This week we will review the signs of Christ’s coming as found in the twenty fourth chapter of Matthew. Most of the historical fulfillment of the prophecies found in this chapter are very familiar to us a Seventh-day Adventists. However, the signs regarding the involvement of the 144,000 from verses 36 to 51 have been lost sight of or misapplied and thus warrant our earnest attention. May God richly bless your investigation of the following reading coming from The Shepherd’s Rod Vol. 2
“And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Verses 3-14.)
The direct question put to Christ and His answer as to the assurance of His second coming, and the end of this present world, is too plain and self explanatory to leave room for doubt. He did not say that the end of the present sinful world was not to come, but He plainly stated that it will come. However He said before the end shall come, “This gospel of the kingdom [the signs of His second coming as foretold in this chapter] shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations [not that all nations shall be converted, but for a witness] and then shall the end come.” Those who teach contrary to this plain statement of the Master, are they of whom He says: “Many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many.” Furthermore, the Lord says: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Verse 27.)
While some of these false prophets make a complete denial of His coming, others dare say, “He is already come.” Still others claim that no one shall see Him when He comes, but, He shall establish His kingdom on earth, and this world will never come to an end, etc. We ask the question: Is Christ telling an untrue story, or are these false prophets fulfilling His prediction by trying to deceive the saints concerning His coming, and overthrow their faith in the Master’s Word, and thus defraud them of a crown of life? If these are not the deceivers of whom He speaks, then who are they?
If such workers of iniquity dare try to contradict His plain language as in this instance, may it not be expected that they shall attempt to overthrow the entire truth of the Bible?
When Christ shall come “as lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west,” these false prophets shall be ashamed. The Revelator also declares: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: [that is, they that pierced him shall be resurrected prior to His coming. See Dan. 12:2] and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Rev. 1:7.) Yes, our Christ shall come and we shall see Him as He is, “And it shall be said in that day, Lo this is our God: we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isa. 25:9.)
Though these false prophets and sinners do not want to see Him come, they must: “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and the 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. 6:15-17.) And so shall the end come to the sinners, but not to God’s people: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch-angel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17.)
To the sinners that day shall be a fearful day, and to them shall He come “as a thief in the night,” but not so to those who wait for Him. For, speaking of the great persecution that over-took His people in the dark ages during the 1260 years of Daniel 7:25, He says: “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 from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall 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 together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt. 24:29-31.)
The Master looking forward to this generation, says, “there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.” (Luke 21:25.) Thus, “immediately after the tribulation” (the great persecution) the sun was to be darkened. On the 19th of May, 1780, this prophecy was fulfilled. Quoting from “The Great Controversy”: “ ‘Almost if not altogether alone, as the most mysterious and as yet unexplained phenomenon of its kind, . . . stands the dark day of May 19, 1780—a most unaccountable darkening of the whole visible heavens and atmosphere in New England’.” An eyewitness living in Massachusetts describes the event as follows:
‘In the morning the sun rose clear, but was soon overcast. The clouds became lowery, and from them, black and ominous, as they soon appeared, lightening flashed, thunder rolled, and a little rain fell. Toward nine o’clock, the clouds became thinner, and assumed a brassy or coppery appearance, and earth, rocks, trees, buildings, water, and persons were changed by this strange, un-earthly light. A few minutes later, a heavy black cloud spread over the entire sky except a narrow rim at the horizon, and it was as dark as it usually is at nine o’clock on a summer evening. . . .
‘Fear, anxiety, and awe gradually filled the minds of the people. Women stood at the door, looking out upon the dark landscape; men returned from their labor in the fields; the carpenter left his tools; the blacksmith his forge, the tradesman his counter. Schools were dismissed, and tremblingly the children fled home-ward. Travelers put up at the nearest farmhouse. ‘What is coming?’ queried every lip and heart. It seems as if a hurricane was about to dash across the land, or as if it was the day of the consummation of all things. . . .
‘The extent of this darkness was extraordinary. It was ob-served as far east as Falmouth. To the westward it reached to the farthest part of Connecticut, and to Albany. To the south-ward, it was observed along the seacoast; and to the north as far as American settlements extend.’
“The intense darkness of the day was succeeded, an hour or two before evening, by a partially clear sky, and the sun appeared, though it was still obscured by the black, heavy mist. ‘After sundown, the cloud came again overhead, and it grew dark very fast.’ ‘Nor was the darkness of the night less uncommon and terrifying than that of the day; not withstanding there was almost a full moon, no object was discernible but by the help of some artificial light, which, when seen from the neighboring houses and other places at a distance, appeared through a kind of Egyptian darkness which seemed almost impervious to the rays.’ Said an eye witness of the scene: ‘I could not help conceiving at the time, that if every luminous body in the universe had been shrouded in impenetrable shades, or struck out of existence the darkness could not have been more complete.’ Though at nine o’clock that night the moon rose to the full, ‘it had not the least effect to dispel the death-like shadows.’ After midnight the darkness disappeared, and the moon, when first visible, had the appearance of blood.
“May 19, 1780, stands in history as ‘The Dark Day.’ Since the time of Moses, no period of darkness of equal density, extent, and duration, has ever been recorded. The description of this event, as given by eye-witnesses, is but an echo of the words of the Lord, recorded by the prophet Joel twenty-five hundred years previous to their fulfillment: ‘The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.’ ”
“In 1833, two years after Miller began to present in public the evidences of Christ’s soon coming, the last of the signs appeared which were promised by the Saviour as tokens of His second advent. Said Jesus, ‘The stars shall fall from heaven.’ And John in the Revelation declared, as he beheld in vision the scenes that should herald the day of God ‘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.’ This prophecy received a striking and impressive fulfillment in the great metoric shower of November 13, 1833. That was the most extensive and wonderful dis-play of falling stars which has ever been recorded; ‘The whole firmament, over all the United States, being then, for hours, in fiery commotion! No celestial phenomenon has ever occurred in this country, since its first settlement, which was viewed with such intense admiration by one class in the community, or with so much dread and alarm by another.’ ‘It’s sublimity and awful beauty still linger in many minds. . . . Never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell toward the earth; east, west, north, and south, it was the same. In a word, the whole heavens seemed in motion. . . . The display, as described in Professor Silliman’s journal, was seen all over North America. . . . From two o’clock until broad daylight, the sky being perfectly serene and cloudless, an incessant play of dazzling brilliant luminosities was kept up in the whole heavens.’
‘No language, indeed, can come up to the splendor of that magnificent display; . . . no one who did not witness it can form an adequate conception of its glory. It seemed as if the whole starry heavens had congregated at one point near the zenith, and were simultaneously shooting forth, with the velocity of lightning, to every part of the horizon; and yet they were not exhausted—thousands swiftly followed in the tracks of thousands, as if created for the occasion.’
“In the New York Journal of Commerce of Nov. 14, 1833, appeared a long article regarding this wonderful phenomenon, containing this statement: ‘No philosopher or scholar has told or recorded an event, I suppose, like that of yesterday morning. A prophet eighteen hundred years ago foretold it exactly, if we will be at the trouble of understanding stars falling to mean falling stars . . . in the only sense in which it is possible to be literally true.’
“Thus was displayed the last of those signs of His coming concerning which Jesus bade His disciples, ‘When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.’ After these things, John beheld, as the great event next impending, the heavens departing as a scroll, while the earth quaked, mountains and islands removed out of their places, and the wicked in terror sought to flee from the presence of the Son of man.”—Great Controversy, pp. 306-308, 333, 334.
