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19 In your patience possess ye your souls.
We must be very careful about attempting to prophesy, and about over-emphasising passing events. There are many zigs and zags in the development of the Purpose. Just a few years ago, prominent brethren in another group were confidently saying in their official magazine that bro. Thomas was wrong, and Russia could not possibly be King of the North, because of her 'Pact of Eternal Friendship' with Egypt. Very soon after, that pact went the way of all human pacts.
Exactly 100 years ago, the Brotherhood had every reason to believe the end was upon them. The temporal power of the Pope had recently ended-the 1260-year period of power to persecute-just when expected. Russia was furiously driving against the tottering Turkish Empire with the full weight of its armed might. Europe was favouring Russia, because of religious sympathy and envy of Britain's power. Britain opposed the Russian advance, and had drawn a line at Constantinople beyond which it dared Russia to go. Turkey held the Holy Land, where Russian and Catholic interest was strong. The Jews were stirring toward political life, and had begun to return.
But it was not the end. All the Signs they saw were correct, but had to get far bigger and more prominent: Israel, Russia, war, violence, immorality, human knowledge and travel and pride, world turmoil and discontent, etc. Britain and Europe had to be weakened, and shrink tremendously on the world scene: the German and Austrian empires broken up-all fading before the dreadful superpower of Russia. *
20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
The notion that the duration of the abomination was to be dated from A.D. 70, is derived from the English version of Daniel twelfth chapter and eleventh verse. It is there written, "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate be set up, there shall be 1290 days''.
In the Hebrew the italic words are not in the text. Leaving out these words, or rather, giving a more literal version without supplying any words at all, the passage appears intelligible enough.
"And at the time of vengeance the daily shall be taken away, in order to set up an abomination that maketh desolate a thousand two hundred and ninety days."
This rendering agrees with the facts in the case. The daily was taken away at the time of vengeance (Luke 21:22), and 461 years after, an abomination was set up which continued 1290 years, ending A.D. 1821. Desolation, it is true, still continues, but this is no objection to their termination then.
We are not to suppose that the 1290 years being ended, internal improvement was to begin the year after. All it justifies is the expectation that when they expired "that that is determined" should begin to be "poured out upon the desolator;" an expectation that has been literally verified in the opening of the sixth vial upon the Ottoman empire in the epoch of 1820-3.
Elpis Israel 3.4.
`21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
Disciples of the faithful class would observe the tokens and keep themselves in harmony with the work to be done; others would say they saw nothing divine in the public affairs of the time, but the mere natural workings of things as they had always been.
The watching class would point to the drift of things as antagonistic to the Jews: the others would have it in their power to point to cases in which the Jews got the upper hand-particularly as the great crisis itself approached, when Cestius, the Roman general, was overpowered and driven out of the country, and the whole nation rose in a war of independence.
It is instructive to look back and see how amid all the vicissitudes of public affairs, the day of vengeance slowly crept over Israel by natural means, and at last broke into destructive fury and obliterated almost the very existence of Israel from the earth.
The Ways of Providence - Ch 24.
22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
Jesus severely chided the Pharisees because they could not discern the Signs of the Times. It could have helped save them from the greatest tragedy that ever befell a people. They should have been aware of their location in Daniel's Messianic 70 Weeks, which culminated in their generation. They should have recognised in Rome the terrible, strange-tongued, eagle-nation from afar (Deuteronomy 28) that was to destroy their city and Temple (Daniel 9: 26), and cast them out of their land.
They should have recognised John as Isaiah's 'Voice crying in the wilderness', and as Malachi's messenger of the Messiah. But they did not-and all that was foretold came suddenly upon them. *
24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
The time... for collecting together the nobility of the kingdom is almost elapsed. It has been continuous with the desolation of Jerusalem. She was to be "trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). These times are almost accomplished. Only a few more years remain, and then ''the accepted time and day of salvation" will have passed. The door into the kingdom will be shut, and no more can obtain a right to enter in.
Men who may survive the worse than Egyptian plagues coming upon them, may live in the future age in hope of immortality when the age has passed away; but in the glory and honour of Shiloh's "everlasting dominion," they will have neither part nor lot in the matter.
Elpis Israel 2.5
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
Without the Signs, the whole pattern of our lives would be far less interesting, far more hazy and indefinite. Truly we could live full, godly lives without them: they are not essential to salvation. But they greatly strengthen faith and interest, and give us encouraging bearings and landmarks whereby to plot our position in the outworking of the Divine Purpose. It is much more pleasant and comforting to be travelling in clear sunlight, observing the changing terrain that indicates the approach of our destination, than it is travelling in indistinguishable dark or fog.
The 'sure word of prophecy' would lose much of its force for us if we had no way to tie ourselves in, by current events and circumstances, to our specific position in the Plan. The Signs are of God's love and mercy, for the strengthening of His children. The wise will be thankful for them, and will be stirred to godly action by them.
Bro Growcott - The Household of Faith in the Latter Days
32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
Jesus did not limit his work or his coming to the destruction that was to overtake Jerusalem. He went far beyond that event. He spoke of "the times of the Gentiles"as a long period during which Jerusalem would be downtrodden, at the end of which redemption was to draw nigh. When the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled, a sign of the impending appearing of Christ should be "on earth distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring, men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things that are coming on the earth," &c.
When, therefore, Jesus said, "This generation shall not pass till all these things shall be fulfilled," we must not think that he meant things which he expressly excluded from the lifetime of "that generation" by placing them at the expiry of the times of the Gentiles, and which could not occur in that generation by his own description of their scope. The history of the case is the interpretation of the case. That generation did not pass without witnessing the "these things" about which the disciples asked. Forty years afterwards, the temple was destroyed, and Jerusalem laid in ashes.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 47
36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
It is a remarkable paradox that the true, unworldly, separated people of God are far more interested in the significant events in the world than the world itself is. The vast majority of the world's 4 billion people-we could say 99%-know and care little or nothing of what goes on outside their own tiny circle of low animal activity and enjoyment. Even in our own supposedly educated and sophisticated countries, we find the weekly news magazines are almost entirely petty froth and rubbish: a few meaningful paragraphs in average issues of over 100 pages.
Our position is unique. It is their world, but we are more interested in what is happening and where it is going. We have a programme. We know generally what is going to happen, though we do not know specifically from event to event, which makes it far more interesting.
Bro Growcott - The Household of Faith in the Latter Days