Light for the Last Days

Proof of Israel’s True Messiah

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What is the sin against the Holy Spirit, the unforgivable sin? It’s a big question. I tell you it’s something serious and if you commit this sin, you can’t be forgiven in this age or in the age to come.

Now there are two possibilities about how we understand this.

  • That it is a sin which can be committed by anyone at any time and therefore it’s relevant to us now or,
  • That it’s the sin committed by that generation related to the Pharisees accusing Jesus of doing miracles by the power of Beelzebub, in other words, by the power of demons.

You’ve got these two issues. Was it a general statement or was it something relating to that time?

I’ve spoken before on the ‘unforgivable sin’ being a general statement (see the links below):

I’m going to talk today about a more specific issue which relates in some ways to the Jewish understanding of the Gospel and of the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees and how that relates to the question of the unforgivable sin as recorded in Matthew 12 verses 22-45:

22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. 25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? 27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. 31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. 33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” 39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. 43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”

Matthew 12.22-45

I’ve already explained how Jesus was different from previous prophets (see link below):

And now we come to the other Messianic miracle which we looked at briefly in John chapter 9: the healing of the man born blind. I’m not going to read it.

Our third Messianic miracle. What happens when the man is born blind is healed? The religious leaders investigate what happened and they need to question whether Jesus is the Messiah. As with the others, it ends up with the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah even though He has done a miracle which they say only the Messiah can do.

They reject Him on the grounds that He has done the miracle on the Sabbath and therefore, was breaking the Sabbath; therefore, He is not from God.

The blind man says: ‘Well, how can He not be of God? He has healed a man born blind! This is a Messianic miracle; you should believe in Him.’

But they don’t want to do that. We won’t go into details on that now.

Let’s look at this second Messianic miracle, the one in Matthew chapter 12: the casting out of the demon from a dumb person.

Now, the Pharisees didn’t deny that demon possession was possible, nor that a person could be delivered from this condition. Their method for driving out a demon was to speak to the demon, get it to reveal its name, and then to cast it out.

And you see that Jesus uses this method when He’s casting the demon called ‘Legion’ out of the man.

This, however, is not going to work with a person who is dumb because he can’t speak. Therefore, they said only the Messiah can cast out a demon from a dumb person, which is exactly what happens in Matthew chapter 12.

You also find that in the account of Mark, on this occasion, there is a delegation of religious leaders present who are checking out this miracle.

Interactive Bible map of where Jesus performed miracles – about-jesus.org

Mark 3 verse 22 says,

22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.”

Mark 3.22

So, again, you’ve got a delegation coming from Jerusalem to Galilee to find out what’s going on and this event that triggered the Sanhedrin’s claim is recorded in Matthew 12:

22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.

Matthew 12.22

We’re going to read now from Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s commentary on this. He says:

The act of casting out demons was not all that unusual in the Jewish world of that day. Even the Pharisees, rabbis, and their followers had the ability to cast out demons. But casting out demons within the framework of Pharisaic Judaism required one to use a specific ritual, which included three stages. First, the exorcist would have to establish communication with the demon, for when a demon speaks, he uses the vocal cords of the person he indwells. Second, after establishing communication with the demon, the exorcist would then have to find out the demon’s name. Third, after finding out the demon’s name, he could, by the use of that name, cast out the demon. There are occasions that Yeshua used the Jewish methodology, as in Mark 5, when He, being confronted with a demoniac, asked the question, What is your name? The answer on that occasion was, My name is Legion for we are many.

However, there was one kind of demon against which Judaism’s methodology was powerless, and that was the kind of demon who caused the controlled person to be dumb or mute. And, because he could not speak, there was no way of establishing communication with this kind of a demon; no way of finding out this demon’s name. So, within the framework of Judaism, it was impossible to cast out a dumb demon. The rabbis had taught, however, that when the Messiah came, He would be able to cast out this type of demon. This was the second of the three messianic miracles: the casting out of a dumb or mute demon. In verse 22, that is exactly the kind of demon Jesus casts out.

In verse 23 that raised the very question among the Jewish masses, which the miracle was intended to raise:

And all the multitudes were amazed, and said, Can this be the son of David?

Arnold Fruchtenbaum

So, the ‘Son of David’ equals ‘Messiah’. Was not this the Jewish Messiah? He was doing the very things the Messiah was supposed to do; therefore, He must be the Messiah.

All the Names of Jesus – Bible Resources

They didn’t ask this question when Jesus cast out other kinds of demons, but they did when He cast out this type of demon.

By this time, the Pharisees were severely prejudiced against Jesus and were rejecting Him as the Messiah.

You have people asking could this be the Son of David? Could this be the Messiah?

They had to respond. They had two possibilities: ‘yes’ or ‘no’. ‘Yes’, He is the Messiah, the Son of David; ‘no’ He’s not.

But they are already committed to saying that the Messiah was going to do this kind miracle by the power of demons, so they had a problem. The only way they could do it was to take the second option, that ‘He’s not the Messiah’, and to give a reason why they came to this conclusion.

In verse 24 of Matthew 12, when the Pharisees heard it, they said:

This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.

