Difficult Scriptures: Luke 12:49-56

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, David Roberts
The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, David Roberts

I was pressed into service to preach on Sunday because of an illness, and I was delighted (delighted, I say!) to learn that the Gospel text for Sunday was Luke 12:49-56. Oh boy.

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:

father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Luke 12:49-56, NRSV

Here’s an example of the way I’ve always heard this text presented in evangelical teaching. It is also, generally, the way I would have preached it when I walked among the evangelicals:

Popular perception in the world concerning Jesus is that He was a man of love who came to bring peace, that His message was peace on earth, peace through love.  That’s sort of the pop idea about Jesus…. But Jesus absolutely shattered that expectation.

…So Jesus says He’s come now to bring division.  Instead of uniting people in His kingdom of blessing, He divides them and He divides them both in time and eternity.

…You see, the cross divides everybody.  You’re either with the faithful or the unfaithful.  You’re either in heaven or hell and hell will always be punishment, always cut off from the life of God, always void of peace and joy and satisfaction and fulfillment, to whatever degree it’s experienced.  This is such an important text for people who think that those who are ignorant of the Gospel are going to somehow go to heaven.  They’re not.  The cross is the dividing point of all humanity.  What you do with Jesus Christ on the cross in His death and resurrection determines your eternal destiny.

…I understand that the gospel that we believe, the gospel that I preach, cuts me off from people.  I understand that it indicts them, that it condemns them by virtue of its message.  It is divisive, really nothing new, by the way.

…Beloved, Jesus is the great divider.  The cross is the great dividing event and at that point, we’re divided.  We’re divided for eternity and we’re divided in time and He calls for sinners to choose blessing and reward in heaven rather than cursing and punishment in hell.  He calls for you to make the break no matter what the breach might be in this life…

• John MacArthur
“Jesus, the Great Divider”

What we have here is another example of preaching evangelical doctrine rather than hearing what the text actually says.

From a narrative-historical perspective, this text is not about Jesus, the “Great Divider.” Insofar as it is about Jesus, I would say it speaks of Jesus as “Israel’s Final Prophet.” The warnings Jesus gives here are not about “heaven” and “hell,” his words are not about how “the cross divides people in both time and eternity,” the context is not one’s “eternal destiny,” and there is no call to “choose” which side you’re going to be on. The text, as far as I understand it, is not even about how Jesus divides people at all, it is about their inability to interpret “the present time” (v. 56) as a season in their national life that will inevitably bring turmoil, division, and conflict upon them. There is a “fire” that Jesus’ coming sparked which will tear people apart and immerse them in distress.

What is that fire? Jesus is looking ahead to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans. As Israel’s final prophet, he is warning the people that the fire of war is about to ignite. He also says that he himself will be touched by that — he will be burned by Rome’s fire in a “baptism” he wishes was over. Jesus is not just another prophet, teaching them how to live in peace. His coming and the announcement that God’s Kingdom is at hand means that the people (including himself) will soon pass through the painful birth pains of a new age. But they don’t get it. They can’t read the signs. They are not ready for the crisis to come.

So, how would preach this passage? Here’s my sermon from Sunday. Let me know what you think.


Through Violence to Shalom
Luke 12:49-56

When our Creator God made the world he made it to be a place of shalom. That beautiful Hebrew word means “peace and wholeness” in all aspects of life. However, when we read the Bible, we’re not more than a few chapters in when we read that the world was filled with violence and conflict. And it’s been that way ever since, hasn’t it?

One of the things we often forget about Jesus is that he came to a particular people in a particular place at a particular time in history. And we also forget that Jesus came to the Jewish people at one of the most turbulent times in Israel’s history, a time of impending crisis.

Israel was occupied by the Romans and ruled by their puppet king Herod. Herod rebuilt the temple at Jerusalem, but he was the loyal servant of Rome and the people hated him. All the different groups in Israel, such as the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Zealots, wanted the Romans out of Israel. Many Zealots were revolutionary patriots who hid in the hills and made surprise attacks on Roman soldiers. They were hunted down and tried as seditious murderers. It was a time of fear and terror.

