|رابط التحميل||حجم الملف|
Our main topic is mentioned in:
Mt. 24: 1 - 51.
Mk. 13: 1 - 37 Lk. 21: 5 - 36.
1 Thess. l: l0.
2 Thess. 2: l - l2.
The Second coming, or the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ was a matter of thought, since the first advent. Patriarchs had looked forward to it, but it was in faith. Prophets saw it, but it was in vision. Saints sighed for its approach, but it was still a great way - off. They hoped for its arrival, but they died before the promise was fulfilled. Servants of God longed for its coming, and when it at length arrived they felt so satisfied that there seemed nothing further £or them, to desire. The language of Simeon expressed their thoughts "Now, Lord, let your servant depart in peace.. for mine eyes have seen your salvation" (Lk. 2: 29,30). Angels celebrated His first advent, on the plains of Bethlehem, and sang in heavenly carol "Glory to God..." (Lk. l: l4). The people of God look forward with equal longing and equal eagerness to the day of Christ's second coming.
Our fathers, since the Ascension of our Lord unto the heaven bodily, have lived in this sense, so that they were greeting each other saying "Maran Atha" (lCor. 16: 22) ; that is "Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly".
In the primitive church, the Advent of Christ was not regarded as at distance, but as an event which might at any moment occur (See, lThess. l: l0).
In fact, the doctrine of Advent occupies the foreground in the thoughts of the Thessalonians, as in the two Epistles addressed to them. As faith underlies the service of the true God, so hope underlies the expectation of the Lord's coming ". And to wait for His Son.." (ver. l0). All the early Christians were much occupied with this anticipation, but none more so, than Thessalonians. The hope of the Parousia is an ever - recurrent theme in the Epistle of St. Paul to this church. His own mind must also have been very full of it, when he wrote these letters.
In their immediate expectation - at least, as far as a visible appearance and· triumph of Christ was concerned - the first Christians were disappointed. But the great promises still eager us as we wait for the glory that is reserved in the future. The apostles announced the certainty of the advent, but the precise time was not within the sphere of their inspiration.
In the. 'beginning we should know that prophecies contained in Mt. 24, include, first predictions concerning the destruction of the holy Jewish Temple & the city of Jerusalem, a matter which was literally and actually fulfilled within forty years after it had been uttered. The remainder of this chapter contains prophecies refer to the Times of the end of the world or the present dispensation (Mt. 24: 24 - 32). Besides exhortations, or practical teaching to the; apostles and the believers after them, throughout the ages (33 - 37).
When we look to the words of our Lord here, we find that they are intermingled. The same phrase, or sign refers to both the destruction, of , and the end of the world at the same time. This is because the Jews regarded the overthrow of the Jewish state as the signal of, and coincident with, the end of all present things. In general we can say that (Mt. 24: 1 - 2~) speaks of the downfall of the Jewish Temple and· Jerusalem; and (Mt. 24: 24 - 32. see, also, Lk. 21: 25 - 33) speaks of the second coming. Then general exhortation, or practical advises to the believers through the ages (Mt. 24: 33 - 37).
The Lord speaks throughout this chapter in the mysterious tones of prophecy. So, He speaks of a nearer coming, and of one comparatively distant; that is of the end of the Jewish dispensation, and of the end of the world, in the same time. The two comings, the two consummations, are. blended together in the prophecy. It is not easy everywhere to disentangle them. In those passages which appear to relate to one only of the two tremendous catastrophes, we find features which seem to belong to the other. From the prophetical point of view, the two seemed, for the hearers at that time, nearer together than they now appear to us ; the intervening distance was lost sight of one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord’s departure:
Jesus went forth out. He had taught in the temple for the last time. He had greatly loved that holy house of God. He had shown a burning zeal for its honor. Twice he had expelled the crowed of traffickers who made it a house of merchandise, a den of thieves. He would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple ". He so strongly insisted upon the duty of regarding the house of prayer with solemn reverence. When but a child, he had spent in the temple the hours during which Mary & Joseph ware seeking him. There was no need, he told them, for anxiety, they might have known where He ,was to be found. He was constantly in the temple during His visits to.
At this last visit, He had "looked round upon all things" , showing his deep interest in all that pertained to the worship of God.
Now, He went out. The rulers of the temple rejected Him. Chief priests, scribes, Pharisees, and all who had authority in the temple, or were held in reverence as teachers & expounders of the Law, were ranged against Him.
He had uttered His last awful warnings, his last sorrowful lament for th~ hardness ,of their impenitent hearts. He went out.
According to the Coptic calendar, our Lord Jesus Christ, on the last Thursday of His life of on the earth, informed His disciples with two important matters: Destruction of Jerusalem and Consummation of ages. The Chapter of the gospel , which contains these predictions, gather, as we said these two matters together. For Our Lord, speaking about the near tribulations which and all will have in the near future, refers in prophetical tone, to the most remote, tribulation which will be at the end of the world, before His awful second Advent; and sending His Angels to gather His elect. He also admonish His disciples to prepare themselves for this advent.
Conversation with the apostles (Mt. 24:).
Parallel passages Mk 13: 1 - 13;Lk2l: 5 - 19.
They knew from our Lord's words (Mt. ,ch. 23) that the destruction of was near at hand, and therefore they thought that the destruction of the world itself, and the day of judgment, were also near at hand. Hence their questions.
So, it was natural for them, to call, next day, on the way, His attention at that moment to the grandeur and beauty of the building 'and its surroundings. Therefore, They came to show him the building of the temple. This would be in the evening. According to St. Luke (21: 37) our Lord, during the early part of this week ,passed His nights upon the mount of olives, taking His food at Bethany with Martha & Mary, and spending His days in the temple at Jerusalem, teaching the people. It is most probable that He left the temple by the Golden gate on the east, from whence the view of the temple would be particularly striking. We learn from St. Matthew (24) that our Lord had just been predicting the fall of. The was one of the wonders of the world. Josephus says that it wanted nothing that the eye and the mind could admire. It shone with a fiery splendor ; so that when the eye gazed upon it, it turned away as from tpe rays of the sun. The size of the foundation - stones was enormous. Josephus speaks of some of the stones as forty - five cubits in length, five in height and six in breads. One of the foundation - stones measured in recent t! mes,pr6ved to be nearly twenty - four feet in length by four feet in depth. But all this magnificence had no effect upon our Lord who only repeated the sentence of its downfall.
Their inquiry [pulpit,V. 16 p. 216: 5].
And now they have left the temple courts, descended the side of Moriah, crossed the Kedron, and are seated on a slope of the , in full view of the city with its glorious temple. What a lovely prospect is there presented to their gaze!. Right opposite and full in view was the temple, with it's white marble. Its roof and pinnacles overlaid with gold, the prodigious stone, substructures already the objects of such admiration, all sparkling in clear light of ~n Eastern sky. Here was a sight of such surpassing splendor that it was esteemed equal to one of the wonders of the world; a spectacle of such a beauty that. once seen it remained ever after a part of sight. Here was the glory of all this, like ordinary mundane things, to pass soon away. Nevertheless, He sat there in sorrowful silence; his holy soul was filled with sadness as he thought upon his people's sin, and the coming judgments. The crowd had dispersed. The disciples naturally desire more information on this stupendous subject. They had listened in awe and wonder to His stern condemnation of the scribes & Pharisees. They had heard him say that they themselves, the Lord's messengers, would suffer many things, that the accumulated guilt of the Jewish history would fall 'upon the present generation. He had told the Jews that their house was left unto them desolate; that they should see Him no more till they; like the multitude whom they had blamed on Palm Sunday, should cry "blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord". Now, He had prophesied in plainer. terms the coming destruction of the temple. They were perplexed, "When shall these things be?". They have by this time recovered somewhat from their surprise. They break silence by trying to ascertain with certainty and preciseness some particulars in regard to the wonderful event predicted and its consequences, immediate & remote, implied in the expression "these things". They are at once curious & anxious to be informed of the time when ,what was foretold would be fulfilled: of the "Signs" of the Savoir' s coming for the performance of what He had thus predicted, and further, as we are informed by St. Matthew, of the end of the World.
The questions of the disciples:
St. Mark, says (13: 3). St. Matthew & St. Luke only mention His disciples generally. St. Mark, going more into detail, gives the names of those who thus asked Him; namely, peter and James and John, already distinguished, and Andrew, who enjoyed the distinction of having been the first called. These four of the disciples, appear to have been our Lord's inner council; and they asked Him "privately or separately" , not only from the multitude, but from the rest of disciples. It was a dangerous thing, to speak of the destruction of the temple, or even to inquire about such an event, for fear of the scribes & Pharisees. It was this accusation that led to the stoning of Stephen. It was evident from St. Matthew (24: 3) that the disciples closely associated together the destruction of the temple and His final coming at the end of the world.
They asked; what "sign" would there be of that Parousia, that presence of which the Lord had spoken and of the consummation of the age? The Prophet Daniel (9: 2S - 27) had taught the Jews to associate the times of the Messiah with the destruction of the city and sanctuary. He had spoken of a consummation, of a desolation. When should these things be? It is question which has been often asked, which we often ask ourselves in shuddering awe, in trembling expectation.
The Lord's answer.
Our Lord, when His disciples asked Him as in one breath, about the destruction of their city, replied obscurely and ambiguously, mingling together the two events, in order that His disciples and the faithful through all times might be prepared, and never taken by surprise. some of our Lord's predictions, however, clearly refer to the generation then living on the earth.
