Matthew 23:32 (The Measure of the Guilt of Your Fathers)

We have seen that by acknowledging the righteousness of God’s prophets and the wickedness of their fathers for putting them to death, the scribes and the Pharisees testified against themselves, for they were doing the same things against God’s own Son, to Christ Himself.  By both their actions and the hypocrisy from their own mouths they demonstrated themselves to be in partnership with their fathers and born of their spiritual seed for the same purpose of secretly opposing God’s righteous kingdom even while pretending to support it—just like their ultimate father the devil (Joh 8:44, 2Co 11:14; cf. Mat 3:7, 23:33).  See Act 7:51-52 and consider again the spiritual legacy religious hypocrites leave their descendants that makes them twice the sons of hell as they are (Mat 23:15); cf. Isa 1:4, 57:3, Jer 7:26, 16:11-12, 44:17.  What do these things remind us about the spiritual battle that has been raging in the heavenly realms since man’s fall into sin that is manifested upon this earth as enmity between the spiritual seed of Satan and the spiritual seed of God?  Cf. Gen 3:15, Mat 13:38, 1Jo 3:8-10.  What should we learn then about the importance of leaving behind a spiritual legacy of truth and righteousness for our children and others to walk in, rather than a spiritual line of digression that leads them even further away from God’s light into ever deeper realms of spiritual darkness?  Is going to church and performing other religious acts—such as the scribes and Pharisees did—the spiritual legacy we must pass on that will prevent such a spiritual descent?  What is the spiritual legacy we must pass on?  See 2Th 2:10, 1Ti 1:5.  Given the corrupted nature of man, what is his only hope for deliverance from the downward spiral of degeneracy, not just into sin, but for those who in pride would seek their own deliverance into the even greater sin of hypocrisy to reflect more and more the nature and character of Satan?  See 1Pe 1:17-19, cf. Gal 2:20-21.  What does the spiritual legacy of sin teach us about its utter sinfulness and corrupting nature that makes it so damnable, and sinners so culpable?

As the scribes and Pharisees by their hypocrisy and persecution of Christ demonstrated themselves to be the spiritual progeny of those who put the prophets to death, to what does Jesus give them over in Mat 23:32?  What does “fill up the measure of your fathers” indicate about there being a measure of guilt that will bring irrevocable judgment upon nations and which may take many generations to fill up?  See Gen 15:16, Num 32:14, Rev 14:18-19.  Might that same principle apply to more local communities, churches or families, and even sooner commensurate with their smaller size?  What do Jesus’ words indicate about how individuals within those communities and across those generations may be given over as irredeemable to add to that measure of guilt that brings final judgment upon a collective group of people?  Cf. Jer 44:17-28, esp. Jer 44:22,25[1].  What does this help us to understand about how men can have free will, but God is still sovereign and like Pharaoh can use them to accomplish His own purposes?  Cf. Rom 9:17-18,22.

What does the example of Jesus and Jeremiah teach us about how the bold-faced persecution of God’s messengers, especially by religious hypocrites, tops off all the sooner the full measure of the guilt of a people that brings forth judgment that cannot be turned back?  Cf. 2Ch 36:15-16, 1Th 2:14-16.  What does this remind us about there being a limit to how long God will tarry with the wicked and how far He will allow them to encroach upon the righteous?  Cf. Job 38:8-11, Pro 8:29, Isa 57:20, Jer 5:22.

What do Jesus’ words in Mat 23:32 remind us about the manner in which God will give the crooked up to their own devices?  Cf. Psa 18:25-26, Mat 26:14-15, Joh 12:6, 13:27-30, 2Th 2:11-12, Rev 22:11[2].  What do His words remind us about the self-deluding nature of an insincere faith and the great danger to those who persist in their secret sins which are often hidden behind a religious façade?  What do they also remind us about the importance of leaving behind a spiritual legacy of righteousness and truth for our children and others to follow?

When the full measure of guilt is reached in a community or land or people so that judgment is certain and forthcoming, what are true Christians to do?  See Mat 10:23, 24:15-18 and cf. the example of Rahab in Jos 2:12-13.  Considering that the measure of Israel’s guilt was made full by Christ’s death, and judgment was certain but didn’t come for another 40 years, is it possible that America’s guilt is also full, that judgment is certain, and it is just a matter of time?  Cf. Rev 18:1-4.  How then should we live, and what sort of people ought we to be?  See 2Pe 3:11.


1. National guilt which brings national ruin is made up of the sin of many in several ages, and in the successions of societies there is a score going on; for God justly visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children that tread in the steps of it.  Matthew Henry.

2. It is just with God to give those up to their own heart’s lusts, who obstinately persist in the gratification of them. Those who will run headlong to ruin, let the reins be laid on their neck, and it is the saddest condition a man can be in on this side of hell.  Matthew Henry.

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