The following text is from “The Peoples New Testament” it has LINKS in text to the K.J.V.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO
MATTHEW.

CHAPTER 24

The Judgments on the Jewish Nation.

SUMMARY.–The Temple to Be Utterly Destroyed. The Questions Asked on the Mount of Olives. Wars and Rumors of Wars Predicted. False Prophets and Christs. The Sign for Flight from Jerusalem. The Great Tribulation. How the Son of Man Shall Come. The Sun Darkened. The Coming of the Son of Man. This Generation. The Time of Christ’s Coming Unknown. Injunction to Be Always in Readiness.


1. And Jesus went out the temple. Immediately after the discourse in which he pronounced the woes upon the scribes and Pharisees, upon the temple and Jerusalem. This remarkable chapter is not one upon which commentators are agreed, and the conclusions that I have reached on the points of difference will not be found identical with those of any other writer. I believe, however, that they will be found harmonious with the Scripture. Compare Mark and Luke. His disciples . . . shew him the buildings of the temple. He had just foreshadowed its destruction. With this in mind they point out its splendor, especially the amazing stones used in its construction. Compare Mark and Luke. The temple had been rebuilt in great splendor by Herod, and was not fully completed until about thirty years after the Savior’s crucifixion.


2. Not one stone upon another, etc. Other great temples are in ruins, but their ruins indicate their former splendor. The Parthenon, the Acropolis, the temples of Karnak, Luxor, and Baalbec are examples; but to find even the foundations of the Jewish temple it is necessary to dig beneath the modern city. It has entirely disappeared from the face of the earth, and a Mahometan mosque stands on the spot where it stood.


3. As he sat on the mount of Olives. Passing out of the city, over the valley of Jehoshaphat, he and his disciples climbed the mount and sat down on its crest overlooking the city and temple bathed in [129] the sunset. Tell us. The disciples, still thinking of what the Lord had said, ask three questions: (1) When shall these things be? That is, the overthrow of the temple. (2) What shall be the sign of the coming? And (3) of the end of the world? They supposed these events would be simultaneous–a mistake. To understand what follows we must keep in mind that he has three questions to answer, nor are the answers blended.


4, 5. Take heed that no man deceive you. By pretending to be Christ. As they yet believed that Christ would surely return to reign at Jerusalem, this admonition was needed. Come in my name. As the Messiah. We learn from Josephus that enthusiasts did come about the time of the end of Jerusalem, claiming to be sent of God. Bar-cocheba, “the son of the star,” appeared in A. D. 120. From time to time other deceivers have appeared.


6, 7. Ye shall hear of wars. The Jewish war began in A. D. 66, and ended five years after. During this period all the Roman empire was filled with commotion. Nero, the emperor, was overthrown by Galba; six months after, Galba was overthrown by Otho; a few months after, Otho was overthrown by Vitelius; a little later, he was overthrown by Vespasian. All of these but the last, who ascended the throne shortly before Jerusalem was destroyed, died violent deaths. Famines. The natural result of civil wars. Tacitus, the Roman historian, says of this period: “It was full of calamities, horrible with battles, rent with seditions, savage in peace itself.”


8, 9. Shall deliver you up to tribulation. To persecution. Soon literally fulfilled in the Jewish persecutions. The awful persecution of Nero also soon followed. Ye shall be hated. Tacitus, describing Nero’s persecution begun in A. D. 64, says “the Christians were haters of mankind.”


10. Then shall many be offended. Shall stumble and fall, rather than suffer for Christ. The half-hearted always do.


11. Many false prophets. False teachers. Compare Gal. 1:7; 1 John 2:12, 18; 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 Tim. 4:1. See also Josephus, Book VI. 5, sec. 3.


12. Because iniquity shall abound, etc. Immorality eats out the heart of religion.


13. He that endures to the end, etc. The Christian Jews who endured to the end were saved by [130] flight to Pella, beyond the Jordan, at the signal pointed out by the Lord. The principle is generally applicable.


14. This gospel of the kingdom, etc. The gospel was preached throughout the Roman empire, “the world” of the New Testament, before A. D. 70. Then the end shall come. Of the Jewish state.


15-20. When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation. This is the sign when Christians should flee from Jerusalem. See Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11. Luke says, “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies” (21:20). This was, therefore, Christ’s explanation of the abomination of desolation. The Roman army, heathen, with heathen images and standards, ready to sacrifice to idols on the temple altar, working the desolation of Jerusalem and the temple, is what is meant. In the holy place. Mark says, “Where it ought not;” around “the holy city.” Let them in Judea flee. For refuge. Let him on the housetop. The flat roofs were sleeping places. All must be done without a moment’s delay. Woe to them with child. Because not fit for flight and the hardships that must be endured. Not in the winter. Because the streams were then impassable torrents from the heavy rains and the weather cold and wet, hard on homeless people. Nor on the sabbath. Because then the gates of the city were closed, preventing departure. History tells us that the army of Cestius Gallus enclosed Jerusalem in A. D. 67, then deterred by its strength, retired to Cæsarea. This was the signal for which the church waited, and it then fled beyond the Jordan.


21. Great tribulation. The account given by Josephus, the Jewish historian who witnessed and recorded the war, is almost an echo of the predictions of Christ. Women ate their own children from starvation; the Jews within the city fought each other as well as the Roman army; on August 10, A. D. 70, the city was stormed and there was a universal massacre; 1,100,00 persons perished, and 100,000 survivors were sold into slavery.


22. No flesh would be saved. If such awful work should continue, it would exterminate the human race. For the elect’s sake. On their account, because there is salt to save the earth, and end shall be put to the awful work of death. The elect are the believers in Christ (Rom. 11:5-7).


23-26. Then. During this period of tribulation, give no heed to false prophets, false Christs, or to those who say Christ is here or there. [131]


27. For as the lightning. There will be no doubt about Christ’s coming when he does come, no discussion, no need that any one shall tell it. It will be manifest as the flash of lightning across the sky. There can be no mistake. Such language shows how much those err who claim that his coming was at the destruction of Jerusalem.


28. The carcase is, there will be the eagles. The term “carcase” well represents the utterly corrupted Jewish state; the “eagles” is a fit symbol of the Roman army, every legion of which bore the eagle as its standard.