He does not answer the question directly, it was not His want to satisfy speculative curiosity. When ,He was asked, once "are there few that shall be saved?" , He said "Strive to enter in at the strait gate". So now His first words are words of warning "Take heed that no man deceive you" ; or "lead you astray" , (Mk. 13: 6). His answer is intended rather to guide the life of Christians than to disclose the awful secrets of the future. The date of the day of judgment is an unsolved and insoluble problem. It is known only to the Father. It is not His will that this mystery should be revealed, it is better for us to be ignorant. Knowledge of the time, if far hence in the remote future, might lull us into security; if near at hand, might fill us with intense excitement, and unfit us for our ordinary duties, as was the case with the Thessalonians when they thought that 'the, day of the Lord is immediate. The Lord gives us no data for discovering when the end shall be. The bearing of his answer is practical, he shows us what ought to be the attitude of the Christian soul toward the solemn future; it should be that of calm and trustful expectation. The Christian should keep in view not only his own death, but the. coming of the Lord. He should keep in his thoughts not only the possibility that to - day, any day, he may die as he has seen others die; but also the possibility that to - day, any day, the Lord may come, and with coming the Lord may come the end of the world, the resurrection of the dead, the judgment. This is the purpose of the Lord's words, not to give us that knowledge which (Mt. 24: 36) we cannot have, which, if we could have it would not be for our good.
The destruction of and the temple was the end of the Jewish dispensation. It might well seem to the jews like the end of the world. It was so crushing ,so tremendous, attended with sufferings so frightful, bloodshed so terrible. To us Christians it is a meet figure of the greater catastrophe which is to come. We are bidden to look forward. It is not simply our own death which we. retold to expect. We may die before the coming of the day of the Lord; we may be soon called out of the world; and the world may go on its way for ages. But, certainly, He shall come again to judge the quick & the dead. This is the prospect which the Lord sets before us in this solemn discourse. We may be among the living when He shall come; we may hear the voice of the archangel and the triumph of God; we may see the dead rising at the call of Christ; we may, yet alive "be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air". "Then the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" , nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavers and new earth, wherein "dwelleth righteousness". 8t. Peter's memory, as he wrote these solemn warnings, seems to reproduce the words which he heard from Christ, when along with James & John & Andrew, he came unto Him privately on the.
Minuteness in detail.
As usual St. Mark is most minute in his record of particulars, such as an eyewitness, or one writing the words of an eye - witness, would be most likely to take note of. He tells us here the exact position of our Lord and His disciples ,on a knoll of Olivet, right over against the temple. He also informs us that the disciples who were closet to our Saviour on the occasion, or who were most earnest and urgent in their inquires which they probably repeated were Peter, James, John & Andrew. These were the persons who spoke in their own name and that of their brethren, acting at once for themselves and the other disciples. These four disciples, consisting of two pairs of brothers, were the first who had enrolled themselves in the list of discipleship; They were the first of the apostolic band. They had been longest with the Lord, and it would seem on the most familiar terms with Him, and now they are nearest to Him in position, and, on the ground of their close intimacy, venture to put questions from which perhaps the other shrank. Three of these, moreover, had been especially privileged to accompany already our Lord on two occasion at least.
Peculiarity in, and fulfillment of the prophecy.
We may not overlook, or lose sight of the prediction that led to, the inquires of the disciples, and of these special favorites who represented the wishes of their brethren, as well as their own, on this occasion. The prediction in question is one of the most remarkable on record, if we consider all the circumstances. There was scarcely anything more unlikely at that time. than the overthrow of such a stable fabric, where the buildings and substructure were so massive that Titus himself attributed his triumph to the hand of God. The temple mentioned here was the second one, that build by Zerubbabel, after the destruction of the one of Solomon at the hand of Nebuzaradan. It was still much more improbable even if, contrary to all expectation and all reasonable calculation of chances, it should be destroyed, that destruction would be carried to such an extreme of demolition that no ruins should be left - no, not so much as one stone upon another. (Mk. 13: 2}.
This prophecy is justified by scientific investigation. The expression, of this verse, is not hyperbolic. Modern investigation shows that the present wall was been rebuilt, probably on the foundation of the older one.
This affirms to us that the other prophecies regarding the Second awful Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ will, certainly, be fulfilled in the due time.
They came to show Him the buildings of the temple. They were proud, like all other Jews, of that magnificent structure, those enormous block of marble, those costly decorations. They called the Lord's attention to those goodly stones, those precious gifts. He could not share in the enthusiasm of His disciples. Costly offerings are 'precious in the sight of the Lord only as the expression of faith and love. Outward magnificence was nothing to Him when the beauty of holiness was gone. The very splendor of the temple saddened the Savior’s soul. It was like the religion of the Pharisees, fair outwardly but the service there performed were formal and heartless. and the Lord saw in the clear vision of his divine foreknowledge, what in less than forty years was coming. "there shall not be left here one stone upon another, shall not be thrown down". That magnificence, was soon to pass away. The holy city would sink in blood and fire, and that while some to whom the Lord was speaking were yet living on the earth. The temple buildings would be leveled with ground, nothing would remain save those solid subtractions, which now excite the wonder of the pilgrim. the Lord knew all this; he ,could not take delight, like the apostles, in the short - lived splendor.
Perspective of prophecy.
As we have said, according to our Orthodox Coptic Church; It is well clear that in the predictions contained in Mk. 13 and the corresponding chapters of the other synoptists, the two events: destruction of and His coming at the end of the world or present dispensation are combined, and intermingled. (pulpi;t,V. 16 p. 217). So this prophecy includes some immediate predictions which belong. to the nearer end, that is the destruction of , a matter which fulfilled in 70 A. D. at the hands of Titus. And some most remote which belong to the' 2nd Advent. Notice, that our Lord Jesus ,Christ used here the Hebrew way to consider the remotest things as if at hand.
(l) The without Christ is desolate. Magnificent buildings have no beauty, in God's sight if Christ is not found there.
(2) We must, like the apostles, watch for the signs of Christ's coming.
(3) But the truest wisdom is to live in constant expectation of it. ,.
After our Lord had predicted of the nearer end, or the catastrophe, of Jerusalem, a matter which seems to the Jews like the very end of the world itself lour Lord Jesus Christ says (in Mt. 24: 29) "immediately" after the tribulation of those days.
He passes, here, away from the events connected with the overthrow of jewish polity, and the fortune of Jerusalem, and proceeds to speak of things connected with the new dispensation, and His mind now turned to "the last time" ,to the whole period between His first coming and H~S second glorious epiphany. The things towards which He was now looking belonged not to the end of the Jewish dispensation, but to the end of the present age and the present dispensation. He started to announce some details of the final advent "the Parousia" , Eighteen centuries have passed since the destruction of ; and more years, it may be, come and go before the end. Nevertheless, all this time, although it may seem long to us who are confined within the narrow limits of a short life, is nevertheless, when compared with the eternity of God, but as a moment.
The word “immediately "is taken here by the foreshortening process of prophecy, which makes - the distant future seem close to the obtruding present, or by the consideration that in God's view ,time does not exist. For according to the reckoning of Him," one day is with the Lord as a thousand, years. and a thousand years as one day "(2pet. 3: 8).
John the Chrysostom says (Hom. , in loc.) "The word" then "or" immediately ", here, relates hot to the connection in the order of time, with the things just mentioned …. not meaning that, what should follow straightway after these things ,but what should be in the time when these things were to be done of which He was about to speak... for this is the customary of the Scripture." (N. &P. N. F, Ist,ser. ,v. x,p. 458,col,b.).
The Second Coming:
The second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His glorious Kingdom, being the great event of the prophecy to be fulfilled, the time and signs of this coming became questions of intense interest to the disciples. The time is generally indicated by the signs.
These "signs" , some of them were immediate or near, that is of the destruction of. Others are more remote. Some exposer divide them into negative and positive; others into physical, or natural and personal.
Anyhow, These signs, generally are:
I - Apostasy: through the influence of False Christs, and false prophets, or pretended Messiah.
II - Excitements of military commotion; that is wars and rumor of wars, where nation rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.
III - Fearful public calamities, as (a) Famines (b) Pestilences (c) earthquakes.
IV - the wide publication of the Gospel, and its diffusion among all nations, as a witness everywhere to Christ and His salvation..
V - Persecutions, and great tribulation befall upon the believers.
As we have said, some of these prophecies has preceded the destruction of the & ; others have followed it, but in the same time would signs for the second coming. Third will be peculiar to the second Advent. Now, let us see them in detail.
Warnings in detail:
The First Sign: False Messiahs:
"And then if any man shall say to you, Lo here is Christ, or lo he is there; 'believe him not" (Mk. l3: 2l). It is, well clear, that this sign belongs to the 'second Advent ; for there was a long time between the destruction of and His Second Coming. So, He admonished His disciples, and all the believers to trust not them.
Many shall come, saying "I am the Christ the Messiah". It is really that many such there, have come since the First Advent. Some of them were mentioned in the N. T. , such as Theudas the Egyptian (acts xxi,38) ,and Simon Magus. Many such arose afterwards, before the time of the siege of as jonathes who formed an army in , Barcochobas in the reign of. Manes,. etc, claiming the place and office, if not the name, of Christ. There have been many deceivers; some there are still - God' s people must take heed, they must not believe every spirit, but try the spirit whether they are of God, for many false prophets ,as St. John tells us, are gone out into the world.
False Christs have also their false prophets. Our Lord not only foretold the appearance of these deceivers, but the manner of their proceeding (Acts 21: 38';Josephus "ant. 20: 7" , "wars, 6: 5, 7: 11").
