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« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2006, 10:08:49 AM »



September 15

Matthew 23:13-15. Christ denounces three woes against the Pharisees.

The first sermon recorded which the Lord Jesus preached is called the Sermon on the Mount. It began with eight blessings, such as these, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek." But now we are reading the last sermon recorded, and we find in it eight woes. They are denounced against the Pharisees. The Lord warned his disciples against their evil doctrines and example in his first public discourse, saying, "Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in nowise enter the kingdom of heaven." He shows in this his last discourse what their righteousness was—a mere pretense, an outward show, a cloak to secret wickedness. After each woe he uttered, he described a crime.

The first crime described is "shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men." This is the contrary of what Jesus came to do. He opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. He opened it by his death. All faithful ministers stand at the open door and invite sinners to come in. But the Pharisees taught men false ways of salvation. When they saw real penitents they frowned upon them, and endeavored to shut them out. We find in the prophet Daniel this encouraging promise—"Those who be wise shall shine as the brightness of the skies, and those who turn many to righteousness as the stars forever." (Dan. 12:3.) But what will become of those who have turned many from righteousness! What anguish will they feel when they find among their companions in torment, many whom they once perverted and corrupted!

But if the Pharisees had been openly wicked they would not have been as guilty as they were. They pretended to be very pious, and made long prayers in public places, while secretly they devoured widows' houses. It seems that dying men often left the property of their widows to their charge, little suspecting how the trust would be abused. How could they dare to injure the widow and the fatherless when they read continually in the law of Moses these words—"You shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they shall cry at all unto me, I will hear their cry, and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." Ex. 22:22-24. Christ is acquainted with every secret sin. He detests sin most when he sees it covered by a cloak of hypocrisy. Therefore he said to the Pharisees, "You shall receive the greater damnation." There are degrees of misery. Hypocrites shall be punished more than open transgressors. The sins which they have so carefully concealed from men will be publicly exposed at the last day, and the secrecy with which they were committed will be found to add to their enormity.

Everyone would acknowledge that to devour widows' houses is a sin; but everyone would not understand at first that it was a sin to compass sea and land to make proselytes. It is not a sin to compass sea and land to make converts—no, that is a righteous act. Missionaries go to the farther ends of the earth to tell perishing sinners of a Savior. They go, and by the blessing of God, they make some of them the children of heaven, such as they are themselves. What is a proselyte? He is a man who changes his religion, whether for a better or a worse. The Pharisees took great pains to persuade the Gentiles to observe the ceremonies of the Jewish law; for it gratified their pride to add to the number of their own followers. They did not desire to save souls; for while they were so zealous in making proselytes, they shut up the kingdom of heaven against men. The bad instructions they gave to a proselyte rendered him worse than he was before, and even worse than themselves. We should have hardly thought it possible that any could be worse than the Pharisees, did we not find these words written, "And when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." There are degrees of wickedness as well as of misery. Some are more the children of hell than others. It is even possible to make another worse than we are ourselves. How dangerous it must be to listen to false teachers! If we attend to them we may become worse than they are. How dreadful is the name here given to a wicked man! "The child of hell!" Yet all who are not the children of heaven are the children of hell. The world is divided into these two classes. Could the children of hell see the place to which they were going, they would tremble, and shrink back with fear. But God sees it, and in his love he warns them not to proceed in their dangerous course. He does more. He is willing to make them "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints of light;" for he is able to deliver them from "the power of darkness." (Col. 1:12, 13.)

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« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2006, 10:32:45 PM »



September 16

Matthew 23:16-28. Christ denounces four more woes against the Pharisees.

Our God is the God of truth. There was no truth in the Pharisees. They taught lies, and they acted lies. In the passage we have just read a woe is denounced against them for teaching lies. They taught the people that the gold of the temple was more holy than the temple itself; and that the gift on the altar was more holy than the altar—whereas it was clear that it was the temple that sanctified the gold, and the altar that sanctified the gift.

What could be their motive for teaching these errors? No doubt it was the love of money. They hoped to induce the people to bestow much gold, and to offer many gifts as sacrifices, that by these means they themselves might grow rich. The love of money has in all ages led men to teach falsehood. Roman Catholic priests gain money by the masses they repeat for the dead. They tell the people that the souls of their relations are in torment, and that they can release them by repeating prayers or masses on their behalf; but they will not repeat these masses, unless money is given to them. One mark of a faithful minister is his indifference to worldly gain, or to filthy lucre, as the Scriptures call it. Like Paul he can say, "I seek not yours, but you." (2 Cor. 12:14.)

The Pharisees not only spoke lies, they acted them. They pretended to be so very pious, that they would not omit paying tithes to the priests of the smallest herbs; while at the same time they omitted paying to God the greatest duties they owed to him, such as judgment, mercy, and faith. And why? Because men could see them when they gave their tithes, but God alone knew the state of their hearts.

Are there not some like the Pharisees in these days? They are careful to perform religious services when the eye of man is upon them; but they are indifferent when the eye of God alone observes. They attend church regularly because men see them there. But do they pray in secret regularly? They are very careful of their words, because men hear them; but they are very careless about their thoughts, because God alone sees them. What can better represent such characters than cups clean outside and filthy within, than sepulchers beautifully ornamented containing dead men's bones?

