Chapter Three Continued:
In view of such a state of things, as characteristic of the greater number of Hebrew Christians, Jesus might well inquire: “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find the belief of his coming to avenge his servants and their persecuted adherents in the minds of those who dwell in the land of Judah?” He foresaw that though this forty-second generation (which he likened to a strong man, armed, and possessed of an unclean spirit—Luke 11:16-26) had been emptied, swept, and garnished by the Eternal Spirit in and through John the Baptist, himself, and the Apostles, yet that the same strong old man of the flesh that had dwelt in Israel from the days of Moses would again get the ascendancy in them, strengthened by new allies, or confederates, whom he styles, “seven other spirits more wicked than himself.” These more wicked spirits were the Judaisers and Gnostics denounced by Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude, in their Epistles. If the Scribes and Pharisees before John began to preach repentance to them, were wicked, these Christian contemporaries of the last days were the perfection of wickedness; so that the judgment with which the forty-second generation was punished was not only because they rejected the Messiahship of Jesus, but because, having generally, like Josephus, conceded this, they “crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame,” in “walking after their own lusts,” and scoffingly inquiring, “where is the promise of His coming?” Hence the state of this forty-second generation, or strong man armed, was worse at the last than at the first, worse after all the digging and manuring about the fig tree; so that nothing remained but to hew it down as a cumberer of the ground—Luke 13:6. Judah, at the closing of the apostolic mission, was the exact counterpart of the contemporaries of Moses—froward and faithless—“a wicked and adulterous generation.” Its carcass was, therefore, condemned to be devoured by the Roman eagles—those birds of prey, which would rend off its rotting flesh, and leave it bleaching in the wilderness of the peoples, the rattling dry bones of a disjointed skeleton, scattered without hope in their enemies’ land, as at this day—Matt. 24:27-28; Deut. 28:25-26: Ezek. 37:2.
Such was the Jewish world of the ungodly denounced by James, Peter, and Jude—
“Cursed children, who had forsaken the right way.”—2 Peter 2:14-15
“They went in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah”—Jude 11:
As Jannes and Jambres, the Egyptian magicians, withstood Moses, so did these Christian Cains, Balaams, and Korahs withstand the Apostles; or, as Paul expresses it, “resist the truth; men of corrupt minds; concerning the faith disapproved”—2 Tim. 3:8—“wood, hay, and stubble,” which, when tried by the fire of persecution, was burned up; so that those who originally converted them to the truth “suffered loss;” and if saved themselves, “as by fire,” they will have no cause to rejoice in them at the glorious appearing of Christ in our future—1 Cor. 3:11, 15.
In the commencement of the third chapter of his second epistle, Peter says:
“This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, that ye be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the Holy Prophets, and of the commandment of us the Apostles of the Lord and Saviour.”
In the exposition we are now writing, we have attended to his exhortation. We attend to the prophets first and to the Apostles afterwards; because Jesus and the Apostles always gave the prophets the first place in all inquiries. Jesus came to fulfil the law and the prophets, not to destroy them, as the rabbis and clergy, Jews and Gentiles, of the nineteenth century do; and his Apostles always write in accordance with Moses and the prophets, and, therefore, we know that they always speak the truth.
The reason why such absurd interpretations of Peter’s third chapter are given by Millerites and other world-burning sentimentalists of the apostasy is because they base their misinterpretations upon the thinkings of the flesh, and not upon the words before spoken by the Holy Prophets. Those to whom Peter wrote, and whom he styles “beloved,” know what the prophetic word testified concerning the last days; but our contemporaries do not; for they do not know to what period of the world those days belong; for which cause they cannot but misapply the prophecy. His brethren knew that he was writing of their own times and of their own nation, and that what he said, consequently, affected their own interests and those of their countrymen, Christian and rabbinical, in their fatherland. Hence, Peter writes to them saying:
“Seeing, therefore, that ye know these things before, beware, lest ye also, being led away by the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.”
They understood prophecy before it came to pass, and were warned by it, taking note of the signs of the times in which they lived.