Our Lord Jesus Christ looks onwards, beyond the destruction of , and starts to bid His own people to beware of those who will come "to beguile, if it were possible, the elect" , i, e. , false prophets and false Messiahs. Indeed many such there had been come, but it is true also, that many such there will be, down to the time of Consummation, especially the Antichrist described by St. Paul (2Thess. 2: 3 - l0).
There will be false christs, the Lord says, repeating his warning, and each of them will have his followers, who will try to draw people after him. Some will say "behold, he is in the desert" , others will say "behold, he is there".. etc, but Christ's people must not listen to any of them. For our True Messiah, has already come, and we bear now His holy name, and we know Him if we are, really, His own, His sheep, for the sheep know her shepherd and listen to his voice only. That knowledge is the life eternal. We need no other prophet, there can be no other Christ. When He comes again, men will not say "Lo, here" , or "Lo, there” ;for" every eye shall see Him ".
In His first advent, He came in great humility, that men said to one another "we have found the Messiah". But He will not come thus again. In His second awful advent, He will come in power & glory, and as a dreadful judge. Therefore, the true Christians must not allow themselves to be misled by false Messiahs. They must not believe the stories of ignorance or fanaticism. Some may say "beho1d he is in the desert" 1,others "beho1d he is in the secret chambers" Some may tell us that we shall find Christ in the free air of desert away from creeds, forms, systems of doctrine, and antiquated churches. Others may think to find Him in the narrow, confined limits of this or that sect. Believe them not. "ask. for the old paths, where , is the good way, and walk there in, and you shall find rest for your 'souls". But seek not after the Christ here nor there, in the desert nor in the secret chambers; for the true christ is found everywhere by those who seek him in simplicity and in truth, not only at or, in this mountain ".
But we should remember here that concerning the Second Advent there will be: ·the· Antichrist, as we are going to see soon. for whoever or whatever assumes to do the] work of christ or claims his honor is a false christ. lf we can get a proper meaning to the term "antichrist" , we shall see that such have appeared in every' age, and repeated in every age the same mischief - making. An "antichrist" ' is any man or any woman who, in any sphere undoes or resists the work of Christ, or compels men to think unworthy thoughts of Christ.
The Second sign: Wars, famines, earthquakes:
These things there must be. There have been again and again in the progress Of history, times marked with a special intensity of troubles and horrors, when men's hearts have failed them, and the end of all things seemed close at hand. But the Lord says, Be not troubled, be not scared, excited; the end is not yet. Be prepared for it, but be calm, collected. Alas the curse of war is not yet removed. Still 'the earth which God created is reddened with the blood of men made' in the image of God, shed by their brethren's hand. Yet the end comes not. These things are the beginning of travail; they are dreadful, and yet they offer hope, for they are birth - pangs. The end of the Jewish dispensation is the birth of the Christian church; yet the more awful signs which are to attend the end of the world are the birth - throes of the great regeneration (ch. 19: 28) ,the birth of the “new heaven and the new earth "wherein dwells righteousness.
Not only wars, but also "nation raises upon nation" (Mt24: 7). Today we see, actually, many nations raised against others such as Serbs against Turkish; Turkish against Armenians; Turkish against Greek, Kurds against Arabs & Turkish…etc. Pulpit's exposer in his comment on this verse says "this part of the prediction is inapplicable to the era preceding the ruin of …. (T. 1S,v. II,p. 431). But the Lord's words seem to refer to times when Rome's dominion had ceased, and nation warred against nation, as in later and modern days in Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. So again the prediction must be extended far beyond events in the Jewish cycle" (P.. 432).
St. Mark says "wars and rumors of wars" (13: 7). "Rumors" are often worse and more distressing than wars themselves. Wars, what is actually declared or commenced, but "rumors" are the more remote premonitions.
The third sign: Persecutions.
Besides the troubles destined to come upon all the world, the was to have its own special trials; his followers were to be afflicted and slain and hated of all nations for his Name's sake. And these persecutions would lead to worse things yet: to apostasies; and apostasies, would produce mutual hatred and betrayal of christians by christians; there would be false prophets, heretical teachers in the church itself. Iniquity, lawlessness, would abound, as it did when St. peter and St. Jude wrote their Epistles; and in sad declension from the truth, the love' of the many would wax cold. Christians would leave their first love, like the church of ; they would sink into a routine of formal service without heart and without love. But some would remain steadfast even in that evil time, some would endure all these temptation ,whether of persecution from without the church or of evil example from within; their patience would have its perfect work, their endurance would, by God's grace, be complete, their perseverance final, and such should be saved. "The same shall be saved" the Lord says emphatically; not, alas! all professing Christians, but "he that endures unto the end". How earnestly, then should, we pray and strive after perseverance!. It is not a passing wish of "God forgive me"! that ensures our soul's salvation, it is not a rush of excited feeling, but the patient continuance in well - doing. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life”.
The fourth sign: The gospel must be preached in all the world.
This gospel of the Kingdom is the good news concerning the kingdom of heaven which Christ established upon earth, the good news of salvation through Christ promised to those who endure; unto the end. That the gospel was to be preached in. all the world before the end should come. The world here, as in other places (e. g. ,Lk2: 1) may mean no more than the. seems to have regarded this prophecy as fulfilled even in his time. He says (Col. l: 6, 23) that the ,gospel was present in all the world, that it had been preached to every creature which is under heaven. In a true sense it was fulfilled when the distinction between Jew and Gentile was abolished, when the apostles were commanded to make disciples of all nations, to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Thus the end, of which the Lord speaks here, might mean the destruction of , i,e. ,the end of the Jewish dispensation. this from one side. from another side, as knowledge extends itself, as the known world becomes wider till it is co - extensive with the surface of the' earth, so the area' of missionary operations is enlarged. And thus the prophecy acquires another' and wider meaning. "The gospel shall be preached in all the world for... earth" , Then the end in its most awful meaning, the end of the world shall come. The gospel as we know, was limited first to "the lost sheep of the 'house of" ; but when the jews rejected it, then the' apostles turned to the, Gentiles, and soon, it was carried throughout the Roman Empire, that styled ,the world (see Rom. l: 8,lO: 18;Col. l: 6, 23). Then followed "the end" in the judgment upon. Now, through the great evangelistic missionaries, one can say that the testimony of the gospel is carried into "all the world" in the wider sense. May we not, therefore, look for the day of judgment upon the antichristian nations? Of all these things Christian are to take heed: For the confirming of their faith. For the inspiration of their hope. For their personal.
If we extend these prophetical sayings so as to reach onwards to the end of all things we must then understand the expression "all the nations" , in its most unrestricted sense; so that prophecy announces the universal proclamation of the gospel over the whole inhabited earth as an event which is to precede the time of the end. It is well clear now that the prophecy expands, as the ages roll onwards, and the population of this earth increases, embracing the vast multitudes now dwelling on the face of the earth, so hat there is now hardly any part of the world which has not at some time or other received the message of salvation.
The fifth sign: "Antichrist”.
, in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, calls him "man of sin" and "Son of perdition" (2. Thess. 2: 3. Com. Dn. 11; rev13 ,16,19,20). He instructed them that the Great day of the Lord shall not come except this "opposer" (2Tess. 2: 4) comes first, and the "falling away" from the purity of Christianity; that is the apostasy.
Of course, the apostasy alluded here to, is evidently religious not political (comp. 1Tim. 4: 1 - 3) Some says that this apostasy precedes the coming of the "man of, sin" and prepares the way for his appearance.
Also St. Peter affirms that there shall arise in the Church false teachers, who shall privily "bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them... (2Pet. 2: 1) ;and that" in the last days there shall be scoffers, walking after their lusts "(2Pet. 3: 2).
A similar declaration is made by St. Jude "Remember ye the words. ungodly lusts" (Jude 17,18).
And, our Lord Himself in His eschatological discourse, warned his disciples that there should arise false Christs and false prophets (Matt. 24: 24).
The apostle considers this "man of sin" as a the counterpart of our Lord Jesus Christ. As Christ was revealed, so will the man' of sin be revealed. Truly, he is ''son of perdition ", as says, for his sin, necessarily, conducts him to perdition, for himself and his followers.
St. John, calls him "antichrist.. , for he" opposes "our Lord Jesus Christ (l John 2: 18,22;4: 3;2John7). He describes him, as St. Paul, as a real individual, whose coming will be foreshadowed by many forerunners, and that his advent will be in future. This opponent, is not Satan, the great adversary (lPet. 5: 8~Rev. 12: 10) for his expressly distinguished from him (ch. 2: 9) ,yet he is the instrument of Satan (see, 2Thess. 2: 9).
This Antichrist, or "Man of sin" , will "exalt himse1f" above, or rather against, our lord the true God (comp. Dan. 7: 25; 1l: 36) , in a hostile manner. And "sits in the ,.. showing himself that he is God" He will call himself The true Christ, Son of God ".
This temple, according to the most of the Eastern fathers (St. Cyril the great or the Alexandrian; St. Iraenous; is the one of Jerusalem, and they infer that it will be rebuilt before the second coming of Christ. But some western commentators (after St. Augustine, St. Chrysostom, Jerome) say the Christian church. The first opinion is most acceptable for, as we are going to see soon, he will lead a great persecution against children of God. To assert his divinity against the true God: This is not a strange matter, for it was, a general trait for all the antichrists, throughout the ages. Nowadays, in the eightieth of this century, an Indian man claimed that he is the true God and asked his followers to worship him. (see, Fr. Tadrous Malaty, house of God, ,1980).
