1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
4 And if he trespass against thee 7 times in a day, and 7 times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
They were not only to avoid causes of stumbling, but even when such had arisen, they were to endeavour to extricate those who had stumbled -- with a patience that was to go to the extremest limit: "seventy times seven."
It is in fact an inculcation of the reverse sentiment from that which animated Cain when he said, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
Christ means to say we are our brother's keeper to a certain extent, and Paul, his servant, carries the idea to an extent much beyond what men in our age are disposed to recognise. In his argument about the conscientious scruples of brethren in matters of eating and drinking, he says,
"If thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died ... It is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended or is made weak."
It is manifest that by the law of Christ, we are under an obligation to consider the bearing of our actions upon others. If we are indifferent on this head, we may find ourselves unexpectedly confronted with unknown responsibilities in the day of account. *
10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
Man, as a created being, owes it to God to obey His commandments. God has associated our highest well-being with it. God's approval of the performance of our obligation, and the recompense He purposes are all of His favour. There is no claim on our part. We do our duty: we do not profit God in this. We cannot profit Him. "We are unprofitable servants," in this sense. The profit is all on our side.
Boastful sentiment is barbarous. Even complacency is offensive. Only the attitude of humility is reasonable. *
Let us ever keep that saying of Christ in mind. It is a healthy and wholesome view. ALL that we have and are belongs to God, by right. It is no special virtue to use everything in His service: it's our common duty.
We are very deeply PRIVILEGED to be allowed to use God's goods in His service and to be "fellow-workers" with Him.
We can never give God an infinitesimal fraction of what He has given and has promised us. Stamp your heel promptly and decisively on any stupid stirring of self-glory or self-satisfaction: God hates such folly. If doing ALL is still unprofitable, what is God's judgment of those who do even less?
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
Journeying towards Jerusalem, on the highway passing through the Roman provinces of Galilee and Samaria, Jesus and his disciples were met near a certain village by a company of lepers. The lepers, numbering ten, did not come close, but kept at the distance which their diseased condition required. "They stood afar off." That a company of men in their condition should associate together is not wonderful, considering the complete insulation from the rest of the community which the law and custom imposed upon them.
Though insulated, they had heard of Jesus and his wondrous healing power: and now saw their opportunity had come. Perhaps they travelled on the highway at this time in the hope of meeting him. At all events, seeing their opportunity, they seized it. Though standing afar off, they arrested the attention of Jesus by their signals, and at the top of their voices implored him to have mercy on them. *
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
Jesus, whose mercy was never appealed to in vain, complied with their wishes in an indirect mode. *
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
"Go shew yourselves to the priests!" They knew what this meant. The law required a cured leper to shew himself to the priest. Though the priests were Christ's enemies, and though he had to condemn them in toto, yet as himself under the law (Gal. iv. 4) he was obedient to the law, because it was God's law, and therefore directed this melancholy group of social outcasts to do as the law required.
They were not slow to catch his meaning, and at once departed with all speed to the nearest priest. As they went along with the ardour of new hope, they felt in themselves that their disease was arrested, and that in fact a sound state had set in. The power of God in Christ had rectified the functional disorder that caused the disease, and they experienced the joyful sensation of being healed. They would no doubt exchange remarks on the subject. *
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
One of them was so impressed that he left the other nine to go forward, and turned back to where Christ was, and threw himself down at his feet with overflowing thanksgiving for the benefit he had received. "With a loud voice he glorified God." The man was not a Jew, but a stranger -- a Samaritan. Jesus took notice of the fact, and found no fault with him, but the reverse. Why were not the others with him? *
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Many are the benefits conferred. Life is a string of benefactions from the cradle to the grave. "He giveth unto all life and breath and all things." Why do so few recognise their obligation? Why are there so few to give hearty thanks? Why is it that praise to God for common mercies should seem cant and sentiment?
Because the minds of few are exercised to discern the roots and relations of things; and this is the result of the unhappy situation of things upon earth when mankind are left to govern themselves instead of being taken charge of and led by God who made them, who only knows the right conditions of human life and development, and who will yet set up a kingdom that will govern and guide them all.