How different is the description that the Holy Spirit has given of the saints! Paul says, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." (1 Cor. 4:7.) The saints are despised by the world, and valued no more than an earthen vessel; but in their hearts a treasure is hid—it is Christ, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27.) In the sight of God, who sees the heart, they are precious as gold and silver. It is true that they are not without sin; but God has promised to refine them, as gold and silver are purified from their dross. (Mal. 3:2.) But the wicked are compared to the dross of silver, and to the baser metals. God said to Ezekiel, "Son of man, the house of Israel has to me become dross; all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver." And what would God do to these impenitent, unbelieving, unconverted people? "Because you have all become dross, behold therefore, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, (that is, the dross of silver,) and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it to melt it; so will I gather you in my anger and in my fury; and I will leave you there, and melt you." (Ezek. 22:18-20.) Afflictions do not refine hypocrites; but destroy them. God leaves them in their troubles, and permits them to perish. But if our hearts are right in the sight of God, he will never leave us. His promise to everyone who sincerely loves him is, "I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him." Are there any here who never cry earnestly to God for a clean heart, and a right spirit? What will you do in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ? (Rom. 2:16.)


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« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2006, 10:34:03 PM »



September 17

Matthew 23:29-36. Christ denounces the last woe against the Pharisees.

This is the last of the eight woes that the Lord denounced against the Pharisees. Eight times he uttered these words, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." Eight times he described their hypocritical character. The last instance of hypocrisy mentioned, is the building of the tombs of the prophets. This was a hypocritical act in the Pharisees, because it was not done from love and reverence to the martyred prophets, but merely from pride and ostentation. If they had reverenced the ancient prophets, they would not have persecuted the living ones. It is very probable that they really thought that they would not have been partakers with their fathers in the blood of the prophets; but they did not know their own hearts. It is very easy to deceive ourselves respecting our own characters. When we read of wicked actions, it is natural to think that we would not have committed them, had we been placed in the circumstances of those we read of. But this is not the way to come to a knowledge of ourselves. Let us not inquire how we should have treated the apostles or the reformers, had we lived in their days, but let us rather inquire how do we behave towards despised saints in these days? Do we love all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we ready to relieve their wants, and to defend their characters? When the saints are praised and admired, it is easy then to speak in their favor; but when they are despised and calumniated, then it requires faith to take their part, and to share in their reproach.

With what honor the Son of God mentioned those holy men who had been slain in former times! What a title he bestowed on Abel, when he called him "righteous Abel!" The waters of the flood had not washed out the stains of his blood from the earth. We know the names of very few of those prophets who were slain between the time of Abel and of Zachariah, but all their names were known to Jesus at the moment he was speaking—all their spirits were happy in his Father's presence, and all their blood was crying for vengeance from the earth. And upon whom would that vengeance descend? Upon that generation to whom Jesus then spoke—upon that generation who would exceed all their fathers in wickedness, by slaying the Son of God, and by refusing the offer of pardon that his apostles would proclaim. Jesus declared, "All these things shall come upon this generation." But not upon that generation alone. The sufferings of the Jewish nation are not yet ended. To this day they are wanderers on the face of the earth, even as Cain was who slew his brother Abel.

Can parents bear the idea of entailing a curse upon their children? Long after they are sleeping in their graves their offspring may be suffering the consequences of their sins. A family is plunged from the height of affluence into the depth of poverty; disease sweeps away the fair blossoms from a flourishing tree; public crime inflicts a dark blot upon a reputable name—and men know not the cause of these visitations. Sometimes they are sent, like the afflictions of Job, and the temptations of Abraham, to try the faith of God's dear children, and as tokens of a Father's love—but sometimes they are the memorials of sins perpetrated long before—of sins unpardoned and unrepented of. The cruel treatment of a fatherless child, the treacherous robbery of a master, the bitter persecution of a saint, are often visited upon the unrighteous descendants of those who committed the guilty acts. God fulfils his own word by visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate him.

But He will never let his wrath burn against the righteous son of ungodly parents. No, if the son repents, he shall obtain mercy. The good king Josiah, though the son of a very wicked father, was spared when God was going to pour torrents of wrath upon his kingdom. Because his heart was tender, because he humbled himself, and wept and prayed, therefore God said, "You shall be gathered to your grave in peace." Pious children who have ungodly parents yet living, may pray for them, and may obtain mercy for them also. Far from punishing the children for their parents' sake, he may bless those parents for their children's sake. "For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repents him of the evil." (Joel 2:13.)




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« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2006, 07:13:31 PM »



September 18

Matthew 23:37 to end. Christ laments over Jerusalem.

