BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
LORD'S GREAT PROPHECY
`MARK 13`; `LUKE 21:5-36; 17:20-37`
Importance of This Prophecy--The Conditions and Three Questions
which Called It Forth--Beware of False Christs--A Brief Historic
Foreview of Eighteen Centuries--The Trouble in the Close of
the Jewish Age and that Closing the Gospel Age, Blended in the
Language of all the Evangelists--The Abomination of Desolation--Flee
to the Mountain-- Those with Child, etc.--Before Winter and
the Sabbath--Lo Here! Lo There! Believe them not--The Tribulation
of Those Days--The Darkening of the Sun and Moon as Signs--The
Falling of the Stars--Symbolic Fulfilments Also--The Sign of
the Son of Man--What the Tribes of Earth Shall See--The Fig
Tree--"This Generation"--Watch!--"As in the Days
of Noah, They Knew not"--Remember Lot's Wife--One Taken
and Another Left--The Elect to be Gathered to the Truth--Satan's
Household to be Broken Up--Provisions for Feeding the Household
Lord uttered one of the most remarkable prophecies of Holy Writ
respecting the "Time of the End"--the closing epoch
of this Gospel age. It was uttered near the close of his earthly
ministry, when he was endeavoring to prepare his disciples gradually
for the new dispensation, which would be fully introduced after
the tragedy of Calvary. He wished them to understand that they
must not expect immediately the honors and glories of the Kingdom,
which he had promised should be shared by his faithful. Before
these glories and blessings, would come trials and sufferings.
He, their master, the King, must be rejected of Israel and be
crucified, in harmony with the prophetic declarations, then
<PAGE 564> Israel would be given over to their
enemies, and their holy city and costly temple be utterly destroyed:
moreover, his disciples must not expect to be above their Master,
exempt from the reproaches and sufferings that fell on him; but
that faithfulness to him and his teachings would cause them to
be hated of all men for his sake; but that finally, though after
much tribulation, those faithful unto death would be rewarded,
when he would come again to receive them unto himself and to a
share of his glory.
along this line our Lord reserved until near the close of his
ministry. At first the disciples were disposed to resent this,
and to insist (as some do today) that the Lord's cause must conquer
the world, as a result of their preaching; and Peter went so far
as to express the dissent to our Lord, saying, "Be it far
from thee, Lord, this [death and the scattering of thy people
and the triumph of evil generally] shall not be unto thee."
`Mark 8:31,32`) But our Lord severely rebuked Peter;
and all of the disciples seem to have gradually settled down to
a realization that the glories of the Kingdom were still remote,
and that the Master must go away, and, leaving them, send the
Comforter, the holy Spirit, to guide and keep them until he would
come again in the glory of the Father's Kingdom.
was in this attitude of mind and with our Lord's latest expression
with reference to the temple, still ringing in their ears, that
the disciples sought from the Master definite information on these
points which were not yet clear in their minds.
The Three Questions
as Jesus sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto
him privately, saying, Tell us (1) When shall these things [the
destruction of the Temple, etc.] be? and (2)
<PAGE 565> What shall be the sign of thy presence*
and (3) of the end of the world [age]?"
the opportunity and the questions were of divine providence; for
the prophecy was surely meant more for the instruction of God's
people living in this "harvest" time, than for those
who asked the questions. In studying this prophecy it is very
necessary to keep in memory the questions to which it is the inspired
answer. The prophecy is given with much similarity by three of
the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke; but since Matthew's is
the most complete and orderly, we follow its narrative in general,
bringing forward any modifications noted in the other accounts.
Beware of False Christs
heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name,
saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
mentions two of these false Christs in his speech referred to
in `Acts 5:36,37`; and history tells
us of several others who deceived quite a few Jews. Most notable
among these was Sabbathai Levi, of Smyrna, who announced himself
A.D. 1648. Sabbathai Levi styled himself "The firstborn Son
of God, the Messiah, the Savior of Israel," and promised
a restoration of the kingdom and prosperity. Sabbathai, says the
historian, "prevailed there [in Smyrna] to such a degree
that some of his followers prophesied and fell into strange ecstasies:
four hundred men and women prophesied of his growing kingdom.
The people acted for a time as those possessed by spirits; some
fell into trances, foamed at the mouth, recounted their future
prosperity, ---------- *The Greek word parousia, here used,
invariably signifies presence, and not coming. See
Revised Version--margin; also the Emphatic Diaglott.
<PAGE 566> their visions of the Lion of Judah,
and the triumphs of Sabbathai." This was undoubtedly Satan's
counterfeit fulfilment of Joel's prophecy (2:29)--a counterfeit
of the holy Spirit witnessed also in religious revivals of more
modern times. Altogether, there have probably been fifty or more
false Christs, male and female, and many of them undoubtedly demented--possessed
of evil spirits. But none of these, nor all of them together,
can be said to have "deceived many." Yet it is against
the kind which "deceive many" that our Lord cautions
us here, and again, later on in his prophecy, in which connection
we will examine particularly the antichrists which have deceived
The History of Eighteen Centuries Briefly
--`Matt. 24:6-13`; `Mark 13:7-13`;
ye shall hear of wars and rumors [threats, intrigues] of wars:
see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to
pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation,
and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and pestilences,
and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are primary sorrows."
briefly did our Lord summarize secular history, and teach the
disciples not to expect very soon his second coming and glorious
Kingdom. And how aptly: surely the world's history is just this--an
account of wars, intrigues, famines and pestilences--little else.
Our Lord separates the history of the true Church and states it
with similar brevity, thus:
[during that same period, the Gospel age] they shall deliver you
up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated
of all nations [peoples] for my name's sake. And then [during
that same period] many shall be offended, and shall betray one
another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets [teachers]
shall rise and
<PAGE 567> shall deceive many. And because
iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."
the light of history would it be possible to portray the course
of God's true Church in fewer words? Surely not. The likeness
is perfect. "Whosoever will live godly shall suffer persecution,"
is the Apostle's declaration; and whoever has not shared it has
every reason to doubt his relationship to God as a son. (`Heb.
12:8`) And so with the Church as a whole, when not persecuted
by the Ishmael and Esau class, it has been because there was so
much of the spirit of the world or so much of "cold love"
toward the Lord and his truth that they were not worthy of persecution.
But judged by this same standard, and by our Lord's prophecy,
there have been some faithful unto death all the way down through
this Gospel age--a "little flock."
The Gospel Witness, World-Wide
--`Matt. 24:14`; `Mark 13:10`--
this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world
for a witness unto all nations. Then shall the end come."
again our Lord clearly showed the disciples that the end of the
age was much farther off than they had supposed; that the message
of his Kingdom was to be good tidings, not to Israel only, but
to all nations. But this did not imply that other nations would
receive the gospel which Israel had rejected. Rather, we should
expect just what we find, that as the god of this world blinded
Israel, so he would blind the vast majorities of other nations,
and hinder them from seeing in Christ the power of God and the
wisdom of God--and he has. (`1 Cor. 1:24`)
If only a remnant of Israel (specially instructed for centuries
under the Law) was found worthy to be of the "royal priesthood,"
what more could be reasonably expected of the heathen nations,
long "without God and having no hope"?
is well that we carefully note our Lord's words--that the gospel
was not to be preached to the nations to convert the nations,
but as a witness to the nations, and to call, and perfect,
and gather out of all nations "the elect." Later on
"the elect," as the Kingdom, will bless the nations,
opening their deaf ears to the gospel, and their blinded eyes
to the True Light.
witness has already been given: the word of the Lord, the
gospel of the Kingdom, has been published to every nation of earth.
Each individual has not heard it; but that is not the statement
of the prophecy. It was to be, and has been, a national proclamation.
And the end has come! "The harvest is the end
of the age," our Lord explained. (`Matt.
13:39`) Some have been disposed to query whether or not
this prediction has yet been fulfilled, because the missionaries
who have gone into heathen lands have very generally known little
or nothing of the good tidings particularly specified by our Lord--"the
good tidings of the Kingdom." But we answer, the printed
gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have gone to them brimming
full of the Kingdom tidings, just as we have them.
our Lord briefly summed up the eighteen centuries of trials and
persecutions upon his Church, and the fruit of their labor in
successfully witnessing to all nations, and hastened on to answer
the important query respecting how the living would know of the
time and the fact of his second presence. He ignored the
question respecting when the stones of the temple would all be
overthrown, lest they should associate that event with his second
coming, and because he wished to so associate the trouble upon
fleshly Israel in the overthrow of its polity with the trouble
upon nominal spiritual Israel in the end of this age, as type
was with evident intention on God's part, though unknown to the
Evangelists, that the record of our Lord's
<PAGE 569> prophecy at this point is given
piecemeal--here a part and there another; here a reference to
the typical trouble on typical Israel in the close of the typical
harvest, there a reference to the similar though more general
and greater trouble in the end of this age upon antitypical Israel--
Christendom. Truly the prophets declared of our Lord that he opened
his mouth in parables and dark sayings, and "without a parable
spake he not unto them." Yet in harmony with the divine intention,
the dark sayings and parables are now becoming luminous to all
whose eyes are anointed with the true eye-salve.
The Trouble in the End of the Jewish Age
account of the trouble upon fleshly Israel which culminated A.D.
70, is the clearest, so we introduce it here:
when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that
the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea
flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of
it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter
thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things
which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to them that are with
child and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall
be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led
away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden
down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
portion of our Lord's prophecy evidently related to events upon
fleshly Israel; and history tells us that it was accurately fulfilled
in every particular in the troublous scenes wherewith the Jewish
age and polity came to an end. "These be the days of vengeance
upon this nation, that all things written in the law and the prophets
concerning them might be fulfilled."
our Lord's words quoted by Matthew and Mark differ from the foregoing,
and evidently apply to the trouble upon spiritual Israel in the
end of the Gospel age. Undoubtedly our Lord uttered both statements,
but the Evangelists not knowing of the two harvests and two times
of trouble, but considering them practically repetitions did not
record both statements--the Lord so overruling, for the purpose
of covering or hiding the facts respecting this harvest until
his due time for revealing it.