It is for those, meanwhile, to whom it may have been given to see wisdom in the matter, to decline the example of the absent nine and their countless companions; and to imitate the tenth, in obedience to the apostolic command,
"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thess. v. 18). *
20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
'with observation' - (public demonstration)
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
'within you' - (among you)
That the reference was to his own presence among them is made certain by the remark he immediately added:
"The days come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man and shall not see it." (v22)
He was with them then -- in their midst: and his presence in the capacity of the King inviting to a future inheritance of the Kingdom was the only form in which the Kingdom was to be looked for at that time. By and bye, he would be gone, and it would be no longer affirmable that "the Kingdom of God was among them."
Why he should identify himself with the Kingdom is not difficult of apprehension when we realise that he is the kernel and root of all that the Kingdom will ever be when established over all the earth. The Kingdom, when it comes, will be but his power organically applied in the locality and constitution of things foreshewn in the prophets. He was the Kingdom in the germ.
It was in this sense that the people sang on the occasion of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem a little later:
"Blessed is the Kingdom of our father David that cometh in the name of the Lord."
It was, therefore, permissible for him to tell the Pharisees, in answer to their question when the Kingdom was coming, that it was already come and actually in their midst, though without the outward show of a political institution. The statement was a rebuke of their blindness. *
A kingdom is the dominion of a king. An empire is also the dominion of a king, but with this difference; the kingdom proper or " the first dominion," is restricted to regally constituted territory; while the empire, or secondary dominion, though belonging to the same king, extends over other peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues, than those of the royal domain.
...There are various elements necessary to the constitution of a well-organized kingdom. In the first place, a kingdom must have a territory. To maintain the opposite would be to contend that somewhere is nowhere.
A kingdom is not located in a feeling, or in heart ; though a belief of its future existence, a comprehension of its nature, or an attachment to it may exist there. It must have a place, a locality, as well as a name. It would be highly absurd to say, that the kingdom of England and the throne of Victoria were in Spain ; yet this would be as reasonable as to say, that the kingdom and throne of David are beyond the skies! an orthodox dogma contained in the fiction that Jesus is now sitting upon the throne of His father David!
What conceit after this is too ridiculous for creed-makers and systematizers to promulge!
... A well-regulated monarchy requires gradation of ranks, and orders of the best men, with whom the king may divide his power and glory, and administer the laws of the kingdom. These laws should be in conformity with the provisions and spirit of the constitution, which defines the principles, and creates and combines the elements of the state.
Now, it is worthy of remark, that the subjects of a kingdom do not possess the kingdom. They are simply the inhabitants of the territory, who are defended against external aggression, and protected as civilians by the power and law of the state.
The possessors of the kingdom are the king and those with whom he is pleased to share his authority. This is an important distinction, and must not be forgotten in studying "the things of the kingdom of God."
The subjects of the kingdom and empire are a totally different class from the heirs
or possessors of the dominion. From this brief view, then, of the nature and constitution of a kingdom, its elements may be stated as consisting of,
1. A territory;
3 A king;
4. A constitution;
5. Laws, civil and ecclesiastical;
7. Attributes, or, prerogatives, rights, privileges, &c.
Elpis Israel 2.2.
26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
...can we think of such a doom awaiting the world in which we sojourn, and not sorrow for its guilty, condemned inhabitants? Did Jesus weep over one city, and say,
"If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes,"
and shall not our hearts yearn for a whole world that lieth in wickedness, and daily ripens for destruction? And shall we be content, my brethren, with sorrowing? The hour of judgment, near as it may be, has not yet come. The door of mercy still stands open: yea, as yet it opens into the scene of those heavenly delights, and bridal glories, which Christ and his brethren shall share, ere he comes forth from the wedding to execute vengeance on his foes.
And shall we not use the opportunity to sound forth the gospel of God's grace? If it be true that judgment is at the door, instead of the gradual peaceful introduction of millennial blessedness, shall we on that account be less urgent in our entreaties, less zealous in our labours, less instant and earnest in our prayers? God forbid?
Knowing the judgments which await the world around us, knowing that grace has rescued us from those judgments, and that when they are executed, we ourselves shall be with him who executes them, is it possible that we can selfishly enjoy the thought of our own security, and leave the poor world unwarned, the grace of Christ and the Father's love unproclaimed, or poor sinners uninvited-unurged-unintreated to flee to the shelter of his open arms?
