Matthew 23:37 “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, and ye would not!”
Video of a Hen gathering her chicks: https://youtu.be/kQEty_Pi73w
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets” — The intense feeling that spoke in this utterance comes out first in the redoubling of the word Jerusalem; next in the picture of the sins of the city which he draws–a city so wicked that it was not content with rejecting the messengers of God, but even slew them. I know of nothing more touching than this apostrophe.
“How often would I have gathered thy children.” — Not only had the city been warned again and again by the prophets, but the Lord had visited it at least six or seven times and had for months taught in its streets. Nor did his solicitude end with the cross. His long suffering, patience and love are shown by his charge in the commission to the apostles: “To preach repentance and remission in his name among all nations, ‘beginning at Jerusalem'” (Luke 24:47).
“Ye would not!” —”Would not” explains the cause of the rejection of the gospel. It is not because God in Christ is not ready: he “would gather” them. It is not because men cannot come, but because they will not come. Christ wished that salvation of Jerusalem; his will was for them to be saved: he sought to influence their wills to make a choice of salvation, but they “would not.”
So, God still “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), but there are many “who will not come to Christ that they might have life” (John 5:40). While God wills the salvation of men, he does not destroy free agency by coercing the human will, but says: “Whosoever will, let him come” (Rev 22:17). – End Source
Jesus knows how it feels to want so badly for lost loved ones to come to Him for salvation and safety, but for no good reason, ‘they will not.’ Jesus knows how it feels to be despised, rejected, and unwanted. Jesus knows how it feels to be frustrated, sad, and upset. We are not alone when it comes to these feelings, and there is so much more to this beyond our comprehension. We have an advocate with the Father, who is Jesus Christ the Righteous; a High Priest who can sympathize with ‘the feelings of our infirmities.’
1 John 2:1-2 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
“My beloved children” — So the apostle frequently addresses the whole body of Christians. It is a term of tenderness and endearment, used by our Lord himself to his disciples (John 13:33). And perhaps many to whom St. John now wrote were converted by his ministry. It is a different word from that which is translated little children in several parts of the epistle to distinguish it from which it is here rendered beloved children.
“I write these things to you, that ye may not sin.” — Thus he guards them beforehand against abusing the doctrine of reconciliation. All the words, institutions, and judgments of God are levelled against sin, either that it may not be committed, or that it may be abolished.
“But if any one sin” — Let him not lie in sin, despairing of help.
“We have an advocate” — We have for our advocate, not a mean person, but him of whom it was said, “This is my beloved son.” Not a guilty person, who stands in need of pardon for himself, but Jesus Christ the righteous; not a mere petitioner, who relies purely upon liberality, but one that has merited, fully merited, whatever he asks.
Hebrews 4:15 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
He sympathizes with us even in our innocent infirmities, wants, weaknesses, miseries, dangers. “Yet without sin” — And, therefore, is indisputably able to preserve us from it in all our temptations. – End Source
Heartbroken, I dream about our lost loved ones often. At night when all things are quiet and I am asleep seems to be the time when my mind, heart, thoughts, and feelings can process the stark reality of the love of many waxing cold. Oftentimes, the dreams venture back to the days when we thought our families would always stay close and that certain ones would stay lovingly under our wings. Other times, the dreams involve the anguish of wrestling with the spiritual struggles, bizarre changes, and manifest frustrations of when things began to go awry.
Waking up from such dreams, I am often left with the feeling that no one cares or even understands, but as desperate as things may seem, I am always comforted with the reminder that Jesus does. Thoughts come to me of our Lord’s cry from His heart saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not.” Not only does this convey to me that He truly understands, but it also tells me that He is beyond familiar with this type of gut-wrenching angst.
Ironically, during one of the hardest years of our lives, this secular article came out in the Smithsonian Magazine titled, “Are Babies Born Good?” Interestingly enough, when my husband saw this magazine cover at work, he made a point to show it to me. The picture and title itself speak volumes to those in the trenches of ‘end times phenomena.’ Truth be told, the baby on the cover represents us all since the fall of man; “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
There is inherent in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) several principles that believing parents can use to react to and deal with children who walk contrary to the way in which the parents have raised them. Parents need to remember that once their children have reached adulthood, they are no longer under the authority of their parents.