The Trouble in the End of the Gospel Age
and Mark's accounts here are almost identical. Matthew says:
ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of
by Daniel the Prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth
let him understand): then let them that be in Judea flee into
the mountains: let him which is on the housetop not come down
to take anything out of his house: neither let him which is in
the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that
are with child, and to those that give suck in those days! But
pray ye that your flight be not in winter, neither on the Sabbath
day: for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since
the beginning of the world to this time; no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh
be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."
`Matt. 24:15-22`; `Mark 13:14-20`
points in this narrative show that while it may have had a typical
application to the trouble in the end of the Jewish age, its real
or most important application belongs to the trouble with which
the Gospel age terminates. (1) The reference to the "desolating
abomination" mentioned in Daniel's prophecy. (2) The statement
that the trouble will be the most severe the world has
ever known or will ever experience. (3) That unless the carnage
were cut short there
<PAGE 571> would be no flesh saved.
(4) The context succeeding unquestionably describes events at
the end of the Gospel age-- events which could not be applied
to the end or harvest of the Jewish age, and were not fulfilled
there. Two of these points deserve special examination.
prophet `Daniel (9:27)` did record
that after Messiah would be "cut off" in the midst of
the seventieth week of covenant favor, he, by establishing the
antitypical sacrifices of atonement, would cause the sacrifices
and oblations of the Law to cease: and that then, because abominations
would prevail, he would pour destruction upon the desolate
(rejected nation), as God had previously decreed.
this had its fulfilment in the destruction of fleshly Israel's
polity. From the time our Lord said, "Your house is left
unto you desolate"--"ye shall see me no more
until that day when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh
in the name of Jehovah," their religion became an abomination,
an empty form, a mark of their repudiation of the one sacrifice
for sins which God had provided; and resting under the curse they
had invoked upon themselves (blindness--`Matt. 27:25`), their
course toward destruction was rapid, as God had decreed and foretold.
Daniel's prophecy has much to say about an Abomination that
maketh Desolate in nominal spiritual Israel; which was set
up in power representatively in Papacy, and which has exercised
a great and baneful influence of spiritual desolation in the spiritual
house or temple of God, the Church of Christ. This abominable
system of error was to continue until the cleansing of the sanctuary
class; and beyond that it was to prosper greatly and lead many
in nominal spiritual Israel to repudiate the ransom-sacrifice,
given once for all; and the result of its overspreading influence
would be the desolation of rejected Christendom. See
`Daniel 11:31; 12:11`; and STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol.
III, Chap. 4.
great abomination of desolation whose foundation rests in the
doctrine of the Mass (which substitutes human performances instead
of the great sacrifice of Calvary, for the cleansing away of sin)
is now being supplemented by theories of self-atonement, and these
overspreading abominations are backed by such influence and sophistry
as will deceive many--"if it were possible the very elect,"
and be precursors of the destruction of Christendom.
back we see in this another parallelism between the end of the
Jewish harvest and the end of the Gospel harvest. Fleshly Israel's
rejection of the true sacrifice for sins, and their retention
of the typical sacrifices which were no longer acceptable to God,
but abominations, was an important incident in connection with
their national and ecclesiastical fall. So here, the rejection
of the doctrine of the ransom and the acceptance of either
masses or good works or penances instead, is abomination in God's
sight and is an important incident in connection with the fall
of Christendom, civil and ecclesiastical.
already pointed out the abomination of desolation which
defiled God's holy place or true temple, the Church, was the papal
one, the cornerstone of which is the blasphemous doctrine of the
Mass. The abomination, defilement and desolation are old; but
so gross was the darkness of error during centuries past that
few, if any, could see it. That the Mass was not seen to
be the abomination, even by the Reformers, is evident: for although
the Church of England in her Articles denies the power of the
priests to create Christ out of bread and wine, to sacrifice him
afresh, yet we have no intimation that the enormity of this sinful
practice was seen. And Luther, while full of denunciation for
many of Papacy's sins and falsities, did not see the great
abomination of desolation to be the Mass. On the contrary, on
<PAGE 573> return to his church after his
stay at Wartburg castle, finding that the Mass, as well as images
and candles, had been discontinued, as being without Scriptural
authority, Luther re-established the Mass.
this view of the matter there is great significance in our Lord's
words--"When therefore ye see the abomination of the
desolation having stood in the holy place, as foretold
by Daniel the Prophet (reader consider): "Then let them which
be in Judea flee to the mountains." Here we must remember
the parallelism between the two harvests, the two times of trouble
and the two flights; and must consider that Judea would represent
Christendom of today.
Greek word rendered "mountains" may with equal or greater
propriety be rendered in the singular--mountain: and it is so
rendered in a majority of instances in the Common Version. Indeed,
to flee out of Judea (literal) to either a mountain or
many mountains seems peculiar since Judea was in fact "a
hill country," and Jerusalem is described as set in the top
of the mountains. But to apply our Lord's words to the present
time, and to his people in Christendom, who now, in the light
of present truth, see the Abomination stand where it ought
not--in the holy place-- in the stead of the true sacrifice, is
a very simple matter. They should at once flee from the influence
of the abomination and from the system falsely styling itself
Christ's (mountain) kingdom, to the true mountain or Kingdom,
which at this time Christ has returned to set up in glory and
to leave Christendom, repudiating her temples, her forms of godliness,
her social enchantments, her flatteries and honors, and to brave
her denunciations and anathemas and her various powers of boycott,
and to flee to the Lord and the true Kingdom, repudiated, ignored
and denied by
<PAGE 574> the worldly-wise and worldly-good,
is surely quite a flight, quite a journey; and few but the "saints"
will even think of starting on it. The perils of the way are portrayed
by our Lord in a manner that would seem overdrawn and contrary
to his usual custom if applicable only to the physical sufferings
of the believers who fled from Judea in the close of the Jewish
harvest: but his words are manifestly appropriate to the spiritual
flight and trials of this harvest time. In
a word, this command to flee, and the description of its trials,
can only be properly understood in connection with the command
of `Revelation (18:4)`, "Come
out of her, my people, so that you may have no fellowship with
her sins, and that you may not receive of her plagues."
"Come Out of Her, My People!"
him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out
of his house: neither let him that is in the field return back
to take his clothes." `Matt. 24:17,18`
statements indicate the propriety of haste in flight out of "Babylon,"
as soon as each sees the abomination of desolation. The
Lord's word is, that all temporizing or parleying or human reasoning
will be dangerous: no time must be lost in obeying as soon
as he causes us to see the abomination of Babylon, and its relationship
to all who have named his name. Alas! how many, failing to heed
the Master's word, have suffered themselves to be bound hand and
foot, so that now flight is almost impossible. But the Master
says, "My sheep hear my voice and they follow me."
is another lesson in these verses: they show that some of the
Lord's people are in one place or condition, and some in another.
Some are in the "field"; that is in the world outside
all human organizations: these should not think it proper first
to join the nominal churches; but using
<PAGE 575> their liberty should flee from
their position in the world, to become one with the Lord as members
of his Kingdom-- mountain.
of the Lord's people are in the houses or church systems of Babylon--but,
as here intimated, they are generally house-top saints, who have
a higher life and experience and faith than merely nominal church
members. These in their flight are not to go down into the house
(nominal church systems) to seek to carry with them their "stuff";
their valuables in human estimation, such as titles, dignities,
respect, commendations of good and regular standing, etc., but
are to forsake all for Christ, and flee to the true Kingdom.
Difficulties of the Flight
woe unto them that are with child, and them that give suck in
those days!" `Matt. 24:19`
are spiritual "babes," as well as fleshly babes, and
bastards as well as sons. The Apostle Paul describes his interest
in gospel work as that of a mother travailing with child. He says,
"O my little children, [because] of whom I travail in birth
again, until Christ be formed in you." (`Gal.
4:19`) Similarly all faithful servants of Christ, all earnest
laborers for souls, are such as are described in this text as
being "with child." Spiritual child-bearing after the
apostolic example is most honorable service, and engages the attention
of some of God's most devoted children. But alas! as the desire
of Abraham and Sarah to help fulfil God's promises led to an unauthorized
method, and produced an Ishmael class, which, born after
the flesh, persecuted the seed born legitimately, so is it with
many of these who now are "with child"; they are helping
to produce illegitimate "children of God." It should
be remembered by all, however, that only legitimate means should
be employed: all the
<PAGE 576> children of God are begotten by
the word and spirit of the truth, and not by human theory and
spirit of the world.
views of the divine plan (the supposition that all except the
elect Church will be everlastingly tormented) have in some so
stimulated their desires to bring forth "children" that
they have resorted to various human devices for begetting them--overlooking
the fact that all not "begotten of God," all not begotten
"by the word of truth"--(not merely of the letter of
the Word, but "begotten of the spirit" of the truth),
are spurious, and not reckoned as of God nor treated as sons.