29. Immediately after the tribulation of those days. The first question, When shall these things be? has now been answered. Here begins the answer to the second, concerning the coming of the Lord. For other passages on the second coming, see 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8, 9; 1 Cor. 15:23; Jas. 5:7; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:12; 1 John 2:28. “Immediately” after the destruction of Jerusalem (the tribulation) the series of events begins that leads to the coming of Christ. The sun shall be darkened. I take what follows to be symbolical, as is usual for prophecy, rather than literal. Christ is “the Sun of Righteousness.” After the destruction of Jerusalem, the causes began to work that led to the great apostasy of the church and produced “the Dark Ages” of the church. The moon shall not give her light. The moon shines by reflected light of the sun and if it is darkened so will be the moon. So, too, the church shines by the light of Christ. When Christ’s light was darkened by taking the Bible from the people the church give forth little light during the long night of the Middle Ages. The stars shall fall. Stars represent great teachers of the church, apostles and evangelists. See Rev. 1:20. When the apostles were dethroned by the Romish apostasy, “the stars fell from heaven,” figuratively. Other stars, great church lights who apostatized, fell from heaven in another sense.


30. Then. After the long period of apostasy. Shall appear the sign of the Son of man. Some sign of his coming that every one will recognize when it is manifested. All the tribes of the earth mourn. Because of their sins. They shall see the Son of man coming. It will be visible to every eye and will be in splendor. [132


31. With a great sound of a trumpet. Compare 1 Thess. 4:16. Shall gather his elect. Before the judgment on the world. The believers will be in all countries, mingled with the population of earth, and then shall be separated. Four winds. The four quarters of the earth.


32, 33. Learn a parable from the fig tree. The putting forth of the leaves is the sign that summer is near. It puts forth leaves usually in April. So “all these things” show when the Lord is at hand.


34, 35. This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled. Some hold that “all these things,” in verse 33 and 34, refer only to what was said of the fall of Jerusalem, ending with verse 28. Others have contended that the phrase includes the second coming, but refers directly to the end of Jerusalem, which was a type of the end of the world. I believe, rather, that “all these things” embraces all thus far predicted, and that “this generation” means the Jewish race, instead of only those then living. The Greek word so rendered is used in the sense of race in the Greek classics, and as examples of such use in the New Testament, Alford points to Matt. 12:45, and Luke 16:8, as examples of such use in the New Testament. Christ has described the awful end of the Jewish state; after such a destruction and scattering of the remnant to the ends of the earth, all the examples of history would declare that the Jewish race would become extinct. Christ, however, declares that, contrary to all probability, it shall not pass away until he comes. They still exist, 1850 years after the prediction, distinct, but without a country.


36. Of that day and hour knoweth no one. How foolish then to be figuring out the time of the Lord’s coming.


37-41. As were the days of Noah. As the deluge surprised the world, so will the Lord’s coming. Two women shall be grinding at the mill. The hand-mills still used in the East. The grinding is done by women, usually two, as the work is hard for one. It will be the time of separation of the evil from the good.


42. Watch therefore. Because the coming will be unexpected. Mark adds, “pray.”


43. If the master of the house. The lesson of the illustration is a constant state of preparation. [133] Elsewhere in the New Testament Christ’s coming is compared to that of a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:1-10; Rev. 3:3; 16:15).


44. Be ye also ready. The duty enjoined is not to watch for Christ, but to watch ourselves to see that we are ready.


45. Who then is a faithful and wise servant? In Luke 12:42-46, is given a similar parable in answer to a question of Peter. There the Lord speaks of “the faithful and wise steward;” here he describes a steward, but speaks of him as a servant. Ruler. Preachers, elders, deacons, Sunday-school superintendents, teachers. Household. All under their religious charge.


46, 47. Blessed is that servant, whom his lord . . . shall find so doing. The blessedness applies equally to those who are faithful unto death and those who are so found at the Lord’s coming. This blessedness is in the reward the Lord will give. `He shall make him ruler over all his goods. The parables of the talents and the pounds show that those who have been faithful to the trusts given them here shall receive additional trusts in the Savior’s eternal kingdom.


48. My lord delayeth his coming. The worst enemy of Christ is the professed servant of the Lord who practices are evil, and who supposes he can evade punishment for his crimes.


49. And shall begin to smite his fellow-servants. There is no sin more common among those who are clothed with authority than oppression. There have been no worse oppressors than priests. And to eat and drink with the drunken. What first disgusted Luther with the faith in which he had been reared was the profligacy of the priests and monks. It has often been the case that the Vatican was the very hot-bed of scandal.


50. The lord of that servant shall come. He will certainly come, and come when the servant is unprepared for him. The majority of the wicked who die in their sins have expected to be better prepared for the end of life.


51. And shall cut him asunder. An ancient method of punishment which was practiced among the Israelites. See 1 Sam. 15:33, and 2 Sam. 12:31. The idea here is that very severe punishment shall be inflicted upon him, while weeping and gnashing of teeth would indicate a life of intense suffering. Indeed both these expressions must be regarded as metaphors, indicating nothing more clearly than a terrible and certain punishment.MATTHEW.

CHAPTER 25

The End of the World.

SUMMARY.–The Ten Virgins. The Foolish Who Took No Oil. The Bridegroom Comes. The Doors Shut on the Foolish Virgins. Watch Therefore. The Parable of the Talents. The Manner of Using. The Reckoning When the Lord Comes. The Day of Judgment Portrayed. The Gathering of the Nations. The Great Separation. The Blessedness of Those on the Right Hand. The Awful Fate of Those on the Left. The Ground of the Separation. The Everlasting Punishment and Life Eternal.


1. The kingdom of heaven shall be likened. The third question asked by the disciples, Matt. 24:3, was about the end of the world. This whole chapter is an answer. The future tense is used. In most of the parables of the kingdom the present is used, because they describe its earthly features. This, however, portrays the closing events, the judgment, the closing of the heavenly gates. Unto ten virgins. No significance attaches to the number, nor to the fact that they are virgins. The bridesmaids of a maiden at marriage are maidens. Who took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom. The whole imagery of the parable is drawn from Eastern marriage customs. The betrothal, which took place some time before the marriage, was a kind of solemn marriage contract, but preliminary to its final consummation. When the time for the celebration of the marriage came, the bridegroom came to the house of the bride and brought her by night to his own house. The virgin bridesmaids awaited his coming and attended the bride to the marriage feast.


2. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. The quality that made the difference between them was prudent forethought on the part of the wise. Compare Matt. 7:21-27.


