The Seventy Weeks
CHAPTER XVI
CONCLUDING COMMENTS

EDERSHEIM ON MATTHEW XXIV

     We find that reliable commentators of earlier days have pointed out (treating it as a matter too evident to require argument) that when Christ warned His disciples of the great tribulation that was to come, He meant the distresses which would attend the then approaching destruction of Jerusalem. Alfred Edersheim, who was one of the very ablest of commentators, has thus expounded the Lord's Olivet prophecy. We attach special weight and authority to his expositions, for the reason that there is probably no man of modern times who possessed such an extensive and accurate knowledge as he of the customs, manners, habits of thought, writings, and traditions of the Jews and of their leaders, in the days of Christ. His Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah gives a marvellously full, detailed and accurate picture of Judea and its inhabitants--Jews, proselytes, priests, rabbis, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, Greeks and Romans--at the beginning of our era. If one were to read but half a dozen books, in addition to the Bible, Edersheim's great work should be one of the six.

     Edersheim sees four divisions in the Lord's Olivet prophecy, as recorded in Matthew 24; and it will be instructive to follow his analysis of that chapter.

1. The first division comprises verses 6-8, (#Mt 24:6-8) which contain warnings to the disciples that they are not to regard the sorrows He was foretelling (the wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes) as the judgments which would usher in the Advent of their Lord; in other words, they were not to regard wars, famines, etc. as the signs of His second coming. Those warnings have been needed throughout the age. For the sorrows foretold by Christ, especially when they happened in connection with the appearance of some supposed antichrist--from Nero down to Napoleon and more recently to the German Kaiser--have frequently, says Mr. E., misled Christians into an erroneous expectancy of the immediate advent of Christ. It is really surprising that the Lord's people should so persistently take to be signs of His coming the very things He warned them were not to be regarded as such.

2. The second division of the prophecy embraces verses 9-14. (#Mt 24:9-14) It contains warnings broader in scope than those of the first section. Two general dangers are here specified; (a) internal, from heresies ('false prophets') and decay of faith; (b) external, from persecutions. But along with those two dangers, two consoling facts are also pointed out. The first is that, notwithstanding the fierce persecutions they were to undergo from those high in authority, Divine aid would be given them, and by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit they would be enabled to testify before kings, rulers and tribunals (#Mr 13:9). The second consoling fact, as pointed out by Edersheim, is that despite the persecutions by Jews and Gentiles, before the end cometh 'this gospel of the kingdom' shall be preached in all the inhabited earth for a testimony to all nations. This then is really the only sign of 'the end' of this present age.

3. The third division of the prophecy is contained in verses 15-28. (#Mt 24:15-28) Concerning this division Mr. E. says'

"The Lord proceeds, in the third part of this discourse, to advertise the disciples of the great historic fact immediately before them, and of the dangers which would spring from it. In truth we have here His answer to their question 'when shall these things be?' And with this He conjoins the (then) present application of His warning regarding false Christs (given in verses 4, 5). The fact of which He now advertises them is the destruction of Jerusalem. It will be observed that the question, When shall these things be? is directly answered by the words, When ye shall see--(#Mt 24:15 Lu. 21:20).
     Mr. E. further says:
This, together with tribulation to Israel, unparalleled in the terrible past of its history, and unequalled even in its bloody future was about to befall them. Nay, so dreadful would be the persecution that, if Divine mercy had not interposed for the sake of the followers of Christ, the whole Jewish race that inhabited the land would have been swept away. There should have been no flesh saved.
     We endorse, and heartily commend, this simple and satisfactory explanation of the Lord's words, And except those days should be shortened there should no flesh be saved (#Mt 24:22). We have already shown, from the records of Josephus, how those awful days were shortened.