Such antichrist, will show signs and lying wonders, so as to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. But thanks to our merciful God, it is not possible, for we have Christ's promise, the trustful word, "they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand". It is not possible "to deceive the elect" (M. 13: 22') , only those who are blinded to the glory of the gospel are in the way of easy deception (2 Car. 4: 3). It is those that on the way to perdition, who, are so easily deceived. Therefore our Lord Jesus Christ warns us, saying "I have told you before" (Mt. 24) that we may be prepared in the day of temptation.
, informs us that he will perform some wonders to deceive the believers. The source of all these wonder working activity, is Satan. He mentioned, in the book of Revelation ,three of them. These are: (l) healing himself (13: 3) , or one of his followers, from a deadly wound; (2) Makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men (13: 13) j (3) And to let his statue to speak (Rev. 13: 15). It is clear that these wonders, will be done, not by his own power, but by Satan, whom the Scripture has said of him that he can change himself into an angel (2Cor. 11: 14). Bt. Paul, therefore says, that his coming "is after the working of Satan" (2Thess. 2: 9).
The character of this activity is external and internal.:
(a) It is external, "in powers & signs" for they are not real miracles, but jugglers 'tricks or such - like startling wonders as might delude “perishing "into the belief that they were done by Divine. The signs ,were to be as false as their author. The design of those wonders is to attest the truth of the teachings of the" man of sin ".
(b) and it is internal, "in all deceit of unrighteousness". He "speaks lies in hypocrisy" , "by good words and fair speeches he deceives the hearts of the simple" (lTim. 4: 2jRom. 16: 18). No wonder, the ministers of sat: a1,CBn as easily transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, as satan himself become an "angel of light" (2 car. 11: 14,15).
Jews and gentiles will believe him, through his apostasy, but the true christians will not pay any attention to him. Then he will persecute them severely. World will have then a severe tribulation, for he will make for himself a great number of followers every where, and call himself the king of all kings, and cause everyone whatever he is, to receive a mark in their right hand, or!. in their foreheads, so that nobody can buy or sell, save he that has this mark (Rev. 13: 16,17). Yet, those whose names are not written in the book of life, are only who will worship him, as St. John the evangelist says in the book of Revelation (13: 8) '. His reign will endure, according to Daniel the prophet (12: 7) , for a time, times, and, half "" or ,three years and half, as St. John mentioned in (Rev. 3: 5). He will kill Elias and Enoch the prophets, but the Lord will raise them (rev. ll: 7 - 9). According to the tradition of the East, in the end of his time on earth, he will try to imitate our true Christ, in ascending to the heaven, from the top of the Mount of Olives. Then, After he proclaims his ,wickedness, our Lord Jesus Christ as St. Paul says "shall consume him with his mouth" (2Thess. 2: 8) and "shall destroy with the brightness (Le. , epiphany = appearance) of His coming". At that ,time, he and all his followers, will be thrown, in the lake of fire (Rev;19: 20).
Eastern theologians see that God will grant a short period later, so that those who are deceived of him can have a chance to repent before the corning great day of the Lord (See,Dan. 12: 12).
The prediction of concerting the "Man of sin" made a deep impression upon the early fathers, and the references to it in their writings are humorous. In general they considered that the fulfillment of the prediction was future; that the "Man of Sin" is Antichrist, and an individual, Justin the Martyr, speaks· of the "Man of Sin" as the man of apostasy, who speaks strange things against the Most High, and shall venture to do unlawful deeds on earth against Christians (Dial. cum Tryph. , c. 110). St. Irenaeus observes "that he, being apostate and a robber, is anxious. to be adored by God; and that although a mere slave, he wishes himself to be proclaimed as a king. for he, being endued with the power of the devil, shall come, not as a righteous king in subjection to God, but as the lawless one, concentrating in himself all Satanic apostasy ,and, setting aside all idols, he shall persuade men that he himself is God" (Adv. Haer. ,v. 25: l) Tertullian had alluded to the Roman empire as the restraining power (de Resur~. ,c. 24). Hippolytus supposes that Antichrist will be a Jew, belonging to the tribe of Dan (De'antichristo,c. 14. See also Irenaeus "Adv. Haer. ,v. 30. 2.) [This tribe is excluded from those who are sealed. See, Rev. 7: 8,where tribe of Manasaes. Also; St. Jacob had told of Dan that he will be" a serpent by the way…” (Gen. 49: 17]. St. Cyprian had regarded Antiochus Epiphanes as the type of Antichrist ( "Exhort. ad Martyr. , c. ll). St. Jerome observes" As the saviour had Solomon and other saints as types of his corning, so we may rightly believe that antichrist had, as a type of himself, that most wicked king Antiochus, who persecuted the saints and profaned the temple "(on Dan. ll: 35). There was a diversity of opinion among them regarding the meaning of the temple of God, in which the Man of Sin is to seat himself. Some of the Fathers, such as Chrysostom, Theodoret, Augustine, Jerome) interpreted the expression figuratively as denoting the christian Church; while others, such Irenaeus, Cyril, took it literally and referred it to the , supposing that the Man of Sin would rebuild the temple. In fact, most of Eastern commentators see the second review.
In brief, Antichrist is a caricature or counterpart of Christ:
(l) He is a man of sin, the personification of inequity; whereas Christ is the Righteous one, the personification of righteousness.
(2) He is the mystery of inequity; whereas Christ is the mystery of godliness.
(3) His advent' is announced by the same word as the Advent of Christ. (4~His corning occurred in its proper season; so also Christ carne in the fullness of time.
(4) His corning occurred in its proper season; so also Christ carne in the fullness of time.
(5) His coming is after the working of Satan; whereas Christ's coming is in the power of the Holy Spirit.
(6) He performs miracles of falsehood, a counterpart of the real miracles which Christ performed.
(7) He sits in the , thus occupying the proper seat of Christ.
(8) He shows or exhibits himself. as God, whereas Christ is the true manifestation of the Godhead.
In short, the kingdom of light which Christ has established, has its counterpart in the kingdom of darkness.
"Man of sin" is a person, a. man of mighty intellect and giant strength of will, who will take advantage of general development of unbelief and lawlessness, and gain for a time a widespread sovereignty. He will be a profligate, sorcerer, infidel, and a cunning or crafty one. Sin fills his being; it becomes, as it were incarnate in him; it dominates his entire personality. He is "son of perdition" like Judas (compare the common Hebraism "son of death") , destined himself to eternal death, involving in utter death all who follow him. He is an adversary, a human Satan, filled with the awful energy, the concentrated malice of the evil one. He is the antichrist, the avowed and bitter enemy of the Holy Saviour. He exalts himself against everyone that is called God; he sits in the , reviving the madness of Antiochus Epiphanes, the impious attempt of, Caligula. Such a man, the world has not yet seen. There have been many outbursts of wickedness, many evil men in the long course of history have risen to sovereign power; but no one yet has combined in himself all the characteristics ascribed to the man of sin in this Epistle. It is a fearful spectacle which is yet to come. warned the Thessalonians that such things there would be, uprising of malice and persecution, anticipation of the man of sin. He warns ,the whole Church throughout all time that such things are to be looked for; that sooner or later, before the end comes, the man of sin himself shall be revealed in all the awful energy of unmingled wickedness, relived, by no one traces of goodness. Christ Himself even wondered whether He should find any faith left on the earth at His return (Lk. l8: 8).
+ The appearance of the man of sin is a sign of the approaching advent of Christ. Here is some encouragement for the church to endure the trials of the darkest times. These times are to usher in the great and glorious day of the Lord. Evil, when 'most triumphant, is nearest defeat.
+ "Antichrist is coming, but above him comes Christ also". St. Cyprian.
It means that the antichrist:
(a) opposes the authority of Christ. He withdraws us from the constant, immediate' and, direct administration of the Divine authority in the Church. He criticizes the Divine authority and substitutes something for it.
(b) opposes the purity of Christ. Those who teach a liberty which is licentiousness, and a self - indulgence which is disloyalty, are antichrists; for "Ye are called unto holiness".
(c) he also opposes the unity of Christ, causing sectarianism. The Church, It is the mysterious body of our Lord, could be one if it were only based on loyalty, love, and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.
(d) he opposes the charity of Christ, through selfishness and bitterness of the heresy - cry against those who do not happen to think exactly as we did.
+ Those who observe the signs of our times cannot fail to discern the false christs. Not only is there try Roman impostor (see,2thess. ii: 3 - l0) and his Eastern rivals, but many minor deceivers are springing up.
+ As the appearance of false christs, nearly two thousand years ago showed that the true Christ had then come (Dan. 9: 25) ,so do the appearance of false Christs now presage the approaching second advent of the true.
+ Our Lord says "if it be possible". This imports simply that it is difficult to deceive the elect of God (Acts 20: l6;Rom. 12.: l8).
+ To be forewarned is to be forearmed. "A prudent man foresees the evil" (see, Prov. 22: 3; Heb. 11: 7). Times of great trouble are times of great wonders.
The sixth sign: Suddenness (Mt. 24: 27).
What Christ's coming will be?. In the "fullness of time" (Ga1. 4: 4) He shall appear. This appearance, according to St. Mathew, here, will be suddenly and without observation.
It will over spread the whole world at once. "Every eye shall see Him" The sense of His presence will fill the whole universe, as the lightning fills the whole expanse of the sky. it comes from the east, and is seen even to the west. So, shall the coming of the Son of man begin flaming fire, visible throughout the universe, startling quick and dead alike with its omnipresent energy.
