Shop on May 1

On Monday May 1, 2006 the illegal aliens are threatening to do absolutely no shopping of any kind. They want to show America how powerful their numbers are by staying home and by not spending their money at the stores; to show us how much we need them.

In response, every American should go to at least one store and buy at least one item. It doesn’t take much of our time or money. Let’s send our message out that we won’t be pushed around and bullied. If Americans don’t do something, and just stand around and watch these aggressive demands WE ARE GOING TO LOSE OUR COUNTRY IN OUR LIFETIME.

Shop on May 1 – and pass this on to all your friends and relatives

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Trojan Freezes Computer, Demands Ransom

Trojan Freezes Computer, Demands Ransom

Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service Thu Apr 27, 10:00 AM ET

A new kind of malware circulating on the Internet freezes a computer and then asks for a ransom paid through the Western Union Holdings money transfer service.

A sample of the Trojan horse virus was sent to Sophos, a security vendor, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant. The malware, which Sophos named Troj/Ransom-A, is one of only a few viruses so far that have asked for a ransom in exchange for releasing control of a computer, Cluley said.

The new Trojan falls into a class of viruses described as "ransomware." The schemes had been seen in Russia, but the first one appeared in English just last month.

"It is a new kind of malware with a particularly nasty payload," Cluley said.

It’s unclear how the Trojan is being spread, although Sophos is investigating, Cluley said. Viruses can be spread in several ways, including through spam or a so-called drive-by download that exploits a browser vulnerability when a user visits a malicious Web site.

PC Frozen, Files at Risk

Once run, the Trojan freezes the computer, displaying a message saying files are being deleted every 30 minutes. It then gives instructions on how to send $10.99 via Western Union to free the computer.

Hitting the control, alt, and delete keys will not affect the bug, the virus writer warns. Sophos provides further details at its Web site.

The virus writer even offers tech support, Cluley said. If the method of unlocking the computer doesn’t work after the money is sent, the virus writer promises to research the problem and includes an e-mail address.

Last month, a Trojan emerged that encrypts a user’s documents and then leaves a file demanding $300 in exchange for the password to access the information. Victims were instructed to send money to one of 99 accounts run by e-gold, a company that runs a money transfer site.

The password, however, was contained on the infected computer. Sophos cracked it and publicly released it.

Election

The Doctrine of Election

 

The doctrine of election forms one of the bases of salvation, though it is not the only one. Other doctrines such as the death of Christ, faith, efficacious grace, and regeneration may also properly be termed bases as well. All are necessary in bringing to fruition the plan of God for the salvation of people.

 

I. THE MAJOR VIEWPOINTS ON ELECTION

 

A. Foresight Election

 

This view holds that God elects on the basis of foreseen faith. "By election we mean that sovereign act of God in grace whereby He chose in Christ Jesus for salvation all those whom He foreknew would accept Him." It is probably true to say that a great majority of evangelicals consciously or unconsciously hold this concept of election. God looked down the corridor of time and in His foreknowledge saw who would accept Christ and then elected them to salvation. This makes foreknowledge foresight without any pretemporal elective action on God’s part.

 

B. Corporate Election

 

A form of this view was held by Karl Barth. He taught that election is primarily election of Christ, then the election of the community, and finally the election of individuals. Actually all are elect in Christ, though unbelievers do not yet know that. This is why Barth’s doctrine of election caused him to be accused of universalism.

 

An evangelical form of this same concept (perhaps in some cases influenced by Barth and in some cases not) views election as the choosing of the group, the church, in Christ, but not of individuals until after they become members of the group by faith. In the evangelical form there is no suggestion of universalism, though the idea of corporate election is common to both. We cannot speak of individuals being elected before the foundation of the world but only of the church being so elected in Christ (Ephesians 1:4). When an individual believes in Christ, he is placed in that elect group, and then he can be said to be elect. "What did God choose before the foundation of the world? The church. Not individuals, but the body of Christ."

 

C. Individual, Pretemporal Election

 

In this viewpoint election is "that eternal act of God whereby He, in His sovereign good pleasure, and on account of no foreseen merit in them, chooses a certain number of men to be the recipients of special grace and of eternal salvation." Thus election is unconditional (i.e., there is nothing in the creature that conditions God’s choice), pretemporal (before the foundation of the world), unmerited (i.e., of grace), and the basis of salvation. Those who hold this view also acknowledge that election is in Christ, but they mean that He is the ground and cause and guarantee of the election of individuals. They reject the corporate election concept, insisting rather that God elected individuals (and not on the basis of foresight), and those elect individuals form the group, the church.

 

II. THE TERMINOLOGY OF ELECTION

 

A proper understanding of a number of terms that are directly and indirectly related to election will help to formulate the concept more biblically. Often the chief problem in understanding this doctrine is not including enough facets of it. No human mind will ever harmonize sovereignty and free will, but ignoring or downplaying one or the other in the interests of a supposed harmony will solve nothing.

 

A. Background Terminology

 

Certain terms and concepts form the backdrop against which election must be viewed.

 

1. Omniscience. This means that God has innate knowledge of all things actual and possible. Thus God’s choices were made with the greatest knowledge possible.

 

2. Decree, design, drawing. The decree of God is His plan for everything. The decree contains many decrees. Decreeing and foreordaining are synonymous theological concepts, but they obviously emphasize the sovereignty facet rather than the free will aspect. The word "design" is less weighted toward sovereignty, while the word "drawing" seems almost neutral.

 

Scripture teaches clearly that God’s plan includes all things (Ephesians 1:11), but it also reveals that the degree and directness of God’s relationship to specific events is varied. Sometimes He directly ordains something (Deuteronomy 32:39; Acts 5:1-11). Almost always He works through the natural laws He has ordained and does not lift them to make exceptions even for believers (Philippians 2:30). Sometimes He decides to allow people to give full expression to their sinful natures almost without restraint (Romans 1:24,26,28). Sometimes He expects us simply to make choices on the basis of what seems right or what we desire to do (1 Corinthians 10:27).