Could the most feeling heart bewail the calamities of his friend more tenderly than the Lord here bewails the dreadful end of his enemies? It was not because he loved them not that he had addressed the Pharisees in these terrible words, "You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?" Those whom he now called serpents, he would have treated as the hen her beloved brood. When that careful bird observes a hawk or a kite hovering in the air, she calls her little ones to take refuge beneath her sheltering wings. The Lord Jesus descried afar off the woes that were about to light upon the heads of his guilty nation, and he gave them warning of their approach; but they would not heed his words, nor accept his invitations. And now the time was come when hope had nearly expired. "Behold," said the Lord, "your house is left unto you desolate." But though he said "Behold," the Jews beheld no desolation. The temple was shining in all its splendor; the walls of Jerusalem were standing in all their strength; the feast of the Passover was thronged with guests; the land was flowing with milk and honey; where was the desolation? It was near at hand, even at the door. The Son of God heard its step upon the mountains, and saw its shadow upon the hills. Before the voices of those children who sang his praises in the temple should become tremulous through age, the enemy would cause the sound of melody to cease in the Lord's house. How long has the silence continued! Visit Mount Moriah, where once the temple stood. Behold that stately building, crowned with domes and minarets. It is not a Christian church. Is it a heathen temple? No, it is a Mohammedan mosque, the pride of the Turks, the masterpiece of their architecture. Neither Christian nor Jew may now tread upon the spot where the Redeemer stood and taught. And thus it shall be, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Then there shall be a great and glorious change. It is described in this last verse. "For I say unto you, you shall not see me henceforth, until you shall say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" When the Savior comes the second time, he will meet with a very different reception from that which he received the first time. He expired amid curses, but he shall return amid blessings.

How wonderful are the dealings of God with the Jewish nation! Instead of casting them off forever, he has only cast them out for a time. He says to them, by the mouth of his prophet Isaiah, "In a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says the Lord your Redeemer." (Is. 54:7, 8.)

Are there any among us with whom the Lord has dealt in the same merciful manner? Some, who in their youthful days hardened their hearts against the Gospel, after wandering long in forbidden and dangerous paths, have been permitted once more to hear the joyful sound, and have heard it the second time with altered feelings, and a new delight. When God had spoken to them in their prosperity, they had replied, "I will not hear;" but when he had destroyed their earthly delights, they welcomed the messenger of mercy, and exclaimed, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."


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« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2006, 07:14:59 PM »

September 19

Mark 12:41 to end. Christ commends a poor widow.

The time was drawing near when the Lord Jesus would leave the temple, never to return. Before he left it, he sat for a while in the court called the women's court. The inner court was called the court of Israel, and there no one was permitted to sit down; but in the women's court sitting was allowed. Under the pillars that adorned the court eleven chests were placed, and upon each chest was written the purpose to which money cast in it, would be applied. None of them were for the relief of the poor; all were set apart for the supply of the various sacrifices and services of the temple.

The people presented their offerings within the view of Jesus. Many who were rich cast in much. It is probable these rich men were Pharisees. The Lord had lately upbraided them for their covetousness. He did not now applaud their liberality. He knew that though they gave much, they kept more. He saw also their motives, and he was acquainted with their secret practices. But while he passed over the rich, his eye rested upon a certain poor widow, who cast in two mites, which made a farthing. It is said in one place that two sparrows are sold for a farthing—that farthing was the fourth part of a penny; this farthing was the FORTIETH part of a penny—the fortieth part of the wages of a day-laborer.

There is very little recorded concerning the poor widow; neither her name, nor her parentage, nor her history, nor her abode. But she was well known to Jesus. He knew not only what she put into the treasury, but also that she had nothing remaining. He knew all her circumstances in this life—the depth of her poverty, and how she fell into it. It may be that she was the victim of one of those proud Pharisees, who devoured widows' houses. He knew not only her circumstances, but her heart—the feelings with which she approached the treasury and cast in her mites. It may be that she had just received some great deliverance, and that she testified her gratitude by her gift. It may be that, like the aged Anna, she derived her chief consolation from attending the services of the temple, from listening to the psalms sung continually within its walls, and from joining in the worship which accompanied the daily offerings. It is probable that she had heard the Savior's gracious words within that sacred place, and had found salvation through faith in his name. She must have been a believer in the promises of God, or she could not have presented an acceptable offering. For it is written, "Through faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." (Heb. 11.)

The believing poor still present their farthings to the Lord—their mites are still precious in his sight. They may not be noticed by men, but they are not overlooked by God. He knows where all the money comes from that enters into his treasury; and he can distinguish the guinea which dropped out of the overflowing coffers of a rich man, from the last farthing of a poor one. There are some in our days who have displayed the same faith that actuated the widow. There was a man who spent his all in going from city to city, from country to country, to plead for the souls of the poor. Wherever he went, he stirred up his fellow-Christians to form town-missions, which might penetrate into every dark abode of ignorance and misery. He died in the midst of his years and of his labors, and left not enough to procure his winding-sheet, much less to sustain his infant family. But God raised up friends who honorably buried him, and comfortably provided for his widow and her babes. Our gracious Lord is faithful, and never forsakes those who put their trust in him. We may feel assured that the widow who cast in all her living into the treasury, was not permitted to pine with need the day after. And every one who has faith to act as she did, will be approved as she was, and sustained as she was, and at the last day acknowledged as she will be.

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« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2006, 07:17:23 PM »



September 20

Matthew 24:1-2. Christ foretells the destruction of the temple.

These words record a very remarkable event—"Jesus went out, and departed from the temple."

That was a memorable moment when the Lord Jesus departed from the temple, never again to enter it—that temple into which he had been carried as a babe in his mother's arms, and where he had been blessed by the aged Simeon; from that temple where, as a child, he had astonished the doctors by his wisdom—from that temple where he had healed so many sufferers, and spoken peace to so many penitents. Never more would he honor it with his presence; his enemies might have it to themselves, to repeat within its sacred courts for a few more years their hypocritical services. On another altar he would bleed, even the altar of the cross; to another temple he would ascend, even to the temple in heaven, to stand before the altar there, with the golden censer in his hand. (Rev. 8:3.)