(`Heb. 12:8`) As a consequence the
Church nominal of today makes "a fair show in the flesh"--numerically,
financially, intellectually--and has much of "the form
of godliness" without its real spirit and power to control
the heart. It is full of "babes," some indeed babes
in Christ, but many, many bastards, not sons of God; begotten
of error instead of truth--"tares." And the constant
effort is to bring forth more even of the spurious progeny--hoping
thus to save them from eternal torment, the unjust sentence of
a supposed merciless God.
how difficult it is for these dear children of God who are thus
figuratively, in our Savior's words, "with child," to
flee from the nominal church system with its multitudinous machinery
for false and rapid begetting, which they have learned to glory
in and to boast of. Yes, it will be difficult for these to leave
all and flee to the Lord and his mountain (Kingdom). It will be
difficult for them to believe that the Lord is really good and
just and merciful, and that he has a gracious plan which makes
full provision for every member of Adam's race--all redeemed by
the great "ransom for all."
class which gives "suck" in these days also contains
many noble, good, well-meaning children of God. It includes
<PAGE 577> many ministers and Sunday School
teachers--whose religious work consists in giving out "milk";
not always the "pure milk of the Word," however, for
they generally dilute and adulterate it with tradition, philosophy
and worldly-wisdom opiates, which keep their "babes"
docile, sleepy, "good"; and hinder their growth in
knowledge and grace, which they have come to consider dangerous.
few of these teachers do indeed endeavor to give the "pure
milk of the word" that their "babes" may grow thereby
and learn to eat and assimilate the strong meat and come to manhood
in Christ, but repeated experiments they declare prove
to them that even the "pure milk of the word" will not
agree with the majority of their "babes"; and hence
they consider it duty to adulterate the milk lest their "babes"
sicken and die. Ah! they do not recognize that the majority of
their "babes," not being begotten of the spirit of the
truth, never will be able to assimilate spiritual "milk";
because "the natural man receiveth not the things of the
spirit of God, neither can he appreciate them, because they are
of spiritual appreciation." (`1 Cor.
2:14,12`) Neither do they see that this failure to discriminate
is starving, stunting and poisoning the true spiritual
"babes" under their care-- who "for the time ought
to be teachers." `Heb. 5:12`
many of this class as are true children of God will hear the call,
"Come out of her my people," and will also have great
difficulty in this day. As they come to see present truth they
will not only fear to give it to those under their care, but they
will also fear to act upon it themselves, lest it separate them
from their charges. They will fear to flee in this day; realizing
that but few of their "babes" would be able or willing
to join in the flight; and indeed only the spiritual will be able
to endure the ordeal. Some will pass the crisis in safety as "overcomers";
while others, fearful, will be left to come through the great
Flee Before the Wintertime
pray ye that your flight be not in the winter (neither on the
Sabbath day)--because then shall be great tribulation, such as
was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor
ever shall be. And except those days be cut short there should
no flesh be saved: but through [by] the elect those days shall
be cut short." `Matt. 24:20-22`
gathering of the Church occurs in what is called a "harvest"
time, at the close of a summertime of favor. Our Lord explained
(`Matt. 13:30,37-43`) that in this
harvest he would garner his wheat and burn the tares in a great
time of trouble following. It is still the custom in country places
to leave the burning off of refuse until the winter. We understand
our Lord to mean, then, that we are to seek help and strength
to escape from Babylon before the wintertime of her trouble comes
are to remember that there are to be two classes of wheat saved
in this harvest--contrary to nature though it be. (1) The "overcomers,"
the faithful and promptly obedient who get out before "winter"
and are "accounted worthy to escape all those things that
shall come to pass." (`Luke 21:36`)
(2) Those loyal, but not promptly obedient children of God, overcharged,
with zeal not according to knowledge, and more or less contaminated
with the spirit of the world. These will be helped out of Babylon
when she is falling, and will flee in the wintertime, saying in
the words of the Prophet, "The harvest is past, the summer
is ended [winter has come], and we are not saved." (`Jer.
8:20`) The Lord very graciously indicates that all the
truly loyal of these shall ultimately "come up out of great
tribulation" and be before the throne (not in the throne
with the "little flock" who inherit the Kingdom as joint-heirs
with Christ), having washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
<PAGE 579> Let us pray, and labor accordingly,
that we be through our flight before the "winter" of
are to pray and strive that our flight be not even on the Sabbath
day. What Sabbath day? Not the Seventh day of the week, nor the
First day; for "new moons and Sabbaths" surely would
prove no hindrance to Christians in any physical flight. (`Col.
2:16`) The Sabbath meant is the great antitypical Sabbath--the
Millennium, the Seventh-thousand-year Sabbath. If we got started
on our flight before it began chronologically, so much the more
favorable: and the farther we get into it the more difficult it
will be to get free and to abandon Babylon, at the very time it
needs and pleads most for our help to sustain it. But God has
declared that Babylon must fall, and no power can sustain her:
and no one who realizes how imperfect is her work, and how good
and gracious will be the work of the Lord after she is removed
and the true Church glorified, could wish to hinder the Lord's
work for one moment.
great tribulation of this "winter" time is to be unprecedented;
and our Lord's assurance is, that nothing to compare with it has
or shall ever come upon the world. This positively identifies
his language with the trouble at the close of this Gospel age
of which the prophet says, "At that time shall Michael [Christ]
stand up [assume control]... and there shall be a time of trouble
such as never was since there was a nation." (`Dan.
12:1`) It identifies it also with the period mentioned
in `Revelation (11:17,18)` when "the
nations were angry and thy wrath is come, and the time of the
dead that they should be judged." So great will this trouble
be that without some intervening power to cut it short the entire
race would eventually be exterminated. But God has prepared the
intervening power--His Kingdom, Christ and his Church--"the
elect." The elect will intervene at the proper time and bring
order out of earth's confusion.
False Messiahs and False Teachers
any man shall say unto you then, Lo here is Messiah, or
there, believe it not. For there shall arise false Messiahs, and
false teachers, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch
that if it were possible they would deceive the very elect. Remember
I have foretold you." `Matt. 24:23-25`
deceivers here described certainly are not the fanatics who from
time to time have claimed to be Christ and have deceived but few
possessed of any degree of common sense and judgment. We have
already pointed out the Antichrist, the great deceiver,
the Papacy,* which for centuries sat in the spiritual temple,
displaying himself as the only representative of Christ--his vicegerent--concerning
whom our Lord correctly foretold, that all the world would wonder
respecting him, except those whose names are written in
the Lamb's book of life. (`Rev. 13:8`)
Similarly, the Church of England is not merely a church or "body"
but it has an earthly head in the civil sovereign, the Queen.
The Greek Catholic Church very similarly, though not so particularly,
has for its head the Czar of Russia--who nevertheless exercises
more power. If Papacy is Antichrist, a pseudo or false Christ,
are not the other false bodies with false heads also false Christs,
or Antichrists--however many or few of God's true saints may be
Protestant denominations, although they acknowledge no head except
Christ, nevertheless practically make their Synods, Conferences
and Councils into heads, from which they take their laws,
usages, and confessions of faith, instead of the one only head
of the one true Church.
a large period and to a greater or less extent these systems of
men have so counterfeited the genuine Messiah (head and body)
as to partially deceive many. But now for ---------- *Vol. II,
<PAGE 581> a century past these deceptions
are failing. Few Presbyterians, if any, now
believe theirs the one true Church; neither do Methodists,
Baptists, Lutherans and others so think of their systems; and
even Anglican, Greek and Roman Catholics are getting free from
the delusion that theirs is the only Church, outside of which
are none of the elect. But in the prophecy under consideration
our Lord warns us of danger from false Christs "then"--that
is now. In harmony with this we find in
`Revelation (13:14-18)` a prophecy of a special combination
of influence by which Protestant denominations will be unified
and, though separate, yet be brought into cooperation with Papacy,
in a manner that will give both increased powers, and deceive
many into supposing that the new combination will be God's instrumentality
for doing the work predicted of Messiah-- and that it is thus
"The Sun of Righteousness Shall Arise"
if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not
forth: or behold he is in the secret chamber; believe it not.
For as the bright-shiner [the Sun] cometh out of the East and
shineth even unto the West, so shall also the presence
[Greek parousia] of the Son of Man be."
great delusions, "strong delusions" by Satan, are just
before us, is witnessed not only by our Lord's words here, but
also by the Apostle Paul. (`2 Thess. 2:10-12`)
Had it been foretold precisely what form these deceptions would
take, this would have somewhat hindered their deceptive power.
God permits these deceptions for the very purpose of separating
the "overcomers" from all others, and merely guarantees
us that the "elect" will be kept from falling. And yet
it is quite possible that some of these trials, siftings and delusions,
may come closest upon those possessing the largest
<PAGE 582> degree of the light of present
truth. How all-important it is that we "keep ourselves in
the love of God"; that we have not only a knowledge of the
truth which alone might merely puff up, but that additionally
we have the spirit of Christ, which it should produce--love to
God and to each other and sympathy for all men; for "love
buildeth up" character in likeness of our Lord.
claim, "Behold he is in the secret chamber," is already
being made by Spiritists--that they can have face-to-face interviews
with the Lord at some of their seances; and that all who are in
sympathy with their views may have the same privilege, etc. What
if the caution that, if it were possible, it would deceive the
very elect, should be found to mean that the "very elect"
will be subjected to the severest trials in this evil day? "Who
shall be able to stand?" (`Rev. 6:17`)
The answer through the Prophet is, "He that hath clean hands
[an honest life] and a pure heart [a conscience void of offense
toward God and man]:...he shall ascend into the mountain [Kingdom]
of the Lord...and stand in the holy place."
how shall God's people know assuredly that these manifestations
are not genuine? He has instructed us that his day will come as
a thief in the night, that he will be present unseen by
the world superintending the harvest work-- gathering his elect,
etc. How do we know that he will not manifest himself to his watching
people, as so-called Christian Spiritualists claim, in the "secret
apartments"--in their seances?
know that he will not so manifest himself to us, because --(1)
his instructions are that we shall be "changed," made
"like him," and thus "see him as he is";
and (2) he forewarned us against these deceptions which would
propose to show him to us in our unchanged or flesh condition
saying, "If they shall say he is in a desert place or in
<PAGE 583> apartments, believe it not";
because in no such manner will he be manifested. On the contrary,
"As the bright-shiner [the Sun] cometh out of the East [and
can neither be confined to a solitary place nor to a private room],
but shineth [everywhere] even unto the [remote] West, so
shall the presence of the Son of Man be."
