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Matthew 16:1

“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came tempting Him, desiring that He would shew them a sign from heaven.&rdquo:

The wonders of the ministry of Jesus in this district called Galilee were numerous and spectacular. Nothing was done in private or isolated away in some secluded area so that none would see. Jesus was fulfilling the prophesies of old that Jehovah “hath made bare His Holy Arm in the eyes of all the nations and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Is. 52:10). He had strengthened the weak hands and confirmed the feeble knees; He had healed the sick, raised the dead, caused the blind to see and the lame to walk and caused the tongue of the dumb to sing (Is. 35:3ff) and these ‘teachers of Israel’ came asking for proof. What more could be given??? They could predict the weather accurately but with all their education and learning, they could not discern the ‘signs of the times’. The incarnate King of Kings stood before them in all the power and glory of the Sovereign God, righteously fulfilling every jot and tittle of the Law and every word of prophesy spoken of old and they wanted proof of who He was and what He was doing. This is not a condemnation against the sects called Pharisee or Sadducee whereby the child of grace may boast and say, ‘I thank you Lord that I am not like one of these’ but rather Jesus is demonstrating the nature of Adam, as personified through these men, to His disciples. The hypocrisy of the learned man is that he needs proof of all he has for confidence and surety. The more learned a man is the less he will accept matters without proof and this is inherent to all those born of Adam. These men prided themselves in the acquisition of knowledge and understanding thinking that it was an attribute of Holiness and for this Jesus tells the disciple to ‘be aware of the leaven of the Pharisees’.

“A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign”. This indictment should have been sufficient to dissuade anyone from continuing to seek after signs and wonders but signs and wonders in the heavens is exactly what god sent forth to confirm His oath and His covenant. The difference is that the child of grace has been given eyes to see these heavenly wonders and to rejoice in them while the eyes of the children of this world are blinded. These men could not see the Lamb standing before them any more than they could see the sign He gave them, the sign of Jonas.

Three times this phrase is set forth in the record of scripture. The first two times take place in the same context but have a differing audience. Christ had just given another wonderful sign of His power and might in casting out a devil from a man (Matt. 12:22) and He was immediately accused of being in league with Beelzebub the prince of the devils. Jesus reveals the absurdity of this conclusion by stating that if the house of Satan was divided to war against the house of Satan then “how shall his kingdom stand?” Thus setting forth once again the same principle of creation that everything acts and breeds ‘after it’s kind’. He would say to the Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the Devil and the desires of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). Satan can not deny himself or his wickedness anymore than God could deny Himself or His Holiness.

That which is of the ‘seed that should serve Him” has been born from above by the Spirit and is of the Father, therefore “now are we the sons of God”. These are faithful and true because the name of their Elder brother is Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11). They are living stones because they have been hewn from that Great Eternal Rock who is the God of the universe. They work the works of their Father because all that the Father gave to the Son to do, He completed and all that he has been given he has given to His children; therefore they work the righteous works of the Father by his power and according to his will.

That which is of the father the Devil is wicked and although the wicked be taught righteousness yet shall he not know. That which is of the flesh is of the earth, earthly and God has put the things of this earth in the mind of the sons of man that he cannot find out God by searching nor can they receive the things of the Spirit.

So from this generation of vipers “certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered saying, Master we would see a sign from thee”. So many signs had again already been given and now they ask to see one. They wanted tangible proof that they could hold on to, examine and evaluate. They wanted what their scenes could comprehend and that they could refer to when ever needed. But Jesus, after identifying them as evil and adulterous, tells them that the only sign they would have is the sign of Jonas, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”. Jonah was thrown overboard and supposedly drowned as the men thought they were appeasing an angry God by doing a righteous deed and so would those wicked hands that God had delivered the Son unto for His crucifixion. Had they known that Jonah was a prophet of the Most High God on a mission to Nineveh they would not have thrown him overboard anymore than if those wicked hands that slew our Lord knew He was the Son of God would have delivered Him up to be slain. Yet both were performed by the hand of the Sovereign God without the possibility of failure by understanding from man.

The second time this phrase is use, is in the same setting but the address is to the nation of Israel and “this is an evil and adulterous generation” (Luke 11:29). This time He said that “as Jonas was s sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation” Jonah was a sign to Nineveh after he had spent those three days in the belly of the whale so the Son of man would be a sign to this generation AFTER He had risen from the dead. After the sacrifice had been made and the blood spent, when there would remain no more sacrifice for sin. Then would he come forth upon that white horse with that two-edged sword proceeding from His mouth, conquering and to conquer. He did not return to ‘offer’ salvation for the salvation of Jehovah had come and the covenant had been confirmed with many. Now it as time for judgment. As Jonah proclaimed that in 40 days the judgment of God would come upon Nineveh so in 40 years that hand of God would make “all the stone of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder” (Is. 27:9) and there would not remain one stone upon another (Matt. 24:2). The 120,000 ignorant men of Nineveh, who could not discern between their right and their left hand, would rise up in judgment against the learned, educated and sophisticated cultured society of the nation of Israel for in their ignorance God gave them repentance. Learning is esteemed as power and greatly to be desired but with much learning comes great sorrow.

The third time this phrase is mentioned, Jesus simply states that “there shall be no sign given it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas” (Matt. 16:4). Jonah’s name means the dove and as Jesus came up out of the water after being baptized by John in fulfillment of all righteousness, the Spirit of God descended upon Him in the form of a dove. Thus Jesus was the sign of Jonah the prophet Jonah’s father’s name was Amittai which means ‘faithful’. So the man Jonah as he ran from the presence of God (or so he thought)had no strength or faith. Yet he was a type of Christ as He was delivered up to be destroyed by wicked hands and went into the grave for three days and three nights for the salvation of Jehovah. And because His Father is faithful and all His works are verity and truth and He CANNOT, DOES NOT AND WILL NOT CHANGE, He came forth to bring judgment upon the earth and all wickedness yet his children are safe and secure in His eternal love and mercy. It is no coincidence that the peace offering is the turtle dove and His children, being justified by His faith, have peace with God. The natural man evaluates all things by sight. He lives, moves and has his being by what his natural carnal senses can discern. The child of grace lives by faith and that not of himself for it is the faith of the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me. These two are contrary one unto another and there is a great gulf fixed that cannot be crossed.

Brethren be aware of the leaven of the Pharisees. It is the Adamic nature of the body of this death.

Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
July 24, 2011