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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon After the Tribulation ]

                                                                      /drwe rgw Tribulation

Matthew  24:1-29

After The TRIBULATION.destruction of the temple; the bloodshed, ttfe rapine, the desolation of the land, and the dispersion of the people, were only_the^ " begin-niniL-SiLsojTows," The setting up of "the abomination that maketh desolate " was to be do transient evil. But for a particular statement of the "tribulation" we turn to Luke xxi, 24: "And they shall fall by the edge of i he 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." Now let us look at these particulars:Egypt, and in Mesopotamia, and in Africa, did not go as slaves, but as tradesmen and merchants; so that, asawe have seen, in a fev years, the nation was turbulent and threatening in its attitude, and giving no little trouble to the Romans. And when their last effort for freedom was made, they were strong enough to seize nearly the whole land, and to cost the Romans an immense sacrifice of life and treasure, and to require the presence of Adrian's greatest general—• Julius Severus—to overcome them. But this was finally accomplished, with unprecedented slaughter, and then the nation, as such, was overthrown indeed. After this the remains of the temple, which Titus left, were torn out, and the foundation plowed. Then, also, it was that the name of the place was changed, and called Colonia ALlia Capitolina, in honor of the god to whom it was dedicated, as a Roman city, and whose temple was built where the Jewish temple had formerly stood. This completed the prophecy in regard to " the__abomination of desolation standing in the holy place." And then, also, it was that the nation was "led away captive," for the masses of the people were sold into slavery, 0 until the slave-market was glutted. Adrian forbade the Jews entering the city, even to weep over the ruins of the sacred places. Andjmv they__t)gcjime^ objects of hatred to the Romans wlierever they were found. They suffered untold hardships in Alexandria and in Cyprus and wherever they took refuge, or were carried into slavery. In^very place theyjbecame a hissing and by-word. TJxus towards the middle of_;foe__sgcgnd_jcentury of the Cjiristian era, under the reign of Adrian, this part of the predicted "tribulation" was fulfilled. "They were led away captive into all nations."

atthew 24:1-29

HavING seen the import and bearing of the answer the Savior gave the first question submitted to him by the disciples, as he sat on the Mount of Olives, and also the meaning and application of the phrase, " the end of the world," we come now to a study of the answer to the second question, ami thereToTe~lcTa consT3efation of the ' 'tribulation of those days;"~an<J"of the "signs" of the second coming. The question of the disciples was, ""Tell us , when will these things be ? And what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the world?" The significanace of these words is reealed in the predicition of the final overthrow of the Jerusalem Temple. Christ's prediction of the overthrow of the temple was so remarkable fulfilled that the actual sight of that one-glorious ancient edifice is now uncertain. The utterabsence of any significant remains of the once glorious Temple are proof enugh that Jesus' wors were totally fulfilled.

The second question of the disciples was, "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" The answer is embraced in verses 29-31: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall (rom heaven, and the powers of the heavens sha'i be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then

shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather togs ther his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."

There are several things which are evidently to follow each other in order, some of which will occupy no little time in their inception, development, and completion. The order maybe stated thus: 1. The tribulation; 2. The darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars; 3. The appearing of "the sign of the Son of man;" 4. The coming of the Son of man; and 5. The sending forth of the angels to gather the elect. Whatever these successive occurrences mean, they require much time—may we not say many centuries 7 The supposed limitation of all these -tlings to a brief space, because of the prediction in the thirty-fourth verse, will be fully explained in another message and be shown to be no limitation at all as to time. But now we turn attention to the first item, which is, '' The tribulation of those days."

The_firs thing that that strikes us forcibly in this answer is that every every event named is after the "Tribulation" is past. The tribulation began with the Roman invasion that laid waste the city and country of the Jews, and destroyed their temple. The popular idea is that Christ came in some way not defined, but called "figurative," for the purpose of bringing these disasters on the Jewish people as judgments or punishments for their unbelief. With all respect for the learning and the critical skill employed in support of this hypothesis, scholarly study dissents from it totally. If this hypothesis were correct, we should expect the language to read, "Just before the tribulation of those days;" or, at least, "At the time or in the midst of the tribulation;" but that is not the reading. There is not a word or hint anywhere that Christ was coming to bring judgments' on the Jews. This figment oftf" figurative " coming for such a purpose is not only without foundation, but is contradicted by every word the Savior uttered in relation to his coming. There is a world of meaning in that little word~~"~afifer," in this passage. The things to be studied were aialll.