Though they were not to see the Son of Man with eyes of their flesh, they had been instructed by the Apostles to know when the time was approaching; and even when he was actually, though invisibly, present. The Apostles had asked Jesus while with them—
“What shall be the sign of thy presence and of the ending of the age (aion)?”—Matt. 24:3.
This question shows that they regarded “the presence” of Jesus and “the ending of the age” as contemporary. “What shall be the sign of thy parousia?” This is a noun, compounded of nigh to, and being; which, therefore, literally signifies a state of being nigh to; which is the import of the word presence in the question.
The aion referred to, was that current order, or course of things, termed olahm, in the Hebrew writings, and which in innumerable places is very erroneously rendered “ever.” It was concurrent with that course styled by Paul in Eph. 2:2, the AION of this KOSMOS; and rendered in the English version, “the Course of this World.” The course to which the question referred was the course to which the Mosaic Kosmos belonged. A kosmos is anything constituted or arranged by what the moderns call “a constitution,” or by the force of circumstances; as a kingdom, empire, state, or what is called “world.” Each of these, or a system of states, has its course of aion; so that when the end of the course is arrived at, the abolition or destruction of the particular state of necessity ensues. Hence the question, “What is the sign of the end of the Aion?” is equivalent to what is the sign of the end of Judah’s Commonwealth, for, when the Mosaic Aion should terminate, Judah’s Kosmos would be dissolved.
It would render the New Testament much more intelligible if, where the word “world” occurs, the original Greek words were expressed which are misrepresented by it. The Apostles did not ask Jesus about the end of the world in the Gentile sense of world; but what would be the sign of the approaching end of the course of time allotted for the ruling of the kingdom of God, in which they were living, by Aaron’s sons and Caesar, according to the laws and institutions of Moses? For want of attention to this, very considerable mistakes are made. Things are assigned to the conflagration of the earth for fulfilment which have been accomplished eighteen hundred years ago. Thus, the burning up of the tares has been referred to our far-off future. But Jesus said that the tare harvest is the ending of the Aion:
“As tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the ending of this Aion. The Son of Man shall send forth his agents, and they shall collect out of his kingdom (the Holy Land) all the stumbling blocks, and them doing iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of the fire: there shall be the wailing and the gnashing of teeth.”
And Isaiah tells us that this furnace was Jerusalem; as it is written,
“Jehovah’s fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem”—Ch. 31:9.
Hence the “angels,” or agents sent, were the forces of the Little Horn, “who severed the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire.” They hemmed the wicked up in the fortified places, especially in Jerusalem. That portion of the Jews who became Judaisers and Gnostics made common cause with the Pharisees against the Roman Eagles. They had already, Jude says, separated themselves from the fellowship with the Apostolic party (v. 19); and as they took no heed to the sign, when the Lord of the vineyard sent his Eagles against the state, they were readily ensnared; for instead of fleeing into the mountains, as Jesus advised, they sought refuge in the cities; and thus, as Isaiah predicted,
“They stumbled and fell, and were broken, and snared and taken”—
Isaiah 8:15; Luke 21:35.
Another place where “world” is very improperly used for Aion, is in Matt. 28:20, where Jesus is made to say to his Apostles,
“Lo, I am with you always, unto the end of the world.”
But he did not say this. What he said was, “Behold, I am with you all the days until the ending of the Aion,” or Mosaic Course of Time. But the interpretation imposed upon these words is worse than the translation itself. The clergy argue, that as the Apostles could not live to the end of the world, which is not yet come, and is, doubtless, many ages remote; he must have meant that he would be with their “successors” to the end of time, whenever that should be: and that, as they claim to be “the Successors of the Apostles,” (an assumption wholly devoid of any proof) Jesus promised, and certainly is, and ever will be, with all popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, ministers, elders, pastors, circuit riders, and local preachers, of all the names and denominations of, what they most absurdly term, “Christendom!” But this clerical assumption is mere Satanism. The Lord Jesus has nothing to do with the clergy of all sects but to repudiate and punish them as blasphemers, at his appearing in his kingdom. His promise was made and fulfilled to the Apostles. He was with them all the last days until the ending of the Mosaic Aion. John saw that ending consummated; but with the exception of him, there is no reliable testimony of any of the rest having been spared to witness the destruction of the City and Temple. The Jewish power had numbered them with the dead.
