Faith of Jesus Daily Devotional - Day 50
Matthew:12:38-45 The Sign of Jonah
Previous Context: devotion:Matthew:12:22-37 Jesus and Beelzebub
What is God doing?
"There shall no sign be given"
There been many signs given both physically and prophetically, just not the signs that the Pharisees are looking for. Everything that God has done all along is a sign establishing both man's desperate need for the Savior and the identification of whom that Savior is to be and now is. Just as they were willingly of purpose and malice of forethought trying to convince the public that Jesus was doing these works by the power of the prince of devils thus blaspheming the actual work of the Holy Ghost, now they are denying all that the Father is now doing to establish and attest to Jesus being the precise fulfillment of all before that HE had done.
"So shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth"
The precise details of what is ahead for Jesus are given and it follows not only all prophecy, it follows along the familiar storyline of a very well know figure in Jewish teaching Jonah. Jonah however was an unwilling disobedient participant in his storyline, Jesus is exactly the opposite. Note that it is the belly of earth this time that the principal is being swallowed into.
"Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation"
The generation being addressed is described in two similar ways in this passage: an evil and adulterous generation, this wicked generation. This is how this generation is to be seen. It is in no way an exaggeration. It is the plain truth. Note that the generation here is being defined by it's leadership.
It has been described as this for several generations by several prophets and is the very reason the nation of unified Israel is no longer and what little remains is in the present state that it is. They had received double blessing from their secondary conditional covenant with God and for sometime now have been recipients of a double curse for not upholding their part of the covenant. This is not the end of the judgment for the several non-repentant members of the generation and it is not the end of the demonic activity in their household either as here described. It is a curious notion presented in this phrase, that a generation can be characterized as being returned to and controlled by a demon or demons.
What is man doing?
"An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign"
Essentially Satan was asking for a sign the time Jesus was in the wilderness fasting forty days. It was not asked to be convinced that Jesus is the Beloved Son of God in the flesh, it was to tempt Jesus into calling upon His own powers out ahead/before the Father's directive. This is meant to be the same temptation as "turn these stones to bread", "cast your self to the ground that the angels might catch you", "bow and worship me and I will give you all this" only in a different voice. Certainly, this generation of man is not as crafty as to know that this is what they are asking is the same as Satan's nor would they believe that that was their same intent. But it is.
Why else would they be asking for a sign? There have been a great many things through which the Father has done to attested to the verity of Jesus' claim; more than enough to convince any honest seeker at least by the time of His death and resurrection. Remember that the Pharisees who are asking this have already counciled to destroy Jesus. There is a scary hint of what is happening within this generation at the end of this passage that may give us a clue as to what is the determining factor identified behind this request.
"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 if the signs already done attesting to Jesus were not enough, they could have sat with Jesus and asked Him their probing questions with intellectual honesty:
The queen of the southern semitic tribe (descended from Abraham) of Sabaens Sheba questioned whether the vaunted King Solomon really had the wisdom that others said that he did kjv@1Kings:10:1-13. Remember that Solomon the young successor to the throne of David had asked for and received a double measure of wisdom from God. She did not just sit and wait to see, she packed up a traveled a great distance from Ethiopia (or from southern Arabia?) to prove him with hard questions. There was nothing she then asked hidden of the king from her it is said, he answered everything she asked. She was very impressed. You see though that this generation has Jesus in their very midst, no need to travel, having every opportunity to ask any great question and instead of asking they are telling the others that they seek to influence and rule over rather what His answer should be. Then to make themselves seem genuine to the public they proceeded to tempt Him into proving Himself with a singular undeniable sign of wonder.
"The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas"
There is a reason that men do not see the obvious signs for what they are. It is the same reason that they do not go the extra distance to honestly inquire answers to the most probing questions:
Nineveh was an ungodly Gentile city. The prophet Jonah was directed by God to go there and preach that they repent. The Jewish prophet Jonah despised that people and resented that God would give such an enemy of Israel chance for repentance and not just immediate destruction. Jonah chose to run away from what God had directed and suffered the sharp rebuke of God for doing so having to be transported in the belly of a large fish all the way back to the coastline of Nineveh where he was expelled. The city of course repented and saved themselves from impending destruction. This all was God's doing. The men of Nineveh shall judge this generation.
What does this passage tell us about the about the commands and faith of Jesus that saints are to keep/guard?
We are not completely sure where this generation ends and another starts up in this teaching. Often times the generations being spoken of are of eras not familial generations. Eras can last for ions. Some would say that the generation spoken of here ended when the people that were witness to it passed. Others would say at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. Yet others would say that this generation yet continues and alongside of it is a generation of the newly born in Christ. From this and other supportive scripture we get the recent formulation of a theory "age of Gentiles", a period of time on Daniel's prophetic time clock that has paused until the number of Gentile believers is completed before the clock restarts and a second new generation of Jewish believers begins. There are appealing points to this theory, but there are points as well that can and have been sorely abused by some Gentile believers in their brutal treatment of Jews giving much rise to antisemitism. Saints in Christ are to in no way treat any person in such a way let alone the peoples to whom the oracles of God were first given and guarded.
If we are to guard now the commandments and faith of Jesus, we are to be most mindful of the the traps and corruptions that they at crucial times have fallen into. We too must be mindful of the extreme warfare physical/intellectual/spiritual constantly surrounding such our responsibility and the ease of our human fatigue. We must beware of the nature of the true opposition and their intention to present themselves as highly religious and persuasive leaders typically within our own ranks.
Next: devotion:Matthew:12:46-50 Jesus ' Mother and Brothers