Great Heaviness For The Lost

Great Heaviness For The Lost

Great Heaviness

Pr Edi Giudetti

20-10-2019

Much is to be seen in this incredible portion written regarding the terrible burden the apostle Paul had for the Jews, our consideration of it today will be in application to ourselves for those we love. 

Scripture here demonstrates an astounding level of compassion toward those whom Paul knew were now temporarily cut off from the vine, that we, the Gentiles of the world, should be grafted in. 

My aim therefore is to bring both an understanding of the doctrine related to the Jewish people in scripture, but also to have it as an application for us to consider in this time and day. Let’s read the passage before us and give it some consideration in the points below;

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Romans 9:1-5

The Greatness of the Sorrow For the Lost 

The apostle Paul is referring to his nation, the nation of Israel. A people to whom, he reminds us,pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Paul has a burden for them, and the burden is great. He speaks of having “Great heaviness and continual sorrow” in his heart.

These are the people of God for whom as concerning the flesh Christ came. These are the people who were given the promise of a coming Saviour, one who would “save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). These are the people who were told of the promises to come concerning Christ, the Messiah.

Turn back to Jeremiah 23:5-6

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Jeremiah repeats this again ten chapters later (see Jer 33:16), but this was told the people of Israel time and time again. This was nothing new.  So many details concerning him was foretold about his coming for them, to redeem them. 

Turn back one book to Isaiah 7:14

His miraculous birth to was told them in Isaiah 7:14 where “a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son….”, the house of David was told it would be a sign to the people! A great sign. When Isaiah confronted King Ahaz, he asked him to ask a sign of the Lord, he said;

Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.” (Isa 7:11), of all things Ahaz would be able to ask any sign of the Lord, anything that is deemed to be impossible from any natural or human standpoint, but Ahaz would not and so Isaiah gave, not Ahaz, but overlooked this vain King and gave a sign to the entire house of David; 

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.” (Isa 7:14-16)

And indeed, before Jesus was brought forth, both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah were deprived of their Kings. The last to rule was Hoshea in Israel before they were taken away by the Assyrian Empire, and Zedekiah in Judah when they were taken away by Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian empire approximately 150 years later.

But more, and so much more than this;

The very details of his life and his death was described in Isaiah 53;

  • That he would be despised and rejected of men
  • That he would bare our griefs and sorrows
  • That he would be smitten of God and afflicted
  • That he would be wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities
  • In fact, that God would lay on him the iniquity of us all;
  • That he would be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and give no defense, open not his mouth, silent before the shearers
  • That he would be cut off out of the land of the living
  • That he would make his grave both with the wicked and the rich in his death (Crucified between thieves, buried in a rich mans tomb)
  • And finally that he would be made an offering for sin.

All this in just one passage in the Old Testament;

  • What more could we say of the 30 pieces of silver that was prophesied to be his betrayal price? (Zech 11:13)
  • The details of his crucifixion some 300 years before this barbaric form of capital punishment was invented (Ps 22), even the details of things going on while he was on the Cross is pre-recorded in this Psalm, incredible!
  • He would make his appearance as king on a donkey was written about around 500 years earlier in (Zech 9:9)
  • His birth-place was detailed in Micha 5:2
  • The wounds in his hands was written about in Zechariah 13:6
  • His treading upon the waves of the sea in Job 9:8
  • That he would be known as The Mighty God and Everlasting father in Isaiah 9:6. In fact Isaiah 9:6 tells of a Child that shall be born, and a Son that shall be given!
  • Even to the very day he would present himself as King to his nation was detailed in the ancient prophecy of Daniel 9.

But those who governed and ruled the nation rejected him.

All these incredible signs, and yet he was, as the scriptures also said, “we hid as it were our face from him, we despised him and we esteemed him not” Isa 53:3.

What has changed today?

Paul was grieved and burdened for those who rejected Christ then, with so many signs showing the incredible details of his coming and its purpose; what of we today looking back with hindsight?

What of the world and those people you love, who have an opportunity to have their sins wiped away forever if they would only believe, do you have “great heaviness and continual sorrow in your heart”?

Does your heart break for the people of the world? 

Do you experience the heaviness, is there continual sorrow for them?

Is there even a burden large enough to be a little occupied for their salvation? 

Are you employed in the field? Are you employed on your knees? Are you employed in the support of those in the field?

Do you sorrow for the lost? 

If not, I might put to you that there may be a ignorance concerning their end. For there are none throughout history who understood the Biblical details of damnation that did not have their lives spent in the service of God for the souls of the lost. Only those somewhat ignorant or misinformed of what the Bible teaches on the end of man can be apathetic to the cause.

Paul knew and understood that end, its why and only why he had great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart

The Extremity of the Desire For their Salvation

3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 

It is impossible to comprehend a love so great that one would be willing to have his salvation cast away for others. I personally can’t even begin to imagine such a burden, perhaps I admit to you a lack of love.

What kind of love is it to be willing to be damned if the lost might be saved? I find myself unwilling to cast away my soul even for those I love who have done me no harm, but what more of Paul?

