General Idea: God is a God who gives us grace, comfort, and rest, yet is also a God of judgment. All too often we forget His holiness, righteousness, and right to judge. We forget we are responsible for our actions. We just go on with our meager lives without any forethought of consequences or opportunities. Yes, our God is a God of Grace. How wonderful and comforting to be able to allow Him to be our haven of rest, our comfort. Yet we cannot allow ourselves to neglect His full magnitude and character. All too often, we, as sinful humanity, place ourselves in the judgment seat, passing our Will and agenda to others. Perhaps we are correct in our assumptions, but, conceivably, we cannot see the hearts of others, or the facts. We must be able to leave the judgment to Christ; He is perfect and all knowing, and we are not. We need to be willing and able to wait and rest in Him, His plan, and in His ways, not ours. Even in times when we suffer stress and confusion, even when we fail, He is there, holding us, loving us, and giving us His rest and grace beyond what we can fathom. When we surrender our yoke--that is, our Will and plans--over to His perfect rest, how splendid a Christian walk we will have; what an impact we can be!
1. Rebuke the cities: This is called a "judgment oracle." It was common of OT prophets to condemn evil cities whose people had rejected God (Amos 3:2; Jonah. 4:11). Rebuke/ denounce are very strong words conveying justified indignation.
a. The more knowledge you have, the more responsibility you have to use and practice it. That is why Moses was not let into the Promise Land; he disobeyed God. He knew better than anyone who ever lived not to do that! Fortunately, today we have Grace! Even though Moses disobeyed God in a relatively minor matter in our perspective, God was still gracious, and showed him all that would come. What God sees as important, we sometimes skip. Remember, Moses knew better. And, when we sin, we know better too! Thus the offence of striking the rock was bad enough for him to be excluded from entering the Promised Land. Moses had been face to face with God, and knew his duty and call. His anger broke the trust he had with God, resulting in grave consequences. Fortunately for us, we have Grace to further protect us (Ex.17: 6; Num. 20:8-11)!
b. In Jesus' time, Tyre, and Sidon were considered the most wicked and pagan cities that had ever existed. Few to none of their inhabitants repented or acknowledged God (1 Kings 16:11; 17:9-24).
c. Sackcloth and ashes meant intense mourning and/or repentance.
d. According to recent archeological evidence, Chorazin was a small city two miles from the large city of Capernaum.
e. Jesus' miracles were real and evidential to whom He was. When the people rejected Christ, they rejected their hope and deliverance; they turned away from their promise, heritage, fulfillment, and their salvation.
2. Day of Judgment. No one has an excuse. Even in the wickedest of cities, the righteous people testified on behalf of God. God showed mercy upon mercy, until there was no hope for their repentance (Book of Jeremiah; Matt. 12:41; 23:13; Luke 12:47-48; Rom. 1:20-2:16)).
a. Judgment is when God will overthrow every resistance of evil (1 Cor. 6:2-3; Matt. 25:31-46). This also means a new world administrated by Christ that will replace the present one (2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1).
i. We all are responsible to God, according to the election and Grace that we receive or reject (Matt 3:11-12; 24:29, 35; Luke 12:17 ff.; John 5:22; Rom. 2:12-16).
ii. The judgment will bring the deeds of darkness to the Light (Isa. 29:15; 45:16-17).
iii. Judgment is a part of the liberation of Christians who trust and obey God (Luke 18:1-8; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; Rev. 6:10).
b. Judgments were also against the kings and rulers who were evil and corrupt, especially those who claimed they were god (Isa. 5:14; 14:14-15; Jubilees 24:31, Jewish apocryphal book).
c. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel called for judgment numerous times upon evil cities and their people who had fallen away, who refused to acknowledge God and His sovereignty, protection, and plan. The people in those cities would rather have sought false gods, and depending upon themselves, suffered and died, than have acknowledged God as Lord! Has anything changed since Christ came? Only that we now have our Haven of Rest!
d. God is patient--as in long-suffering--in exercising judgment so that people may have the time and chance to come to faith and repentance (Luke 13:6-9; Rom. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).
3. Hidden these things from the wise. This refers to God's sovereignty and control. He alone chooses who will be clued into His truth, and who is not worthy to know or not ready. God is the One who chooses and dispenses wisdom and life. He is the only One who is capable and sufficient in knowledge, wisdom, justice, and mercy to do so. God reveals Himself in the heart and His Word. We cannot come to know Him or understand God from any other secular means; no learning, science, or power can grasp whom God is or what He is up to.
a. We cannot justify ourselves or say we are right in wisdom and learning (1 Cor. 1:26).
b. Wisdom is never something a wise person would claim or boast. When they do, then you know they are not really wise (Job. 12:24; Prov. 3:5-6; 12:15; 16:2; 21:2; 26:12).
c. To fear God is to reverence Him and acknowledge that He is Lord over our lives. It is not fear as in being afraid; rather it is ultimate respect and awe (Job 28:28; Psalm 11:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10). We can be in His rest with awe!
d. God sees the humble as the real wise ones, whereas the world looks to pride and arrogance, which God hates (1 Sam. 2:39).
e. God does not owe anyone an explanation or a revelation!
f. All things means that all things in the universe have been committed to Jesus. Being fully God, He is Sovereign (John 12:44-46). When you know Jesus, you know God; God's Spirit allows us to know Jesus. Thus, Jesus has the power of predestination.
