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    November 14, 1900

    “Lessons from Matthew 24. The Destruction of Jerusalem—Its Meaning To-day” The Signs of the Times 26, 46, pp. 4, 5.

    THERE is yet one important part of the Lord’s discourse concerning the sign of His coming and the end of the world, which must be noticed—that is, the part relating to the destruction of Jerusalem.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.1

    It must be remembered that it was the disciples showing to Jesus the wonderful structure of the temple that was the occasion which called forth this whole grand discourse upon the subject of the signs of His coming and of the end of the world.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.2

    The whole story is as follows: “And Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on His way. And as He went forth, His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple; and one of His disciples saith unto Him, Master, behold, what manner of stones and what manner of buildings! And some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Seest thou these great buildings? As for these things which ye behold, verily I say unto you, The days will come, in which there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.3

    “And as He sat on the Mount of Olives, over against the temple, the disciples, Peter and James and John and Andrew, came unto Him, and asked Him privately, saying, Master, tell us, when therefore shall these be? and what shall be the sign when these things are all about to be accomplished? and what shall be the sign when these things are all about to be accomplished? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?”SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.4

    Now in this whole discourse in answer to these questions, the only reference that Jesus made to the destruction of Jerusalem is less than two dozen lines, in the midst of His discourse, after He had sketched the events between that time and the end of the world, and just at the beginning of that part of His discourse in which He proceeds to give the signs of His coming and the time when the signs would begin to appear. From this fact, as well as from the causes and character of the destruction of Jerusalem, it is evident that the destruction of Jerusalem is itself a sign by which can be known the times of the Lord’s coming and of the end of the world, just as the fall of ancient Babylon is likewise such a sign. It is in the light of this suggestion that we shall here study that part of the Lord’s discourse relating to the destruction of Jerusalem.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.5

    That part of the Lord’s discourse is as follows: “When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, where he ought not (let him that readeth understand); and when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand. Then let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains; and let them that are in the midst of her depart out and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. Let him that is on the housetop not come down, nor enter in, to take out the things that are in his house; and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things that are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child and them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath. For there shall be great distress upon the land and wrath upon this people.”SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.6

    The Center of Controversy

    Why did all this come upon that people? Why was Jerusalem destroyed?—Because they rejected the Lord, of course. But why did they reject the Lord? What was the particular issue in which centered and culminated their opposition to the Lord and their rejection of Him? The answer to these questions is, That issue was the Sabbath,—the distinction between His principles as to what is true Sabbath-keeping and their views upon the same point.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.7

    In nothing had the selfishness of the Pharisees and doctors of the law taken a more perverse turn than in the matter of the Sabbath and its true meaning and purpose. So far as the Lord’s meaning and purpose in His Sabbath are concerned, they had utterly lost sight of it themselves, and by their traditions, and exactions had completely hidden it from the minds and hearts of the people. This was the crowning result of their perverse-minded course. And as Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, and as to bring to mind what He is to mankind, is the true intent of the Sabbath,—in other words, He Himself, as He lived among them, being the manifestation of the true intent of the Sabbath, it is evident that in nothing could His course arouse more or more bitter antagonism from these men than in His words and actions with relation to the Sabbath.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.8

    It was with reference to this that they began their persecution of Him; it was regarding this that they first entertained the thought of killing Him; and it was upon this issue that their opposition culminated in the actual crucifying of Him. This issue became clearly defined at His second Passover, at the pool of Bethesda, when Jesus healed the impotent man. Thus we read:—SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.9

    “A certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case. He saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered Him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool; but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked; and on the same day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured. It is the Sabbath day; it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was; for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.” John 5:1-15.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.10

    Of course they then knew who it was who had told him to do this “unlawful” thing,—to take up his bed and walk on the Sabbath day.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.11

    And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day.” Verse 16.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.12

    Now think of this: Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the sign of what He is to mankind. He then was in His life the living expression of the Sabbath. Therefore it was impossible for Him to do anything on the Sabbath that was not Sabbath-keeping; because the very doing of it was in itself the expression of the meaning of the Sabbath.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.13

    But his Sabbath-keeping did not suit the Sabbath ideas of the Pharisees and the doctors of the law and the scribes. They, therefore, called it Sabbath-breaking. Now Christ’s ideas of the Sabbath are God’s ideas of the Sabbath. The Pharisees’ ideas of the Sabbath and of Sabbath-keeping, being directly the opposite of the Lord Jesus’ ideas, were wrong. Therefore the controversy in that day between Christ and the Pharisees and the doctors of the law, was simply whether God’s ideas of the Sabbath should prevail, or whether man’s ideas of it should prevail.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.14

    “Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” John 5:16-18.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.15

    By this we further see that the very first open steps that the Pharisees and the doctors of the law ever took against Jesus Christ to do Him harm in any way, were taken because He had not kept the Sabbath to suit them. That was the controversy between Christ and them; and upon this point everything else turned.SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.16

    Shortly after this we have the record in the second chapter of Mark, twenty-third verse, to the third chapter, sixth verse; it is also in the twelfth chapter of Matthew, and the sixth of Luke, verses 1-12; but Mark’s record gives a point that is not in either of the others, and it is all-important:—SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.17

    “And it came to pass, that He went through the corn-fields on the Sabbath day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto Him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day, that which is not lawful? And He said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered; he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the showbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them that were with Him? And He said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath; therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.”SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.18

