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means the destruction of Jerusalem; and another, that it means the successful propagation of Christianity, we ought not, for one moment, to listen to them, or suffer our attention to be diverted from the grander expectation which the words of prophecy have created in the waiting people of God.
“ The Son of Man" will be that “ in his day” which will admit of no doubt or disputation.
Our Lord, however, forewarns his disciples, that these things are not yet: a different scene must be first unfolded before their eyes :
25. “ But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.”
He next proceeds to describe the unexpected manner in which the day of his coming will burst upon a careless world :
26. “ And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, also, as it was in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded ; 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.”
The destruction of apostate, guilty nations with fire from heaven, we shall remember, is constantly declared in the ancient prophecies, * to be a concomitant of the Redeemer's appearing in the last day : his people,
Psalms xi. 6; xxi. 9; Isaiah, xxx. 27, 28; xxxiii. 10, &c.; xxxiv. 8, 9, 10; lxvi. 15, 16; Ezekiel, xxxix. 6; Dan. vii. 9, 10, 11.
therefore, that shall be in the midst of the cities and countries devoted to destruction, in order that they may not be partakers of their plagues, will be delivered, as Lo was out of Sodom.
The suddenness of their deliverance is again expressed, probably in proverbial expressions :
31. “ In that day,"— in the day when the Son of Man is revealed, as is expressed in the foregoing verse,—“ in that day, he that shall be upon the house-top, and his stuff in the house, let him not come to take it away; and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32. Remember Lot's wife.”
This is a picture of the sudden surprisal of a city ready to be taken by storm, to part of whose inhabitants a moment of deliverance is afforded: but so sudden is the rescue, that not a thought can be bestowed on any earthly possession; that moment must they leave or perish. The hankering of Lot's wife after something she had left in Sodom, that caused her to cast a lingering look on the city she had left, is urged as an example. This must refer to the suddenness of the deliverance of God's people from the midst of ungodly nations in the great day: for it is expressly said to be “ the day in which the Son of Man is revealed.” What might be literally true of certain scenes in the besieging of Jerusalem by the Romans, and in the besieging of many other towns by their enemies, in which some have a moment, and but a moment, afforded for their escape, is kere used metaphorically of the escape of some righteous persons, who shall be in the midst of the mystic city, then to be destroyed by fire from heaven. It follows:
33. “ Whosoever shall seek his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it."
As applied to the catastrophe in view, these words may be considered as true in the strictest, must literal
He who, in those trying scenes, shall endeavour to save his life, or the enjoyments of life, at the expense of his confession of my name, shall lose that life in the common destruction of his people ; but he who has actually lost his life for my sake, and the Gospel, shall preserve it; because the resurrection of the just will be at that very hour: so that even with regard to this present lower world, at the season of Christ's second advent, the martyr lives and the apostate dies.
34. “ I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed : the one shall be taken and the other left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left."
It is the interference of the deliverance, not the infliction of the judgment, that is here described. From the whole structure of the context, he that escapes from the devoted city, is saved; he that remains in it, perishes. He that is taken away is delivered from the wrath to come; he that is left behind is the victim whom the judgment overtakes. This passage, therefore, tells us, that when God shall send to gather out his elect from those parts of the world that are doomed to be destroyed, his call will separate between the closest friends, between persons engaged at the moment at the same appointed household task, or engaged together in the same agricultural labours : and this employment in field-labour is certainly against the supposition that the surprisal of Jerusalem is intended. There is room, also, for the gloss, that the manifestation of deliverance is made to some in
the dead of night; to others, during the labours of the day. This, it is obvious, would be the case" in the day when the Son of Man is revealed." He comes not with observation - he stands confessed on a sudden in the midst of his waiting people, under the whole heavens and the angels sent to summon to his immediate presence, and to deliver them as Lot from the destruction of Sodom, will not wait the slow progress of the sun, but will penetrate, at the same instant, the confines of light and darkness on the face of the terraqueous globe:
37. “ And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither shall the eagles be gathered together."
This is nothing more than a proverbial expression. Wherever the guilty victim shall be found, there shall the messengers of divine vengeance find it out. To an allusion to the standards of the Roman army, were perfectly gratuitous, even if the destruction of Jerusalem by that people were the object of the prophecy, which it is not
In entering now upon the larger prophecy which our Lord uttered, in reply to the question of his disciples, “ When shall these things be ?” and “ what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world ?” — we must keep carefully in view this shorter prophecy, occasioned, as we have seen, by the demand of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come. There can be no doubt that each prophecy embraces the same grand object, “ the power and coming” of the Messiah, to establish that glorious kingdom which the disciples, as well as the Pharisees, fully expected.
Luke, xxi. 8.-“ And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived, for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ,"— Matt., Mark,“ and shall deceive many;"-"and the time draweth near: go ye not, therefore, after them."
I understand these words as a general and leading caution to the church of Christ, in all ages, waiting his second coming Her great danger would be deceivers, usurping the office — by implication, if not professedlyof the only Mediator between God and man.
The time draweth near” may admit of two expositions: the time is near at hand when you, my disciples, will be exercised with this temptation : or they may mean, the abounding of these successful seducers will be a very conspicuous sign of my appearing ; and to this agree the words of subsequent prophecies.
Another afflictive circumstance, which would long exercise the patience of his waiting people, and, in its extreme prevalence towards the last, serve as a sign of his appearing, was the circumstance of great wars and tumults breaking out among the nations of the earth, those nations especially which were professedly the people of God.
9. “ But when ye hear of wars and commotions," -- Matt Mark, wars and rumours of
“ be not terrified, for all these things must first come to pass. But the end is not by and by.”
That is, “ the end” of the world, for this was part of the disciples' question : “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world ?" The answer is, generally, “ The appearance of evil seducers, and the prevalence of wars."
Our Lord's discourse next prepares them for the ap