And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
These words, which rang the funeral knell of Jerusalem, tell out in our ears this day a solemn lesson; they tell us that in the history of nations, and also, it may be, in the personal history of individuals, there are three times — a time of grace, a time of blindness, and a time of judgment. This, then, is our subject — the three times in a nation's history. When the Redeemer spake, it was for Jerusalem the time of blindness; the time of grace was past; that of judgment was to come.
I. THE TIME OF GRACE. We find it expressed here in three different modes: first, "in this thy day"; then, "the things which belong to thy peace"; and thirdly, "the time of thy visitation." And from this we understand the meaning of a time of grace; it was Jerusalem's time of opportunity. The time in which the Redeemer appeared was that in which faith was almost worn cut. He found men with their faces turned backward to the past, instead of forward to the future. They were as children clinging to the garments of a relation they have lost; life there was not, faith there was not — only the garments of a past belief. He found them groaning under the dominion of Rome; rising up against it, and thinking it their worst evil. The coldest hour of all the night is that which immediately precedes the dawn, and in that darkest hour of Jerusalem's night her Light beamed forth; her Wisest and Greatest came in the midst of her, almost unknown, born under the law, to emancipate those who were groaning under the law. His life, the day of His preaching, was Jerusalem's time of grace. During that time the Redeemer spake the things which belonged to her peace: but they rejected them and Him. Now, respecting this day of grace we have two remarks to make. First: In this advent of the Redeemer there was nothing outwardly remarkable to the men of that day. And just such as this is God's visitation to us. Generally, the day of God's visitation is not a day very remarkable outwardly. Bereavements, sorrows — no doubt in these God speaks; but there are other occasions far more quiet and unobtrusive, but which are yet plainly days of grace. A scruple which others do not see, a doubt coming into the mind respecting some views held sacred by the popular creed, a sense of heart loneliness and solitariness, a feeling of awful misgiving when the future lies open before us, the dread feeling of an eternal godlessness, for men who are living godless lives now — these silent moments unmarked, are the moments in which the Eternal is speaking to our souls. Once more: That day of Jerusalem's visitation — her day of grace — was short. A lesson here also for us. A few actions often decide the destiny of individuals, because they give a destination and form to habits; they settle the tone and form of the mind from which there will be in this life no alteration. We say not that God never pleads a long time, but we say this, that sometimes God speaks to a nation or to a man but once. If not heard then, His voice is heard no more.
II. THE TIME OF BLINDNESS. If a man will not see, the law is he shall not see; if he will not do what is right when he knows the right, then right shall become to him wrong, and wrong shall seem to be right.
III. THE TIME OF JUDGMENT. It came in the way of natural consequences. We make a great mistake respecting judgments. God's judgments are not arbitrary, but the results of natural laws. The historians tell us that Jerusalem owed her ruin to the fanaticism and obstinate blindness of her citizens; from all of which her Redeemer came to emancipate her. Had they understood, "Blessed are the boor in spirit," "Blessed are the meek," and "Blessed are the peacemakers"; had they understood that, Jerusalem's day of rum might never have come. Is there no such thing as blindness among ourselves? May not this be OUT day of visitation? First, there is among us priestly blindness; the blindness of men who know not that the demands of this age are in advance of those that have gone before. Once more, we look at the blindness of men talking of intellectual enlightenment. It is true that we have more enlightened civilization and comfort. What then? Will that retard our day of judgment? Jerusalem was becoming more enlightened, and Rome was at its most civilized point, when the destroyer was at their gates. Therefore, let us know the day of our visitation. It is not the day of refinement, nor of political liberty, nor of advancing intellect. We must go again in the old, old way; we must return to simpler manners and to a purer life. We want more faith, more love. The life of Christ and the death of Christ must be made the law of our life.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,