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    July 31, 1884

    “The Sabbath-School” The Signs of the Times, 10, 29.

    E. J. Waggoner


    1. In our last lesson, what Scripture was quoted concerning a time of tribulation?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.1

    2. What was this time of trouble to follow?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.2

    3. Show that the time of trouble referred to does not mean the destruction of Jerusalem.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.3

    4. Prove that the predicted tribulation was to come upon the people of God alone.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.4

    5. Repeat the words of prophecy that foretell such a period of tribulation. Daniel 7:25.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.5

    6. What power is here referred to as “wearing out” the saints of God?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.6

    7. How long were the saints and laws to be given into is hand?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.7

    8. To how many days is the sequel? Revelation 12:6, 14.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.8

    9. In symbolic prophecy what does a day represent? Ezekiel 4:5, 6.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.9

    10. Then how many days of papal supremacy and persecution were predicted?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.10

    11. From what date are they to be reckoned?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.11

    12. Then when would they end?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.12

    13. How was the papal power broken in 1798?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.13

    14. What did Christ say would be done to those days for the elect’s sake? Matthew 24:22.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.14

    15. What must be meant by this?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.15

    16. What great movement produced a sentiment against persecution for conscience’ sake?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.16

    17. What did the Lord say would immediately follow the tribulation of those days? Matthew 24:29.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.17

    18. How definitely is the beginning of the signs located? Mark 13:24.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.18

    19. When did the darkening of the sun and moon take place?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.19

    20. When was the prophecy concerning the falling of the stars fulfilled?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.20

    21. Is the shaking of the powers of the heavens a sign of the coming of the Lord, or something that occurs in connection with it? 2 Peter 3:10.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.21

    22. Are there to be any signs besides those in the heavens? Luke 21:25.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.22

    23. When the signs begin to come to pass, what is near? Luke 21:28.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.23

    24. How can we tell when summer is approaching? Luke 21:29, 30.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.24

    25. Do the signs here considered just as surely prove that Christ’s coming is near? Verse 31; Matthew 24:32, 33.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.25

    26. Are we to admit of any doubt concerning it?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.26

    27. If the Lord commands us to know, is it not a sin to remain ignorant?SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.27

    In our last lesson we identified the time of tribulation, of Matthew 24:21, 22, with the period of wearing out the saints of the Most High, mentioned in Daniel 7:25. The power that was then to “wear out the saints,” is admitted by all commentators to be the papacy. The period of time during which they were to be given into its hand is stated as “a time and times, and the dividing of time.” Without entering into any discussion as to the length of a “time,” we can very easily determined how long this period of Daniel 7:25 was. In Revelation 12:14 we find the same period given as the length of time during which the “woman” (the Christian church) was nourished in the wilderness. In the sixth verse of the same chapter the same event is brought to view, and the time is said to be “a thousand two hundred and three-score [1260] days.” We may therefore read Daniel 7:25 thus: “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until [or during] a time and times and the dividing of time.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.28

    But twelve hundred and sixty days, only three years and a half, would be rather an insignificant persecution; the time would be entirely too short to accomplish the wearing out of the saints; and besides we know that the persecution of the church by the papacy lasted much longer than that. We remember, therefore, that the prophecy in which this prediction occurs, is symbolic, and that the time brought to view is figurative. If we turn to Ezekiel 4:4-6, we shall find that in prophetic symbols a day represents a year. Substituting this, we are warranted in reading Daniel 7:25 thus: And he shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into this hand for twelve hundred and sixty years.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.29

    This period of papal rule began in 538 A.D., when, by the overthrow of the Ostrogoths Justinian’s decree that the bishop of Rome should be head of all the churches, went into effect. Twelve hundred and sixty years from that date would bring us to A.D. 1798, for the close of papal supremacy; and just at that time it was that Pope Pius VI. was taken prisoner by the French, and the temporal dimension of the papacy was destroyed, never again to be restored to its former glory. That the years intervening between these two dates were filled with persecutions which literally “wore out” the people of God, is fully attested by history. The “tribulation” may doubtless be considered as beginning before 538 A.D., for under pagan rule the Christians suffered terrible persecutions; but pagan persecution did not begin to compare in fiendish malignity with those waged by the apostate Christian church against the true followers of Christ.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.30