Our Lords compares His coming to a great flash of lightning which blazes out in the east and illumines earth and sky as far as the west. This is in contrast to the notion of an obscure and doubtful appearance, or. one that is local and limited, or one the coming of which is so gradual that it can scarcely be discerned. In opposition to these erroneous conceptions, the advent of christ is to be lightning - like. Let us consider its characteristic as they are suggested to us by this startling image.
I - Visibility: Bursting out of the darkness of the storm, the lightning blinds us with the brilliancy of its illumination. There is no mistaking the fact that it has come. We may not observe the glow - worm, we cannot ignore the lightning. The awful "day of God" at the destruction of has made its impress all history. Our Lord's words lead to anticipate that there will be no obscurity about His great final advent. then every eye shall behold Him.
II - Breadth The lightning flashes from east to west ,or its flash is so splendid that while for a moment it plays in the east, the far - off west is illumined by. the radiance it spreads in all directions. There is a greatness in the appearance of Christ. Christ is the light of the world, and His radiance is spreading over the earth. The last advent will be for all the world to see, and it will concern all mankind.
III - Suddenness: Nothing is so sudden or startling as the lightning. In its very silence it gives us a greater shock than the roaring thunder. His sudden advent will be in the same time, our sudden joy.
Second Advent will differ from the first, for our Lord Jesus Christ, in His first Coming, came as "Son of Man" , in humility, growing gradually, in a certain place, under the time, just a few of people preached his coming. But in His second one, he will come in His Glory and Majesty and Mighty, as "Son of God" , to judge the quick and dead. So His appearance, then, will beat once, and all will see Him, at any place without needing anybody to inform them about him, as said (Rev. l: 7).
The seventh sign: "Carcase" (Mt. 24: 28).
Our Lord gives here the proverb of carcase, saying "Where so ever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.".
The carcase, is the festering corruption of sin. The Hebrew word "nesher" , translated here "eagle" ,of ten signifies "the vulture" as in Micah 1: 16. This bird 's keenness of sight is almost incredible, it will discern a prey at an enormous distance, and its movements being watched by others, all eager to secure food, a carcase is very quickly surrounded by a multitude 'of these rapacious birds, flocking from all quarters.
What our Lord meant by this proverb, has occasioned great disputation.
+ If He were referring primarily and chiefly to Jerusalem, it would be easy to explain the carcase to be the corrupt city, and the "eagles" the ministers of God's vengeance, especially the Roman armies, whose standards bore the image of this bird of prey.
+ Or if it were a mere general truth, and to be taken entirely in a spiritual sense, the gnome would imply that moral corruption calls for heavenly chastisement.
But neither of. these interpretations would satisfy the context which speaks of Christ's second advent.
Hence,. many regard the sentence as altogether parallel to the preceding verse, expressing metaphor that which was there set forth in more direct terms, that all men shall assemble to the place where Christ shall summon them to ,be judged, as vultures congregate round a carcase. in this. case the carcase is Christ, the eagles or vultures are the men to be judged.
Others interpret the carcase as antichrist or the world - power, and the eagles as saints & angles who shall attend Christ when he comes in judgment (rev. 19: 17&18).
Others, expound the clause entirely in a mystical sense. The carcase is christ or the body of christ; the eagles are the saints, or true christians; these whatever happens will, with keen spiritual sight always to be able to discern Christ and His body, and to flock thereto.
Others say that carcase is Christ Himself, and the eagles are His angels, for their flyin. 9· in the sky. That is where I be, My elect will be with Me, in the eternal paradise.
He calls Himself carcase, because He saves us by His death, and feeds us by His body, in His church, Word, and sacraments. Such is the interpretation of many o,f the, Eastern Fathers, and it has many analogies in other place of Scripture.
Some say that our Lord Jesus Christ will come, in His second advent, with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This revelation, will burst at once, upon the whole universe. Therefore, those mighty angels are the eagles. They shall gather the wicked from among the just. Wherever the carcase is, wherever there are impenitent sinners, dead unto God and holiness, corrupted with the pollution of sin, there shall the messenger of judgment be gathered together.
Far be it from us to restrict the sphere of Divine prediction, or to assert that any legitimate reference which we may discover was not in the Lord's mind when He spoke the words, but it, is more simple to regard the proverbial saying in itself, without looking for abstruse or mystical meaning. As a carcase fall where it may, is immediately observed by the vulture & attracts them, so Chris's coming shall at once be discerned by all men and draw them into it.
In other words, our Lord's coming in His second advent will be visible to all the universe. There will be no escape. The area of judgment will be co - extensive with that, of the vast multitude of souls. Then Christians should live in the expectation of that awful day, not eager for novelties, not listening to those who say , "La, here," or "Lo, there"! but living soberly, righteously, and godly, looking for 'the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Eighth sign:
Our Lord Jesus Christ says "in those days. shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people" (Lk. 2l: 23).
And then "after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall" (Mk. 13: 24) Mt. 24: 29). The prophet Zephaniah, describes the great tribulation that shall be before the day of the Lord, saying "the mighty man shall cry bitterly. That day is the day of the wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced city, and against the high towers. And I will, bring distress upon men. that they shall walk like blind men, because they have send against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver, nor their Gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath, but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for He shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land" (1: 14 - 18).
The Lord had been glancing onwards into the future. There would be wrath upon the chosen people. It would' last long, they would be led away captive into all nations. would be trodden down of the gentiles. it would lie desolate long, even "until the times of the Gentiles to be fulfilled" (Lk. 21: 23,24). The tribulation of those days is not yet ended; still Jerusalem is lying waste; still her children are men have looked for the coming of the Lord Christ would have His church ever live in the attitude of expectation, as men that wait for their Lord. But the end is not yet - it comes immediately after that long tribulation.
In fact the tribulation, that began with the fall of Jerusalem, was its first and partial fulfillment; and as St. Luke implies (21: 23,24) it has been going on ever since, and is not finished; but this state of things is to continue "till the times of Gentiles be fu1fi11ed". It is, then, "immediately after" this, that the signs announced by the Lord shall be seen.
The Lord purposely indefinite, that the church may learn to wait and watch for the return of the Saviour and Judge. This state of expectation is to be its normal condition.
Then shall the sun be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, the stars shall fall from heaven "; (see, also Mk. 13: 24,25;Lk. 21: 25. 26). Words like these were used by the Hebrew prophets as symbolical of the fall of earthly empires - of , of , of (Isa. 13: 10; 24: 4;Ezek: 32: 7). The prophet Joel (2: 30, 31) in ~ passage quoted by S1:. Peter (acts. 2: 19,20) describes the like portents as ushering in" the great and terrible day of the Lord "(also see,2pet. 3: 1012,. where it is plainly foretold that tremendous physical disturbances shall precede the second coming of the Lord). St. John the Evangelist saw similar wonders, in vision? - ,at the opening of the sixth seal (Rev. 6: 12,13) when" the great day of His wrath was come ".
We must receive the Lord's words with reverent awe, as foretelling the terrors of that tremendous day, when "the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat". It is the grand, lofty language of prophecy; we need not attempt to bring the details down to the lower plane of science.
Our part is rather to listen to the warning of St. Peter "Seeing then that all these shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and. godliness?".
It is reasonable to expect that the end of this world should be accompanied by stupendous changes in the realm of nature. We know that the sun was actually darkened, miraculously, when our Lord Jesus Christ hung on the cross. What wonder. if similar catastrophes signal His coming to judgment? The apostle's words point to a literal fulfillment (2pet. 3: 10,12). Our Lord's prediction echoes announcements often found in the Old Testament, which are not always to be considered metaphorical (see, Isa. 13: 10;Ezek. 32: 7 ; Joel. 2: 31,31; 3: 15,16; Amos8: 9). Anticipation of some of these terrible later - day signs, according to Josephus (vi. 5. 3,4). occurred at.
The ninth sign:
Then, "the powers that are in heaven, shall be shaken" (Mk. 13: 25). "powers of heaven" mean, probably, the heavenly bodies independent of the solar system, called, elsewhere, "the host of heaven" (deut. 4: 19,etc) ,or the phrase may signify the great unseen forces of nature and laws, which. control these bodies, and the who1e universe. An interruption in the action of these powers would occasion the most awful catastrophes (see Hag. 3: 6). Eastern Fathers, interpret this phrase. as the angels of God who will be shaken at the day of judgment.
Changes on earth and in heaven are indications ,of the approaching day. As the leaves of the fig tree tell that summer is nigh, so event will occur which to the understanding mind will herald the Lord's return. Yet, even these events do not tell us When our saviour shall appear; but since they remind us that he is at hand, they answer the purpose, for they put us upon our guard ,and admonish us to be prepared.
Actually, there are changes in the geological strata of the earth beneath us; in the sky above. us; in the nature world around us. Great changes have already taken place in earth and sea and sky; great physical changes are daily going on; still greater changes may be expected to occur in time to come. The surest indications of science point to such changes and collapses. We hear, nowadays, of some dark spots on the sun, and that increase from day to day.
The tenth sign:
The. Jews had more than once asked for a sign from heaven; the Lord would not give it. Now His apostles had inquired "what shall be the sign of thy coming?". He does not define it. But such a sign, he tells us, there will be: '. 'then shall appear the sign of the son of man in heaven "(Mt. 24: 30). What that sign will be?.
