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See Salem built, the labour of a God !
Thus heavenward all things tend. For all were once
* Nebaioth and Kedar, the sons of Ishmael, and progenitors of the Arabs, in the prophetic Scripture here alluded to, may be reasonably considered as representatives of the Gentiles at large.
Where violence shall never lift the sword,
Come, then, and, added to Thy many crowns,
To wandering sheep, resolved to follow none.
THINGS THAT PRECEDE "THE KINGDOM.” NE of
of your correspondents expresses himself “perplexed and in
RAINBOW, and our Lord's words in Matthew xxiv., Mark xiii., and Luke xxi., and is desirous of a “ satisfactory explanation."
Perhaps there are few who have not experienced some difficulty in these chapters, and various interpretations have been offered. The difficulty is, that “Our Lord, by parable and otherwise, gives His disciples to understand that He would come in their lifetime, and also at the destruction of Jerusalem.”
In considering the bearing of our Lord's words in these chapters, it is to be borne in mind that He is replying to the disciples' questions, “When shall these things be ? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world ?" And what He had previously taught on these subjects would naturally give rise to such questions. If we, therefore, could only place ourselves exactly in the position of the disciples, knowing only what they knew, thinking their thoughts, cherishing their hopes, and experiencing the difficulties that perplexed them, we might perhaps be led to look upon our Lord's words in a different light; for their difficulties might be different from ours, and, in His reply, our Lord would, no doubt, in the first place have special regard to them.
As there can scarcely be a doubt that the disciples expected His “coming," and the "end of the age," not only in their lifetime, but almost immediately, two inquiries are important. On what were these expectations founded? And had our Lord's reply a tendency to confirm or to discourage them ?
The faithful in Israel were “ waiting for the kingdom of God" at the time that Jesus appeared. And no doubt the preaching of its
coming, first by John, then by Jesus, had raised the expectation that it would soon appear.
And this expectation seems to have been cherished by the disciples all along, up to the time at least of asking their questions. For very shortly before, when they were “nigh to Jerusalem," journeying thither we are told, “They thought the kingdom of God should immediately appear ” (Luke xix. 11).
Now in connection with this expectation they would naturally look for all those "glorious things "spoken of by the prophets concerning their city, their land, and their nation. And in His previous teaching Jesus had led them to look for their “reward," the "severing of the wicked from among the just,” and the “righteous to shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father," at the time of His “coming” and “the end of the world” (Matt. xiii. and xvi.). But He purposely avoided telling them what was to befall Himself, and what calamities were to befall Jerusalem, until & very short time beforehand (Matt. xvi. 21-27; Luke ix. 22). He thus allowed time and opportunity for their faith to be established in Him, before breaking the sorrowful intelligence to them that He was to suffer, that they would be hated and persecuted after He left them, and that Jerusalem, instead of being made “a praise in the earth,” should be "levelled with the ground.”
“These things,” said He, “ I told you not at the beginning, because ye were not able to bear them, and because I was yet with you." He knew that they were cherishing hopes not then to be realised, that the things which were about to happen were the very opposite of what they were looking for. But it was only as regards the time that they were at fault. Their expectations as to the things they were looking for, were founded on the “sure word of prophecy," and our Lord's own teaching; and no word was uttered to shake their confidence in them. But after He began to tell them what was to happen, it is interesting and instructive to mark how, on the way to Jerusalem, by parables and otherwise, He sought to correct, and by degrees prepare them for being told of "all the things that were first to come to pass,” and thus soften the feeling of disappointment consequent upon being made aware that their dearly cherished hopes should be indefinitely deferred.
Thus, on their way to Jerusalem we have the parable of " a certain man who made a great supper and bade many, and sent his servants at supper time to say, Come, for all things are now ready." But they, pleading excuses, all declined, so that the supper was postponed and other guests invited that his “house might be filled!" (Luke xiv. 16).
Again, we have the parable of a widow imploring a judge to avenge her of her adversary.” He would not for a time, but at last yielded.
And,” said Jesus, "shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily” (Luke xviii.
1-8). This parable we are told was spoken
" that men ought always to pray and not faint.” He had taught the disciples to pray“ Thy kingdom come," and here he evidently teaches them to hold fast their faith and not faint, although their prayers might not be answered, nor their hopes realised so soon as they desired.
the same effect is the parable in Luke xix. 12-27, “Because they thought that the kingdom should immediately appear, He said : A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return." But it is only at his “return" that the “ kingdom appears," and "the servants" are rewarded; and as in those days going to a far country would suggest a long time to go and to return, the parable was evidently intended to indicate longer delay than they thought of.
Still, as Jesus drew nearer to Jerusalem He was greeted with acclamations as their coming King, “Hosanna to the Son of David, that cometh in the name of the Lord,” making it clear that they still thought the time had come for the “appearing of the kingdom.” But alas ! the "glorious things spoken of the city of God” were yet at a distance. He looked upon Jerusalem and wept over it, saying, “The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee, and they shall not leave in the one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.” And why was Jerusalem to be subjected to such a fate? The answer is,
Because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation ” (Luke xix. 4144). “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem," He said again, “how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, and ye would not ! Behold your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
These memorable words spake Jesus in the temple, and then went out; and we next find Him on the Mount of Olives, where the disciples asked him privately when these things should be, and what sign there would be of His coming and of the end of the world. The questions were natural. .
The things they had been looking for, and the things Jesus had been speaking of, were not in agreement. It was impossible that they could co-exist. The time of His 66
coming in His kingdom” is the time for Jerusalem, " the holy city," to " arise and shake herself from the dust " and her“ bands from her neck," put on her “ beautiful garments” and “ forget the reproach of her widowhood." But here, Jerusalem is to be forsaken, made a desolation, and trodden in the dust. “When shall these things be ?” asked the disciples. “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh,” was the answer (Luke xxi. 20). Now here was an unmistakable “sign ” of Jerusalem's speedy desola