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As a Hen Gathers Her Chickens - 1

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
October 1, 2023 8:00 am

As a Hen Gathers Her Chickens - 1

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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October 1, 2023 8:00 am

This is the first in a series -Christ and Creatures- from Dr. John McKnight.


Aren't those wonderful words, ye blind, behold your Savior come and leap ye lane for joy. It's once been said that God never called a legless man to run a foot race.

But when he said to the cripple who had never walked, arise, take up your bed and walk, he did so and he leaped for joy. What a great God we have. A great Savior. And how wonderful it is to be with you again. How blessed I am by this congregation, which is the easiest place I preach. The attentiveness, the interest, the desire for the proclamation of the word of God testifies not only to a work of grace in the hearts of this congregation, but to a work of grace in providing shepherding through the decades that has cultivated that kind of life. The end of desire for the word of God. So it's wonderful, wonderful to be with you once again. As I drove down from Whiteford, Maryland, my home yesterday, to the delightful destination of Burlington, North Carolina, my Silverado pickup truck, which I trust for everything from hauling sheep to chickens to sheep manure.

You've got to do that too if you're going to have sheep. That truck developed a hole somewhere in the exhaust pipe. So in spite of all of my rigorous efforts to obfuscate and conceal the hillbilly that I am, it's there. So if you hear a horrible noise this week, you'll know I'm in the neighborhood. It is wonderful to be in North Carolina. I don't know if I've mentioned to you before, but I have three quarters tar-heeled blood coursing through my veins, in fact. My paternal grandparents grew up in the Sparta, North Carolina area, and my maternal grandmother in West Jefferson, North Carolina. So that was kind of the genetic species that I descend from. I guess the most time I've spent in North Carolina has been here with you folks, and what a delightful place to spend that time. It's kind of like that. Let me back up to you.

North Carolina. Now, it's an old thing for me. All the stuff, the gaze, the peace, the feel, the foul of the air, the peace. And what's the other passage of the passage? The board, our board, our excellence, our pain, our joy, whatever's on the surface of the passage. At least the dominion of man, the peace to the sea. The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, are under the dominion of the sea. But specifically, the new passage is going south, and that's the passage of Christ. And it's the dominion of the sea, the heaven and earth. When he pronounced it good, he was refreshing what he made as he appeared. And then throughout the history, he made use of the diversity of the earth in our time.

So, in order to create more of animals, we need to create more animals. There's so much that's been done, four of them. Those enemies and drown them all. No other nation had been fed for 40 years with manna in the wilderness, nor given its land from pagan occupants who claimed it. No other nation had been given the prophets like Israel had. Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and evidently a host of unknown prophets that are unnamed in scripture, but whom they killed rather than submitting to. All of these privileges and pleasures that the people of Israel had been given, and then crowning them all the savior of all mankind was born given to them.

And as Jesus faced the religious leaders of the day who exercised such jealous and wicked control over the people of Israel, he confronts them with their rejection and its consequences. And it reminds them of the hen with her chickens, her little chicks. I don't know if you've grown up around chickens or not, but I did.

And I've got 100 or so at home that I left for my wife there to feed while I'm away, enjoying time with you all. And I recall as a young boy on a top ledge in my grandfather's ramshackle shed and garage where a hen had made her nest, had hatched out the young ones and was on the ground with them. I guess they just kind of fell about seven feet from the ledge down to the ground. And I heard a chicken, a chick peeping up in the nest area. So I crawled up there and there was an egg that had begun to open but was not yet completely hatched. And the hen had left the nest early. So I broke the egg open and a little bantam chicken fell out of my hand which became a pet. I was its mother and father as far as it was concerned.

And as it grew larger, it would sit on my shoulder while we walked around the yard and the house together. And it became a very, very tame rooster. But tame roosters like tame bulls can be the most deadly.

And so it didn't have any fear of any human and it would attack anyone that came near. And I recall the day that a lady stopped by our home to speak to my father who was a pastor to see if my father would perform her daughter's wedding. And the rooster targeted her and took off after her and tore up a pair of nylons, scratched her legs and that had to be the end of that rooster. So that's kind of my life story around chickens. And so when I come to this passage and our Lord referring to these animals, these birds, these hens, many of you have no doubt seen how a mother chicken will take her chicks under her wings.

And her whole demeanor, her whole disposition changes when she has chicks. Whereas she may run from anything that would seem to be a threat to chickens, once she has those chicks, she is right there with them and will face off any enemy. And my brethren this morning as I came in mentioned when he was a boy, a hen with chicks and a hawk came swooping down to take the chick and the chickens away. And she turned on the hawk and got the best of him and chased him off.