Their explanation of how He has done this was that He had done it by the power of Himself being under the power of the prince of demons, Beelzebub.

They took the second option; they rejected His Messianic claims.

11:14-23 Jesus and Beelzebub – Geoff Thomas Sermon Archive

In order to perform these very unique miracles they claimed that Jesus / Yeshua Himself was possessed or demonized, not by a common demon but by Beelzebub, the prince of demons.

The name Beelzebub is made up of two Hebrew words (baal = lord, zebub = flies) which combine to mean ‘the lord of the flies’. Some of you may have read a book by William Golding called ‘Lord of the flies’.

Strong’s Greek: 954. Βεελζεβούλ (Beelzeboul) – Beelzebul, a name of Satan – biblehub.com

Back when I was an English teacher at the Hasmonean School for Boys, a Jewish school, I had to teach ‘Lord of the flies’ which is quite an interesting book because it does bring in the possibility of the demonic realm. It doesn’t bring in Jesus, but it raises this whole question.

But the fact is that they had rejected that Jesus is the Messiah on the grounds that He was demon possessed.

So, their first response to the miracle was to begin the process of investigation. Their response to the investigation was to reject His claims on those grounds. And this action was done to set the stage for what was going to follow next.

Jesus responded to this in two ways:

  • His first response was to defend Himself and point out the error of the Pharisees’ way of thinking

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them:

Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?

Matthew 12.25-26

He said it can’t be true because, if this is the case, then Satan’s kingdom is divided against itself and if there is a such a kingdom, then the kingdom is going to be destroyed.

He also said:

27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.

Matthew 12.27
  • The second point they themselves recognize is that exorcism was a gift of the Spirit and that their followers were able to cast out demons. But they were not dumb demons.

28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Matthew 12.28

In other words, the logical conclusion you should come to from this miracle is that the Kingdom of God has come upon you, I am the Messiah, you should repent and believe in Me.

That was the clear message which Jesus was giving. This is done by the Spirit of God. Only God can do this. Therefore, I am the Messiah.

He then says,

29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

Matthew 12.29

This message has authenticated His claim. It’s done by the Spirit of God, and He has shown that He is able to ‘plunder the goods of Satan’. He has set people free from the power of Satan by binding the power of Satan and setting this man free through the power of the Holy Spirit.

It shows that He himself is stronger than Satan, not subservient to Satan.

Of course, the Pharisees’ claim is ultimately the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit because it’s attributing to Satan what comes from God, the Kingdom of God.

That is what Arnold Fruchtenbaum says is ‘the unpardonable sin’.

Jesus goes on to say:

31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Matthew 12.31-32

In this condemnation, Jesus then says that these religious leaders of this generation have now committed the unpardonable sin, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit was upon Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit He has performed this miracle as He did all His miracles and, attributing this to Satan is ‘the unpardonable sin’, it can’t be pardoned, and it meant the judgment was now set in place for that generation, the judgment that would follow in the days to come.

This attitude of the Pharisees toward Jesus would lead to the cross, to the crucifixion which would be followed by the resurrection of Jesus and would then be followed by the preaching of the Gospel by the apostles, which would then be opposed by the Pharisees in the next generation and would lead ultimately to the fall of Jerusalem in AD70, and to the dispersion of the Jewish people into the nations.

It was the sin which led to that taking place, it was a sin which would not be forgiven but would lead to that judgment.

We know of course that Jesus dying on the cross would be the way in which we could be forgiven for our sins. Therefore, individual Jewish people, including individual Pharisees, could repent and believe the Gospel and be set free from this sin and find eternal life.

In fact, the Book of Acts begins with multitudes of Jewish people coming to believe in Jesus, including Pharisees, including Paul, the apostle who was a leading Pharisee, who repented and became a Christian and spread the Gospel more effectively than anybody else.

Nevertheless, the fact that this would take place would lead to the judgment that would follow and the sign which would then follow, which Jesus speaks about later in the passage, is the sign of Jonah.

When the Pharisees come to Him later in the chapter and demand a sign from Jesus, He says,

39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 12.39-40

What is the sign of Jonah?

The sign of Jonah is ‘death and resurrection’.

Jonah was thrown into the sea. The great fish came and swallowed him up. He remained in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights and then was vomited up on the shore and went again out to preach the Gospel, to preach the message of the Lord into Nineveh as God had told him to.

What is the sign of Jonah? | GotQuestions.org

Whether Jonah was dead or not in the belly of the fish is another question, but the fact is that this event becomes a typological sign of ‘death and resurrection’.

Therefore, the sign of Jonah is the sign of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and He says ‘this is the sign which would remain for you’.

The Pharisees’ rejection of Jesus and their hate for Him would lead to the crucifixion which became this sign, which, in turn, was the purpose for which Jesus came into the world, to die for our sins, to bear our sins upon Himself, and to be the redeemer who brings us to God; to be followed by the resurrection which will give them and all people the opportunity to find forgiveness of sin if they repent and believe.

As I said, the Book of Acts does record that many of the Pharisees did believe, including Paul, and, individually, they could be saved through faith in Jesus.

If anyone rejected this sign of Jonah, this meant that their sin could not be forgiven and as such such rejection remains the unforgivable sin.

