Just What Do You Mean....
THE UNPARDONABLE SIN?
by J. Preston Eby
THE UNPARDONABLE SIN
The evangelist stood with both arms raised, giving emphasis to his impassioned plea. With eyes riveted upon his hearers he urged the question with utmost solemnity,
"Did you know there is a sin so great, so devastating in its awfulness, that even the great mercy of God cannot overlook it, and the shed blood of Jesus Christ cannot wash it away? A sin that can never be forgiven - an unpardonable sin! Jesus warned that it could happen. 'Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith so ever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost has never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation' (Mk. 3:28-29). Who would commit such a dreadful sin, subject themselves to such an appalling fate - to lose all hope of forgiveness and salvation, to suffer for ever the damnation of hellfire? This, my friends, is the fate that is worse than death itself. Oh, when you reject the love of Jesus and resist the wooing of the Holy Spirit you move ever closer to the possibility that you may commit such a horrendous sin. The scriptures are there, the sin does exist, and it could just conceivably strike you!"
I was just a boy at the time I heard these frightening words, and it made a profound impression on me. In fact, at one time I was seized with the terrifying fear that I had committed the unpardonable sin!
What is the unpardonable sin? Is there anyone reading these lines who has committed it, or might be in danger of committing it? The confusion on this subject is due largely to a failure to harmonize all scriptures. Men are so prone to blindly accept any error in either translation or interpretation, even though many other plain statements of the Word of God affirm the exact opposite. We need to search the scriptures prayerfully and reverently, on bended knee beseeching the blessed Holy Spirit of truth for illumination and understanding. With the aid of the anointing we need to weed out the errors and empty imaginings of men.
Men are so irresponsible, especially preachers. Altogether too few know how to study. Of the few who do know how, not one in a thousand ever takes the trouble to dig down to rock bottom and consider all the facts. That is hard work. It takes effort. And it also requires a complete sell-out to God to come to the place where the Lord will open one's mind to grasp the real truth. The cost is too great for all but a very small and inconspicuous remnant. Therefore the masses flit hither, thither, and yon, never taking the trouble to scratch below the surface, knowing neither what they say nor whereof they affirm. The Word, to them, is a sealed book.
Anyone who attempts to explain that which he does not understand can accomplish but one result: the complete and glaring display of his own ignorance. I know very little concerning electricity. The extent of my knowledge of it is just about comprehended in three statements: namely, it bites, to press a button turns on a light, and if the lights go off, one can usually remedy the situation by inserting a new fuse in the proper receptacle, or switching the circuit breaker. Briefly, I am grossly ignorant concerning electrical science.
But now, just suppose I took it into my head to write a book on electrical engineering. That book, if ever completed, would be a fanciful tale indeed. If I were possessed of sufficient natural ability, I might be able to make the book interesting from the very fact that it would be ludicrous enough to be entertaining. But woe to the man who would attempt to construct electrical apparatus according to my specifications!
Today men and women who are in greater ignorance of God's truth than I am of electricity are writing books, and preaching sermons, and teaching scholars, and editing papers on religious topics, that are more misleading and dangerous and undependable than would be my book on electrical engineering. But the horrible feature is, that while no one would think of listening to my electrical delusions, yet the whole Christian church has gone wild and is glorying in, in varying degrees, delusions and misrepresentations and lies which have a direct bearing on their eternal welfare. Only fools are supposed to have license to indulge in foolishness. All reasonable men are supposed to subscribe only to sound and sane and sensible beliefs. Therefore when we can show reasonable men that they have been tricked and led into ignorance and foolish beliefs, even though it maybe a hard blow to their vanity, the only reasonable course is for them to forthwith forsake their folly and come on up to higher ground. And we all, every one of us, have been victimized. We might as well admit it. A few have been awakened, at least to a degree, and have left the defiled and downward way.
Nowhere has there been more ignorance manifested than on this subject of the "unpardonable sin." Too often evangelists and preachers use that term to intimidate people and create a FEAR while they are preaching. Many torture themselves with doubt and anxiety over whether they may have committed this sin.
Open your Bible to Mat. 12:22-32. Here we find that Jesus was teaching the people one day. In the crowd about Him were many of the leading theologians and teachers of the Pharisee denomination. Just then there was brought unto Him a poor man possessed with a demon, a man in whose physical life the demon had wrought sad havoc - he was both blind and dumb. And with a word of power, with no incantations, with no repeating a hundred times the command, with none of the methods of the exorcists of that time, the man was instantly and perfectly healed there before them all, "insomuch that the blind and dumb both spoke and saw." When the multitudes saw this miracle they were amazed and exclaimed, "Is not this the son of David?" That is, is not this the promised seed of David, the Messiah? They had been watching Him, and listening to Him, and beholding the wonders that He wrought, and at last in the presence of this wonderful miracle, wrought with absolute authority, simply by the uttering of a word, they cried out with comprehension and joy, "Is not this the son of David - the Messiah!"
When the Pharisees heard this, they were filled with jealousy and rage. Here was a manifest miracle of undeniable wonder and power, and the common people were fast drawing the proper inferences from it, and coming to the conclusion that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of David, the Son of the living God. They were acquainted with the messianic prophecy of Isaiah, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped" (Isa. 35:5). It was a perpetual fear among the Pharisees and rulers that they might lose their hold on the people and they were willing to do almost anything to keep the people from following Jesus. They were proud of the reputation they had among the people; that fed their pride, supported their power, and filled their purses--not unlike the religious systems of today. They saw very clearly that if the popularity and power of Jesus continued to rise, their power would be absolutely gone.
Upon occasion they said, "What can we do?" for "the world is gone after Him." It was necessary for the Pharisees to account for the wonder that had been wrought in some way. Whatever way they chose, it was necessary that they should acknowledge that there was super-human power; the people were fully persuaded of this and no man could deny it. So the Pharisees proclaimed to the people, "This man casts out demons only by and with the help of Beelzebub, the prince of demons."
So terrible was the thing that the rulers had said that Jesus, first of all, refuted by argument what they said. The record states, "And knowing their thoughts, He said to them, Any kingdom that is divided against itself is being brought to desolation and laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will last or continue to stand. And if Satan drives out Satan, he has become divided against himself and disunited; how then will his kingdom last or continue to stand? And if I drive out the demons by the help of Beelzebub, by whose help do your sons (the exorcists of the Jews) drive them out? For this reason they shall be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you before you expected it" (Mat. 12:25-28, Amplified).
We now reach those awe-inspiring words with which the paragraph closes. Jesus addresses these stem words to the self-righteous religious leaders of the Jewish nation. For searching solemnity, they are unsurpassed in the records of the things Jesus said. We tremble as we read them. Such solemn words as these demand our careful attention for two reasons: first, in order that we may place no untrue emphasis on them; and, secondly, that we may by no means minimize their terrible meaning. We are in danger of making both these mistakes. We may read into them meanings which He never intended; or we may explain away the most solemn words Jesus Christ ever uttered. The only way in which we can hope to understand, is by taking them in the simplest way possible. Our Lord declared, in the words of the King James Bible, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Mat. 12:31-32).
WHAT IS THE SIN?