Lord's revelation at his second presence will not be in a room,
nor to a community in a wilderness or desert place; nor even to
one nation as at the first advent; but it will be a general world-wide
manifestation: "The sun of righteousness shall arise with
healing in his beams." It is the searching beam of truth
from the great Sun of Righteousness that already causes so much
confusion amongst men, by shining into the dark places and discovering
error and corruption of every kind. Whatsoever doth make manifest
is light. And it is the great Light of the world, Christ (and
ultimately also his associated Church), that shall bless mankind
by bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness; for nothing
is hidden that shall not be made manifest. "The day
shall declare it"; and there could be no day without the
Sun shining from the East even unto the West. "This is the
true light which lighteth [in due time] every man that cometh
into the world."
will examine `Matt. 24:28`, as the
conclusion of verse 41 to make Matthew's account correspond with
those of Mark and Luke.)
The Darkening of the Sun and Moon as Signs
after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened,
and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall
from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."
`Matt. 24:29`; `Mark 13:24,25`
tribulation "of those days" should be clearly
distinguished from the tribulation at the end of those days, in
<PAGE 584> which this age and harvest will
close: but this is not so clearly manifest in the accounts by
Matthew and Mark as when we compare Luke's record--which seems
to briefly summarize the events of the Gospel age, and, omitting
the "tribulation of those days," refers only to the
other tribulation with which the age will be closed. He says:
they [Jews] shall fall by the edge of the sword and be led away
captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down
of the Gentiles until the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
And there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the
stars; and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity;
the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear
and for looking forward to those things which are coming upon
the earth." `Luke 21:24-26`
fact is that the entire Gospel age has been a period of tribulation
referred to in `Matt. 24:9-12`, and
now in verse 29. (1) The early Church was persecuted by civil
Rome, while later, when Papal Rome got control, all who refused
to approve her abominations were persecuted by her (Jezebel) directly,
or indirectly by the civil powers to which she was wedded (Ahab).
And they were given into her power, and she wore out the saints
of the Most High for a time, times and a half time--1260 years--until
A.D. 1799. And this long persecution, in which "many were
purified and made white and tried," and in which the Mother
of Harlots was "drunk with the blood of the saints and the
martyrs of Jesus" (`Rev. 17:6`)
ended as we have already shown, practically in 1776 and actually
in 1799 when the Pope and his authority were humiliated before
clearly, then, that it is signs that will follow the tribulation
"of those days" that our Lord refers to, we inquire
respecting the very definitely described signs--the darkening
of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars. ----------
*Vol. II, Chap. 9 and Vol. III, Chap. 4.
<PAGE 585> Are these signs to be regarded
as literal or as symbolic? and have they yet been fulfilled?
answer that they have had a literal fulfilment, and are now having
a symbolic fulfilment much more momentous.
May 19, 1780 (still "in those days," the 1260 years
of Papal power, but after that power had begun to wane and the
brunt of the tribulation had passed) a phenomenal darkening of
the sun occurred, for which scientists of that time and since
have never been able to account. That this was no ordinary occurrence
is sufficiently established by the following competent testimony--
noted astronomer Herschel, says:
dark day in Northern America was one of those wonderful phenomena
of nature which will always be read of with interest, but which
philosophy is at a loss to explain."
Dictionary, 1869 edition, under the head of Vocabulary of Noted
dark day, May 19, 1780--so called on account of a remarkable darkness
on that day extending over all New England. In some places, persons
could not see to read common print in the open air for several
hours together. Birds sang their evening songs, disappeared, and
became silent; fowls went to roost; cattle sought the barn-yard;
and candles were lighted in the houses. The obscuration began
about ten o'clock in the morning, and continued till the middle
of the next night, but with differences of degree of duration
in different places."
Connecticut Legislature was in session that day and adjourned.
The Journal of the House notes the matter as follows:
solemn gloom of unusual darkness before ten o'clock--a still darker
cloud rolling under the sable curtain from the North and West
before eleven o'clock--excluded the light so that none could see
to read or write in the House, even at either window, or distinguish
persons at a
<PAGE 586> short distance, or perceive any
distinction of dress in the circle of attendants; wherefore, at
eleven o'clock adjourned the House till two in the afternoon."
Friday, May 19, 1780.
minister of that time, and an eye-witness, Rev. Elam Potter, preaching
on the 28 inst., nine days after it, is reported to have used
the following language:
specially I mention that wonderful darkness on the 19th of
May, inst. Then, as in our text, the sun was darkened; such
a darkness as was probably never known before since the crucifixion
of our Lord. People left their work in the house and in the field;
travelers stopped; schools broke up at eleven o'clock; people
lighted candles at noon-day; and the fire shone as at night. Some
people, I am told, were in dismay, and thought whether the day
of judgment was not drawing on. A great part of the following
night also was singularly dark. The moon, though in the full,
gave no light, as in our text."
No. 379, published by the American Tract Society --The Life
of Edward Lee, says:
the month of May, 1780, there was a very terrific dark day when
all faces seemed to gather blackness, and the people were filled
with fear. There was great distress in the village where Edward
Lee lived; men's hearts failed them for fear that the Judgment
Day was at hand; and the neighbors all flocked around the holy
man, for his lamp was trimmed and shining brighter than ever amidst
the unnatural darkness. Happy and joyful in God, he pointed them
to the only refuge from the wrath to come, and spent the gloomy
hours in earnest prayer for the distressed multitudes."
quote as follows from Judge R. M. Devins, in "Our First
if not altogether alone, as the most mysterious and as yet unexplained
phenomena of its kind in nature's diversified range of events
during the last century, stands the dark day of May 19, 1780;
a most unaccountable darkening of the whole visible heavens and
atmosphere in New
<PAGE 587> England, which brought intense
alarm and distress to multitudes of minds, as well as dismay to
the brute creation-- the fowls fleeing, bewildered, to their roosts,
and the cattle to their stalls. Indeed, thousands of the good
people of that day became fully convinced that the end of all
things terrestrial had come, many gave up, for the time, their
secular pursuits, and betook themselves to religious devotions.
It was a wonderful dark day."
Samuel Tenney, LL.D., wrote of this "dark day" to the
Historical Society in 1785, saying:
gentlemen of literary ability have endeavored to solve the phenomenon,
yet I believe you will agree with me, that no satisfactory solution
has yet appeared."
Webster, LL.D., wrote in 1843, in the New Haven Herald,
concerning this dark day, and said, "I stood and viewed the
phenomenon. No satisfactory cause has yet been assigned."
Edward Bass, D.D., First Episcopal Bishop of Vermont, in his diary
for May 19, 1780, wrote: "This day is the most remarkable
in the memory of man for darkness."
darkening of the moon at its full the night following seems to
have been little less remarkable than this darkening of the sun;
a witness, Judge Tenney, of Exeter, N. H., is quoted as follows:
darkness of the following evening was probably as gross as has
ever been observed since the Almighty first gave birth to light.
I could not help conceiving at the time, that if every luminous
body in the universe had been shrouded in impenetrable darkness,
or struck out of existence, the darkness could not have been more
complete. A sheet of white paper held within a few inches of the
eye was equally invisible with the blackest velvet."
unaccountable day, except as a sign from the Lord, is reckoned
to have extended over 320,000 square miles--an area about twenty-five
times the size of Palestine, to which the signs of the first advent
were limited. Indeed, the fact
<PAGE 588> that these signs were chiefly confined
to the New England and Middle States need not surprise us, when
we remember that the first movement amongst the "Virgins"*
(`Matt. 25:1-5`) was chiefly in the
same locality. And that God should use the "land of liberty"
for sending the message of these signs to the world, is no more
wonderful than that he has been pleased to send from the same
quarter many of the modern blessings and inventions and lessons,
recognized by the whole world, and aptly emblemized by the gift
of the great French artist, Bartholdi, to New York harbor--the
statue of "Liberty Enlightening the World."
The Falling Stars
a century passed before the next sign appeared, the falling
of the stars from heaven, as when a fig tree casteth her unripe
fruit when shaken of a mighty wind. Our Lord's words found a fulfilment
(though not their complete and only fulfilment, as we shall see
later) in the wonderful meteoric showers of the early morning
of Nov. 13, 1833. Those inclined to quibble by urging that "the
fixed stars did not fall" are reminded that our Lord
said nothing about fixed stars falling, and that fixed
stars could not fall: their falling would prove that they were
not fixed. The Scriptures do not distinguish between stars
and meteors as is commonly done in our day.
stars, and even meteoric showers are not uncommon every year,
and some years more than others. It is computed that 400,000 small
meteors fall to our earth annually. But these are nothing in comparison
to the great shower of Nov. 13, 1833, in which millions on millions
Kirkwood, in his work entitled Meteorology, says-- "Until
the close of the last century they [meteoric showers] never attracted
the attention of scientific men." ---------- *Vol. III, pages
D. Olmstead, LL.D., of Yale College, wrote:
who were so fortunate as to witness the exhibition of shooting
stars on the morning of Nov. 13, 1833, probably saw the greatest
display of celestial fireworks that has ever been seen since the
creation of the world, or at least within the annals covered by
the pages of history...This is no longer to be regarded as a terrestrial,
but a celestial phenomenon, and shooting stars are now to be no
more viewed as casual productions of the upper regions of the
atmosphere, but as visitants from other worlds, or from the planetary
voids." New Haven Press
Henry Dana Ward, at the time a New York merchant, later an author
and Episcopalian minister, wrote:
philosopher or scholar has told or recorded an event, I suppose,
like that of yesterday morning. A Prophet eighteen hundred years
ago foretold it exactly, if we will be at the trouble to understand
falling stars to mean falling stars. ...Truly the stars of heaven
fell unto the earth as in the Apocalypse. The language of the
Prophet has always been received as metaphorical; yesterday it
was literally fulfilled." Journal of Commerce, Nov.
quote the following account from The American Cyclopaedia,
Vol. xi, page 431:
year 1833 is memorable for the most magnificent display on record.