Most of the Eastern Fathers, as St. Chrysostom, Cyril the Great,.. ;and even St. Jerome, say it is the cross of Christ, which is indeed the ensign and standard of the gospel. Nothing equal with this, can characterize the son of man, the emblem of His humiliation and His triumph upon Satan and the world. It will be visible to all the world; for will be more brilliant than the sun. As the banners of earthly kings, precede them, so the sign of cross, the emblem of victory and conquer, precedes our Lord in his second Advent.
The eleventh sign:
Then "shall all the tribes of the earth mourn" (Math. 24: 30). When they behold this sign in the sky, and know unmistakably that Christ in person is about to appear. Not alone the Jews, looking on Him whom they pierced, shall bewail their blindness and impenitence (Zech. 12: l0 - l4iIsa. 53) ,but all the nations, the races, and peoples who have rejected Him, whom they ought to have received. The Cross shows that He died for them, though they profited not by His sacrifice (comp,Rev. l: 7;6: l5 - l7). They shall see the sign followed by the Advent of Christ in person. It will be a sight awful exceedingly to the wicked; welcome above all other visions, to the eye of faith. "then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws nigh" (Lk. 2l: 28). It may well be, as very many have thought, a cross of dazzling splendour, the cross that is life to the believer, death to the sinner; the cross in which alone followers of the Lord may glory. That cross, it may be, glittering high above, will be the token of his coming; then all kindred of the earth shall bewail. some, perhaps, even then with the godly sorrow of repentance (Zech. 12: 10 - l2) , some with the wailing of despair and terror; for "they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory". Every eye shall see Him, then - they that love Him as the very Lord afresh. What strange, wonderful words for Him to titter, who then sat upon the , rejected and despised by the leading men of his nation, with suffering and ignominious death in immediate prospect.
The twelfth sign:
Then "shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory" (Mk. 13: 26).
After appearing the sign, or the emblem of the Son of man "in the heaven, He Himself will appear, in the clouds with great power and glory (Mk. 13: 26;Math. 24: 30). He shall. appear in the clouds, in His second Advent, as the angels have said to 'His disciples, on ~is Ascending bodily to the heaven (See Acts, 1: 11). Hi~ coming in clouds, is a sign of His glory and majesty, as it has happened in the Mount of Sinai; and to teach us that righteous will be caught up in the clouds, as St. Paul said (lTess. 4: 17). St. Paul says, also, about the coming of the Lord, that 'He shall come" with a 'shout, with the voice of the archangel ,and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall arise first "(lTess. 4: 16). His revelation, shall be" from heaven with mighty angels "(2Tess. 1: 7). , also describe His Coming in the clouds, in (Rev. l: l4,l6).
In His second Advent, He shall come "in the clouds of heaven". Some see the clouds, to mean angels, comparing ch. l6: 27. 0thers say, "Clouds" of spirits of just men made perfect (see Heb. l2: 1) ;but others take it as it is (see Ps. 18: lO - 12;~sa. 19: l;Dan. 7: 13,etc,ch. 26: 64). He thus, refers to these words that continually used, and leaves His hearers to gather that He will come visibly, not spiritually to individual souls or churches, but manifestly to the whole of mankind, whether quick or risen. "With power" means, in His full omnipotence. It denotes that He who, in His first advent, on earth met with naught but pain and humiliation should be displayed to the same earth with that splendor and majesty which essentially belonged to Him.
In other words, He 'will come visibly, in power and glory, upon a glorious throne, with a myriad retinue. And the Antichristian nations will be overthrown. He will end that age with the final judgment upon the dead, small and great. In short, The manners of Christ's second coming:
1 - He shall come in person. Not merely in spirit or in power, but in a visible form, He shall be revealed from heaven. Every eye shall see Him.
2 - He shall come in power. He shall be accompanied by the angels of His might, who shall execute His commands, as ministers of His justice. They call dead from their graves, assemble together the elect, separate between the righteous and the wicked, and consign the wicked to the abodes of woe.
; 3 - He shall come in glory. "In flaming fire" , the cloud of glory. The Lord will be revealed in flaming, fire, in that glory which He had before the world was. His throne is fiery flame (Dan. 7: 9). He Himself is a consuming fire.
4 - He shall come in justice, punishing the ungodly, who will be for ever banished from his presence, the Source of all happiness, the author of all holiness, And rewarding His faithful servants.
'It is the Lord Jesus Christ, who once was despised and rejected of men; He is ordained of God the Father to be the Judge of quick and dead. In His first coming, He came to save the world; now He shall come to judge the world. Then he came as Son of man, now He shall come as Son of God; for the salvation of His own people, to rescue their bodies from the grave, to acknowledge them as His, before an assembled universe, and to receive them into the abodes of eternal happiness. And to conquer all their enemies.
The thirteenth sign:
"And then shall He send His angels, and shall gather together His elect from the four winds; from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of haven." (Mk13: 27). St. Matthew says, He "shall send His angels, with a great sound of a trumpet" (24: 31).
It is noticeable that this promise has been fulfilled, partially at the destruction of , by delivering - of the christians, but will be fulfilled completely at the end of the world, as it is mentioned in (lTess. 4: 16). Trump, here, refers to the great coming of the Lord, and to raise the dead. St. Luke adds '~and when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh "(21: 28).
As the Angels are the executors of His will, to bring before His throne all who have to be judged. They have the same office in the parable of the tares & wheat (13: 41). They are His, for the Father has said "let all the angels of God worship Him" (Heb. i: 6). They are His, for He himself is God.
This ,represents the great harvest at the end of the world, when the angel reapers' shall be sent forth to separate the wicked from the just.
He shall send them "with a great sound of trumpet" , the trump of God (camp. Rev. l: 10; 4: 1). The voice of trumpet at Mount of Sinai was exceeding loud, so that all the people that were in the camp trembled. How much louder and more awful shall be that trumpet - call which shall wake the dead, and summon quick & dead alike before the throne!. It is indeed as great a miracle, for a sound to be heard simultaneously in both hemispheres as it is for Christ to be seen at the same moment by all dwellers on the globe. This is a matter to be believed not explained.
The angels, the messengers of the Son of man, "shall gather together His elect". The angels are His, the elect are His; they are Christ's, bought with His precious blood; His, for the Father who chose them and by his choice made them, "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the father" , has given them the only - begotten Son; they are His; none can pluck them out of His hand. His angels shall gather them together from the four winds; or out of the four winds. This expression represents, figuratively, every corner of the world. Or, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven, that is, from one end of heaven to the other. Not one of them shall be lost - wherever they may be, in the remotest corner of the earth, or lying in long - forgotten graves. The angels shall gather them together, from the cottage and from the palace, from the crowded city and the desolate wilderness, from below the sods of the churchyard and from the fathomless depth of the sea; the angels shall bring everyone of God 's elect safe to the Lord who loved them and died for them, whom they believed in, and loved and trusted even unto death. The angels will. infallibly select these from the mass of men, either by spiritual insight or Divine direction. The elect are not Israelites alone, but true believers of all nations (see v. 14 & John 17: 20,21). These are first collected, and then the reprobate are summoned, according to ch. 24: 41 "from the four winds" , that is reprobate are summoned, according to ch. 24: 4l "from the four winds" , that is from every quarter of the earth. Notice that "four" is the number of the world, or the universe.
II - the time:
The disciples had asked Him "when shall these things be?" (Mt. 24: 3) ;and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end the world? ".
The Lord had spoken of the fall of , and of the great day; he told them of the abomination of desolation which should be the warning of the one, and of the sign of the Son of man which should announce the other.
Now, He proceeds to the question of time. Again He speaks first of the nearer end, the end of the and the holy city; then of the end of all things.
He sat on the ; He pointed, it may be, to a fig tree then putting forth its leaves, those buds, those tender leaflets, were the earnest of approaching summer. So, the Lord said, "when ye shall see all these things [the signs which He had mentioned] ,know that it is near, even at the doors" (Mt. 24: 33). And it was true, the great temple, the great city, Jerusalem, had been desolated completely; even in the lifetime of some who then stood around the Lord, such as St. John the apostle who still alive even after this destruction with a long time (See Mat. l6: 28). Has not Lord Jesus said clearly beforehand, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Mk. 13: 31). Mark the calm confidence of the assertion. Remembering that Christ has drawn no definite line between this crisis and the final consummation. We are justified in regarding "all these things" as meaning "primarily, the signs preceding or accompanying the downfall of the city of. But the end of the world was not yet.
"When shall these things be?" (Mt. 24: 3) asked His disciples. But the lord answered them, concerning this point, saying, Of "that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mk. 13: 32,).
"No man". Yea, for it is naturally to be excluded from the knowledge. "It is not for us to know the times or seasons, which the Father has put in His own power. That knowledge is hidden in the counsels of God; we may not presume to search into it. It is not given, even, to the blessed angels.
But what ,about the Son of Man? ,to be mentioned here "not even to the Son". This sentence which had given the occasion to the Arians & semi - Arians, and modern disputants who have followed in their steps, to say that Son is not equal to the Father, once He knows not what the Father knows.
But when we consider such passages as "I and my Father are one" , "I am in my Father, and the Father in me" (In. 10: 30; 14: l0. etc) we cannot believe that the time of the great consummation was unknown to Him. What is meant, then, by this assertion?: How is it true?.
Doubtless it is, to be explained, (if capable of explanation) by the hypostatic union of the Two Natures in the "Person" of Christ, whereby the properties of the ,two natures are interchangeably predicated.