What is the sin against the Holy Spirit? In the third chapter of Mark, we have the parallel passage to the text we just read in Matthew; the same record of these men coming around Jesus when they saw Him perform His mighty miracle for the poor man who could neither see nor speak. In order to keep the people from believing Jesus, they said the miracle was performed by the power of Satan. Notice the words of Jesus in verses 28-30: "Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith so ever they shall blaspheme. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost has never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: BECAUSE THEY SAID, HE HAS AN UNCLEAN SPIRIT." Ah - now there's a clue - the Pharisees' opposition to Jesus was not a spur of the moment, hotheaded fit of pique. These men knew what they were doing. Their schemes against Jesus were deliberate, calculated. A leading Pharisee, Nicodemus, once confided to Jesus, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him" (Jn. 3:2). Many of them knew better, but unlike Nicodemus they still plotted to destroy Him. They had developed an implacable contempt for Jesus because He presented a threat to their prestige and power over the people. Jesus warned them of the dire consequences of their attitude and actions. They were not just sinning against God in heaven above, or against the Son of God on earth - they were resisting, opposing, withstanding, impugning, confronting, assailing, attacking and repulsing the Holy Spirit - THE VERY ACTIVITY AND MINISTRATION OF GOD TOWARDS THEM! They were in danger of blaspheming the Holy Ghost!
Let me put it this way. The Father in heaven is the unseen, invisible God. The Son is the visible manifestation of God in human flesh - the historic Jesus of two milleniums ago. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him" (Jn. 1:14, 18). The Father is unseen. The Son is the visible, fleshly manifestation of the invisible God. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is the activity, the action, the motion, the operation, the force, the energy, the influence of God toward men. The English word "spirit" is from the Latin SPIRARE, meaning "to breathe," the words "respiration," "expiration," and "inspiration" all being derived from the same source.
Similarly the Greek word PNEUMA comes from PNEO, meaning "to breathe or blow," and the Hebrew RUAHH is believed to come from a root having the same meaning. The Holy Spirit is God's breath, God's out-breathing, God's ENERGY FORCE by which He accomplishes His purpose and executes His will. Many times we have thought of the Holy Spirit as "power," and certainly He has power, but power is basically the ability or capacity to act or do things and it can be latent, dormant, inactively resident in someone or something. "Force," on the other hand, more specifically describes energy projected and exerted on persons or things, and may be defined as "an influence which produces or tends to produce motion, or change of motion." "Power" might be likened to the stored energy in a battery, while "force" could be compared to the current flowing from such battery. "Force," then, more accurately represents the sense of the Hebrew and Greek terms as relating to God's Spirit, and this is borne out by a consideration of the scriptures.
Thus, the Holy Spirit is God's ENERGY FORCE. It is God's energy force projected and exerted upon man. It is God's motion, action and influence in one measure or another upon man. Jehovah God accomplished the creation of the universe by means of His Spirit or energy force. Regarding the planet Earth in its early formative stages, the record states that "The Spirit (energy force) of God was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters" (Gen. 1:2). Ps. 33:6 says, "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath (spirit) of His mouth."
Like a powerful breath, God's Spirit can be sent forth to exert power even though there is no bodily or visible contact with that which is acted upon. Where a human craftsman would use the force of his hands and fingers to produce things, God uses His Spirit. Hence that Spirit is also spoken of as God's "hand" or "fingers." Jesus told the Pharisees, "If I cast out devils by the SPIRIT of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you" (Mat. 12:28). But Luke, in recording the same event, expresses it thus: "If I with the FINGER of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you" (Lk. 11:20). The Holy Spirit is the working, the activity of God toward us.
Let's look at that for just a moment. The religious rulers were not in danger of committing the unpardonable sin because they said that Jesus performed miracles by the power of the devil. That is not the condemnation. He says that ALL BLASPHEMIES shall be forgiven men. There is not a sin that you committed yesterday but what if you come to Christ today He would forgive you and accept you. His mercies are higher than the heavens.
What then was their problem? They were expressing an attitude of unbelief which was persistent and calculated rejection of the activity of God toward them. They were resisting the Holy Spirit, striving against the influence of God acting upon their minds and hearts. Notice that later on Stephen was brought before this same group, and he said to them the same thing the Lord Jesus had said: "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do you" (Acts 7:51). They were doing the same thing their fathers had done. In Christ's day they were resisting the Holy Spirit, and the same condition exists today - they are still resisting the Holy Spirit!
Repentance is always the Lord's way of preparing His people for the next move of His Spirit. It is significant to note that the Pharisees refused to repent at the preaching of John the Baptist, and consequently were the very ones who rejected the Christ when He came. Prophet after prophet had announced to them the coming of the Messiah. In due time He came. God was manifest in the flesh. He came unto His own - to this people whom for over two thousand years He had been preparing to receive Him; but "His own received Him not." They "despised and rejected Him;" they hated Him because He testified of them that their deeds were evil; they blasphemed the Spirit of God, accusing God's Son of deriving His power from the prince of devils; they took counsel together to slay the Holy and the Just; they bore false witness against Him to put Him to death; they became His betrayers and murderers; they cried, "Crucify Him, crucify Him," and by their wicked hands He was crucified and slain. And when the still lingering longsuffering of God sent them one more chance of repentance, and the risen Savior told His apostles that remission of sins through His name was to be preached among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem, when the Holy Ghost in Peter and in Stephen pleaded still with Judah to repent and be converted, they filled up the measure of their iniquities by rejecting this final offer of mercy. They slew Stephen and persecuted the church.
"The Jews both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; they please not God, and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always, for WRATH IS COME UPON THEM to the uttermost" (I Thes. 2:15-16).
Because they repulsed the operation of God by His Spirit on their behalf, Jesus said to the unrepentant chief priests, elders and Pharisees, "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" (Mat. 21:43).
In the great and eternal order of God there is an allotted time for the preparation of an individual, a city, a people or a nation to hear the word of the Lord and to respond to the activity of the Holy Spirit to illuminate mind and heart and draw them into relationship with Himself. In the time of Christ, Jerusalem was the headquarters of God's most favored nation, the house of Judah; it was the hub of religious government and leadership of that day, and the center of religious instruction. Every Sabbath day Moses and the prophets were read to the people, including the promise of the coming of Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. However, with all that reading and teaching, there were apparently few in the city who believed the prophetic word of the Lord and trusted for its fulfillment.
There came a decisive day when Jesus approached the city, and as He beheld the careless, unheeding multitudes thronging its noisy streets, He wept audibly over it, saying, "If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong unto your peace! but now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, that your enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side, and shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone upon another; BECAUSE YOU KNEW NOT THE TIME OF YOUR VISITATION! (Lk. 19:41-44).
The horrible blindness of not recognizing the time of God's visitation, when God is visiting you, showing Himself gracious toward you, moving in your midst by His Spirit, must be a blindness of the worst form. But to have the deep, inner revelation of the Spirit to His people is a wisdom of the highest kind. But because the people of Jerusalem disregarded God's word and rejected the move of the Holy Spirit and refused the power of His Kingdom, the Lord had no alternative but to weep over the city and pronounce corrective judgment upon it. The Lord said of Jerusalem, "For the days shall come upon you, that your enemies shall cast a trench about you ... because you knew not the time of your visitation." They shall "compass you round, and keep you in on every side ... because you knew not the time of your visitation." Your enemies "shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you ... because you knew not the time of your visitation." "They shall not leave in you one stone upon another; because you knew not the time of your visitation."
The mighty works which Jesus, the first Son, began will be completed by the other sons who are coming into His image. This is not presumption on the part of man. This is the revealed plan and purpose of God for this generation at the end of the age. Today, by revelation of the Word, by the prophetic voice of His prophets, by the inner illumination of the anointing the promise is before us:
"For... the sufferings of this present time are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us, and conferred on us! For the concentrated and undivided expectation of the creation is assiduously and patiently awaiting the revelation of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:18-19, Amplified & Wuest).