4. The fourth division of the prophecy is contained in verses 29-31. (#Mt 24:29-31) As to this portion Mr. E. says'

"The times of the Gentiles, 'the end of the age,' and with it the new allegiance of His then penitent people Israel, 'the sign of the Son of man in heaven' perceived by them, the coming of Christ, the last trumpet, the resurrection of the dead,--such, in most rapid sketch, is the outline which the Lord draws of His coming and the end of the world (age). "
     This finishes the prophetic part of the chapter; and now at verses 32, 33 (#Mt 24:32,33) the Lord speaks a parable to impress upon the minds of His disciples the importance and the application of the sign He had given them, whereby they might know that the destruction of the holy city was near. We quote further from Edersheim:
"From the fig tree, under which on that spring afternoon they may have rested, they were to learn a parable. We can picture Christ taking one of its twigs, just as its softening tips were bursting into young leaf. Surely this meant that summer was nigh--not that it had actually come. The distinction is important; for it seems to prove that 'all these things' which were to indicate to them that 'it' was 'near, even at the doors,' and which were to be fulfilled before 'this generation' had passed away, could not have referred to the last signs connected with the advent of Christ, but must apply to the previous prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish commonwealth.   This too is a very simple and satisfactory explanation of the words, This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled. If those words be taken as His answer to the question, When shall these things be? (v. 3), they are easy of interpretation; but if their application be postponed to the far off future they present much difficulty. For example, thus to postpone their application would make the Lord contradict His positive and most emphatic statement that no signs would precede and give warning of His second advent. "
     Edersheim further points out in this connection that the bursting of the fig tree into leaf is not the sign of harvest, which is the end of the age, but of summer, which precedes the harvest. This is significant.


THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS

      In describing the wars and other commotions which were to characterize this age from the very start, the Lord used an expression which calls for special notice. All these, He said, are the beginning of birthpangs (#Mt 24:8). This word pictures to us the present age as one of pains and sorrows such as accompany childbirth. But there is a decidedly hopeful character to such pains; for they eventuate in that which causes joy. This present age is the period of the birthpangs of the new era, which will be that of the manifestation of the sons of God.

     The word birthpangs connects this part of our Lord's prophecy with that of Paul in (#Ro 8:22, where the same word occurs in its verb form' For we know, says the apostle, that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. But the verses which precede tell what the joyful outcome will be, namely, the manifestation of the sons of God, also called the adoption, at which time the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

     The word travail-in-birth is found again in a similar connection in (#1Th 5:3,) where (speaking of the coming of the day of the Lord) Paul says: For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child.

     From these and other passages of Scripture we may gather that woes and pains of the sort specified by the Lord in Matthew 24:6-8 will visit the earth with intensified force at the very time of the end (although the frequency of such occurrences throughout the age would prevent them from serving as signs). The wars and other woes whereof the Lord spake were the beginning of birthpangs; and it is pertinent to recall that birthpangs, after the first intense ones, are intermittent until, at the very end, occur the most severe of all. Thus, no doubt, it will be at the end of this present age, as is clearly predicted in the Book of Revelation.

     We would also point out in this connection that the word birthpangs connects the prophecy likewise with Jeremiah 30:5-7, (#Jer 30:5-7) which we have already discussed. In that passage the prophet foretells the return of the Jews from Babylon (#Jer 30:3) and then he speaks of the time of Jacob's trouble, concerning which he says: Ask ye now and see whether a man doth travail with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, etc.

     If then we regard this entire age as a period of birth pangs (as we have warrant to do from the scriptures cited above) we may consider the time of Jacob's trouble as lasting from the destruction of Jerusalem until now. In that view, the words but he shall be saved out of it seem to be now upon the eve of fulfilment.
 
 

AN ILLUMINATING CONTRAST

     We would now call attention to a strong and pointed contrast in our Lord's Olivet discourse, the which, if we give due heed thereto, will afford us much aid in the interpretation of this prophecy, and in the interpretation of all prophecies which relate to the end of this present age.

     If we examine carefully the entire discourse (as given for example by Mark) we will see that our Lord divides the future into two distinct periods. The first of these extended from the time then present to the destruction of Jerusalem, the second from that event to His own second advent. Beginning at verse 14 with the words, But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, down to the end of verse 23, (#Mr 13:14-23) Christ is speaking to His disciples concerning the invasion of Judea and the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies. As to all those things (whereof the utter demolition of the magnificent temple was the most prominent) His purpose manifestly was to give them explicit information; for those things were to happen in that generation.