From danger of' error on this mysterious subject we are preserved by the precise terms of the Athanasius Creed, according to which we affirm that Christ is ''equal to the Father, as touching His godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching His manhood. one altogether; not by confusion of substance , but by unity of Person ", etc. So, the eternal Son, as God, by his. omniscience, and as man, by knowledge imparted to Him, knows perfectly the day and the hour of the future judgment. But Christ as man, and as a the Messenger of God to the humankind, did not so know it as to be able to reveal it to men. The ambassador, if he is asked concerning. the 'secret counsels of his sovereign, may truly answer, that he knows them not so as to communicate to others. For as an ambassador he only communicates those things which are committed to him by his sovereign to deliver, and not to those things which he is bidden to keep secret..
Christ, then asserts that He is ignorant of anything, it must be that in His human nature He has willed not to know that which in His Divine nature He was, cognizant of. This is a part of that voluntary self - surrender and self limitation of which the apostle speaks when He says that Christ "emptied Himself" (Phil. 2: 6). He condescended to assume all the conditions of humanity, even willing to share the imperfection of our knowledge in some particulars. In other words, in His human nature, he does not know, as He Himself tells us (Mk 13: 32). The finite and the infinite met in the one person of Christ - human limitations on the one side; on the other the power knowledge ,and wisdom of God. The relation between those two natures are wholly beyond our comprehension, we cannot by any intellectual effort picture to ourselves the manner of their union - how the one affected the other. It is enough to know that the Lord in His great love for us, condescended to submit to the conditions of our humanity; and one of those conditions was this, that on the human side of His Person He knew not, as we know not the day, the hour, of His own second Advent.
How a strange is! ,that men should have ever ventured ,to think that knowledge within their reach. It is hidden from us for our good. It is God's will that we should, live looking always for the judgment. What He wills is the best for us. He wills that all men should be saved; it is not His will that we should know the hour of the Lord's Coming, or the hour of our own death; His well is best. It is enough for us to know that, for reasons which seemed good unto Him, He imposed restriction on His omniscience in this matter, and to enhance the mysteriousness and awfulness of the great day, announced to His disciples His ignorance of the precise moment of its occurrence.
The hour will be unknown to the end, but the warnings are quite mentioned before.
Here our Lord gives us the example of Noah, to denote that the warning then given was not heeded (Gen. 6: 3) ,it had more than a century's warning of the coming; flood. , It can hardly be only the suddenness of the, calamity to which Christ would point (l pet. 3: 20) So shall also the parousia of Christ, fall on a world of incredulous and heedless.
in Noah's flood. He preached the people beforehand, but they did not repent and flee for their lives. They ate, drunk, married and gave in marriage until that day came suddenly. They pursued their pleasures and avocations, with the doom hanging over them, in spit of the warning given. Though they had watched Noah building the ark, and heard him preach righteousness for many a year, they took no heed, "until the day of flood" had come upon them1. [l - note. It must be' observed that Christ here confirms the historical accuracy of this episode in Genesis.]. Upon such idle thoughtless lives the coming of the Lord shall flash in awful suddenness.
+ The one point, which our Lord seeks to impress on His disciples is the uncertainty of the time of ,the great testing - day, and of all testing - days. The fact that a reckoning - day for the Lord’s servants must come, has to be fully accepted. If there is any sense in which we are now in trust during our Lord's absence, it is certain that this absence can only be temporary. We can never cease to be servants in charge. we can never get a personal right in the things of which we are set in charge.
Purposely our Lord withholds from His disciples in every age the date of His return; It is truest kindness to do so. It is moral training to do so His disciples always go wrong when they try to fix dates. Christ distinctly. refuses to allow any data on, which such fixtures can be made.
Let us see the moral influence of feeling that the master may come at any time:
l - It keeps the thought of the Master close, near to us at all times. So it takes us out of ourselves.
2 - It keeps us thinking what the Master would like to see, when He comes. So it makes us ever busy about our work.
3 - It sets us upon thinking what pleasant surprises we can give our Master when He comes. So it lifts our work high above the drudgery of service.
4 - It keeps in our hearts the ever - cheering confidence of the Master 's smile, if he sees all has been right and is right in his home. Add that all this filling of our souls with the thought of our Master provides the healthiest deliverance from all self - centered sentimentalism. Illustrate from our Lord's picture of the good servant, who was found "watching" in the sense of being busy about his work.
Practical exhortation, or general advises.
Once the time of the second Advent is not known, so may be the christians grow lazy, and take no heed. Therefore our Lord seeks to impress upon watchfulness and observation, so that they take heed of unawareness, and to keep on praying.
Our Lord says "Watch and pray" (Mk. 13. 33) ;and give us the parable traveler, so that we watch always spiritually.. Besides two examples sudden of His advent, and its effect in private life (Mt. 40,41).
I - the need of watchfulness.
Our Lord here applies His teaching about the suddenness of the advent of the of the of the unforeseen judgment to the conduct of His servants. In view of the possibility of being called to account at any moment, what manner of men should we be? Jesus gives us contrasted pictures of two very different servants as they are found at His coming, and of their consequent fate. He urges this upon us strongly. He repeats 'it again and again. The warning is for. all people, and for all times "what I say unto you I say unto all, watch" Mt. 24: 42). His apostles re - echo this commandment "let us not, sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (lTess. 5: 2 - 6) ;for the night is far spent, and the day is at hand. This present life is night, compared with the full burst of the resurrection - day. The christians must not slumber, pleasing himself with the shadow dreams of earthly glories, he must keep vigil, watching always, for the day is at hand, the sunshine ,of the true life. "Therefore, watch" says the Lord, "for you know not what hour, your Lord does come.". The end will be sudden, the final separation will be then completed; be ,therefore always prepared. of course, the Christian has to watch against many things: his own evil heart, temptation, the world, but most of all he must watch and be always looking for the coming of his Lord, for whether he be regarded as Redeemer, Deliverer, or judge, he will come as a thief in the night (Mt24: 43).
The significance of this parable is easy to see. The householder is the disciple of Christ, the thief is the coming of christ himself, which will be unwatchful, when and where they expect him not. Similar warnings are found elsewhere, (lThess. 5: 2,4; 2pet. 3: 10;Rev. 3: 3,16: 15).
Then our Lord turns His exhortation to those in the authority over the house, specially to the ministers and stewards of His mysteries, proposing it in an interrogative, form, not only because the man He wants is difficult to find, but in order tat each may put question to himself, and see, if he reaches the high standard suggested. "who is then a faithful & wise servant?" (Mt. 24: 45) It is plainly, that this parable, addressed in the first instance to the apostles, and to those, who ,in providence of God, have been called to the like office and ministry. But it embraces in the range of its application all Christian men who have been placed in any position of trust, and have the power of influencing others for good.
+ The "household" of God, is plainly, His Church (see Eph. 3: l5). In the professing church, there are two classes of persons: the "wise" & the "evil". In minor particulars, there may be an infinite diversity, but ultimately all will be visibly separated into these great classes. This will hold in respect to both ministers arid' people. The "servants" are His disciples and apostles and their successors, whom He gave them the authority to establish His church upon the earth. In His church everyone has "his work" , for none is exempted from the work of God, for every minister of God has a certain job. "There are diversities of The spiritual gifts but the same spirit" (lCor. 12: 4). Each believer, should be then, a living - stone in the building of the church, and should increase the gift that God ,gave him.
+ Service of God is not limited to trust and worship; obedience is the complement of these. When the Master comes the servant must be found "so doing".
+ Ministers in the Church, are "rulers" in the sense of being "bishops" or "overseers" to direct the work of Christ (see Heb. 13: 17). They have also to "give" or dispense the bread of life (see E: tek. 34: 8;Acts20: 35). The "bread" must be sound and wholesome. It must be given in fitting "portion" and "in due season" , and to the "proper person" ; for there are certain portions of he bread of life which lose their effect by being administered to improper persons and put of proper season.
The Lord asks, "who is the faithful and wise servant?". He answers His own question. It is he who feels and recognize the duties rather than the advantages of his position. It is not for his own enjoyment or profit, but that he should give them meat in due season. He must be a faithful dispenser of the word of God and of His holy sacraments; and that in all humanity and self - destruct, in the ,name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. He must take heed of the flock over which the Holy spirit has made him overseer, to feed the church ~f God, which he has purchased with his own blood. And this he must do in constant watchfulness, looking always unto Jesus, waiting for the appearing of the Lord. "Blessed is the servant, whom His Lord when he comes shall find so doing". Blessed exceedingly above all that heart can conceive of rapture and of gladness; for thus says the Lord "He shall make him ruler over all his goods". He shall exalt him to the highest place in his kingdom. The highest places in heaven are not like those of earth; one man' s exaltation does not exclude others. "To him that overcomes will I give to sit with me in my throne.. That highest promise is for all who overcome; there is room for all faithful christians 'in the throne of Christ." wherefore we labor that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him ". This is the high ambition of the faithful Christian.
+ The wise man: It was the duty of such an officer to dispense the regular allowance of daily food to the members of the household. so the steward of the mysteries of Christ have to feed His flock with spiritual food, with the word and sacraments, and to do this wisely and discreetly, according to the capacity, advancement, and circumstances of each recipient. The exhortation holds good for others as well as the clergy, civil rulers, the rich, all men. All our endowments, mental, spiritual, physical, material, are the gift of God, and are to be used in His service and to the good of others.