Let us never read or listen to these truths and lightly cast them aside, but earnestly pray that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened; that we may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance IN THE SAINTS, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ Jesus when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places. Those who read these lines with the revelation and understanding of the Almighty upon their minds know that the spiritual realm is alive with much activity in preparation for the long awaited manifestation of the sons of God. The heavens are astir! The sphere Of Spirit power and spirit life is teeming with divine activity! God is moving now among His chosen ones, searching for a people who will follow on to know Him in all His glorious and eternal reality. All who will receive His visitation will discover a new experience taking place in their lives - as definite and spiritual an experience as they have ever had, yea, as definite as their conversion and the joy and peace that flooded their hearts when their sins were forgiven, washed away by faith in the precious blood of God's redeeming Lamb, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.
Ah, my beloved, this is the time of our visitation. Christ will soon appear in His sons in the full glory and majesty and power of His divine life! My earnest prayer for all who read these words is that each may truly and fully know that this is YOUR DAY, the time of YOUR VISITATION!
The sin that has been called the "unpardonable sin" is the sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit - against the divine activity and energy force of God toward one in His day of visitation. It is something infinitely greater than merely speaking a word against the Father in heaven, or against His Son on earth. Vast multitudes today blaspheme the God of Heaven and the earth is filled with men and women who hate and reject the Son of God and swear profanely against Him.
The very Pharisees who Jesus warned about blaspheming the Holy Spirit finally trumped up charges against Him and occasioned His crucifixion by the Romans. But was this the unpardonable sin? No way! As Jesus tasted the awful bitterness of His anguish upon the cross, as sorrows like sea billows rolled over the Son of man, He was heard to pray, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." They scourged Him and mocked Him and cursed Him and nailed Him to the tree. But the message is clear - "Whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him." And He forgave them! His Father forgave them!
Heinous as their crime was - I do not hesitate to tell you that those men will never stand in the judgment for the sin of crucifying the Lord of Glory, for THEY HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN! Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Their sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit ran deeper than this. It was not their attitude toward an unseen and invisible God in heaven. It was not their treatment of God manifested outwardly in the flesh before their eyes. It was, rather, their reviling of God's spiritual energy force, their utter and complete contempt for His illuminating and transforming activity toward them by His Spirit, their impious response to the gracious action and influence of God as He touched the deepest chords within their hearts by the moving and wooing and brooding of the Holy Ghost.
THERE IS NO UNPARDONABLE SIN!
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaks a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Mat. 12:31-32).
I am glad that Jesus said that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men. I believe that is true. ALL manner. There is no kind of sin, which because of its kind, or manner, is unpardonable. The enemies of the truth of the ultimate salvation of all men have relied on this dissertation about the unpardonable sin given by our Lord, as their outstanding bulwark of defense against those who affirm that Christ is indeed the Saviour of all men, the Saviour of the world.
Invariably, when the certainty of eternal torment is discussed and doubted, the sin against the Holy Ghost is brought forward as an impregnable defense against forgiveness hereafter for at least one sin. Few know how to reply. Here is what the Lord said: "But whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."
On the surface it seems conclusive to the unthinking; and it has equally seemed so to learned theologians who have been trained in the channels of orthodox thinking. Yet, as a matter of fact, these words of our Lord are among the strongest collateral evidence that can be produced in support of the truth of the reconciliation of all men to God. Hearken! A sin against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven in this "world," nor in the "world" to come.
While the King James version states that the sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this world nor in the world to come, that is not quite the meaning of the Greek. The Greek word here translated "world" is AION. This word AION has been translated into fifteen different English words and phrases, many of which convey the wrong meaning entirely. The simple meaning of AION is "age." An AION is "an age." Two AION(S) are two "ages." A thousand AION(S) are a thousand "ages."
Some of the passages where AION is found will give us added information concerning it. In Eph. 2:7 we find, "in the ages (aions) to come." In Col. 1:26 we find, "the mystery which has been hid from ages (aions)." In Eph. 2:2 we find, "you walked according to the course (aion) of this world." In Heb. 1:2 we find, "by whom also He made the worlds (aions)." In Hebrews 11:3 we find, "the worlds (aions) were formed by the word of God." In about fifteen instances, such as Mat. 12:32, I Cor. 1:20, etc., we find it rendered "this world (aion)." Twice we find "this present world (aion)." In Gal. 1:4 we find, "deliver us from this present evil world (aion)." In Eph. 6:12 we find, "the rulers of the darkness of this world (aion)." In II Cor. 4:4 we find, "the god of this world (aion)." In I Cor. 2:6 we find, "the wisdom of this world (aion)." In Mk. 4:19 we find, "the cares of this world (aion)."
How much clearer and understandable it would be if the translators had used the correct word age instead of world! In Mk. 10:30 we find that there is not only this present aion, which is evil, but also "the world (aion) to come." Certainly this present age is an evil age, and the rulers of the darkness of this age are evil. Clearly God framed the ages, and there are not only "this age" and "the age to come," but there are also "the ages to come" (Eph. 2:7).
Any thinking person should plainly see that if you translate a word which means an age by the word world, you immediately get the wrong idea. It is incorrect and brings nothing but confusion. There is a great deal of difference between the expression, "It shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come," and the expression, "It shall not be forgiven him in this age, nor in the age to come." The translation in Mat. 12:32 of "world" instead of "age," has been the source of an altogether erroneous concept. This "world" and the "world to come" has become so indelibly impressed on the Christian mind as meaning "this life and eternity," that it is next to impossible quickly to reverse the trend of belief and direct it into sound thinking. It makes all the difference in the world when one understands that our Lord was not contrasting "this world" with that "great eternity out there somewhere," but merely pointing to two ages: this age and the age to come.
Now let me quote this passage from several well-known, highly respected and widely-accepted Bible translations.
The Amplified Bible compromises the Greek AION, using both world and age to translate. "And whoever speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven, but who ever speaks against the Spirit, the Holy One, will not be forgiven, either in this world and age or in the world and age to come."
Young's Literal translation says, "Whoever may speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is coming."
Wuest translates, "Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the one about to come."
The Weymouth New Testament reads, "Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit shall obtain forgiveness neither in this age nor in the coming age."
The New International Version renders, "Anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."
The Emphasized Bible (Rotherham) says, "Whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him either in this age, or the coming."
The Concordant New Testament reads, "Whoever may be saying aught against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be pardoned him, neither in this eon nor in that which is impending."
These words of our Lord, so far from proving that the sin against the Holy Spirit is "unpardonable," distinctly assert, - first, that ALL MANNER of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, - secondly, that some sins, those, namely, against the Son of man, can be forgiven in the present age, - and, thirdly, that other sins, against the Holy Ghost, cannot be forgiven either in the age when Jesus came to earth, nor in the age that would immediately follow; which last words clearly indicate that some sins not here forgiven may be forgiven in the next age. That is what the text plainly says. It says absolutely nothing about a sin that is "unpardonable" throughout endless ages to come!
We should not fail to note the wording of our Lord's pronouncement as given in Mk. 3:28-30. To overlook this would invite a charge that it was unanswerable.
"Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith so ever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost has never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation."
The correct original is "has not for the eon (age) forgiveness, but is in danger of eonian (age-during) by judgment," - thereby giving it quite a different meaning from the translation in the "Authorized."
My Greek-English Interlinear reads, "But whoever may speak evil to the spirit the holy, not has forgiveness to the age, but liable is of age-lasting judgment."
A free translation would be, "HE that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit has not forgiveness to the age, but is held in and liable to the age-lasting process of judgment: because they said, He has an unclean spirit."
