Question:

In Luke 19:44, what do you think is the "day of visitation"? What do you think the other references in the Bible mean in regards to this phrase? We are doing a chronological study and up to this time frame. I have asked you one other question and you are about in the same time period in your study.


Answer:

We're a bit ahead of you now. The lesson covering this passage is "Triumphal Entry."

"Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 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. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 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 context makes it clear that Jesus is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. The name "Jerusalem" means "city of peace" and Jesus bemoans the fact that the people of this city are ignorant of what is needed to make peace. They would not have it and as a result, in the future, the city would be besieged and then leveled, along with all its inhabitants, to the point that not one stone would be left standing on another. All because they did not realize that God had been in their midst.

This meaning is supported by Zacharias' prophecy, "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David" (Luke 1:68-69). People had hints of it, though it didn't make a lasting impression. "Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen up among us"; and, "God has visited His people"" (Luke 7:16).

The other place this phrase is used is in I Peter 2:11-12, "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation." Here the phrase means the same thing, but it does not refer to a physical visitation but a spiritual one. "Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name" (Acts 15:14). This is a reference back to when Peter went to the house of Cornelius at the command of God. Peter was God's representative and thus God, through Peter, visited the Gentiles.

In both cases, the phrase refers to times when God comes to bring a gift -- salvation in this case. It alludes to someone coming for a visit to your home to give you a gift, only this gift is far more priceless than any of us could imagine. God came, through His word, to bring us salvation, visiting first the Jews and then the Gentiles. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16).

Thus Peter's point in I Peter 2:11-12 is that the Gentiles, still in their sins, might mock Christians; but if we keep our conduct honorable, then when salvation does "visit" them, they will realize the truth of the situation and give God the glory.

The same idea of coming for visit to bring something is also used in the Old Testament prophets. But here instead of bringing something nice, God warns about visiting and bringing destruction with Him. "That in the day I punish Israel for their transgressions, I will also visit destruction on the altars of Bethel; and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground" (Amos 3:10). And, "My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the goatherds. For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as His royal horse in the battle" (Zechariah 10:3). Jesus is speaking in Luke 19:44 of his current visit to offer salvation to the people, but he also alludes to the future when he will visit again bringing destruction because they had spurned his earlier visit.