Events and Signs of the Times
Signs of the Times
FOR what did Christ reprove the Pharisees and Sadducees?
"O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye
not discern the signs of the times?" Matt. 16:3.
What sign had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah by which Christ, at His first
advent, might be known as the Messiah?
"Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a
virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name
Immanuel." Isa. 7:14. For fulfillment, see Matt. 1:22,23.
Where had the prophet said Christ should he born?
"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the
thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to
be ruler in Israel." Micah 5:2. For fulfillment, see Matt. 2:1.
What prophet had foretold Christ's ride into Jerusalem?
"Rejoice greatly, 0 daughter of Zion; shout, 0 daughter of Jerusalem:
behold, thy King comes unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly,
and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." Zech.
9:9. For fulfillment, see Matt. 21:4,5.
What question did the disciples ask Christ concerning His second
"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?"
How, according to Luke, did Christ answer this question?
"And there 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." Luke 21:25,26.
What, according to Matthew's account, did Christ say were to he the signs
in the sun, moon, and stars?
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun
be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the
stars shall fall from heaven." Matt. 24:29.
what language had some of the Old Testament prophets already foretold
"And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth,
blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into
darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and he terrible
day of the Lord come." Joel 2:30,31. "The sun and the moon
shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their
shining." Joel 3:15. "For the stars of heaven and the
constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be
darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to
shine." Isa. 13:10. "I will cause the sun to go
down at noon, and I will darken the earth in a clear day."
When were the sun and moon darkened?
May 19, 1780.
nineteenth of May, 1780 was a remarkably dark day. Candles were lighted in many
houses. The birds were silent, and disappeared. The fowls retired to roost. It
was the general opinion that the day of judgment was at hand. The legislature of
Connecticut was in session at Hartford, but being unable to transact business,
adjourned."-President Dwight, in "Historical Collections."
"In some places persons could not see to read common print in the open
air for several hours together. Birds sang their evening songs, disappeared, and
became silent the barnyard; and candles were lighted in the silent; fowls went
to roost; cattle sought the barnyard and candles were lit in the houses. The
obscuration began about ten o'clock in the morning, and continued until the
middle of the next night, but with differences of degree and duration in
different places. . . . The true causes of this remarkable phenomenon are not
known." Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, edition 1883, page 1604, in
article "The Dark Day."
Herschel, the great astronomer, says: "The dark day in Northern America was
one of those wonderful phenomena of nature which will always be read with
interest, but which philosophy is at a loss to explain."
The darkness was not caused by any eclipse of the sun by the moon, for it was
full moon only the night before, and consequently the moon was on the opposite
side of the earth from the sun.
"The darkness of the following evening was probably as deep and dense as
ever had been observed since the Almighty first gave birth to light; it wanted
only palpability to render it as extraordinary as that which overspread the land
of Egypt in the days of Moses. If every luminous body in the universe had been
shrouded in impenetrable shades, or struck out of existence, it was thought the
darkness could not have been more complete. A sheet of white paper, held within
a few inches of the eyes, was equally invisible with the blackest velvet."
- "Our First Century," by R. M. Devins, Page 94.
The darkness of the night was as supernatural as that of the previous day, from
the fact, as stated by Dr. Adams, that "the moon had fulled the day
10. When was
there a remarkable display of falling stars?
November 13, 1833.
celebrated astronomer and meteorologist, Professor Olmsted, of Yale College,
says: "Those who were so fortunate as to witness the exhibition of shooting
stars on the morning of November 13, 1833, 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 the
shower of 1833 was such as to cover no inconsiderable part of the earth's
surface, from the middle of the Atlantic on the east to the Pacific on the west;
and from the northern coast of South America to undefined regions among the
British possessions on the north the exhibition was visible, and everywhere
presented nearly the same appearance."
"At Niagara the exhibition was especially brilliant, and probably no
spectacle so terribly grand and sublime was ever before beheld by man as that of
the firmament descending in fiery torrents over the dark and roaring
cataract."-The American Encyclopedia, edition 1881, article
Upon reading a statement that modern fireworks excel this greatest exhibition of
shooting stars, Mr. Clarkson, father of the former editors of the paper from
which the following quotation is made, and himself agricultural editor of it,
said: "The writer of that sentence did not witness the glorious meteoric
shower of November, 1833, when the display was so much superior to any artistic
display of fireworks that neither language nor any element in nature can furnish
comparisons. The comparison of the sheet-iron thunder of the theatres to the
electric display of Providence when the heavens are all on fire, and the earth
trembles would be tolerable. But the awful grandeur of the display on the night
of the thirteenth of November, 1833, which made the stoutest heart stand in awe,
and the most defiant infidel quake with fear, is never to he compared with the
most brilliant fireworks. Those who witnessed the meteoric shower named saw the
greatest display that man ever will see until the day that Peter speaks of when
the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with
fervent heat. The agricultural editor of the Register was out alone with
a team and load of lumber all night on that never-to-be forgotten night. And he
cannot now consent to hear of human fireworks being superior to that most grand
and sublime spectacle ever before or since beheld by man. Patent fireworks are
no nearer this wonderful phenomenon than a lightning-bug is equal to the
Sun." -Iowa State Register, July 12, 1889.