This was on the night of Nov. 12, and was visible over all the
United States and over a part of Mexico and the West India Islands.
Together with the smaller shooting stars which fell like snowflakes
and produced phosphorescent lines along their course, there were
intermingled large fire-balls, which darted forth at intervals,
describing in a few seconds an arc of 30 or 40 degrees. These
left behind luminous trains, which remained in view several minutes,
and sometimes half an hour or more. One of them, seen in North
Carolina, appeared of larger size and greater brilliancy than
the moon. Some of the luminous bodies were of irregular form,
and remained stationary for a considerable time, emitting streams
of light. At Niagara the exhibition was especially brilliant,
and probably no spectacle so terribly grand and sublime was
<PAGE 590> ever before beheld by man as that
of the firmament descending in fiery torrents over the dark and
roaring cataract. It was observed that the lines of all the meteors,
if traced back, converged in one quarter of the heavens, which
was Leonis Majoris; and this point accompanied the stars
in their apparent motion westward, instead of moving with the
earth toward the East. The source whence the meteors came was
thus shown to be independent of the earth's relation, and exterior
to our atmosphere."
von Humboldt devotes fifteen pages of his work, Personal Narrative,
to this phenomenon; and declares that it was visible over an area
of eleven million square miles.
Beupland, a French savant, who witnessed it in Humboldt's company,
says of it: "There was not a space in the firmament equal
to the extent of three diameters of the moon that was not filled
at every instant with bolides and falling stars."
phenomenon was to a limited extent repeated in 1866, but the event
of 1833 seems to have accomplished the purpose of the sign;
and indeed, in connection with the preceding sign, it evidently
had considerable to do with the first arousing of the Virgins
to meet the Bridegroom, prophesied in the next chapter.
The Symbolic Fulfilments
these literal signs served their designed purpose in drawing general
attention to the Time of the End, we believe that the symbolic
fulfilments are no less striking and even more interesting to
those whose mental and spiritual perceptives are awakened so as
to enable them to appreciate them.
sun as a symbol represents the Gospel light, the truth--and
thus Christ Jesus. The moon as a symbol represents the
light of the Mosaic Law. As the moon is a reflection of the light
of the sun, so the Law was the shadow or
<PAGE 591> reflection beforehand of the Gospel.
The stars as symbols represent the inspired teachers of
the church--the apostles. The heavens, as already shown,
represent the ecclesiastical powers of Christendom. A combination
of these symbols is found in `Revelation
(12:1)` where the "woman" symbolizing the early
Church is represented as clothed with the sun, that is,
resplendent in the full, clear light of the unclouded Gospel.
The moon under her feet represents that the Law which supports
her is nevertheless not the source of her light. The twelve stars
about her head as a crown represent her divinely appointed and
inspired teachers--the twelve apostles.
this outline of the meaning of these symbols before our minds,
let us examine afresh this feature of our Lord's great prophecy
of the signs which are to indicate the end of this age.
we look we can recognize the fact that while God's consecrated
people are being specially fed and enlightened at the present
time, yet with the nominal church it is not so. Its sun is being
darkened; its moon is being turned into blood; and its stars are
falling. The center of the Gospel light has from the first been
the cross of Christ, the ransom; and however boldly
Papacy set up the competitive sacrifice of the Mass, the saints
of God have always held fast to this blessed center of all God's
promises and of all his people's hopes. They have held to it,
even though its philosophy has been almost entirely hidden from
there have been a few all along who, not understanding the ransom,
and unable to harmonize it with other truths, and especially with
their errors, rejected it. These, however, were rare exceptions
to the rule. But since 1878--the very point of trial-time indicated
in the Scriptures --the parallel to the time of Christ's rejection
at the first advent, when the cross of Christ became to the Jew
<PAGE 592> stumbling block--the stumbling
here has made great progress, until today only a small minority
of the professed ministers of the cross recognize its value
or preach it. On the contrary, much of the teaching now
aims to disclaim and disprove that we were "bought
with a price, even the precious blood of Christ," and substitutes
for this the theory of Evolution, claiming that Christ's value
to the sinner consists in his words and example merely.
the sunlight of the Gospel is daily becoming more and more obscure;
and although this denial of the value of the precious blood as
our redemption price has not so generally extended from the pulpit
to the pew, yet, false doctrines long held sacred, together with
reverence for leaders and learning, have made the way so easy
that a large majority of all who get sufficiently awake to consider
the subject fall an easy prey to this doctrine of Evolution, which
denies the Scriptural doctrine of a primal fall and of a ransom
from it. The Scriptures variously forewarn us of this great falling
away, as well as of this darkening of the faith of the Church
at this time; so that the Son of Man when he cometh will
find the faith very scarce on the earth. (`Luke
18:8`) A psalm describing this period declares: "A
thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right
hand; but it shall not come nigh thee [the faithful saints, members
of the body of Christ, whose elect members will now shortly be
completed]." `Psalm 91:7`
the sunlight of the ransom becomes obscured, so the moonlight
of the Mosaic Law, which in its sacrifices foreshadowed the ransom,
must of necessity become obscured also. It is no longer uncommon
for public teachers to refer to the bloody sacrifices of
Israel, required by their Law, as barbaric. Once, when they saw
by the true light of the Word of God, they appreciated the Apostle's
statement that Israel's sacrifices were foreshadowings of "better
<PAGE 593> for sin; but now, refusing the
antitype, the ransom, and denying original sin, and all need therefore
of sacrifices for it--the typical sacrifices are repudiated also
and esteemed barbaric. Thus the darkening of the Gospel sunlight
results in the darkening of the moonlight. "The moon shall
be turned into blood." And `Joel
(2:10)` adds that "the stars shall withdraw their
shining," which signifies that when the Gospel light is obscured,
and the Law comes to be regarded merely as a meaningless and barbaric
ceremony of blood, then the teachings of the God-ordained twelve
stars of the Church (the apostles) will also fade from view--cease
to be recognized guides or lights.
we have seen, God has recognized or appointed twelve apostolic
stars for the Church. From these and the moon and the sun all
the enlightenment of the Church was to proceed. And from these
the true light, which has blessed the true Church, has proceeded.
But Papacy, assuming ecclesiastical lordship of earth, has placed
or "ordained" various stars, lights, "authorities,"
"theologians," in her firmament; and the various Protestant
denominations have done likewise, until the whole number is innumerable.
But God, while providing helps, evangelists and teachers to his
true Church has not ordained them with the authority of lights
or stars. On the contrary, all of his faithful followers
are instructed to accept as light only those rays of truth seen
to proceed from the sun and moon and twelve stars ordained
for that purpose.
the others of God's people are during this age to be burning and
shining lamps, and are not to put their lamps under a bushel,
but to so shine as to glorify their Father in heaven. The word
star (Greek aster) is not used respecting any of
the faithful (outside the apostles) in referring to them in this
present life; but it is used with reference to those who depart
from the truth, and become "heady,"
<PAGE 594> false teachers, "vainly puffed
up," aspiring to be considered authorities in the
same sense as the apostles, and who are styled "wandering
stars," "false apostles."
`2 Cor. 11:13`; `Rev. 2:2`;
the contrary, the Scriptures everywhere hold out the promise that
the faithful, humble lamp-light-shiners of this present time shall
by and by with Christ be the glorious and honored seed of Abraham--"as
the stars of heaven." But not in the present "heavens"
which shall shortly pass away with great commotion, will these
shine--no, but in the "new heavens"--the new ecclesiastical
kingdom of the Millennial age. Of the same class, and of that
same resurrection time, the Prophet `Daniel
(12:3)` says, "They that be wise, shall shine as the
brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness,
as the stars for ever and ever." The Apostle Paul
also speaks of the Church's future glory in the first resurrection,
saying that their glories will differ "as star differeth
from star in glory."
if God ordained only twelve stars as lights for his Church, as
represented in `Revelation (12:1)`,
is it not a great mistake for popes and bishops to regard themselves
as successors of the apostles--stars also? And is it not a fact
that certain of the so-called "higher critics" regard
themselves and are regarded by others as the equals or indeed
the superiors of the apostles, as light-shiners, stars? And do
not they and others show this, by preaching their own ideas,
shining out their own light on various subjects, without considering
it necessary to consult or to give as proof the words of
the inspired apostles? And if they quote or refer at all to the
light of the true stars, the twelve apostles' teachings, is it
not rather to have them confirm their views or light, rather
than to show that the teaching is light from the apostolic stars?
And indeed the light of these false stars, "wandering stars,"
<PAGE 595> is usually so opposed to that of
the inspired twelve, that they can scarcely so much as find a
suitable text from their writings.
our Lord's prophecy these true star-lights are reckoned in as
part of the Gospel Sunlight, darkened, withdrawn from shining;
while the false stars, the worldly-wise, man-ordained lights of
the present heavens are represented as making a great display
in coming down to earthly conditions-- abandoning their once somewhat
spiritual eminence, and in their teachings coming down to the
level of earthly moralists and philosophers--to the Christian-citizenship-politics
shaking of the symbolic ecclesiastical heavens mentioned
in the same connection has somewhat to do with these lights of
Christendom coming to a lower plane of public teaching. This shaking
would signify just what we see on every hand--a shaking up of
the creeds and dogmas of Christendom, which, because of their
admixture of errors, produce confusion whenever referred to--as,
for instance the doctrine of elect and non-elect infants; the
doctrine of the eternal torment of all who are not saints, overcomers,
a consequence, many of the worldly-wise men who are starring before
the public are already making every effort to distract attention
from all such subjects. What other subjects can they find than
either the true or the false doctrine of election; and the true
or the false idea of God's provision for the future life of mankind?