4. Come unto me is a promise of wisdom and the offering of God's strength, and perhaps the most endearing words uttered by our Lord! It is so simple for the humble to see and accept, yet so hard for a mind preoccupied with the pride of self. Without humbling ourselves to acknowledge Him, we cannot receive the Savior. Rather, we get a need unmet and a soul empty.
a. This is a picture of Jesus offering Himself to us. He has the authority to invite and He is the author of our salvation. Jesus' load is heavy and requires our fullest for His Highest; yet, it is easy when our eyes and faith are on Him (1 John 1:7)!
b. God offers rest to the exhausted, tired, and weary (Neh. 8:10; Isa. 40:28-32; Ecclus 24:19 (Jewish apocryphal book).
c. Yoke refers to a crossbeam carried on the shoulders to pull a plow or a load. It is a symbol of work, of hardship. It is the image of subjection and strict obedience. God's Law was referred to as a yoke. God offers His love in place of His wrath. Grace takes the Law off our shoulders when we turn to Him, and away from all that is false (Jer. 6: 13-20; 27:2; Gal. 5:1)!
d. Meekness is not self-abasement; it is strength under control. The Jewish leaders added greatly to God's Law and over-burdened the people, distracting them from knowing the real God.
e. Paul says the same thing (1 Cor. 1:26-31).
God is more concerned with our obedience than our knowledge. This is so essential for us to understand and apply! What we think we know pales in comparison to who Christ is and what He does for us. When we feel we are wise, we are like a four-year-old thinking he knows better than his parents. How far can a four-year-old carry himself in life? How far can we carry ourselves in life without Christ? We may think we are doing well, but when we look back, with eternity as our guide, our ways are revealed as very pathetic indeed! We need to allow God's truth to reign in us, and hold on to that reign with trust and obedience. When we do this without worry, and with trust, we grow, and real wisdom will flow to us, and through us to those around us. Just be aware that God will not give you wisdom or gifts until you have mastered what He has already given you (Luke 16:10; 19:17; John 7:17; 14:12; Heb. 12:6)!
1. Where and when do you like to take a rest…a room, place, chair, etc.?
2. Have you ever been a victim of someone's judgment? If so, was it correct, or not? How did you feel?
3. All too often, Christians only see God's Grace. How does knowing that God is a God of judgment, as well as a God of holiness and righteousness affect your faith and obedience?
4. What happens to a Christian's growth and faith when all he acknowledges is God's grace, and not the rest of His attributes?
5. When, and how have you judged others? If you do not think you have, what about when you passed your Will and agenda onto others? What was the effect? What should you have done?
6. The more knowledge you have, the more responsibility you have to use and practice it. What does this mean to you and your church? Consider your gifts and opportunities. How have you used them?
7. If you feel God has not given you what you have sought, have you obeyed Him with what He has given you thus far?
8. How has Grace protected you?
9. A lot of non-Christians have a problem with hearing that people they think are "good" are going to Hell because they lived a good life, but did not accept Christ. How can this passage and the understanding of God's mercy answer their objections?
10. Can you imagine a new world administrated by Christ replacing the present one? What do you think that would be like?
11. Have you ever thought that Judgment is a part of the liberation of Christians who trust and obey God?
12. God is patient--as in long-suffering--in exercising judgment, so that people may have the time and chance to come to faith and repentance. How can this thought give you comfort if a loved one has passed away, and you are not sure if they knew the Lord?
13. God is the only One who is capable and sufficient in knowledge, wisdom, justice, and mercy to dispense wisdom and life. Why then do most people feel they are qualified to do this for themselves?
14. Have you known people who boast about their wisdom? How does this make you feel about their real knowledge?
15. God sees the humble as the real wise ones, whereas the world looks to pride and arrogance, which God hates. How can this understanding help you grow in your faith and wisdom?
16. What does it mean to you to have fear and awe for God? How do you practice this?
17. Why is it so hard for a mind preoccupied with the pride of the self to have real wisdom and insights of God and His wonders?
18. God offers His love to replace His wrath. Grace takes the Law off our shoulders when we turn to Him and away from all that is false. How can this knowledge fuel you with gratitude to want to seek and model Him more?
19. What can you do to take to heart in a deeper way that God is more concerned with your obedience than your knowledge?
20. How can you use your right knowledge to model Christ-like character to others? How would this attitude affect your witness and evangelism?
© 2003, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org