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Last Day Tokens

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    4 THE LAST GENERATION

    Parable of the Fig-Tree-Learning the Parable

    A SHORT time before our Saviour’s death, His disciples asked Him the following very important question relative to the close of earth’s history: “What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” 1Matthew 24:3.LDT 49.1

    Not repudiating their question, Christ proceeded to give them a definite answer, rehearsing the predictions concerning events that would transpire, and finally giving signs by which, when fulfilled, it might be known that His coming is near; even saying that the very generation witnessing the signs-the last generation-is not to pass until He shall come.LDT 49.2

    The Saviour goes over this prophetic ground three times, first giving what may be called a summary of events reaching down to the end. 2Matthew 24:4-14. None of these, however, does He call definite signs of His near coming, except the last one mentioned,—“This gospel of the kingdom [“glad tidings of the reign,” some translate] shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” 3Matthew 24:14. In passing over the ground the first time, Christ told His disciples there would be wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places, and though these things were to come, they were not the signs of His near coming; for, said He, “The end is not yet.” 4Matthew 24:6. That famines, pestilences, etc., have been abundant, history fully shows. 5See “An Exposition of Matthew Twenty-four,” and “The Coming King,” which may be obtained from the publishers of this work. While these were not the tokens of His immediate coming, they were things which would transpire. However, He does proceed to give what will be the state of things when the end is near. He says: “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” This prediction is in exact accord with that given by the apostle Paul respecting the last times: “In the last days perilous times shall come.” Paul enumerates some eighteen sins that will exist among that class who have a “form of godliness” and who are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” 62 Timothy 3:1-5.LDT 49.3

    From verses fifteen to twenty-eight, our Saviour goes over the ground the second time, down to His second coming, this time going back only to the destruction of Jerusalem. Having given the tokens of its overthrow, and instructions to His people regarding the course they should pursue when the ruin of the city should be threatened, He calls attention to the great tribulation which was to come upon God’s people. The tribulation came in the persecutions of the “Dark Ages,” but was to be, and was, shortened, else none of the elect would have been left. This period of tribulation was from A. D. 538 to 1798. Although the persecutors retained the civil power, by virtue of which they had heretofore persecuted, until the year 1798, the rage of persecution was restrained by the governments’ granting toleration to all religions about 1773 and onward. Thus the days of persecution were shortened even before they expired, and while yet the persecutors retained the civil power.LDT 50.1

    Before closing this second line of prophecy, our Lord presented the fact that near the end “Lo heres!” and “Lo theres!” would arise, teaching of secret comings of Christ. That His followers be not deceived by that deception, He guards them with the great fact that His coming is an event that will be as visible to all as the lightning’s flash which shines in mid-heaven.LDT 51.1

    The third time our Saviour reviews this line of prophetic events down to His coming, He goes back to the close of the tribulation, and gives the definite signs by which it may be known when He is “near, even at the doors.” In verse twenty-nine is found this record: “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.” 7Matthew 24:29. Here are distinct signs. Of these He says, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it [margin, “He”] is near, even at the doors.” 8Matthew 24:33.LDT 51.2

    Respecting the time when these definite signs should begin to be fulfilled, we read in Mark’s record of the same discourse, “Except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved,” and, “In those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened,” etc. 9Mark 13:20, 24. Comparing these two records of the discourse, it is seen that these definite signs would begin to receive their fulfilment “in those days,” and “immediately after the tribulation.” The days ended in 1798. The persecutions began to be checked about 1773, as previously stated; and the last act of public burning was in 1779. The first of these signs, then, would naturally be expected between the years 1779 and 1798. Now what are the facts?-The signs in the sun and moon, here mentioned, were both fulfilled in that memorable “dark day” of May 19, 1780. It was a darkness that continued for twelve hours-from 11 A. M. to 11 P. M. Although the moon had fulled the day before, those describing the scene of that night said that “if every luminous body had been struck out of existence, the darkness could not have been more complete.” 10For testimonials on the “dark day,” see “An Exposition of Matthew Twenty-four” and “The Coming King.”LDT 51.3

    At the time of that dark day and night my grandfather lived in Trenton, New Jersey. I have heard him describe that night. He said that in a room where a large whale-oil lamp was burning, the light would not penetrate the darkness, and people on the opposite side of the room from the light could not avoid jostling against one another. He also said that around the lamp, for about eighteen inches each way it looked like a globe of blue. If you brought your book within the radius of that globe of light, you could read the print; but six inches from that, you could not see a letter. So it was indeed a darkness that could, like the darkness of Egypt, “be felt.”LDT 52.1

    It is not to be understood from the words of our Saviour as recorded in Luke, that those who should observe the first of these signs would be of the generation that should witness His coming; but said He, “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” 11Luke 21:28.LDT 53.1

    The third of these signs, the falling of the stars, was fulfilled on Nov. 13, 1833. On that night-or rather for five hours previous to day dawn-there was a meteoric shower, compared by some to streams of fire coming down from heaven; by others said to resemble sparks of fire flying from some great piece of fireworks. This phenomenon covered all North America, from the Gulf of Mexico on the south to Hudson’s Bay on the north, and from the Sandwich Islands on the west to within two hundred miles of Liverpool on the east. Where observed, it was the same continuous shower of stars, falling as thickly as snowflakes in a snow-storm. Testimonials concerning this wonderful display of “celestial fireworks” may be found in the publications already referred to.LDT 53.2

    In a book published by Leonard Heinrich Kelber, in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1835, it is stated that on Nov. 25, 1833, there was a fine display of falling stars on the continent of Europe. Mr. Kelber says that “in Minsterburg, Silesia, stars fell like a rain of fire. With them fell balls of fire, making the night so light that the people thought that the houses near them must be on fire.LDT 53.3

    “At the same time, in Prin, Austria, there was a falling of stars that covered a space of over five hundred square miles. It was described by some as like streams of fire coming down from heaven. Some called it a rain of fire. Horses were frightened by it, and fell to the ground. Many people were made sick through fear.”LDT 54.1

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