Michael F. Blume

© 2009 Michael F. Blume

All Rights Reserved

Matthew chapter 21 shows a  major shift in the overall emphasis and focus of Jesus Christ’s words. In this chapter, He rode into Jerusalem as the long-awaited King of Zion's daughter and was rejected. From this point onward his focus was upon the judgment that Jerusalem had sealed to her own fate. Everything He said after this was, for the most part, either a parable about the loss of the Kingdom by Israel and the reception of it instead by the church, or warnings for his followers concerning departure from the faith.

The forfeiture of the opportunity for
Jerusalem and Israel as a nation in the overall plan of God was tragic. The issue of that "generation" (people living at that time) of people who rejected Jesus brings to mind many statements Jesus spoke before Matthew 21 that deal with the same warning of judgment.

After a situation where Jesus cast a demon spirit out of a man that caused the person to be blind and dumb, scoffers questioned his authority and source of the ability to do so (Matt 12:22-30).   Some even claimed he was of the devil!  Jesus informed them that it was impossible for satan to work against his own house and be the cause of a devil’s expulsion out of a person. Then He made a statement that hinted at the futility of anyone standing against Himself by saying, "Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."

Jesus was able to overcome the strongman of the house when he cast out the demon spirit from the man because He was stronger than the strong man.  The reason He then spoke of those who are not with Him are those who are against Him, was to imply that His greater strength than the strong man would also be manifested against His enemies.  It would be more than a devil that would be cast out in times to come.  This is a vital bit of information to notice. It was in this last statement that Jesus implied the destruction of Jerusalem due to its aversion to accepting His Messiahship.

When we reach verse 38 of the narrative, we find a Pharisee asking Him to come good for His strong claims about Himself. He wanted a sign that would vindicate His claims for their need to not be "against" Him. Matthew 12:38 KJV  Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

It was at this juncture that Jesus began a fascinating discourse involving two situations from Israel's past, recounted in the Old Testament, that actually speaks volumes, and makes profound predictions, about the ultimate judgment of obliterating satan's kingdom and anyone associated with the devil who stood against Christ. This included the eventual razing of Jerusalem to the ground forty years later.

Matthew 12:39-41 KJV  But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:  (40)  For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  (41) The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas.

He spoke of Jonah's sign as the only sign to be given to that adulterous generation. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, the Son of man would be three days and nights in the heart of the earth. Jesus explained that the people of Ninevah, to whom Jonah preached after having escaped the whale, repented at Jonah's message. They would rise up in judgment against Jerusalem, because their experience would condemn the generation of Christ's day due to the ability to repent at the message of a prophet the likes of Jonah, whereas that generation had Jesus Christ minister to them -- one far greater than Jonah -- and they would not repent.

Matthew 12:42 KJV  The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.   Jesus then spoke of the Queen of Sheba who traversed much of the planet to see the glory of Solomon, and the people to whom Jesus spoke were across the street from Him, so to speak, and would not give any glory to God in accepting Christ's word.

As it turns out, these two examples of Ninevah's population and the queen of Sheba, and what particularly happened to each of them, is closely associated with the earlier experience the blind and mute man had when delivered of the demon. It actually sheds great insight as to the degree of wickedness in which the generation of Christ's day had stooped.   It is no coincidence Jesus spoke of  Sheba and Ninevah after having cast out the demon spirit.  The specific conditions of not being able to speak and being blind are directly related to the examples from the Old Testament.

The details of a comparison between Jonah's characteristics with those of Christ's, as well as that between Ninevah and the Jews in Christ's day is astounding. Consideration of both contrasts is important.

Jonah spent the same amount of time in the whale's belly that Christ spent in the tomb. But the reasons for that duration of time are alarming. Jonah was there due to his refusal to preach to Ninevah. He actually wanted Ninevah to receive God's wrath, and for that reason fled to Tarshish by boat -- the opposite direction to which Ninevah was situated. We learn in the third chapter of Jonah that the prophet knew Ninevah would likely repent and God would spare them his wrath should he preach to them.

Jonah 3:10-4:2 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

He actually said he fled to Tarshish since he knew God was slow to anger and was extremely forgiving. Knowing that Ninevah's cry of repentance would turn the Lord to cease from destroying the people as He said He would, moved Jonah to to ensure Ninevah be destroyed by having refused to go and preach.