    “But for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened.” What days? Not the days of papal supremacy, for the time of its continuance had been definitely fixed years before. Our Lord must refer to the days of persecution by the papal power. Had that persecution been pushed to the close of the 1260 years with all the relentless rigor that characterized it in its height, none of the people of God (no flesh), as the Bible says, would have escaped. But in the providence of God the Reformation arose. God did not design that his truth and people should be utterly exterminated, so that he could have no witnesses upon earth. So he moved on the hearts of devout men like Luther, to preach the word, showing that man must be justified by faith, and not by penances, pilgrimages, or the payment of coin. Their preaching was accompanied with such power that thousands were constrained to believe the glad message of salvation through Christ alone; and when the rulers of various European States espoused the new light, and refused to yield abject obedience to the commands of the pope of Rome, the persecution was gradually diminished, until about the middle of the eighteenth century, it virtually ceased. So for the elect’s sake the days were shortened.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.31

    “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened,” etc. As recorded by Mark (chap. 13:24) our Saviour was still more explicit in his prediction. After speaking of the affliction above noted, he said: “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light.” We must therefore look for the fulfillment of the sign somewhere between the middle of the eighteenth century and the year 1798. Do we find it? The dark day of May 19, 1780, is one of the notable events of history. A brief description may be found in “Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary,” the list of “Noted Names,” etc. The darkness extended over the entire day, after ten o’clock in the morning, and through the greater part of the night falling. Although the moon was then full, not a ray of light was to be seen. Even in the day-time the darkness was so great that no work could be done out of doors, and persons who were out were actually unable to find their way home. Fowls went to roost in the forenoon, as though it were night. History contains no parallel to this wonderful event.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.32

    Many have sought to find an explanation for the darkness of May 19, 1780 thinking thereby to destroy its value as a sign of the Lord’s coming. None of these efforts have been successful, and so good authority is that quoted above (Webster) says: “The true cause of this remarkable phenomenon is unknown.” However, even if it were possible for anyone to explain it on scientific grounds, that would not in the least invalidate the claim that it is a true sign of the Lord’s coming. Mark the fact that Jesus did not say that a darkening of the sun should occur, which nobody could account for. What he did say was that at a certain time such an event should occur; its occurrence at the exact time specified establishes it beyond all controversy as a valid sign of the end.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.33

    “And the stars shall fall from heaven.” This was fulfilled in the memorable meteoric shower of Nov. 13, 1833. It accurately fulfilled Revelation 6:13, which likens the falling of the stars to the falling of unripe figs, when the tree is shaken by a mighty wind. Prof. Olmstead, of Yale College, said:-SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.34

    “Those who were so fortunate as to witness the exhibition of shooting stars on the morning of Nov. 13, 1833, probably saw the greatest display of celestial fire-works that has ever been seen since the creation of the world, or, at least, within the annals covered by the pages of history.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.35

    “When these things begin to come to pass then look up, and lift up your head; for your redemption draweth night.” Luke 21:28. That is, the signs show that the Lord’s coming is near. Says one, “I don’t believe in frightening people with talk about the Lord’s coming.” Well, the Lord didn’t say anything about getting frightened. He was speaking to his disciples (not simply to those chosen twelve, but to all who should believe on him through their word); and he tells them to rejoice. Why should they not? Their best friend is coming to redeem them, and to take them to himself. Does the prisoner tremble at the coming of the one whom he knows will open its prison doors and let him walk at liberty? Does the bondman, toiling in weariness and pain, writhing under the lash of the taskmaster, become frightened at the thought that the time of this cruel bondage is nearly over, and that one is coming who will make him a free man? Then certainly the Christian will only rejoice at the thought that his Saviour is coming to end all his trials and temptations, and to give him an everlasting home in the mansions of light. The Lord saves those who love his appearing, and those who love his appearing will not shrink from it with alarm.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.36