 

In the light of this variety, I personally think a word other than decree could better express all these aspects. Design may be satisfactory. Drawing may be too neutral, as if God did the initial work and then gave up control. And yet design brings the word "architect" into view, which does serve as a helpful concept in this doctrine. God is the Architect of a plan, which does include all things but includes them in a variety of relationships. Architects’ plans are detailed. So is God’s plan. In the process of constructing a building, experts can predict that so many workers will be injured and in some cases that some will lose their lives. Such grim statistics are included in the planning of the building, and yet we would not hold the architect responsible for the injuries and deaths (assuming proper safety measures). Carelessness, indifference to rules, even violation of safety restrictions are usually the causes of accidents. But whose fault are they? The individuals who are careless or indifferent. So God’s plan has been designed so that the responsibility for sin lies with the individual, even though God knowingly included sin in His plan.

 

3. Sovereign, free. These synonymous words can only refer to God in the absolute sense. He alone is sovereign and free. Exactly how He exercises that sovereignty and freedom we know only through the revelation of His plan as discussed in the preceding paragraph. Of course when He chooses to restrict Himself, that in no way makes Him less sovereign or free. Sovereign means supreme, and God always was, is, and will be the Sovereign who freely chose the plan He did.

 

B. Direct Terminology

 

1. Election. Election emphasizes God’s free choice of individuals to salvation (the election of Christ, Israel, or angels are not under consideration here). When Paul uses the verb, he uses it in the middle voice, indicating that God’s choice was made freely and for His own purposes (1 Corinthians 1:27-28; Ephesians 1:4). Individual Thessalonians were chosen (2 Thessalonians 2:13); as many as were set (previous to their believing) in the group of those who would have eternal life did believe (Acts 13:48); Paul was a chosen instrument (for salvation and service, Acts 9:15; Galatians 1:15); and some individuals’ names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8; 17:8), which must mean some were. Election is unconditional and individual.

 

God’s elect in this age have not been chosen from the spectacular people of this world (1 Corinthians 1:27-28; James 2:5). They were chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and because they are elect they are to live godly lives (Colossians 3:12; 2 Peter 1:10).

 

2. Predestination. To predestine is to preplan a destiny. The word proorizo means to mark off beforehand. The death of Christ and its meaning were predestined by God (Acts 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7). God’s elect are predestined to adoption (Ephesians 1:5), to an inheritance (v. 11), and to ultimate conformity to Christ (Romans 8:28-29).

 

Biblically, predestination is limited to the elect people and assures their present position and future destiny. Theologically, the term has been used to include all things, that is, as a synonym for the total plan of God. From this theological definition it is an easy step for some forms of Calvinism to use predestination in relation to the destiny of the nonelect. Thus there arises a doctrine of double predestination. However, this is a logical assumption, not based on biblical texts. The Bible is clear that the elect are predestined, but it never suggests that there is a similar decree to elect some to damnation. The Scriptures seem content to leave that matter as a mystery, and so should we.

 

3. Foreknowledge. The word proginosko is used (a) of prior, temporal knowledge (Acts 26:5; 2 Peter 3:17); (b) of God’s relation to Israel (Romans 11:2); (c) of Christ’s sacrifice (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:20); and (d) of God’s people today (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:2).

 

The debate centers around the question of how much relationship exists in the word "foreknowledge." Does it mean merely that God foreknows in the sense of foreseeing without any relationship? Or, a variation of this, does it mean He foresaw faith and not people? Or, as Calvinism holds, does it mean that He related Himself to people before time in some way so that there is a causative connection that makes foreknow practically equivalent to predestine or foreordain? Clearly people are foreknown, not their faith (Romans 8:28-29). Clearly too foreknowledge as mere perception is not the basis of election, for 1 Peter 1:2 includes a decision on God’s part. Election is in harmony (kata) with foreknowledge, and that foreknowledge included the procedure used in working out the choice. Therefore, there is some relationship and/or decision inherent in the meaning of foreknow. Certainly verse 20 includes those ideas or it would assure nothing about the sacrifice of Christ. Likewise there is decisiveness and certainty in Acts 2:23 and Romans 11:2. An apocryphal use of the word also includes certainty: "And Thy judgments are in Thy foreknowledge" (Judith 9:6). To be sure, the word does not say "elect," but neither can it be reduced to a neutral concept of perception only. It does include decision that in turn has to involve an assurance that comes from certainty.

 

C. Opposite Terminology

 

By this I mean the ideas involved in retribution and preterition. Retribution means deserved punishment, while preterition is the passing over of those not elected to salvation. Both terms avoid the concept involved in double predestination or reprobation, which means foreordination to damnation. None of these terms appear in the Scripture, though the idea is clearly taught in Romans 9:18,21; 1 Peter 2:8; and Revelation 17:8. Therefore, the Scriptures do contain a doctrine of preterition, though there is not a decree to condemn in the same sense that there is a decree to elect. Obviously the very idea of election has to include the idea of the greater number out of which they were chosen, and those who were not chosen were certainly passed by.

 

This in no sense implies that God delights in the destiny of the wicked, or that they are driven against their wills, or that the doctrine of election nullifies a "whosoever" Gospel, or that any individual can know he is not elect and thereby try to excuse himself for rejecting Christ. All are accountable to God for their attitude toward Christ.

