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all slain with the sword. Many were crucified. Many hundreds,' says he,' were first whipped, then tormented with various kinds of tortures, and finally crucified; until at length the mulLitude became so great, that room was wanted for crosses, and crosses for the bodies. So terribly was their imprecation fulfilled — His blood be on us and on our children,' Matt. xxvii. 25. If it be asked how it was possible for so many people to be slain in a single city, it is answered, that the siege of Jerusalem commenced during the time of the passover, when all the males of the Jews were required to be there, and when it is estimated that more than three millions were usually assembled.
A horrible instance of the distress of Jerusalem is related by Josephus. A woman of distinguished rank, having been plundered by the soldiers, in hunger, rage, and despair, killed and roasted her babe, and had eaten one half of him before the deed was discovered. (Jewish Wars, b. vi. ch. 3, sec. 3, 4.) This cruel and dreadful act was also a fulfilment of prophecy, Deut. xxviii. 53, 56, 57.
Another thing added by Luke, ch. xxi. 24, was, that they should be led captive into all nations. Josephus informs us that the captives taken during the whole war amounted to ninetyseven thousand. The tall and handsome young men Titus reserved for his triumph; of the rest, many were distributed through the Roman provinces, to be destroyed by wild beasts in theatres, many were sent to the works in Egypt; many, especially those under seventeen years of age, were sold for slaves.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
If the caiamities of the siege should be lengthened out. If fa. mine and war should be suffered to rage. No flesh be saved.' None of the nation would be preserved alive. All the inhabitants of Judea would perish. The war, famine, and pestilence would entirely destroy them. But for the elect's sake. The
elect' here doubtless means christians. See 1 Pet. i. 2. Rom. i. 7. Eph. i. 4. 1 Thess. i. 4. It is probable that in Jerusalem and the adjacent parts of Judea, there were many who were true followers of Christ. On their account; to preserve them alive, and to make them the instruments of spreading the gospel, he said those days should not be lengthened out, and suffered to produce their destruction. It is related by Josephus, that Titus at first resolved to reduce the city by famine. He therefore built a wall around it, to keep any provisions from being carried in, and any of the people from going out. The Jews, however, drew up their army near the walls, engaged in battle, and the Roinans pursued theni, provoked by their attempts, and broke into the city; so that.
contrary to his original intention, he pressed the siege, and took the city by storm, thus shortening the time that would have been occupied in reducing it by famine. This was for the benefit of the elect. See Isa, x. 7. Gen 1. 20.
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
'Lo here is Christ.' The Messiah. The Jews expected the Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression. In the time of these great calamities they would anxiously look for him. Many would claim to be the Messiah. Many would follow them. • Believe it not. You have evidence that the Messiah has come, and you are not to be deceived by the plausible pretensions of others.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the
False Christs.' Persons claiming to be the Messiah. 'False prophets. Persons claiming to be the prophet spoken of by Moses, Deut. xviii. 15; or pretending to declare the way of deliverance from the Romans, and calling the people to follow them. See ver, 5. Shall show great signs and wonders.' That is, shall pretend to work miracles. Josephus represents the false Christs and prophets that appeared as magicians and sorcerers, He says, they led the people out into the deserts, and promised to work miracles to deliver them. 'If possible would deceive,' &c. So nearly would their pretended miracles resemble true miracles, as to render it difficult to detect the imposition; and as, if possible, to persuade even true christians that they were the Messiah. But that was not possible. They would be too firmly established in the belief that Jesus was the Messiah, to be wholly led away by others.
25 Behold, I have told you before. Mark adds, ch. xiii. 23, Take ye heed. The reason why he told them before, was that they might be on their guard, and be prepared for these calamities.
26 Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth : behold, he is in the secret chambers ; believe it not.
Behold, he is in the desert.' The Jews had formed the expectation that the Messiah would appear suddenly, from some unexpected quarter. Accordingly, most of the impostors and pretended prophets led their people into the deserts." Go not forth Do not follow them. They will only deceive you. 'In secret
chambers.' Concealed in some house, or some retired part of the city,
27 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.
Many would be looking for him in the desert; many in secret places. But it would be useless to be looking in that manner. It was useless to look to any particular part of the heavens, to know where the lightning would next flash. In a moment it would blaze in an unexpected part of the heavens, and shine at once to the other part. So rapidly, so unexpectedly, in so unlooked for a quarter would be his coming. See Luke x. 18. Zech. ix. 14. • The coming of the Son of man.' It has been doubted whether this refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, or to the coming at the day of judgment. Those two events are the principal scenes in which our Lord said he would come, either in person or in judgment. They in many respects greatly resemble each other. They will bear, therefore, to be described in the same language. These words may have a primary reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, but also such an amplitude of meaning as to express his coming to judgment.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
The words in this verse are proverbial. Vultures, which seem here referred to, easily ascertain where dead bodies are, and come to devour them. So with the Roman army. Jerusalem is like a dead and putrid corpse. Its life is gone, and it is ready to be devoured. The Roman armies will find it out. Jesus would come by means of them, as certainly, as suddenly, and as unexpectedly, as whole flocks of vultures, though unseen before, sud. denly find their prey, and quickly gather in multitudes around it.' So would the Roman armies discover Jerusalem, a putrid carcase, and hasten to destroy it.