     Therefore, as regards that period He says: But take ye heed; behold, I have foretold you all things (#Mr 13:23).

     At that point He begins to speak of the second period, saying: But in those days after that tribulation (#Mr 13:24). Concerning this second period, however, instead of imparting definite information, and giving a sign whereby His people might be warned of the approaching end thereof, He speaks only in the most general terms, and He makes plain only one thing, namely, that no immediately preceding signs would be given whereby His people would know that His advent was near. This feature of His coming again--its unexpectedness--is stated in so many different ways, and is so emphatically applied and illustrated (see #Mr 13:32-37) that we are absolutely controlled by it in the interpretation, not only of the Mount Olivet discourse, but of every other prophecy relating to the second coming of Christ. Here is a great contrast: one event whereof the Lord was speaking was then close at hand; it was to happen within that generation, and it would be immediately preceded by a sign, which His disciples could not fail to recognize. But the other event (His own coming) would be at a time unknown even to Himself, and moreover there should be no sign to appraise His people of its approach, for which reason He impressed it upon them that they were to watch at every season (#Lu 21:36 Gr.). Concerning the first event He said, Behold, I have foretold you all things; but of the second He said, But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father (#Mr 13:32).

     We are aware that it is often attempted to escape the force of this verse by saying that it is only the precise day and hour of the Lord's coming that is left in uncertainty, and that His words do not forbid us to compute (as many attempt to do) the year of His return. But we think that is not treating the Lord's words fairly, or giving them their proper force; for He plainly meant to declare emphatically that the time of His coming was a matter of uncertainty. Moreover, the very next verse says, Watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is, so it is not merely a question of the day and hour, but of the time in general. And finally, the teaching of verses 33-37, with the parable by which the Lord illustrated it, makes it plain that the uncertainty as to His return was to extend through the entire period of His absence.

     For, just as He spoke a parable to illustrate and to settle the meaning of His teaching concerning the period before the destruction of Jerusalem (the parable of the fig tree), so likewise He spoke a parable to illustrate and to settle the meaning of His teaching concerning the period we are now in, which He designates simply as those days after that tribulation, but which, in Luke's account, is called the times of the Gentiles.

     The point of the first parable is that just as the budding of the fig tree was a sure sign of the nearness of summer, so the presence of the Roman armies in Judea would be a sure sign of the nearness of the destruction of Jerusalem.

     The second parable speaks with equal clearness. It is in these words' (For the Son of man is) as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. The Lord Himself has applied this parable, saying, Watch ye therefore, FOR YE KNOW NOT WHEN THE MASTER OF THE HOUSE COMETH at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning' lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.

     So this parable teaches exactly the reverse of the other. The night was divided, according to the custom of that time, into four watches. So the Lord speaks of His absence as being like a night, in any one of the four watches whereof He might return. Thus the question of the time of His return was purposely left from the very beginning in uncertainty, insomuch that, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the only way for His people to insure themselves against being taken unawares was to watch. He was coming suddenly, and hence there was always the possibility that His people might be found sleeping.

     Thus Mark's account gives the Lord's teaching on this subject in a positive way, showing the possibility that He might come at any watch of the night. In Matthew's account (and also in #Lu 17:24-30) the converse is declared, namely, that the Lord's coming would not be preceded by any sign whatever. It would be as in the days that were before the flood when the ordinary incidents of life continued until the day that Noah entered into the ark (#Mt 24:37,38); and also as it was in the days of Lot, when the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah came suddenly and unexpectedly, there being no warning, but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed (#Lu 17:28-30). Words could not be plainer.

     From these sayings of the Lord Jesus Christ we can see that it is, and always has been, an impossibility to calculate, from any figures given in the Bible, the year, or even the approximate year, of the Lord's return. For if that was unknown even to Christ Himself when He spoke those words, then there was certainly no information in the Scriptures from which it could be computed.

