« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
23. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25. Behold, I have told you before.
26. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
The disciples are here assured that, if they attend to these warnings, they cannot be taken by surprise. Behold, I have told you before. Even though the coming of the Son of man should be sudden as lightning, it should be also visible as lightning: and if they made a timely escape from Jerusalem, they should avoid its miseries; if they left the carcase, they should escape the eagles.
But that such a season would be a season of great trial and temptation, who could doubt? Therefore Satan would take advantage of it, to deceive, if possible, the very elect. If it were possible: that is, if the power of Christ were not greater than the power of Satan, and if the care of God did not preserve unto the end all those who commit their souls to him.
How great must have been the comfort of Christians of those times, when looking forward to the
6 Eagles formed the ensigns of the Roman army.
predicted calamities, they could also look forward to a promise which implied, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." "I will pray that thy faith fail not." Even in the midst of a most overwhelming calamity and signal judgment, God distinguishes and remembers his own, who put their trust in him. When Lot was delivered from the destruction of Sodom, the angel said unto him, "Haste thee, escape to Zoar; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither."7 There must be a difference maintained "between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." And the expressions in this passage suggest a like consolatory reflection. If it were possible, they should deceive the very elect. For the elect's sake, those days shall be shortened.
The ways of God are uniform. And when we think of the dangers of a deceitful world, and a still more deceitful heart, how great is the blessing to believe that it is not possible for the snares of the world, or the enmity of Satan, to ruin those who have set their faith upon the rock of Christ! St. Paul asks, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ?" Shall that to which Christians were exposed during the siege of Jerusalem, "shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" 8 And if these could not separate Christians from attachment to their Saviour, much less could they separate their Saviour's love from them. Such trials would rather incline him still more to favour them; to give them inward support in proportion to their out
7 Gen. xix. 22.
Rom. viii. 35.
ward difficulties, and enable them to endure unto the end, that so enduring, they might be saved. "Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night to him, though he bear long with them?" "For even the hairs of their head are all numbered." The promise can never fail," Because he has set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him."
SUDDENNESS OF THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM, AND OF THE END OF THE WORLD. -A STATE OF PREPARATION.
MATT. xxiv. 29-51.
29. Immediately 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 :
30. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.1
1 He shall send his messengers, his ministers, to every quarter of the world; they shall sound the glad tidings of the gospel, and gather together in one fold, under one shepherd," such as shall be saved."
32. Now learn a parable of the fig-tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.2
35. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
The preceding verses had described the tribulation which should attend the siege of Jerusalem. The utter destruction of the city follows. This is represented in terms, which, at first sight, might seem to belong to the dissolution of the world itself. But we find that it had been customary with the sacred writers to predict the like calamities, by the use of like expressions. Such are those words of Ezekiel, foretelling the desolation of Egypt. "And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God." Joel also writes, in reference to the event now approaching,* “ I will shew wonders in the heavens, and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come."
2 They took place within forty years.
3 Ezek. xxxiii. 7—8.
Joel ii. 30; See also Jerem. iv. 23; Amos v. 20; Zeph. i.
Still there would be many circumstances in common, between the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, which render the like description applicable to both. Especially its suddenness: the unprepared state in which the great mass of the people should be found. Its certainty must be taken on trust the exact period would never be revealed.
36. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39. And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Those who pay no heed to Revelation, are, of course, occupied in earthly things, and will be so to the end. But even in those who believe, a perpetual conflict is to be maintained between the passing concerns of time, and the more important but unseen interests of eternity. Men must be eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage: some must be employed in the field, and others in domestic services. These are not sins, but duties-but these duties become sins, these lawful things unlawful, by the degree in