I've seen dogs that would quickly kill a chicken suddenly face a mother hen that comes at them with her wings out and in her fury flapping and it runs away yelping with its tail between its legs. Protection. The protection of a mother hen. There's the warmth that her body provides. Those little chicks have to be kept warm. They can get out away from her for so long but if they get chilled they will die. And so back under her wings they're kept warm. Her voice changes when she has little chickens. It goes from the usual noises of a chicken to a very gentle cluck that they recognize and she can call them together in an instant and call them to food because that's another thing she provides.

She's continually scratching and pecking finding things in the dust and dirt that you and I can't see but they can and they eat and they grow. The picture of a hen protecting her chickens is one of the most warming pictures that there can be. And it is that image that our Lord used to describe how he would have cared for the people of Jerusalem and the people of Israel, yea how he had cared for them through the years. But they had rejected his tender care for them. And so as we look at the passage this morning.

I want us to consider several items. First of all we need to consider the unique favor with which God had blessed Jerusalem. This was a place of special focus of divine attention. Do you recall that when God commanded Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice he showed him one of the mountains which he was to go to and Abraham went to that mountain and there on a rock on that mountain. He offered his son Isaac and God provided at the last minute a substitute ram to be offered. And years later when David had numbered the people of Israel against God's purpose and will and a plague had come upon the people of Israel and he cried out for mercy God directed him to that same location. By then the threshing floor of one named Ornan and there David was to purchase and then offer a sacrifice the offering of which stayed the judgment of God upon the people. And Abraham's son Solomon when he was ready to build the temple was directed to that same spot where Abraham had offered Isaac where David had offered the sacrifice that halted the plague. There Solomon built the temple. It was at the very heart of Jerusalem. It was obviously a place of great focus and love by Jehovah himself and we get hints of this throughout the Old Testament. The Lord loves the gates of Zion Jerusalem more than the other dwelling places of Jacob.

He chose the tribe of Judah Mount Zion which he loved the Psalmist wrote and said I was glad when they said unto me let us go up into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand within thy gates old Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built it as a city that is compact together with the tribes go up the tribes of the Lord and to the testimony of Israel to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.

For there are set the thrones of judgment the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love the peace be within the walls and prosperity within my palaces for my brother and companions sake I will now say peace be within the because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good. Oh the good that was sought for Jerusalem. And yet Malachi the prophet reminds us of how it was that God could say I have loved you and yet they respond wherein has thou loved us. If any people on the face of the earth was ever loved of God in evident manifestation of that love it was the people of Israel and yet Malachi points to them during the time of the captivity getting comfortable in a foreign land and saying concerning God Jehovah wherein has thou loved us.

Malachi answers was not Esau Jacob's brother sayeth the Lord and yet I loved Jacob and hated Esau. And the prophet continues to speak of all of the benefits that the people of Israel had received. The point being that Jerusalem over which Christ wept Jerusalem to whom the Lord Jesus said How often would I have gathered a children together as a hidden gathers her chickens. Jerusalem persisted in its wickedness its rejection of the grace that had been extended to it and came under some of the most amazing rebuke that can be found. Matthew's report of this very incident is preceded by a lengthy passage in which Jesus Christ utterly excoriates the religious leaders of Israel.

Ye blind guides would strain at a net and swallow a camel. It does not get much stronger than the words of Christ there for those whom he would have gathered under his wings as a hen gathers her chickens. Well the second item to observe is Jerusalem having received so much should have delivered much for unto whom much is given of him shall much be required. And even as Pastor Barkman pointed out in his supplication and prayer this morning our own nation is portrayed here though he speaks to Jerusalem. What land on earth today can boast the blessing and prosperity that our own land has enjoyed to which it turns not simply a deaf ear but a scowling and cursing face refusing to believe refusing to receive.

Oh there was the time in our nation's history where it led the world in sending out gospel missionaries to the uttermost parts of the earth and how blessed we were to be the launching point for so many. But how that blessing has been devalued abused and rejected. You should recognize as well that there is a special intensity of hardness that arises when one resists the word of God. It is said that the most vigorous unbelievers are dropout preachers who have been exposed to the truth and yet responded ultimately in rejection and unbelief and they become hardened beyond any penetrating.

Their hearts are as granite. This was what had happened with the people of Israel. The religious class to whom Christ was speaking in these chapters would very soon see to it that he was nailed upon a cross.

The very one who had come for their deliverance they would deliver to the Gentiles and to pilot to be slain and the hardness of heart of the religious leaders of Israel stands as a warning to every one of us. There is a great danger to ignoring that which is spiritual to have been given God's truth. In an inerrant and infallible revelation which has proved the test of time and shall prove the test of eternity to have been given that and pay it little or no heed is to incubate within ourselves an intensity of hardness. A hardness that may not exhibit itself in open violent hostility against the truth but in something that may be even worse and that be merely a passive indifference to the truth. And the ones to whom Christ says how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathers her chickens were ones who were now hostile and set against God incarnate because he came among them and was upsetting their little religious apple cart.