 

III. THE DOCTRINE SUMMARIZED

 

A. God’s Election Is Grounded in His Own Being

 

Therefore, the act of electing a people has to be compatible with all of His attributes. It is based on His omniscience, so that we may be assured that when He elected He did so knowing full well all of the alternative possibilities. It is related to the exercise of His sovereign will, so that He was in no way forced to do what He did. It was done by the God who is love, so that predestination was done in love (Ephesians 1:4-5). It expressed His mercy; otherwise how could God have loved Jacob? (Romans 9:15). It demonstrates His matchless grace (Ephesians 2:7-8). And the ultimate purpose of election is to display His glory (1:6,12,14). Usually we put the emphasis on the fact that God elects. We need to remember that it is God who elects, and He can do nothing unloving or unjust.

 

B. God’s Election Was of Individuals

 

This has already been discussed. He chose individuals, who then together make up the people of God.

 

C. God’s Election Was Not Based on Foreknowledge (Meaning Foresight)

 

To foreknow is not a neutral concept but involves some sort of relationship.

 

D. God’s Election Was Before the Foundation of the World

 

He did not choose us only after we chose Him (Ephesians 1:4).

 

E. Election Alone Does Not Result in the Salvation of People

 

To be sure, election assures that those chosen will be saved, but it alone does not save them. People are saved through faith in the substitutionary death of Christ. And, of course, they must learn about the death of Christ somehow in order to have content to their faith. Thus election, the death of Christ, testimony of His death, and personal faith are all necessary in the salvation of an individual. Election alone does not save.

 

F. Election Is Purposeful, Not Capricious

 

Its purpose for us is service and good works (John 15:16; Galatians 1:15-16; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10).

Its purpose for God is to manifest His glory (Ephesians 1:6,12,14).

 

Therefore, the doctrine of election is highly motivating and should never be deadening to one’s spiritual life (Colossians 3:12).

 

IV. OBJECTIONS TO THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION

 

Of course election is only a part of the broader consideration of the entire decree or plan or sovereignty of God. These objections are the ones usually raised against that doctrine.

 

A. It Equals Fatalism

 

Popularly, this objection is expressed like this: "What’s going to be is going to be anyway, and I cannot do anything about it." There are two very important differences between the biblical doctrine of the decree of God and the false teaching of fatalism. (1) Behind the decree is an intelligent, loving Being. Behind fatalism lies only impersonal blind chance. (2) Fatalism has no place for the importance of means. It only emphasizes ends. The decree of God includes all the means essential to arriving at the ends. And those means are as essential as the ends. Thus, the biblical doctrine gives proper place to human responsibility. What’s going to be is going to be through certain means and procedures and responsible human actions. Ephesians 1:11 spotlights all things, not solely ends.

 

B. It Is Inconsistent with Human Freedom

 

This is the same objection raised in Romans 9:19: Why can God fault anyone, since no one really resists His will if everything is part of His plan? Though it is true that God has the right to do anything consistent with His nature, it is equally true that He has chosen to exercise His rights by including the responsible and relatively free actions of people (Philemon 14; Revelation 17:13 linked with v. 17). I say relatively free simply because no one has absolute freedom, if for no other reason than the limitations of being fallen human creatures. He has made us responsible, and when we fail to act responsibly we are justly blamed.

 

An illustration: Does God know the day you are going to die? The answer is yes, He does. Question: Could you die a day sooner? The answer is no. Question: Then why do you eat? Answer: to live. The means of eating is essential to the end of living to the preordained day of death. From this point on the illustration can easily and uselessly get into the realm of the hypothetical. Suppose I do not eat? Then I will die. Would that be the day God planned that I should die? These are questions that do not need to be asked or answered. Just eat.

 

Or to change the illustration: Has God planned the answers to my prayers? Yes. Then why pray? Because those answers come when I pray.

 

Or again: Does God know who are elect? Of course, He elected them. Can any of them be lost? No. Then why pray and witness? Because that is how they will be saved. Will any of them fail to believe? No. Then why do they have to believe? Because that is the only way they can be saved, and unless they do believe they will not be saved. Do not let your mind ask the theoretical and useless questions. Let your mind and your life concentrate on doing what is God’s will and making sure you act responsibly.

 

C. It Makes God the Author of Sin

 

I think we must acknowledge that God did construct a plan that included sin, and its inclusion did not come as a surprise. Yet we must guard the clear teaching of Scripture that God hates sin (Psalms 5:5), that He is never responsible for our committing sin (James 1:13), and that including sin in His plan does not make it somehow less sinful and us less culpable.

 

All that the Bible says about the concrete appearance of sin in creatures is that it was found in Satan (Ezekiel 28:15). Isaiah 45:7 may refer to God’s including evil in His plan; some understand the verse to refer to the results of sin, such as calamity. Proverbs 16:4 teaches also that all things are included in God’s plan. We must seek a balance in this truth and live with the unresolved tensions.

 

Finally, face the ramification of all things not being included in one way or another in God’s plan. This would mean that there were things outside of His control, and that is a frightening idea.

 

Listen to these words of Calvin:

 

 Herein appears the immeasurable felicity of the godly mind. Innumerable are the evils that beset human life; innumerable too the deaths that threaten it. We need not go beyond ourselves: since our body is the receptacle of a thousand diseases – in fact holds within itself and fosters the causes of diseases – a man cannot go about unburdened by many forms of his own destruction, and without drawing out a life enveloped, as it were, with death. For what else would you call it, when he neither freezes nor sweats without danger? Now, wherever you turn, all things around you not only are hardly to be trusted but almost openly menace, and seem to threaten immediate death. Embark on a ship; you are one step away from death. Mount a horse; if one foot slips, your life is imperiled. Go through the city streets; you are subject to as many dangers as there are tiles on the roofs. If there is a weapon in your hand or a friend’s, harm awaits. All the fierce animals you see are armed for your destruction. But if you try to shut yourself up in a walled garden, seemingly delightful, there a serpent sometimes lies hidden. Your house, continually in danger of fire, threatens in the daytime to impoverish you, at night even to collapse upon you. Your field, since it is exposed to hail, frost, drought, and other calamities, threatens you with barrenness, and hence, famine. I pass over poisonings, ambushes, robberies, open violence, which in part besiege us at home, in part dog us abroad. Amid these tribulations must not man be most miserable, since, but half alive in life, he weakly draws his anxious and languid breath, as if he had a sword perpetually hanging over his neck? You will say: these events rarely happen, or at least not all the time, nor to all men, and never all at once. I agree; but since we are warned by the examples of others that these can also happen to ourselves, and that our life ought not to be excepted any more than theirs, we cannot but be frightened and terrified as if such events were about to happen to us. What, therefore, more calamitous can you imagine than such trepidation? Besides, it is an insult to God to say that He has exposed man, the noblest of His creatures, to the blindness and temerity of fortune.