God prepared several things to deal with Jonah.  He prepared a wind and storm to rock the ship in which Jonah sailed, in order for the ship-hands to eventually throw the prophet of God overboard. Once overboard, God prepared a whale to swallow the man of God. This was for the purpose of shaking Jonah to return and preach to the kingdom of Ninevah.

The reason Jonah was in the belly of the whale was due to his refusal to see Ninevah spared.  Contrast this with Jesus and why He was three days and nights in the tomb.  Jesus went into the tomb because He wanted
Israel to be saved from sin. He prayed for the Father to forgive the people of Jerusalem while He hung on the cross, for they knew not what they did.

God’s dealings and preparations for Jonah did not stop once Ninevah was saved.  He prepared a gourd to grow supply a large set of leaves to shade the prophet in the hot sun as the prophet watched to see if judgment would come.  He then prepared a worm to kill the gourd and watch Jonah’s complaint in order to make a point to the miserable prophet.  God said the entire kingdom did not know what they did, either -- or as God put it, "that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand (Jonah 4:11)," and yet Jonah was more upset over the loss of a plant that grew up and died in one day, than for all those people.

What a miserable prophet!  After God saved Ninevah, he still set out to deal with this prophet and to correct his attitude and disposition. 

Jonah 4:10-11 KJV Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: (11) And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

And this is how Jonah, who wrote of his own miserable attitude and behavior, ended his own book! What a way to end a book of the Bible. It leaves you stunned! Thank God for the obvious humility Jonah manifested in even recounting such an experience of his antics and God's rebuke to him. But the effect leaves one reeling!

On the other hand, Jesus was willingly killed, when He could have called legions of angels to stop the work of the cross and plunge Jerusalem into fire. Christ was buried because He wanted to save those for whom He died.  Jonah was in his counterpart experience because he did not want the people saved. Jonah was "entombed" because he did not care, while Jesus cared so much He gave His life. Everything about Jesus compared to Jonah was greater.   “A greater than Jonah is here.”  Ninevah’s salvation was only of one city to be freed from wrath-fire.   Israel, and the world’s salvation, was from a hell where the fire is not quenched. Jonah was only a stubborn prophet. Jesus was the All-loving Son of God -- God manifested in flesh, Himself. Jonah was displeased with Ninevah’s repentance and God’s salvation. Jesus was overjoyed with mankind’s repentance and salvation. In fact, it was Jesus Who said that all the angels rejoice over one soul who repents.

Think of some inhuman people whose acts and violence are beyond imagination in the degree of their depravity. A couple of years ago I heard that David Berkowitz committed his life to Jesus while in prison. This was the man who called himself the son of Sam and went on a killing spree, whom the devil allegedly spoke to and directed through the medium of a dog. Some could be quite angry at the thought of God forgiving such a man, and perhaps sneer at the thought of such a claim from a murderer. How could the cost of innocent people's lives be forgiven at the hands of such a man? But how much more innocent and sinless was Jesus Christ? Yet
Jerusalem slew the holy Lord, Himself, on a cross, and the Lord called out for their forgiveness! There was far more evil allowed into the hearts of the nation who slew Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, than the depravity of a people of Ninevah to whom Jonah was sent to preach.

Ninevah was indeed wicked.  History recounts that the king erected a pyramid of skulls in the kingdom center taken from those whom he murdered at his whim.  It is probable that Jonah felt these people should not be spared regardless at the event they might repent.  He simply did not want them spared.   “Kill them all!  Do not even give them the chance.  If they were to be destroyed in forty days, do not even inform them, and give them a chance to repent.  Just do it, Lord!”  Jesus said the Jews of His day were more wicked than that.

I must say something at this juncture. Some claim the Jews of all ages since are to blame for that day two thousand years ago, and that the acceptance of Christ's blood upon the heads of them and their children implies the guilt of Jews of all generations ever since. That is not true, and is completely unfair.  Jesus spoke of that generation -- the people living at that time -- as being responsible.

Ezekiel told the world through his prophecy that God would never more allow the proverb to be stated again in
Israel -- the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. Basically, the word said that the children shall not be held accountable for the sins of their fathers. Ezekiel distinctly said this would not hold true any more in "Israel!"