Amid the crowd of sins there stands out one in sad pre-eminence because it has not forgiveness "eis ton aiona," - for the age. Its forgiveness demands ages - two ages, to be exact - after which, obviously, there is forgiveness!
NO FORGIVENESS TO THE AGE
"But whoever may blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, has no forgiveness to the age, but is exposed to Aionian Judgment" (Mk. 3:29, Emphatic Diaglott).
When our Lord Jesus ministered here on earth, He addressed a great many of His sayings and sermons and parables to the Pharisees and scribes and rulers of the Jewish nation. The Pharisees were by far the most numerous and influential of the religious sects of Jesus' day. They were strict legalists. They stood for the rigid observance of the letter, and forms of the Law, and also for the Traditions. They pledged themselves to obey all facets of the Traditions to the minutest detail and were sticklers for ceremonial purity. They would not touch the carcass of a dead animal or those who had come into contact with such things. They had no association with people who had been defiled through sickness. In truth, they made life difficult for themselves and bitter for others. They despised those whom they did not consider their equals and were haughty and arrogant because they believed they were the only interpreters of God and His Word. They were devoid of the graces of forgiveness, mercy, charitableness and love.
When the Pharisee went to meet God he had his appointment at the corner of the street. Passers-by saw his bold, erect figure. His attitude betokened pride, self-esteem, a superiority of life that gave him unbounded satisfaction. He was no suppliant for mercy, nor recipient of grace returned to give thanks to God, but a self-sufficient soul airing his merit before angels and men. "God, I thank You, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers; I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess" (Lk. 18:11-12).
The Pharisee was presumptuous enough to assume that his self-satisfied, meritorious life placed him on good terms with God. His soul was guilty of a most irreverent conceit. It is only natural that ultimately such a religion became only a matter of externals and not of the heart, and that God's grace was thought to come only from doing the Law. Jesus constantly clashed with them over their coveteousness, self-righteousness and hypocrisy. He denounced them as irreligious professional religionists, parading themselves in holy garments, pompous fellows, self-important, strutting around like lords, preaching religion, yet having none. How His pure soul loathed their wretched pretense!
The words of Jesus to the Pharisees constitute the most bitter denunciations that ever fell from His holy lips. Jesus never talked that way to sinners, publicans or the common people. Mercy flowed like a river to the poor and needy, but rebuke and scathing condemnation were heaped upon the haughty and unrepentant. The Pharisees, like their ancestors, were not merely sinners, but deliberate and persistent rebels against God. Contemning every word of God sent to them, abusing every privilege granted to them, and despising every blessing bestowed. From the day of their beginning as a nation, before they had time to receive, in its written form, the law which had been orally delivered to them, the children of Israel had violated the first and fundamental command, "You shall have no other gods before Me," and all their subsequent career was in harmony with this beginning.
They sinned, and committed iniquity, they understood not God's wonders nor remembered His mercies, they provoked Him and forgot His works, they waited not for His counsel but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert; they envied Moses and Aaron; they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eats grass; they forgot God their Saviour and despised the pleasant land; they murmured in their tents and hearkened not to the voice of the Lord; they joined themselves to Baal Peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead; they provoked God to anger with their inventions; they did not destroy, as commanded, the idolatrous nations of Canaan, but were mingled among the heathen and learned their works; they served their idols and sacrificed their sons and daughters unto devils; they shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and daughters whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; they were defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions, till the wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people, and He abhorred His inheritance. Many times did He deliver them, but they provoked Him with their counsel and were brought low for their iniquity. They persecuted every prophet that was sent to them, and after every deliverance, fell lower than before, into all manner of sin and evil.
Prophet after prophet had announced to them the advent of Messiah the Prince. In due time He came. God was manifest in the flesh. He came unto His own, to this people who for over two thousand years He had been preparing to receive Him; but "His own received Him not." They despised and rejected Him, they hated Him because He testified of them that their deeds were evil; they blasphemed the Holy Spirit of God, accusing the Son of God of deriving His power from the prince of devils; they took counsel together to slay the Holy and the Just; they bore false witness against Him to put Him to death; they became His betrayers and murderers; they cried, "Crucify Him, crucify Him," and by their wicked hands He was crucified and slain.
It should be clear to every thinking mind that when Jesus warned the Pharisees and scribes about the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit the primary thrust of His words was directed like an arrow straight into their hearts. On no occasion did Jesus warn the sinners about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Jesus never cautioned the publicans about a sin against the Holy Spirit. Never once did He utter a word to the poor and oppressed about a sin that they might commit which would not be forgiven. Jesus never admonished His disciples and followers about such a sin! But to the religious leaders and rulers of the house of Judah the Lord said, "Verily I say to YOU, all the sins shall be forgiven to the sons of men, and evil speaking with which they might speak evil, but whoever may speak evil in regard to the Holy Spirit has not forgiveness - to the age, but is in danger of age-during judgment; BECAUSE THEY SAID, HE HAS AN UNCLEAN SPIRIT" (Mk. 3:28-30, Young's Literal). The one and only warning given in the pages of God's blessed Book respecting the sin against the Holy Spirit was delivered to the scribes and Pharisees! That it was meant for them, and for them alone, is evident from the time frame of the judgment imposed - "shall not be forgiven in this age, nor in the age to come."
"This age" plainly indicates the age of Law. Jesus came under the age of the Law. "But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, MADE UNDER THE LAW, to redeem them that were under the law..." (Gal. 4:4-5). The age that was to come, the age then imminent and impending was this present age of the church. The two ages of unforgiveness are thus clearly defined as the law age and the grace age. These words could not in any manner apply to any except people then living prior to Calvary and the birth of the church age on the day of Pentecost. You will never in a million years understand the deep mystery and meaning of Jesus' teaching on this subject until you grasp the significant fact that He was not talking to New Testament saints - He was not talking to YOU, precious friend of mine - His words were sent directly to those first-century rulers of the kingdom of Judah!
There is recorded in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew what is evidently the last public address given by Jesus to the Jewish nation. Here are those striking denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy. At the close of this address, Christ, as He was turning to leave the temple for the last time, said:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You will be witnesses unto yourselves, that you are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill up then the measure of your fathers. You serpents, generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that kills the prophets, and stones them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, You shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is HE that comes in the name of the Lord."
And again, "When you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter there into. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Verily I say unto you, THIS GENERATION SHALL NOT PASS AWAY, TILL ALL BE FULFILLED" (Lk. 21:20-24, 32).
Some thirty-five years elapsed after those words were spoken, and then the wrath was poured out. Jerusalem fell, and great was the fall thereof! Signal, terrible and unparalleled was the Jewish war, ending with the siege and capture of Jerusalem by the Roman general Titus. It needs a pen dipped in fire and in blood to write the story in its true colors! The sufferings and miseries that overtook the Jewish nation in that age, are all but indescribable, the very record of them is appalling. We are indebted to the Jewish historian, Josephus, for many of the details. One million one hundred thousand Jewish lives were sacrificed in the siege and capture of Jerusalem alone; streams of human blood extinguished the blazing fires that destroyed the houses of the city, and heaps of the unburied corpses of those who had died of starvation during the siege, hid from the Roman soldiers the immense treasures of the temple. From April 14th, when the siege began, to July 1st, 115,880 bodies were buried at the public expense, or thrown from the walls, not including those interred by their friends. Some said that 6OO,OOO of the poorer people had perished of want; women cooked and ate their own children, the maimed and defenseless people were slain in thousands; when the temple at last fell, they lay heaped like sacrifices around the altar, and the steps of the temple ran with streams of blood, which washed down the bodies that lay about. The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without, it was indiscriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers. The treasuries, with their wealth of money, jewels, and costly robes, were totally destroyed. The value of the plunder obtained was so great, that gold fell in Syria to half its former value.