Most of us can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a country with enemy soldiers patrolling the streets, checkpoints where you are regularly stopped and asked for identification, and places where you have to pay special tolls and bribes just to go about your ordinary business. But that’s what it was like in Jesus’ Israel. When he said things like, “if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also,” and “if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile,” he was talking about daily realities the Jewish people faced as they lived in an occupied country.

And when Jesus talked about a coming judgment, he wasn’t talking most of the time about what we think of as “the last judgment,” at which some people will be sent to “heaven” and others to “hell.” No, he was talking about a day, soon to come, of violent reckoning when the Roman armies would trample Jerusalem, raze the temple to the ground, and destroy the Jewish nation.  That is what happened in the year 70AD.

Listen to this passage from Luke 24, where Jesus foretells this coming crisis:

But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written.

God was about to intervene dramatically in history. The nation of Israel was soon to reach its devastating end. Jerusalem would be judged and God would allow the pagan nation of Rome to ransack the country. In the midst of Rome’s oppression, however, Jesus, through his death and resurrection, would be vindicated and exalted as God’s King over all the nations. He would form a new people in his name to carry the announcement everywhere that God’s King had come to rule over all the world and restore it to his original design of shalom.

This background is essential for reading today’s Gospel. Here we hear Jesus reprimanding the people for not being able to recognize the signs of the times. He warns them that they mustn’t view his ministry and teaching as that of just another religious leader, teaching them how to live in peace. No! His coming will introduce a season of profound trouble. Jesus is telling them that he has come to be Israel’s final prophet. He’s the last voice warning them of the fire to come. He himself will have to face a baptism of death under the Romans. This fearsome time that is coming upon the nation will be so stressful that even close families will be torn apart.

This passage reminds us of a couple of important truths. The first is this: although we celebrate Jesus as the Prince of Peace — the Prince of Shalom — shalom only came to us through a time of great distress and suffering. It reminds us that the world is often a violent, hateful place and that Jesus didn’t shy away from talking about that or getting involved in life’s mess. Indeed, he walked right into the midst of this violent world and was baptized with fire himself when he was forcibly arrested, falsely tried, and nailed to a cross as a criminal by the ruling powers. The peace we enjoy in Christ came only because he was willing to submit himself to violent death.

This passage also calls us to be realistic about the world in which we still live today. Whether or not we are facing an impending crisis like Israel would experience, this world is filled with trouble and conflict. Bad things happen. Crises occur. People act violently and hurt others. The ruling powers can be corrupt. Religious leaders can lead us astray. In times of stress, people can turn on each other, even family members. We know this. We read and hear about it every day still. We see it on our TV and computer screens. We lament the daily loss of life, the crisis of people who flee the violence and become exiles from their own homes. We weep over lives turned upside down, children who grow up in chaos and hunger, families torn apart by competing allegiances, uncertainty, and fear.

This gospel text we’ve read this morning likewise describes a troubled, violent world. It tells us about Jesus, who was born into such a world, right at the point of one of history’s great disasters, when the Romans virtually destroyed the people of Israel. We’ve heard how he encouraged them to recognize the signs of the times, to be wise about how hard life in this world can be. I think he would urge us to be wise like that as well.

What this passage doesn’t do is tell us how to live in the light of these things. For that, we must look at the rest of Jesus’ teaching. Here are the kinds of things he taught about how to behave in the midst of a violent and conflict-filled world:

  • “Blessed are the merciful,” in a world like this
  • “Blessed are the peacemakers,” in a world like this
  • In a world like this, “love your enemies”
  • In a world like this, “pray for those who persecute you”
  • In a world like this, “take food and drink to the hungry and thirsty and clothe the naked”
  • And, welcome the stranger
  • And, visit the sick and those who are in prison

In a violent and suffering world, the duty of the faithful is to practice sacrificial love. Just like Jesus did. Acts of love and compassion in a world of trouble and violence can begin to mend the torn and tattered places.