Had the disciples known their Master as well as they might have known him, they would not have directed his attention to the splendor of the holy house. How could they expect that the King of Heaven would admire earthly magnificence! The world's glory must have appeared dark indeed to Him who had dwelt in the palace of eternal light!

A little while before, he had called his disciples unto him. For what purpose? Was it to show them such an object as the world admires? A monarch gorgeously arrayed, or a building beautifully adorned? or even a prospect of surpassing loveliness? No! it was to show them a sight pleasing in God's eyes—a poor widow devoted in heart to his service. For what a different purpose the disciples came to their Master!

Instead of admiring the temple's magnificence, Jesus uttered this astonishing prophecy—"There shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down." For nine years before the Savior's birth, Herod the Great had kept eighteen thousand workmen continually employed in repairing the temple, and since his death the Jews had continued to improve it. It was built upon a massive rock, and was composed of stones, some of which were sixty feet in length. Who could believe that such stones would be thrown down! Yet in about forty years after the prophecy had been uttered, the place where the temple stood was a ploughed field; for the Romans caused the foundations to be dug up in search of hidden treasures.

God knows the fate of every building which now attracts human admiration. The mosque of Omar, that stands where once the temple stood, has its appointed time. All the edifices that human hands have reared, since the tower of Babel was begun, shall perish—they may be demolished by the conqueror, or swallowed up by an earthquake, or gradually crumbled away by the hand of time—but if they escape all these enemies, they shall at length be consumed in the flames; for God has declared, "The earth, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up. Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God?" (2 Pet. 3:10, 11.) But there are some things which shall endure. Though every stone in the temple has been thrown down, the poor widow that cast her mite into the treasury still lives. Her love still lives. It led her once to offer two mites, and now it leads her to offer never-ending praises. When we behold a splendid building, let us remember that a poor tattered believer is more glorious in God's sight than that pompous fabric. Men may think him unfit to enter the magnificent gate, or to tread upon the marble floor; but God has prepared for him a building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens—a building that shall endure when all earthly palaces and temples shall melt with fervent heat.


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« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2006, 07:18:34 PM »

September 21

Matthew 24:3-14. Christ foretells the signs of the end.

How interesting was the scene upon Mount Olivet when the Savior sat there instructing his disciples concerning things to come! The prospect he beheld must have filled his heart with sad thoughts. It was Jerusalem, that crowned the opposite heights—Jerusalem! the city over which he had wept only a few days before—Jerusalem, that city in which he had done so many miracles—Jerusalem, that city in which he was so very soon to be tried and condemned.

When we look upon a place which we have often visited, we think of past events; but when Jesus looked upon Jerusalem he thought not only of the past, but also of the future.

The disciples did not leave their Master to meditate alone upon that mount. Four of them approached and proposed some important questions. The names of these four are recorded by Mark—they were James and John, Peter and Andrew, the fishermen of Gennesaret. The inquiries they made were these—"When shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?" What things did they refer to in their first question? A little while before their Lord had said, when gazing on the magnificent buildings of the temple, "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." It was natural that the disciples should desire to know when these wonderful events would happen; they said, "When shall these things be?" Had they asked no other question, it would have been clear that the whole of the Lord's answer related to the destruction of Jerusalem; but they added a second inquiry, "What shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?"

The Lord answered both these inquiries as he sat upon Mount Olivet. It is difficult for us to know certainly what part of the answer relates to the destruction of Jerusalem, and what part relates to the second coming. Before Jerusalem was destroyed, there were many wars and persecutions; and there are wars and persecutions still. What mournful signs these are, of the coming of Christ! When he was born at Bethlehem, the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will towards men." This song would have led us to expect that wars would cease now that the Prince of peace was come. But eighteen hundred years have rolled away, and violence still prevails upon the earth. The joyful song in the fields of Bethlehem is very unlike the mournful discourse upon the Mount of Olives. Yet both are true. When the Babe that lay in the manger shall sit upon his throne, the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. Meanwhile there must be trials, and afflictions, and temptations. Jesus has faithfully warned us beforehand. He has told us that many will be offended, and that many will be deceived, and that the love of many will grow cold. When we read these prophecies we should offer up such a prayer as this—"May I never be offended, or deceived, or cooled in my love!" When we hear of any who have turned back from following the Lord, let us think of the touching words he once spoke to his apostles, "Will you also go away?" Surely none will feel so much ashamed to see him again as those who professed to walk with him a little way, and to love him for a little while, but whose feet grew weary, and whose love waxed cold! O how they will wish that they had never heard his name, nor listened to his voice!


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« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2006, 09:12:14 PM »



September 22

Matthew 24:15-23. Christ directs his disciples when to flee from Jerusalem.

These warnings proved exceedingly useful to the first Christians. They remembered the words, "When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place; then let those who are in Judea flee into the mountains." Nearly forty years after these words were uttered, the Roman armies stood in the holy place; that is, in the holy city of Jerusalem. These armies were prophesied of under the name of "the abomination of desolation." The world admires great conquerors, and their gallant troops, but the Lord abhors deeds of injustice and cruelty. The Roman name shines bright in the page of history, but it is a blot in the word of God—"the abomination of desolation."