In answer to the question concerning “The Sign” of the Son of Man’s being nigh to Jerusalem, at the ending of all things Mosaic, Jesus instructed his disciples by stating to them, that there would be:
1. Many deceivers come of his name, assuming to be the Christ, who would deceive many—Matt.24: 5. This sign was duly fulfilled, according to the Apostle’s testimony, who says,
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as ye have heard that Antichrist comes, even now many antichrists have arisen; whereby we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they separated themselves, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”—1 John 2:18.
Thus, these false Christs, emanated from the name of Jesus. They came “of his name,” not “in his name,” as in the English Version. They had been “baptised into the name;” but they did not continue in it; but “went out from” it, and pretended to be the Christ, deceiving many by the gifts they still retained.
2. That there would be wars, and rumours of wars; and famines and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. —verses 6 and 7. See Acts 12:20; 11:28. Josephus supplies the rest.
3. Persecution of Christians unto death; who should be hated of all nations on account of the name of the Christ—verse 9. See 2 Cor. 4:8-11.
4. That many should be seduced from the faith, become traitors, and haters of their brethren. —verse 10.
5. That many false prophets should arise and deceive many Christians. —verse 11.
“Beloved,” says John, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out (of the name) into the Kosmos. They are of the kosmos; therefore they speak of the kosmos; and the kosmos hears them.”—1 John 4:1-5.
6. That the love of the many should become cold, because of abounding iniquity among Christians—v. 12. The fulfilment of this sign is abundantly illustrated in the epistles of Peter, James and Jude. Their contemporaries, they say, “turned the grace of God into lasciviousness.”
7. That the Gospel of the Kingdom Jesus preached would have been preached in the whole habitable, for a testimony to the nations; and that after this, the end should come. —verse 14.
Paul records the fulfilment of this sign in Col. 1:23; where he shows that when he wrote, the gospel had been preached to every creature under the heaven of the habitable. So that we of the Nineteenth Century have not to wait till the fulfilment of this sign for the coming of Christ and the Millennium, as the clergy teach in the deceivings with which they sport themselves and the pious dupes of their communities. Were it necessary for this sign to be fulfilled by the preaching agency of Clergydom before the end should come, that end would never arrive. It was “the Gospel of the Kingdom” that was to be preached in all the habitable; but of this gospel, the clergy, settled or missionary, high church or “evangelical,” state or dissenting, are as ignorant as though no such gospel had ever been promulgated. Hence, they never can preach it in all the world. They have first to learn it themselves before they can preach it to others. The apostles understood it thoroughly, and executed their commission of sounding it through all the habitable, in about thirty years from the day of Pentecost; or about seven years from the taking away of the daily sacrifice by the Little Horn of the Goat.
8. That the standing of the Abomination of Desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, on Holy ground where it ought not, would be the sign of the speedy dissolution of the City and Temple; and of the arrival of the days of vengeance upon Judah. vv. 15-28.
This fifteenth verse, and Mark 13:14, are expounded in Luke 21:20. The last writer says,
“When ye shall see Jerusalem encompassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.”
Jerusalem, the locality of the Body Politic of Judah, is the “Carcase” of Matt. 24:28; and the armies, “the Eagles gathered together” to devour it. This was the definition Jesus gave of the proximity of the Christ in opposition to the reports that would be circulated at the time of the end, saying, “The Christ was in the desert;” or that “He was in the secret chambers.” In other words, the believers of that forty-second generation were not to look for him in “propria persona,” in his own proper person as they saw him while he was talking with them; he would not come to them visibly, either in the desert, or in a private room. They were to fix their attention upon Jerusalem for the sign of his “being near” (parousia). When the Little Horn of the Goat’s Eagles were gathered together around the city, they might know, that he had come, although invisible to the eye of flesh; and that the work he had come to do with “his armies” was that defined in Dan. 8; 11:12, 24; 9:26; Matt. 21:43; 22:9. The Little Horn’s Eagles encamped against Jerusalem were the sign; the presence of the Son of Man, and the desolation of the city and temple, the things signified thereby.