As a hospice chaplain, I see it every day. A woman I visit regularly used to be continually serving others. She was active in her work, her community, her family, and her church. Now she’s unable to do that. She’s in the final season of her life and must allow others to serve her. And they do. A family from her church stops by each Sunday after services just so they can give her her “Sunday hugs.” A dear friend flew up from Florida to stay with her and help her get things set up for the days when she will need constant care. Another friend who lives locally has come and painted the interior of her house and got it ready for new carpet to be laid so it can be sold more easily when she dies. A group of friends picks her up and takes her to Bob Evans for breakfast so she can get out once in awhile.

These are simple things, but as Mother Teresa once said, “We cannot all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.” We may not think we are making much of an impact on the world’s problems by such actions, but I think that is a complete misperception. Our ears are bombarded every day with stories that are “out there” and that make it seem like life is falling apart. But your real life and my real life is right here, right now, and it is through tending our own gardens that the world will ultimately be fed.

The book of James in the New Testament says that true religion involves caring for the orphans, the widows — the neediest and most vulnerable people among us — and keeping ourselves unstained by the world — that is, by keeping ourselves from becoming violent and divisive and caught up in the conflicts that keep our world from being at peace.

God’s design for this world is shalom. And his design for us is that we be people of love, people of shalom, people who bring shalom to others. In a world of violence and conflict, Jesus calls us to follow him right into this world, announcing his peace and working toward it through acts of sacrificial love.

48 thoughts on “Difficult Scriptures: Luke 12:49-56

  1. Then they’ve got a LOT of pretenders claiming their mantle.

    Pat Robertson, John “Flutterhands” Piper, everyone who claims God has them on speed-dial with the Special Inside Scoop (“Occult Gnosis” in Greek).


  2. I was always perplexed when good Christian people (Scofieldites) would corner me afterwards to tell me how foolish I was for wanting peace in the Middle East because it was intended to have worst and worst conflict until Armageddon. I had the feeling that they wanted us to advocate for bombing more people to hasten Armageddon.

    It’s called “Imminentizing the Eschaton”,

    AKA “Jump-start Armageddon”.

    AKA “Living in the prequel to Left Behind and finding it very exciting” — especially when God will beam YOU up before anything bad can personally happen to you. “It’s Prophesied, it’s Prophesied”.

    During the heyday of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay, it manifested as “Christians For Nuclear War” (not an official name, just my name for the Attitude). “It’s Prophesied! It’s Prophesied!”

    (Which in turn leads to “What is Prophecy? Foretelling the Future (‘History Written in Advance’) or saying what God wants said?”)


  3. Yeah, Jesus had too much confidence in the ability of folk-meteorology to forecast the weather, didn’t he? He was obviously wrong about this, if he actually said it; and if he was wrong in something small, how can we trust him in big things?

    If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? John3:12

    Now that’s a difficult question to answer, given how wrong you were about the weather. Sometimes I prefer to believe Jesus did not say some of the things the Gospels have him saying, including things like this.


  4. That may be true; God may be unable to secure the future, my future. But if so, then he can’t bring me out of, or through, the death I most surely will die; in which case, I’m wasting my time with him. I can do whatever good I still might in the remainder of my life without reference to Jesus or God. Why am I wasting my time? No one else can save me, and I certainly can’t save myself.


  5. The other problem I have with this idea is that it implies a “replacement theology”, in which God judges Israel, and then replaces them with the Church,

    After years of being bothered by this, because of the oh so very clear distinction between Israel and Church and god is not done with Israel (gag)…at this point, well, doesn’t God replace Israel with the church?

    The problem word there is “replace”. No. Does a butterfly replace a caterpillar? Does an adult replace a child? Israel became the Church. That’s all. There is no regression in Christ.


  6. I know that in some sense it must be theologically true to say that God has “allowed” every terrible thing that has ever happened to happen.

    I wonder if God *allows* anything to happen at all. We seem to be very good at ascribing things to him in hindsight. I don’t know if God has any control at all over the future.

    I also wonder if Jesus even predicted 70 AD. Or just read the “signs of the times”. Not like he gave a date range of warning. And all the texts about it were written again in hindsight.

