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Matthew 23:37

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem -

  • It is evident that our blessed Lord seriously and earnestly wished the salvation of the Jews.
  • That he did every thing that could be done, consistently with his own perfections, and the liberty of his creatures, to effect this.
  • That his tears over the city, Luke 19:41, sufficiently evince his sincerity.
  • That these persons nevertheless perished. And
  • That the reason was, they would not be gathered together under his protection: therefore wrath, i.e. punishment, came upon them to the uttermost.
  • From this it is evident that there have been persons whom Christ wished to save, and bled to save, who notwithstanding perished, because they would not come unto him, John 5:40. The metaphor which our Lord uses here is a very beautiful one. When the hen sees a beast of prey coming, she makes a noise to assemble her chickens, that she may cover them with her wings from the danger. The Roman eagle is about to fall upon the Jewish state - nothing can prevent this but their conversion to God through Christ-Jesus cries throughout the land, publishing the Gospel of reconciliation - they would not assemble, and the Roman eagle came and destroyed them. The hen's affection to her brood is so very strong as to become proverbial. The following beautiful Greek epigram, taken from the Anthologia, affords a very fine illustration of this text.

    Χειμεριαις νιφαδεσσι παλυνομενα τιθας ορνις

    Τεκνοις ευναιας αμφεχεε πτερυγας

    Μεσφα μεν ουρανιον κρυος ωλεσεν η γαρ εμεινεν

    Αιθερος ουρανιων αντιπαλος νεφεων.

    Προκνη και Μεδεια, κατ 'αΐδος αιδεσθητε,

    Μητερες, ορνιθων εργα διδασκομεναι

    Anthol. lib. i. Titus. 87: edit. Bosch. p. 344

    Beneath her fostering wing the Hen defends

    Her darling offspring, while the snow descends;

    Throughout the winter's day unmoved defies

    The chilling fleeces and inclement skies;

    Till, vanquish'd by the cold and piercing blast,

    True to her charge, she perishes at last!

    O Fame! to hell this fowl's affection bear;

    Tell it to Progne and Medea there: -

    To mothers such as those the tale unfold,

    And let them blush to hear the story told! -

    T. G.

    This epigram contains a happy illustration, not only of our Lord's simile, but also of his own conduct. How long had these thankless and unholy people been the objects of his tenderest cares! For more than 2000 years, they engrossed the most peculiar regards of the most beneficent Providence; and during the three years of our Lord's public ministry, his preaching and miracles had but one object and aim, the instruction and salvation of this thoughtless and disobedient people. For their sakes, he who was rich became poor, that they through his poverty might be rich: - for their sakes, he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross! He died, that They might not perish, but have everlasting life. Thus, to save their life, he freely abandoned his own.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    O Jerusalem … - See the notes at Luke 19:41-42.

    Would I have gathered - Would have protected and saved.

    Thy children - Thy people.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Our Lord declares the miseries the inhabitants of Jerusalem were about to bring upon themselves, but he does not notice the sufferings he was to undergo. A hen gathering her chickens under her wings, is an apt emblem of the Saviour's tender love to those who trust in him, and his faithful care of them. He calls sinners to take refuge under his tender protection, keeps them safe, and nourishes them to eternal life. The present dispersion and unbelief of the Jews, and their future conversion to Christ, were here foretold. Jerusalem and her children had a large share of guilt, and their punishment has been signal. But ere long, deserved vengeance will fall on every church which is Christian in name only. In the mean time the Saviour stands ready to receive all who come to him. There is nothing between sinners and eternal happiness, but their proud and unbelieving unwillingness.
    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 67

    The Saviour has oft visited you in Battle Creek. Just as verily as He walked in the streets of Jerusalem, longing to breathe the breath of spiritual life into the hearts of those discouraged and ready to die, has He come to you. The cities that were so greatly blessed by His presence, His pardon, His gifts of healing, rejected Him; and just as great, yea, greater, evidence of unrequited love has been given in Battle Creek. Has Christ not loaded down His church with benefits and blessings? Has He not sent His servants with messages of pardon and righteousness, to be freely given to all who will receive them? 8T 67.1

