Title: The unpardonable sin part 3
Scriptures to Read: Matthew 12:32-37
A Point of no return
In God’s dealings with his covenant people, once a particular generation has gone beyond a point of no return, no amount of repenting can change the coming of imminent physical judgement. The judgement is irrevocable because they have gone beyond the point of no return.
3 historical examples
The events of Matthew 12 are actually the third time this has taken place in Israel’s history.
1. The first time is in Kadesh-barnea (Numbers 13 & 14)– Kadesh-barnea is an oasis right on the border of the Promised Land. And from that oasis Moses sent out 12 spies into the land, who came back 40 days later, all agreeing on one point: the land is all that God called it, a land that flows with milk and honey. Then came the key point of disagreement. Only two of the men said, “God is with us, we can take it”. But ten men said no, because of the numerical strength of the Canaanites and their military forces. As a result of this negative report, there was a massive rebellion against Aaron and Moses. The two men were almost killed, but God intervened. At that point God entered into judgement with the Exodus generation. And the decree was that they would have to continue wandering in the desert until 40 years passed. In that 40-year period, all who came out of Egypt would die except for the two good spies and those below the age of twenty. So 40 years later a new nation could enter the land under Joshua. What happened is that God withdrew the offer of the Promised Land from the Exodus generation, just as here in Matthew 12 He will withdraw the offer of the kingdom from this generation. And Numbers 14:20 even says that God forgave their sin. The judgement did not affect anyone’s salvation, but they had to pay the physical consequences of going beyond the point of no return, which was physical death outside the land. Even Moses had to die outside the land because of a sin he committed. But it did not affect his own individual salvation.
2. The second time this happened was in the days of Manasseh (2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33)– Manasseh was the cruellest king Jerusalem ever had and a great quantity of the blood of the remnant was shed in his day. The temple that was built by Solomon for the glory of God was turned into a centre of idolatry. He resorted to human sacrifice. And finally a point of no return was reached, and God decreed the Babylonian destruction of the city and the temple and 70 years of Babylonian captivity. Once a point of no return is reached no amount of repenting can change the fact of coming physical judgement. And the Bible tells us that towards the end of his life Manasseh did repent. He became a saved man. He was followed in his reign by the righteous king Josiah who brought revival throughout the land, but God simply said He would not bring on the calamity in Josiah’s day, but the calamity itself was inevitable. Not long after Josiah’s death the Babylonians came and Jerusalem was destroyed, and the 70 years of captivity occurred.
3. The third time a particular generation goes beyond the point of no return is here (Matthew 12:22-43)– What this means is that no matter how many Jews will believe, and, as we will see, myriads will come to believe, it cannot change the fact of coming physical judgement. The AD 70 judgement is now inevitable, and it will strike the nation.
There was now a physical judgement hanging over that generation that could not be revoked and would come in AD 70.
Either in this age or in the age to come
Why did He say, “it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” And why does Mark record Him saying, “never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” Both are referring to the same thing. First notice that Mathew’s terminology is particularly Jewish. The Jewish people of the first century saw two ages: the present age, the one in which we now live; and the age to come, which was always the messianic age – the messianic kingdom period. That is the way Jewish people use this terminology. So Jesus is telling them that the consequence of this sin will be experienced by this generation both in this age, the age in which we now live, and in the age to come, the messianic kingdom. And what is the consequence of this sin? This generation has rejected Jesus as their Messiah on the basis that He is demon-possessed. The consequence is that His offer to establish the messianic kingdom has been withdrawn from this generation and will be offered to a future generation. So this generation will not see the kingdom established in their own time, and they will not see it when it is finally established in the future, either in this age or in the age to come. As individuals, those who refuse to change their mind about His Messiahship will either perish in the Roman destruction of AD 70 or be scattered throughout the world in this age. And when the kingdom comes they will not see it because they died in unbelief. Those who do change their minds about His Messiahship, of course, will escape the coming judgement of AD 70, and will also be in the kingdom when it comes.
The unpardonable sin defined
Now in the light of the foregoing discussion of the facts of the context let us define the unpardonable sin: The unpardonable sin is the national rejection by Israel of the Messiahship of Yeshua, while He was present on earth, on the basis of His being demon possessed.
The importance of words
In verses 33-37 Jesus points out that just in the day of judgement the very words that they are speaking will be used as evidence of the nature of their hearts. And they will be justified or condemned on the basis of that evidence. Their justification or condemnation is actually determined by the condition of their hearts, but the condition of their hearts is revealed by the words they have spoken. So Jesus is warning them as individuals that the words they have just spoken are an indication of the condition of their hearts and will have eternal consequences in the day of judgement!