After the fall, the markets of the Roman Empire were glutted with Jewish slaves; the amphitheatres were crowded with these miserable people, who were forced to slay each other, not singly but in troops, or else fall in rapid succession, glad to escape the tyranny of their masters by the expeditious cruelty of the wild beasts. And in the unwholesome mines hundreds were doomed to toil for wealth not to be their own. The political existence of the Jewish nation was annihilated; it was not again for nineteen centuries to be recognized as one of the States or kingdoms of the world. Judea was sentenced to be portioned out to strangers, the capital was destroyed, the temple demolished, the high priesthood buried in its ruins, and the royal tribe almost extinct.
Terrible as these judgments were, this was not to be the end. Jesus had affirmed that the Jewish nation would not be forgiven in "this age" nor in the "age to come." As we have pointed out, "this age" was the age of Law, and the "age to come" is the age that followed the age of Law, this present age, the age of grace. I would direct your reverent attention to two expressions found in both of the judgments proclaimed by Jesus against the Jews, which we have quoted earlier, namely, "these things" and "this generation."
In Mat. 23:35-36 we find, "That upon YOU may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth ... all these things shall come upon this generation."
In Lk. 21:24 & 32 we read, "and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled ... this generation shall not pass away, till all (these things) be fulfilled."
If the word "generation" be understood to mean the people then alive upon the earth, plainly all these things were not fulfilled. "All these things" stretch from the desolation of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 to the scattering of the Jews throughout the nations, to the fulfilling of the "times of the Gentiles," onward to the restoration of Jerusalem at the end of this age. "This generation" cannot mean the men then alive merely, for if so the Jewish people would long ago have owned Jesus of Nazareth. "As the lightning that lightens out of the one part under heaven shines unto the other part under heaven, so shall also the Son of man be in His day; but first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation" (Lk. 17:24-25). Unconverted Jews have said from this passage that, if Jesus had been a true prophet, the next generation of Jews would have believed on Him, for it was by that generation He was to be rejected. The argument is legitimate; the only fallacy is that of imagining that "generation" means the men then living, and that the next generation would receive Him.
The Greek word for "generation" is GENEA. GENEA is derived from the root GENOS meaning race, kin, family, countryman, generation, kindred, nation, offspring, stock, breed. According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance GENEA may mean either the time period in which a people live or the persons (race) themselves. In Ps. 14:5 generation is used of moral character or nature. "God is in the generation of the righteous," and in Ps. 24:6, with the same meaning, "This is the generation of them that seek after God." In Prov. 30:11-14, the generation of the righteous and the generation of the wicked, are clearly distinguished. In Phil. 2:15, Paul speaks of "a crooked and perverse generation."
One distinguished Greek scholar says, "There is high authority for making the term this generation refer to the Jews as a people or race; in this case the meaning would be that the Jews would not cease to be a distinct people until all the predictions of Jesus were fulfilled." This meaning suits the words of Jesus very well and is amply confirmed by the history of the past two thousand years. When the words read, "This race shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled," the allusion is clearly to the Jewish people, and is seen to be a prophecy of the remarkable preservation of the Jew, distinct from all nationalities during these long centuries, upon whom the prophecies would continue to have fulfillment.
This is without doubt one of the most remarkable truths in the whole New Testament, for it clearly shows the sovereignty, power and faithfulness of an immutable and almighty God throughout the past two milleniums in a way that is completely unique and apart from all divine evidence. It means just two things - first, that the Jew would be preserved throughout the church age and, secondly, that the judgment for blaspheming the Holy Spirit would abide continually and constantly upon him right down to the end of this age. It cannot be changed. Its purpose is sure, and the Lord has and will perform it exactly as He said. Whether our traditions receive it or whether they refuse it, the incontrovertible fact is that God has preserved the Jewish race; furthermore, He has not forgiven the Jewish people their sin, neither in that age, nor in this age, and the wrath of God to this day abides upon them.
It is an interesting fact that the Jewish people are indestructible. They have been a people without a country. They have wandered through the earth. They have been driven from one place to another. They have been robbed and taxed beyond all reason, and again and again they have been slain by thousands, yea, millions. But they have not and shall not be destroyed. They have preserved their identity, their culture, their religion. They are a separate and distinct people. There are approximately five billion people on this earth, of whom eighteen million - less than four tenths of one percent - are classified as Jews. Statistically, they should hardly be heard of, like the Ainu tucked away in a corner of Asia, bystanders of history. But the Jews are heard of totally out of proportion to their small numbers. The Jewish contribution to the world's list of great names in religion, science, literature, music, finance, and philosophy is staggering. And they capture the headlines of the worlds newspapers and newscasts more frequently than any but the super-powers. Great nations of the pagan era have totally disappeared. The Babylonians, the Persians, the Phoenicians, the Hittites, the Philistines, even the mighty Romans of Jesus' day - all have vanished from the face of the earth, after once having been great and mighty powers.
Of all the physical proofs of the inspiration and infallible accuracy of the prophecies of the Bible there is positively no proof that can compare to that great sign of signs which is the NATION OF ISRAEL, and especially that segment of Israel universally known as THE JEW, consisting primarily of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi. It is not my purpose to try and identify the other ten tribes which mistakenly for centuries have been called the lost tribes, but that part of Israel, the Jew, has never been lost but scattered among the nations of the earth.
Clearly identified and definitely separated, despised and hated he has been a proverb and a by word among the nations of earth exactly as Jehovah God declared, "And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and you shall be plucked from off the land whither you go to possess it. And the Lord shall scatter you among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other... and among these nations shall you find no ease, neither shall the sole of your foot have rest: but the Lord shall give you there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: and your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you shal fear day and night, and shall have none assurance of your life: in the morning you shall say, Would God it were even! and at even you shall say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of your heart wherewith you shall fear, and for the sight of your eyes which you shall see" (Deut. 28:63-67).
How terribly has all this come to pass! In all the history of mankind, there is no nation which has been the object of such unremitting, general and relentless persecutions as the Jews. Surely there is not a man in all the world who would be so foolhardy that he would deny that all the things written above and far more have come to pass upon the Jew. Yet for all that the Jew has been preserved by God unto this day and is, indeed, the eighth wonder of the world!
Have you ever heard a Jew called a "sheeny"? Did you realize that, whenever you hear this expression of contempt, it is a startling and literal fulfillment of the prophecy in Jer. 24:9? For the word translated "a taunt" is the Hebrew SHENINAH, and there is reason to believe that the vulgar slang "sheeny" is a corruption of the Hebrew word for "taunt" as applied to the Jew. Every time a joke is made against the Jew, prophecy is being fulfilled as the Jew is made "a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places." Unfortunate Jews! They have sinned grievously. They have been punished fearfully. They have suffered greatly.
When Pilate sought to release Jesus and declared Him innocent of any crime, and himself innocent of any desire to have Him crucified, they cried out, "Let His blood be on us and on our children." In other words, "If it is a sin to crucify this Christ we are willing to bear the responsibility of the sin. If there is any guilt, we invite the punishment for that guilt."
And while the Lord forgave them their sin, yet the sin of blaspheming the Holy Ghost was the cause for this sin, and their prayer has been answered, and while through the centuries they have continued to reject Jesus they have suffered beyond human language to describe the agonies through which they have passed. How else can you explain Russia's extermination of some six million Jews, and Hitler's heinous annihilation of at least a like number in his gas chambers, while the rest were driven from nearly every country on earth?