    Jerusalem is a representation of what the church will be if it refuses to walk in the light that God has given. Jerusalem was favored of God as the depositary of sacred trusts. But her people perverted the truth, and despised all entreaties and warnings. They would not respect His counsels. The temple courts were polluted with merchandise and robbery. Selfishness and love of mammon, envy and strife, were cherished. Everyone sought for gain from his quarter. Christ turned from them, saying: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” how can I give thee up? “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Matthew 23:37. 8T 67.2

    So Christ sorrows and weeps over our churches, over our institutions of learning, that have failed to meet the demand of God. He comes to investigate in Battle Creek, which has been moving in the same track as Jerusalem. The publishing house has been turned into desecrated shrines, into a place of unholy merchandise and traffic. It has become a place where injustice and fraud have been carried on, where selfishness, malice, envy, and passion have borne sway. Yet the men who have been led into this working upon wrong principles are seemingly unconscious of their wrong course of action. When warnings and entreaties come to them, they say: “Doth she not speak in parables?” Words of warning and reproof have been treated as idle tales. 8T 67.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 189

    The unreconciled feelings and murmurings which have been expressed by some have also been festering in your soul, although you have not dared to speak out plainly to the same effect. It would have been better for the office and for all concerned had you been separated from it years ago. The more light you have had, the more privileges you have enjoyed, the less sincerity and righteousness have you manifested. Your heart has been carnal, and you have neglected the expressed word of God. Although you have been hedged about with warnings and counsels, and have had the strongest evidence that God was in this work and that His voice was speaking to you, yet you have slighted and rejected solemn reproofs, and gone on in your own selfish, willful way. 4T 189.1

    Sometimes your fears have been aroused, but still you have never realized your wretched spiritual condition and absolute danger. You have repeatedly fallen back again into the same state of indifference and selfishness. Your repentance has never gone deep enough to perfect a thorough reformation. You have had a surface work, but not that entire transformation which is necessary in order to bring you into acceptance with God. “He that followeth Me,” says Christ, “shall not walk in darkness.” But through the greater part of your professed Christian life you have walked in darkness because you have failed to connect with heaven and receive the pure light of God's Spirit. 4T 189.2

    If you were in daily communion with the Lord and cultivated a love for souls you would grow out of self and become an earnest worker in the vineyard of the Lord. You would perceive how the faithful performance of the duties of life would preserve you from self-love and self-gratification. You have not been diligent, seeking to gain an advanced experience every day. You should be at this time a trusty man in any position of responsibility, but selfishness has marked the performance of everything you have set your hand to do. You have been wise in your own conceit, but have failed to gain wisdom from the experience of many years. 4T 190.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Selected Messages Book 3, 417

    After speaking of the end of the world, Jesus comes back to Jerusalem, the city then sitting in pride and arrogance, and saying, “I sit a queen, and shall see no sorrow” (see Revelation 18:7). As His prophetic eye rests upon Jerusalem, He sees that as she was given up to destruction, the world will be given up to its doom. The scenes that transpired at the destruction of Jerusalem will be repeated at the great and terrible day of the Lord, but in a more fearful manner.... 3SM 417.1

    As men throw off all restraint, and make void His law themselves, as they establish their own perverted law, and try to force the consciences of those who honor God and keep His commandments to trample the law under their feet, they will find that the tenderness which they have mocked will be exhausted.... 3SM 417.2

    Coming Calamities—A world is represented in the destruction of Jerusalem, and the warning given then by Christ comes sounding down the line to our time: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25). Yes, they shall pass their borders, and destruction will be in their track. They will engulf the ships that sail upon their broad waters, and with the burden of their living freight, they will be hurried into eternity, without time to repent. 3SM 417.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Publishing Ministry, 167.5

    “Christ sorrows and weeps over our churches, over our institutions of learning, that have failed to meet the demand of God. He comes to investigate in Battle Creek, which has been moving in the same track as Jerusalem. The publishing house has been turned into desecrated shrines, into places of unholy merchandise and traffic. It has become a place where injustice and fraud have been carried on, where selfishness, malice, envy, and passion have been borne sway. Yet the men who have led into this working upon wrong principles are seemingly unconscious of their wrong course of action. When warnings and entreaties come to them, they say, Doth He not speak in parables? Words of warning and reproof have been treated as idle tales.”—Letter 31, 1898. PM 167.5

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