Events and Signs of the Times
Our Lord's Great Prophecy
HOW did Christ feel concerning Jerusalem, as He was about to make His
final visit to the city before His crucifixion?
"And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it,
saying, If thou had known, even thou, at
least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now
they are hid from your eyes." Luke 19:41,42.
In what words did He foretell its destruction?
"For the days shall come upon thee, that your enemies shall
cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on
every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children
within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another;
because thou knew not the time of thy visitation." Verses 43,44.
What pitiful appeal did He make to the impenitent city?
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that kills the prophets, and
stones them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy
children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings,
and you would not!" Matt. 23:37.
As He was about to leave the temple, what did He say?
"Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." Verse 38.
which was to fill up their cup of iniquity was their final rejection and
crucifixion of Christ, and their condemnation and persecution of His
apostles and people after His resurrection. See Matt. 23:29-35; John
19:15; Acts 4-8.
Hearing these words, what questions did the disciples ask?
"Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of
Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Matt. 24:3.
answers to these questions are worthy of the most careful study. The
destruction of Jerusalem and the overthrow of the Jewish nation attending
it are a type of the final destruction of all the cities of the world, and
the overthrow of all nations. To some extent, therefore, the descriptions
of the two great events seem to be blended. When Christ referred to the
destruction of Jerusalem, His prophetic words reached beyond that event to
the final conflagration when the Lord shall rise out of His place "to
punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and when the earth
shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." Isa.
26:21. Thus the entire discourse was given not for the early disciples
only, but for those who were to live during the closing scenes of the
world's history. During the discourse Christ did, however, give definite
signs, both of the destruction of Jerusalem and of His second coming.
In His reply, how did Christ indicate that neither the end of the world
nor of the Jewish nation was immediately at hand?
"Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive
you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall
deceive many. And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you
be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is
not yet." Verses 4-6.
What did He say of the wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes which
were to precede these events?
"All these are the beginning of sorrows." Verse 8.
were to precede and culminate in the great calamity and overthrow, first,
of Jerusalem, and finally of the whole world; for, as already noted, the
prophecy has a double application, first, to Jerusalem and the Jewish
nation, and secondly, to the whole world; the destruction of Jerusalem for
its rejection of Christ at His first advent was a type of the destruction
of the world at the end for its rejection of Christ in refusing to heed
the closing warning message sent by God to prepare the world for Christ's
In what language did Christ briefly describe the experiences of His people
previous to these calamities?
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you:
and you shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake. And then shall
many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one
another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And
because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." Verses
Who did He say would be saved?
"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be
saved." Verse 13.
When did Christ say the end would come?
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all
the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end
come." Verse 14.
A.D. 60 Paul carried the gospel to Rome, which was then the capital of the
world. In A.D. 64 he wrote of the saints of "Caesar's household"
(Phil. 4:22); and the same year he says that the gospel had been
"preached to every creature which is under heaven." Col. 1:23.
Very soon after this (October, 66 A.D.) the Romans began their attacks
against Jerusalem; and three and one-half years later the overthrow of the
city and of the Jewish nation followed in the notable five months' siege
under Titus, in the spring and summer of 70 A.D.
Thus it was respecting the end of the Jewish nation; and thus it will be
in the end of the world as a whole. When the gospel, or good news, of
Christ's coming kingdom has been preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations, the end of the world-of all nations-will come. As
the end of the Jewish nation came with overwhelming destruction, so will
come the end of the world. Armageddon, the battle of the nations, will be
fought, and the world will be swept with the besom of destruction under
the seven last plagues. See readings in Chapters 65. and 66. of this book.
What sign did Christ mention by which His disciples might know when the
destruction of Jerusalem was near?
"And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then
know that the desolation thereof is nigh." Luke 21: 20.
When this sign appeared, what were the disciples to do?
"When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken
of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him
understand:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the
mountains." Matt. 24:15,16.