 

Then join with Paul in his magnificent doxology that comes at the conclusion of his lengthy and detailed section on election when he wrote: "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen" (Romans 11:33-36).

 

Basic Theology, Charles C. Ryrie

Wake Up America!

America WAKE UP!




That’s what we think we heard on the 11th of September 2001 and maybe
it was, but I think it should have been "Get Out of Bed!" In fact, I
think the alarm clock has been buzzing since 1979 and we have continued
to hit the snooze button and roll over for a few more minutes of
peaceful sleep since then.

It was a cool fall day in November 1979 in a country going
through a religious and political upheaval when a group of Iranian
students attacked and seized the American Embassy in Tehran. This
seizure was an outright attack on American soil; it was an attack that
held the world’s most powerful country hostage and paralyzed a
Presidency. The attack on this sovereign US embassy set the stage for
the events to follow for the next 23 years.

America was still reeling from the aftermath of the Viet Nam experience
and had a serious threat from the Soviet Union when then, President
Carter, had to do something. He chose to conduct a clandestine raid in
the desert. The ill-fated mission ended in ruin, but stood as a symbol
of America’s inability to deal with terrorism. America’s military had
been decimated and downsized / right sized since the end of the Viet
Nam war. A poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly organized
military was called on to execute a complex mission that was doomed
from the start.

Shortly after the Tehran experience, Americans began to be
kidnapped and killed throughout the Middle East. America could do
little to protect her citizens living and working abroad. The attacks
against US soil continued.

In April of 1983 a large vehicle packed with high explosives
was driven into the US Embassy compound in Beirut. When it explodes, it
kills 63 people.
The alarm went off again and America hit the Snooze Button once more.
Then just six short months later a large truck heavily laden down with
over 2500 pounds of TNT smashed through the main gate of
the US Marine Corps headquarters in Beirut. 241 US
servicemen are killed. America mourns her dead and hit the Snooze
Button once more. Two months later in December 1983, another truck
loaded with explosives is driven into the US Embassy in Kuwait, and
America continues her slumber. The following year, in September 1984,
another van was driven into the gates of the US Embassy in Beirut and
America slept.

Soon the terrorism spreads to Europe. In April 1985 a bomb
explodes in a restaurant frequented by US soldiers in Madrid. Then in
August a Volkswagen loaded with explosives is driven into the main gate
of the US Air Force Base at Rhein-Main, 22 are killed and the Snooze
Alarm is buzzing louder and louder as US soil is continually attacked.
Fifty-nine days later a cruise ship, the Achille Lauro is hijacked and
we watched as an American in a wheelchair is singled out of the
passenger list and executed. The terrorists then shift their tactics to
bombing civilian airliners when they bomb TWA Flight 840
in April of 1986 that killed 4 and the most tragic bombing, Pan Am Flight
103
over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 259. America wants to treat
these terrorist acts as crimes; in fact we are still trying to bring
these people to trial. These are acts of war … the Wake
Up alarm is louder and louder.

The terrorists decide to bring the fight to America. In January 1993,
two CIA agents are shot and killed as they enter CIA headquarters in
Langley, Virginia. The following month, February 1993, a group of
terrorists are arrested after a rented van packed with explosives is
driven into the underground parking garage of the World Trade Center in
New York City. Six people are killed and over 1000 are injured. Still
this is a crime and not an act of war? The Snooze alarm is depressed
again.

Then in November 1995 a car bomb explodes at a US military
complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killing seven service men and women. A
few months later in June of 1996, another truck bomb explodes only 35
yards
from the US military compound in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It destroys the
Khobar Towers, a US Air Force barracks, killing 19 and injuring over
500.

The terrorists are getting braver and smarter as they see that
America does not respond decisively. They move to coordinate their
attacks in a simultaneous attack on two US embassies in Kenya and
Tanzania. These attacks were planned with precision, they kill 224.
America responds with cruise missile attacks and goes back to sleep.

The USS Cole was docked in the port of Aden, Yemen for refueling on 12
October 2000, when a small craft pulled along side the ship and
exploded killing 17 US Navy Sailors. Attacking a US War
Ship is an act of war, but we sent the FBI to investigate the crime and
went back to sleep.

And of course you know the events of 11 September 2001. Most
Americans think this was the first attack against US soil or in
America. How wrong they are. America has been under a constant attack
since 1979 and we chose to hit the snooze alarm and roll over and go
back to sleep.

In the news lately we have seen lots of finger pointing from
every high official in government over what they knew and what they
didn’t know. But if you’ve read the papers and paid a little attention
I think you can see exactly what they knew. You don’t have to be in the
FBI or CIA or on the National Security Council to see the pattern that
has been developing since 1979. The President is right on when he says
we are engaged in a war. I think we have been in a war for the past 23
years and it will continue until we as a people decide enough is
enough.

