What does Jesus say in Mat 23:38 was the result of the worldly Jerusalem’s refusal to be gathered under the Lord’s wings of refuge by giving heed to His messengers? What does it mean to be desolate? See Lev 26:31-33,43, Neh 2:17, Job 15:28, Isa 5:9, 6:11, and cf. Jeremiah’s similar lament in Jer 4:19-27a. In what way have parts of many American cities become desolate in this sense? What is the scriptural opposite of being desolate? See 2Sa 13:20, Isa 62:1-5, Eze 36:34-38, Joel 2:3. What does our present context teach us about the means by which a land or people protects itself against desolation to be blessed and fruitful, as America was in the past? Cf. Gen 2:5,15-17. Should we be surprised that as America has turned a deaf ear to God’s commands it has also seen an increase in the desolation of its cities? Think Detroit, Watts, Ferguson, Baltimore, or “inner-city”. What then is the importance to a nation of its shepherds whom God has appointed to teach the people so that they may be gathered together under His wings of refuge by giving heed to His word and their land not become desolate? Contrast Jer 12:10-11 and recall whom Jesus is addressing in our present context. What is the danger to a nation or people who because of neglect by their shepherds have been lulled by the world to become lax in regard to the Lord’s commandments? See Zep 1:12-18 and note, and consider that those who would plant vineyards but not drink their wine typify those who are ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2Ti 3:7). Shall we suppose that the desolations that overtook Jerusalem and that have overtaken kingdoms throughout history cannot overtake America? To what extent might America’s shepherds be culpable for its increasing desolations because of their failure to preach true repentance for true salvation but instead have proclaimed a gospel of easy-believism that gives people a false security that they are saved when they in fact have not given heed to the Lord’s commands? See Mat 7:26-27; cf. 2Ti 4:1-4.
Recall that Jesus, after pronouncing seven-plus woes upon the religious leaders of the Jews for their hypocrisies, is now lamenting over Jerusalem for the desolations that would befall her as a result of their apostasy. What does this remind us of the broader consequences of sin that like a cancer will destroy far beyond its original host if left unchecked? What does it remind us of why sin is so sinful? What does it teach us about the importance of exercising discipline both in our homes and within the church, and the importance of just and holy laws in a society to protect against those cancers that will leave it desolate? What does it also teach us about the importance of having true servant leaders who rather than serving themselves and falling prey to the deceitfulness of sin that desolates the whole community, they serve others with the nature and character of Jesus? Cf. Mat 20:25-28. What does this teach us about the importance of praying for those leaders, both civil and spiritual, and how we should pray for them? See 1Ti 2:1-2; cf. Act 4:29, Eph 6:19-20.
1. In Zep 1:12, the NAS “stagnant in Spirit” is literally “thickening on their lees”, and refers to wine that will thicken into syrup if when it is made it is left too long on the sediment, thus indicating a people who are complacent in their sin. Cf. “settled on their lees” (KJV), “entrenched in their sin” (NET), “settled in complacency” (NKJ), “complacent in their sins” (NLT).↩