The people for whom Paul ‘Could wish himself accursed from Christ’ are not people who loved him, nor are they people who are endeared to the Gospel or the message that Paul preached.  Paul was hated by his brethren, the Jews. Paul was beaten by them, stoned by them, ran out of cities by them, persecuted by them fiercely, and yet he suffered greatly for them.

This was not always the case. 

There was a time that Paul was a persecutor and not persecuted. There was a time when he did to Christians what the Jews did to him and so much more!

The persecutions of Jews that came to believe in their Messiah had begun coincidently at a time when PAUL seemed to be the chief persecutor. So great was his reputation for persecuting Christians, that after the Damascus Road event when he encountered Christ, those whom God called upon to care for Paul feared;

Turn to Acts 9:10-16

 10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

And suffer Paul certainly did. The persecutor became the persecuted. 

Turn to 2 Cor 11:22

22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

He was thrown into prison for their sakes and the Gospel. Murder was planned against him while he was imprisoned and he had to escape, once taken by a virtual army of soldiers and safely escorted out.

Scripture tells of another time saying; 23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. (Acts 9:23-25)

Yet he says For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh….?

Turn forward in your passage in the book of Acts to the last chapter, Chapter 28:17-20, as we see the end of his ministry.

1And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. 19 But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. 20 For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.

This now at the end of his ministry, bound in chains and taken to Rome because of the accusations of the Jews against him, and yet he says not that I had ought to accuse my nation of, and in this he makes again his appeal to who? To his Jewish brethren. 

There is a consistent persistence in the heart of Paul for his own nation, for his people, for his brethren that, to those of us who read the scriptures know of a certainty that he is not lying when he says;

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Every day you and I see those around us who have lost hope, people who have turned to vanity to make purposeful a life they believe was not created on purpose. They are determined to find value in a value-stricken existence. For there can be no value to a life that has no inherent purpose and there can be no purpose to a life that sprang into existence by accident through the blind watchmaker of evolution!

To Richard Dawkins, quote; 

“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

There is no ultimate purpose in life, no reason for our existence and any conclusion that our lives have inherent value in a valueless world is essentially a mental aphrodisiac.

It was the atheistic philosopher Bertrand Russel who expressed the natural state of “Accidental man” over one hundred years ago;

“That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul’s habitation be safely built.”[1]

We then ask why self-depravity, depression, suicide in all its forms mixed with a hedonistic idea of “Eat, Drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” has gripped our 21st century world, yet our hearts won’t break for them?

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren

Paul was willing, if it were possible, to be accursed from Christ and yet so many are unwilling even to utter a word of hope? Is this really the unfeeling way we are living today? Have we truly no pity? What has so distracted us to have become so unfeeling for the lost? 

As you hear these words, there are only one of two responses in your heart; 

  • Either you are convicted by your lack of zeal concerning the plight of the lost, 
  • or you are excusing your indifference to one extent or another.

But hear Paul and compare; For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren

O please have pity on this world that is dying, have pity on it beloved and give your lives to the work of the Gospel of Christ, share with many the hope of everlasting life that you have found. 

Pray for them if you are unable to the work, do the work on your knees to strengthen those in the field and take a part in the equal share as you “abide by the stuff” as King David put it. Pray for the evangelists, pray for your Pastor, pray most emphatically for the lost that they may have hope.

The Endurance Of Love For Relations

(v3-4)

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 

Paul calls to the remembrance of the gentile nations as he writes to the Roman Church, that the place Israel has in the sight of God has not wavered in promise nor importance, though the timing of it has been irrevocably altered by a temporary blindness. 

He writes here not the in past tense, but in the present / active tense of all that pertains to the nation of Israel;

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

And continues in the present tense in the following verse.

Paul does not teach that Israel has been forgotten by God, or that the promises that pertained to God are now fallen to the Church, which we shall deal with in sermons to come, but he speaks of them as the very people for whom Christ came, but sadly did not receive.

John 1:10-11 says

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 

Corporately, the Jewish nation had not received Christ and as a result they were blinded. Blinded beloved, not abandoned.  There is an enduring love for the people of God by God, but for a time this natural Olive branch was cut off and cut off for one and only one specific purpose, that you and I might be grafted in.

Yes turn to that passage in Romans 11:7-12

What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: 10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

Beloved it was for your and my sakes that Israel and its people were blinded. And it is this that Paul mourns so greatly for. He knows that they will have their eyes opened to Christ in the latter days, but for now there is a vail that covers them. 

Turn to 2 Cor 3:12-16

Paul makes another allusion to the temporary blindness of Israel, demonstrating he knows well they shall again be turned when the time comes;

12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

There is an enduring love of God for those he calls his own. 

We mourn and we pray and we live desiring the salvation of those we love, those who, like Paul, are relations to us; Brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, uncles aunts and cousins and many others who we know and love and are lost. 

Loved ones who we have shared the Gospel with, but the cares of this world has blinded their hearts so that they cannot see. 

Sharing the Gospel has a savour to it that is either a stench to their nostrils or a hope of victory. That is why there are always one of only two responses to it. 