     Furthermore we can see how contrary to the teaching of Christ is the idea, which is accepted by so many at the present time, that He will be revealed at the end of a supposed great tribulation of determinate length (seven years, according to some, or three and a half years, according to others). Those who locate the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the great tribulation of current teaching, do plainly contradict His own teaching, in that they make the supposed tribulation a sure sign that His coming is at hand.

     Mr. H. Grattan Guinness, in his Light for the Last Days, speaking of signs of the Lord's second coming, says:

"If such signs as are imagined by some were to precede the advent, the state of society predicted in these passages could not by any possibility exist. If monstrous, unheard of, supernatural, portentous events were to transpire, would they not be telegraphed the same day all over a startled world, and produce such a sense of alarm and expectation that buying, and selling, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage, would all be arrested together, and 'peace and safety' would be far from anyone's lips or thoughts? No, there was nothing special to alarm the antediluvians before the day that Noah entered into the ark; nothing special to startle the men of Sodom brefore the fire from heaven fell; and like as it was in those days, so will it be in these. All going on just as usual, no stupendous sign to attract the world's attention.


SIGNS IN THE SUN, MOON AND STARS

     There remains for consideration a passage which is undeniably difficult. We refer to the Lord's saying about signs in the sun, moon and stars, which, as given by Mark, is as follows:

     But in 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. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

     This passage might be taken to mean that the signs in the physical sun, moon and stars, were the immediate precursors of the revelation of the Son of man; but the teaching of Christ which we have just been considering absolutely forbids that interpretation; and to that extent it helps us in our search for the true meaning.

     Looking closely at the passage we will see that it is very indefinite. All it tells us is that in those days after that tribulation the commotions in sun, moon and stars will occur; but there is nothing to indicate at what part of those days (which now have lasted over eighteen hundred years) the described commotions would take place. Then--which may mean any indefinite period in the future--Christ Himself would be seen coming in the clouds.

     Inasmuch as what we have learned from the latter part of the chapter forbids us to take celestial disturbances here foretold as premonitory signs of the Lord's coming, the question arises, for what purpose then did He mention them? And this raises another question, namely, are we to take these words literally, as do the Adventists and some others? or are they to be taken as figurative, and as referring to the political heavens (i.e., the sphere of governments) as understood by some able expositors, among whom one of the most prominent is Sir Isaac Newton? We know of nothing at present whereby this question can be so definitely settled as to put the matter beyond all doubt; but we will offer some further suggestions which may perhaps contribute towards its solution.

     In the first place, seeing we are debarred by the Lord's plain teaching from taking these commotions to be physical signs, visible to the eye, preceding and heralding His coming, or as having any special connection with that event, it would seem almost imperative that we give the words a figurative meaning. For it is not conceivable that, in speaking of this long age which was to be so full of important happenings, Christ would single out for mention nothing but a few isolated phenomena of nature in the physical heavens. This consideration practically compels us to find a meaning for the words which would make them descriptive of some distinguishing characteristic of the age, or at least of the latter part of it.

     When we turn to Luke's account we find strong confirmation of this view. This confirmation appears in two particulars, first in the manner in which the reference to the sun, moon and stars is introduced; and second in the fact that it is directly coupled with certain general characteristics of the age, such as we should expect in a brief utterance of this kind. For Luke gives it thus (we put the salient part in italics):

     For there shall be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. 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; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken (#Lu 21:23-26).