    Jesus was a voice come out of the wilderness saying “stuff is bad and gonna keep being bad unless we all change”.


  7. Insofar as it is about Jesus, I would say it speaks of Jesus as “Israel’s Final Prophet.”

    This is…really encouraging, actually. Jesus is the final prophet. There is no spokesman for God anymore. He was the final word, complete, ultimate, finished, done.

    No Muhammed. No Martin Luther. No John Calvin. No John Nelson Darby. No Joseph Smith. No Scofield. No Bob Jones. No Bob Weiner. No Mike Bickle.

    Maybe we don’t have Prophets anymore. They call themselves by other names. And each of them splits and divides and starts something new.

    But Jesus…Jesus was the final word.




  8. He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens.

    I don’t know why this is so complicated. It clearly says rain storms only come from the west, and scorching heat only comes from the south wind. That’s the simple plain text understanding.

    No, meteorologist, you are wrong, those storms cannot come from the east. And hot air cannot rise because God said it always, always comes from below.

    Tell me, right now, who do you choose to believe.


  9. “your” dad. And I should probably have added, hospice care, while very good, is not what anyone looks forward to. You’e in for a tough time, and I’m sorry for it.


  10. Mike, I think you handled this topic very well. Having worked in the Middle East and seen the consequences of conflict there, I have a deep felt heart place to advocate for peace . . . for the entire world. When I use to speak at churches and speaking of our role as bringing redemption and peace to the world, I was always perplexed when good Christian people (Scofieldites) would corner me afterwards to tell me how foolish I was for wanting peace in the Middle East because it was intended to have worst and worst conflict until Armageddon. I had the feeling that they wanted us to advocate for bombing more people to hasten Armageddon. But, when you look into the eyes of people (on all sides) who have suffered, how can anyone desire more conflict? Because Jesus said it was going to happen and many would blame him for the divisions, doesn’t mean that he desires division, hate and suffering . . . but the opposite. Well, done and I’m glad you got suckered into this sermon.


  11. Yeah, I didn’t mean to imply that exactly. It’s awfully hard to envision how God “works” without conjuring up some anthropocentric picture, isn’t it?


  12. “self-critique”


    Chaplain Mike, this. I think AD70, 9/11, Fall of Constantinople, WW1, Hiroshima… all of it is to be read as judgment on myself. If I read it any other way, I am missing the point.


  13. For me at least, it’s not so much the judging, punishing, and saving (all of which need nuance) but the “interventionist” as being off somewhere else, popping up to occasionally “intervene” in some area that he was previously inactive (but had been keeping a watchful and angry eye), and then leaving again.


  14. I was talking about this yesterday with a colleague just exposed to the idea of “non-violent atonement.” I’m still trying to understand the concept more fully and admit I don’t fully grasp it yet. It’s clear to me that the language of the Bible speaks quite explicitly of an “interventionist God” who both judges (and punishes) and saves, and that he does so with a righteous character. I struggle with reconciling all of this.


  15. I just intended to say that regardless of whether the signs of a coming crisis were there and “natural”, the judgment itself is mentioned as “God intervening in history”, as in intervening to destroy Jerusalem.

    I don’t like to overly focus on that word “intervention”, but it’s one that triggers something for me because it’s paradigm shaping. The interventionist God.

    A person may very will concede that this particular set of scriptures isn’t eschatological like MacArthur assumes they are. But if the “duty of the faithful is to practice sacrificial love” is grounded in the person of Christ (and speculation about evil and suffering usually leaves me empty, leaving the command to love sacrificially as the only answer), and Christ is the revelation of the character of God, and God is actively and retributively intervening to destroy Jerusalem…what then? What is the grounding for Christian sacrificial love? Exegetical context aside, that’s the idea that MacArthur draws upon, develops, and takes to it’s conclusion – that Jesus isn’t really about “sacrificial love” when push comes to shove.

    Maybe the “judgment” and the intervention is the cross itself – as in “now is the judgment of this world” – the judgments being “forgive them for they know not what they do” and the first word of the risen Christ being “shalom”. But the violence is ours alone.


