And now, O Lord, what do I say after this?
Before I could speak I was reminded of these words of Jesus:
"And I say to you, that every useless word that man shall speak they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For in accordance with your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned."
Matthew 12:36, 37
Scripture records many useless responses (meaningless words), but one especially that has been repeated over and over by the people of God whenever the kingdom is offered to men. It still resounds today.
"In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of Egypt... they camped in front of the mountain. And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying: 'Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel... Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the people, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you shall speak to the sons of Israel...'"
"And all the people answered together and said, 'All that the Lord has spoken we will do!'"
But they didn't! Did they mean it at the time? God was hopeful!
"And God heard the voice of the words of His people. And He replied, 'They have done well in all that they have spoken.'"
Why did their words prove useless?
"They were a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart, and whose spirit was not faithful to God."
Was God faithful to them? Did He give them every opportunity to become that kingdom of priests, that holy nation, He offered to them in the wilderness?
"He brought them to His holy border, to this mountain which His right hand had gained. He also drove out the nations before them, and He apportioned them for an inheritance by measurement, and made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents. Yet they put to the test and rebelled against the Most High God, and did not keep His testimonies, but turned back and acted treacherously like their fathers..."
Psalm 78:52, 53
And so it went, generation after generation; God is faithful, the people are faithless. In times of His judgment they repented and promised to return to Him but their pattern of useless words continues right up to the time when God, the Father, sends His Son.
And Jesus proclaims the "good news" that His Father has not abandoned His original plan and purpose to have a kingdom of priests and a people for His own possession, nor has He abandoned His people in spite of their rebellion. And God in His faithfulness (renews? extends?) the offer of the kingdom to His chosen people alive in Jesus' day.
"From that time Jesus began to proclaim and say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"
But the majority of the priests and people of Jesus' day felt no need to repent even though their useless words through the generations were now compiled into oral traditions that invalidated the word of God. Jesus quoted Isaiah to them:
"This people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me... In vain do they worship Me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men..."
Matthew 15:8, 9
The Amplified Bible puts it this way:
"For the sake of your tradition you have set aside the Word of God -- depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect. You pretenders -- hypocrites! Truly did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ...uselessly do they worship Me, for they teach as doctrines the commands of men."
And this setting aside of the Word of God and invalidating it with doctrines and oral traditions had a detrimental effect on God's divine purpose to have a kingdom.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven in front of men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in."
And the outcome in their personal lives?
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."
Matthew 23:27, 28
What was the God-given role of the priest?
"True instruction was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity.
For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is a messenger of the Lord of hosts."
Malachi 2:6, 7
Back to Jesus' word to the priests of His day:
"But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted (or violated) the covenant of Levi."
Did there come a day when repentance for them was no longer possible?
"Jesus called the people to Him and said to them, 'Listen and comprehend this: it is not what goes into the mouth of man that makes him unclean and defiled, but what comes out of the mouth; this makes a man unclean and defiles... What comes out of the mouth comes from the heart and this defiles. For out of the heart comes evil thoughts such as murder...'"
When they were defiled beyond repentance? Jesus' word to them:
"You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence (or judgment) of hell?"
And the final outcome for that generation:
"Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it."
* * * * * *
Did God give up on His original purpose and plan to have a kingdom of priests?
"When the disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in parables, He answered and said: 'To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.'"
And Jesus' words to Peter:
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven..."
And to His disciples after His resurrection:
"...to the apostles whom He had chosen, to these He presented Himself alive... appearing to them over forty days, and speaking of things concerning the kingdom."
Acts 1:2, 3
And John in Revelation:
"And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father..."