And they were determined to have the day they were determined to have their way and they would not let this usurper come in upon them. My friends it is a great and serious error to walk away from the word of God resisting any imprint it might make upon your heart your thought your life. The prophet of Israel said seek ye the Lord while he may be found call ye upon him while he is near and the very clear implication of that is if you do not seek him now the day will come when he will no longer be found of you when he will no longer be near. Even as we heard from the scriptures when one comes and knocks on the door but there is no opening of the door for them they seek to enter but entrance has passed.

Hardness of heart that brings one to such a state is a great tragedy. Jesus rebuked the cities of Israel well into the Bethsaida well into the chorus and for if the mighty works which were done and you had been done in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. He tells them it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment for them for them and we know what happened at Sodom and Gomorrah. And in all of this there is yet another glowing evidence of special grace in as much as Christ speaks this word today to Jerusalem and the others to Chorazin and Bethsaida which was not spoken to most cities of humanity. What we find is that the disposition of the gospel the distribution of the gospel is itself entirely under the sovereign control and dominion of Almighty God. We read for example of the great repentance of Nineveh by means of a nasty cantankerous ill-spirited prophet named Jonah who didn't want to go there but had to and the whole city was brought to repentance.

What other city of antiquity had such a blessing? God had orchestrated that and as with Jerusalem it is the sovereign governance of God himself which ultimately determines who receives the gospel who receives the message and who does not receive it. I thank God every day I was born in this country which has a Christian heritage and into a Bible believing God fearing family where I would hear the gospel. For there are many many men on earth today born the same day that I was who will live and die never hearing the Lord's name never knowing there is the word of God and a savior to deliver and the only reason I know it is because God chose to place me here. And for the people of Jerusalem the religious leaders God had done such favors for them but they would not and that's a statement you can mark and underline and highlight in the text ye would not. Let us notice as well that it is a special tenderness that God has shown throughout Jerusalem's resistance. You read through the book of Jeremiah and you find Jeremiah speaking of the judgments that God is bringing upon the people of Israel and he's known as the weeping prophet as he weeps amid those judgments. And all of God's goodness is shown in that even in that time of rebellion and resistance he gave them a prophet Jeremiah whom they abused and scorned in the worst ways one might be abused and score. And yet God was tender responded in such tenderness. And notice as well where the passage says there in Chapter 13 and verse 34 35 Behold your house is left unto you desolate such opportunity such resistance such hardness.

It would have gathered them together as a hen gathers her chicks. It would appear abandons them. You see the wrath of God described in Romans one is not that lightning bolt which comes streaking out of the sky to zap the rebel. It is rather God letting the wicked have his way, turning him over to his wickedness. Will you please here's more of the same. And so the wickedness continues unrestrained and the deceived wicked one assumes that the fact that he can continue on smitten is God's favor upon him. God's approval.

So deception so deceptive and blinding is unbelief. There is in the city of Rome, a monument, a memorial, known as the Arch of Titus. It perhaps is not quite as well known as the ancient Coliseum pictures of which I'm sure you've all seen perhaps some of you have visited but not far from the Coliseum is the Arch of Titus, and it is so relevant to the passage we consider here today. The Arch of Titus was built by the Emperor Domitian as a memorial to his brother who was the Emperor Titus.

Both were sons of the Emperor Vespasian who had become the Emperor of the Roman Empire upon the suicide of Nero, another of their cruel emperors. Vespasian at the time of Nero's death was endeavoring to prosecute war against the people of Israel. You see, the Roman Empire by that time had expanded its borders so that Israel and the whole region of the Middle East surrounding was a part of the empire, but the emperors had found the Jewish people and especially cantankerous group of people to deal with. And you can understand why. The people of Israel had in their psyche and in their history an identity which they valued and were proud of, and no other people on earth had that identity.

Back again to what we already mentioned. For what nation had God destroyed the might of a world empire Egypt by way of plagues in order that he might deliver that nation from the bondage of Egypt? For what nation had he divided the Red Sea but the people of Israel and then used it as an all-consuming weapon against their enemy?

For what nation had God provided manna in the wilderness and a promised land promised to their progenitor Abraham? This was in the psyche of the people of Israel even though the Babylonians centuries earlier had come and taken them captive. And when the Romans took over the captors of the people of Israel, Israel was then subject to Rome, but how Israel hated that subjection?

Tax collectors are not generally appreciated in most cultures, but especially there because the tax collectors of Israel were sending Israel's money back to Rome. And so there were revolts and there was resistance and you have a guy named Pontius Pilate who had little mercy upon the people of Israel because of the difficulty it was to govern them. And finally the people rebelling against the Roman Empire faced its destruction of them. And so in 66 AD the northern part of Israel was taken captive by the Romans, the general Vespasian.

