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    SIGNS OF THE LORD’S COMING

    We have now come to the more direct answer to the question, “What shall be the sign of thy coming?” This answer is given in verses 29-31: “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, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”EMTF 42.2

    This contains the most specific answer, though another class of signs has already been noticed, which are fulfilled in modern Spiritualism. The close connection of the signs in the sun, moon, and stars, to the coming of Christ and events related to it, show that here we have the answer to the question of the disciples. As we hold the advent of Christ to be a literal coming, so we hold that these signs are literal, according to the first and obvious meaning of the terms used.EMTF 43.1

    1. There is no consistency in the view that they are figures or symbols. A teacher in a theological college in one of the Western States told us, when asked, of what they were symbols, that the sun meant the civil power of the Jews; the moon, the ecclesiastical power; and the stars, the great men of that nations This would make the Saviour say, in the year A. D. 29, under the reign of Tiberius and, Pilate, that sometime in the future, or when Jerusalem was destroyed, in A. D. 70, the civil power of the Jews should be obscured or lost!. The absurdity of this declaration it is difficult to equal, for everyone must know that they had not even a vestige of civil power at that time to lose. They had not power to punish one whom their highest tribunal had judged worthy of death, and they acknowledged Cesar as their only king.EMTF 43.2

    2. It has been urged by those holding the Universalist view,” that great signs were shown just before the capture and destruction of Jerusalem, and that these fulfilled this prophecy. Dr. Clarke mentions some in his notes on verses 6, 7. But so far from these being signs of his coming, or of the end, the Saviour distinctly says of them—“the end is not yet”—“these are the beginning of sorrows.” The signs of verse 29 are closely related to his coming, and therefore here is found the answer to the question under consideration.EMTF 44.1

    3. We are told by authors that certain signs and omens did take place before the destruction of Jerusalem. See Clarke’s Commentary. And then they also claim that “the tribulation” of this chapter was the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. But that cannot be true, for the text says, “Immediately after the tribulation” these signs shall appear. It is supposed that the signs denoted the coming destruction, or tribulation. But that is not the case. The signs are after the tribulation, and denote the approach of another event. The theory which we are calling in question would make it appear that the signs of Christ’s coming are given after his coming! But neither his coming nor that tribulation relate to the destruction of Jerusalem. The Scriptures are not so inconsistent as that view would make it appear.EMTF 44.2

    4. If it be indeed true that the signs of verse 29 are literal, that must decide the controversy; and that they are literal there is one point of proof which seems quite conclusive. In Luke 21:25 the same things are spoken of in the following manner: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity.” The signs in the sun, moon, and stars, are distinct from the things upon the earth,—they are not fulfilled among the nations of the earth. Here is a fact the conclusion of which is unavoidable. Compare Acts 2:19, 20.EMTF 44.3

    We will now notice the harmony of the literal view. 1. Paul said there should come a great apostasy before the coming of the Lord. Christ said the same in Matthew 24:2. Paul said that at the coming of Christ the saints will be gathered together unto him. The Saviour said the same in Matthew 24:3. Paul said that when the Lord comes, the holy angels will come with him. 2 Thessalonians 1. The Saviour said the same thing in Matthew 24, and in 16:27, and in 25:31.EMTF 45.1

    Again, in speaking of the apostasy and its fruits, Paul said that a great antichristian power should arise, which should continue till the time of the Lord’s coming. Daniel speaks of the same power, gives it the same characteristics of self-exaltation and blasphemy, says it shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and practice and prosper till the time comes that the saints possess the kingdom. The Saviour speaks of the same persecution,—the great tribulation upon “the elect,“—and says that the saints will possess the kingdom when he comes. Compare further Matthew 25:31, 34 and 1 Corinthians 15:49-53. The saints were not called to “inherit the kingdom” at the destruction of Jerusalem; “all nations” were not gathered at that time to have judgment passed upon them.EMTF 45.2

    The signs in the heavens came after the tribulation. The greatest tribulation the saints of Christ ever suffered, was under the Roman power. It was severe under Pagan Rome, but far more terrible and destructive, as it was of longer continuance, under Papal Rome. Under the influence of the German Reformation in the sixteenth century, this tribulation began to wane. It ceased early in the eighteenth century. In the latter part of the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth century, the signs in the heavens were fulfilled. They are not signs of the tribulation, nor is the tribulation connected with the coming of Christ. They are signs of his coming, and they stand between the tribulation and his coming. His coming is now near, for these signs are fulfilled.EMTF 46.1

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