As we have pointed out earlier, it is impossible to correctly understand the implications of the so-called "unpardonable sin" until one sees clear that its pronouncement was attached only to the Jewish nation, and to the Pharisees specifically. A strong familiarity with the Jewish scene in Palestine during the first century after Christ is essential to any real understanding of how the words of Jesus began to and continued to be fulfilled. Four major sects or denominations predominated at the time of Jesus, including the Sadducees and Pharisees (the two largest) as well as the Essenes and the Zealots.
The Sadducees constituted the dominant Jewish group, and derived their authority from their control of the temple, the principal institution of Jewish life during the first century. This group comprised the vast majority of the priests who administered the temple sacrificial worship, the primary source of religious devotion and expression at that time. The Sadducees also served as the political liaisons with Rome and tended to be wealthier and socially more elitist and aristocratic than the other groups.
The Pharisees were the second major sect in first-century Palestine. The Pharisees were the "fundamentalists" or strict legalists, contending for and enforcing upon the people the letter of the Word. One prominent feature of Pharisaic life was the development of the synagogue which, in contrast to the temple, could be erected anywhere and was accessible even to those Jews living far away from Jerusalem. The Pharisees were also the ones who created the concept of the rabbi, who emerges as the central authority figure in Jewish life. They insisted that unlike the priesthood that could be entered only by biological linage, the rabbinate could be entered by any male who assumed the position of leadership by virtue of his piety and scholarship in the scriptures and oral traditions.
The third Jewish group, the Zealots, were more a political than a religious sect. They called for the violent overthrow of Rome and, in A.D. 73, committed mass suicide at Masada rather than surrender to the Roman forces.
The fourth group, the Essenes, were an ascetic and apocalyptically oriented group that believed that the end of the world was imminent and that God would soon establish His kingdom on earth. The Essenes lived in the Qumran desert area and were the authors of the now famous Dead Sea Scrolls.
The destruction of the Jerusalem temple and exile in A.D. 70 brought extreme havoc to Jewish life in Palestine. The Zealots, who had called for a military rebellion against Rome died at Masada. Also, the Essenes apparently died out and were no longer heard from after the first century. The Sadducees, who had derived so much of their authority from their links with Rome, nevertheless, suffered the same fate as everyone else. Moreover, the temple, which had served as their prinicipal power base, now lay in ruins. And the Sadducean priests, whose main responsibility was to administer the sacrificial worship that also came to an end at this time, were left without any religious function or authority. In short, the destruction of the temple made the entire system of Sadducean religious exercise obsolete. The group did not survive the first century.
The PHARISEES, on the other hand, were able to survive the cataclysmic events of the exile and the destruction of the temple, because their religious ideas and institutions were able to be carried with the people wherever they went, adapted to every new condition of the dispersion and to the loss of the temple and its sacrificial worship. Of the various Jewish groups in existence at the time of Jesus, only the Pharisees collectively survived. It is an interesting fact of history that PHARISAIC JUDAISM became the normative Judaism with its principal features - the synagogue, the rabbi, prayer, Torah study and the oral traditions. Thus, modern Judaism is the direct and sole successor to THE PHARISEES! When Jesus warned the Pharisees that their sin against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven in the age of law nor during the long course of the church age, He spoke not only to the sect of the Pharisees of His day but to the whole of Judaism through its extended history since that time. Only by the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God could He have seen and correctly predicted this exceptional development!
Throughout their long exile, Jews have suffered inquisitions, ghettos, pogroms, blood libels, and wholesale slaughter. They were expelled at one time or another from virtually every country in "Christian Europe." During the Dark Ages Mystery Babylon the Great not only persecuted and killed the faithful followers of Jesus, but the harlot church system also became the persecutors and murderers of the Jews. Their very presence was a source of discomfort to the organized church which considered itself the representative of God on earth.
Jews suffered terrible persecution from the Crusades, the Inquisitions (in which they were forced to either convert to Christianity or be killed), expulsions, and blood libels (the charge that Jews killed Christian children and used their blood for the Passover Seder). When the water was contaminated, it was the Jews who were blamed for poisoning the well. When there was an epidemic of typhoid or black plague, it was the Jews' fault. Jews seemed to be the scapegoats for all the ills of society.
Even the great Martin Luther was not exempt from becoming a vessel of wrath against the Jews. In his earlier years Luther was kind and loving to Jews, believing the reason they had not accepted Christianity was that it was presented to them through the eyes of the Catholic tradition. Toward the end of his life, when he realized that despite his kind and loving approach the Jews nevertheless refused to convert, he asked,
"What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing," he wrote, "we cannot tolerate them... Let me give you my honest advice. First, their synagogues should be set on fire secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayerbooks and Talmuds, fourthly their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach anymore... fifthly, you ought not, you cannot, protect them, unless in the eyes of God you want to share all their abomination ... sixthly, they ought to be stopped from usury... seventhly, we ought to drive the rascally lazybones out of our system. To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden - the Jew."
Indeed, just a few centuries later in Luther's birthplace, Germany, another solution to "the Jewish problem" was found.
During the long history of this evil age, nation after nation has arisen on the world horizon announcing their sordid intention to destroy these people to whom God has made promise, but as Haman was hanged upon the high gallows he had prepared for Mordecai, so has God disposed of each of these hateful nations in their turn and brought them into the dust of desolation.
We could do well to believe that the Jew is as indestructible as the purpose of God itself, for the God who has brought them into judgment is the same God that defends them from their enemies. Has there ever been a period in Judah's history when her condition was more precarious than today? Instead of one Pharaoh in the land of Egypt there are forty million Arabs in every nation surrounding Palestine fanatically committed to their total destruction. And it is distressing to see the revival of the same old anti-Semitic madness which motivated Hitler, even among some who profess to be "end time sons of God!" They blame all the evils and misfortunes of the world on the Jews and propagate the hellish doctrine that the salvation of the world must come as a result of the annihilation of the Jews. It is the same old story with a new satanic vengeance.
One fact remains. Jesus warned the Pharisees that their sin against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven under the age of law or during the entirety of the church age. Paul wrote of them, "According as it is written, God has given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this day. And David said, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them: let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always. For ... blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in" (Rom. 11:8-10, 25).
Certainly this explains the mystery of why the Jew is the hardest and most discouraging mission field in the world. Has it never amazed you that many heathen can hear the gospel once, see it clearly, accept it, and be born again by faith in Him?! Prostitutes, drug addicts, the poor, and the illiterate - all have gladly received the message of Christ and have been wondrously transformed thereby. They have been awakened! Their eyes see it - their ears hear it - their hearts understand and respond! Yet the Jew is under the grip of the spirit of slumber! A deep sleep from the Lord has fallen upon them, and they simply cannot understand anything that is said or preached about the Lord Jesus Christ. There are thousands of Jews dying right now in total spiritual darkness about the Christ going into the spirit world under the spell of a deep sleep. It is not that they will not hear, rather, it is that they cannot! What a tragedy - millions of spiritually hungry, searching, seeking Jews; and they cannot find what they are looking for. The Messiah came - He lives today - and they can't see Him! They can't hear Him! They are in the dark about Him! They are in a spiritual coma!
