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Matthew 24 Signs of His Coming/ Beware of False Prophets

LEA_144_

14 min read

Jan 24

62

6

What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” — DISCIPLES. SCOC 3.1

“When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” — JESUS. Matthew 24:3, 33. SCOC 3.2

CAN anything be learned from the Bible relative to the period of the second advent? is a question unsettled in many minds. This is a grave inquiry; and, from the very nature of the subject, is worthy of close investigation, and a candid answer. It is a matter of painful regret that not a few, under the influence of popular prejudice, have decided that the period of the second advent is a secret, hidden with the Lord. While these may scarcely be reached with this subject, as long as they remain under the influence of those religious teachers who denounce all investigation of it as prying into the secrets of the Almighty, there is still a larger class who wait for evidence before deciding. It is with ardent hope of benefiting these, that we write. SCOC 3.3

We accept the Bible as a revelation from Heaven. What God has revealed in that book, let no man call a mystery, or a secret of the Almighty, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.” Deuteronomy 29:29. If the sacred Scriptures do not designate any period in particular for the second appearing of Christ, then men should at once abandon the vain search for proofs of his soon coming. But if prophecy, in a most clear and harmonious manner, does point to the period of that great event, and if there is evidence that “it is near, even at the doors,” the subject at once assumes vast importance. SCOC 3.4

When the disciples inquire, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus does not reprove them for inquiring into that which was purposely hidden from all men; but he answers that question in the most definite manner. He even states that there should be signs of that event in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and adds, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” The simple fact that the Lord mentions signs of his second advent, is the best proof possible that his people were not to remain ignorant of the relative nearness of the event. Add to this evidence his declaration that when these signs should be seen, his people should know that it was near, even at the doors, and the case becomes an exceedingly strong one. SCOC 4.1

No truth of inspiration can be more clearly stated than that God reveals his designs to his prophets, that men and nations may be warned before their accomplishment. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7. Before visiting with judgments, God has uniformly sent forth warnings sufficient to enable the believing to escape his wrath, and to condemn those who have not heeded the warning. This was the case before the flood. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world.” Hebrews 11:7. SCOC 4.2

At a later period, when the nations had become sunken in idolatry and crime, and the destruction of wicked Sodom was determined, the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?” Genesis 18:17, 18. And due notice was given to righteous Lot, who, with his daughters, was preserved; and none, even in that guilty city, perished without due warning. Lot evidently warned the people; and, in thus communing with them, was “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.” 2 Peter 2:7, 8. When he warned his sons-in-law, “he seemed as one that mocked.” Genesis 19:14. And when “the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter.” Lot warned them, and entreated them to desist from their wickedness. And they at once did that which all sinners, since the days of righteous Lot, have been disposed to do to those who faithfully warn them of their sins; namely, they charged him with being a judge. SCOC 5.1

Before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, a forerunner was sent to prepare the way before the Lord. Those who did not receive Christ, were rejected, “because,” as he said to Jerusalem, when warning the people of the destruction of their city and temple, “thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” Luke 19:44. We have on record the Lord’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem during the time of the generation that rejected him, which was fulfilled in less than forty years from the time of his crucifixion. And, that the Christians in Judea might escape its impending doom, they were told that when they should “see Jerusalem compassed with armies,” or, as recorded by Matthew, “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place,” they were to “flee to the mountains.” Luke 21:20; Matthew 24:15. They heeded the admonition, and escaped in safety to Pella. Such is the testimony of inspiration respecting the dealings of God with his people in past ages. And it cannot be supposed that God will change his course relative to the future, when that future is to realize the crowning consummation of all prophetic declarations. Probably no one chapter of the Bible speaks more fully, and more definitely, upon the subject of the second coming of Christ, than Matthew 24. We invite the attention of the candid reader to a brief explanation of the entire chapter. SCOC 5.2