"After, the application Of the "days of the Tribulation" and of the signs to the second coming,  consequently were no part of the tribulation, as they neither preceded nor caused the tribulation, nor even accompanied it. The word "immediately" is not in the way, as we shall soon see; but just now we need to take in the force of the word "after." The evangelist Mark, as well as Matthew, uses this word; and Luke gives the same order of events, without reporting in full.

Then, since it is settled that at this point in his discourse our Lord had passed by the destruction of Jerusalem, and the attending and ensuing "tribulation," without authorizing the expectation of his coming, and proceeds to declare what should come to pass beyond that tribulation, it becomes necessary that_we determine what constituted the "-tribulation of those days," and how long it was to last.If we have read correctly the answer to the first question, and the general remarks preceding that answer, it js clear that the tribulation jwas_not_to„ he-,al sjiort time. All the ills of the times—the war, famine, pestilence—the fall of the city; the

First. "They shall fall by the edge of the ivord." This relates to the destructiveness of the war. It has beenjKtjmated that more tiBl'_fLJai%n^enshed~in all during the campaigns under Vespasian and Titus, resulting in the destruction of the city and temple. But tIns wgsjiot the end of this part of the tribulation. Perhaps ta many or more were slaugfa-tered in the subsequent~rebelliohs and subjugations, including the final overthrow of the Jewish armies, led by the Son of a Star, when hadrian's army completed the desolation begun so long before. "ATer the tribulation of thos das"  consequently were no part of the triublaton, nor even accompanied it. This final catastrophe ocuri£d_ab^utA.D._135. We have less knowledge of its details than of the earlier conflicts, as Josephus was dead, and no successor arose to continue the story of the Jewish wars; but in the interpretation of the pre* diction, "They shall fall by the edge of the sword," these repeated subjugations, and especially this last one, which probably surpassed .< all the others as a literal fulfillment, ought not to be overlooked.

Secondly. "And shall be led away captive into all nations." The overthrow of the Jews, A. D. 70, in a comparatively small way, fulfilled this part of the prophecy. The Jews were scattered after the destruction of the city, to some extent. Captives taken in arms, and not put to death, were sold into slavery- Bjit tl'is^jSflas_iioXjhe_jeneral^dispersion. Titus did not carry off the Jews" as a nation. He permitted them to live in Judea, and even to settle among the ruins in Jerusalem. He also, as before remarked, allowed them to establish their Sanhedrim in Samaria, where also the patriarch established himself at the head of religious affairs. And the Jews that left the country, and settled in Cyprus, and in

Thirdly. "And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles." Jerusalem, and the whole of Palestine, have been occupied by Gentiles frojm_Jh^_d!isja£rsion of_jthe.Jews, < above mentioned, tiJLjthe[ present day. The Romans, Persians, Saracens, and Turks, have alternately exercised jurisdiction, fulfilling to the letter this specification in the prophecy. And there is peculiar force in the words, "shall be trodden down." The occupancy of the country by Gentiles is not the wholeof the disaster. It has been "trodden down." "?* The jnarqh _of jirmies over it has been fre-quejit—and—crusMog. The populations^ in-lmbitin<r iMiaye not been thrifty. ~ lue ancient fertility of the soil has long since depajted. The city of Jerusalem has never approximated itsTormer splendor. Every thing wears^ an_aipect oT weariness. Compared with its olden fruitfulness, the whole land is desolate. The prophecy of Daniel, as well as that of Jesus, is accomplished. ' 'And for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the '• consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."

Fourthly. "Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." This points out the continuance of the "tribulation,'' indicating its duration. That it was to be a long-continued tribulation, including a series of disasters, has become plain enough; but here, for the first time in the discourse, we find a positive statement touching this point. But this does not imply that the Jews were to be incessantly falling by the sword through all the centuries of their tribulation. This part was accomplished within about one hundred years after the prophecy was delivered. Nor does it mean that the Jews were to be "slaves" all this time, or kept in a state of "captivity," otherwise than in the dispersed condition in which they remain, although for many years, and in many countries, they were more literally captives than now. Their dis!persion among the nations is, however, to this time, a part of the "tribulation." But the desolation of their father-land, and its / being "trodden down" by the Gentiles, was to continue, as it does continue, and will, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." j."hen, and not till then, will "the tribulation of those days" be over. " Some think it means the general conversion of the Gentiles. Others, that the Gentiles are to .have the privileges of the Gospel as long as the Jews were the peculiar people. It can not mean ', less than till all the Gentile nations^have the offer 7>f~the Gospel. Pos^bJy^aUudes, to what is said in verse fourteenth with reference to the Gospel being "preached in all the world.--