    How do we know when summer is approaching? By certain infallible signs. We see the buds begin to swell, the leaves begin to appear, and the tiny blades of grass shoot forth from the ground. When those things begin to take place, we know that summer is not far distant. No one could make us believe differently. “So likewise ye,” says the Saviour, “when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” Luke 21:31. This is a direct command. We are not to disbelieve, nor to be in doubt, nor to guess that he is near, but to know. To disregard this command is certainly a sin, as well as to disobey any other injunction. If we study his words carefully, how can we help knowing? How near is it? “Even at the doors.” The day and hour are not given, nor is it necessary that they should be. When we are informed that a friend is at our door, we do not require a message telling us when to prepare to receive him. If we are not then ready, we know that we have no time to lose. No expression could more strongly convey the fact that Christ’s coming is close upon us.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.37

    And how shall we prepare for that momentous event? “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21. If we would be enter into Christ’s kingdom, we must obey the laws of that kingdom. There will be none but loyal subjects there. Treason will not be found. Let us then, by the aid of Christ and his Holy Spirit, have the law of God so written in our hearts that we may be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. E. J. W.SITI July 31, 1884, page 454.38

    “The Reason Why” The Signs of the Times, 10, 29.

    E. J. Waggoner

    For years people were content to keep the first day of the week as the Sabbath because they were taught from childhood that this was right. No one felt called upon to give a special reason for doing that which no one questioned. We say that no one questioned the correctness of their action, not because there were none who condemned first-day observance both by word and act, but because those who kept the seventh day were so few in number as to be practically unknown. And so people kept Sunday because their parents did, and were content. Whenever the good people wished to reason with a worldling who would persist in finding his own pleasure on the first day of the week, they would quote, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” taking it as a matter of course that “Sabbath” meant Sunday, and that the fourth commandment was gotten up for the express purpose of protecting the first day from worldly toil and pleasure.SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.1

    But the time came when their quiet was disturbed. Those who read the commandment far enough to find out that “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord,” and had the courage to obey the commandment as it reads, preached the “new” doctrine with such vigor as to attract general attention. To the surprise of all the people who were quietly following custom, and to the disgust of many of them, it was found that the seventh day really is the Sabbath of the Bible, that it was that day that received the divine blessing and sanctification in the beginning, and that unfortunately the Bible writers had omitted to say anything about a change of the day of weekly rest. Some persons very sensibly concluded that if the Lord had wanted men to observe the first day of the week instead of the seventh he would have said something about it, and immediately adopted God’s original plan. The reason that God was abundantly able to make known his will, that he had done so very clearly in times past, even concerning matters of seemingly little importance, and that when he had not spoken it was very presumptuous in man to speak for him. See Ezekiel 13:7.SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.2

    Others, however, acted on the principle that Sunday-keeping must be right because, (1) It has been kept by nearly all the world for many centuries; (2) The leaders of the church do not accept the seventh-day Sabbath (see John 7:47, 48), and they certainly ought to know what is right; (3) It would be very inconvenient to make a change; and therefore (4) They were determined not to change. Having come to this conclusion, they felt that it was incumbent on them to give some reason for their course of action, especially since they were very strongly urged to do so by those who kept the Sabbath “according to the commandment.” Accordingly they promptly gave, substantially, the following “reasons:”-SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.3

    1. “The Sabbath was changed from the seventh to the first day of the week, because Christ rose from the dead on that day.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.4

    2. “The first day of the week is the one that was originally sanctified. The Jews were too wicked to be allowed to keep it, so the Lord let them keep Saturday for a while; but there has really been no change at all in the Sabbath day.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.5

    3. “We keep Sunday because the world is round, and it is impossible to keep any one day.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.6

    4. “The seventh day is indeed the Sabbath, and all men ought to keep it, for it is plainly commanded; but we can’t tell which day of the week is the seventh, and therefore we keep the first.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.7