They see not, hear not, understand not. No people ever yet committed the sin against the Holy Spirit who is wanting to repent - for repentance is by the Holy Spirit. Until the judgment is complete; the power to see, hear, understand, and repent is despised, refused, condemned, withheld. Individual Jews, of course, find the mercy of God, but the nation staggers on in unbelief. Numerous missionaries have labored among the Jews in many parts of the world, but the results have been most disheartening. Only a meagre handful have been saved anywhere throughout the ages and generations. Out of the millions of Jews living in the United States of America, the greatest land of religious freedom in the world, estimates suggest that there are probably fewer than 10,000 Jewish Christians in the entire country. In recent times various groups have located in Jerusalem motivated by the sincerest intentions to reach Jews for Jesus, but all to no avail. The unvarnished fact is that of the several millions of Jews in the State of Israel the vast majority are either agnostics or atheists, and at this writing, there are less than 500 Christian Jews in the whole nation! There is no doubt in my mind whatever that any and all efforts to turn the Jewish people to Christ are, during the remainder of the closing days of this dispensation, an effort in futility and doomed to utter failure.
Hear it! "Whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in the age to come." All who have throughout the centuries burdened themselves with the attempt to convert the Jew have found themselves defeated by the words of the great God: "...shall not be forgiven, neither in this age, neither in the age to come." Those who today zealously devote themselves to witnessing to the Jew come face to face with the words of our immutable God: "...shall not be forgiven, neither in this age, nor in the coming age." All who have established their base in Israel to work for the salvation of the Jew have found their efforts doomed to failure by the fateful words of our never-failing God: "...shall not be forgiven, neither in this eon, nor in that which is impending."
THE DAY DAWNS
The Jewish nation has passed through a time of great darkness. They have had deep sorrow. But if we are sure that God's Word has been fulfilled in scattering them among the nations, and blinding their hearts to the glory of Christ, the Messiah, we should have no hesitation in believing that at the conclusion of this age God will gather them, and lift the dark veil from off their minds, for the promise of God unto them is sure:
"And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you shall call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord your God has driven you, and you shall return unto the Lord your God, and shall obey His voice ... you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul; then the Lord your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from all the nations, whither the Lord your God has scattered you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land which your father's possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will do you good, and He will multiply you above your fathers. And the Lord your God will CIRCUMCISE YOUR HEART, AND THE HEART OF YOUR SEED, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live" (Deut. 30:1-6).
George Hawtin has written:
"In God's holy word the house of Judah is likened unto a fig tree. See Jer. 24:1-8 where they are likened unto a basket of EVIL FIGS when they were first carried away into Babylon. The Jews understood this symbol in their day as clearly as though the Lord had called them by name.
The account of the cursing of the fig tree (Mat. 21:19) is vivid in the mind of every student of scripture. The story records that Jesus, being hungry and ready to eat, saw a fig tree afar off having leaves upon it, but, upon coming to the tree, He found to His surprise that there was no fruit upon it. Though the time of figs was not yet, this strange instance is explained by the simple fact that, unlike other trees, it is the nature of the fig tree to bear her fruit first and the leaves afterward. Therefore, since there were leaves, the Lord was right to expect fruit also. What a picture this is of the house of Judah! Plenty of leaves! All manner of outward show! But no fruit. The children of Abraham on the outside, but the children of the devil within! So Jesus pronounced a curse upon the fig tree, which is symbolic of the house of Judah, commonly known as the Jews, saying, 'May no fruit grow on you to the age' (Mat. 21:19, Diaglott). And when they returned and saw the tree the next day, it was dried up. In cursing the fig tree, He was symbolically cursing the house of Judah to the age, that is to say, unto the kingdom age.
It is not correct to use the word forever here as in the common version, for Judah will be restored in the kingdom. True to God's word the entire age of grace has come and gone, but nationally the Jews are as blind and fruitless as they were in that very day when the Lord pronounced the curse upon them. They rejected God's Christ and God has rejected them for this entire age of grace. As a result they have wandered homeless throughout the whole earth as foretold by Jeremiah (Jer. 24:9-10). Only now are they being gathered in darkness, blindness and unbelief according to the word of the Lord, for He can never break His covenant with them. Even the apostle Paul, who upon several occasions, clearly stated that he was a Jew, for the tribe of Benjamin belonged to the house of Judah, made the significant statement that he was as one 'born out of due time' (I Cor. 15:8). In other words it was not yet time for Judah to be reborn nationally, but because the Lord elected him to salvation, his eyes had been opened by Christ in spite of the curse that had been pronounced on the nation as a whole. This is the clearest possible evidence of election."
Let me recall to you a passage quoted earlier from the gospel of Luke, which forms a key to understanding the significant time we are now living in - the end of the age.
"And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
There is, then, a limit to the desolation of Jerusalem. It was not to be "trodden down of the Gentiles" forever. It was only "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." To the inhabitants of that same guilty but beloved city, the Lord Jesus said, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate" (Mat. 23:38). Terrible words were these from such lips! Words of solemn import, but words through which shines the hope of a brighter day, for our Lord continued, "You shall not see me henceforth, till you say, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord" (Mat. 23:39). "Until" recalls the words of divinest grace. He will not hide His face forever. He left their house unto them desolate, and hid His face - His presence, His favor, His glory-from them, "till" ---not for ever---but "till you say, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!"
The dark covering that has been cast over the minds and hearts of the people of Judah for two thousand years will be completely destroyed when the sons of God reign in the Kingdom of their Father. We have not yet witnessed the magnitude of ministry that shall be revealed through the manifested sons of God. God is preparing His perfected and mature body, anointed with the fullness of the seven-fold Spirit of God, and this enChristed company shall appear on the cosmic stage of history in these last days with ten thousand times more power than a Moses, a Joshua, a Samuel, a David, an Elijah, a Peter, a Paul, a St. Patrick, a Wesley, a Whitefield, a Finney, or any of the mighty ministries of this century.
God has moved deeply upon my heart in these days to prophesy to God's elect that there is coming a great and glorious MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST before the face of all nations and the whole earth. There will be a fresh and universal revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. It's going to come in the midst of a people who truly "love His appearing," and I see and hear signs that already He is beginning to come. We are standing on the threshold of a new and fresh and transcendental manifestation of the Lord. These things are burning like a furnace inside of me. I am being quickened by these things. I know God is on the move, and my deepest desire is to be a part of this manifestation that will usher in a new day for this sin-cursed planet. The Lord wants to reveal Himself in our midst in a new way, and through us to creation. I am asking God to unveil and manifest Himself to me in these days in a fuller way. Oh God! do a new thing.
The whole earth and all creation is waiting for the glory of the Lord to be manifested. The dealings of God in your life and mine are fraught with divine purpose. There is something far greater ahead of us than walking on streets of gold or flitting about in white night gowns strumming harps. Thank God there is a heaven, but I want to tell you something. All the dealings of God toward us - the cross, the suffering, the processings, the blessings, the glory - all are intended to put something of His nature and character into US. This working will enable Him to be made manifest in this old dark world in which we live. God has purposed that righteousness and glory shine forth before all nations. This is going to be done through those who are being transformed into the likeness of His Son. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed from the living, completed temple of His body. His glory shall fill the earth. His power will shake the nations and all nations shall come and worship before HIM. The harvest of this age shall be gathered.
There is coming a day when all the glories of the Son of God will be revealed and manifested in the sons of God. With a heart of understanding and a spirit bright with the hope of God's eonian purpose the apostle penned these meaningful words, "...it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me " (Gal. 1:15-16). As one has written, "Let us open our hearts that God may speak to us and show us what a son of God really is, for the greater works (Jn. 14:12) of which Jesus spoke are not to be performed by ordinary believers, but by that vast family of sons who are now nearing the hour of manifestation. They are that chosen company, selected from many ages, who through fires and furnaces of affliction have been brought into that same glorious image of Jesus Christ. These sons of God are like Him. They are exactly like Him. The are in His image (Rom. 8:29). They are in His image and after His likeness. They are so completely sons of God, and so completely like Him, so completely born of Him, so completely of His mind and will and purpose their one difference is that He (the blessed Jesus) is the eldest in that vast family of sons and they with Him are the last Adam in all His completeness."
