"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."
This verse is often used by those of the "free will" or Arminian persuasion to show that man can resist the will of God and choose to reject His offer of grace and salvation. But there are other ways to understand this passage which do not contradict the doctrines of grace and the sovereign will of God in the salvation of His elect.
IF the "Free Will Fantasy Club" is right in their interpretation of these verses, and there were some whom the Lord Jesus WANTED to save and TRIED TO save, but he couldn't because they did not cooperate with him and "would not", then the inescapable conclusion we can only logically come to is that Jesus Christ is both a Liar and a Failure.
Why? Because the Lord Jesus told us the following things. He said "ALL that the Father giveth me SHALL COME to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37)
So, according to "free will" theology, there were some the Father gave to the Son, but they DIDN'T COME". It's either that, or the Father did NOT give these people to the Son.
Jesus also said: "the Son quickeneth WHOM HE WILL" (John 5:21). This means (according to the free willer's interpretation of Matthew 23:37) that Jesus once again was lying to us, because he wanted so badly to "quicken" (give life to) these people, but they wouldn't cooperate with him.
That, or it was NOT the will of the Son to quicken them. And the Lord Jesus said in no uncertain terms: "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life TO AS MANY AS THOU HAST GIVEN HIM."
The free willers apparently would have us believe that some had been given to the Son by the Father, but he really didn't have to power to give them eternal life, because they just "would not" cooperate with him. And once again, Jesus is made out to be a Liar.
OR, just maybe God never gave these uncooperative people who refused to be gathered to the Lord in the first place. Ya think? Let's see...the only alternative is that the "free willers" simply do not understand the passage (as is the case here, and they always end up making the Bible contradict itself) OR that Jesus really did lie to us when he said those things. "Tough Call" to make, huh?
How do we understand these verses without making Jesus Christ out to be a Liar?
In Matthew 23:37-39 the Lord Jesus Christ is speaking as God and rehearsing the sad history of Jerusalem. The history of Jerusalem is one of continual rebellion against God and His word till He finally judges them by carrying away into captivity, but God always promises to gather them back into the land and into a covenant relationship with Himself.
It is the continual rebellion of the human will against God's will, but guess Who's will prevails? God's will prevails and they shall be gathered. Notice the next verse - (39) "For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." They would not come. Therefore they are judged and chastened, and finally cry out to God for deliverance.
This verse (39) seems to clearly teach that they, as a people, WILL eventually be converted and brought back to the Lord.
Notice how many times this pattern is repeated in the Old Testament history of God's people, and how often God does in fact GATHER them.
Deut. 30:1-6 "And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice...that then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and GATHER thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee...from thence will the LORD thy God GATHER thee, and from thence will he fetch thee...and bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed...and he will do thee good...And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live."
Isaiah 11:11,12 "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people which shall be left...and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel and GATHER together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."
Isaiah 54:6-8 "For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee: but with great mercies will I GATHER thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer."
Jeremiah 23:3 "And I will GATHER the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase."
Jeremiah 29:14 "And I will be found of you saith the LORD: and I wll turn away your captivity, and I will GATHER you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD."
Jeremiah 31:8-10 "Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and GATHER them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn."
Ezekiel 11:16-20 "Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off amonst the heathen, and although I have scattered them far off among the heathen...I will even GATHER you from the people, and assemble you out of the countires where ye have been scattered...And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh...and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
God's sovereign will over the rebellious will of His people is clearly seen in this passage as well.
"And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, WILL I RULE OVER YOU: And I will bring you out from the people, and will GATHER you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered...And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I WILL BRING YOU INTO THE BOND OF THE COVENANT."
This final passage from Ezekiel sums up the whole idea involved with Israel's willful rebellion, God's chastening hand and their final return to the God who gathers them.
Ezekiel 39:23-29 "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, ...After they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me..When I have brought them again from the people, and GATHERED them out of their enemies lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I HAVE GATHERED them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD."
Zechariah 10:6,8,10 "And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them. I will hiss for them, and GATHER them; for I have redeemed them. I will bring them again out of the land of Egypt, and GATHER them out of Assyria, and I will bring them into the land...and place shall not be found for them."
As Jesus said in Matthew 23:38 "Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." They will be gathered by the sovereign will of God and He will pour out upon them the spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced. See Zechariah 12:10
Rather than teaching that man's rebellious will can resist the will of God, the passage in Matthew 23:37 teaches the opposite. God's will shall prevail and He will have His way with them that are His in spite of their rebellion and sin.
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