29 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 :
These images are often used by the sacred writers to denote any great calamities. Any great catastrophe, any overturning of kingdoms or cities, or dethroning of kings and princes, is represented by the darkening of the sun and moon, and by some terrible convulsion in the elements. Thus the destruction of Babylon is foretold in similar terms, Isa. xiii. 10; of Tyre, Isa. xxiv. 23. The slaughter in Bozrah and Idumea is predicted in the same language, Isa. xxxiv. 4. See also
Isa. 1. 3;
Ix, 19, 20. Ezek. xxxii. 7. Joel iii. 15. To the description in Matthew, Luke has added, ch. xxi. 25; there should be distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth.' All these are figures of great and terrible calamities. The roaring of the waves of the sea, denotes great tumult and affliction among the people. Per. plexity means doubt, anxiety: not knowing what to do to escape, Men's hearts should fail them for fear, or by reason of fear. Their fears would be so great as to take away their courage and strength
30 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.
• The sign of the Son of man.' At the destruction of Jerusalem, the sign, or evidence of his coming, was found in the fulfilment of these predictions. At the end of the world, the sign of his coming will be his personal approach with the glory of his Father and the holy angels, 1 Thess. iv. 16. Luke xxi. 27. Matt. xxvi. 64. Acts i, 11. All the tribes of the earth mourn. All the wicked shall mourn at the prospect of their doom, Rev. i. 7. The cause of their wailing at the day of judgment shall be that they have rejected the Saviour, and deserve the condemnation that is coming upon thein, John xix. 37. Zech, xii. 10. 'And they shall see the Son of man.' The Lord Jesus coming to judgment. ' In the clouds of heaven.' He ascended in a cloud, Acts i. 9. He shall return in like manner, Acts i. 11. The clouds of heaven denote not the clouds in heaven, but the clouds that appear to shut heaven, or the sky, from our view. With power.' Power, manifest by consuming the material world, 2 Pet. iii, 7, 10, 12; by raising the dead, John v. 29, 30. 1 Cor. xv. 52; by changing those who may be alive when he shall come; that is, making their bodies like those who have died, and been raised up, 1 Thess. iv. 17. 1 Cor. xv. 52; by bringing the affairs of the world to a close, receiving the righteous to heaven, Matt. xxv. 34. 1 Cor. xv. 57; and by sending the wicked, however numerous or however strong, down to hell, Matt. xxv. 41, 46. John v. 29. • Great glory. The word,' glory’here means the visible display of his honour and majesty, Matt. xxv. 31 ; xxvi. 64.
31 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.
The word ' anguls,' most commonly refers to the race of intelligences more exalted than man, who are employed often in the work of man's rescue from ruin, and his salvation, Heb. i. 14. They will gather together the elect, at the day of judgment. • With a great sound of a trumpet. The Jewish assemblies used to be called together by the sound of a trumpet, as ours are by bells, Lev. xxv.9. Num. X. 2. Judges in. 27. Our Saviour, speaking to Jews, described the assembling of the people at the last day, in a way which would be peculiarly clear and impressive to them. Similar language is often used, when speaking of the judgment, 1 Thess. iv. 16. 1 Cor. xv. 52. A trump, or trumpet, was a wind instrument, made at first of the horns of oxen, and afterwards of rams' horns, cut off at the smaller extremity. In some instances it was made of brass in the form of a horn. The common trumpet was straight, made of brass or silver, a cubit in length, the larger extremity shaped so as to resemble a small bell. In times of peace, in assembling the people, this was sounded softly. In times of calamity, or war, or any great' commotion, it was sounded loud. Perhaps this was referred to when our Saviour said, 'with a great sound of a trumpet.' 'They shall gather together his elect.' See on ver. 22. The word means christians: the chosen of God. It implies, that he will send his angels to gather his chosen, his elect, together from all places, Matt. xiii. 39,41–43. This shall be done before the living shall be changed, 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17. From the four winds.' That is, from the four quarters of the globe: east, west, north, and south. The Jews expressed those quarters, by the winds blowing from them. See Ezek. xxxvii. 9. See also Isa. xliii. 5, 6. From one end of heaven,' &c. Mark says, xiii. 27, from the uttermost part of the earth, to the uttermost part of heaven. The expression denotes that they shall be gathered from all parts of the earth where they are scattered.
32 Now learn a parable of the fig-tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall seo all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Now learn a parable.' See note, Matt, xiii. 3. The word here means, rather an illustration. Make a comparison, or judge of this as you do respecting a fig-tree. Fig-tree.' This was spoken on the mount of Olives, which produced not only olives, but figs. • When his branch,' &c. When the juices return from the roots into the branches, and the buds swell and burst, az if tender, and too feeble to contain the pressing and expanding leaves. When you see that, you judge that spring and summer