When our Lord Jesus Christ told the Jews that they would not "see Him" anymore until they should say, "Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord," He spoke not of His coming again as the man of Galilee, descending ceremoniously through the clouds, to take up residence in some imposing edifice in the ancient city of Jerusalem. Seeing with the natural eye and hearing with the natural ear are not all there is of seeing and hearing. "No man has seen God at any time" thus, yet all God's children have seen Him, and known Him, and held communion with Him. We hear God's call, our "high calling," we hear the voice of our Shepherd, and are constantly looking unto Jesus, and while we see not yet all things put under Him, we do see Jesus crowned with glory and honor and with unveiled face we behold the glory of the Lord and are changed into the same image, for God has shined in our hearts giving the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
"And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Mat. 24:30). "Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him" (Rev. 1:7). Every one who is a scholar knows that the words "see" and "know" are identical in their spiritual meaning. When I tell a brother something he did not see before, and I am trying to get him to see it, all at once there passes over his face the illumination which indicates intelligence. He says, "Brother Preston, I see it!" What does he mean? He does not mean that he sees anything with the eye of flesh. He means that he "knows" it.
I talk to a blind man who has no eyes to see at all. I explain something to him and presently he says, "Brother, I see it." Does he see anything? No! But he knows it. How many times in the day do you say, "I see it." Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God, "yet no man has seen God at any time. Suppose I give you the meaning of this passage: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall know God." It is better to know God than even to see Him by the eyes of sense. There are many who saw Jesus who did not know Him. They saw the Christ, but they knew not that He was the Christ. They saw His miracles, but they did not know Him. They even rejected Him and hated Him, many of them. It took the illumination that comes only by the effectual influence of the Holy Spirit to say with the Roman centurion, "Truly this was the Son of God." You could see Jesus Himself in bodily form today, but unless you had purity of heart you could not know Him to be the Christ. It is only purity of heart which gives purity of sight.
We see God Himself if our eyes are opened to see things which are heavenly. We see in the apocalyptic vision how John the apostle saw Jesus; how he describes the wonderful revelation of Christ; how he fell at His feet as dead when he saw Him. His spiritual eyes saw Him, for he wasin the Spirit on the Lord's day. The following words by George Hawtin bear eloquent testimony to the truth I now proclaim.
"I have often thought of the wonderful words 'no man can SEE GOD AND LIVE.' Oh how often we have quoted that wonderful passage as proof that we may not hope to see His face. Will you allow me reverently to say something else? Though it is true that no man can see God and live, it is equally true that no man can see God and die. Men do not die in God's presence, neither do they live AS THEY USED TO LIVE, but they are TRANSFORMED. Hallelujah! They are changed; they are transfigured; they come into THAT SAME IMAGE of Him who created them. In whatever measure God reveals Himself to man, to that same measure you are changed and nothing can avoid that conclusion. There is no possibility of any man's ever being the same again or living as he used to live once be has personally met the Lord and his eyes have beheld Him, the King in His beauty. 'As for me,' said David, 'I will behold Your face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I awake with Your likeness.' My own heart answers Amen. That is when I, too, shall be fully satisfied.'
Yes, the hour is wonderfully near at hand when the words of Christ shall be finally fulfilled, "You shall not see Me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is HE that comes in the name of the Lord." The time is nigh when the Jewish nation shall behold with astonishment the matchless wonder of the Christ coming again to be "glorified IN HIS SAINTS, and to be admired IN all them that believe in that day" (II Thes. 1:10).
Few of the Lord's people understand that the rejection and disbursement of the Jews, and the reign of Mystery Babylon the Great (apostate Christianity) have been parallel and connected events. God dispersed the Jews among the nations, and then raised up that monstrous harlot religious system which falsely calls itself "the church" to become the prime dispenser of His judgments upon the Jewish people. Anti-Semitism is the direct creature of the Babylon Church System and those who call themselves sons of God, who yet rail against the Jews, perceive not that their contempt for the Jew is but another vestige of Babylon that must be purged from their spirit by the reconciling love of God. While Christians are often not aware of the history of contempt for Jews, Jews are generally aware only of that dimension of Christian history. The pages of Christian history that have been torn out of Christian textbooks and forgotten are often the only ones Jews tend to know. The history of Jewish persecution at the hands of so-called Christians forms a significant part of the backdrop against which Jews have tended to perceive Christians. The Christians they have known have, for the most part, been citizens of Mystery Babylon. They have not seen THE CHRIST. They have not beheld the love, wisdom or glory of God in His saints. Can we not see by this that when Jesus said, "You shall not see Me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord," He spoke of the arising of a people into the name or nature of the Lord to so become the revelation of HIMSELF to the Jewish people that they shall cry, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord !"
In scripture "name" means "nature." Ah, methinks that the Jew has not for two thousand years seen the nature of the Lord in His people! All creation, including the Jew, stands on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of God's sons coming into their own, a people fashioned into His image and likeness, showing forth the virtues and excellencies of our God. When at last they behold this their hearts shall be ravished with the revelation of His love, God shall anoint their eyes with heavenly eyesalve, the divine harmony of truth shall sound upon their hearts until their spirits are caught away to the mount of the Lord, and in that vison of the sons of God standing upon mount Zion they shall say, "Blessed is HE that comes in the name of the Lord!"
Few Jews have believed in milleniums past because there has been a veil over their understanding. Even to this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their hearts; nevertheless when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away (II Cor. 3:15).
The dispensation of the Kingdom of God is to be a dispensation of restoration. The things lost through the fall are all to be restored from the least to the greatest. All the callings and blessings and benefits of God lost through apostasy and shame are to be restored. It is my deep conviction that this glorious restoration, beyond man's ability to comprehend, includes the restoration of the house of Judah. Meditate deeply, beloved, upon these meaningful words of the apostle Paul.
"Now if the fall of them (the Jews) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles (nations); how much more their fullness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part (the Jewish part) is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob ... for as you in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so have these also now not believed, that through Your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God has concluded them ALL in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon ALL. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Rom. 11:12-15, 25-26, 30-33).
Judah is being regathered in unbelief. They know not the Christ. No fruit has grown on the fig tree of their nation for a whole age. But now the hour is at hand for the curse to be lifted and Judah will accept Christ and the whole nation and people will be born again in this day by the power of the Holy Spirit. The next great event of earth-shaking importance, following the manifestation of the sons of God, will be the national conversion of the Jews. Jesus Christ will soon reveal Himself to Israel in and through the sons of God. The veil shall be lifted from their eyes and they shall SEE HIM IN HIS BODY and shall cry, "Blessed is HE that comes in the name (nature) of the Lord!"
The hour is at hand when the word of the Lord by the prophet Zechariah is about to be fulfilled, "And I will pour upon the house of David (Judah), and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness" (Zech. 12:10; 13:1).
The first step in this wondrous process here described is the descent of the Spirit upon them nationally, and first He comes upon them as a "spirit of grace," to which they are "twice dead" - devoid of it by nature, but over and above this judicially graceless because of the curse of their awful sin against the Holy Spirit. But along with this He shall come as a "spirit of supplications," leading them out of the depths to cry mightily unto God for mercy and light.
Thank God! the long night is almost over. The age of curse and judgment is even now drawing swiftly to a close. The sin against the Holy Spirit was grievous and the judgment severe and long.
But - thank God! - there is no unpardonable sin!