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Jottings

As the Lord sat on the mount of Olives over against the temple, that now desolate building, thronged no doubt with many who had come to sacrifice and to worship not knowing that God had departed from it, Peter and James, and John and Andrew, came to Him privately to ask Him, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world (or age)?" (Matthew 24.8). That beautiful pile of buildings that lay basking in the evening sun was destined to become a c6mplete ruin, with not one stone of it upon another. A scene of beautiful architecture would become one of rubble and desolation. why was this? The answer is, that as complete ruin had fallen upon Israel nationally, so must ruin destroy the centre of that people's national life, the temple in Jerusalem. They knew not the day of their visitation; they knew not the things that belonged unto peace they knew not Him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets had written. Blind unbelief beclouded their vision and they became its willing victims.

The Lord, in Luke 21.20-24, deals particularly with-" when shall these things be?" and He speaks prophetically of the encompassing of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, of those days of vengeance "that all things which are written may be fulfilled," of the Jewish people falling by the sword and being led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem being trodden down of the Gentiles till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. He exhorts all who would hear Him, that when they see the Roman armies gathering for the destruction of Jerusalem to leave the city and flee, and those in Judea to do likewise, and those in the country or fields not to enter the city.

We know this destruction of the city and the temple, and of myriads of defending Jews, came to pass in the year 70 A.D., all because they refused the Lord's protection, as He said, "0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem ... how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23.87). Was there ever a more touching heart-cry and. lamentation?

In contrast to Luke's account, Matthew 24. deals more particularly with the questions, "What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world (or age)?" In Matthew 24.6-18 He indicates things which will lead up to the end of the age. The sorrows of wars were to come upon the world, with nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and famines and earthquakes were to devastate parts of the earth. In such times those that believed on Him were to be hated, killed and be delivered to tribulation. Many were to stumble and act traitorously and deliver up one another to their enemies, and because that iniquity would be multiplied the love of the many would wax cold. One feels a cold shiver running through one's being as one thinks of those who shall live in such times. Truly they will be days of fightings without and fears within.

Then the Lord goes on to refer to Daniel's prophecy concerning the coming abomination in Jerusalem; " When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation - standing in the holy place ... let them ... flee ... for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world ... nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24.15-21). This abomination, because of which all are to flee who would obey the Lord, must not be confused with the Roman armies of Luke 20., because of which the Christians fled from Jerusalem in the past; this abomination is the image of the beast, of which we read in Revelation 13.14-18, which will be seen standing in the temple court in Jerusalem, and seen, no doubt, in Television all over the earth, for all the earth (save the faithful elect) will worship the beast and his image (Revelation 13.8). Those will thank God who in electing grace wrote their names in the Lamb's book of life.

"what shall be the sign of Thy coming"? (Matthew 24.8). At the end of the tribulation, which extends for 8+ years, when the sun is darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, for we are told that the moon shall be turned into blood, the sign of the Son of Man shall appear in heaven (Matthew 24.29,30). This state of a darkened heavens seems to continue for some time, for part of a day at least, for both the sun and moon are mentioned, so that men on earth will be called to attention by what will be happening to the heavenly bodies, and even the stars in the blackness of that day shall fall from heaven. After this we are told, "Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24.). What a sight! a sight to cause rejoicing to the suffering people of God, and to bring terror to the Lord's enemies.

What is the first event in order of events so far as they affect men, as the Son of Man approaches the earth on the clouds? The first it seems to me is that described in Matthew 24.31

"And He shall send forth 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."

This gathering together of the elect will, I judge, be to Jerusalem to where the Lord is descending, and not as in the case of the elect of this dispensation, such as are in Christ, who meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18). In the Lord's coming to the air no mention is made of the angels gathering the saints of this dispensation. Again, in the coming of the Lord to the air both the living and the dead in Christ will be changed and ascend to meet the Lord; but the elect of' Matthew 24.81 seem to me to be such as are alive at the Lord's coming to the earth. It is said of these elect who are taken from amongst such as are not of the elect :- "Then shall two men be in the field; one is taken, and one is left:

"two women shall be grinding at the mill; one is token, and one - is left. Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh"

(Matthew 24.40-42).

Some hold the opposite view to this, that it is the wicked that are taken in judgement and the righteous who are left, and they emphasize that this is what happened in the days of Noah, and also of Lot. But if those scenes of God's past judgements be considered, -it will be found that it was the righteous who were taken and the wicked left for judgement. Did not God call out of the Ark to Noah to come into the Ark? and Noah was first taken ere the rain fell on the wicked. And did not the angels gather righteous Lot, his wife and daughters, out of Sodom ere the fire and brimstone fell on Sodom's wicked inhabitants?

Then Matthew 25.31-46 tells of another world-wide gathering to Jerusalem of all earth's inhabitants; that is, such as have come to years of responsibility.

"But when the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the angels with him, then shall He sit on the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all the nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats."

This gathering will take place in the valley of Jehoshaphat. See Joel 3.2,12-15. Whereas in the gathering of Matthew 24.31 only the elect are gathered, in this gathering of Matthew 25.31-46, both righteous and wicked are found, to be judged and separated by the Lord. The righteous will be told to inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world, but the wicked will be condemned to eternal punishment. At this judgement the issue will be how the nations treated the Lord's brethren, who, I judge, are the elect who are gathered by the angels in Matthew 24.81. The judgement of the house of Levi, the priestly house, is mentioned in Malachi 3.2, 3; the judgement of Israel in Matthew 8.11, 12; Luke 13. 22-30, and the rewarding of prophets and saints is mentioned in Revelation 11.- 18; 20.4.