America has to "Get out of Bed" and act decisively now. America has
changed forever. We have to be ready to pay the price and make the
sacrifice to ensure our way of life continues. We cannot afford to hit
the Snooze Button again and roll over and go back to sleep. We have to
make the terrorists know that in the words of Admiral Yamamoto after
the attack on Pearl Harbor "that all they have done is to awaken a
sleeping giant."

Thank you very much.

Dan Ouimette

DISCOURSE ON THE LAST THINGS

JERUSALEM, JERUSALEM!

OR,

DISCOURSE ON THE LAST THINGS

 

Matthew 21-25; Mark 11:1-13:37; Luke 19:29-48; 20; 21.

 

 

The few days intervening between the anointing and the Passover were spent by Jesus in daily visits to Jerusalem in company with His disciples, returning to Bethany in the evening. During that time He spoke much in public and in private, on themes congenial to His feelings and situation: the sin of the Jewish nation, and specially of its religious leaders; the doom of Jerusalem, and the end of the world. The record of His sayings during these last days fills five chapters of Matthew’s Gospel — a proof of the deep impressions which they made on the mind of the twelve.

 

Prominent among these utterances, which together form the dying testimony of the "Prophet of Nazareth," stands the great philippic delivered by Him against the scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem. This terrible discourse had been preceded by various encounters between the speaker and His inverate foes, which were as the preliminary skirmishes that form the prelude to a great engagement. In these petty fights Jesus had been uniformly victorious, and had overwhelmed His opponents with confusion. They had asked Him concerning His authority for taking upon Him the office of a reformer, in clearing the temple precincts of traders; and he had silenced them by asking in reply their opinion of John’s mission, and by speaking in their hearing the parables of the Two Sons, the Vinedressers, and the Rejected Stone,[20.1] wherein their hypocrisy, unrighteousness, and ultimate damnation were vividly depicted. They had tried to catch Him in a trap by an insnaring question concerning the tribute paid to the Roman government; and he had extricated Himself with ease, by simply asking for a penny, and pointing to the emperor’s head on it, demanding of His assailants, "Whose is this image and superscription?" and on receiving the reply, "Cesar’s," giving His judgment in these terms: "Render therefore unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s."[20.2] Twice foiled, the Pharisees (with their friends the Herodians) gave place to their usual foes, but present allies, the Sadducees, who attempted to puzzle Jesus on the subject of the resurrection, only to be ignominiously discomfited;[20.3] whereupon the pharisaic brigade returned to the charge, and through the mouth of a lawyer not yet wholly perverted inquired, "Which is the great commandment in the law?" To this question Jesus gave a direct and serious reply, summing up the whole law in love to God and love to man, to the entire contentment of His interrogator. Then, impatient of further trifling, He blew a trumpet-peal, the signal of a grand offensive attack, by propounding the question, "What think ye of Christ, whose son is He?" and taking occasion from the reply to quote the opening verse of David’s martial psalm, asking them to reconcile it with their answer.[20.4] In appearance fighting the Pharisees with their own weapons, and framing a mere theological puzzle, He was in reality reminding them who He was, and intimating to them the predicted doom of those who set themselves against the Lord’s anointed.

 

Thereupon David’s Son and David’s Lord proceeded to fulfil the prophetic figure, and to make a footstool of the men who sat in Moses’ seat, by delivering that discourse in which, to change the figure, the Pharisee is placed in a moral pillory, a mockery and a byword to all after ages; and a sentence is pronounced on the pharisaic character inexorably severe, yet justified by fact, and approved by the conscience of all true Christians.[20.5] This anti-pharisaic speech may be regarded as the final, decisive, comprehensive, dying testimony of Jesus against the most deadly and damning form of evil prevailing in His age, or that can prevail in any age — religious hypocrisy; and as such it forms a necessary part of the Righteous One’s witness-bearing in behalf of the truth, to which His disciples are expected to say Amen with no faltering voice. For the spirit of moral resentment is as essential in Christian ethics as the spirit of mercy; nor can any one who regards the anti-pharisaic polemic of the Gospel history as a scandal to be ashamed of, or a blemish to be apologized for, or at least as a thing which, however necessary at the time, propriety now requires us to treat with neglect, — a practice too common in the religious world, — be cleared of the suspicion of having more sympathy at heart with the men by whom the Lord was crucified than with the Lord Himself. Blessed is he who is not ashamed of Christ’s sternest words; who, far from stumbling at those bold prophetic utterances, has rather found in them an aid to faith at the crisis of his religious history, as evincing an identity between the moral sentiments of the Founder of the faith and his own, and helping him to see that what he may have mistaken for, and what claimed to be, Christianity, was not that at all, but only a modern reproduction of a religious system which the Lord Jesus Christ could not endure, or be on civil terms with. Yea, and blessed is the church which sympathizes with, and practically gives effect to, Christ’s warning words in the opening of this discourse against clerical ambition, the source of the spiritual tyrannies and hypocrisies denounced. Every church needs to be on its guard against this evil spirit. The government of the Jewish church, theoretically theocratic, degenerated at last into Rabbinism; and it is quite possible for a church which has for its motto, "One is your Master, even Christ," to fall into a state of abject subjection to the power of ambitious ecclesiastics.

 

Without for a moment admitting that there is any thing in these invectives against hypocrisy to be apologized for, we must nevertheless advert to the view taken of them by some recent critics of the sceptical school. These speeches, then, we are told, are the rash, unqualified utterances of a young man, whose spirit was unmellowed by years and experience of the world; whose temperament was poetic, therefore irritable, impatient, and unpractical; and whose temper was that of a Jew, morose, and prone to bitterness in controversy. At this time, we are further to understand, provoked by persevering opposition, He had lost self-possession, and had abandoned Himself to the violence of anger, His bad humor having reached such a pitch as to make Him guilty of actions seemingly absurd, such as that of cursing the fig-tree. He had, in fact, become reckless of consequences, or even seemed to court such as were disastrous; and, weary of conflict, sought by violent language to precipitate a crisis, and provoke His enemies to put Him to death.[20.6]

 

These are blasphemies against the Son of man as unfounded as they are injurious. The last days of Jesus were certainly full of intense excitement, but to a candid mind no traces of passion are discernible in His conduct. All His recorded utterances during those days are in a high key, suited to one whose soul was animated by the most sublime feelings. Every sentence is eloquent, every word tells; but all throughout is natural, and appropriate to the situation. Even when the terrible attack on the religious leaders of Israel begins, we listen awestruck, but not shocked. We feel that the speaker has a right to use such language, that what He says is true, and that all is said with commanding authority and dignity, such as became the Messianic King. When the speaker has come to an end, we breathe freely, sensible that a delicate though necessary task has been performed with not less wisdom than fidelity. Deep and undisguised abhorrence is expressed in every sentence, such as it would be difficult for any ordinary man, yea, even for an extraordinary one, to cherish without some admixture of that wrath which worketh not the righteousness of God. But in the antipathies of a Divine Being the weakness of passion finds no place: His abhorrence may be deep, but it is also ever calm; and we challenge unbelievers to point out a single feature in this discourse inconsistent with the hypothesis that the speaker is divine. Nay, leaving out of view Christ’s divinity, and criticizing His words with a freedom unfettered by reverence, we can see no traces in them of a man carried headlong by a tempest of anger. We find, after strictest search, no loose expressions, no passionate exaggerations, but rather a style remarkable for artistic precision and accuracy. The pictures of the ostentatious, place-hunting, title-loving rabbi; of the hypocrite, who makes long prayers and devours widows’ houses; of the zealot, who puts himself to infinite trouble to make converts, only to make his converts worse rather than better men; of the Jesuitical scribe, who teaches that the gold of the temple is a more sacred, binding thing to swear by than the temple itself; of the Pharisee, whose conscience is strict or lax as suits his convenience; of the whited sepulchres, fair without, full within of dead men’s bones; of the men whose piety manifests itself in murdering living prophets and garnishing the sepulchres of dead ones, — are moral daguerreotypes which will stand the minutest inspection of criticism, drawn by no irritated, defeated man, feeling sorely and resenting keenly the malice of his adversaries, but by one who has gained so complete a victory, that He can make sport of His foes, and at all events runs no risk of losing self-control.

 

The aim of the discourse, equally with its style, is a sufficient defense against the charge of bitter personality. The direct object of the speaker was not to expose the blind guides of Israel, but to save from delusion the people whom they were misguiding to their ruin. The audience consisted of the disciples and the multitude who heard Him gladly. It is most probable that many of the blind guides were present; and it would make no difference to Jesus whether they were or not, for He had not two ways of speaking concerning men — one before their faces, another behind their backs. It is told of Demosthenes, the great Athenian orator, and the determined opponent of Philip of Macedon, that he completely broke down in that king’s presence on the occasion of his first appearance before him as an ambassador from his native city. But a greater than Demosthenes is here, whose sincerity and courage are as marvelous as His wisdom and eloquence, and who can say all He thinks of the religious heads of the people in their own hearing. Still, in the present instance, the parties formally addressed were not the heads of the people, but the people themselves; and it is worthy of notice how carefully discriminating the speaker was in the counsel which He gave them. He told them that what He objected to was not so much the teaching of their guides, as their lives: they might follow all their precepts with comparative impunity, but it would be fatal to follow their example. How many reformers in similar circumstances would have joined doctrine and practice together in one indiscriminate denunciation! Such moderation is not the attribute of a man in a rage.

 

But the best clew of all to the spirit of the speaker is the manner in which His discourse ends: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!" Strange ending for one filled with angry passion! O Jesus, Jesus! how Thou rises above the petty thoughts and feelings of ordinary men! Who shall fathom the depths of Thy heart? What mighty waves of righteousness, truth, pity, and sorrow roll through Thy bosom!

 

Having uttered that piercing cry of grief, Jesus left the temple, never, so far as we know, to return. His last words to the people of Jerusalem were: "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord." On the way from the city to Bethany, by the Mount of Olives, the rejected Saviour again alluded to its coming doom. The light-hearted disciples had drawn His attention to the strength and beauty of the temple buildings, then in full view. In too sad and solemn a mood for admiring mere architecture, He replied in the spirit of a prophet: "See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."[20.7]

 

Arrived at Mount Olivet, the company sat down to take a leisurely view of the majestic pile of which they had been speaking. How different the thoughts and feelings suggested by the same object to the minds of the spectators! The twelve look with merely outward eye; their Master looks with the inward eye of prophecy. They see nothing before them but the goodly stones; He sees the profanation in the interior, greedy traders within the sacred precincts, religion so vitiated by ostentation, as to make a poor widow casting her two mites into the treasury, in pious simplicity, a rare and pleasing exception. The disciples think of the present only; Jesus looks forward to an approaching doom, fearful to contemplate, and doubtless backward too, over the long and checkered history through which the once venerable, now polluted, house of God had passed. The disciples are elated with pride as they gaze on this national structure, the glory of their country, and are happy as thoughtless men are wont to be; the heart of Jesus is heavy with the sadness of wisdom and prescience, and of love that would have saved, but can now do nothing but weep, and proclaim the awful words of doom.