Frederick A. Douglas, in his book "My Bondage and My Freedom,"
page 186, says: "I witnessed this gorgeous spectacle, and was struck with
awe. The air seemed filled with bright descending messengers from the sky. It
was about daybreak when I saw this sublime scene. It was not without the
suggestion at that moment that it might be the harbinger of the coming of the
Son of man; and in my state of mind I was prepared to hail Him as my friend and
deliverer. I had read that the stars shall fall from heaven, and they were now
A single star appeared to the wise men, and directed them to the Savior, at His
first advent. Myriads of stars have announced the nearness of His second
It will be seen that these signs produced the very impression that God evidently
intended that they should-that the day of judgment, Christ's coming, and the end
of the world are near at hand.
11. Have we
reached the time when there is "distress of nations, with perplexity"?
Every intelligent person knows that the world is in a state of unrest at the
present time, and that men are troubled and perplexed at the outlook of present
conditions throughout the civilized world.
who study the map of Europe at the present moment, and the condition of things
in Europe, must feel that there is hanging over us a war-cloud greater than any
that has hung over Europe before. It means when it bursts, and burst it will as
surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, a war of extinction of devastation,
between great nations whose populations are armed and trained to fight."-Lord
"It is impossible for anyone to contemplate the present naval and military
arrangements without the gravest forebodings. . . . In fact, we never now have
any real peace; we live practically in a state of war." -Sir John
"The danger, if the Ottoman Empire fall; would not merely be the danger
that would threaten the territories of which that empire consists; it would be
the danger that the fire there lit should spread to the other nations, and
should involve all that is most powerful and civilized in Europe in a dangerous
and calamitous contest." -Lord Salisbury, in Mansion House Speech,
London, Nov. 9, 1895.
"There can be no division of either of those countries [Turkey or Persia]
without setting all the nations of Europe at the throats of each other."
-Washington Post, April 24, 1909.
"This is the most unsettled condition of the world since the
crucifixion of Christ. The stability of government is no longer a fact. Change
is in the atmosphere. . . . Statesmen are at their wits' end. Philosophers
speculate In Vain." - The
Late Bishop Newman.
men's hearts now "failing them for fear, and for looking after those things
which are coming on the earth"?
Everyone familiar with present-day conditions knows that this is the case.
are marching toward the unknown. Who knows what tomorrow has in store for
us?"-Signor Crispi, ex-Prime Minister of Italy.
"In regard to the future I am filled with disquietude when I think how
easy it is to fan these international jealousies, and how difficult it seems to
allay them." -Lord Balfour, of England.
"In this world of ours we seem to ' be borne down by commercial and
spiritual controversy. . . . We grope in the daytime with fear and trembling for
the future. Poor, distracted man is tossed over the night to a more distraught
tomorrow." -John Wanamaker, ex-Postmaster-General of the United
"The bonds of society are relaxed; traditional principles are losing
their sacredness, and perils hitherto unknown are menacing the life of the
social organism."- Archbishop Ireland.
These, with forebodings of coming droughts, famines, fires, storms,
earthquakes, tidal waves, and pestilences, are filling men's hearts with fear.
13. What may
be said of "the sea and the waves roaring"?
Great tidal waves and storms at sea, with cyclones and tornadoes on land, have
become fearfully frequent of late years, making men apprehensive of still
greater calamities to come.
according to the prophecy of Daniel, was to characterize the time of the end?
"But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time
of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
of the end began in 1798. See Dan. 7:25; 11:35; 12:4- 9, and the reading
"The Kingdom and Work of Antichrist," pages 25, 26, under questions
5-8. Since 1798 there has been a most wonderful increase of all kinds of
knowledge, both scientific and religious. Men have been "running to and
fro" through both the world and the Word of God. The prophecies of Daniel
are now themselves understood. Since 1798 five great Bible and tract societies
have been organized; namely, the London Religious Tract Society, the British and
Foreign Bible Society, the American Bible Society, the American Tract Society,
and the International Tract Society, besides many, smaller societies of the same
kind. From these have gone forth to the world hundreds of millions of copies of
the Bible, and countless pages of tracts and pamphlets, disseminating knowledge
upon the truths of salvation. Besides these, millions of copies of religious
papers are being circulated annually in the various countries of the world.
Missions have been established in all parts of the world. All this has been
accomplished since 1798.
Concerning the increase of knowledge in the material, scientific, and
intellectual worlds, see the next reading.
15. What is
predicted of the moral condition of the world in the last days?
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud,
blasphemers, . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of
godliness, but denying the power thereof." 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
16. How did
the Apostle Peter say the message of the Lord's coming would be treated by some?
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers,
walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His
coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from
the beginning of the creation." 2 Peter 3:3,4.
will God's faithful servants be doing at this time?
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler
over his household, to give them meat in due season?" Matt. 24:45.
"meat in due season" here spoken of evidently refers to the
proclamation of the message based upon the signs which indicate the near
approach of the Lord. The preaching of this message is what causes scoffers
mockingly to ask, "Where is the promise of His coming?"
18. What are
all admonished to do when these signs have appeared?
"Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not
the Son of man comes." Verse 44.
19. How will
Christ's coming overtake those evil servants who say in their hearts, "My
Lord delays His coming"?
"The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him,
and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder. And
appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth." Verses 50, 51.
We know not the
hour of the Master's appearing,
Yet signs all foretell that the moment is nearing
When He shall return,-'tis a promise most cheering,-
But we know not the hour.
There's light for
the wise who are seeking salvation,
There's truth in the Book of the Lord's revelation,
Each prophecy points to the great consummation,-
But we know not the hour.
We'll watch arid
we'll pray, with our lamps trimmed and burning,
We'll work and we'll wait till the Master s returning,
We'll sing and rejoice, every omen discerning,-
But we know not the hour.
F. E. BELDEN.
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