Verse 1. “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple; and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.” Jesus had been addressing the multitude, in the presence of his disciples. He had reproved the scribes and Pharisees for their sins, and had declared the doom of the Jews, their city, and their temple. Chap. 23. The disciples supposed that the temple would stand forever. And they called the attention of Christ to its magnificence and strength, as if to convince him that he was mistaken. SCOC 6.1

Verse 2. “And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” This statement from the Master could but deeply interest the disciples. And whether they supposed that the destruction of the temple, the coming of Christ and the end of the age, would all occur, at the same time, or at different periods, it matters not; since Christ, in his answer in this chapter, has distinctly spoken of each separately, and has given each its place in the prophetic history of events. SCOC 6.2

Verse 3. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” These questions relate, first, to the destruction of Jerusalem; and, second, to Christ’s second coming at the end of the Christian age. They were distinctly answered by our Lord, not, however, before the promiscuous multitude; but on the occasion of a private interview with his disciples. Christ here speaks to his disciples; hence his words are addressed to the church ever after. Mark the caution given by our Lord as he commences to answer these questions. SCOC 7.1

Verses 4, 5. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Jesus knew the heart of man, and that many impostors would arise, and deceive multitudes. He here warns his disciples, and guards them against the deceptions of corrupt and ambitious men. Such was the general expectation of the appearance of the Messiah among the Jews, that many would set up the claim that they were the Christ, to carry out selfish purposes. Buck, in his “Theological Dictionary,” gives a list of false Christs as they have appeared during the Christian dispensation. SCOC 7.2

1. Caziba, who set himself up at the head of the Jewish nation, and proclaimed himself their long-expected Messiah. To facilitate the success of his bold enterprise, he changed his name to that of Barchocheba, alluding to the Star foretold by Balaam. Adrian raised an army, and sent it against him. He retired into a town called Bither, where he was besieged. Barchocheba was killed in the siege, the city was taken, and a dreadful havoc succeeded. The Jews themselves allow that, during this short war against the Romans in defense of this false Messiah, they lost five or six hundred thousand souls. This was in the former part of the second century. SCOC 8.1

2. In the reign of Theodosius the younger, in the year of our Lord 434, another impostor arose, called Moses Cretensis. He pretended to be a second Moses, sent to deliver the Jews who dwelt in Crete. SCOC 8.2

3. In the reign of Justin, about 520, another impostor appeared, who called himself the son of Moses. His name was Dunaan. He entered into a city of Arabia Felix, and there he greatly oppressed the Christians; but he was taken prisoner, and put to death by Elesban, an Ethiopian general. SCOC 8.3

4. In the year 529, the Jews and Samaritans rebelled against the Emperor Justinian, and set up one Justin for their king; and accounted him the Messiah. The emperor sent an army against them, killed great numbers of them, took their pretended Messiah prisoner, and immediately put him to death. SCOC 8.4

5. In the year 571, was born Mahomet, in Arabia. At first he professed himself the Messiah who was promised to the Jews. By this means, he drew many of that unhappy people after him. In some sense, therefore, he may be considered in the number of false Messiahs. SCOC 8.5

6. About the year 721, in the time of Leo Isaurus, arose another false Messiah in Spain; his name was Serenus. He drew great numbers after him, to their no small loss and disappointment, but all his pretensions came to nothing. SCOC 9.1

7. The twelfth century was fruitful in false Messiahs; for about the year 1137, there appeared one in France, who was put to death, and many of those who followed him. SCOC 9.2

8. In the year 1138, the Persians were disturbed with a Jew who called himself the Messiah. He collected together a vast army. But he, too, was put to death, and his followers treated with great inhumanity. SCOC 9.3

9. In the year 1157, a false Messiah stirred up the Jews at Corduba, in Spain. The wiser and better sort looked upon him as a madman, but the great body of the Jews in that nation believed in him. On this occasion almost all the Jews in Spain were destroyed. SCOC 9.4

10. In the year 1167, another false Messiah arose in the kingdom of Fez, which brought great troubles and persecution upon the Jews that were scattered through that country. SCOC 9.5