     According to this account the Lord does not break off His predictions abruptly at the capture and destruction of Jerusalem, but follows the Jews in their dispersion unto all nations, and also foretells the treading down of Jerusalem by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Thus we are carried into the period which follows after the tribulation of those days, and are informed that that period is divinely designated the times of the Gentiles. {1} And now immediately follows (in Luke's account) the passage we are examining, And there shall be signs in tile sun, and in the moon, and in the stars. But here we have also the further statement, and on the earth distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring, men's hearts failing them, etc. From  these words it is clear that the Lord is giving (which, as we have pointed out, is what we should expect) some very broad and general characteristics of our age, with an eye especially upon the closing part thereof. Moreover, in speaking of the unsettled state of the nations He uses a familiar figurative expression, namely, the sea and the waves roaring. This figure represents the turbulence of the peoples of the earth (see #Re 17:15, Isa 8:7), just as the sun, moon and stars represent rulership, governments, and authorities. Thus we find good reason for concluding that the Lord is here speaking figuratively of unusual happenings in the political firmament, that is to say, in the sphere of governments, or what Paul calls the higher powers (#Ro 13:1).

     In Isaiah 13:7-10 we have an example of the use of this figure. It occurs in connection with a description of the day of the Lord. We quote verse 10: 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. Taking these words in connection with Genesis 1:16-18, and with Joseph's dream about the sun, moon and stars (which his father and brethren had no need of one to interpret for them, (#Ge 37:9,10), and in connection also with (#Eze 32:7 Joe 2:31, 3:15 Re 12:1,) we get the idea that the sun stands for authority on earth in the broadest sense, and the moon for lesser authority, and the stars for prominent persons in the sphere of government.

     Further reason in support of the view that the Lord used the sun, moon and stars as symbols in this passage, is found in the fact that, throughout the Scriptures, the prediction of political changes of this era are given in a veiled form, that is to say, by figures and symbols. Thus, in Daniel the successive powers are indicated first as parts of a huge metallic image, and then as great beasts, following one after another. In Revelation the last of these beasts reappears, in its ten horned (that is its latter) stage of development, which is the state it will be in when destroyed by the coming of Christ. Individual powers are represented by horns, and notable personages in the political heavens by stars. That the sun, moon and stars are used in a figurative sense in Revelation is proved by the words' And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun; and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars (#Re 12:1). From this we may safely infer that the sun stands for supreme governmental authority over the earth, the moon for lesser dominion, and the stars for notable rulers or potentates.

     Turning now to (#Re 6:12) we read, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood, and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, etc, which words are suited to present, symbolically, the complete overthrow of governmental authority, the bloody character of that which for the time takes its place, and the downfall of all rulers and magistrates.

     The reasons for speaking thus in veiled language of political changes in the world in this dispensation, are not hard do discern; for this is an era in which God's people are strangers and pilgrims on earth, having no affiliations with the powers that be, but are taught to be in subjection to them. Hence, our Lord Himself would, of course, use the same form of utterance in forecasting the political happenings of these times of the Gentiles. Therefore it may reasonably be taken that when the Lord spake of the sun, moon and stars in terms strikingly similar to those found in Revelation, He meant to say that the darkening of the sun (i.e., the decay of supreme authority in the world), would begin immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem; and putting the two passages together, we would conclude that this figurative darkening of the sun was to become more and more pronounced until, at the climax of the dispensation, it would become total darkness, while at the same time the rulers would all fall together, as a fig tree casts her figs when shaken by a mighty wind.

     Such an interpretation of the Lord's words seems almost a necessity when we consider His express declaration that physical signs were not to be given in this age in respect to the one and only event for which His people were to wait and watch.

     A gradual weakening of authority on earth in the hands of those with whom it has been lodged, such as we have indicated above, has been a characteristic of this age; and it is such a pronounced feature of our own days, that the decay of authority and the spirit of lawlessness are themes upon which men in public life often dilate at the present time, and in words which betray the most serious apprehensions as to the outcome. In the moon's not giving her light, we may see the weakening of authority in a narrower sphere, such as national governments, which are all changing from monarchies to democracies. And in the stars' falling from heaven, we may see the downfall of notable personages, as the German Kaiser, the imperial family of Austria (the Hapsburgs), the Romanoffs--for centuries rulers of Russia--the kings of Greece and Bulgaria, and lesser personages in the political sphere (see #Re 9:1).