But some may inquire, "How could the Christians escape from Jerusalem when the Romans had entered the city?" God showed his faithfulness by providing a way of escape for his own people. When the Romans first attacked the city, they were repulsed—they fled, and they did not return to the city for several years. The Christians took advantage of their defeat to flee to the mountains. They found a place wherein to dwell in safety; a little town called Pella, beyond the river Jordan, hidden among the hills, was their refuge. It is believed that not one Christian was in the city of Jerusalem at the time of its dreadful destruction. Does not the escape of these Christians afford a striking instance of the manner in which God preserves his people? When he destroyed the world by water, he saved Noah; when he destroyed Sodom, he saved Lot; and when he will destroy the world by fire, he will save his people. As it is written in Ps. 32, "For this shall everyone that is godly pray to you in a time when you may be found—surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come near him."

It was the time of the Passover when the Roman armies, headed by the great Titus, returned to attack Jerusalem. Two millions of human beings were then enclosed within her walls. And what human beings! Many of them were ferocious robbers. Two wicked men, named Simon and John, were at open war with each other, and kept the city in continual tumult. Through their means most of the provisions were burned, and the inhabitants speedily reduced to famine. The robbers broke into houses, and insisted upon the inhabitants delivering up their last morsel. During the whole period of the siege no regular meal was taken. Each ate his morsel alone, in fear and trembling. One unnatural mother was induced by hunger to roast her own child, and to eat part of it. The odor of her meal attracted the Jewish soldiers to her house; they compelled her to produce her strange food; but when they beheld the dreadful spectacle, they retreated in horror, for now they clearly saw that God had abandoned the city, and that no hope remained to its wretched inhabitants.

The pen of Josephus, an unbelieving Jew, has described the calamities of the siege; and he has wound up his account by these words—"If the misfortunes of all from the beginning of the world were compared with those of the Jews, they would appear much less upon the comparison." This is an unbeliever's testimony to the truth of the prophecy, "There shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time." If those days had not been shortened, the whole nation must have perished; but this could not be, because of the elect. Some of the Jews were chosen of God, and for their sakes the days of tribulation were shortened; and the siege lasted little more than three months. But is the tribulation over? O no. The Jews are still wanderers upon the face of the earth; they are still despised, dejected, degraded. It is a dreadful thing not to listen to the voice of mercy. The Jews would not hear it, and they have been compelled to hear the voice of wrath. The Lord delights in mercy. Are there any here who have not yet accepted his gracious invitations? O what sorrows you might escape, if now you would turn to him!


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« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2006, 09:13:15 PM »



September 23

Matthew 24:23-31. Christ describes his second coming.

What comfort it has been to believers during the last eighteen hundred years, to know that Jesus will return in a public manner! "As the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." The inhabitants of all parts of the world will know in the twinkling of an eye that Jesus has returned, for they will see him coming in the clouds of heaven. Had it not been for this assurance, in what a state of agitation they would have been kept! They would have listened with eagerness to every report of his return, and would have thought it well at least to go and see whether it were true. But now they feel an unshaken confidence, that whenever he appears they shall see him immediately. They know also that wherever they may be at the time, they will be gathered to him, even as the eagles are gathered from distant parts to feast upon their prey. Whether they be dead or living when he comes, they shall behold the first bright beams of his chariot. Whether they be lying in their graves, or in the depths of the sea, they shall be caught up to meet him in the air—whether engaged in their daily toil, or partaking of their nightly repose, they shall be changed, and translated to join the blessed company.

And did the Lord give his disciples any information concerning the time of his second coming? Yes—he said it should happen "immediately after the tribulation of those days." To what tribulation does he refer? This is a question that has perplexed many attentive readers of Holy Scripture. Some consider the tribulation that the Jews have endured during the last eighteen hundred years is here spoken of. Are they not still in tribulation? Luke gives this account of our Lord's words—"Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." The Turks are still in possession of Jerusalem; their mosque still pollutes the holy mount where once the temple stood; but when the tribulation of the Jews is over, when they are restored to their own land, and their own city, their King will return to take possession of his ancient throne. He was born King of the Jews, he died King of the Jews, and King of the Jews he will return; but not of the Jews only, but King of kings, and Lord of lords. How glorious is the description of his return in Rev. 19:11! "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and he who sat upon him was called Faithful and true, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written that no man knew but he himself."

Yet the glory of the second coming is not so wonderful as the humiliation of the first. It seems suitable to the Son of God to return in the clouds with a vast army of saints and angels; but it is amazing that he should have entered the world as a babe, have been laid in a manger, and nailed unto a cross. And why did he come in this lowly, in this ignominious manner? That when he came again to destroy the world, he might gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. All these scattered ones have believed in the crucified Jesus, and have been washed in his blood; therefore their garments are clean and white, and they are fit to enter into the presence of their Lord, and to dwell with him forever.


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« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2006, 09:14:18 PM »

September 24

Matthew 24:32-41. Christ foretells the suddenness of his second coming.

What must have been the feelings of the disciples when they heard their Lord declare, "This generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled!" Though the Lord had directed them how to escape from Jerusalem, yet they must have felt compassion for their countrymen who would suffer the "great tribulation." What should we feel if we knew that London, now so prosperous and flourishing, would in the course of forty years be steeped in blood, and filled with carcasses! Thanks be unto God, we have heard no such evil tidings. Though now full of ignorance and vice, of poverty and misery, it may become enlightened and happy, through the spread of the gospel in all its dark alleys and crowded courts. But the disciples could entertain no such hopes concerning Jerusalem. They knew that if they were spared to see old age, they would hear of the destruction of their native city.