11. In the same year an Arabian set up for the Messiah, and pretended to work miracles. When search was made for him, his followers fled. SCOC 9.6

12. Not long after this, a Jew, who dwelt beyond Euphrates, called himself the Messiah, and drew vast multitudes of people after him. SCOC 9.7

13. In the year 1174, a magician and false Christ arose in Persia, who was called David Almusser. He pretended that he could make himself invisible; but he was soon taken and put to death, and a heavy fine laid upon his brethren the Jews. SCOC 9.8

14. In the year 1176, another of these impostors arose in Moravia. But the reign of delusion is short, and his fate appears to have been similar to that of his predecessor. SCOC 10.1

15. In the year 1199, a famous cheat and rebel appeared in Persia, called David el David. He was a man of learning, a great magician, and pretended to be the Messiah. He raised an army against the king, but was taken and imprisoned. SCOC 10.2

16. We are told of another false Christ in this same century, by Maimonides and Solomon; but they take no notice either of his name, country, or good or ill success. Here we may observe that no less than ten false Christs arose in the twelfth century, and brought prodigious calamities and destruction upon the Jews in various quarters of the world. SCOC 10.3

17. In the year 1497, we find another false Christ, whose name was Ismael Sophus, who deluded the Jews in Spain. He also perished, and as many as believed in him were dispersed. SCOC 10.4

18. In the year 1500, Rabbi Lemlem, a German Jew of Austria, declared himself a forerunner of the Messiah, and pulled down his own oven, promising his brethren that they should bake their bread in the Holy Land next year. SCOC 10.5

19. In the year 1509, one whose name was Pfefferkorn, a Jew of Cologne, pretended to be the Messiah. He afterward affected, however, to turn Christian. SCOC 10.6

20. In the year 1534, Rabbi Salomo Malcho, giving out that he was the Messiah, was burnt to death by Charles the fifth, of Spain. 21. In the years 1615, a false Christ arose in the East Indies, and was greatly followed by the Portuguese Jews, who were scattered over that country. SCOC 10.7

22. In the year 1624, another in the Low Countries pretended to be the Messiah of the family of David, and of the line of Nathan. He promised to destroy Rome, and to overthrow the kingdom of Antichrist, and the Turkish Empire. SCOC 11.1

23. In the year 1666, appeared the false Messiah Sabatai Sevi, who made so great a noise, and gained such a number of proselytes. He was born at Aleppo, imposed on the Jews for a considerable time; but afterward, with a view of saving his life, turned Mahometan, and was at last beheaded. SCOC 11.2

24. The last false Christ that had made any considerable number of converts, was one Rabbi Mordecai, a Jew of Germany; he appeared in the year 1682. It was not long before he was found out to be an impostor, and was obliged to fly from Italy to Poland, to save his life. SCOC 11.3

Here, then, we have a record of twenty-four false Christs who arose at different periods during about thirteen hundred years of the Christian age, and deceived “many,” as the Lord had said. SCOC 11.4

Verses 6-8. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” SCOC 11.5

Wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, have occurred at different periods since these words were spoken. Therefore, these, as they have ever existed, cannot be regarded as the especial signs of the end. It may be urged, however, with a good degree of consistency, that the Scriptures teach that these calamities would exist in the last days to that extent as to constitute a sign of the approaching Judgment. We wish to keep the important fact distinctly before the mind, that the sacred Scriptures do teach when men may not, and when they may, look for the second appearing of Jesus Christ. SCOC 11.6

The sacred writers had so uniformly associated such judgments as war, famine, pestilence, and earthquake, with the last Judgment, that the disciples would be in danger of concluding that the end would immediately follow the first appearance of these calamities; hence the caution given: “These things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Here the disciples were clearly taught that they should not expect the end in their day. This fact is worthy of the candid attention of those who object to the proclamation of the second advent of Christ in the form of an especial message. These sometimes assert that it was right for the disciples to look for Christ in their day, and that it has been scriptural and right for all Christians to look for the second appearing of Christ in their time, from the days of the chosen twelve to the present time. And they decide that no more can be learned and believed upon this subject in our time, than by the Christians of past generations,. and that the public mind should not now be moved upon this great question, any more than in all past time since the first advent of Christ. SCOC 12.1