     These happenings are not sufficiently definite to serve as signs of the Lord's coming, nor do they stand in any given time relation to that event. But they do serve admirably to the furtherance of the one practical object which the Lord had in view in speaking this part of His discourse, and which He has made quite plain, namely, that His people should be kept constantly in a state of expectancy of His coming again. So, without giving them any sign of His coming, or making any definite statement about it, He could say, And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh (#Lu 21:28).

     One further point is to be noted: In connection with the reference to the sun, moon and stars, Luke says, for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; and the same words occur, in the same connection, in both Matthew and Mark. These words are explanatory of what the Lord said about the sun, moon and stars, and show that He did not mean physical commotions. There is no power (of this sort) but from God (#Ro 13:1). Peter uses the same word when, speaking of Christ's having ascended on high, he said, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him (#1Pe 3:22). We have seen in the course of these studies that there is a mysterious connection between the several powers that rule in the world and certain mighty angelic beings. But these powers have been all made subject to Christ, Whose prerogative it is to shake them at His pleasure. And surely there has been a great shaking of these powers in our day, {2} reminding us of what is written in another place' But now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven (#Heb 12:26). This is in close agreement with the words found in Matthew's account, And the powers of the heavens shall be shaken (#Mt 24:29).

     It should not be overlooked that, in Matthew's account, we have the word immediately; for he says Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, etc. (#Mt 24:29); and no doubt this word is what has led many expositors to suppose that the great tribulation was to be at the very end of this present age, followed immediately by signs in the physical heavens, and by the visible coming of Christ. But whatever be the force of the word which our translators have rendered immediately, it cannot be permitted to displace the tribulation foretold by Christ as coming (and which did come) in that generation, and to remove it away off to the end of this age. Nor can it be permitted to make the tribulation and the commotions in the heavens a sign of His second coming, in contradiction of His plain teaching as to that event. Rather, must we assume, in harmony with all that Christ has said on that subject, that the fulfilment of this particular part of the prophecy began from the destruction of Jerusalem, and is to be seen in all of God's dealings in judgment with the higher powers (#Ro 13:1), from that time onward.

     The word immediately used by Matthew (not found in the corresponding part of Mark or Luke) signifies merely that the destruction of Jerusalem would be followed immediately by a period (of unmeasured length) which would be characterized by commotions of the sort described. Such disturbances have been, as we have seen, one of the outstanding characteristics of the age, and are a special mark of our own times.

     Finally, in bringing these studies to a close, we would say again that we do not in the least question that there will be much tribulation for mankind, and many distresses and woes, in the end time of this present age, to be followed by the outpouring of the vials in which is filled up the wrath of God (#Re 15:1). All we assert is that, regardless of the nature and severity of the afflictions which are yet to come, that particular tribulation whereof the Lord spake as the great tribulation, and as the days of vengeance (#Mt 24:21 Lu 21:22) was the execution of Divine judgment upon Daniel's people and his holy city, for which God used the Roman armies under Titus in A.D. 70.


1. The times of the Gentiles are commonly taken as beginning when Nebuchadnezzar carried the Jews into captivity. But there is nothing in the Scripture to support this idea, so far as we are aware. If the times of the Gentiles were the captivity in Babylon, then they would have ended when that captivity ended. But God did not then turn away from the Jews to the Gentiles. For He sent them His prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. John the Baptist's ministry was to Israel; the Lord Himself was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and His apostles were charged to preach the gospel to the Jew first, which they were faithful to do. But from the destruction of Jerusalem down to the present time, the work of God's Word and Spirit has been among the Gentiles. In view of all this we are inclined to the opinion that, although there was a brief period when the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles overlapped the preaching of Peter and other apostles to the Jews, yet the times of the Gentiles may be said to have fully begun from the destruction of Jerusalem. It is, of course, a matter of comparatively slight importance when the times of the Gentiles began, since it is agreed on all hands that they are in continuance at the present time, and that they will extend to the second coming of Christ.

2. And now (in April, 1944) a far greater shaking is in progress than that referred to above.
 
 

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