Before the beginning of this discourse, they had asked two questions; the first was, "When shall these things be?" This inquiry referred to the stones of the temple being thrown down. The other question was, "What shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?" To this question our Lord seems to refer when he says, "But of that day and hour knows no man; no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." How remarkable it is that the time of Christ's second coming should be concealed from the knowledge of every creature! Angels know not the time; they know not when they shall be summoned to attend their King in his chariot of clouds. Devils know not the time; they know not when they shall be immured in their dark prison, and no longer permitted to tempt the inhabitants of the earth, and of the sea. Wicked men know not the time; they know not when their day of grace will end. Righteous men know not the time; they know not when they shall be caught up to meet their Lord in the air.

When Jerusalem was destroyed, the righteous had to flee; but when Christ returns, it is the wicked who will attempt to flee, and will not be able. The same Almighty arm that will save the righteous, will arrest the wicked in their flight. How great will be their consternation when they find themselves suddenly separated from their pious relatives! The very day in which this event takes place, they will arise ignorant of what it will bring forth. Two men will be in the field, digging, or ploughing, or reaping. One may have just vented his profane oaths, while the other may have reproved him, and reminded him of the future judgment—when suddenly the angels may bear away the faithful laborer into the presence of his Savior, and leave his ungodly companion to taste the terrors of his wrath. Two women will be engaged in domestic labors; grinding at a mill, or employed in some other household work. They may both that morning have sung the same hymn, and have appeared to join in the same prayer; but while one was a humble believer, the other was a lover of the world. Christ will suddenly reveal their true characters, by taking one to dwell with him, and by leaving the other to sink into perdition. Should not each of us ask himself, "If the Lord were to come today, what would become of me? Has He heard me imploring earnestly for pardon, and his Holy Spirit? When He looks into my heart, does He see that I love Him?"



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« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2006, 09:15:40 PM »



September 25

Matthew 24:42-44. Christ counsels his disciples to watch for his return.

Why did the Lord conceal from all the time of his second coming? We know not why he concealed it from angels or from devils, but we do know why he concealed it from men. It was that they may be watching for his return. He said, "Watch, therefore, for you know not what hour your Lord does come." He who made us is acquainted with all the secret springs of our nature. He knows that when we have a long time before us, we are disposed to loiter. There is a spirit of sloth and delay that steals over our hearts, which nothing overcomes so much as the idea that the opportunity for exertion may soon be past. Though our Lord may appear to tarry, we must never cease to believe that he will soon come. As it is written, "For yet a little while, and he who shall come will come, and will not tarry." (Heb. 10:37.) When we have been expecting a friend for a long time, we at length grow weary of waiting, and "give him up." We say, "Surely now he will not come at all." Yet sometimes he arrives just as we have given him up. We must never give up expecting Christ, for he has positively promised that he will come. But he has not promised to prolong our lives until his return. Millions have dropped into the grave during his absence, and it is very probable that we may descend into ours.

The day of death is as uncertain as the day of his return. The young die as well as the old, the healthy as well as the sickly, the cautious as well as the adventurous. We all know that this day we MAY die. It does not require faith to believe that we may die; for reason convinces us of this fact. Yet is it not remarkable that death generally comes unexpectedly—even to the old? They have lived so long, that they naturally imagine they shall live longer still. They have seen the arrow of destruction pass by them so often, piercing their companions, but sparing them, that their fears are quelled, and their hearts are lulled to repose. It often happens that just as men have made their plans for long life, they are visited by sudden death. A house has just been built, and a garden planted, when he that built and planted is called to dwell in another abode, and to walk in other regions. These unexpected removals say with a loud voice to the living, "Be you also ready."

But what if, instead of death, the Lord were to come? His return would create more alarm than death has ever done. When death attacks an ungodly man, his senses are often stupefied by disease; he is less capable of feeling alarm than when in full health. But when Christ returns, he will find his enemies lively and strong. A sick man usually entertains hopes of recovery until near his last hour; but when Christ returns, the wicked will see no way of escape. Friends surround the pillow of the dying man; some soothe and flatter him, some counsel and encourage him—but when the Judge appears, the wicked will be left to meet their dreadful fate, without one friendly arm to render aid, one pitying eye to shed a tear, one godly tongue to offer a prayer. Do we desire to escape the terrors of that dreadful moment? there is but one certain refuge. It is the Lord Jesus, who is now ready to hear our prayers, to forgive our sins, to bestow his grace, and to be our hiding-place in the day of trouble. If we neglect this precious opportunity, he will come on us as a thief, and we shall not know what hour he comes upon us. (Rev. 3:3.)


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« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2006, 09:16:51 PM »



September 26

Matthew 24:45 to end. Christ describes the end of faithful and unfaithful servants.

This part of our Lord's discourse applied with peculiar force to the apostles. They had been made rulers over their Lord's household. But it also applies to all ministers, for they are all stewards of the mysteries of God. A sacred trust is committed to them; and if they neglect it, their condemnation will be very heavy. If the laborer in the field, if the women grinding at the mill, were ungodly, they would perish—but if the steward of spiritual things was unfaithful, how much more miserably would he perish! How happy are those ministers whom death has found watching over their household! It signified not, indeed, whether they died in their pulpits or in their beds; but it signified much whether their hearts were truly in their work. Faithful ministers, like Paul, feel continual sorrow in their hearts for their brethren who know not God. Like him they can also say, when they think of their children in the faith, "We joy for your sakes before our God." (1 Thess. 3:9.)

It is dreadful to think that there are some ministers whom Christ calls evil servants." They think in their heart that the Lord delays his coming. Then they begin to abuse the power committed to them, and to ill-treat the saints of God, their fellow-servants. Worldly-minded ministers have often been great persecutors. What are the pleasures, and who are the companions of such men? It is said in the parable, "They eat and drink with the drunken." They do not thirst after the river of the water of life, but after earthly delights—they do not love the society of the servants of God, but that of the people of the world.

Is it ministers only, who indulge the wicked thought, "My Lord delays his coming?" Thousands are emboldened in sin by that idea. They do not say with the scoffers mentioned in Peter's second epistle, that he will never come. They do not ask, "Where is the promise of his coming?" but they think "He will not come yet; we may sin on with safety; we shall have time to repent, and amend."

The Lord continually defeats such presumptuous calculations. Death opens the door without giving the slightest notice; his step is not heard—his form is not seen until he has seized his victim, and borne him beyond the reach of repentance or of pardon.

It is in this manner the Lord has punished presumptuous sinners in past times. He will do it in a more signal manner when he comes again. He will select a moment in which the hypocrites shall have no suspicion of his approach. He will come on a day when they are not looking for him, and at an hour when they are not aware of their danger. But on that day his people will be looking for him, and at that hour they will be trusting in him; for they will say when they see him, "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." (Is. 25:10.) Were he to come today in his chariot of clouds, should we be able to say, "We have waited for him?" Would he come to interrupt our pleasures, or to crown our hopes? Would he come to make us weep, and gnash our teeth, or to wipe all tears from our faces forever?


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« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2006, 08:12:13 AM »



September 27

Matthew 25:1-13. The parable of the ten virgins.

In this parable the open enemies of Christ are not mentioned. There are only two classes described—true believers and false professors.

It seems that the difference between the wise and foolish virgins was not discovered until the bridegroom's return was announced. Had the wise virgins been aware of the unprepared state of their companions, they would sooner have recommended them to supply themselves with oil. There are many false professors who are not detected by true Christians. What do they gain by the deception? They gain a name to live; but they lose more than they gain; for they lose those moving exhortations which would be addressed to them, if their real state were known, and which might prove their salvation. They are permitted to remain undisturbed, because they are undetected. They learn to flatter themselves in their own eyes, and to believe that they are secure. But when the bridegroom returns, then their sad condition will be discovered.

What a succession of disappointments will they experience at last! It was a disappointment to the foolish virgins when they found that their lamps had gone out. It will be a bitter disappointment to many when they find that a form of religion will avail them nothing; and that they have no grace in their hearts. The oil seems to represent holy feelings, which the Holy Spirit alone bestows; love, faith, repentance, peace, hope, joy. It is possible to maintain a creditable reputation for piety without possessing any of the fruits of the Holy Spirit; but it is written, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

The first disappointment the foolish virgins met with was finding their lamps had gone out. The second was hearing their companions refuse to share any of their oil. Our Christian friends will not be able to help us in the day of the Lord! They will not be able to impart to us the grace which is in their own hearts. When the foolish virgins returned from buying oil, how great must have been their disappointment to find the door shut! Yet they still entertained hope, and entreated to be admitted. The bridegroom's reply was the last, and the greatest of all the disappointments they had sustained. Those terrible words, "I know you not," cut off every hope, and consigned to eternal despair.

And what does this parable teach? To watch—that is, to prepare for the sudden return of our Lord. He will come with the rapidity of lightning, and those whom he finds unprepared, must continue forever unfit to abide in his presence. He gives notice to the world of the suddenness of his second coming by the suddenness with which he often causes the arrows of death to overtake sinners. Some are cut off so suddenly that they do not even know that they are dying. They fall down in a fit, are stunned by a blow, or dashed to pieces by a fall, before they can say, or even think, "Is this death?" Others have a short warning of their latter end; they are filled with dismay; they know not what to do; they send here and there for some minister to pray with them, but before he can arrive they expire. Few, when they are first taken ill, know that their sickness is unto death; and their last hour often comes upon them with unexpected speed.

It is the height of folly to remain satisfied with having a form of religion; for, at any moment, we may hear the cry, "The bridegroom comes." Then the unconverted will suddenly discover that they are not prepared; but the discovery will be of no use then. How important it is to ascertain now whether we are born again of the Spirit, sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ, and meet for the inheritance of the saints in light!


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« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2006, 08:17:30 AM »



September 28

Matthew 25:14-30. The parable of the talents.

There is one circumstance that renders this parable very remarkable; it is the last recorded as related by our Lord. The first recorded was the parable of the men who built houses, the one on the rock, and the other on the sand. There is a great resemblance between the case of the man who built his house on the sand, and the case of the servant who hid his talent in the earth. Both of them were men who heard their Lord's sayings, but who did them not. Would our Lord have selected these instances for his first and last parables, if the character described had not been common, and the error fatal? We ought therefore to give very earnest heed to the parable that has just been read, and to inquire whether the warning it contains applies to ourselves.