This message is a reproduction of a sermon preached by S.M Merill, a Brithish pracher  in  1879. You may not agree with some of the things  he said, but his treatment of this difficult passage is one of the

best that I am acquainted with.  I consider is worthy of study by all students of the Bible.

---Lonnie Branam

the world for a witness unto all nations." J No one supposes the period is yet past. Paul ' speaks of the same thing, Rom. xi, 25: " For / I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." This follows the prediction of the conversion of the Jews, . which-JidU occur with the removal of their "blindness," or hardness, as the word implies; and that is to follow the "fullness of the Gentiles." It follows, therefore, that so long as'trie1" fullness of- the~Gentiles is not come in—so long as Gentile nations remain without the Gospel—and so long as this judicial "blindness" is upon the Jews, and Jerusalem is trodden down of the Gentiles, "the tribulation of those days" is not past. It is objected to this long continuance of the tribulation, that its measurement was to be counted by "days" and not by years and centuries. The objection is futile, since the phrase "those days" need not be taken in the restricted sense supposed by the objector. The meaning depends on the standard of

measurement you have in mind. If you are only speaking of trivial events, beginning and ending in a few hours, the expression, "those days," will be correspondingly limited and definite. But if you are considering great national affairs, involving the rise and fall of dynasties, and stretching out through many centuries, the phrase, "those days," while equally appropriate, will take a very different meaning. Thus it was with our Lord. While sitting there on the side of Mount Olives, with the turrets and domes of the grand old city in full view, and his thoughts busy with the sacred associations of the past, with the scenes just witnessed in the temple and with the coming desolation which had already caused him to weep, and with the future of his own nation all spread out before him, with their captivity and dispersion and their wanderings down through the ages till "the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled," he spoke of what should happen "after the tribulation of those days." His gaze was upon distant scenes. Before his mental vision rolled the teeming populations of the whole earth, with the struggles of mighty nations, and the goings forth of "his kingdom," and r the fluctuations of the conflict with the powers of darkness, as century after century rushed into the past, even "until the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled." And '953iiagL^yojid_j]^ljUH^heLsaw the "blindness " depart from his chosen race, the cloud lifted beneath which they had so long wandered in darkness, and "the children of the stock of Abraham" accepting the glad tidings thej' had so obstinately spurned, and joining in the shout which had so recently saluted his ears, " Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Themes like these were worthy the occasion, and worthy the speaker, and worthy the sacred record. They account for the elevated tone of the discourse, for its sublimity of thought and expression, while to restrict the language to the local calamities of a single capture of the city, belittles the occasion, and dwarfs the prophecy and all connected with it. It is sometimes thought that the introduction of the "parable of the fig-tree," in connection with the things to happen after the tribulation, limits the time of the tribulation

and all that follows to a very short space of<?£ . time. This, however, is without force, as the fig-tree is a general illustration of the means by which the approaching fulfillment of any part of the prophecy may be known. The signs of the Roman invasion were to be looked for and interpreted as the certain precursors of a real disaster. There would be no threatening, followed by adjustment of difficulty and peace. The hostile attitude of the enemies of the nation was to be taken as meaning all the severities of war. Thus the disciples were to be saved from reliance on the arts of diplomacy or the wisdom of their rulers in averting the calamity, and to keep themselves in readiness for flight, which was the only means of safety. And the same principle applies to the times following the tribulation. The day and hour can not be given beforehand, but, as the tender branch of the fig-tree betokens the nearness of Summer, so the coming in of the " fullness of the Gentiles," and the evangelization of the scattered Jews, will forecast the coming of the -vents which make up the closing scene. The first thing mentioned by the Savior

as following the tribulation is the darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars. Itjs not essential that this language be ' taken in a strictly literal sense, though it is not improbable that in the final adj^TsTmelnTbf the elements for the conflagration which is to follow, phenomena will be seen presenting such appearances as would suggest such xpressions for their description.