Turn to 2 Cor 2:14-16

1Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.

The Corinthians would have been well able to understand the allusion Paul is making here. In the ancient cities of the Roman Empire it was a custom to welcome and to receive the victorious armies home through a parade. Burning incense to placate the pagan Gods was the smell of victory to the conquering soldiers.

But with them, carted in cages if important men, or simply chained together if a captured enemy soldier, prisoners would trail behind, the trophy’s of a conquered foe; these smelled the same savour as the Victors, but to them it was the savour of death unto death, while the victors enjoyed the same savour (smell) of life unto life. 

Paul, in this passage to the Corinthians, related a truth respecting the nature of the Gospel and its response to those to which we share it either by word or deed.

Endure your love for your relations, just as God does for Israel. Understand the natural response respecting the Gospel. Mourn and be sorrowful and heavy for your relations as Paul does for Israel. Keep before your eyes their end if they continue in their rebellion, and pray that the Lord will remove the willful blindness of their hearts.

The Promise Of Christ The Saviour. 

Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

As mentioned in the first point this morning, Christ was promised to come in the old testament of the Bible, and he was promised to the Jews and predominantly for the Jews.  He came to save them from their sin. Their rejection of him has created the opportunity for the gentile world for the salvation of their souls.

Each one of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God, not one of us are worthy of eternal life. Not one of us are righteous in his sight and not one of us are capable of saving ourselves. 

Israel was a chosen nation, unique among the world. To them was given the oracles of God and to them, as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Last year at this time I had an opportunity to meet with a man by the name of Eyal, he is an Israeli who was on the same off road Motorcycle trip as I was, and when he discovered I was a pastor wanted to speak to me concerning the things written in the Bible. 

A very intelligent man and desiring to know more of what I understood of the scriptures, he invited me for an Israeli style coffee in the cabin he was sharing, after we all dinned.

I came, I sat, and we talked.

There was another man there named Ian, he referred to Eyal as The Rabbi, to me as The Pastor and we referred to him as the Heathen. He sat quietly and listened. 

Not long into our conversation and we were interrupted by another man who was a Buhdist sympathiser, who Ill refer to as ‘Pagan’.

In short, the Pagan believed the Bible was a book of interesting options of how to live a good life.  

The Rabbi, (Eyal) believed it was the absolute authority on how to live a good life. 

They both seemed unified on the end purpose but argued about the means.

The Heathen sat in silence.

The rabbi and the pagan argued to and fro for a while; one arguing for the subjective nature of the Bible’s commandments, considering them more like optional extras, the other holding them as absolute and true. But both believing the Bible to be all about how to live a good life.

All the while the heathen sat in silence.

Turn in your Bibles to John 5:39-40

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

When the arguing died down and a suitable pause filtered into the conversation, I had opportunity to say a few words. In short, I told them they were both wrong.

The Bible is not about how to have a good life, that is an offshoot benefit but certainly not its purpose, the scriptures are all about eternal life. 

I told them of the Love of God, and the predicament and peril of their sinful state. 

I told them of eternal nature of Hell, its never-ending torment and how it was the natural end of the Devil and His angles.

I told them that God was not willing that any should perish but all to have everlasting life.

I told them that this was why God sent his Son to die and shed his infinite blood on their behalf.

I reminded Eyal, the Rabbi, that his people have been awaiting the messiah for thousands of years, and that he appeared in the first century but rather than be embraced, he was despised and rejected of men

I told Eyal that “He (Their Messiah, Christ) was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

And I told the Rabbi and Pagan 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”

I reminded the Rabbi of his own prophet’s words who said “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away”.

I reminded him that nothing he can do can gain everlasting life, and his own Bible teaches that time and time again, and that is why his Messiah “was wounded for (his) transgressions, he was bruised for (his) iniquities: the chastisement of (his) peace was upon him; and with his (Messiahs) stripes we (all) are healed.” It was my joy to remind him of his ancient books teaching that “the LORD hath laid on him (that is, Messiah) the iniquity of us all”.

It is the most wonderful news in the world.

The pagan left the room, the heathen still sat in silence, but The Rabbi was pensive. 

I realized my time was up, and I said goodbye. Eyal shook my hand and said, “I learned a lot tonight”.

There are those to whom the word of the Lord falls upon the pathways and the birds come and pluck it up, some fall apon stony ground where it germinates, sprouts but due to a lack of earth and root, when trouble comes it withers away. 

Sometimes the word falls among thorns, and thought it takes hold of the heart, the cares and the pleasures or riches of this world choke its effect, it makes it unfruitful. In the end, the effect of the word cannot prosper.

But there are some hearts to which, when the seed of that word comes it lands on deep fertile and rich soil, earth that had its ground well and truly broken up to receive the seed. To these the word had great effect and multiplied its fruit.

We all know which soil Paul can be identified by;

Which are you?

Only a burden for the Lost will cultivate the fertile ground for which you might be fruitful.

I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart, says Paul.

I pray you too will feel as Paul felt for those you love.


[1] Bertrand Russel ‘A Free Mans Worship’ 1903.

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