In the story of the prodigal son, the younger son takes his inheritance and goes into a far country and wastes it. In the case of a child who is not a born-again believer, this is just doing what comes naturally. In the case of a child who at one time made a clear profession of faith in Christ, we call this child a “prodigal.” The meaning of this word is “a person who has spent his resources wastefully,” a good description of a child who leaves home and wastes the spiritual inheritance that his parents have invested in him. All the years of nurture, teaching, love, and care are forgotten as this child rebels against God. For all rebellion is against God first, and is manifested in a rebellion against parents and their authority.
Notice that the father in the parable does not stop his child from leaving. Nor does he follow after his child to try to protect him. Rather, this parent faithfully stays at home and prays, and when that child “comes to his senses” and turns around and heads back, the parent is waiting and watching and runs to greet that child even when he is a “long way off.”
When our sons and daughters go off on their own—assuming they are of legal age to do so—and make choices that we know will bring hard consequences, parents must let go and allow them to leave. The parent does not follow after, and the parent does not interfere with the consequences that will come. Rather, the parent stays at home, keeps faithfully praying and watching for the signs of repentance and a change of direction. Until that comes, parents keep to their own counsel, do not support the rebellion, and do not interfere (1 Peter 4:15).
Once children are of an age of legal adulthood, they are subject only to the authority of God and the delegated authority of government (Romans 13:1-7). As parents, we can support our prodigals with love and prayer and be ready to come alongside once they have made their move toward God. God often uses self-inflicted misery to bring us to wisdom, and it is up to each individual to respond correctly. As parents, we cannot save our children—only God can do that. Until that time comes, we must watch, pray, and leave the matter in the hands of God. This may be a painful process, but when carried out biblically, it will bring peace of mind and heart. We cannot judge our children; only God can. In this, there is a great comfort: “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25b). – End Source
Not many in the world will care what I have to say, especially coming from a Christian, much less our lost loved ones who obviously think they know better than we do. But for whatever reason, I know that God has given me this platform to be ‘Salt and Light and a Source of Comfort’ to whoever may need this message.
All I know is that if God can use ‘Balaam’s Donkey’ to speak for Him, He can use someone as insignificant as “little ol’ me” to be a voice for those who may feel like they have lost theirs or that the rug has been ‘proverbially pulled out from under them and that life doesn’t feel the same anymore.’ Just know that we are definitely not alone, and through Christ Jesus, we have something called ‘Hope’ which is so much more than anything this wicked world has to offer any day!
Numbers 22:27-35, BSB “When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he became furious and beat her with his staff. Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?’ Balaam answered the donkey, ‘You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now!’ But the donkey said to Balaam, ‘Am I not the donkey you have ridden all your life until today? Have I ever treated you this way before?’
‘No,’ he replied. Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. And Balaam bowed low and fell facedown. The angel of the LORD asked him, ‘Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you, because your way is perverse before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, then by now I would surely have killed you and let her live.’
‘I have sinned,’ Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, ‘for I did not realize that you were standing in the road to confront me. And now, if this is displeasing in your sight, I will go back home.’ But the angel of the LORD said to Balaam, ‘Go with the men, but you are to speak only what I tell you.’ So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.”
We must not think that because God does not always by his providence restrain men from sin, therefore he approves of it, or that it is not hateful to him. The holy angels oppose sin and perhaps are employed in preventing it more than we are aware. This angel was an adversary to Balaam because Balaam counted him his adversary; those are really our best friends, and we ought so to reckon them, who stop our progress in sinful ways. Balaam has notice of God’s displeasure by the ass. It is common for those whose hearts are fully set in them to do evil, to push on violently through the difficulties Providence lays in their way.
The Lord opened the mouth of the ass. This was a great miracle wrought by the power of God. He who made man speak, could, when he pleased, make the ass to speak with man’s voice. The ass complained of Balaam’s cruelty. The righteous God does not allow the meanest or weakest to be abused; but they shall be able to speak in their own defense, or he will some way or other speak for them. Balaam at length has his eyes opened. God has many ways to bring down the hard and unhumbled heart. When our eyes are opened, we shall see the danger of sinful ways, and how much it was for our advantage to be crossed.