Not knowing of the true, divine plan of the ages, and not wishing
to awaken controversy along the lines of hell and infant damnation,
what can these star preachers preach, that will attract to them
the attention of the world?
can abandon spiritual themes entirely, and descend
<PAGE 596> to the plane of the natural man,
to moral and political reform questions. They can go "slumming,"
and preach the anti-slum gospel. They can join in Christian-citizenship
Crusades, etc. And these things will more and more engage these
pulpit stars; while others will create sensations by outdoing
the most celebrated Infidels in statements of what they do not
believe; in making sport of the Bible record of an Adamic fall
into sin, and the idea of being saved out of something which is
a myth, according to their Evolutionary theory.
cannot see these signs fulfilling on every hand today! But the
sun and moon and twelve stars are only partly obscured as yet;
nevertheless many of the false stars have fallen from every pretense
of Gospel shining to the level of the comprehension of the masses
to whom they shine.
`Luke (21:25,26)` adds other signs of this time: "Upon
the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the
waves [the restless and lawless elements] roaring; men's hearts
failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which
are coming on the earth [society]: for the powers of heaven shall
roaring sea and waves symbolize the restless masses of humanity,
curbed, but not fully restrained, by the laws and regulations
of society. Every one has heard some of this "roaring"
for the past twenty years, with occasional stormy outbreaks dashing
like tidal waves against the earth [social order] and seeking
to swallow it up. Restrained for a time, these waves are gathering
weight and force; and, as prophetically shown, it is only a question
of a few years until all the mountains [kingdoms] are "removed
and carried into the midst of the sea," in anarchy. (`Psalm
46:1,2`) Every newspaper, not under the control of wealth,
voices the roar of the restless "sea" class; and the
others, though unwillingly,
<PAGE 597> must give the echo of the roaring
as matters of news. This it is, that in a period of comparative
peace, is causing "distress of nations with perplexity."
it is as men begin to realize that the sea-roar and unrest is
due largely to the wane of superstition and of ecclesiastical
influence, and as they more and more see the powers of heaven
(sectarian creeds and systems) shaken, that their hearts are failing
them for fear--in apprehension of the things coming upon the earth
(society); but the strenuous efforts now being made to re-establish
and unify sectarian power and influence, will be in great measure
successful only for a short time; for it will surely disintegrate
then [at that same time] shall appear the sign [evidence, proof]
of the Son of Man," the proof or evidence of the second advent
of the Son of Man.
should not lose sight of the fact that this entire prophecy is
given in answer to certain questions, one of which was, "What
shall be the sign of thy presence" at the second
advent? Having in mind the fact that few recognized the Messiah
at his first advent, and that they themselves had doubts and fears
on the subject for a considerable time, they wished to know how
they would be sure to recognize him. At the first advent our Lord
showed himself, and was attested by signs--by his wonderful
words and works, and by John the baptizer. What sign should
they expect to indicate his second presence? was their
Lord's answer assured them that his people would not be left without
a suitable and sufficient sign; but of its character he
said nothing. "Then shall appear the sign of the Son
of Man." It will be sufficient for the faithful, watchful
people of God, but is not intended for others. It was this
class that saw and understood the signs or proofs of his first
advent, while the masses of nominal Israel could not discern
<PAGE 598> SIGNS of their times, and
God did not wish that others should discern them; hence many of
the wonderful words of life were spoken in parables and dark sayings,
that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might
not understand, being unworthy of the light then due to the faithful
only. And so it will be in respect to the sign or evidence
of the Lord's second presence. It will not be manifested to all
mankind: it can be recognized only by Israelites indeed, and they
must be honest--without guile.
word sign (verse 30) is in the Greek seemion and
has the significance of proof or evidence as illustrated
in the following cases:
many other signs truly did Jesus."
Lord...granted signs and wonders to be done by their [Paul's
and Barnabas'] hands." `Acts 14:3`
are for a sign...to them that believe not." `1
the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience,
in signs," etc. `2 Cor. 12:12`
"Ye shall see the sign of the Son of Man," does
not signify that the Lord's disciples then living will see him,
but that they will have an indication or evidence of his presence
at that time. The signs of our Lord's second presence will
be found in harmony with, and corroborated by, the testimony of
the prophets,* as was the case at the first advent.
Heaven:" The sign or proof of his parousia will
be given in heaven. Not in the heaven of the Father's presence
and before the holy angels, but in the symbolic heaven, the ecclesiastical
heaven, the same heaven which the preceding verse tells us shall
be so terribly shaken as to shake out its stars. It is in this
heaven--the professedly spiritual class--that the sign ----------
*Vol. II, Chaps. 5,6,7.
<PAGE 599> or evidence of our Lord's presence
will first be apparent. Some will "see" the fulfilment
of the prophetic declarations respecting this day of the second
presence, in the marvelous unfolding of the divine plan of the
ages, and will recognize it as one of the signs of his presence.
(`Luke 12:37`) The judgment
of Babylon, Christendom, social and ecclesiastical, is another
sign that the Judge has come, and is reckoning first of all with
those to whom as stewards he committed his goods. (`Matt.
25:19`; `Luke 19:15`)
"Judgment must begin with the house of God"; and it
means confusion and consternation among the Doctors and Chief
Priests of the present time, as they attempt to reconcile their
doctrines, practices and faiths, as it did to the Pharisees and
Priests and Doctors of the Law at our Lord's first presence--even
though the presence was denied then, as now.
at the first presence the humble Israelites indeed, whom God accounted
worthy, were not confused, but enlightened, so that our Lord could
say to them, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your
ears, for they hear: for verily I say unto you, that many prophets
and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see,
and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear,
and have not heard them." (`Matt. 13:16,17`)
So now in the second presence of the Son of Man, the opening
up of the divine Word, the discernment of the divine plan showing
as well the divine times and seasons, and the confusion upon "Babylon"
are satisfactory proofs of the presence of the King.
shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the
Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven." `Matt. 24:30`
tribes of earth will not see the sign or proof of
the Lord's presence given only among the "heavens,"
the at least nominally spiritual--the churches--and appreciated
<PAGE 600> by the guileless of these. Nor
will they ever see the Lord himself by natural sight, for he is
no longer flesh and to be seen of the fleshly.* Our Lord's
words should be remembered --"Yet a little while and the
world seeth me no more." (`John
14:19`) And the Apostle's words to the Church are also
to be kept in memory--that we all must be "changed,"
and made spirit beings like our Lord, before we can "see
him as he is." (`1
Cor. 15:51-53`; `1 John 3:2`)
The tribes of earth, on the contrary, will see the clouds of
trouble and confusion incident to the shaking of the "heavens,"
and realize it to be a storm which will shake the "earth"
also (See `Heb. 12:26,27`.) and at
that time also there shall be a general mourning of all, incident
to that great time of trouble; and eventually all mankind at the
close of the storm shall discern, recognize the new King
with the eyes of their understanding and shall mourn for sin,
and that they ever in blindness rejected him--the Jew first. See
he shall send his angels with a great trumpet and he shall gather
his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
(Sinaitic MS omits "sound.")
work will be in progress in the interim, the "harvest."
The angels (messengers of the new King of earth) will do a separating
work, not between the church and the world, but a separating work
in the nominal church-- among nominal professors, the present
"heavens." This work is represented under various symbolic
descriptions--it is the gathering of the wheat from the tares
into the barn (`Matt. 13:30`); it
is the gathering of the good fish into baskets and the casting
of the unsuitable fish caught in the gospel net back into the
sea (`Matt. 13:47-49`); it is the
gathering of his jewels (`Mal. 3:17`);
it is the calling of "my ---------- *Vol. II, Chap. 5.
<PAGE 601> people" out of Babylon (`Rev.
18:4`); it is the midnight cry to the virgins, which separates
the wise from the foolish (`Matt. 25:6`);
and in this prophecy it is the gathering of the "elect"
from all the non-elect of Christendom, from the four winds--from
are not to expect spirit-angels to appear with wings and to fly
through the air blowing a great trumpet, and here and there catching
away some of the saints--no more than we are to expect to become
literal fish and to be put into literal baskets, or literal grains
of wheat to be put into a literal barn. The angels or messengers
used by our Lord in this harvest gathering will, we believe, be
such messengers as he has used in his service throughout this
age--earthly servants, begotten of his holy Spirit--"new
creatures in Christ Jesus."
"great trumpet" we understand to be the antitypical
"trumpet of Jubilee," the "seventh trumpet,"
as symbolic as the preceding six (`Rev.
11:15-18`), none of which ever made any literal sound.
It has been symbolically sounding since October 1874, and will
continue to the end of the Millennium. With the beginning of this
trumpet began the "harvest" and the reaping and separating,
which must continue until the "elect," the "wheat,"
are all gathered out of the present heavens (ecclesiastical systems)--unto
the Lord. The "angels" (messengers) are those who carry
the message of the Lord's Word which produces the separation
and gathers his elect to himself.
is the privilege of the faithful people of God who are now translated
out of darkness into the marvelous light-- who are permitted to
see and hear those things which others do not see
and hear, to be co-workers with their Lord as his angels--messengers
or servants--in this as well as in all the other features of the
work, throughout the age. By his grace such have plowed and sowed
and harrowed and watered,
<PAGE 602> and now the same class may
also reap with the Chief Reaper.
