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en, a disaster which was to take place in less than a half century from that time. Second, they asked Him, "What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age?” a dual event which has not yet taken place, and which is separated from the first named catastrophe by almost two thousand years of time. Thus His answer covers events separated by a gap of
many centuries simply because their question refers to both. The answer is thus not discordant in its time relations. It is in perfect harmony with the question asked. The same line of cleavage in the disciples' interrogation appears therefore in Christ's answer. It cuts that answer sharply in twain between the fourteenth and fifteenth verses of this chapter. The first fourteen verses have to do with the first clause of their inquiry, "When shall these things be?” The remainder of the chapter is His reply to the second clause, "What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the age?” Let us now note that He answers the first half by giving the general signs of the present age, and the second half by naming the special signs of the end of the age.
The General Signs of the Present Age.
(The Question) "When shall these things be" (v. 3).
(The Answer) 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows."
Wars and rumors of wars: nation rising against nation: kingdom against kingdom: earthquakes: famines: pestilences: afflictions—what a marvelous picture is this of the age which has passed since Jesus Christ sat upon the Mount and told this wondrous story! If our Lord had been sitting as a historian now, sketching the centuries that have rolled past, instead of a prophet predicting events to come, He could not have more accurately shown forth the marks of all the age since He first came. We say the marks of the age, not the special signs of the end of the age. For it is the general characteristics of the whole age from His first coming to His coming again that He here gives before He sets forth the special signs which shall mark its end. Do we not often make a mistake here? When empires rise and fall, when great nations are in commotion and conflict: when giant armies and steel-clad navies await each others' deadly onset: when gaunt famine devastates whole nations, and wasting pestilence follows swiftly in its wake: when this old globe pulsates under the terrifying throb of mighty earthquakes—when these things come to pass men cry out, “The end of the world is at hand !" Yet of these things Jesus says distinctly that though they shall come "the end is not yet." They are not the distinguishing marks of the
end-time. They are rather the common marks of the whole time since Christ was on earth. Not a single century has fled since He walked the earth which has not been marked by all the characteristic events he mentions here. They are the ear-marks of the whole age, but in no the special signs of its end.
There must be then some special sign which marks the end. It is some sign which the world has never before seen. It must be so peculiar to the end that men shall at once know it when it appears as the startling, distinguishing mark that the age-end is now come. “What shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the age,” is their earnest and deeply interested question. So now He proceeds to answer this momentous question, an answer final, decisive, and vital to the whole question of unfulfilled New Testament prophecy.
The SPECIAL SIGNS of THE END of the
(The Question) "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age?”.
(The Answer) "When ye (v. 15) therefore shall see THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth let him understand), then let them which be in Judæa flee unto the mountains for then shall be GREAT TRIBULATION.”
And now we have come to the crucial point in Christ's answer. Up from the heart of the chapter here starts God's great finger-post which points with unerring accuracy to the end. Now Jesus Christ begins to deal with a personality of momentous and tragic importance as the supreme sign of the end-time. And He opens this last act in the great drama of the age-end by citing this strange and mysterious figure. Out from the prophecies of God over which centuries of time had already rolled He causes to emerge this strange figure upon which He puts His finger as one supreme, vital fact which foreruns and determines the end. “When ye shall see THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION”—that is the mysterious phrase with which He brings us face to face with the pivotal-point of the end. What does He mean? He cites it as though it were to them a familiar fact. He says it was "spoken of by Daniel the prophet.” Let us follow the clue He indicates.
If we turn to the last chapter of the prophecy named (Daniel 12:11) we will note the interesting fact that centuries before Daniel had asked of the Lord the same question the disciples had just put to Christ: “O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” And then God places His finger upon this same strange figure to which Christ has referred and says to Daniel that
"From the time that ......the Abomination that maketh desolate is set up," until the end shall be a certain period of somewhat over three and a half years.
Thus when Daniel asks as to the end God points him to an ominous figure called Abomination of Desolation and tells Daniel that this portentous personage marks the end-time. When His apostles ask as to the end Jesus Christ puts His finger upon this very same mark and tells them that when they see "the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet” then the fierce crisis of all history is upon them. So, this mark suddenly revealed in the temple constitutes the crucial mark of the age-end so near at hand, yea, even then begun.
Is there anything else in the New Testament which tells us that some portentous personage must appear before the time when the Son of God appears in the glory of His manifestation? Assuredly there is. For Paul, when speaking of this very glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, says exactly the same thing. He declares explicitly that before that great event there must be revealed another personage, even as Daniel and Christ have already stated before him. “For that day,” (the day of Christ) says he (2 Thess. 2:3) "shall not come except
* the Man of Sin be revealed.”
Up from the mists and shadows of the ending age, like some colossal spectre is