O for more earnest love to Christ, and deeper compassion for our fellows. Brethren, the time is short. The moments glide rapidly away. Soon will the only opportunity be gone that we shall ever have of confessing our Master, and seeking his glory, in the midst of a world which either rejects him openly, or the more decidedly rejects him in reality, for owning him in appearance and in word.
May his own truth animate us. May communion with him cause the fountains of compassion for those around us to gush forth. May men be gathered to his arms of mercy. May his people be stirred up to pray, and watch, and labour. May we humble ourselves, and stir up and exhort one another, and so much the more as we see the day approaching!
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Feb 1859
29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
THE GRAND PROVIDENTIAL INTERPOSITION
If, as many still think, the conversion of the world is left in human hands, dependent upon human diligence, and the progress of human affairs, then speculation and calculation may both be of service in determining the probable aspect of the future-and all one can say in this case is, if the past is to afford a presage of the future, Alas, for us!
Alas, for "the church!" Alas, for the world! But if it be admitted that God must in some extraordinary way interfere; and if it be further admitted that scripture foretells that he will interfere; then, where, I ask, are we to learn the manner, the mode, the magnitude of such interference, but in those scriptures which warn us of its approach? Speculation has no place here.
Calculation of the future from the past is utterly out of the question. Nothing will serve but simple subjection to God's word; a child-like, docile reception of whatever God's word declares. God grant us such a spirit, in inquiring what the testimony of scripture is, on the solemn subject at present before us.
Before producing, however, the direct testimony of scripture on this subject, I would make this one remark, viz., that it is taken for granted here, that there is to be a millennium. Proofs of this from scripture may occupy our attention hereafter; as well as much that relates to the nature of millennial blessedness. For the present, I would assume that my readers concur in the belief, all but universal among professors, that there is to be a long period of universal peace and righteousness on the earth.
This is not our present question. The question before us is, First, Whether judgments do not introduce this period of universal blessing? Secondly, What is the nature, and what the extent of these judgments? Not only shall we find that the millennium is introduced by judgments, but that these judgments are of a character perfectly unparalleled.
National convulsions there will be, no doubt, and political overturnings, such as this earth has never witnessed. Providential scourges too, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, hurricanes, and every kind of terrific deviation from the usual course of things.
But all these, so far from being subsidiary interventions, designed to hasten the triumph and secure the success of benevolent agencies already at work, are themselves either the precursors or attendants of an event, which closes the present, and introduces a new, dispensation; an event, with which no other (save one) in the whole history of this world, past, present, or future, can for a moment compare.
That event is the second coming, the appearing in glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even the one exception, his own first coming in humiliation, was in order to this.
This is the grand event which is before us; an event to which the christ[adelphian] indeed, may look forward with intense desire and expectation; but which, in its bearing on the world, is connected with those terrible judgments which shall prostrate the pride of man, rebuke for ever the swellings and vauntings of iniquity, purge the earth of corrupters and destroyers, and usher in the blissful period of the reign of Christ with his glorified saints, over the spared and pardoned, and renewed inhabitants of the millennial earth.
Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1861
King of kings, and lord of lords.
He is clothed in a vesture dipped in blood
Such is the end of the course of this Aion, or "times of the Gentiles!" Its commerce and its pleasures, its politics and its religion, its philanthropy and its misanthropy, its hypocrisy and its blasphemy, its morality and its open wickedness, all find their termination here.
Reader, whoever thou art, if thou hast not been separated from this present evil world, by God's revelation to thy heart of his Son Jesus Christ, this is the end to which thou art hastening. Thou art unconscious of it, it is true, but this makes thy situation not one whit the safer.
Thou art like a man in a boat drifting down a rapid stream, with his back to the danger, and entertaining himself, as he looks up the river, with all the gay, pleasant objects which are flitting past him. But as each moment bears him onward to the falls, where he must ere long be dashed to pieces; so my reader, thou art, with the poor world, gliding down to destruction.
There is no hope of stopping the vessel; it must perish. God can snatch thee out of it, and rescue thee from the overthrow; and this is the only hope one can have concerning thee. God grant that these pages may be used to this end!
Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1861
30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
The difficulty lies here: the subject of the remarks is apparently the second coming of the Son of Man, and yet they refer to events connected with the impending overthrow of the Jewish nation and the destruction of Jerusalem, as where he counsels flight from the midst of destruction, reminding them of Lot's wife; and speaks of the gathering of vultures to a dead body (the gathering of the Romans to prey on the carcase of the Jewish party). How came two such apparently widely separated subjects to be interwoven one with another? We may find our answer if we go back and take our stand with Christ at the time he uttered the words.
Looking forward from that point of time, the events would not seem so far separated as they do to us. In fact, in a sense, they were actually part and parcel of one another. Looking forward, the long-foretold overthrow of the Jewish state was the immediately proximate and impending event. It would fill the mental sky of the beholder. It was to happen within the life-time of that generation (Matt. xxiv. 34).
It was to happen after Christ's departure from his disciples, but it was associated with the idea of his personal co-operation and presence: for he was to be alive, with "all power in heaven and earth in his hands." The infliction of judgment on Jerusalem was to be by "the King sending forth his armies, destroying those murderers, and burning up their city" (Matt. xxii. 7). It was therefore in a sense a coming of Christ in judgment: not an appearing, but a coming. He was alive and there to take part.
The idea of his personal though unseen participation in the events of the period is countenanced by the fact that he appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the way to Damascus, saying, with reference to Paul's antagonism to believers, "Why persecutest thou me?" also by his declaration to John in Patmos, that he walked in the midst of the golden candlesticks (this is, the ecclesias), and that if certain did not repent, he would come on them as a thief, and they would not know when (Rev. iii. 3). It is not an act of the imagination, therefore if we realise his cooperation in the events that devastated the land in destroying judgment long-gathered up.
This harmonises all the allusions of the discourse under consideration. A day of judgment had come in Noah's day, a day of judgment had come in Lot's day. In both cases, the approach of the day was disregarded. So it would be in the day of judgment fast hastening upon Israel, when He, Jesus ("first suffering many things and rejected of that generation, but afterwards raised and glorified"), would come upon them as a thief, invisible, but powerful for their destruction. *
Dear reader, it is not by appearances we have to judge, but by the word of God. And know you not what that word records in the history of the past, as well as what it foretells, of the future? The antediluvians thought Noah mad, to predict a deluge, and prepare an ark.
...And nature seemed to smile on their pursuits. The sun rose as usual on the morning of their overthrow. Scripture notes this.
"The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar."
..."But what is all this to us?" you perhaps inquire. Let our Lord himself reply.
"Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." Luke 17:30.
Ah yes, peace and plenty, order and tranquility, the advance of science, and the growth of intelligence, are no signs that judgment is far off!
"When they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape."
And while it is quite true, that they who only regard appearances on earth may suppose, that everything bespeaks the continuance of peace and prosperity, there are those who know that God's word is "settled for ever in heaven:" and who will, through his grace, listen to what that word proclaims, of approaching judgment, desolation, and woe. Then, besides, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear, they to whom the knowledge of these things has been confided, must, to deliver their own souls, lift up their voices, and cry aloud, and spare not.
There may be some, however, who read these pages, who are not so blinded by appearances as to suppose, that the present partial lull will continue, who yet have no adequate conception of the nature and extent of the solemn changes which are at hand.
You see, dear reader, that no dependence is to be placed on the sort of quiet which at this moment exists. You know well that the atmosphere is never so still as just before the bursting forth of a wild and desolating storm; and seeing probably in scripture, that there are great convulsions to take place, ere the world is subdued to the sceptre of Immanuel, you may be looking for these as near at hand.
Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1861
36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Those who obeyed his instructions would be thus "taken" from the midst of the judgment: those who did not would be "left." Where? Why, where the vultures were about to gather to fatten on Israel's carcase. Such directions could not apply to the incidents of his second appearing in power and great glory, when the gathering of his household is for judgment, and not left to their will, but effected by angelic agency. *
Nazareth Revisited Ch 47
37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body [Judah a carcase in AD 70] is, thither will the [Roman devouring and tearing] eagles be gathered together.