Proximity of the Kingdom of God
learn a parable of the fig tree: When his branch is yet tender
and putteth forth leaves ye know that summer* is nigh: so likewise
ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it (the Kingdom
of God--`Luke 17:21`) is near, even at the doors. Verily I say
unto you, This generation shall not pass till all these things
be fulfilled." "Heaven and earth [the present ecclesiastical
and social order] shall pass away: but my word shall not pass
away." `Matt. 24:32-35`
have seized upon this passage claiming that it manifestly has
not been fulfilled, and hence proves our Lord to have been a false
prophet. They apply the prophecy wholly to the troubles connected
with the fall of Israel's national polity in A.D. 70, and contemptuously
remark that that generation and many more passed away without
seeing the fulfilment of "all these things." Our answer
to this, of course, is that our Lord's prophecy is not understood
--that it referred only in part to the trouble upon Israel which
culminated in A.D. 70.
to meet the objection, certain Christian writers have been led
to claim that the words "this generation" really meant,
this race, the Jews, shall not pass away until all these
predictions have been fulfilled.
we must dissent from this interpretation for several reasons:
Although the words "generation" and "race"
may be said to come from a common root or starting point, yet
they are not the same; and in Scriptural usage the two words are
quite distinct. ---------- *The Hebrews divided their year into
two seasons, Summer and Winter.
that in the New Testament when the word generation is used
in the sense of race or posterity, it is always from the Greek
gennema (as in `Matt. 3:7; 12:34;
23:33`; `Luke 3:7`) or from
genos (as in `1 Pet. 2:9`).
But in the three different records of this prophecy our Lord is
credited with using a wholly different Greek word (genea)
which does not mean race, but has the same significance as our
English word generation. Other uses of this Greek word (genea)
prove that it is not used with the significance of race,
but in reference to people living contemporaneously. We cite in
proof-- `Matt. 1:17; 11:16; 12:41`;
23:36`; `Luke 11:50,51; 16:8`;
`Acts 13:36`; `Col. 1:26`;
Our Lord could not have meant the Jewish race, and it would have
been improper to have used a Greek word signifying race,
because the Jewish race was not the subject of the apostles' inquiry
nor of our Lord's prophecy in reply. Israel is barely referred
to in the prophecy, and to have said, This race will not
pass away until all be fulfilled, would have left the matter open
to the question as to which or what race might be meant, for no
particular race is indicated. It would, therefore, if the word
meant race, be as proper to say that it meant the human
race as to say that it referred to the Jewish race.
understanding genea here, as elsewhere, to mean generation,
and recognizing that our Lord's words were a prophecy covering
the entire Gospel age, we have no difficulty in understanding
the statement to mean--"This generation [which will witness
the signs inquired for by the apostles and just enumerated by
our Lord--namely, the darkening of the sun and moon and the falling
of the stars]--this generation shall not pass away until
all these things be fulfilled." In other words, the signs
mentioned will occur within a generation-epoch in the close of
sprouting of the fig tree may have been but a casual remark, but
we incline to think that it was not. The peculiar circumstance
narrated of our Lord's curse upon a fig tree which bore no fruit,
and which withered away directly (`Matt.
21:19,20`) inclines us to believe that the fig tree in
this prophecy may be understood to signify the Jewish nation.
If so, it is being signally fulfilled; for not only are thousands
of Israelites returning to Palestine, but the Zionist movement,
as all know, has now assumed such proportions as to justify Conventions
of representatives from all parts of the world to meet year by
year to put in practical shape the proposal for the reorganization
of a Jewish state in Palestine. These buds will thrive, but will
bear no perfect fruit before October 1914--the full end of "Gentile
"generation" might be reckoned as equivalent to a century
(practically the present limit) or one hundred and twenty years,
Moses' lifetime and the Scripture limit. (`Gen.
6:3`) Reckoning a hundred years from 1780, the date of
the first sign, the limit would reach to 1880; and, to our understanding,
every item predicted had begun to be fulfilled at that date; the
"harvest" or gathering time beginning October 1874;
the organization of the Kingdom and the taking by our Lord of
his great power as the King in April 1878, and the time of trouble
or "day of wrath" which began October 1874, and will
cease about 1915; and the sprouting of the fig tree. Those who
choose might without inconsistency say that the century or generation
might as properly reckon from the last sign, the falling of the
stars, as from the first, the darkening of the sun and moon: and
a century beginning
<PAGE 605> 1833 would be still far from run
out. Many are living who witnessed the star-falling sign. Those
who are walking with us in the light of present truth are not
looking for things to come which are already here, but
are waiting for the consummation of matters already in progress.
Or, since the Master said, "When ye shall see all
these things," and since "the sign of the Son of Man
in heaven," and the budding fig tree, and the gathering of
"the elect" are counted among the signs, it would not
be inconsistent to reckon the "generation" from 1878
to 1914--36 1/2 years-- about the average of human life
of that day and hour knoweth no man; no not the angels of heaven,
nor the Son, but my Father only." (`Matt.
24:36`, Sinaitic MS. Compare
`Mark 13:32,33`). "Take ye heed, watch and
pray, for ye know not when the time is."
many these words seem to imply much more than they express: they
think of them as though they put a lock upon and made useless
all the prophecies of the Bible--as though our Lord had said,
"No man shall ever know," whereas he merely said,
"No man [now] knoweth," referring only to the
persons who heard him--to whom the exact times and seasons were
not due to be revealed. Who can doubt that the "angels of
heaven" and "the Son" now know, fully and
clearly, matters which have progressed so nearly to fulfilment?
And if they are not now hindered from knowing by the statement
of this verse, neither now are God's saints hindered or
restrained by this verse from seeking an understanding of all
truth "written aforetime for our learning." Indeed,
it was in great measure because it was not the Father's will that
his people then, nor down to the time the "seals"
were broken* should know the date, that our Lord delineated the
course of events, and assured them that if they would watch and
pray and thus continue faithful, ---------- *Vol. II, Chaps. 2
<PAGE 606> they, at the proper time, would
not be left in darkness, but would see and know.
through his Prophet Daniel, pointed out that at this time
"the wise shall understand" the vision and prophecy,
and merely that "none of the wicked shall understand."
(`Dan. 12:9,10`) To this the Apostle
Paul adds his testimony, "Ye brethren are not in darkness
that that day should come upon you as a thief," although
it shall come thus upon all the world. "Watch ye, therefore
[that in due time YE MAY KNOW], and pray always that ye
may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall
come to pass."
As in the Days of Noah, "They Knew Not"
as the days of Noah were, so shall also the presence [Greek parousia]
of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the
flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,
until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and KNEW NOT,...so
shall also the presence of the Son of Man be."
real point of this illustration is overlooked by many who presuppose,
without any authority in the Master's words, that the similarity
here being pointed out is the wickedness of Noah's day
and that of the day of Christ's presence. But while such a comparison
might have been justifiable and proper, the fact remains that
such comparison was not made, but avoided. The comparison made
is similarity of ignorance. Only Noah and his family knew;
the people KNEW NOT, but proceeded as usual--marrying, planting,
building, eating and drinking. Similarly, during the time of
Christ's presence in the end of this age, and while the great
time of trouble is impending, the only ones who will know of his
presence or have a clear apprehension of what is coming,
or why, or the outcome, will be the Lord's people. Others will
`Luke (17:26-29)` the same lesson is taught; and both
<PAGE 607> Noah's and Lot's neighbors are
shown to have been ignorant of their impending troubles
in the days of Noah, and in the days of Lot, as
people here will be ignorant of the coming trouble in the days
of the Son of Man--after he has come and is present. We see
this clearly fulfilled about us today. The world is fearful and
perplexed; but it knows not of the presence of the Son
of Man, and the "harvest" reckoning now in progress.
Even though they may approximately surmise the trouble coming,
they cannot guess the blessing that is beyond it.
thus shall it be when the Son of Man [already present]
is revealed [made manifest--first to his watching 'virgins,' later
in the trouble to all men]. In that day, he which shall be on
the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down
to take it away: and he that is in the field let him likewise
not return back. Remember Lot's wife! Whosoever shall seek to
save his life [by compromises of conscience and staying in Babylon]
shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life [sacrifice the
interests of the present life] shall preserve it"--everlastingly.
does Luke's Gospel apply these words (already considered, foregoing)
to the close of the Gospel age--"the day when the Son of
Man is revealed."
Lot's wife!" is our Lord's pointed warning. How slight
would be the appropriateness of this injunction, if applied to
those who fled from Judea in A.D. 70; but how intensely forceful
it is as a caution to God's people here, in the close of the Gospel
age. When we learn that Babylon is doomed, and hear the Lord's
message, "Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers
of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues," it is
indeed like the voice of the messengers who hastened Lot and his
family out of Sodom, saying, "Stay not in all the plain;
escape for thy life; escape to the mountain lest thou be consumed;
look not behind thee." `Gen. 19:17`
illustration is heightened when we remember that
<PAGE 608> Christendom is "that great
city [Babylon] which spiritually is called Sodom."
wife, after starting to flee as directed, "looked back";
coveting the things behind: and so with some now fleeing from
Babylon to the mountain (Kingdom) of the Lord; they are more in
sympathy with the things behind than with the things before. Only
those will run the race to the finish who set their affections
on the things above, and not on the things beneath. The perseverance
of the saints springs from a full consecration of heart; all others
will fail so to run as to obtain the great prize.
One Taken and Another Left
tell you that in that night there shall be two in one bed; the
one shall be taken and the other shall be left."
`Luke 17:34`--omitted by Matthew.
Lord, through the Prophet, informs us that though the Millennial
morning draws near, a night also approaches. (`Isa.
21:12`) It will be a night of trouble in the forepart of
which the saints will be gathered out of Babylon. The "bed"
here, in harmony with Isaiah's use of that word (`Isa.
28:20`), may be interpreted to symbolize human creeds which
are long enough for "babes" in Christ, but too short
for a developed "man" to stretch himself in it. This
is true of the various "doctrines of men," substituted
for but very different from the doctrines of God's Word whose
lengths and breadths surpass human knowledge. For instance, the
doctrine of Election, as taught by our Calvinist friends is a
quite sufficient "bed" to rest many who are only "babes"
in Christ, whose senses have never been much exercised; but as
in the light of present-day knowledge the babes get awake and
grow in grace and knowledge, they will all surely find the old
creed-bed too short for comfort; and as each attempts to wrap
himself in the promises of God narrowed
<PAGE 609> by an erroneous theology, he cannot
satisfactorily cover himself; doubts creep in to chill him with
fear that after all he is not certain that he and all his friends
are of the "elect"; and by and by such developed Christians
find it a relief to get out of such a predicament; and to such
God generally sends the light of present truth to guide them to
a "large place" of true rest supplied with abundant
coverings for all who seek to know and to do the Father's will.
