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The Scriptorium

Judgment of the Sham

God will always judge it. Luke 21.20-24

Luke 21 (3)

Pray Psalm 118.1-6.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let Israel now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
I called on the LORD in distress;
The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.
The LORD is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

Sing Psalm 118.1-6.
(St. George’s Windsor: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come)
Thank the Lord, His love endures! All to whom His love is sure,
all who fear Him day by day, let them thanks and praise now say!
Out of my distress I cry; He will hear me from on high.
He will free me from all fear. What can man do to me here?

Read Luke 21.1-24; meditate on verses 20-24.

1. What did Jesus say would happen to Jerusalem?

2. What would be the sign this was about to happen?

What the religious leaders of Jesus’ day feared most was that the Romans would come and take away their privileged place and their nation (Jn. 11.48). They feared that Jesus would be the cause of this disaster, so they put Him to death on the cross.

But what they feared would certainly come to pass. In 70 AD Roman legions destroyed Jerusalem and its temple, dispersing the population and effectively discontinuing the nation of Israel for nearly 2,000 years.

This is what Jesus prophesied in our passage for today. But notice how God worked to make sure everyone understood it was not because of Jesus that this destruction ensued. First, what Jesus prophesied would occur some forty years after His ascension to heaven. By then, the Jews and Romans would have driven most of the Christians out of Jerusalem (Acts 8.1), were seeking to murder the leadership that remained (Acts 12.1-4), and effectively made it necessary for Christians in Jerusalem to go underground. They were determined to stamp out the Name and people of Jesus, and for the most part, they succeeded.

So it wasn’t because of Him that judgment came upon Jerusalem and the Jewish people. As God had done many times over in the Old Testament, He showed His displeasure against Israel through the brutality of a foreign power, trampling down their city and temple and dispersing their people to the far parts of the empire. The lesson for us? God hates sham religion.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“When you see…then know…” (Lk. 21.20).

Do you see anything sham-full about the church today?
Do you sense pretended piety in yourself?
Do you believe it when you are told “there’s nothing to see here”?
That “all is well because we say so, and we’re having fun. Right?”
“God’s law is so cumbersome, and isn’t it all about grace?”
“Grace that allows us to do and think whatever is pleasing to us?”
If you see it, and are tired of it in others and yourself, do you ever wonder:
Does God see and know about our sham religion too? And if He does:
How long do you think He will wait to do to something about it?
In the meantime, Is there anything we can do about it? 

Well, I’m glad you asked. Yes, there is! God says:
If My people who are called by My name
will humble themselves
and pray
and seek My face,
and turn from their wicked ways,
Then I will hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin
and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7.14). 

But it’s that If, Then clause that is the bugaboo.
You mean I have to do something about it?
I need to change?
I need to be humble before God?
I need to pray and seek God?
I need to turn from my wicked ways?
Wait, you mean I have to stop pointing my finger at other people, and change my own ways?
I need to follow Your Law? Me? What about them? Those people? Those sinners?

“God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Lk. 18.13)
God told Samuel to say to the people:
If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods…from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only…[then] He will deliver you…” (1 Sam. 7.3).

Indeed, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14.34). 

Beware. If we see and know, then surely God also sees and knows.
Jesus said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, [then]
I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3.19-22).

If we repent, then we don’t need to fall under “The Judgment of the Sham”.

For reflection
1. What is repentance? When is repentance necessary?

2. God hates sham religion. How can we know when we are practicing or encouraging sham religion?

3. What can you do, day by day, to keep your faith from drifting into sham?

Having given an idea of the times for about thirty-eight years next to come, Christ shows what all those things would end in, namely, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the utter dispersion of the Jewish nation… So fully did the Divine judgments come upon the Jews, that their city is set as an example before us, to show that sins will not pass unpunished; and that the terrors of the Lord, and his threatenings against impenitent sinners, will all come to pass, even as his word was true, and his wrath great upon Jerusalem. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Luke 21.20-24

Pray Psalm 118.19-29.
Call on the Lord to purge you of any insincerity of faith, any sham religion or false beliefs that keep you from knowing, loving, and serving Him.

Sing Psalm 118.19-29.
(St. George’s Windsor: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come)
All who know Christ’s righteousness His great Name now thank and bless!
Though His gate full righteous is, He our saving mercy is.
Cast aside and left alone, Christ is now our Cornerstone!
God has made His Son and Word our salvation: Praise the Lord!

Blessed are they who in His Name come and Jesus’ grace proclaim.
God His light upon us shines in the Savior’s sacrifice.
Praise and thanks to You, O Lord; we extol Your holy Word!
Thanks to You for You are good! Thanks to our great loving God!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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