3. They that were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them. The Jewish lamp was a shallow vessel filled with oil, on which the wick floated. These virgins had oil in their lamps when they started, but had no oil to replenish them. They started out, apparently, all right, but did not hold out.


4. But the wise took oil in their vessels. In this their wisdom was displayed. They not only “let their light shine,” but at the same time kept the grace renewed that was essential to the continuance of their light.


5. While the bridegroom tarried. This suggests that the heavenly Bridegroom will not return as soon as the church expects him. We have a hint of the same kind in Matt. 24:48. They all slumbered and slept. Literally, “nodded and fell asleep.” The thought is that the Bridegroom came at an unexpected moment.


6. And at midnight there was a cry made. Midnight is the hour of slumber and silence when an outcry is always startling and unexpected. The implication is that the cry of the coming of the Bridegroom, the trump of the archangel, will be sudden and unexpected. Compare Matt. 24:27 and 1 Thess. 5:23. [135]


7. All . . . arose, and trimmed their lamps. The object of trimming would be to secure a brighter light. It would involve the trimming of the wick and replenishing the oil if needed. When the cry does arise there will be a wonderful lamp-trimming.


8. Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out. The Revision says, more correctly, “Our lamps are going out,” They had kept up a flickering light to this time. Their apparent piety, though it satisfied them before, was not sufficient now. Shams disappear in the presence of death or judgment.


9. Lest there be not enough for us and you. The wise virgins had sufficient for themselves, but none to spare, hence could be of no help. No one has a fund of surplus piety that he can turn over to someone else. Go ye, . . . buy for yourselves. The advice is the best possible. Every one had to procure for himself the needful grace and piety.


10. And while they went going to buy, the bridegroom came. They were now seeking to obtain the oil in the only legitimate way, and all would have been well if they had attended to it at the proper time, but it was now too late. There is no encouragement to death-bed repentance. The door was shut. The door of the marriage feast chamber. The door of the kingdom stands open now, in life, to every mortal, but it will not always be so. The day of opportunity for everything passes.


11. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. As Augustine says: “They came looking for mercy when it was time for judgment.” Luke 13:25 also teaches that the doors finally will be shut. The shutting of the doors teaches that the day of salvation may pass by.


12. I know you not. This means, I do not recognize you as persons entitled to enter. The claims that they might have had once had been forfeited.


13. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour, etc. The whole parable is an illustration of this solemn admonition.
APPLICATION.–The Bridegroom is the Son of man; the time of the marriagetarrying is the long and unknown period between his ascension and his return; the virgins represent the waiting church; the wise virgins represent those church members who are always ready and whose lights are shining; the oil in their vessels is the means by which their light is supplied; the foolish virgins are church members who have become cold and lifeless; the midnight cry is the summons of death, or the trump of judgment; the cry for oil is death-bed repentance, or an attempt at preparation in the face of judgment; the shut door is a declaration that such repentance is too late to be of avail; the great lesson is to be always in a state of readiness. is the coming to judgment; the


14. For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country. Compare Mark 13:34-36; Luke 19:11-27. Christ’s departure from the earth to heaven is referred to. Called his own servants. The church members or disciples. Delivered unto them his goods. This applies to the trust of the entire interests of the kingdom of our Savior to his servants on the earth. [136]


15. Unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. The talent was not a coin, but a weight, and was especially applied to the weighing of the precious metals. The Hebrew talent is variously estimated to be equivalent to a weight of silver ranging from $1,500 to $2,500. To every man according to his own several ability. The sums entrusted to the servants were graded by their capacity. The trust of the Lord to each servant is measured according to his mental ability, wealth, position, or influence.


16. Then he that had received five . . . traded . . . and made them other five. Whoever diligently uses the powers and means of grace the Lord has given is such a servant. The result is gain to himself.


18. He that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. Before the days of banks of deposit, and still in countries where they are not established, it is a common thing to hide treasure in the earth. The servant’s only care was to hold on to what he had.


19. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh. There is certainly a hint here that a long period would pass before the Lord’s return. And reckoneth with them. When our race meets the Lord, every mortal, saint, and sinner, good and bad, will be called on for a reckoning. Every one’s opportunities, as well as the character of his life and works, will be considered.


20. He that had received five talents, etc. He had doubled what he had received, and in acknowledgment that all was due to his lord who had given all and whose he was, he brought all to lay at his feet.


21. I will make thee ruler over many things. (1) Observe here that it is God’s talents that have made the ten talents. The fruitfulness of our work depends on what God has given us. (2) In God’s government, promotion depends on fidelity. This is in a measure true, here and how; fulfillment of duty in a lower and lesser station is rewarded by the providence which bids us to go up higher. (3) Present duties are trials of character; God gives the talents that he may test and see who is worthy of a trust. (4) The trusts given here below, by our use of which we are to show ourselves capable of receiving the crown above, Jesus calls a few things. This is in contrast with the trusts we will enjoy in the heavenly kingdom.


22, 23. He also that had received two talents, etc. His fidelity and reward are indicated, [137] acknowledged and rewarded in exactly the same terms as in the case of the first servant. The final reward depends on faithfulness, not greatness.


24. I knew thee that thou art a hard man. The charge against the lord is insulting. The term hard, and the charge in the next clause, “of reaping where thou hast not sown,” affirm that the lord was harsh, unfeeling, grasping, and unscrupulous about his methods of acquisition. It states the position of many of our fellow-men. Many refuse to employ their talents in Christ’s service because they think it a hard, exacting service, making unreasonable demands of self-denial, self-control and self-sacrifice.


26. Thou wicked and slothful servant. The wickedness of the servant is demonstrated, not only his unfaithfulness, but by his false and slanderous excuses.


27. Thou oughtest to have put my money to the exchangers. To the bankers. If the lord was so exacting as he supposed, he ought at least to have put his money to use with the money brokers that it might have earned something. Usury. Interest. The Jews were forbidden to take it from their brethren, but were allowed to take it from aliens.


28. Take therefore the talent from him. He had shown himself unworthy of the trust. He had enjoyed opportunity to serve the lord, but had utterly neglected it; therefore the opportunity was taken away. The application is easy. Give it to him which hath ten. Because he has shown himself worthy of great trusts.


29. To every one that hath shall be given. Every attainment of honor, wealth, knowledge, or spiritual grace helps to render further attainment more easy and more assured; while it is spiritually as well as materially true that “the destruction of the poor is their poverty” (Prov. 10:15). Shall be taken away even that which he hath. For every hath there is a richer hath;hath not a deeper, poorer hath not. and in every


30. Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness. A state of banishment from the presence of the Lord. Have you a trust from the Lord? Are you useful to him according to your ability?