    “And He entered again into the synagog; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched Him, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath day; that they might accuse Him.”SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.19

    He knew that their attention was all on Him. And that they might have the fullest evidence possible, He called to the man who had the withered hand, and said to him, “Stand forth in the midst.” The man stepped out into the midst of the synagog. This drew everybody’s attention to Jesus and the man standing there waiting. Then He asked the Pharisees and those who were accusing Him, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?” They could not say it was lawful to do evil, for that would be contrary to all their own teaching, and they did not dare to say it was lawful to do good, because then they would sanction His healing this man on the Sabbath. “Is it lawful to save life, or to kill?” They did not dare to say it was lawful to kill, and they did not dare to say it was lawful to save life; for He told them, and they knew that it was so, that if one of them had a sheep that fell into a ditch on the Sabbath day, he would pull it out to save its life. Whether they would do this out of mercy to the sheep, or for fear of losing the price of it, matters not. They knew it was so. Therefore “they held their peace.”SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.20

    “And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, He saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.”SITI November 14, 1900, page 4.21

    Confederation against Christ

    The Herodians were a sect of the Jews, who stood at the extreme opposite pole from the Pharisees. They derived their title—Herodians—from being the friends, the supporters, and the rigid partisans of Herod and his house in their rule over the nation of Israel. The Pharisees were the “godly” of the nation, especially in their own estimation. They held themselves to be the righteous ones of the nation, the ones who stood the closest to God; and therefore they stood farthest from Herod and from Rome. They despised Herod; they hated Rome. The Herodians were the political supporters of Herod, and consequently the friends of Rome and Roman power. Therefore, as denominations, as sects, the Pharisees and the Herodians were just as far apart as they could be.SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.1

    Now when the Pharisees saw that Christ would not yield to their ideas of Sabbath-keeping, they, in order to carry out their purpose to kill Him—it was a far-reaching purpose—joined themselves, not only to their sectarian enemies, but to these particular religio-political sectarian enemies, so that they could secure the influence of Herod, so that they might have the government on their side, that they might have the civil power under their control, and thus make effectual their purpose to destroy Jesus. Thus they entered politics.SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.2

    After this we read:—SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.3

    “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He would not talk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him.” John 7:1.SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.4

    However, when the annual Feast of Tabernacle came, “about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.” As He was teaching, He said to them:—SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.5

    “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill Me? The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil; who goeth about to kill Thee? Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers); and ye on the Sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at Me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” John 7:19-24.SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.6

    Even at that time, these, His enemies, “sought to take Him,” yet “no man laid hands on Him.” And later in the same day “the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him;” yet neither did the officers lay hands on Him. And when the officers returned without bringing Him, the chief priests and the Pharisees were so enraged that they were on the point of officially condemning Him anyhow, and were checked only by the word of Nicodemus, “Doth our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he doeth?”SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.7

    The next instance in this controversy is recorded in the ninth chapter of John—the case of the giving of sight to the man born blind.SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.8

    And it was the Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes; ... therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because He keepeth not the Sabbath day.” Verses 14-16.SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.9

    The next instance is in Luke 13:10-17:—SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.10

    “And He was teaching in one of the synagogs on the Sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in nowise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagog answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and said unto the people. There are six days in which men ought to work; in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.11

    Increasing Antagonism

    As they continued to watch Him to see whether He would heal people, and otherwise do good on the Sabbath day. He continued to heal on the Sabbath day, another instance in point being recorded in Luke 14:1-6. Thus He continued to grow in favor with the people, and the more to incur the antagonism of the chief priests, the Pharisees, and the Herodians. When at last He had gone so far as to raise from the dead a man who had been dead four days, and when, as a consequence, “many of the Jews believed on Him,” this so aroused His enemies that “some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.” And then and there the chief priests and the Pharisees in council said:SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.12

    “What do we? for this Man doeth many miracles. If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him; and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” John 11:47, 48.SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.13

    Note the argument that was in their hearts, and in their words, in fact. They were accusing Jesus all the time of Sabbath-breaking; and now they say, “If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him,” and that will make all men Sabbath-breakers. The nation will be a nation of Sabbath-breakers. And when the whole nation becomes a nation of Sabbath-breakers, the judgments of God will be visited upon us; and the Lord will bring the Romans, and sweep away the whole nation. Then, in that same meeting—SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.14

    “One of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” “Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put Him to death.” Verses 49, 30, 53.SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.15

    And a few days afterward they accomplished to the full their purpose, and did put Him to death. And when that was done, the doom of the nation was fixed; and it was only a question of time when would come the destruction of the temple, the city, and the people. They said, “If we let this man thus alone, all men will believe on Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” They did not let Him alone, and the Romans came and took away both their place and nation forevermore. Their efforts to save the nation destroyed the nation.SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.16

    And let it never be forgotten that the one great issue, above all others, on which they rejected Him, and persecuted Him, and sought to kill Him, was the Sabbath of the Lord as against a sabbath of men, the true Sabbath as against a false one, the Lord’s idea of the Sabbath as against man’s idea of the Sabbath. And in all the time of the impending destruction, and even in the very crisis of their experience in connection therewith—when they should see the given sign, in Jerusalem being encompassed with armies—the Sabbath was still an issue, and of vital consideration. For in all their thoughts as to their flight from the sure coming destruction, this word of Jesus must ever be remembered, “Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on THE SABBATH DAY.”SITI November 14, 1900, page 725.17

    ALONZO T. JONES.

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