  16. Well, if Jesus came to bring division, looking around, he did a pretty good job. We may be more polarized today than any time since he spoke those words, and that’s saying a lot. We could point to more obvious drama in the past two thousand years, including the Jewish War, the American War Between the States, and the Cold War, but what’s going on now in the world at large behind our own Punch & Judy show may turn out to be the epitome. And true to form, few seem to even see the signs, much less interpret them. If this scriptural passage is difficult to understand, so is our ongoing situation. I wonder how many pastors called in sick with this one.


  17. And CM’s sermon has a more “Jewish” feel to it. Jesus was a Jew, speaking immersed in a Jewish culture, so He wouldn’t echo the “plain reading” of today’s Evangelicals. Or a Gospel of Personal Salvation alone.

    Judaism places a lot of emphasis on the here-and-now, while a lot of Christians neglect the here-and-now for the hereafter, the real world for spiritualized speculation. There’s something “earthy” about the Jewish approach. Even their afterlife — Olam-ha-ba — is grounded in the physical instead of Fluffy Cloud Heaven.


  18. Well Jesus was a religious prophet and I’m trying to represent his perspective. We can argue all day about how God intervenes in history or whether that is somehow metaphor or an ancient perspective that we should rethink. But the prophets spoke confidently of a God active in the affairs of people and nations.


  19. The signs of the times may or may not have been obvious depending on what a person is prepared to see, but the way the sermon reads is that “God was about to intervene dramatically in history”.

    I don’t interpret that statement as a passive “you reap what you so”. Intervention implies…. well….intervention in those “natural processes.”


  20. Whereas “prophetic critique” of America in Evangelicalism is critique of the Heathen Other from without. (From a position of Church Lady Righteousness.)


  21. “””It didn’t take any extraordinary prophetic insight to see that Israel was headed for a crisis”””

    +100. there is not much “prophecy” in “if you keep ping that bear…” But it almost always accurate.


  22. I remember after 9/11 how some televangelists proclaimed the attacks against the World Trade Center and other targets were “allowed” by God as a judgment against the moral decline of the US. I found that proclamation presumptuous…

    Makes you wonder if God has no reason for existence other than to PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH!

    Oh, and in Christianese, “Moral Decline(TM)” = HOMOSEXUALITY! HOMOSEXUALITY! HOMOSEXUALITY!


  23. Besides, in today’s text, Jesus’ criticism of his generation is that they are not recognizing signals that should be evident to everyone. It didn’t take any extraordinary prophetic insight to see that Israel was headed for a crisis.


  24. I have always failed to see how anyone can justify making “prophetic” judgments today, based on the fact that the inspired biblical prophets made such pronouncements in their day. It seems to me that they had a special calling in the history of Israel. I don’t see that their mantle got passed on to others.


  25. Robert F, I suspect that there were probably quite a lot of Jews who interpreted it as God’s judgement too, though for different reasons.

    After all, it wasn’t the first (or last) time in their history that disaster befell them, and given that the Torah is full of “if … then … or else” commandments/promises/threats, it wouldn’t be surprising if they worked God into their explanation of what happened.


  26. I guess I’ve been exposed enough to strains of modern biblical scholarship to doubt whether Jesus actually said these things before the events, and to think it possible that the Gospel writers and redactors put them into his mouth after the fact.


  27. All that you and Mike the Geologist may be true, Adam, and makes sense. But I bristle at the idea of Christians talking in any way about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70CE as God’s judgment against Israel, because I for some reason imagine myself as a Jew listening in to the abstract theological debates of my Christian neighbors, whose ancestors oppressed my ancestors for almost two millennia while hiding behind very similar sounding theological abstractions and justifications.


  28. The fact remains: Jesus foresaw and foretold a coming crisis, a time of violent reckoning upon Israel, which he interpreted as the birth pains leading to a new age. Process that as you will, but his teaching and ministry took place in that context. And therefore I think the message holds up: he calls us to be people who practice sacrificial love, even towards our enemies, and peacemakers in the midst of the world’s violence and crises.


  29. > I found that proclamation presumptuous,

    In almost all cases I would replace “presumptuous” with baseless. Baseless claims should be ignored.