31. When the Son of man shall come in his glory. Compare 1 Thess. 4:14-18; Rev. 20:11-15. [138] The glorious coming at the end of the world is meant. See Matt. 24:30. The throne of his glory. See Rev. 20:11, for an account of the great white throne upon which sat the divine Judge from whose face heaven and earth fled away. An earthly judge was wont, in pronouncing judgment, to take his place on the “judgment seat,” a kind of judicial throne (John 19:13).


32. Before him shall be gathered all nations. It will be the day of the final account of all the world. He shall separate them. Now for the first time the separation takes place. The two classes have been mingled on the earth; every nation, country, town and city has had its wicked as well as righteous; nay, even into the church the bad have crept, but now they are separated forever.


33. He shall set the sheep at his right hand. The sheep, who represent the righteous, are placed at the right hand, the place of honor. See Heb. 12:2.


34. Then shall the King say to them on his right hand. The King is Christ. This is the only time, save in parabolic language, that he applies the title to himself, though he speaks of his kingdom and declares he came into the world to be a king. At judgment his kingly majesty will be acknowledged by all the universe. Come, ye blessed of my Father. Observe that his invitation on earth to mortals is to come: “Come ye to the waters and drink;” “Let him that is athirst come and partake of the waters of life freely.” To all who have heeded his earthly invitation he gives a heavenly invitation. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you. The blessed are now to enter on an inheritance. On earth they were heirs and joint-heirs with Christ


35, 36. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat. The reason why those on the right hand are given the kingdom is now shown. They had ministered unto the Savior. The deeds of loving kindness that the truly benevolent do his needy disciples are named as having been done to Christ. It should be noted (1) that the duties named are such duties as every one can perform. Chrysostom says: “He said not I was sick and ye healed me; or in prison and ye set me free; but ye visited me and came unto me.” (2) A real, personal service of Christ is implied, one involving some sacrifice of ease, time and property.


37, 38, 39. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee, etc. The saints in all ages, in lands unknown when Christ was on earth, saints who had never seen him when he was in the flesh, he commends for feeding, visiting and entertaining him whom they had never seen in person. What more natural than for them to exclaim: “When saw we thee? When did we entertain thee?” etc. [139]


40. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. The righteous understood well that they had often, in the name and from the love of Christ, ministered to his brethren, the poor and suffering saints, but they had never understood that their Lord accepted this as a personal service to himself. It should be distinctly noted, (1) that the saved are the righteous, or those whose sins have been washed away by Christ; (2) they are those who have lived and acted in the name of Christ, or have been obedient to his will; (3) they have been full of the love of Christ and have faithfully ministered to the distressed, especially to those of the household of faith. The love of Christ implies love of the brethren, and of all mankind.


41. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. Those that have sought the Lord on earth shall be with him forever (1 Thess. 4:17). Those who have turned away from him shall be turned away from him forever. The punishment is everlasting banishment from his presence (2 Thess. 1:9). Ye cursed. Under the Jewish law, anything irretrievably condemned and devoted to death was called “accursed” (Deut. 13:17). The same term applied to the wicked is a sentence of eternal death. Into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Fire is probably used, as in many other places in the Scripture, as symbol of the bitter punishment of the wicked. Note, (1) it is everlasting; (2) prepared, not for man, but for the devil and his angels. Those who choose his service will have his portion.


42, 43. For I was an hungered, etc. The reasons of this awful fate are given. The judgment of the wicked is pronounced, not for what they have done, but what they neglected to do.


44. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee? etc. These, too, inquire if this is possible. If they had seen him in his splendor they certainly would have denied him nothing.


45. Then shall he answer them. The answer is exactly the same as that given to the righteous, save that it introduces not.


46. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. We shall not enter into the discussions that have arisen over this controverted passage. These things are certain: (1) A separation between the righteous and the wicked takes place at judgment. (2) The righteous inherit the kingdom; the wicked “depart into everlasting fire.” (3) The state of the righteous is “life eternal;” the state of the wicked is “everlasting punishment.” (4) The duration of these two states is the same, exactly the same Greek word being used in each case (aionios). Then if the state of punishment has an end, so has the life.

charles-h-spurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon’s Exposition of Matthew 24,
from his Popular Exposition of Matthew

0star_0_e0THE KING AND HIS FATHER’S HOUSE

1. AND Jesus went out and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the

The Seat of Falsehood!
The Seat of Falsehood!

attempted by teachers of heresy: “Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” They have risen in all ages, in these modern times they have risen in clouds, till the air is thick with them, as with an army of devouring locusts. These are the men who invent new doctrines, and who seem to think that the religion of Jesus Christ is something that a man may twist into any form and shape that he pleases. Alas, that such teachers should have any disciples! It is doubly sad that they should be able to lead astray “many.” Yet, when it so happens, let us remember that the King said that it would be so.

Is it, any wonder that, where such “iniquity abound” and such lawlessness is multiplied, “the love of many shall wax cold “? If the teachers deceive the people, and give them “another gospel which is not another”, it is no marvel that there is a lack of love and zeal. The wonder is that there is any love and zeal left after they have been subjected to such a chilling and killing process as that adopted by the advocates of the modern “destructive criticism.” Verily, it is rightly named “destructive “, for it destroys almost everything that is worth preserving.

13. But he that shall endure unto the church the same shall be saved.

Again our Savior reminded his disciples of the persona1 responsibility of each one of them in such a time of trial and testing as they were about to pass through. He would have them remember that it is not the man who starts in the race, but the one who runs to the goal, who wins the prize: “He that shall endure unto the end, the same.” If this doctrine were not supplemented by another, there would be but little good tidings for poor, tempted, tried, and struggling saints in such words as these. Who among us would persevere in running the heavenly race if God did not preserve us from falling, and give us persevering grace? But, blessed be his name, “The righteous shall hold on his way.” “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

14. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.

The world is to the Church like a scaffold to a building. When the Church is built, the scaffold will be taken down, the world must remain until the last elect one is saved: “Then shall the end come.” Before Jerusalem was destroyed, “this gospel of the kingdom.” was probably “preached in all the world” so far as it was then known, but there is to be a fuller proclamation of it “for a witness unto all nations” before the great consummation of all things: “then shall the end come,” and the King shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and decide the eternal destiny of the whole human race.