Ultimately, we’re coming to the same conclusion, that the unforgivable sin is NOT to repent and believe the Gospel, NOT to believe in Jesus.

In the Jewish context, it’s this sin of rejection of Jesus on this basis which is going to lead to the judgment which would fall upon Jerusalem, on the whole Judaic system, on the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the destruction of the Temple, and the dispersion of the Jewish people into the nations.

As Jesus prophesied in Luke chapter 19 verse 41:

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Luke 19.41-44

The time of your visitation’ is the Messiah coming to you. He has shown that He is the Messiah by doing these miracles. He has shown that He’s the Messiah by dying for our sins and rising from the dead.

If you reject it, you remain under the judgment of God and the judgment is going to fall. And the judgment did fall in AD70: the Romans besieged Jerusalem and exactly what Jesus prophesied here happened.

Judaism as it was known came to an end with the Temple’s destruction. It had to be reconfigured by the Pharisees who would create a religious system at the heart of which would be the denial of both, Jesus as the Messiah, and the need for the blood of atonement through the either Levitical sacrifices or through Jesus / Yeshua Himself.

Judaism after the Temple | My Jewish Learning

Under the New Covenant, God does require repentance and faith in the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross which replaces the former covenant with Moses and is the only way in which we can have forgiveness of sin through repentance and faith in Jesus.

Differences Between the Old and New Covenants – Ministrymaker

This is the logical consequence of the unforgivable sin of attributing to Satan / Beelzebub the miracles of the Messiah, of rejecting Jesus, and rejecting that Jesus has come to perform these miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit.

blasphemy against the Holy Spirit | Tough Questions Answered

As I’ve said, individuals could repent and believe and escape the judgment. But, on this point, the Bible is clear. Regardless of what of what sin anyone commits, every sin is forgivable for that individual who comes to God through Jesus the Messiah, including disbelieving in Jesus previously, including mocking Him, including even persecuting or killing His people as was the case with the apostle Paul.

Study Resources – blueletterbible.org

If you repent and believe, you’ll be forgiven. The nature of sin is irrelevant, but every sin is forgivable for the person who believes in the Gospel.

For that nation as a whole, for that particular generation, this unique sin was unpardonable. It would lead to the events of AD70 and the fall of the Temple, the dispersion of the Jewish people into the nations.

Arnold Fruchtenbaum says that nobody today can commit that particular sin. Anybody who believes can find forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Jesus.

Also, that God doesn’t hold Jews today responsible for the sins of the Pharisees who were before them. Nor does He want the want the church to curse and to persecute the Jews for the crucifixion but rather to bless them and to seek their welfare through the Messiah / Yeshua.

Nevertheless, God does want individual Jewish people and gentiles today to reverse the opposition to Jesus of the Pharisees and to accept Him as the Messiah. And Jews and gentiles should accept Jesus as the one mediator between God and man, the Messiah who has died for our sins and rose from the dead according to the scriptures fulfilling the prophecies like Isaiah 53.

As Paul wrote in Romans chapter 1,

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Messiah / Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Romans 1.16-17

In Romans 10 he says,

… if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Romans 10.9-13

There is a hope for everybody, wherever you come from and whatever you’ve done in your past if you believe in Jesus, if you repent and believe the Gospel.

In the last days, God has a programme to bring to Jewish people the recognition that Yeshua / Jesus is the Messiah. Out of a time of trouble which will come in the last days, the Messiah will be revealed and will return this time as the reigning King Messiah, not as a suffering servant Messiah.

In this passage we can see there is a process which is at work, which led to the crucifixion, the troubles which followed for Israel. A process which can be reversed through repentance and faith in Yeshua / Jesus the Messiah.

God loves all people; He loves the Jewish people. He wants them to turn to Yeshua and to find faith in Him, and He wants all of us to believe in the Lord Jesus and to know that He is the one who’s able to do supernatural things in the past, in the present. He has the power of the Holy Spirit. By the power of the Holy Spirit we’re able to confront and overcome Satan, demon powers, and to have forgiveness of sin and repentance, and eternal life as we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall have eternal life and salvation through his name. Amen.

Let’s have a word let’s just have a word in prayer before we sing our last hymn.

Lord, I do thank you for your Word. We thank you that you are the Messiah. Thank you that you were able to do great and wonderful things when you came to the earth. Thank you that you’re still able to do great and wonderful things. We thank you Lord that your power is still there to heal, to deliver from evil, and to give us the victory through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We do pray Lord for any who are suffering, who are oppressed by evil and by the evil spirits, that they may be set free from this by the power of Jesus.

We pray for our own nation Lord as it goes further and further into evil. We think also of the coming week of Halloween and the way in which that will be another celebration of evil, and Lord, we just pray you’ll set people free from the powers of darkness as they come upon us.

We pray Lord for Israel and for the Jewish people Lord: that you’ll open their eyes to the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah, that you did these miracles not by the power of evil but by the power of God, by the Spirit of God, and that you ever live to make intercession for us and to bring us to faith in God through Jesus our Saviour and Lord, amen.

Tony Pearce

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