent Him from gathering the children. But in no way does He complain about the children as if they have resisted that calling, which these parties try to prove from this passage. The opposite is true, for many did believe in Him, regardless of the fact that this displeased and was contrary to the wishes of the rulers"  -- Peter Nahuys (1692-1766)

"Now let Pighius boast, if he can, that God wills all men to be saved ... I will only cite one passage, which clearly and briefly proves how Augustine despised, without reservation, their objection now in question. 'When our Lord complains that though he wished to gather the children of Jerusalem as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but she would not [Matt. 23:37], are we to consider that the will of God was overpowered by a number of weak men, so that he who was Almighty God could not do what he wished or willed to do? If so, what is to become of that omnipotence by which he did "whatsoever pleased him in heaven and in earth" [Ps. 135:6]? Moreover, who will be found so profanely mad as to say that God cannot convert the evil wills of men which he pleases, when he pleases, and as he pleases, to good? When he does this, he does it in mercy; and when he does it not, in judgment he does it not'"  --Calvin


"Our Lord says plainly, however, in the Gospel, when upbraiding the impious city: ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!’ as if the will of God had been overcome by the will of men, and when the weakest stood in the way with their want of will, the will of the strongest could not be carried out. And where is that omnipotence which hath done all that it pleased on earth and in heaven, if God willed to gather together the children of Jerusalem, and did not accomplish it? Or rather, Jerusalem was not willing that her children should be gathered together, but even though she was unwilling, He gathered together as many of her children as He wished: for He does not will some things and do them, and will others and do them not; but ‘He hath done all that He pleased in heaven and in earth’"  --Augustine

3 comments:

Linda L. said...

I was unaware that this verse was used for the Armenian stance. Thanks for this information. This verse always reminds me of Jesus' deep heartfelt emotions of compassion and grief for those who would reject him, even though he knew beforehand who would. It is a very tender picture of a mother hen trying to gather her baby chicks under wings for protection. and... Happy Birthday! Hope you have a very special blessed time today, and may God draw you ever closer to him and be with you in a special way today. I Pray your ankles are healing well and that you are able to work without injuring them further. God bless.

Mark said...

Mathew 6:10
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Thy kingdom!
Thy will!

Not mine

Actually read all of Mathew 6 it breaks down why some could not hear the call(chirp) to gather the chicks.

Jesus not only spoke in the physical(flesh) 3rd demension but also spoke in the 4th demension(holyghost,spiritual) .if one did not have the "eyes & ears" as it is said that one simply could not hear the chirp of God .This means being dead to the spirit(holy ghost,Jesus,God,....the holy trinity!) Or according to the rock "the glome".

Even the catholic church teaches the trinity but most of the cogragation doesn't hear the chirp!

Gods will!
Gods kingdom to come!
Gods glory!

Goodby Lucifer god of darkness and the dead.
My hope is that all humans hear that spiritual chirp.

How about them fireballs!

Mark said...

Mathew 6:10
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Thy kingdom!
Thy will!

Not mine

Actually read all of Mathew 6 it breaks down why some could not hear the call(chirp) to gather the chicks.

Jesus not only spoke in the physical(flesh) 3rd demension but also spoke in the 4th demension(holyghost,spiritual) .if one did not have the "eyes & ears" as it is said that one simply could not hear the chirp of God .This means being dead to the spirit(holy ghost,Jesus,God,....the holy trinity!) Or according to the rock "the glome".

Even the catholic church teaches the trinity but most of the cogragation doesn't hear the chirp!

Gods will!
Gods kingdom to come!
Gods glory!

Goodby Lucifer god of darkness and the dead.
My hope is that all humans hear that spiritual chirp.

How about them fireballs!

Brother Thomas ©2015

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