4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
We can see how from a divine point of view this must be the case. We cannot give anything to God in the absolute sense, since all things are His. The munificence of the intention must be the measure of all offerings to Him.
Judged by this rule, the widow gave more than the rich, because she gave more in proportion. By the same rule, it is in the power of the poorest to be large doers for God though their gifts may be paltry by human comparisons.
"It is reckoned according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not."
(1 Cor 8: 12)
Nazareth Revisited Ch 50
5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
They had recently been renovated by Herod, and according to Josephus, they were enriched by the expensive ornaments of worshippers from all lands. Built of marble and spiked with gold, it looked, say they who saw it, like a glittering pile of snow.
The Jews took a pride in it; so did the disciples who at this time shared the feelings of the nation. The response of Christ was not at all in harmony with the national feeling.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 50
8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.
WE must fervently pray God to free us from our illusions and delusions. He sometimes does it roughly, but it is wholesome and beneficial. How we tend to make special rules and exceptions for ourselves, and give new, excusing definitions to sin and folly! But God's holy laws are impartial for all, and wisdom will not seek to bend them for personal gratification or self-justification.
We must seek the divine blessing of the ability of searching impartiality and honesty in our necessary, constant self-examination. It is grimly interesting and amusing to see how deceptive our minds can be, and how contrary to our true and larger well-being.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
...that is, the occurrence of these great tribulations, instead of being a damper and a discouragement to them in the work which they would have in hand as witnesses for him, would be a confirmation to them that they were in the right way; because they would be a fulfilment of the word which he was now speaking to them; and would strengthem them to endure.
They would be specially helped in the rigours that would assail them. Jesus himself would help them, though invisible to them.
"I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able
to gainsay nor resist."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 50
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.
(on the east side of the Jordan: which ecclesiastical history tells us they did -- escaping to Pella).
Nazareth Revisited Ch 50
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.
...that is, when their times are accomplished, or the times allotted to them during which they are permitted to rule the world in wickedness, shall have an end, Jerusalem, which is now as a captive woman sitting on the ground in poverty and wretchedness, shall arise and stand upon her feet; a position that will be terrible to her oppressors.
This standing up is synchronical with the appearance of her King; so that the sign of that appearance is the sign of her deliverance. Hence, Matthew tells us, in effect, that the sign of her approaching redemption will appear in the heaven, because, he says,
"In the heaven shall appear the sign of the Son of Man."
The sign of the one is, and can only be, the sign of the other. The recognition of this truth will help us to understand the nature of the sign, and to discern it when it exists. It must therefore be a sign in which things concerning Jerusalem must find place.
... the aggregate signs should be in sun, moon, and stars pertaining to the habitable, occupied by nations in perplexity; that is, in the heavens of Daniel's Fourth Beast, the symbol which represents the Powers having dominion over the territory inhabited by the Greek Papal nations.
While the sun, moon, and stars of the Gentile world are shining, and contemporary with a time of perplexity and distress, and when the times of the nations are verging upon their close, signs would be observable in those politico-celestial orbs, importing to the mashkillim, or instructed, that the Son of Man was on his journey from the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens to his beloved Jerusalem.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, June 1855
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
25 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 sea and the waves roaring; [tumult, panic, and terrible apprehension of coming evil]
...there is a key by which any symbols in Scripture may be safely and clearly explained; and that is by interpreting the figure by the plain declaration, and not by straining the plain declaration to make it agree with the figure.
We have for an example of this rule, signs spoken of in this verse as to take place in the sun, moon, and stars: this may mean either literally those material luminaries themselves, or some other things of which they are only symbols; but when we read further, we find that there is also distress of nations upon the earth, with perplexity, we can have no doubt that the latter is literal, and the former figurative.
We know from the words of Balaam, Daniel, and of the Lord Jesus himself, that the stars are symbols representative of great and distinguished personages, ecclesiastical and civil, and the sun and moon, therefore, being homogeneous symbols with the stars, must represent constitutional elements of their system, ecclesiastical and secular.
It is amongst these, then, that we must look for the signs which are here foretold, and not in the physical heavens, which is expressly forbidden in the Word. In the same manner we learn that the sea, and the waves roaring, represent tumultuous assemblages of the people.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, April 1855
First, there is "distress of nations"-"evil going forth from nation to nation"-and "men's hearts failing them for fear," etc.-which may be designated as the natural stage; and second, a divine manifestation in the person of the Son of Man (who is "the name of the Lord") accompanied by sweeping judgments of fire and sword which will destroy large masses of mankind: which may be considered as the supernatural.
The former precedes the latter. Hence, as the first indication of the approach of the end, we must look for times of trouble and commotion on the earth.
Christendom Astray L15
28 And when <If therefore ye may see> these things [the signs in the Gentile heavens, &c. But they were not permitted to see them] begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
The knowledge of "the times and the seasons" was unknown to all other intelligences, than the Father. These he kept concealed within himself. Therefore said Jesus,
"Of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the Father only."
For anything, therefore, that was then known, the "these things" might all come to pass in rapid succession, and the Son of Man be enthroned in Jerusalem in the life-time of the apostles. So they thought; for before the day of Pentecost arrived, they asked the risen Jesus if he would not at that time restore again the kingdom to Israel? But he told them that the times were still a secret.
They might, or they might not, witness the accomplishment of all things. All he was able to tell them was, that some of them should be put to death; that their generation should not pass away till all spoken against it should be fulfilled; and that he would be absent for "a long time."
If therefore "ye may see (ιδητε, idēte, subj.) these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh."
See what things? The things last mentioned-the signs in the Gentile heavens, &c.
But they were not permitted to see them. It pleased the Father that the return of his son should not be till remoter times; so that not seeing the signs, (for they had not then been revealed,) they died without the earnest that the redemption in the kingdom was at hand.
But since the dissolution of the Mosaic heavens, and the melting away of the earth over which they ruled, the times, and seasons, and signs, have been revealed by the Father to the Son, that he might communicate them to his servants.
This communication was made, according to Eusebius, who figured in the court of Constantine, about the a.d. 96, at the close of the reign of Domitian, emperor of Rome. It was sent to the apostle John while he was an exile in Patmos, on account of the word of God and his testimony for Jesus Christ, about 61 years after the crucifixion.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, June, 1855
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