15-18. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolution, spoken, of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which 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.

This portion of our Savior’s words appears to relate solely to the destruction of Jerusalem. As soon as Christ’s disciples saw “the abomination of desolution”, that is, the Roman ensigns, with their idolatrous emblems, “stand in the holy place”, they knew that the time for them to escape had arrived, and they did “flee to the mountains.”

The Christians in Jerusalem and the surrounding towns and villages, “in Judea”, availed themselves of the first opportunity for eluding the Roman armies, and fled to the mountain city of Pella, in Perea, where they were preserved from the general destruction which overthrew the Jews.

There was no time to spare before the final investment of the guilty city, the man “on the house-top” could “not come down to take anything out of his house”, and the man “in the field” could not “return back, to take his clothes.” They must flee to the mountains in the greatest haste the moment that they saw “Jerusalem compassed with armies “.(#Lu 21:20)

19-21. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that, your flight in the 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.

It must have been a peculiarly trying time for the women who had to flee from their homes just when they needed quiet and rest. How thoughtful and tender was our pitiful Savior in thus sympathizing with suffering mothers in their hour of need! “Flight in the winter” or “on the sabbath day” would have been attended with special difficulties, so the disciples were exhorted to “pray” that some other time might be available.

The Lord knew exactly when they would be able to escape, yet he bade them pray that their flight might not be in the winter, nor on the Sabbath-day. the wise men of the present day would have said that prayer was useless under such conditions, not so the great Teacher and Example of his praying people, he taught that such a season was the very time for special supplication.

The reason for this injunction was thus stated by the Savior: “For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Read the record written by Josephus of the destruction of Jerusalem, and see how truly our Lord’s words were fulfilled. The Jews impiously said, concerning the death of Christ, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Never did any other people invoke such an awlful curse upon themselves, and upon no other nation did such a judgment ever fall. We read of Jews crucified till there was no more wood for making crosses, of thousands of the people slaying one another in their fierce faction fights within the city, of so many of them being sold for slaves that they became a drug in the market, and all but valueless, and of the fearful carnage when the Romans at length entered the doomed capital, and the blood-curdling story exactly bears out the Savior’s statement uttered nearly forty years before the terrible events occurred.

22. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

These were the words of the King as well as of the Prophet, and as such, they were both authentic and authoritative. Jesus spoke of what “should be” not only as the Seer who was able to gaze into the future, but as the Sovereign Disposer of all events. He knew what a fiery trial awaited the unbelieving nation, and that “except those days should, be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.” If the horrors of the siege were to continue long, the whole race of the Jews would be destroyed. The King had the power to cut short the evil days, and he explained his reason for using that power: “For the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”

Those who had been hated and persecuted by their own countrymen became the means of preserving them from absolute annihilation. Thus has it often been since those days, and for the sake of his elect the Lord has withheld many judgments, and shortened others. The ungodly owe to the godly more than they know, or would care to own.

23-26. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not. 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. Bebold, I have told you before. 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.

It is a grand thing to have such faith in Christ that, you have none to spare for impostors. It is important not to distribute your faith too widely. Those who believe a little of everything will, in the end, believe nothing of anything. If you exercise full faith in that which is sure and steadfast, “false Christs and false prophets” will not be able to make you their dupes. In one respect, the modern teachers of heresy are more successful than their Judeean prototypes, for they do actually “deceite the very elect”, even though they cannot “shew great signs and wonders.” One of the saddest signs of the times in which we live is the ease with which “the very elect” are deceived by the smooth-tongued “false Christs and false prophets” who abound in our midst. Yet our Savior expressly forewarned his followers against them: “Behold, I have told you before.” Forewarned is forearmed. Let it be so in our case. Our Savior’s expressive command may be fitly applied to the whole system of “modern thought” which is contrary to the inspired Word of God: “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.

When He comes, we shall know who he is, and why he has come. There will be no longer any mystery or secret about “the coming of the Son of man” There will be no need to ask any questions then, no one will make a mistake about his appearing when it actually takes place. “Every eye shall see him.” Christ’s commg will be sudden, startling, universally visible, and terrifying to the ungodly: “as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west.” His first coming to judgment at the destruction of Jerusalem had terrors about it that till then had never been realized on the earth, his last coming will be more dreadful still.

28. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Judaism had become a “carcase”, dead and corrupt, fit prey for the vultures or carrion-kites of Rome. By-and-by, there will arrive another day, when there will be a dead church in a dead world, and “the eagles” of divine judgment “will be gathered: together” to tear in pieces those whom there shall be none to deliver. The birds of prey gather wherever dead bodies are to be found, and the judgments of Christ will be poured out when the body politic or religious becomes unbearably corrupt.

29, 30. 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: 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.

Our Lord appears to have purposely mingled the prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and his own second coming, so that there should be nothing in his words to satisfy idle curiosity, but everything to keep his disciples always on the watch for his appearing. These verses must apply to the coming of the King at the last great day. There may have been a partial fufilment of them in “the tribulation” that came upon his guilty capital, and the language of the Savior might have been taken, metaphorically, to set forth the wonders in “the heavens” and the woes on “the earth” in connection with that awful judgment, but we must regard Christ’s words here as prophetic of the final manifestation of “the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” There will be no further need of “the sun and the moon and the star,” when He, who is brighter than the sun, shines forth in all the glory of his Father and of his holy angels.

Christ’s coming will be the source of untold joy to his friends, but it will bring unparalleled sorrow to his foes: “then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn.” When Jesus comes, he will find the nations still unsaved, and horror will be their eternal portion.

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,

Our Lord’s first concern, when he comes again, will be the security of “his elect.” He has gone to prepare a place for them, and when the place is ready, and the time for their glorification has come, “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 thie other.”

“East and west, and south and north,
Speeds each glorious angel forth,
Gathering in with glittering wing
Zion’s saints to zion’s King.”
What a contrast between the gathering together of the eagles to devour the rotting carcase and the gathering together of Christ’s elect at the great trumpet-summons of his holy angels! May every reader of these lines be in the latter company! Such will look forward with joy to the time of the King’s appearing.

z10149624THE KING SPEAKS OF THE TIME OF HIS COMING

32-33. Now 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 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 shall pass away but my words shall not pass away.

