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21. Signs of the End of the Age
1And he looked up, and saw the rich men that were casting their gifts into the treasury. 2And he saw a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than they all: 4for all these did of their superfluity cast in unto the gifts; but she of her want did cast in all the living that she had. 5And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings, he said, 6As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in which there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 7And they asked him, saying, Teacher, when therefore shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are about to come to pass? 8And he said, Take heed that ye be not led astray: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am he; and, The time is at hand: go ye not after them. 9And when ye shall hear of wars and tumults, be not terrified: for these things must needs come to pass first; but the end is not immediately. 10Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11and there shall be great earthquakes, and in divers places famines and pestilences; and there shall be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12But before all these things, they shall lay their hands on you, and shall persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13It shall turn out unto you for a testimony. 14Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate beforehand how to answer: 15for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to withstand or to gainsay. 16But ye shall be delivered up even by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. 17And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. 18And not a hair of your head shall perish. 19In your patience ye shall win your souls. 20But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand. 21Then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains; and let them that are in the midst of her depart out; and let not them that are in the country enter therein. 22For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23Woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! for there shall be great distress upon the land, and wrath unto this people. 24And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led captive into all the nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. 25And there shall be signs in sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows; 26men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world: for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. 27And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draweth nigh. 29And he spake to them a parable: Behold the fig tree, and all the trees: 30when they now shoot forth, ye see it and know of your own selves that the summer is now nigh. 31Even so ye also, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh. 32Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all things be accomplished. 33Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 34But take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you suddenly as a snare: 35for so shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth. 36But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. 37And every day he was teaching in the temple; and every night he went out, and lodged in the mount that is called Olivet. 38And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, to hear him.
39. And some of the scribes answering. As it is probable that all of them were actuated by evil dispositions towards him, this confession was extorted, by a secret exercise of divine power, from some of them, that is, from the Pharisees. It may be that, though they could have wished that Christ had been disgracefully vanquished and silenced, when they perceived that his reply has fortified them against the opposite sect, 6969 “Contra la secte des Sadduciens, leurs adversaires;” — “against the sect of the Sadducees, their adversaries.” ambition led them to congratulate him on having obtained a victory. Perhaps, too, they burned with envy, and did not wish that Christ should be put down by the Sadducees. 7070 “Que ce fussent les Sadduciens qui emportassant la victoire par dessus Christ;” — “that it should be the Sadducees who carried the victory over Christ.” Meanwhile, it was brought about by the wonderful providence of God, that even his most deadly enemies assented to his doctrine. Their insolence, to was restrained, not only because they saw that Christ was prepared to sustain every kind of attack, but because they feared that they would be driven back with disgrace, which already had frequently occurred; and because they were ashamed of allowing him, by their silence, to carry off the victory, by which his influence over the people would be greatly increased. When Matthew says that all were astonished at his doctrine, we ought to observe that the doctrine of religion was at that time corrupted by so many wicked or frivolous opinions, that it was justly regarded as a miracle that the hope of the resurrection was so ably and appropriately proved from the Law.
Luke 21:19. In your patience. Here Christ enjoins on his followers a different method of defending their life from what is dictated by carnal reason. For naturally every man desires to place his life in safety; we collect from every quarter those aids which we think will be best, and avoid all danger; and, in short, we do not think that we are alive, if we are not properly defended. But Christ prescribes to us this defense of our life, that we should be always exposed to death, and walk
through fire, and water, and sword, (Psalm 66:12.)
And, indeed, no man will commit his soul into the hands of God in a right manner, unless he have learned to live from day to day constantly prepared to die. 132132 “Sinon qu’estant tousjours prest a mourir, il ait apprins de vivre comme le jour vient, sans faire son conte de demeurer jusques au lendemain;” — “except that, being always ready to die, he has learned to live, as the day comes, without reckoning on being alive till tomorrow.” In a word, Christ orders us to possess our life both under the cross, and amidst the constant terrors of death.
Luke 21:28. And when these things begin to take place. Luke expresses more clearly the consolation by which Christ animates the minds of his followers; for, though this sentence contains nothing different from the words of Matthew, which we have just now explained, yet it shows better for what purpose the angels will come, as we are told, to gather the elect. For it was necessary to contrast the joy of the godly with the general sorrow and distress of the world, and to point out the difference between them and the reprobate, that they might not view with horror the coming of Christ. We know that Scripture, when it speaks not only of the last judgment, but of all the judgments which God executes every day, describes them in a variety of ways, according as the discourse is addressed to believers or to unbelievers.
To what purpose is the day of the Lord to you?
says the prophet Amos, (5:18.)
It is a day of darkness and gloominess, 154154 Our author — quoting from memory, as he frequently does — appears to have incorporated the words of the prophet Amos, (5:18,) To what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light, with a parallel passage in Joel, (2:1, 2) for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. — Ed. not of light; of sorrow, not of joy; of destruction, not of salvation. On the other hand, Zechariah (9:9) bids the daughter of Zion rejoice on account of the coming of her King; and justly, for—as Isaiah (35:4) tells us—the same day which brings wrath and vengeance to the reprobate brings good-will and redemption to believers.
Christ therefore shows that, at his coming, the light of joy will arise on his disciples, that they may rejoice in the approaching salvation, while the wicked are overwhelmed with terror. Accordingly, Paul distinguishes them by this mark, that they wait for the day or coming of the Lord, (1 Corinthians 1:7) for that which is their crown, and perfect happiness, and solace, is delayed till that day, (2 Timothy 4:8.) It is therefore called here (as in Romans 8:23) redemption; because we shall then obtain truly and perfectly the consequences of the deliverance obtained through Christ. Let our ears therefore be awake to the sound of the angel’s trumpet, which will then sound, not only to strike the reprobate with the dread of death, but to arouse the elect to a second life; that is, to call to the enjoyment of life those whom the Lord now quickens by the voice of his Gospel; for it is a sign of infidelity, to be afraid when the Son of God comes in person for our salvation.