Ezekiel 18:1-4 KJV  The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying,  (2)  What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?  (3)  As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.  (4)  Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.


So the Jews of every generation since, regardless of their troubles, have never been judged by God due to that act of the forefathers in the crucifixion of Jesus, no matter what anybody has claimed.  This is another reason dispensationalism’s claim that blindness is upon national Israel to this day due to the sins of their forefathers is simply not true. It can’t be true according to Ezekiel 18.

However, Jonah’s miserable attitude was the sort that Ninevah faced, and they still repented at his message.   As hard-hearted as Ninevah in all her atrocities were, the entire kingdom repented at the preaching of a far less prophet than
Israel witnessed in Jesus Christ.  This implies that the entire nation of Israel was meant to accept Christ as Messiah.  Jesus Christ's sinless and ultimately innocent spirit bore a "prophetic word" that far overshadowed that of Jonah's.

Jonah begrudgingly preached. Jesus lovingly preached.   Israel rejected the loving Son of God who gave His life to save them. Ninevah accepted the preaching from a practically good-for-nothing prophet who had more love for a plant than scores of thousands of heathen souls!

The Queen of the south came from the uttermost part of the world to hear and see Solomon’s glory. When you read Sheba's account of asking Solomon hard questions, and relating how the half of what the actual situation in his kingdom was not told to her, we see another set of contrasts presented against the two thoughts of Israel's wickedness and Christ's glory.

Jesus was not only greater than Jonah, but also greater than Solomon. The magnificence of Solomon's kingdom awed a contemporary of his from Sheba who ruled across the world. It would have been one thing to awe a servant who was not used to the lap of luxury and royalty, but to hear a queen speak of this in the degree she did was another thing altogether.

Notice the details of
Sheba's witness.

1Kings 10:1-13 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon. And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones. And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king's house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day. And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.

There were people all around Jesus in the
land of Israel. They did not have to travel any length of land at all to hear Jesus and see His wisdom. And here we have the Queen of Sheba having traveled across the then-known world to see Solomon, and Jesus was far greater than Solomon! The generation to whom Jesus preached was so uninterested in the true glory of God, they could not walk across the street to eagerly hear Jesus, but only came to Him to mock Him and tempt Him.   When faced with the glory of His power in casting out demons, they were so stubborn they attributed it to the power of the devil.

Everything about Jesus was greater than Solomon.
Sheba saw Solomon’s house. Jesus’s house is the CHURCH comprised of the lively stones of living souls. Sheba saw ministers of Solomon and their apparel and their ascending and descending until there was no spirit was left within her. Jesus had ministers who soon performed miracles and wonders and cast out demons in His name, and speak in other tongues.

A Queen is going to stand up in the day of judgment, after all of Ninevah condemns Israel of Jesus’ day, and confirm that generation of
Israel's condemnation. How much more would Sheba have traveled, if Jesus were in her day? How much less of her spirit would be left if she saw what Jesus had and did and said? But the evil in the generation of Jesus’ day was much greater than that of Solomon’s day.

Then things change and Jesus made a speech that forms part of the same conversation, rebuking
Israel for their rejection of Him, but does not seem to fit the picture.  Upon careful consideration, though, it does fit indeed!

Matthew 12:43 KJV  When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

He spoke about a demon cast out of a man that wanders in dry places. The demon is able to return and check out the house from which it was cast. It sees the house swept and garnished, but that is all. So, it says it will return with seven others more wicked than itself to re-enter the house and fortify itself greater so as to ensure it not be cast our again. Then Jesus said the last state of the man is worse than the first. And He packed a powerful punch in the last phrase He made:

Matthew 12:45b KJV  …Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

The “generation” was more wicked than Ninevah, having not accepted God’s Word from Christ.  That generation’s stubbornness was manifested so greatly in refusing to accept their Messiah who came to them (John
1:11), whereas a Queen traveled across the then-known world to come to see a lesser glory than Solomon.  Then Jesus stated that “generation” would experience the return of a devil with seven devils worse than itself, making the last state more severe than the first.  He spoke of demonic possession as the first state, with the generation ending with a degree of demonic possession that would make the former seem mild!  Think of the implications.

Why did Jesus say this?

Remember that the whole conversation started after he cast out a devil and people mocked. In a conversation about Israel’s rejection of Jesus, and in a conversation in which Jesus refers to Sheba’s and Ninevah’s acceptance of men who were far less glorious than the Lord, Jesus actually implied that He came and cleaned house free from the devil!  During His ministry,
Israel was “swept clean and garnished.”  Satan was cast out of the land due to Christ’s Light and Word.  The people had equal opportunity to be freed from the hindering effects of satan's effects when Jesus ministered.  Christ broke up a funeral procession and raised the dead to life.  He healed the sick and cast out demons.  He preached such truth until the people could not resist his authority. 

In comparing that generation to a house, we find an inference that He prepared and garnished Israel to be a special house for His Spirit.  A veritable HOLIEST OF HOLIES, when afore they were lost in as much sin as the rest of mankind were.  In effect, the devil was cast out of the land and held back from Israel, just as Christ described the state of a demon cast out of a man to wander in dry places.

Notice, though, that the man just previously delivered of demons was set free from two distinct things. Blindness and being mute and dumb. In other words, he formerly could not see nor speak to the devil within him.

Interestingly enough, when Jesus referred to Ninevah, He said that the specific thing Ninevah did as a result of Jonah’s message of doom, which
Israel refused to do, was to speak!  When we repent, we call upon the name of the Lord. We confess with our mouths and exclaim that our hearts are truly sorry and want the will of the Lord. However, Israel would not speak these words. Jesus cast the devil out of Israel in order for   The muting force of the devil was cast out of Israel, and they had all the chance in the world to see God’s glory and cry out in response!

Aside from being mute, the demon caused the man whom it possessed to have previously experienced blindness.  In Jesus's reference to Sheba, the distinct thing she is written to have responded with was an emphasis about what she saw. Watch for this detail in the scripture below:

1Kings 10:4-7 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

Speaking was emphasized in conjunction with Ninevah's reactions to Jonah's preaching:

Jonah 3:5-8 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused [it] to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

Sheba emphasized what she saw, and we are told that Ninevah was directed to "cry mightily". Speak. Lift up the voice and holler to the Lord!

1. Cry mightily to God.
2. See His great wisdom and glory!

The devil was cast out of Israel so Israel could speak and see in response to observing God’s glory!  Jesus cast out the demon and swept the house and garnished it. He prepared them. But they would not bring Him inside and dwell with them. They rejected Jesus’ entrance and His Spirit into their lives.

Matthew 23:37-38 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! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

Jesus spent three days in the earth and the Gospel was preached after He resurrected. 3,120 were saved in that City of Jerusalem, according to Acts chapter 2. And as years past, the devil who was cast out came back. It saw Israel’s rejection of Jesus. It left and went and got itself seven more spirits greater than itself (seven is the number of completion in the Bible). It made its mind up that Israel was not going to be ransacked of his wicked influence and taken from it again! In AD70, Israel might have thought Rome's crushing hand was strong against her in the decades before, but satan returned causing her blindness and refusal to glorify God to such a degree that God judged her and nobody was able to so much as reconvene a nation called Israel until AD 1948.  What happened in Jesus’ hypothetical picture of a man delivered of demons, becoming worse than the first state, happened with that generation. What a lesson for all the generations of the world ever since! We ought to give God glory and open our eyes quite widely to every bit of glory the Lord can possibly offer for us to see. Cry mightily to the Lord. Put a "No vacancy" sign up on our lives, due to having allowed the Lord to fill our lives with His Spirit and presence, leaving no room for anything from the devil to enter in any form. We ought not reject anything God could ever show to our eyes, and should never hold back cries of praise to Him. A lot of us were open enough to walk away from the teachings of Dispensationalism and futurism, but we ought to ensure we will always remain open for correction to the Lord.

Revelation reveals the degree of demonic possession that the New Babylon, Jerusalem, experienced after having evil returned with seven devils more worse than itself, when we read:

Revelation 18:2 KJV And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

Jesus explicitly said that generation of His day would experience the very thing described in his story of a devil who returned and made the last state far worse than the first. Notice the last sentence of the scripture below.

Matthew 12:43-45 KJV When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. (44) Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. (45) Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Sandwiched between words describing demon possession we find a rebuke to the very generation of Israel who rejected Him and called for His blood to be their heads. And Revelation recounts the demonic possession of that entire generation.




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