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change in a moment of those believers who are alive (1 Cor. 15), their rapture, or being caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thes. 4:13-18), to enjoy the marriage feast of the King's Son, the Lamb of God. Mat. 22:2, etc.; 25:10; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-32; Rev. 19:7, and Song of Solomon.
While this is occurring in the air, Israel gathered to Palestine in unbelief,17 rebuild their temple, establish their ancient sacrifices and plunge from bad to worse until Antichrist arises, and they make a covenant with him,18 which the prophet calls a covenant with death and sheol.1" Terrible persecutions shall follow, called "the time of Jacob's trouble."20
When it would seem that all wast lost,21 then the Lord
for ever and ever (alons of aions).
(17) Zeph. 2:1. Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired;
2. Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger come upon you.
(18) Dan. 9:27. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
John 5 :43. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
(19) Isa. 28:15. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our
refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.
(20) Jer. 30:5. For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.
6. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?
7. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble. But he shall be saved out of it.
(21) Zech. 14:1. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
2. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3. Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
See verses 4 and 5.
Also Jude 14; 2 Thes. 2 :8.
shall come with His saints down to the earth and destroy this lawless Antichrist, deliver Israel, who will then look upon "Him they have pierced,"22 and a nation shall be born in a day, or at once.23 He will judge the living nations and establish His millennial kingdom. Psa. 2; Dan. 2:44; Rev. 11:15.
But let it be distinctly remembered that we have no date for the rapture, the'coming of our Lord to the trysting place in the air.24 We are to live with our loins girt and our lamps burning like men that wait for their Lord. Luke 12:35-40. And yet, in the unfolding of events we may see the day approaching,25 the beginnings that shall cause us to lift up our heads.26
(22) Zech. 12 :9. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of suppliestions; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.
11. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrlmmon in the valley of Megiddon.
12. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;
13. The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart;
14. All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.
(23) Isa. 66: 8. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be
born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
(24) Mark 13:32. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
33. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
34. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
35. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometb, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
36. Les£ coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
(25) Heb. 10 :25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as' the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.
(26) Luke 21:28. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Signs of Christ's Speedy Coming.
We believe that the coming of our Lord is to be personal and premillennial, also, that it is imminent. Let us remember the admonition that we must distinguish between the Rapture—His coming into the air to receive His saints, 1 Thes. 4, which may occur at any moment—and the Revelation—His coming down to the earth with His saints— which latter will not occur until after the preaching of the gospel as a witness,1 the gathering of Israel, in unbelief, the manifestation of Antichrist, and other prophesied events. Now we are to consider, what are the evidences for also believing that His coming, the Rapture, is near. Out of many reasons we will give seven, as follows:
I. The Prevalence of Travel and Knowledge.
"Shut up the words and seal the book even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased." Dan. 12:4.
A comparison of recent years with the present shows a most marvelous increase in both travel and knowledge.
An incident is told of a woman in England who, after long consideration had decided on a journey. Friends gathered to assist her departure and walked by the conveyance a mile or more to bid her God-speed, but lo, her entire journey was only fifty miles.
Now, invention has chained the mighty forces of steam and electricity to palatial carriages by land and sea, so that one can go round the world, with comfort and ease, in sixty days.
Railways cover the earth and steamers track the sea like a mighty spider's web.
Our text says, Many shall run to and fro. In the year
(1) Matt. 24:14. 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.
1896 the number of passengers carried on the railroads in the United States was 535,120,756 and the mileage was 13,054,840,243, and in the whole world the railroad passengers were 2,384,000,000 and the mileage 28,677,000,000. Add to this the travel by steamers and private conveyance, the explorations into every conceivable corner of the earth, from the equator to the poles, and the enormous aggregate is surely a literal fulfilment of this sign of the end. And knowledge shall be increased.
The unprecedented educational facilities are a remarkable feature of our time. We have public schools for our youth, colleges and universities for higher education, and denominational schools for religious education.
The public press, with its ceaseless streams of news and information, covers the earth with its ever increasing circulation, like falling leaves from some mighty tree of knowledge. And, of the making of many books, there is truly no end.
The means of communication by the mail, telegraph and telephone have been multiplied in geometrical progression.
By the Universal Postal Union, printed matter is carried as cheaply to Iceland or China as to the next street in Chicago.
But perhaps the prediction of our text refers more especially to the increase of Bible study, and here again we have a wonderful fulfilment. Since the year 1804 over 230,000,000 of Bibles, Testaments, and portions have been distributed by the Bible Societies alone, and millions more by private publication agencies. The Bible has been translated into over 287 languages, and parts into 340. Over nine-tenths of the race have the Bible to read in their own language.
Religious papers and periodicals are issued by the million. The great system of universal Sunday-school lessons, the Bible Institutes, the Chautauqua Summer Schools and Bible Conferences have developed a world-wide study of the Word of God.
With this there has come a wide-spread study of the Prophetic Word, especially concerning Israel and our Lord's return. While the skeptic and destructive critic are studying about the Word, trying to undermine and tear it down, the reverent students by the thousand are looking into the sure Word of Prophecy as to a light that shineth in a dark place.
II. Perilous Times.
"This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come." 2 Tim. 3:1. Perilous times.
a. Physically: pestilence, famine, earthquakes, cyclones, etc.
Possibly the recently vented oil and gases of the earth are a preparation for some mighty conflagration to be aided by newly manifested heat and electrical forces from the sun.2
b. Politically and Socially.
Under this head we need only refer to the progress of Nihilism, Socialism, Communism and Anarchy. Could there be anything worse than the creed of the latter, viz.: The first lie is God and the second is Law. They openly avow that their mission is to destroy the present social structure, and they prophesy (perhaps with the accuracy of Caiphas), that something better will come.
c. Distress of Nations.
National jealousies have caused offensive and defensive preparations on a scale of such magnitude as to literally grind out the life of the people with oppressive taxation.
All Europe is practically a soldiers' camp, with 23,000,000 of drilled men ready to fly at each other in a universal war, with weapons so ingenious and deadly as to put all the past record beneath the shadow of comparison.
Governments vie with each other in the suicidal policy of adding corps to corps and ships to ships, piling up their national debts in the fact of absolute bankruptcy.
(2) 2 Thes. X :8. In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God. and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Chi 1st:
2 Pet. 3:7. But the heavens
that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.