And then when Nero died Vespasian was elected to be the emperor by the Senate of Rome. And he had to return and so his son Titus became the general on that battlefield and turned his attention southward in Israel to the nation's capital, Jerusalem. And in the year 68 Titus came against Jerusalem and besieged the city surrounding it so that people could not come in or go out.

Oh he would let people go in for indeed a part of religion, a part of Israel's national religion and history was making pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the holy days and so people came in throngs to enter Jerusalem and Titus let them through the barricade but then didn't let them out. And increasingly within the city the conditions got worse and worse until finally in 70 AD the city walls were broken and the forces under the command of General Titus entered into Jerusalem. Slaughter ensued, the destruction was unspeakable and Titus led the way to a victory of which the historian Josephus wrote and I want to read to you a little bit of his description of what was happening there. Speaking of the people of Israel he says the rebels shortly after attacked the Romans again and a clash followed. The guards of the sanctuary and troops who were putting out the fire in the inner court later routed the Jews and followed in hot pursuit after them. While the temple was ablaze the attackers plundered it and countless who were caught by them were slaughtered. There was no pity for age, no regard was accorded rank, children and old men, laymen and priests were butchered.

Every class was pursued and crushed in the grip whether they cried out for mercy or offered resistance mattered none. Through the roar of the flames streaming far and wide the groans of victims were heard. It was the height of the hill and the magnitude of the blazing pile that the entire city seemed to be ablaze and the noise more deafening and frightening nothing could be imagined. There was the war cries of the Roman legions as they swept onward en masse, the yells of the rebels encircled by fire and sword, the panic of people who cut off above fled into the arms of the enemy and their shrieks as they met their fate. The skies on hills blended with those of the multitudes in the city below and now many people who were exhausted and tongue-tied as a result of hunger when they beheld the temple on fire found strength once more to lament and wail. The temple mount everywhere enveloped in flames seemed to be boiling over from its base yet the blood seemed more abundant than the flames and the numbers of the slain greater than those of the slayers.

The soldiers climbed over heaps of bodies as they chased the fugitives. Such a miserable defeat. Back to Rome. The Arch of Titus was then constructed after the death of the general Titus who oversaw this by his brother Domitian. Not because Domitian was very fond of his brother Titus but having no victories to boast in himself he wanted to tie himself to his brother's victory. And so the Arch of Titus was built standing some 50 feet tall over a main thoroughfare into the city of Rome upon which the victory parades marched as they returned from battle carrying their spoil. Through the Arch of Titus they would walk and on the inside of this huge stone arch there is the carving from the first century of the Roman soldiers carrying back the ruins and loot from the temple in Jerusalem. And prominent among them is the golden candlestick of which we read in the Old Testament which was there in the holy place in the temple. And there is the monument to Israel's loss. The fulfillment of Christ's words.

Your house is left unto you desolate. At that time forward the Jewish people would not, the Jewish people living in Rome through history would not walk under that arch. Not until 1948 when the nation of Israel was reconstituted and in celebration of that the Jews in Rome walked under the arch in reverse direction.

As if leaving the city in a symbolic gesture. And the monument stands there perpetually as long as Rome's ruins will last to the defeat of people whom our Lord would have gathered under his wings as a hen gathers her chickens. That location where Abraham offered Isaac, where David offered the sacrifice that delivered from the plague, where Solomon built the temple was raised and destroyed in 70 AD. In the year 691 and 692 there was constructed there what is the world's oldest surviving work of Islamic architecture. The dome of the rock. You've seen pictures of it as well. Perhaps one of the most famous structures in the world.

More than 400 years later the dome there collapsed and so in 1022 and 23 it was rebuilt and that building stands there to this very day. If you visit Israel that's what you'll see. As a testimony to our Lord's words behold your house is left unto you desolate and how long before our own nation suffers the same. And to anyone today who does not know Christ and is not trusting in our Savior, seek you the Lord while he may be found. Even this day he will hide his own under his wings.

He will take them as a hen gathers her chickens. May each of us know that shelter, that warmth, that security, that protection. Shall we bow together as we pray. Lord our God and our Father in heaven we are reminded this morning of the great faithfulness of thy word it shall not return into the void. Every jot and tittle thereof shall be fulfilled. And even in today's world and its ancient city ruins we see the fulfillment of your word. We thank you that your word to save is as certain and that those who come to Christ none will be rejected or cast out. And we thank you that we are bidden come not to a judge but to one who has the tenderness of a mother hen sheltering her children her little chickens. Bring us O Lord unto such safety and blessing. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-01 14:09:06 / 2023-10-01 14:20:08 / 11

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