Our Lord here evidently returns to often made use of it’s illuminated the subject of the destruction of Jerusalem, and in these words gives his apostles warning concerning the signs of the times. He had recently used the barren fig tree as an object-lesson, he now bids his disciples “learn a parable of the fig tree” and all the trees. (#Lu 21:31) God’s great book of nature is full of illustrations for those who have eyes to perceive them, and the Lord Jesus, the great Creator, often made use of it’s illuminated pages in conveying instruction to the minds of his hearers. On this occasion, he used a simple simile from the parable of the fig-tree: “When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh.” They could not mistake so plain a token of the near return of summer, and Jesus would have them read quite as quickly the signs that were to herald the coming judgment on Jerusalem: “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” The Revised Version has the words, “Know ye that he is nigh,” the Son of man, the King. His own nation rejected him when he came in mercy, so his next coming would be a time of terrible judgment and retribution to his guilty capital. Oh, that Jews and Gentiles today were wise enough to learn the lesson of that fiery trial, and to seek his face, those wrath they cannot bear!

The King left his followers in no doubt as to when these things should happen: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.” It was just about the ordinary limit of a generation when the Roman armies compassed Jerusalem, whose measure of iniquity was then full, and overflowed in misery, agony, distress, and bloodshed such as the world never saw before or since. Jesus was a true Prophet, everything that he foretold was literally fulfilled. He confirmed what he had already said, and what he was about to say, by a solemn affirmation: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” “The Word of the Lord endureth for ever,” and though that Lord appeared in fashion as a man, and was shortly to be crucified as a malefactor, his words would endure when heaven and earth would have fulfilled the purpose for which he had created them, and passed away. Christ’s promises of pardon are as sure of fulfilment as his prophecies of punishment, no word of his shall ever “pass away.”

36. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, nor the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

There is a manifest change in our Lord’s words here, which clearly indicates that they refer to his last great coming to judgment: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man.” Some who would be prophets have wrested this verse from it’s evident meaning by saying, “Though we do not know the day and the hour of Christ’s coming, we may know the year, the month, and even the week.” If this method of “renting the words of Jesus is not blasphemous, it is certainly foolish, and betrays disloyalty to the King.

He added that, not only does no man know of that day and hour, but it is hidden from angelic beings also: “No, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” We need not therefore be troubled by idle prophecies of hair-brained fanatics, even if they claim to interpret the Scriptures, for what the angels do not know has not been revealed to them. Even Christ, in his human nature, so voluntarily limited his own capacities that he knew not the time of his Second Advent. (#Mr 13:32) It is enough for us to know that he will surely come, our great concern should be to be ready for his appearing whenever he shall return.

37-39. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming 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 Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Though the King did not reveal the time of “the coming of the Son of man”, he declared plainly that history would repeat itself, and that “that day” would be “as fee days of Noe were.” When he comes, he will find many unprepared, even as the antediluvians were when “the flood came, and took them all away.” Yet in both cases, sinners will have had ample warning Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” to the men of his day, “and this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come “(v. 14). Christ’s coming, like the flood, will be sudden, unexpected, universal in it’s effects, and terrible to the ungodly, although they will be utterly unconcerned: “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day.” That which is lawful and right, under other circumstances, becomes a positive evil when it takes the place of preparation for the coming of the Son of man. Woe unto those whose eating and drinking do not include the bread and the water of life, and who marry or are given in marriage, but not to the heavenly Bridegroom! That Dise, Irae will be a dreadful day for sinners.

“Day of judgment, day of wonders!
Hark, the trumpet’s awful sound,
Louder than a thousand thunders,
Shakes the vast creation round!
How the summons
Will the sinner’s heart confound!”
40, 41. Then shall two be in the field, the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill, the one shall be taken and the other left.

The division between the godly and the ungodly, at the coming of Christ, will be very precise. Companions in labor will be separated for ever in “that day”: Then shall two be in the field,” ploughing, sowing, reaping, or resting, “the one shall be taken, and the other left.” The believing laborer shall be taken by the angels to join the hosts of the redeemed, while his unbelieving fellow-workman shall be left to the judgment that will swiftly be poured out upon him. “Two women shall be grinding at the mill,” they may be fellow-servants in a rich man’s mansion, or they may be mother and daughter or two sisters in a poor man’s home, but however closely they may have been attached to one another, if one is saved by grace, and the other is still under the sentence of condemnation, “the one shall be taken, and the other left.” This separation will be eternal, there is no hint of any future reunion.

THE KING COMMANDS HIS SERVANTS TO WATCH

42. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

This is the practical conclusion of the whole matter. That our Lord is coming, is certain, that his coming may be at any moment, is a matter of faith, and that we are ignorant of the time of his coming, is a matter of fact: “Ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Christ’s words are in the present tense. He does not say, “Ye know not what hour your Lord will come,” but, “what hour your Lord doth come”, as if to keep us always expecting him, and lest we should not heed his words, he puts the command in plainest language:” Watch therefore.” The title that he uses gives additional force to the command to his disciples to watch, for it is our Lord who is coming quickly.

43, 44. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

If the householder has reliable information that a thief is coming, but does not know at what hour he will arrive, he will keep awake all night, waiting for his appearance, but if “the goodman of the house” is told “in what watch the thief” will come, he will be specially on the alert at that time. Every little sound will attract his attention. He thinks he hears someone at the back door, no, the thief is trying to enter by a front window! Wherever he comes, he will find that the master’s ear is listening, the master’s eye is watching, the master’s hand is ready to arrest him, for he had received timely warning of the housebreaker’s coming. Men act thus wisely with regard to burglars, what a pity they are not equally wise in watching for the coming of their Lord! We do not know, we cannot even guess, in what watch of earth’s long night He will come: “In such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” There is the present tense again, “the Son of man cometh,” he is coming, his own words are, “Behold, I am coming quickly.”

Christ’s coming to the world will be like that of the thief, when it is not suspected or expected, and therefore when due preparations for his reception have not been made, but his true followers will not let “that day “overtake them “as a thief “.(#1Th 5:4) ‘They ought ever to be looking for his appearing. Our Lord’s injunction to his disciples ought to have even greater weight with us who live so much nearer to the time of his Second Advent than it had with those to whom he addressed his warning words, “Therefore be ye also ready.”

We ought to be as watchful as if we knew that Christ would come tonight, because, although we do not know when he will come, we do know that he may come at any moment. Oh, to be ready for his appearing, watching and waiting for him as servants whose Lord has been long away from them, and who may return at any hour! This will not make us neglect our daily calling, on the contrary, we shall be all the more diligent in attending to our earthly duties because our hearts are at rest about our heavenly treasures.