October, 66 A.D., when Cestius came against the city, but for some
unaccountable reason suddenly withdrew his army from it, the Christians
discerned in this the sign foretold by Christ, and fled. After the
departure of Cestius, Josephus, in his "Wars of the Jews,"
chapter 20, says that "many of the most eminent of the Jews swam away
from the city, as from a ship when it is going to sink." It is a
remarkable fact that in the terrible siege which occurred under Titus
three and one-half years later, not a single Christian is known to have
lost his life, while 1,100,000 Jews are said to have perished in it. Here
is a most striking lesson on the value and importance of studying and
believing the prophecies, and giving heed to the signs of the times. Those
who believed what Christ had said, and watched for the sign which He had
foretold, were saved, while the unbelieving perished. So it will be in the
end of the world. The watchful and believing will be delivered, while the
careless and unbelieving will be snared and taken. See Matt. 24:36-44;
Luke 21:34-36; 1 Thess. 5:1-6.
When the sign appeared, how suddenly were they to flee?
"Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out
of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take
his clothes." Verses 17,18.
telling His disciples when to flee, how did Christ further show His
solicitude and tender
pray you that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath
day." Verse 20.
winter would be an unfavorable time in which to flee, entailing discomfort
and hardship; and
an attempt to flee on the Sabbath day would doubtless have been met with
difficulty, so false and
pharisaical were the notions of the Jews respecting the true character and
object of the Sabbath. See Matt.
12:1-14; Luke 13:14-17; Mark 1:32; 2:23-28; John 5:10-18.
of Christ's followers were heard. Events were so overruled that neither
Jews nor Romans
hindered the flight of the Christians. Upon the retreat of Cestius, the
Jews pursued after his army, and the
Christians thus had an opportunity to leave the city. The country also had
been cleared of enemies who might
have endeavored to intercept them. At the time of this siege, the Jews
were assembled at Jerusalem to
keep the Feast of Tabernacles, and thus the Christians of Judea were able
to escape unmolested,
and in the autumn, a most favorable time for flight.
trying experience did Christ then foretell?
then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of
the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." Verse 21.
paragraph 4 of his preface to his "Wars of the Jews," Josephus,
referring to the destruction
of Jerusalem, says: "The misfortunes of all men, from the beginning
of the world, if they be compared to
these of the Jews, are not so considerable." In this terrible
calamity, the prophecy of Moses recorded in
Deut. 28:47-53 was literally fulfilled. He said: "Thou shall eat the
fruit of your own body, the flesh of thy
sons and of thy daughters, . . . in the siege, and in the straitness,
wherewith your enemies shall distress
thee." For an account of the fulfillment of this, see Josephus's
"Wars of the Jews," book 6, chap. 3, par. 4.
destruction of Jerusalem came the persecution of the early Christians
under the pagan
emperors during the first three centuries of the Christian era, that begun
under Diocletian in 303 A.D., and
continuing for ten years (Rev. 2:10), being the most bitter and extensive
persecution of God's people the
world had yet witnessed. Following this came the still greater and more
terrible persecution of the saints
during the long centuries of papal supremacy, foretold in Dan. 7:25 and
Rev. 12:6. All these tribulations
occurred under either pagan or papal Rome.
16. For whose
sake did Christ say the period of papal persecution would be shortened?
except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but
for the elect's sake those days shall be
shortened." Verse 22.
the influence of the Reformation of the sixteenth century, and the
movements which grew
out of it, the power of the Papacy to enforce its decrees against those it
pronounced heretics was gradually
lessened, until with the exception of Spain, persecution ceased almost
wholly about the middle of the
eighteenth century -the beginning of an epoch of freedom.
what deceptions did Christ then warn us?
any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
For there shall arise false Christs, and
false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if
it were possible, they shall deceive
the very elect." Verses 23, 24.
the question as to what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the
world, what did
shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the
stars; and upon the
earth, distress of nations, with
perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for
fear, and for looking after those things
which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be
shaken." Luke 21:25,26.
19. When were
the first of these signs to appear, and what were they to be?
after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the
moon shall not give her light, and
the stars shall fall from heaven." Matt. 24:29.