But the approaching of this nearness of the Son of man was to be as the coming forth of the lightning from the east, and its shining unto the West. —v.27; Luke 17:24: “so,” saith the latter, “shall the Son of man be in his day”—in his day of vengeance upon Judah. The shining forth of lightning towards any object, inasmuch as lightning is a dangerous and destructive element, is indicative of war. Thus,
“He sent lightning, and discomfited them;”
And in Nah. 3:3,
“The horseman lifted up the flame of the sword, and the lightning of the spear; and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcasses”;
And in Zech. 9:14,
“And his arrow (or Ephraim) shall go forth as the lightning.”
We quote these to show, that an army, with its polished steel flashing in the sunshine, marching against an enemy on a mission of conquest, is the coming of lightning against the body politic devoted to destruction. Such was the army given to the Little Horn against the Daily when marching against Jerusalem—the Son of Man coming as the lightning to burn up the city of the murderers of his servants.
But lightning doth not always shine out of the east. In the natural system it is not confined to that point of the compass. Neither is it so limited in the political. But in the case before us, the sign was to come from that direction “under the heaven” of the Fourth Beast dominion. The army with the lightning of the spear, and its soaring Eagles, was to come marching from the east. They who were mindful of the words spoken by Jesus and the apostles looked for an invasion of Judea from that quarter; and not from Egypt on the south; or Anatolia on the north-west. And from the east it came according to the sign; for, as Gibbon testifies, “Titus was adored by the Eastern Legions, which, under his command, had recently achieved the conquest of Judea.”
“The tribulation of those days,” consisting in the war, and the destruction of the city and temple, being consummated, the result was the abolition of the Hebrew Commonwealth, as expressed in Matt. 24:29. This commonwealth, or kosmos, had its heavens and its earth. Its “earth” consisted of the undistinguished multitude of the people; who are to this day styled by the Rabbis, am-haaretz, people of the earth; and its “heavens,” of their ruling orders. Thus, in Psalm 76:8, it is written, “the earth feared;” and in Psalm 97:1, “let the earth rejoice”; Isa. 14:16, “is this the man that made the earth to tremble?” These quotations are sufficient for the point before us. The Hebrew heavens were the official regions which could not be ascended by the common people. None but Aaron’s descendants could enter the temple and perform the service. Speaking of the heavens, Paul says, that Jesus, as High Priest after the order of Melchisedec, was “made higher than the heavens.” “Jacob’s heavens,” says Moses, “shall drop down dew;” and to these heavens, he says,
“Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew.” –Deut. 32:1.
This was his style of address to the twelve tribes and their constituted authorities. Israel was an ecclesiastical and civil kosmos, in whose heaven were the sun, moon, stars, and constellations, of the system. It was from this heaven the Little Horn of the Goat “cast of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.” When the Horn abolished the system, its “Sun was darkened, its moon gave no light, and its stars fell from the heaven;” and the days of mourning were established. It was a total eclipse of the Jewish power in church and state. Referring to the Mosaic heavens, the prophet says,
“The heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment.”—(Isa. 51:6)
And the Spirit in David speaking concerning Messiah, saith for him,
“Jehovah humbled my strength in the way, he shortened my days; I will say, my Power, take me not away in the midst of my days!”
To whom the Spirit replies,
“For a generation of generations are thy years. Of old thou foundest the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; they shall perish, but thou shalt stand; and all of them as a garment, shall wax old, as a vesture thou wilt change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art HE; and thy years shall not come to an end.”