 

Yet, with all their thoughtlessness, the twelve could not quite forget those dark forebodings of their Master. The weird words haunted their minds, and made them curious to know more. Therefore they came to Jesus, or some of them — Mark mentions Peter, James, John, and Andrew[20.8 — and asked two questions: when Jerusalem should be destroyed; and what should be the signs of His coming, and of the end of the world. The two events referred to in the questions — the end of Jerusalem, and the end of the world — were assumed by the questioners to be contemporaneous. It was a natural and by no means a singular mistake. Local and partial judgments are wont to be thus mixed up with the universal one in men’s imaginations; and hence almost every great calamity which inspires awe leads to anticipations of the last day. Thus Luther, when his mind was clouded by the dark shadow of present tribulation, would remark: "The world cannot stand long, perhaps a hundred years at the outside. At the last will be great alterations and commotions, and already there are great commotions among men. Never had the men of law so much occupation as now. There are vehement dissensions in our families, and discord in the church."[20.9] In apostolic times Christians expected the immediate coming of Christ with such confidence and ardor, that some even neglected their secular business, just as towards the close of the tenth century people allowed churches to fall into disrepair because the end of the world was deemed close at hand.

 

In reality, the judgment of Jerusalem and that of the world at large were to be separated by a long interval. Therefore Jesus treated the two things as distinct in His prophetic discourse, and gave separate answers to the two questions which the disciples had combined into one, that respecting the end of the world being disposed of first.[20.10]

 

The answer He gave to this question was general and negative. He did not fix a time, but said in effect: "The end will not be till such and such things have taken place," specifying six antecedents of the end in succession, the first being the appearance of false Christs.[20.11] Of these He assured His disciples there would be many, deceiving many; and most truly, for several quack Messiahs did appear even before the destruction of Jerusalem, availing themselves of, and imposing on, the general desire for deliverance, even as quack doctors do in reference to bodily ailments, and succeeding in deceiving many, as unhappily in such times is only too easy. But among the number of their dupes were found none of those who had been previously instructed by the true Christ to regard the appearance of pseudo-Christs merely as one of the signs of an evil time. The deceivers of others were for them a preservative against delusion.

 

The second antecedent is, "wars and rumors of wars." Nation must rise against nation: there must be times of upheaving and dissolution; declines and falls of empires, and risings of new kingdoms on the ruins of the old. This second sign would be accompanied by a third, in the shape of commotions in the physical world, emblematic of those in the political. Famines, earthquakes, pestilences, etc., would occur in divers places.[20.12]

 

Yet these things, however dreadful, would be but the beginning of sorrows; nor would the end come till those signs had repeated themselves again and again. No one could tell from the occurrence of such phenomena that the end would be now; he could only infer that it was not yet.[20.13]

 

Next in order come persecutions, with all the moral and social phenomena of persecuting times.[20.14] Christians must undergo a discipline of hatred among the nations because of the Name they bear, and as the reputed authors of all the disasters which befall the people among whom they live. Times must come when, if the Tiber inundate Rome, if the Nile overflow not his fields, if drought, earthquake, famine, or plague visit the earth, the cry of the populace will forthwith be, "The Christians to the lions!"

 

Along with persecutions, as a fifth antecedent of the end, would come a sifting of the church.[20.15] Many would break down or turn traitors; there would spring up manifold animosities, schisms, and heresies, each named from its own false prophet. The prevalence of these evils in the church would give rise to much spiritual declension. "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."[20.16]

 

The last thing that must happen ere the end come is the evangelization of the world;[20.17] which being achieved, the end would at length arrive. From this sign we may guess that the world will last a long while yet; for, according to the law of historical probability, it will be long ere the gospel shall have been preached to all men for a witness. Ardent Christians or enthusiastic students of prophecy who think otherwise must remember that sending a few missionaries to a heathen country does not satisfy the prescribed condition. The gospel has not been preached to a nation for a witness, that is, so as to form a basis of moral judgment, till it has been preached to the whole people as in Christendom. This has never yet been done for all the nations, and at the present rate of progress it is not likely to be accomplished for centuries to come.

 

Having rapidly sketched an outline of the events that must precede the end of the world, Jesus addressed Himself to the more special question which related to the destruction of Jerusalem. He could now speak on that subject with more freedom, after He had guarded against the notion that the destruction of the holy city was a sign of His own immediate final coming. "When, then," He began, — the introductory formula signifying, to answer now your first question, — "ye shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand in the holy place, then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains;" the abomination of desolation being the Roman army with its eagles — abominable to the Jew, desolating to the land. When the eagles appeared, all might flee for their life; resistance would be vain, obstinacy and bravery utterly unavailing. The calamity would be so sudden that there would be no time to save any thing. It would be as when a house is on fire; people would be glad to escape with their life.[20.18] It would be a fearful time of tribulation, unparalleled before or after.[20.19] Woe to poor nursing mothers in those horrible days, and to such as were with child! What barbarities and inhumanities awaited them! The calamities that were coming would spare nobody, not even Christians. They would find safety only in flight, and they would have cause to be thankful that they escaped at all. But their flight, though unavoidable, might be more or less grievous according to circumstances; and they should pray for what might appear small mercies, even for such alleviations as that they might not have to flee to the mountains in winter, when it is cold and comfortless, or on the Sabbath, the day of rest and peace.[20.20]

 

After giving this brief but graphic sketch of the awful days approaching, intolerable by mortal men were they not shortened "for the elect’s sake," Jesus repeated His warning word against deception, as if in fear that His disciples, distracted by such calamities, might think "surely now is the end." He told them that violence would be followed by apostasy and falsehood, as great a trial in one way as the destruction of Jerusalem in another. False teachers should arise, who would be so plausible as almost to deceive the very elect. The devil would appear as an angel of light; in the desert as a monk, in the shrine as an object of superstitious worship. But whatever men might pretend, the Christ would not be there; nor would His appearance take place then, nor at any fixed calculable time, but suddenly, unexpectedly, like the lightning flash in the heavens. When moral corruption had attained its full development, then would the judgment come.[20.21]

 

