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Mysteriously; to show that the ancient sacrifices were abolished, and that the whole Jewish economy was brought to an end, and the Christian dispensation introduced. Verse 3.
Tell us, when shall these things be? When shall these things be? What shall be the sign of thy coming?
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When shall this world end? When wilt thou come to judge the quick and the dead? See the note on Genesis Verse 4. Take heed that no man deceive you. From this to Matthew , our Lord mentions the signs which should precede his coming.
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Verse 5. Josephus says, War, b. See Acts It was a just judgment for God to deliver up that people into the hands of false Christs who had rejected the true one. Of the same stamp and character was also Dositheus, the Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses. About twelve years after the death of our Lord, when Cuspius Fadus was procurator of Judea, arose an impostor of the name of Theudas, who said he was a prophet, and persuaded a great multitude to follow him with their best effects to the river Jordan, which he promised to divide for their passage; and saying these things, says Josephus, he deceived many: almost the very words of our Lord.
A few years afterwards, under the reign of Nero, while Felix was procurator of Judea, impostors of this stamp were so frequent that some were taken and killed almost every day. Verse 6.
The next signs given by our Lord are wars and rumors of wars, etc. Verse 7. This portended the dissensions, insurrections and mutual slaughter of the Jews, and those of other nations, who dwelt in the same cities together; as particularly at Caesarea, where the Jews and Syrians contended about the right of the city, which ended there in the total expulsion of the Jews, above 20, of whom were slain.
The whole Jewish nation being exasperated at this, flew to arms, and burnt and plundered the neighboring cities and villages of the Syrians, making an immense slaughter of the people. The Syrians, in return, destroyed not a less number of the Jews. At Scythopolis they murdered upwards of 13, At Ascalon they killed 2, At Ptolemais they slew , and made many prisoners.
The Tyrians also put many Jews to death, and imprisoned more: the people of Gadara did likewise; and all the other cities of Syria in proportion, as they hated or feared the Jews. As Alexandria the Jews and heathens fought, and 50, of the former were slain. The people of Damascus conspired against the Jews of that city, and, assaulting them unarmed, killed 10, of them. See Bishop Newton, and Dr. That of the Jews and Galileans against the Samaritans, for the murder of some Galileans going up to the feast of Jerusalem, while Cumanus was procurator.
That of the whole nation of the Jews against the Romans and Agrippa, and other allies of the Roman empire; which began when Gessius Florus was procurator. That of the civil war in Italy, while Otho and Vitellius were contending for the empire. It is worthy of remark, that the Jews themselves say, "In the time of the Messiah, wars shall be stirred up in the world; nation shall rise against nation, and city against city. Eleasar, the son of Abina, said, When ye see kingdom rising against kingdom, then expect the immediate appearance of the Messiah.
Pestilences are the usual attendants of famines: as the scarcity and badness of provisions generally produce epidemic disorders. Earthquakes, in divers places. See Grotius. One at Rome, mentioned by Tacitus; and one at Laodicea in the reign of Nero, in which the city was overthrown, as were likewise Hierapolis and Colosse. See Tacit. One at Campania, mentioned by Seneca; and one at Rome, in the reign of Galba, mentioned by Suetonius in the life of that emperor.
Add to all these, a dreadful one in Judea, mentioned by Josephus War, b. To these St. Luke adds that there shall be fearful sights and great signs from heaven Luke Josephus, in his preface to the Jewish war, enumerates these. A star hung over the city like a sword; and a comet continued a whole year. The people being assembled at the feast of unleavened bread, at the ninth hour of the night, a great light shone about the altar and the temple, and this continued for half an hour. At the same feast, a cow led to sacrifice brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple!
The eastern gate of the temple, which was of solid brass, and very heavy, and could hardly be shut by twenty men, and was fastened by strong bars and bolts, was seen at the sixth hour of the night to open of its own accord! Before sun-setting there were seen, over all the country, chariots and armies fighting in the clouds, and besieging cities.
What Josephus reckons one of the most terrible signs of all was, that one Jesus, a country fellow, four years before the war began, and when the city was in peace and plenty, came to the feast of tabernacles, and ran crying up and down the streets, day and night: "A voice from the east! And this he continued to do for several years together, going about the walls and crying with a loud voice: "Woe, woe to the city, and to the people, and to the temple!
It is worthy of remark that Josephus appeals to the testimony of others, who saw and heard these fearful things. Tacitus, a Roman historian, gives very nearly the same account with that of Josephus. Verse 8. All these are the beginning of sorrows. The whole land of Judea is represented under the notion of a woman in grievous travail; but our Lord intimates, that all that had already been mentioned were only the first pangs and throes, and nothing in comparison of that hard and death-bringing labor, which should afterwards take place.
From the calamities of the nation in general, our Lord passes to those of the Christians; and, indeed, the sufferings of his followers were often occasioned by the judgments sent upon the land, as the poor Christians were charged with being the cause of these national calamities, and were cruelly persecuted on that account. Verse 9. By a bold figure of speech, affliction is here personified. We need go no farther than the Acts of the Apostles for the completion of these particulars. Some were delivered to councils, as Peter and John, Acts Some had utterance and wisdom which their adversaries were not able to resist: so Stephen, Acts , and Paul, who made even Felix himself tremble, Acts Some were imprisoned, as Peter and John, Acts Some were beaten, as Paul and Silas, Acts But if we look beyond the book of the Acts of the Apostles, to the bloody persecutions under Nero, we shall find these predictions still more amply fulfilled: in these, numberless Christians fell, besides those two champions of the faith Peter and Paul.
And it was, as says Tertullian, nominis praelium , a war against the very name of Christ; for he who was called Christian had committed crime enough, in bearing the name, to be put to death. But they were not only to be hated by the Gentiles, but they were to be betrayed by apostates. Verse Paul, 2 Corinthians , who were deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. Such also were Hymeneus and Philetus, 2 Timothy , The love of many shall wax cold. Some openly deserting the faith, as Matthew ; others corrupting it, as Matthew ; and others growing indifferent about it, Matthew Even at this early period there seems to have been a very considerable defection in several Christian Churches; see Galatians ; 2 Thessalonians , etc.
It is very remarkable that not a single Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem, though there were many there when Cestius Gallus invested the city; and, had he persevered in the siege, he would soon have rendered himself master of it; but, when he unexpectedly and unaccountably raised the siege, the Christians took that opportunity to escape. See Eusebius, Hist.
Eccles lib. God would have the iniquity of the Jews published every where, before the heavy stroke of his judgments should fall upon them; that all mankind, as it were, might be brought as witnesses against their cruelty and obstinacy in crucifying and rejecting the Lord Jesus. Tacitus informs us, Annal. On this point, Bishop Newton goes on to say, That there is some probability that the Gospel was preached in the British nations by St. Simon the apostle; that there is much greater probability that it was preached here by St.
Paul; and that there is an absolute certainty that it was planted here in the times of the apostles, before the destruction of Jerusalem. See his proofs. And in his Epistle to the Romans, Romans , he very elegantly applies to the lights of the Church, what the psalmist said of the lights of heaven. What but the wisdom of God could foretell this? Then shall the end come. Luke, Luke , 21, refers to the Roman army; and this abomination standing in the holy place is the Roman army besieging Jerusalem; this, our Lord says, is what was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in the ninth and eleventh chapters of his prophecy; and so let every one who reads these prophecies understand them; and in reference to this very event they are understood by the rabbis.
The Roman army is called an abomination, for its ensigns and images, which were so to the Jews. The Roman army is therefore fitly called the abomination, and the abomination which maketh desolate, as it was to desolate and lay waste Jerusalem; and this army besieging Jerusalem is called by St. Mark, Mark , standing where it ought not, that is, as in the text here, the holy place; as not only the city, but a considerable compass of ground about it, was deemed holy, and consequently no profane persons should stand on it.
Eusebius and Epiphanius say, that at this juncture, after Cestius Gallus had raised the siege, and Vespasian was approaching with his army, all who believed in Christ left Jerusalem and fled to Pella, and other places beyond the river Jordan; and so they all marvellously escaped the general shipwreck of their country: not one of them perished. See on Matthew In the eastern walled cities, these flat-roofed houses usually formed continued terraces from one end of the city to the other; which terraces terminated at the gates.
He, therefore, who is walking on the house top, let him not come down to take any thing out of his house; but let him instantly pursue his course along the tops of the houses, and escape out at the city gate as fast as he can. And wo unto them alas! See WAR, b. But he relates a more horrid story than this, of one Mary, the daughter of Eliezar, illustrious for her family and riches, who, being stripped and plundered of all her goods and provisions by the soldiers, in hunger, rage, and despair, killed and boiled her own sucking child, and had eaten one half of him before it was discovered.
This shocking story is told, WAR, b. Rabbi Tanchum observes, "that the favor of God was particularly manifested in the destruction of the first temple, in not obliging the Jews to go out in the winter, but in the summer. Besides, on the Sabbath-days the Jews not only kept within doors, but the gates of all the cities and towns in every place were kept shut and barred; so that their flight should be on a Sabbath, they could not expect admission into any place of security in the land.
Our Lord had ordered his followers to make their escape from Jerusalem when they should see it encompassed with armies; but how could this be done? God took care to provide amply for this. In the twelfth year of Nero, Cestius Gallus, the president of Syria, came against Jerusalem with a powerful army. He might, says Josephus, WAR, b. Josephus remarks, that after Cestius Gallus had raised the siege, "many of the principal Jewish people, forsook the city, as men do a sinking ship.
Thus the city was not actually besieged in form till after Vespasian was confirmed in the empire, and Titus was appointed to command the forces in Judea. It was in those incidental delays that the Christians, and indeed several others, provided for their own safety, by flight. In Luke , our Lord says of Jerusalem, Thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side.
Accordingly, Titus, having made several assaults without success, resolved to surround the city with a wall, which was, with incredible speed, completed in three days! The wall was thirty-nine furlongs in length, and was strengthened with thirteen forts at proper distances, so that all hope of safety was cut off; none could make his escape from the city, and no provisions could be brought into it. See Josephus, WAR, book v. Our Lord wept at the foresight of these calamities; and it is almost impossible for any humane person to read the relation of them in Josephus without weeping also.