Our Lord had related a parable very much like it a few days before, when on his way to Jerusalem. But on that occasion he was surrounded by Pharisees as well as by his own disciples—on this occasion he had no other audience than those disciples. He always adapted his instructions to his hearers. When he spoke to the Pharisees, he introduced into the parable a description of open enemies, who said, "We will not have this man to reign over us." But when he addressed his disciples only, he omitted all mention of those enemies.

We cannot be at a loss to discover what is meant by the talents intrusted to the servants. The Lord himself explained his own meaning immediately after he had related the parable; for he then described himself as seated on the throne of his glory, and inquiring whether those who stood round him had fed his hungry saints, and visited his desolate prisoners. The talents represent opportunities of doing good. The affliction sent to one is the opportunity granted to another.

There is one point that must never be overlooked in considering this parable. For what PURPOSE was it related? Was it intended to show a sinner how he might obtain pardon? No. There are other parables which show that. Those of the prodigal son, of the two debtors, and of the good shepherd, all show that it is through God's free grace, and Christ's precious blood, that pardon is bestowed. This parable is intended to teach, not how a sinner may obtain pardon, but how a pardoned sinner may serve God.

To whom much is forgiven, the same loves much. The same also does much. How easy, how pleasant it is to serve those we love! How we conjecture their needs and anticipate their wishes! How ready we are to run a risk, or to make a sacrifice to please them! How slow we are to say that we cannot do what they desire! Difficulties may stand in the way; but they are generally overcome by a loving heart. If true believers loved their Savior more, how much more good would they do in the world! Paul declares, "The love of Christ constrains us." "Constrains" us to do what? Not to live to ourselves, but unto Him who died for us, and rose again. (2 Cor. 5:14, 15.)

We all need more of this spirit. The hypocrite has none of it. He lives to himself alone. But has the true believer enough of it? O, no! even the servant who had gained five talents will feel he has done too little for so gracious a master, when he hears the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord." He will see such a disproportion between his service and his reward, that he will be ashamed of his past negligence, and amazed at his Lord's munificence.


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« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2006, 08:18:44 AM »



September 29

Matthew 25:31 to end. Christ describes the last judgment.

If we had been asked what future scenes we desired most to see unveiled before our eyes, should we not have replied, "The scenes of the last day?" The splendor of the occasion will be exceedingly great; yet it is not the splendor that will render the day important, but the sentences then pronounced. Through the ages of eternity that day cannot be forgotten. The lost spirits will date from that day their final separation from God, the source of all happiness. The glorified saints will date from that day their entrance into the full enjoyment of the light of his countenance. Do we dread to hear that word "Depart?" Do we long for that word "Come?" Let us attend to the account given in this wonderful passage, of the conduct which marks the righteous and the wicked while upon earth.

Those who first listened to this description of the judgment-day were the disciples of Jesus. They all professed to love him. But did they all really love him? There was a hypocrite among the twelve. It is written of him, "Not that he cared for the poor." And are there not some now who say, "Lord, Lord," but who do not really love Jesus? If they loved him, they would love his poor brethren suffering upon earth. They would take more pleasure in relieving them, than in pampering their appetites, adorning their persons, amassing large fortunes, and giving sumptuous entertainments. Those who really love Christ are kind to the hungry, to the stranger, and to the prisoner, for his sake.

There are some who do acts of kindness, but not for his sake. Are their actions pleasing to the Lord? Can he who searches the heart, be pleased with acts of charity done from a desire to obtain human praise? Such acts shall obtain no other reward than—human praise. Can he be pleased with deeds done from feelings of kindness, but without one thought concerning himself? Such motives meet with a reward on earth, but none in heaven.

Can he be pleased with works performed with a view of gaining heaven by our own merits? Assuredly not. For he has declared that we are not saved by works of righteousness which we have done, but by the mercy of God in Jesus Christ. (Titus 3.) What should we think of a man who owed ten thousand guineas, and who, though his creditors generously offered to give him his whole debt, refused to accept the obligation, promising now and then to present a farthing as payment? Yet this is the manner in which those act who are seeking to gain admission into heaven by their good deeds.

What, then, are the motives which please the Lord? Motives of gratitude and love to him. None but pardoned sinners can love Jesus; and they love him because he first loved them. The very words that he will address to them at the last day show that he loved them first, for he will say, "Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world." God loved his children even before the world was made; even then he provided for their everlasting happiness. But did he prepare hell for the wicked? It was for devils, not for men, that hell was prepared. These are the words of the judge, "Depart, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." It is their own sin, not God's purpose, that plunges men into everlasting woe. Jesus has suffered the pains of hell, that we may taste the joys of heaven. He has not said to us, "You must be mocked and spit upon; you must be scourged, and crowned with thorns; you must be crucified in order to get to heaven." No! these insults and these pangs he has suffered for us. But he has asked us to show our love to him by relieving his poor brethren. It is a small request. Can we refuse it? When we see the destitute stranger, shall we turn away? When we hear of a suffering saint, or of a poor prisoner, shall we forget to visit him? If we do, how ashamed shall we be when we see Christ coming in his glory!


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