    > Do we really believe that this is in keeping with God’s character?

    This is a topic that easily moves off-topic, and we’ve hashed it many times before.

    One first has to go back to the multiple possible meanings and forms of judgment – one being active vs. passive. In more than a few instances what happens to Israel seems either (a) inevitable [in the larger historical context] or (b) the accumulated consequences of their own ‘policies’. God does not seem to have to do much to get them into serious trouble – as in the continued provocation of the Romans [who did, after all, permit Herod to rebuild the Temple and were benevolent overlords by the standards of the day]. That the hammer would come down at some point does not require much in the way of divine scale tipping [in modern equivalent terms a good number of Americans would support bombing those ingrates into oblivion – they killed soldiers – who were someone’s son, husband, father].

    God’s character is clearly: in almost all cases do nothing, let the chips fall. So to me – it seems consistent. He did give them lots of sound advice and warnings.

    > Could the words of those televangelists after 9/11 have been right that it was God’s judgment?

    They were consequences for l-o-n-g sequences of events [which represent choices and non-choices]. An important distinction being that we have no prophets who called these things out as heralding events – so I doubt they can be discussed in quite the same way. Whatever theological context we bring to them is what we bring to them, no framing is provided to us.

    IMO it is unhelpful to attempt to interpret the world in that way given that we have no prophets to guide us. At best it is an interesting question to ask among friends behind closed doors; certainly not a question for the public square [where it will incite a fever in those of unbalanced temperament].


  30. The other problem I have with this idea is that it implies a “replacement theology”, in which God judges Israel, and then replaces them with the Church, which supposedly is meant to do the job of announcing God’s shalom to the whole world, the job at which Israel failed. But has the Church actually fulfilled such a calling? Has it brought shalom wherever it’s gone? Has it not brought a sword as often, or more often, than shalom? And isn’t it true that through much of Church history it was the Diaspora Jewish communities that sought to live at peace with their hostile, oppressive and dominant Christian neighbors? Wasn’t it in fact these Jewish communities that embodied “shalom” better than the persecuting Christian societies they found themselves surrounded by? How can we speak of a replacement of the Jews by the Church, when it was the Jews who embodied the calling of humbleness and long-suffering in the face of persecution far better than the Church ever has?


  31. Well, Robert, in the case of 70 AD we have Jesus’ own words that God allowed the judgment. And of course, one could argue Israel brought it on themselves by rebelling against Rome. Was 9/11 any different than the Civil War? Again one could argue simultaneously that it was both God’s judgment and us bringing it on ourselves. So I guess it comes down to how you view the judgment of God against sin. I’ve been leaning more and more to the Orthodox view that the judgment/wrath of God is the outworking of the separation that sin brings in our relationship to God. It is both cause and effect at the same time. And God’s judgment is ultimately restorative and healing. As CM says it is His purpose to bring shalom to the world through the establishment of His Kingdom in and through King Jesus.


  32. I know that in some sense it must be theologically true to say that God has “allowed” every terrible thing that has ever happened to happen. But it’s another thing to say that God “allow” such things to happen as a judgment of them, as individuals or people. I remember after 9/11 how some televangelists proclaimed the attacks against the World Trade Center and other targets were “allowed” by God as a judgment against the moral decline of the US. I found that proclamation presumptuous, since how would they know why God allows a specific instance of evil to occur; and only in keeping with a god of judgment, wrath, vengeance and punishment, like the god of the 9/11 attackers themselves, a god I don’t recognize as the true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. How does saying that God “allowed” the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE as a judgment against the people of Israel differ in kind from saying that he “allowed” the attacks against the US on 9/11 for the same reason? Do we really believe that this is in keeping with God’s character? If so, could the radical Muslim religious fanatics who made those attacks have been right that it was God’s will? Could the words of those televangelists after 9/11 have been right that it was God’s judgment?


  33. Mike, two things. One, I always had more or less an understanding similar to the MacArthur view. Two, my dad just entered hospice care Sunday. I’ll probably be thinking this over for the next several decades.


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