45, 46. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

The apostles were “stewards of the mysteries of God”, (#1Co 4:1) and “good stewards of the manifold grace of God”. (#1Pe 4:10) One great qualification for a steward was that he should be found “faithful” both to “his lord” and to all in the “household” over whom he was “made ruler.” It was needful also that he should be “wise” in his dealings with his fellow-servants, for, notwithstanding the honor put upon him, he was still a “servant”, who must give to his lord an account of his stewardship.

These words describe the service of a minister, preaching the truth with all his heart, and seeking “to give meat in due season” to all over whom the Holy Ghost hath made him an overseer. Or they picture a teacher, endeavoring to feed the minds of the young with sound doctrine, or they portray any servant of Christ, whatever his calling may be, doing the work that his Master has appointed him, just as he would wish to do it if he knew that his Lord was coming at that moment to examine it: “Blessed is thatwhom hi lord when he cometh shall find so doing..” Such a servant of Christ is blessed, he is a happy man to be found by his Lord “so doing.” May our Master find us thus occupied when he cometh!

47. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

His lord had formerly made him “ruler over his household”, the steward who had charge of all the household servants. His faithful and prudent conduct in that office won for him promotion to a higher post, so that his lord resolved to “make him ruler over all his goods.” Thus is it among the servants of King Jesus, there are rewards for faithful service not of debt, but of grace, not according to the rule of the Law, but according to the discipline of the house of God, and the higher rule of Love.

It should be noted that faithfulness in one form of service is rewarded by further service and increased responsibility. The servant, whose pound gained ten pounds, received authority over ten cities. (#Lu 19:17)

48-51. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This man was a “servant”, so that we have here a warning, not to the outside world, but to those who are inside the Church of Christ, and who profess to be servants of God. This is also specially a warning to ministers of the Word, those who are made rulers over God’s household. This man, though a servant, was an “evil servant”, a hypocrite, one who had intruded into an office which he had no right to occupy. His thoughts and words were evil: “If that evil servant shall say in his heart, my lord delayeth his coming.” His conduct towards those put under him was evil: “and shall begin to smite his fellowservant.” His own life was evil: “and to eat and drink with the drunken.”

His evildoing would be suddenly cut short by his master’s appearance: “The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of.” Immediate and terrible punishment would be meted out to him: “And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites:” he was one of them, he pretended to be a servant of God when all the while he was a slave of Satan, serving self and sin, let him go to his own company. He was really cut in two before, outwardly he was a follower of Christ, inwardly he served his own lusts, to “cut him asunder” will only be a righteous perpetuation of his own double-faced character. Will that be the end of him? No, “there shall be weeping and: gnashing of teeth.” What a “portion” for one who was numbered amongst God’s servants! As we read of it, let us, in deep humility, remember the solemn injunction of the apostle, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

Before 70 A.D.
Before 70 A.D.

buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

The King, having finished his final discourse in the temple, left it, never to return: Jesus went out, and departed from the temple. His ministry there was ended. As his disciples moved away with him towards the Mount of Olives, they called his attention to the great stones of which the temple was constructed, and the costly adornments of the beautiful building. To them the appearance was glorious, but to their Lord it was a sad sight. His Father’s house, which ought to have been a house of prayer for all nations, had became a den of thieves, and soon would be utterly destroyed: Jesus said unto them, “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

titusJosephus tells us that Titus at first tried to save the temple, even after it was set on fire, but his efforts were of no avail, and at last he gave orders that the whole city and temple should be levelled, except a small portion reserved for the garrison. This was so thoroughly done that the historian says that “there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited.”

We sometimes delight in the temporal prosperity of the Church as if it were something that must certainly endure, but all that is external will pass away or be destroyed. Let us only reckon that to be substantial which comes from God, and is God’s work. “The things which are seen are temporal”

THE KING ANSWERS DIFFICULT QUESTIONS

mount-of-olives-013. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

The little procession continued ascending the mount of Olives until Jesus reached a resting-place from which he could see the temple. (#Mr 3:3) There he sat down, and the disciples came unto him privately, saying, “Tell us, uhen shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” These are the questions that have been asked in every age since our Savior’s day. There are here two distinct questions, perhaps three. The disciples enquired first about the time of the destruction of the temple, and then about the sign of Christ’s coming, and of “the consummation of the age” (R. V. margin).

The answers of Jesus contained much that was mysterious, and that could only be fully understood as that which he fore told actually occurred. He told his disciples some things which related to the siege of Jerusalem, some which concerned his Second Advent, and some which would immediately precede “the end of the world.” When we have clearer light, we may possibly perceive that all our Savior’s predictions on this memorable occasion had some connection with all three of these great events.arch_titusrelieflg

4-6. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ, and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

Jesus was always practical. The most important thing for his disciples was not that they might know when “these things” would be, but that they might be preserved from the peculiar evils of the time. Therefore, Jesus answered and said unto them, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” They were to beware lest any of the pretended Messiahs should lead them astray, as they would pervert many others. A large number of impostors came forward before the destruction of Jerusalem, giving out that they were the anointed of God, almost overy page of history is blotted with the names of such deceivers, and in our own day we have seen some come in Christ’s name, saying that they are Christs. Such men seduce many, but they who heed their Lord’s warning will not be deluded by them.

Our Savior’s words, “Ye shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars,” might be applied to almost any period of the world’s history. Earth has seldom had a long spell of quiet, there have almost always been both the realities of war, and the rumors of war. There were many such ever Jerusalem was overthrown, there have been many such ever since, and there will be many such until that glorious period when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” “See that ye be not troubled:” is a timely message for the disciples of Christ in every age. “For all these things must come to pass,” therefore let us not be surprised or alarmed at them, “but the end is not yet.” The destruction of Jerusalem was the beginning of the end, the great type and anticipation of all that will take place when Christ shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. It was an end, but not the end: “the end is not yet.”

7, 8. 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 the beginning of sorrows.

One would think that there was sorrow enough in “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places”, but our Lord said that “all these” were only “the beginning of sorrows”, the first birth-pangs of the travail that must precede his coming, either to Jerusalem, or to the whole world. If famines, pestilences, and earthquakes are only “the beginning of sorrows”, what may we not expect the end to be? This prophecy ought both to warn the disciples of Christ what they may expect, and wean them from the world where all these and greater sorrows are to be experienced.

9. They shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

Our Lord not only foretold the general trial that would come upon the Jews, and upon the world, but also the special persecution which would be the portion of his chosen followers: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” The New Testament gives abundant proof of the fulfilment of these words. Even in Paul’s day, “this sect” was “everywhere spoken against.” Since then, has there been any land unstained by the blood of the martyrs? Wherever Christ’s gospel has been preached, men have risen up in arms against the messengers of mercy, and afflicted and killed them wherever they could.hangeddrawnquartered

10. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

This would be a bitter trial for the followers of Christ, yet this they have always had to endure. Persecution would reveal the traitors within the Church as well as the enemies without. In the midst of the chosen ones there would be found successors of Judas, who would be willing to betray the disciples as he betrayed his Lord. Saddest of all is the betrayal of good men by their own relatives, but even this they have many of them had to bear for Christ’s sake.

11, 12. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.( Added Content: Three of the false messiahs of Israel past are mentioned in the Brit Hadasha (New Covenant). Here are a few of the False Prophets in and around Jesus’ time !

wolves-sheeps-clothingTheudas boasted himself to be a “savior,” and he attracted about 400 people. He was killed and his followers scattered.

Judas of Galilee arose, probably contesting the Roman registration for taxation. He gathered a large following, but he too perished and his followers were dispersed.

“That Egyptian”, (no name given) the third figure mentioned led people to follow him to the wilderness. He was pursued but escaped, and then went into hiding with a few of his followers.

Simon of East Jordan crowned himself king. He burned the royal house in Jericho and the homes of the rich, before dying in combat.

“The wonder working Bedouin” was another unnamed proponent claiming to be messiah, promised the people liberty if they would follow him to the desert, but he too was slain.

No particular person is mentioned as leading this revolt, however, according to the historian Josephus, the Jewish people were aroused to wage war against the Romans in 68-70 C. E. because of a prophecy contained in the Holy Scripture that convinced them to believe there would arise a man who would rule over the whole world. What they failed to realize was He had already come and they had crucified Him three decades earlier.

Simon Bar Kosiba, one of the most famous of the false Messiahs arose in the early second century; the Jewish leadership of the time under Rabbi Akibah proclaimed him Messiah. His name, which can mean “son of a liar”, was changed to Bar Kochba, which means “son of a star.” In support of his messiahship, a prophecy in the book of Numbers was applied to him :
“There shall arise a kochav (star) out of Jacob.”

Bar Kochba sought to overthrow the yoke of Roman rule and regain independence for the nation. A Talmudic passage describes both his military zeal and his pompous arrogance:

“There was Bar Kochba who had an army of 200,000 men who had a finger cut off of each of his men to show their prowess and fearlessness. … When he went out to war he would say: “Master of the Universe, do not help us and do not help our enemies.”

There was great confidence that Bar Kochba would succeed; in fact Jewish coins were minted with the inscription “year one” and “year two of the freedom of Jerusalem.” By 135 C.E., however, the campaign was utterly crushed by the Romans. Tens of thousands were slain and a large part of the Jewish Community was driven from Jerusalem. Thousands of Jewish captives were sold into slavery; others were forced into slave ships and and many died at sea. The Roman rulers changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina in an effort to wipe out its spiritual significance for the Jews and the figure of a swine was engraved on the marble gate that led to Bet-lechem (Bethlehem).

In spite of the immense disaster brought on by Bar-Kochba, many after him continued to claim the office of Messiah in Jewish history. Probably the most prominent false messiah who came after Bar Kochba was the 17th century Turkish Jew, Shabbetai Zevi. He proclaimed himself to be the Messiah sent from God, and traveled widely to Egypt, Jerusalem, Constantinople, and beyond. His rather odd nature attracted rabbis, scholars, and common people, and concocted a strange mixture of teachings and bizarre customs, based in part on kabbalism, and, in part, on a manic-depressive psychosis.

When finally he was arrested by the Turkish authorities and given the choice of being put to death or converting to Islam, Zevi chose Islam. His followers, however, continued to explain his conversion in a way favorable to his claims to messiahship, and Shabbateanism survived to the 18th century.

Why did these false Messiahs attract such large numbers of Jewish people? No doubt it is normal for an oppressed people to seek to throw off the yoke of oppression, and to long for liberation from foreign bondage. Moses showed the people what a Redeemer” could do, and how a small number of people could escape the grasp of a powerful nation. The wars of the Maccabees also proved that a minority with God can be victorious over a heathen majority, because they believed that “with God all things are possible.

The Jewish people rightly related their oppression to national sin, JUST AS WE SHOULD. The Babylonian captivity resulted in a rejection of sinful idol worship in Israel, and a partial national and spiritual restoration followed. The Maccabees sought a purge of non-religious Jews, and again a partial restoration followed. The more the people believed they were faithful to the Torah, the more intolerable and impossible became the thought of heathens ruling over them. They believed that if they resisted under a “Messiah,” like Hezekiah and Judah Maccabee, God would vindicate them and give them the victory.

Most of the false Messiahs also appealed to the Torah and stirred up protest against paying taxes. They said that it was not right to pay taxes to Caesar, since some of the money was also used to support heathen temple worship. This appealed to the masses, especially the economically depressed among them.

Jewish leaders during the first century, also deduced from Scripture that the time of the Messiah was near. The false messiahs did not possess the characteristics of the Messiah of Scripture. They did not seek to prove their rightful place as messiah by their lineage, but instead the power of the sword, and by an appeal to the physical and political deliverance of the Jewish people. The true Messiah was to have proof of his descent from King David. He was to bring peace and a kingdom that was eternal.

The inner spiritual person yearned for redemption, and the time seemed right. Yet all have sinned, and “there is no righteous person that does good and sins not.” In order to cleanse the people, animal sacrifices (korban) were offered daily in the Jerusalem Temple. These sacrifices alone were insufficient, as the prophets had already pointed out in their messages. The people were offering sacrifices without sincerity. Even with these sacrifices. there was still the longing for the Messiah in the hearts and hopes of the people.

The prophets also foresaw that God would provide a special korban and kohen g’dol (High Priest) who had done no violence, “neither was there any deceit in His mouth” Of this one, the prophet goes on to say, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him. ..When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.” Only such a pure and perfect sacrifice was acceptable to God for atonement. )

What could not be accomplished by persecutors outside the Church, and traitors inside, would be ABLE TO DO!