The first impression with every readei must be that the very grandeur of the scene depicted should carry us away from the local disorders of the Jews—away from the confines of Judea and the violent coming of the Roman army—away from the petty contests between the tribes of men to the preparations for the coming of the grandest day in the history of the world, the day of the coming of the Lord; and the most critical analysis of the language and the connection will confirm this first impression. The fact that it follows f the tribulation necessitates the abandonment of the preposterous notion that Christ was only speaking of the portents of his coming to destroy Jerusalem. And let no one> be overawed at this point by any array of great

names that may be brought to support the un- q^ meaning "figurative" coming of Christ. The words of the divine Lord are before us, and what he says must guide us, whether it be in the ack of popular thinking or in ways that we knew not.

It is true that similar language is found in the Old Testament prophecies, where such phenomena in connection with the heavenly-bodies are mentioned, when only national judgments or revolutions are meant in the application. But this does not prove that the Savior referred to the same judgments on the same nations or to similar ones. Some of the revolutions described by the old prophets were past when Christ spoke. His_eye__was on_die_^t4iK=rTtJie--dUs±ant^fj!}tHreTr^SL^te_are bound to believe^ Letjos, then, admit that he usedjiighly figjjratiye^ language, with reference to great changes in distant ages,Tfav-ing in view revolutions among nations which mark an epoch in the world's history, near the "times of the fullness of the Gentiles," and what follows? Why, that Jesus Christ used language, with reference to the affairs of the nations, similar to that employed by

Isaiah, with reference to Babylon, Isaiah xin, 10; and with reference to Idumea, Isaiah xxxiv, 4;   by Ezekiel with reference to Egypt, Ezek. xxxii, 7; and by Daniel with refe i.nce to Jerusalem. But it does not follow that what he said must come within the borders of Judea or within the space of forty years. This, as before said, belittW the whole subject. It will now be seen that there is no issue in regard to the nature of the language before us, as all agree that it is highly figurative. The only questioiTis""aTto" the application of it. Many see in it nothing broader or grander than premonitions of the disaster at Jerusalem. These overlook the nature of the tribulation and its_extent, and misapprehend the word '' generation" in the, verse below. Others, apparently feeling bound in some way to interpret the entire discourse, in its first meaning, as relating to the downfall of Judaism and the catastrophe to the city—perhaps swayed by the same oversight and misappre hension, have invented a double meaning; and, while they apply it locally in an inferior sense, they concede that the scene portrayed swells incomparably beyond any thing known 6 in the history of the Jews or in the overwhelming of their armies and city. These, indeed, insist that the language all applies to Jerusalem, but they make the local judgment upon that city a type of the final judgment at the last day. And, of course, this interpretation admits a "figurative " coming of Christ, which it makes typical of a literal coming! It is easy enough to see how literal things or facts can typify spiritual things, but how a "figurative" action, if there be any such thing, can typify a literal event or action, is not so plain to men of ordinary perception. Let us then suppose that the language in question is figurative—that, when it is said, "The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fali from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken," the Savior, like the prophets of old, had in view so_me_ revolutions which should take place among Jthejiations^ of the earth"—to what period in the world's history shall we look for the accomplishment of these revolutions? Nothing answering to &o lofty a description occurred when Jer salem fell

under Titus; and that could not have been 't,L> the time, because the "tribulation of thos« days" was not then past. Nor is the time yet come for the same reason. We insist •jpon it, that whatever peoples or nations be affected by these predicted convulsions, the time can not be here until after the "tribulation," which brings us down to the period of the "fullness of the Gentiles." We protest /not against receiving the words as figurative, but against disturbing the order of events as laid down by our Lord. In searching for an application of these words of Christ to the condition of the nations, very late in the dispensation and near the conversion of the Jews, we are reminded of similar language in the book of Revelation, which demands a similar application. "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake ; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood, and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken of a mighty wind; and the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and

every mountain and island were moved but /r,j of their places. And the kings of the earth, .and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains ; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Rev. vi, 12-17.) The location of this scene ' proves its relation to the events which mark the close of the dispensation. !<.

This message is a reproduction of a sermon  by S.M. Merill, a British preacher  in 1879.  His treatment of this difficult subject is one of the best  I am acquainted with, and I  recommend that it is wothy of study by all diligent stundents of the Bible. --Lonnie Branam 

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