+ The wise: Is the one who watches 'for the return of his lord. "Wisdom" is a synonym: for "religion". In ,this sense, the term is commonly used in the Proverbs of Solomon. The wise servant, therefore, is he that has repented of his sin and has accepted his saviour. True christians are “of the day ", and are instinctively watching for" that day "in which the Lord Jesus will appear in His glory (see, IThess. 5: 4 - 6;2Pet: 3: 10 - 12). To such the wise, the advent of his Master can be no surprise. If Jesus threatens the angel of the to come on him, as a thief, it is because he was neither penitent nor watchful (see Rev. 3: 3).
+ "If the master of the house had known in what watch. •" (Mt24: 43). Life, like the night, is distributed into watches. The Christian's vigilance should be unslumbering.
+ The wise is, he that is "ready" to welcome that return.
+ Every exhortation of Scripture to watch for the former is alike applicable to the later.
+ The "Wise" must be found "so doing" , when his Master comes. This implies constancy and perseverance.
+ He is· so "faithful" that he cannot' be surprised (see,lCor. 4: 2ilTim. l: 12,4: 16, 6: l4iHeb. 3: 2iRev. 2: 25).
+ The faithful & wise servant:
I - His character: No doubt his known fidelity and wisdom furnish the reason for his appointment to an important office.
(a) the first requisite is fidelity. Our - business is not to please ourselves, but to serve our master.
(b) the second requisite is wisdom. This is more than acuteness of intellect. It is a moral faculty, the right use of the intellect.
II - his trust.
(a) a post of responsibility. God is the supreme Lord, Yet he grand to the several provinces of his kingdom ,a considerable measure of "home rule". He does not humiliate by driving us like cattle, he gives us scope for the exercise of our powers and the proof of our fidelity.
(b) a post of useful service. The servant is to provide food for the household. He is the steward of the provisions of the family. God trusts his servants to feed his family. If they are unfaithful, the children will starve.
III - his conduct. He simply does what is required of him. His Master fin d s him "so doing". He is not expected to devise novelties of self - w ill e d service. He cannot exceed his duty. But it is enough if he does it. Christ looks for simple obedience, service according to his will.
IV - his reward. This is in the form of promotion. The faithful servant is to serve shrill, but in a higher position. God does not reward s e r v ice by granting idleness or selfish indulgence in luxury, which would mean no reward to the true servant. As it is a great honour to be permitted to serve, it cannot be a reward to be set aside from further service, the great reward is just the privilege of larger service.
The "evil servant":
is but the one who puts off the day of repentance, saying "tomorrow, tomorrow" , when they ought to feel that the present alone is theirs, in which to prepare for judgment. He is nominally a christian, but really a hypocrite. The first manifestation, of the hypocrite is the heart - reflection, "my, lord tarries". The thought is in the heart, it is the offspring of desire. This same phrase, expresses a secret disbelief that his lord would come at all.
+ The evil one, through his unbelief neglects to get ready. Note that Faith influences practice. Religion is not to be separated from the duties and enjoyments of common life. He leads a heavenly life who sanctifies his earthly deeds to heavenly ends.
+ Alas not all are watchful. Some who have been left in charge of Lord's household think only of themselves. They say in their hearts "my Lord delays His coming". They are nothing for their Lord's household, nothing for their fellow servants. They think only of their present ease and comfort, nothing of the. awful future. 'they are hard, proud tyrannical, they carry themselves as "lords over God is heritage". They are selfish, sensual, self - indulgent, absorbed in their own pleasures, their own emoluments. The doom of such, unless by God's mercy they repent, is dreadful exceedingly. "the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him". Then shall come the tremendous sentence shadowed forth in a most frightful form of· punishment; but more fearful even than that frightful punishment, for it points to an eternal doom: "He shall appoint him, 'his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be “weeping and gnashing of teeth".
+ The evil servant "shall began to beat his fellow servants". It is the one that governs with oppression. He is like the Ishmael in the family of Abraham. Evil ministers strike their fellow - servants with the fist of office. They lord it over God's heritage. fellow - service is too often forgotten. The dignity of the is service. Christ was among His disciples as one that served.
+ Who is the evil servant?, but the one that leads an irregular life. He doesn't love the company of the children of God; their spiritual fellowship is distasteful to him. He "eats &, drinks" ;yea, fellowship of wickedness tends to wickedness. The evil minister feeds himself without fear.
+ Could such these things happen but for a disbelief in the speedy coming of the Lord? When the 'Israelites concluded that Moses, through his long absence in the. mount, might never return, they set about making to themselves gods.
+ The moral influence of feeling that the Master is delaying his coming, leads to self - enjoyment, and unawareness, where there is no need to hurry preparations.
+ The coming of the Lord in his mercy is indeed delayed by the wickedness of his professed servants, but his coming to them in judgment is thereby hastened.
Characters of the evil servant:
I - his execute, "My Lord tarries". This is but a thought of his heart, yet it bears fatal fruit in his life. Evidently the miserable man is an "eye - servant". He has no sense of duty, no interest in his work. A lazy, dishonorable slave, he will not work if he can escape. The very delay of his master, which is meant to, enlarge his honorable 'trust, he seems to regard as a mark of indifference, as though, he would blame his lord for apparently neglecting the household. Here we see the hypocrisy of which the man is accused later.
II - His vile conduct.
(a) Cruelty. He beats his fellow - servants. He abuses his position of trust. Instead of feeling the household, he flogs it. The very power t hat was given to him for good uses he turns to evil. T he shepherd has become a wolf. So has it been in the with men in high office.
(b) Intemperance. The man is tyrannical and ill tempered, because he is weak. and self - indulgent. No men are at heart so cold and cruel as those who live for their own pleasures. Selfishness and sensuality lead directly to hardness and harshness in dealing with other people. All this is essentially degrading. The honoured steward becomes the boon companion of low drunkards.
III - His shock of surprise, He was the more amazes and confound with the sudden advent of his master. Christ will come in judgment to men who never expect him..
IV - His awful doom. To such a man, and not to the abandoned outcast, Christ threatens the most fearful punishment. The professed servant of God, the man in trust and honour who abuses his privileges, will be the victim of the direst wrath of Heaven.
How the Lord will deal with these servants?. He will promote the faithful to honour; but the evil will be relegated to punishment, that is to be separated from the communion of the saints, and from all the gifts he had abused.
+ "therefore be ye also ready" (Mt. 24: 44).
Readiness is now substituted for watchfulness. To be ready we must not only look for coming of Christ, but so to look as to be prepared for it (see 2pet. 3: l1 - 14). To be ready is to have such an assured faith in Christ as a present Saviour that when so ever he may come in his Lordship he will be welcomed.
+ That to live in a state of preparation for this event is also to live prepared for death. That in a most important respect the hour of death is to very man the hour of judgment.
+ Let us mourn in true repentance now, that we mourn not in that day when the sign of the Son of man shall appear in heaven.
+ One is taken, one is left (Mt. 24: 41). Most awful words!. "Watch ye therefore".
+ He comes suddenly. None can know the hour of His coming, therefore watch always.
+ Blessed are the watchful; miserable exceedingly must the careless be.
Therefore let us watch.
+ St. Luke says (21: 28) "then look up, and left up your heads, for your redemption draws nigh". In all times, the earnest christian is on the watch for the signs of the advent of His Lord, and the restless watch serves to keep hope alive, for the watcher knows that, that advent will be the sure herald of his redemption from all the weariness and painfulness of this. life.
The man of sin, or of lawlessness must come before the day of the Lord, after a great tribulation to the true christians. He is antichrist, the evil counterpart of the most Holy Saviour; he has his revelation, his apocalypse. There must be an apostasy before the coming of the Lord; a great notable apostasy. Many will led astray by the pretensions of the antichrist, and his false wonders and teachings. The apostle had warned the Thessalonians of it; We need these warnings now. We must not be discouraged when we see skepticism, unbelief, rampant around us. These things must be; Holy scriptures has forewarned us. We must be prepared; we must be calm, and steadfast, looking for the coming of the Lord. Such apostasies there have been; there have been precursors of the man of sin such as Caligula shortly before the date of the Epistle of Thessalonians, or Nero shortly after. But the General apostasy is yet to come; the man of sin is yet in the future; the mystery of inequity is working even now; it is working below the surface, in secret; here after, we know not when, it will burst forth into open day in the revelation of the man of sin. We must not look forward to a continual, unopposed progress of the gospel; we must not expect that religion will go on in ever - extended triumphs, with no checks, no defeats, overspreading the earth more and more with its blessed influences. Such an expectation is not warranted either by Scripture or by the signs of the times. Scripture tells us of the coming apostasy, of the revelation of the man of sin. And in the world, the forces of unbelief and evil are evidently gathering themselves for a mighty conflict. When you look at the Church as whole, you find, it is true, that there has been a great revival of religious zeal, great love for Christ, much earnest, self - denying work for His sake. But alongside of this, there has been, also, a great outburst of infidelity, a widespread skepticism, a hatred of revelation, manifesting itself in the life and works of men of learning and culture; while elsewhere the revolt against all forms of authority, Divine and human, has been more outspoken and far more widely spread. The armies of God and Satan, the powers of good and evil, light and darkness, faith and unbelief, seem to be already marshaled in preparation for an awful struggle. It must come, Holy scripture' warns us; it will culminate in the revelation of the man of sin. He will be revealed out of previous obscurity; the apparition will be unveiled out of darkness.
(i) must parish. The privileges. It must abide in the candlestick will be removed.
(2) Christians must flee from the world which passes away to the city of which abides for ever.
(3) living always in the thought of judgment.
 - Article prepared, 1980 a. d.