Balaam seemed to relent; I have sinned; but it does not appear that he was sensible of this wickedness of his heart or willing to own it. If he finds he cannot go forward, he will be content, since there is no remedy, to go back. Thus, many leave their sins only because their sins have left them. The angel declared that he should not only be unable to curse Israel but should be forced to bless them: this would be more for the glory of God, and to his own confusion, than if he had turned back. -End Source
Even though it doesn’t feel good when our lost loved ones treat us so selfishly, unkindly, and cruelly, it helps to remember when Jesus was suffering on the cross at the hands of those who were torturously killing Him and how He so graciously prayed for them, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 22:34).
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
“Then said Jesus” — Our Lord passed most of the time on the cross in silence: yet seven sentences which he spoke thereon are recorded by the four evangelists, though no one evangelist has recorded them all. Hence it appears that the four Gospels are, as it were, four parts, which, joined together, make one symphony. Sometimes one of these only, sometimes two or three, sometimes all sound together.
“Father” — So he speaks both in the beginning and at the end of his sufferings on the cross: “Forgive them” — How striking is this passage! While they are actually nailing him to the cross, he seems to feel the injury they did to their own souls more than the wounds they gave him; and as it were to forget his own anguish out of a concern for their own salvation. And how eminently was his prayer heard! It procured forgiveness for all that were penitent, and a suspension of vengeance even for the impenitent. -End Source
It also helps to understand that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). It is not our lost loved ones that we are at odds with; it is the evil behind them that hates the Jesus in us that we are at war with.
Never stop praying for their salvation because we don’t know when the scales will fall from their eyes, and they will become Born Again! May they then realize how much time they have lost by living in such ‘spiritual depravity’ and finally turn to the One True and Living God by giving Him all the glory for having such mercy on their souls by graciously saving them out of the clutches of Satan!
Acts 9:18 “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”
A good work was begun in Saul when he was brought to Christ’s feet with those words, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And never did Christ leave any who were brought to that. Behold, the proud Pharisee, the unmerciful oppressor, the daring blasphemer, prayeth! And thus it is even now, and with the proud infidel, or the abandoned sinner. What happy tidings are these to all who understand the nature and power of prayer, of such prayer as the humbled sinner presents for the blessings of free salvation!
Now he began to pray after another manner than he had done; before, he said his prayers; now, he prayed them. Regenerating grace sets people on praying; you may as well find a living man without breath as a living Christian without prayer. Yet even eminent disciples, like Ananias, sometimes stagger at the commands of the Lord. But it is the Lord’s glory to surpass our scanty expectations and show that those are vessels of his mercy whom we are apt to consider as objects of his vengeance.
The teaching of the Holy Spirit takes away the scales of ignorance and pride from the understanding; then, the sinner becomes a new creature and endeavors to recommend the anointed Saviour, the Son of God, to his former companions. -End Source
If I could ask one thing of those who read this, it would be to pray for our lost loved ones to come back to the Lord before it is too late. And not for ours only, but for ‘all of our brothers and sisters lost loved ones’ around the world to come back, wake up, and repent by believing in Jesus Christ before it is too late… for indeed, the hour is very short!
Romans 13:11 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
“And do this” — Fulfil the law of love in all the instances above mentioned. “Knowing the season” — Full of grace, but hasting away.
“That it is high time to awake out of sleep” — How beautifully is the metaphor carried on! This life, a night; the resurrection, the day; the gospel shining on the heart, the dawn of this day; we are to awake out of sleep; to rise up and throw away our night – clothes, fit only for darkness, and put on new; and, being soldiers, we are to arm, and prepare for fight, who are encompassed with so many enemies. The day dawns when we receive faith, and then sleep gives place. Then it is time to rise, to arm, to walk, to work, lest sleep steal upon us again.
Final salvation, glory, is nearer to us now than when we first believed — It is continually advancing, flying forward upon the swiftest wings of time. And that which remains between the present hour and eternity is comparatively but a moment. -End Source
It has been over a decade of excruciating, grueling, and heart-rending passage of days, months, and years for our family, and I know for so many others as well… time is running out! Thank You, Lord, that You hear our heartfelt cries concerning our lost loved ones. May ‘Thy Will’ be done concerning them, in Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.
Until next time… Maranatha!
Sincerely & In Christ,