Others, however, the vast majority, remain quite satisfied and
comfortable in their various little cribs, because they are "babes"
and not "men" in Christian knowledge and experience.
"One shall be taken and the other left."
shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other
left." `Matt. 24:40`
field is the world," our Lord explained; and in this discourse
it represents a condition outside the nominal "house"--outside
of Babylon. Thus we are taught that not all "come-outers"
will be "gathered," but that the "jewels"
will be sought wherever they may be--"the Lord knoweth them
that are his," and in this harvest gathering he is making
up his jewels--gathering his "elect," to be joint-heirs
in his Kingdom.
shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken and the
other left." `Matt. 24:41`;
mill is a place where food is prepared: the ministers and theological
schools do the grinding of the spiritual food for "Babylon,"
and turn out very poor grist--not "clean provender."
The complaint is a growing one that the food supplied is largely
husks and chaff, which will not sustain spiritual life and strength:
and each grinder is obliged to prepare what is given him by his
own denomination, and he cannot hold his position and yet provide
the "meat in due season," "clean provender,"
for the household of faith. Hence "present truth" gathers
some of the grinders and
<PAGE 610> leaves others--one is taken and
another left. Those who are loyal to God and to his flock will
be taken; all others will be left. While the world and the nominal
church declare this to be a time of union and "confederacy,"
God declares it to be a time of separating.
Whither Gathered--the Attraction
they [the disciples] answered and said unto him, Where, Lord?
[Where will these be TAKEN?] And he said unto them, Wheresoever
the body [the carcass, the food] is, thither will the eagles be
gathered together." `Matt. 24:28`;
lesson is that in that day, when the Lord is gathering
his "elect" from the four winds of heaven--from every
quarter of the Church--he will attract them as eagles are attracted,
by food, for which they have a keenness of vision and appetite;
that in due time the Lord would provide the proper food, and his
true people would recognize it and be gathered to it--the ready
and worthy taken and the others left.
food of "present truth" now provided by our Lord, and
the gathering of his saints by and to it, fits the description
of this prophecy exactly. The present call is not out of one "mill"
into another "mill"; nor out of one "bed"
into another of about the same size. It is not the gathering by
one man or many men, to him or to them, into a new denomination;
but a gathering together unto Christ himself, the true and only
Master and Teacher. Where and when before was there ever such
a public recognition of all who trust in the precious blood of
Christ and who are consecrated to him, as the one household of
faith--all brethren-- and the one and only Lawgiver Christ, regardless
of human creeds and dogmas upon other subjects? Never and nowhere
since the days of the apostles, so far as we may judge.
it is worthy of note that great human ability, oratory, etc.,
have been notably connected with other movements, but not with
this present gathering to the Lord. Here the truth, the
spiritual food which the Lord is supplying,
<PAGE 611> is the whole attraction: human
flourish and oratory find little room for exercise here; they
are lacking but are not missed. The gathered and gathering ones
come together because they "hunger and thirst after righteousness:"
and they are finding the satisfying portion which the Lord himself
has provided; and each for himself is eating thereof.
Watch, if Ye Would Know
therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But
understand this [the reason why the time is so secreted under
symbols and parables], that if the householder had known in what
watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not
have suffered his house to be broken up."
"master of the house" or "householder" of
the present dispensation is not our Lord, but our
Adversary, the devil--"the god of this world," "the
prince of the power of the air," "the prince of this
world," who now ruleth in the children of disobedience, blinding
the minds of all that believe not--whose eyes of understanding
have not been anointed with the Lord's eye-salve. (`2
Cor. 4:4`; `Eph. 2:2`;
`Rev. 3:18`) This adversary is a wily one, and very
cunning; and whatever knowledge he has of the divine times and
seasons and arrangements he is prompt to use in opposing the divine
plan, as our Lord declares in the foregoing statement.
Heavenly Father's course toward Satan has been to let him take
his own way, except where it would conflict with the divine plan,
and so to overrule his evil devices as to use them for the furtherance
of the divine plan. Hence Satan, although he has long known the
Bible, has understood but little of it, for the same reason that
man has not understood it; because written in parables, symbols
and figures of speech. And now that these are due to be
understood, the understanding of them is confined to such as have
the guidance of the holy Spirit, which, as our Lord promised,
"shall guide you into all truth," but which the
world cannot receive. Satan does not possess the holy Spirit and
is not guided by it, and consequently much of the divine Word
<PAGE 612> foolishness unto him. But he has
learned no doubt as the world to some extent has learned, that--"The
Secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." (`Psa.
25:14`) We may presume therefore that his representatives,
the fallen angels, are frequently present at the little Conferences
and Bible studies, etc., of God's truly consecrated people, to
learn something of the divine plan.
what way Satan would have managed his affairs differently if he
had known sooner more about the divine plan, we can only surmise;
but we have our Lord's positive testimony that such knowledge
on Satan's part would have made necessary a different ending of
the Gospel age, and a different opening of the Millennial age,
than God had purposed and declared. But instead of knowing and
setting his house in order, he was taken unawares by the Lord's
parousia in 1874, and the "harvest" work then
begun: so that with all his wiles and deceptions, all his simulations
of the true light, etc., his "house," present institutions,
will suffer complete collapse. As he realizes this, he puts forth
the most strenuous efforts to deceive--even resorting through
his deluded servants to miracles of physical healing, although
he is the prince of disease, sickness and death. (`Heb.
2:14`) But a house thus divided against itself is sure
to fall: and great will be the fall of Babylon: it will fall as
a great millstone cast into the sea. `Rev.
be ye also ready, for at such an hour as ye think not the Son
of Man cometh." `Matt. 24:44`
"ye also," believers, the Lord's faithful, are
mentioned in contrast with Satan and his household. The time of
the Lord's presence could not be known beforehand, even by the
saints. Nor was the fact of the Lord's presence recognized until
nearly a year after October 1874, when his knock, through the
word of the prophets and apostles, was recognized. Since that
time there are abundant outward signs, evidences, of the presence
of the Son of Man; and his devoted ones as they are gathered from
the four winds of heaven, are taken into his banqueting house
and caused to sit down to meat such as the world knoweth not of,
and are served, first of all by the Master himself, and incidentally
by each other. See `Luke 12:37`.
Dispensing of Food to the Household
--`Matt. 24:45-51`; `Luke 12:42-46`--
then is the faithful and prudent servant, whom his Master has
placed over his household to give them food in due season? Happy
that servant whom his Master, on coming, shall find thus employed!
Indeed I say to you that he will appoint him over all his stores
of provisions." `Matt. 24:45-51`;
intimation here seems to be, that at the particular time indicated
by the prophecy--namely, during the Lord's presence, and
at the time of the gathering of the elect--our Lord, the great
Servant of his people, will make choice of one channel
for dispensing the meat in due season, though other channels or
"fellow-servants" will be used in bringing the food
to the "household." But the servant is merely a steward,
and liable to be removed at any moment, should he fail to fully
and duly acknowledge in every particular, the Master--the great
Servant of God and his people--"the Messenger of the Covenant"--Christ.
on the part of said steward (both to the "Master" and
to "his fellow-servants" and "the household")
will be rewarded by his continuance as steward; so long as he
serves faithfully, he may continue, and may serve the household
of faith with things new and old--meat in due season--to the end;
bringing forth all the precious things of divine provision. But
if unfaithful he will be deposed entirely and put into outer darkness,
while presumably another would take the place, subject to the
our understanding this would not imply that "that servant"
or steward, used as a channel for the circulation of the "meat
in due season," would be the originator of that meat,
nor inspired, nor infallible. Quite to the contrary,
we may be sure that whoever the Lord will so use, as a truth-distributing
agent, will be very humble and unassuming, as well as very zealous
for the Master's glory; so that he would not think of claiming
authorship or ownership of the truth, but would merely dispense
it zealously, as his Master's gift, to his Master's "servants"
other spirit and course would surely work a change of steward.
This is detailed by our Lord as follows:
if that servant shall [become] wicked, and [losing faith] say
in his heart, My Master delays his coming; and shall smite his
fellow-servants, and eat and drink with the intemperate [of their
false doctrines], the Master of that servant will be present in
a day that he looketh not for, and in an hour that he is not aware
of, and shall cut him off [from being his servant] and will appoint
him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth." `Matt. 24:48-51`
* * *
Lord was the greatest of all Prophets, and his prophecy likewise
the most striking. Moses' and Jeremiah's and other prophecies
deal chiefly with the rejection and regathering of fleshly Israel.
Isaiah's prophecies besides dealing with fleshly Israel show Jesus
Christ the sufferer for our sins as also a light to the Gentiles,
and ultimately the opening of all the blind eyes of humanity to
"that true light." Daniel foretells the coming and cutting
off of Messiah, the Pentecostal anointing of the most holy, the
history of Gentile powers to their end, and the establishment
of Messiah's Kingdom under the whole heaven. He also shows the
persecuting power of the Papal little horn, its wearing out of
the saints during the age, and the days of waiting for the Kingdom,
etc. But no other prophet than our Lord has given us the needed
details of this "harvest" time, connecting these with
the prominent events noted by the other prophets.
Lord's prophecy, like those of the others, is veiled in symbolic
and parabolic language, and for the same purpose; that "none
of the wicked should understand," but the meek, honest and
faithful of God's people only--in God's due time and way.
you it is given to understand the mysteries of the Kingdom
of God: but to others in parables ["dark sayings"];
that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand."
BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON