And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,…
I. WHAT IS A DIVINE VISITATION?
1. The common use of the word associates it with judgment, with judicial infliction of punishment of some sort.
2. Divine visitations are often connected with the purpose of blessing.
3. God visits us, in giving us the fruits of the earth in due season.
4. Visitation means warning. It is in this sense our Lord here describes His own ministry as the "visitation" of Jerusalem. Partly, no doubt, it was a visitation of judgment, yet more was it a visitation of blessing; it brought with it instruction, grace, pardon. His visitation was also a warning against some besetting sins of a very old and settled religion — against formalism, hypocrisy, insincere use of sacred language, insincere performance of sacred duties; and it was especially a warning to the people of Israel, against their taking a wrong turn in their thoughts and aspirations and efforts in the future before them.
II. WHY SHOULD THE FAILURE TO KNOW THE TIME OF VISITATION VERY OFTEN BE FOLLOWED BY SUCH GREAT CONSEQUENCES?
1. Because such failure implies the decline of spiritual interest, which in those who have had any religious training and opportunities is culpable. To believe sincerely in the living God, who interests Himself in His mortal creatures, is to be on the look-out for tokens of His intervention in the affairs of men; in other words, for His visitations. When a Divine visitation comes, it is a touchstone of the interests of souls: it finds some anxious, expectant, willing to recognize and make the most of it, and others, as our Lord said, whose hearts have waxed gross, and whose ears are dull of hearing, and whose eyes are closed. This insensibility to the approach of God in His life and power wounds the heart of God. We cannot forsake Him for anything else with impunity.
2. If God visits in warning, then to neglect His visitation is to neglect conditions of safety against dangers which are before us" So it was now with the Jews. If the Jews had given heed to the teaching of our Saviour the conflict with the Roman authority would never have taken place.
III. THE DIFFICULTY FOR MANY MEN IS TO RECOGNIZE AT THE CRITICAL MOMENT THE FACT THAT GOD IS VISITING THEM. The most vitally important days and weeks in the history of a soul may have little to distinguish them outwardly from other days. It needs the earnest, penetrating recognition of God's unceasing and loving interest in His creatures to read life aright, whether it be corporate or individual life, to see the moral and spiritual worth of events. It may be said that there is room for a great deal of illusion in this matter of Divine visitation. "We may easily think ourselves more important people than we are; we may imagine that the events of our little lives have a meaning and worth which does not belong to them. Is there any test or criterion of His visitation?" Well, we have first of all to remember that no human life at any moment is other than an object of the deepest interest to God. He who made, He who redeemed, He who sanctified us, does not think any life too insignificant to be visited by Him. The hairs of your head are all numbered; it is impossible that the Infinite Love should ever despise the work of His own hands, the purchase of His own cross. The only question is, whether we are warranted in thinking that His interest and oversight have at a given time reached a special climax or visitation, having exceptional claims on our attention; and we are justified in thinking that this is the case if the truth which such a visitation enforces is in correspondence with the higher truth which we have learned before, though, perhaps, going beyond it, and if the conduct to which we are impelled or encouraged involves self-denial, involves that which is unwelcome or exacting.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,