We have seen that this position is incorrect so far as the early disciples were concerned. They are cited to the distant future as the time when their Lord should come. They are assured that they need not be troubled at hearing of wars and rumors of wars; “for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Our Lord then guides the minds of his disciples, as we shall see in the examination of this chapter, down over the time of the great apostasy, and the long period of the rule of papal Rome, before mentioning a sign of his second advent. He does not intimate that his people during these long periods may expect the end. No, not once. But when he comes near our time, the Lord gives signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars, and adds: “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” SCOC 12.2

Mark this: Our Lord does not mention wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, as signs of his second advent; but, rather, as events of common occurrence all the way through the Christian age, which must exist before the end. And history attests the fact that these calamities have covered at least seventeen centuries. The following is from a work of Noah Webster, LL. D., published in 1799:— SCOC 13.1

“By famine and sword, 580,000 Jews were destroyed between A.D. 96 and A.D. 180. SCOC 13.2

“In Antioch, from A.D. 96 to A.D. 180, earthquakes destroyed 13 cities, and over 100,000 lives. SCOC 13.3

“In Rome, A.D. 169, pestilence destroyed 10,000 daily. SCOC 13.4

“In Rome, A.D. 187, pestilence appeared, and continued three years. “In London, A.D. 310, by famine, 40,000 died. “In A.D. 446, Sept. 17th, an earthquake shook down the walls of Constantinople, and 57 towers fell. “In Rome, A.D. 539, in one district 50,000 died. “In Antioch, A.D. 588, an earthquake killed 60,000. “In A.D. 590, the plague killed 10,000 daily in Turkey. “In A.D. 679, a severe famine in England three years. SCOC 13.5

“In A.D. 717, in Constantinople, 300,000 died of plague. SCOC 14.1

“In A.D. 1005, earthquakes three months, followed by pestilence, by which it is said one-third of the human race died. SCOC 14.2

“In A.D. 1077, in Constantinople, so many died by plague and famine, the living could not bury them. SCOC 14.3

“In A.D. 1124, in Italy, there was such famine that the dead lay in the streets, not buried; and in England, one-third of the people died of plague. “In A.D. 1294, in England, thousands died of famine. SCOC 14.4

“In A.D. 1345, in London, 50,000 died of plague and famine, and were buried in one graveyard; in Norwich, 50,000; in Venice, 100,000; in Florence, 100,000; in Eastern nations, 20,000,000. It was called the black death. “In A.D. 1352, in China, 900,000 died of famine. “In A.D. 1450, in Milan, 60,000 died of plague. SCOC 14.5

“In A.D. 1611, in Constantinople, 200,000 died of plague. “In A.D. 1625, in London, 35,000 died of plague SCOC 14.6

“In A.D. 1626, in Lyons, 600,000 died of plague. “In A.D. 1665, in London, 68,000 died of plague. SCOC 15.1

“In A.D. 1755, in the East, an earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon, killing 50,000. In Mitylene and the Archipelago it shook down 2,000 houses. It shook all the Spanish coast. The plague followed, which destroyed 150,000 lives in Constantinople. SCOC 15.2

Verses 9, 10. “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. SCOC 15.3

And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” Here is a brief description of the afflictions and martyrdom of the church. Thousands of the faithful followers of Jesus were most cruelly put to death by pagan Rome; yet the prophecy doubtless applies more particularly to the long period of papal persecutions, in which not less than fifty millions of Christians were put to death in the most cruel manner wicked men and demons could invent. In these verses we are brought down over the long period of the martyrdom of the church of Jesus Christ, to near the present generation.

LEA_144_

14 min read

Jan 24

62

6

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