Love Under Fire


Chapter 1—A Forecast of the World's Destiny

From the crest of the Mount of Olives, Jesus looked at Jerusalem. The magnificent buildings of the temple were in full view. The setting sun lighted up its snowy white marble walls and gleamed from the golden tower and pinnacle. What child of Israel could gaze on that scene without a thrill of joy and admiration! But other thoughts occupied Jesus’ mind. “As He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it” (Luke 19:41). LF 13.1

Jesus’ tears were not for Himself, even though ahead of Him lay Gethsemane, the scene of His approaching agony, and Calvary, the place of crucifixion, was not far away. Yet it was not these scenes that cast the shadow over Him in this time of gladness. He wept for the thousands of doomed people in Jerusalem. LF 13.2

Jesus saw the history of more than a thousand years of God's special favor and guardian care for the chosen people. God had honored Jerusalem above all the earth. The Lord had “chosen Zion ... for His dwelling place” (Psalm 132:13). For ages, holy prophets had given their messages of warning. Daily the priests had offered the blood of lambs, pointing to the Lamb of God. LF 13.3

If Israel as a nation had preserved her loyalty to Heaven, Jerusalem would have stood forever as God's chosen city. But the history of the people God had favored was a record of backsliding and rebellion. With more than a father's tender love, God had “compassion on His people and on His dwelling place” (2 Chronicles 36:15). When appeals and rebuke had failed, He sent the best gift of heaven, the Son of God Himself, to plead with the unrepentant city. LF 13.4

For three years the Lord of light and glory had been among His people, “doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil,” setting free those who were bound, restoring sight to the blind, causing the lame to walk and the deaf to hear, cleansing lepers, raising the dead, and preaching the gospel to the poor (see Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18; Matthew 11:5). LF 13.5

Jesus lived as a homeless wanderer to minister to people's needs and their troubles, to plead with them to accept the gift of life. The waves of mercy, beaten back by those stubborn hearts, returned in a stronger tide of sympathetic, inexpressible love. But Israel had turned from her best Friend and only Helper, despising the pleadings of His love. LF 13.6

The time of hope and pardon was quickly passing. The cloud that had been building through ages of apostasy and rebellion was about to burst upon a guilty people. They had scorned, abused, and rejected the only One who could save them from their approaching fate, and they would soon crucify Him. LF 13.7

As Christ looked at Jerusalem, He saw before Him the doom of a whole city and a whole nation. He saw the destroying angel with sword uplifted against the city that had been God's dwelling place for so long. From the very spot that Titus and his army later occupied, He looked across the valley at the sacred courtyards and covered walkways of the temple. With tear-filled eyes He saw foreign forces surrounding the walls. He heard the tread of armies marshaling for war, the voice of mothers and children crying for food in the besieged city. He saw Jerusalem's holy house, her palaces and towers, given to the flames, a heap of smoldering ruins. LF 14.1

Looking down the ages, He saw the covenant people scattered in every land, “like wrecks on a desert shore.” Divine pity and yearning love found a voice in the mournful words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37). LF 14.2

Christ saw Jerusalem as a symbol of the world hardened in unbelief and rebellion, hurrying on to meet the judgments of God. His heart was moved with pity for the afflicted and suffering ones of earth. He longed to relieve them all. He was willing to give His last measure of life to bring salvation within their reach. LF 14.3

The Majesty of heaven in tears! That scene shows how hard it is to save the guilty from the results of violating the law of God. Jesus saw the world involved in deception similar to that which caused Jerusalem's destruction. The great sin of the Jews was their rejection of Christ; the great sin of the world would be their rejection of God's law, the foundation of His government in heaven and earth. Millions in slavery to sin, doomed to suffer the second death, would refuse to listen to words of truth in their day of opportunity. LF 14.4