Luke, Luke , calls these the days of vengeance, that all things which were written might be fulfilled. These were the days in which all the calamities predicted by Moses, Joel, Daniel, and other prophets, as well as those predicted by our Savior, met in one common center, and were fulfilled in the most terrible manner on that generation. See Josephus, WAR, b. These, partly through the fury of the zealots on one hand, and the hatred of the Romans on the other; and partly through the difficulty of subsisting in the mountains without houses or provisions, would in all probability have been all destroyed, either by the sword or famine, if the days had not been shortened.
The besieged themselves helped to shorten those days by their divisions and mutual slaughters; and by fatally deserting their strong holds, where they never could have been subdued, but by famine alone. So well fortified was Jerusalem, and so well provided to stand a siege, that the enemy without could not have prevailed, had it not been for the factions and seditions within.
When Titus was viewing the fortifications after the taking of the city, he could not help ascribing his success to God. And in fact many such impostors did arise about that time, promising deliverance from God; and the lower the Jews were reduced, the more disposed they were to listen to such deceivers. Like a man drowning, they were willing to catch even at a straw, while there was any prospect of being saved.
But as it was to little purpose for a man to take upon him the character of the Christ, without miracles to avouch his Divine mission, so it was the common artifice of these impostors to show signs and wonders, the very words used by Christ in this prophecy, and by Josephus in his history: ANT. Jerome says, pretended to vomit flames. This is simply the meaning of this place; and it is truly astonishing that it should be brought as a proof for the doctrine whether true or false is at present out of the question of the necessary and eternal perseverance of the saints!
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How abundant the Jews were in magic, divination, sorcery, incantation, etc. Lightfoot on this place. Behold, I have told you before. Some he mentions as appearing in the desert. Josephus says, ANT. That many impostors and cheats persuaded the people to follow them to the desert, promising to show them signs and wonders done by the providence of God, is well attested. Josephus mentions a false prophet, WAR, b.
A multitude of men, women, and children, went up accordingly; but, instead of deliverance, the place was set on fire by the Romans, and 6, perished miserably in the flames, or in attempting to escape them. The Jewish nation, which was morally and judicially dead. It is remarkable that the Roman fury pursued these wretched men wheresoever they were found.
They were a dead carcass doomed to be devoured; and the Roman eagles were the commissioned devourers. See the pitiful account in Josephus, WAR, b.
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Immediately after the tribulation, etc. The sun is the religion of the Church; the moon is the government of the state; and the stars are the judges and doctors of both. Compare Isaiah ; Ezekiel , 8, etc. In the prophetic language, great commotions upon earth are often represented under the notion of commotions and changes in the heavens The fall of Babylon is represented by the stars and constellations of heaven withdrawing their light, and the sun and moon being darkened.
See Isaiah , The destruction of Egypt, by the heaven being covered, the sun enveloped with a cloud, and the moon withholding her light. Ezekiel , 8. The destruction of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes is represented by casting down some of the host of heaven, and the stars to the ground. See Daniel And this very destruction of Jerusalem is represented by the Prophet Joel, Joel , 31, by showing wonders in heaven and in earth-darkening the sun, and turning the moon into blood. This general mode of describing these judgments leaves no room to doubt the propriety of its application in the present case.
The falling of stars, i. The heathens have marked this:- Saepe etiam stellas, vento impendente videbis Praecipites coelo labi, noctisque per umbram Flammarum longos a tergo albescere tractus VIRG. He had volunteered in a union publicity office for striking workers on the San Francisco wharf. The rough-and-tumble blue-collar city was rocked by sailors, truck drivers, harbour pilots and longshoremen, striking against shipping companies.
Along the waterfront, helmeted soldiers manned sandbag barricades and a machine gun nest: , people stopped working throughout the Bay Area and the governor marshalled 4, national guardsmen to confront the strikers. After tear gas grenades set a hillside of dry grass on fire, the city looked like a war zone. Strikes aside, Merriman enjoyed his studies among a cadre of ambitious fellow students, including a young Canadian, John Kenneth Galbraith.
The same year, rebellious coal miners in northern Spain seized local banks, factories and mines.
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Spanish soldiers extinguished the protests; the artillery-wielding troops killed at least 1, strikers and threw others in prison. Vanquished miners saw their wives raped. In the landmark elections of in Spain, the Popular Front — a coalition of liberal, socialist, secular, feminist and communist forces — defeated a coalition of wealthy industrialists, landowners, the Catholic Church and military loyalists.
Rightwing forces, led by Franco, launched a military coup against the newly elected republican government, igniting the three-year civil war. Merriman decided to get involved. Merriman was among roughly 32, men and women who arrived in Spain from all over the world to fight on the republican side, including approximately 2, Americans. On a sort of personal and ideological pilgrimage, the foreigners volunteered as soldiers, nurses, ambulance drivers, translators and labourers.