    5. “The seventh day was the Sabbath from the beginning, but the Jews lost their reckoning while in Egypt, and since that time nobody has had the correct reckoning of the time.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.8

    6. “The Jews lost the correct reckoning during the Babylonian captivity, and consequently no one can tell whether or not the day that they now keep is the true seventh day.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.9

    7. “Christ kept the seventh-day Sabbath, and so did his disciples, “according to the commandment;” but during the dark ages of papal supremacy much time was lost; indeed, no reckoning whatever was kept for a long time, and so it is absolutely impossible to tell whether our Saturday is the seventh or the fourth day of the week, or even to tell in what year of the Christian era we are now living.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.10

    8. “We keep the first day of the week because, after the resurrection of Christ, the apostles kept it, and from their time to the present we have an uninterrupted record of Sunday observance.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.11

    9. “The commandment enjoins the observance of the only a seventh part of time; there is nowhere in the Bible a command to keep a definite day, so we keep Sunday.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.12

    10. “The ten commandments are now abolished, and the New Testament is the Christians only guide; but it is not a book of laws, and we don’t find in it the express command for Sabbath observance, and we therefore observe the first day of the week.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.13

    These are only a few of the many “reasons” given for keeping Sunday rather than the seventh day. As will be readily surmised, they were not developed in council, but were “sought out” by different individuals as occasion required. We but state the simple truth, however, when we say we have heard every one of the above “reasons” given in a single discourse, and that by a minister who was held in high repute as a man of learning. Whenever the above-mentioned “reasons” seemed unsatisfactory, others were given that were equally conclusive!SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.14

    In spite of all this, people would wonder why the Bible contains no command for Sunday observance. The “new” Sunday-keeping was right, but felt hurt that the Lord had not vouchsafed them one word of encouragement. If only one text could be found, what a relief it would be. Such ones may set their minds at rest. The Rev. J. M. Bailey, D. D., has found out just the reason why the Bible is silent on the subject of first-day observance; and he has given his discovery to the world through the columns of the Morning Star, a Free-Will Baptist journal published in Dover, N. H. He says:-SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.15

    “It appears that the convocation was changed from the seventh to the first on the very day of the resurrection of Christ. What he said to the disciples about it to convince them, we have no means of knowing. [Italics ours.] He met some of them several times that day, and then appeared in their assembly where they met with closed doors for fear of the Jews, and sanctioned their meeting by breathing on them the Holy Spirit, and sending them forth as the Father had sent him. Probably for fear of the Jews, what he said against Judaism, or in favor of the Christian Sabbath, was not published.”SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.16

    Do not smile, dear reader. This was written in sober earnest, by a learned D. D., for the express purpose of combating the errors of seventh-day keepers. We do not know how he regards his work, but it is our opinion that he leaves nothing more to be said. Before closing we wish to ask, Who was it that was so fearful? Was it Christ, who denounced the Jews to their face, calling them hypocrites? Of course he did not fear personal violence to himself. Was it Peter who feared to tell what Christ did say against the Sabbath and in favor of Sunday?-he who faced the Jewish Sanhedrim, and, charging that body with the murder of Jesus, only declared that “we ought to obey God rather than man.” Paul was not present on that night, but he was “not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5), being taught by the Lord Jesus himself. Galatians 1:11, 12. No one can accuse him of fearing to preach the word, and he himself declared that he had not shunned to declare “all the counsel of God.” Acts 20:26, 27; but he has left nothing on record concerning Sunday-keeping.SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.17

    We need not pursue the subject further. We will simply say that we too believe that fear operated to a certain extent to prevent the disciples from preaching that the Sabbath was changed. Not the fear of the Jews, but fear of disobeying Christ’s instruction in Matthew 28:19, 20; fear of being found false witnesses of God, and bringing upon themselves the curse recorded in Galatians 1:8, 9. E. J. W.SITI July 31, 1884, page 457.18

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