In this testimony, the Spirit speaks of the Messiah first as a mortal man; secondly, he tells him that his years are for a generation chosen out of all other generations; and that, as one of this generation, his years should not come to an end. Thirdly, that, though cut off in the midst of the days of his flesh, still it was He who laid the foundations of the earth and made the heavens; fourthly, that he who had been cut off, should change them—abolish, or cause to perish, what existed, to make room for what was to succeed them. But, though those heavens should fall, and vanish away, He should stand; for “Thou art He”—the Eternal Spirit in flesh whose years shall never fail.
Paul testifies that this prophecy is verified in Jesus, “justified in Spirit;” and he tells us, that, while he was writing to the Hebrews, those heavens, “which had decayed and waxed old were ready to vanish away”—Ch. 1:10-12; 8:13. They were to be abolished by the Son of Man, who had become Lord and Christ, or Jehovah, and as the time was near at hand, he said,
“Yet a very little while, and He that cometh will come and will not delay”—Hebrews. 10:37
And quoting Haggai 2:6, as bearing upon the end of the Mosaic Aion,
“Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also the heavens.”
He proceeds to comment upon the phrase “Yet once more.” The Mosaic earth had been shaken out of its place; and its heavens had been dissolved; and continued so for several years. But they had partially recovered from the shaking they had experienced by the Babylonish Power. The same Eternal Spirit, now incarnate in the Son of David, was about to shake the Kingdom “once more.” Paul says, that by that phrase “once more” was signified “the removal of the things that are shaken as of things that have been appointed, that those things not being shaken may remain.” The things removed were the High Priest, or Prince, the sacrifice, the altar, the festivals, all the temple service, the priesthood, the civil government, and so forth. As constituted by the Mosaic law, they were all incompatible with the rights of David’s Son, who by “the word of the oath” in Psa. 10:4, was High Priest as well as King of the Hebrew nation. It was necessary to shake them out of the way. Hence, the Kingdom of God, Mosaically constituted, in the hands of the Chief Priests and Pharisees, was a kingdom that could be shaken, and in shaking, fell. It was taken from them by Him they crucified, who in punishing them avenged upon them all the righteous blood shed upon the land. The things unshaken are enumerated in Ch. 12:22-24. These remain, and ultimate to those who held on to them, in their “receiving the kingdom which cannot be moved,” the kingdom of the age to come which cannot be destroyed.
Matthew, Mark and Luke are quite copious in their testimony concerning the fall of the Hebrew Commonwealth by the providence of the Son of Man; but John in his testimony alludes to it only incidentally. He tells us, that the Chief Priests and Pharisees apprehended such a result if something were done to put Jesus to silence. They called a council, and said,
“What do we? For this man doth many miracles. If we let him thus alone all will believe on him, and the Romans will come, and take away both our country and nation.”—Ch. 11:47.
This was the “cabinet question” of the hour, which greatly troubled the Jewish Government: though hating Jesus most cordially, they admitted that he did great signs; and of such a character, that all the Jews would recognise his claim to the throne of David and the High Priesthood, and proceed to make him King, which would be fatal to their ruling any longer; and certainly bring on a Roman invasion for the re-establishment of Caesar’s sovereignty in the land; the end of which could only be utter ruin to the State, seeing that it would be impossible for the Jews under the command of the unwarlike Jesus, successfully to resist the conquering legions of the east. What they seemed to counsel was something short of putting Jesus to death; for they feared this extremity, lest the people, by whom he was very highly esteemed, should rise in his favour. They would have liked, doubtless, to have banished him from the country, as less hazardous to them selves than his imprisonment or execution, which, by the by, they could not effect of their own power, as—
“It was not lawful for them to put any man to death”—John 18:31.
“The Rulers consulted together against Jehovah’s Anointed;”
But in the midst of their consultation the Eternal Spirit moved Caiaphas the High Priest, to tell them, that—
“They knew nothing at all, nor considered that it was necessary for them that one man die in the people’s stead, and the whole nation perish not. And this spake he,” says John, “not of himself, but being High Priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die in the nation’s stead; and not in that nation’s stead only, but also that he should gather together into one the children of God who had been dispersed.”