20. How is
this expressed by Mark?
those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the
moon shall not give her light, and the stars
of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be
shaken." Mark 13:24,25.
already noted, papal persecution almost wholly ceased about the middle of
century. Then, true to Christ's words, the signs of His coming at once
began to appear.
21. When was
there a wonderful darkening of the sun?
On May 19, 1780.
19, 1780, is known in history as "the dark day." On this day
over a large portion of the New
World, upon which at this time the eyes of all the world were centered,
there occurred, at midday, a remarkable
darkness. "Candles were lighted in many houses. The birds were
silent, and disappeared. The fowls retired
to roost." In harmony with the impression God evidently designed
should be made by the sign, many
thought the day of judgment was at hand. See next reading.
22. When did
the moon refuse to give her light?
following the darkening of the sun, May 19, 1780.
Although it was full moon only the night before, the darkness of this
night was so intense that for a
time no luminous body whatever appeared in the heavens, and a sheet of
white paper could not be seen when
held within a few inches of the eyes. See next reading.
23. What sign
was to follow the darkening of the sun and the moon?
stars shall fall from heaven." Matt. 24:29.
24. When did
the stars fall, as here predicted?
November 13, 1833.
morning of November 13, 1833, there occurred the most wonderful exhibition
stars the world has ever seen. Those who witnessed it, says Professor
Olmsted, the celebrated astronomer of
Yale College, "probably saw the greatest display of celestial
fireworks that has ever been since the
creation of the world, or at least within the annals covered by the pages
of history." The extent of this shower,
he says, was such as to cover no inconsiderable part of the earth's
surface." And, like the darkening of
the sun and moon, it was considered by many who saw it as "the
harbinger of the coming of the Son of
25. What were
to be the signs on earth of Christ's coming?
upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves
roaring; men's hearts failing them for
fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth:
for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." Luke 21:25,26.
is an exact picture of the condition of things in the world today. Through
greed of gain,
lawlessness, licentiousness, increasing violence, trouble between capital
and labor, international complications,
and the awful horror of modern wars, the nations are perplexed, and men's
hearts tremble with fear as
they look into the future. The elements are also disturbed, as seen in
great earthquakes and storms on
land and sea.
26. What did
Christ say was to be the next great event following these signs?
then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great
glory." Verse 27. See Matt. 24:30.
these things should begin to come to pass, what did Christ tell His people
when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your
heads; for your redemption draws nigh."
28. When the
trees put forth their leaves, what do we know?
learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts
forth leaves, ye know that summer is
nigh." Matt. 24:32.
29. What may
be known with equal certainty when these signs have been seen?
likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near,
even at the doors." Verse 33. "So
likewise you, when you see these things come to pass, know you that the
kingdom of God is nigh at hand." Luke
30. What did
Christ say of the certainty of this prophecy?
I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be
fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass
away, but My word shall not pass away." Matt. 24:34,35.
at all acquainted with history knows that what Christ foretold concerning
of Jerusalem came true to the very letter. So likewise may we be assured
that what He has said concerning
the end of the world will as certainly and as literally be fulfilled.
31. Who alone
knows the exact day of Christ's coming?
that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but
Father only." Verse 36.
32. What did
Christ say would be the moral condition of the world just preceding His
the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For
as in the days that were before the
Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and
giving in marriage,
until the day that Noe entered into
the ark, and knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away; so
shall also the coming of the Son of
man be." Verses 37-39.
33. In view
of the fact that we do not know the exact time of Christ's coming, what
has He given us?
be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man
cometh." Verse 44.
34. What will
be the experience of those who say in their hearts that the Lord is not
if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
and shall begin to smite his fellow
servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant
shall come in a day when he looketh not for
him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder
[cut him off, margin], and appoint
him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing
of teeth." Verses 48-51.
IN the sun,
and moon, and stars,
wonders have appeared;
groaned with bloody wars,
hearts of men have feared.
from His awful face
fade and earth shall fly,
Fear not you,
His chosen race,
redemption draws nigh.
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