Christ had bidden His people watch for the signs of His advent, and rejoice as they should behold the tokens of their coming King. “And when these things begin to come to pass,” He said “then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28.) He pointed His followers to the budding trees of spring, and said: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” (Matt. 24:32, 33.) While the Saviour has clearly pointed out the nearness of His coming to the generation that shall witness all these signs, He has not left us in darkness as to how long it will be from the time of the fulfillment of these signs to that great and glorious event, for He added: “This generation [the one that has seen the signs] shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Verse 34.) As the generation spoken of by the Master is about to pass away, and the kingdom of everlasting life ushered in, the searcher of truth should not neglect his opportunity by allowing things of lesser importance to occupy his mind, or time.
Committed to S. D. A. Denomination
The gospel of the coming of Christ in this generation, and the signs of the times as in Matthew 24, was committed to the Seventh-day Adventist denomination since 1844. No other body of people has had the burden of the message that is taught in this chapter (the signs and the end of the world), and the urgency of its speedy delivery in this generation. Therefore, whatever commendation, or condemnation is written to the “servant” in Matthew 24, cannot be applied to another people. Furthermore, as the rest of Christendom had fallen by 1844 because they rejected the messages that were sent to them and thus God would not let light shine through them since that time, it is evident that the gospel of the 24th chapter of Matthew could not have been preached by any other people. Therefore, the statement concerning the servant in the following verse is applicable only to the foregoing denomination.
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over His household, to give them [to the world] meat in due season”—present truth? (Verse 45.) Note, that there is a question as to whom this faithful servant could be. If that people to whom primarily this gospel was committed had been faithful, then the following promise would have been their’s: “Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That He shall make him ruler over all His goods.” (Verses 46, 47.) The significance of “all His goods” is the finishing of the gospel, bringing everlasting righteousness, and ushering in the kingdom of Christ! What a wonderful promise! But, observe the danger of losing this ever-lasting glory: “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming; and shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken.” (Verses 48, 49.) The “servant” (singular) that shall “begin to smite his fellow servants” (plural) signifies the leadership—the “angel” of the church of the Laodiceans—those who have charge of the “household.” But the “servants” (plural) apply to the ministry under that leadership. By the unfaithfulness of “that servant,” the gospel has been delayed; the generation is about to pass, and the work is years behind. The result is, that the delay has not been expressed by action only, but it is even said by words, “My Lord delayeth His coming.” And as one sin leads to another, the doctrine of “Health Reform,” eating foods that have been devitalized by modern inventions, the “dainties” of Babylon, etc.—indulging fleshly lusts, has been largely disregarded, thus fulfilling the words, “eat and drink with the drunken.”
The doctrine of health reform is said to be “the right hand and arm of the Third Angel’s Message,” and that the medical work is “the right hand of the message.” The idea of health re-form is a thing of the past so far as the church as a body is concerned, and the leadership cares little. But that is not the worst; this unfaithful servant of God has even dared stretch his hand over the gulf to form an unlawful alliance of the denominational medical institutions with those of the world who are bitterly opposed to the idea of health reform—right hand and arm of the “Third Angel’s Message.” The very channel which was instituted to uphold and carry that part of the work, is being bound by a confederacy; and now in order to maintain this alliance it has been compelled to sacrifice the very principle for which it was organized. Thereby God’s agency for treating the sick and preventing disease by healthful living and divine healing through obedience of the truth, has been substituted by drugs.
Thus the devil has cut off the right hand and arm of the “Third Angel’s Message,” and by this cunning device has robbed the church of God of its medical institutions! What a calamity! What a loss! Would not God’s faithful people at such a time as this come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty? How a body of people with so much light can become so blind is beyond human understanding; it is a mystery!
Had they (those who were charged with this great responsibility) been faithful to the trust committed to them, the everlasting blessings found in the following verse would have been their’s: “That He shall make him ruler over all his goods.” But to him who neglects his Master’s commission: “The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Verses 50, 51.) Had they taken heed to the last urgent message sent them, calling for decided changes in these things, the following chapter (Matthew 25) would have been prophetically different.” — Shepherds Rod, Vol. 2, pp. 174-180. (the discussion of Matthew 25 to continue next week, please join us there).