“From that day then, they took counsel together that they might accomplish his death.”
Soon after this purpose was formed, Jesus, who knew all, said to his apostles,
“Hereafter I will not talk much with you; for the ruling of this kosmos cometh, but finds nothing in me”—John 14:30.
In the English version the form of words is, “the Prince of this world.” In the Greek the words are ‘ho tou kosmou toutou archon.’ In all places of the New Testament ‘archon’ is treated as a substantive, being translated ‘ruler,’ prince,’ ‘chief’ and ‘magistrate.’ But the word is, in fact, the present participle of ‘to rule,’ used substantively; and is better rendered in some places, ‘the ruling,’ as in John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Eph. 2:2. The ruling of the Hebrew Kosmos consisted not of one man, or “Devil,” visible or invisible; but of the Chief Priests, the party of the Pharisees, and the Roman Emperor, or temporary incarnation of the Little Horn Power, at the head of them. Those all, in governmental combination, constituted “the ruling” of the Hebrew monarchy, which came against Jesus in the form of Judas at the head of the band and officers he had received from the Chief Priests and Pharisees (John 18:3).
The hour had arrived called their hour. It was the last hour of their day of ruling—
“This,” said Jesus to the police sent to arrest him, “is your hour, and the jurisdiction of the darkness” (Luke 22:53).
They were doing a work which was pregnant with the fate of the ruling of the State. Their condemnation of Jesus to death, was the condemnation of their own administration.
“This is the condemnation that the Light came into the kosmos, but the men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19).
That Light was Jesus—the “Great Light” that sprung up in Galilee, “the region of the shadow of death, where the people were sitting in darkness” (Matt. 4:16). The men who loved the darkness were the rulers who, from envy, sought to destroy him; and their success sealed the ruin of their estate. Hence, in reference to this, Jesus said,
“Now is the condemnation of this kosmos; now (in that ‘last hour’—1 John 2:18) the ruling of this kosmos shall be cast out”—John 12:31.
“The ruling of this kosmos finds nothing in me,” said Jesus.
So Daniel predicted, saying,
“The anointed One shall be cut off (or made a covenant of—Isaiah 42:6; 49:8) we-ain lo, but nothing in him” (shall be found:)
And so Pilate declared, saying,
“I find in him no fault”—John 18:38.
These few words show in what sense the phrase, “the ruling of this kosmos,” is to be taken. Though they hired one of his own apostles to betray him, and suborned false witnesses to testify against him, and threatened Pilate with misprisonment of treason for showing a disposition to do justly, yet was he declared innocent, and without fault. There was, as Daniel said, “nothing in him” for which he should be “cut off.”
It was a part of the work assigned to the apostles, when filled with Holy Spirit, to convince the kosmos, in its heavens and earth, of the condemnation, that had been pronounced against it by the Eternal. According to the English version, it is written,
“The Comforter shall convince the world of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged;”
But a more correct rendering of the original is—“of judgment, because the ruling of this order (of things) has been condemned.” The verb is in the perfect passive, not in the present tense. The condemnation has been pronounced, but not executed. The execution had been committed to Jesus, who said,
“The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed the judgment all to the Son: . . . he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me . . . comes not into condemnation—John 5:22-24.
This the ruling of the Mosaic Order of Things refused to do; they would not hear the prophet like unto Moses, therefore sentence of deposition and abolition was pronounced against it; and “authority given to the Son to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man—verse 27.
The reader will now understand the import of Christ’s words which he spoke to Pilate, saying, “My kingdom is not of this kosmos”—it was not of the Mosaic Order of things. This was condemned to destruction—to be taken out of the way to make room for his kingdom, which shall be established when “ the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled;” for he had already said that Jerusalem should be trodden under foot until those times were over; for so long as the City of the Great King is subjected to the Barbarians, as it has been, and is to this day, the kingdom of Messiah can have no existence. But, we proceed to consider, —