In the following part of the discourse, the end of the world seems to be brought into immediate proximity to the destruction of the holy city.[20.22] If a long stretch of ages was to intervene, the perspective of the prophetic picture seems at fault. The far-distant mountains of the eternal world, visible beyond and above the near hills of time in the foreground, want the dim-blue haze, which helps the eye to realize how far off they are. This defect in Matthew’s narrative, which we have been taking for our text, is supplied by Luke, who interprets the tribulation (qlivyi") so as to include the subsequent long-lasting dispersion of Israel among the nations.[20.23] The phrase he employs to denote this period is significant, as implying the idea of lengthened duration. It is "the times of the Gentiles" (kairoiV ejqnw’n). The expression means, the time when the Gentiles should have their opportunity of enjoying divine grace, corresponding to the time of gracious visitation enjoyed by the Jews referred to by Jesus in His lament over Jerusalem.[20.24] There is no reason to suppose Luke coined these phrases; they bear the stamp of genuineness upon them. But if we assume, as we are entitled to do, that not Luke the Pauline universalist, but Jesus Himself, spoke of a time of merciful visitation of the Gentiles, then it follows that in His eschatological discourse He gave clear intimation of a lengthened period during which His gospel was to be preached in the world; even as He did on other occasions, as in the parable of the wicked husbandman, in which He declared that the vineyard should be taken from its present occupants, and given to others who would bring forth fruit.[20.25] For it is incredible that Jesus should speak of a time of the Gentiles analogous to the time of merciful visitation enjoyed by the Jews, and imagine that the time of the Gentiles was to last only some thirty years. The Jewish kairos lasted thousands of years: it would be only mocking the poor Gentiles to dignify the period of a single generation with the name of a season of gracious visitation.

 

The parable of the fig-tree, employed by Jesus to indicate the sure connection between the signs foregoing and the grand event that was to follow, seems at first to exclude the idea of a protracted duration, but on second thoughts we shall find it does not. The point of the parable lies in the comparison of the signs of the times to the first buds of the fig-tree. This comparison implies that the last judgment is not the thing which is at the doors. The last day is the harvest season, but from the first buds of early summer to the harvest there is a long interval. The parable further suggests the right way of understanding the statement: "This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." Christ did not mean that the generation then living was to witness the end, but that in that generation all the things which form the incipient stage in the development would appear. It was the age of beginnings, of shoots and blossoms, not of fruit and ingathering. In that generation fell the beginnings of Christianity and the new world it was to create, and also the end of the Jewish world, of which the symbol was a fig-tree covered with leaves, but without any blossom or fruit, like that Jesus Himself had cursed, by way of an acted prophecy of Israel’s coming doom. The buds of most things in the church’s history appeared in that age: of gospel preaching, of antiChristian tendencies, of persecutions, heresies, schisms, and apostasies. All these, however, had to grow to their legitimate issues before the end came. How long the development would take, no man could tell, not even the Son of Man.[20.26] It was a state secret of the Almighty, into which no one should wish to pry.

 

This statement, that the time of the end is known alone to God, excludes the idea that it can be calculated, or that data are given in Scripture for that purpose. If such data be given, then the secret is virtually disclosed. We therefore regard the calculations of students of prophecy respecting the times and seasons as random guesses unworthy of serious attention. The death-day of the world needs to be hid for the purposes of providence as much as the dying-day of individuals. And we have no doubt that God has kept His secret; though some fancy they can cast the world’s horoscope from prophetic numbers, as astrologers were wont to determine the course of individual lives from the positions of the stars.

 

Though the prophetic discourse of Jesus revealed nothing as to times, it was not therefore valueless. It taught effectively two lessons, — one specially for the benefit of the twelve, and the other for all Christians and all ages. The lesson for the twelve was, that they might dismiss from their minds all fond hopes of a restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Not reconstruction, but dissolution and dispersion, was Israel’s melancholy doom.

 

The general lesson for all in this discourse is: "Watch, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." The call to watchfulness is based on our ignorance of the time of the end, and on the fact that, however long delayed the end may be, it will come suddenly at last, as a thief in the night. The importance of watching and waiting, Jesus illustrated by two parables, the Absent Goodman and the Wise and Foolish Virgins.[20.27] Both parables depict the diverse conduct of the professed servants of God during the period of delay. The effect on some, we are taught, is to make them negligent, they being eye-servants and fitful workers, who need oversight and the stimulus of extraordinary events. Others, again, are steady, equal, habitually faithful, working as well when the master is absent as when they are under his eye. The treatment of both on the master’s return corresponds to their respective behavior, — one class being rewarded, the other punished. Such is the substance of the parable of the Absent Goodman. Luke gives an important appendix, which depicts the conduct of persons in authority in the house of the absent Lord.[20.28] While the common servants are for the most part negligent, the upper servants play the tyrant over their fellows. This is exactly what church dignitaries did in after ages; and the fact that Jesus contemplated such a state of things, requiring from the nature of the case the lapse of centuries to bring it about, is another proof that in this discourse His prophetic eye swept over a vast tract of time. Another remark is suggested by the great reward promised to such as should not abuse their authority: "He will make him ruler over all that he hath." The greatness of the reward indicates an expectation that fidelity will be rare among the stewards of the house. Indeed, the Head of the church seems to have apprehended the prevalence of a negligent spirit among all His servants, high and low; for He speaks of the lord of the household as so gratified with the conduct of the faithful, that he girds himself to serve them while they sit at meat.[20.29] Has not the apprehension been too well justified by events?

 

The parable of the Ten Virgins, familiar to all, and full of instruction, teaches us this peculiar lesson, that watching does not imply sleepless anxiety and constant thought concerning the future, but quiet, steady attention to present duty. While the bridegroom tarried, all the virgins, wise and foolish alike, slumbered and slept, the wise differing from their sisters in having all things in readiness against a sudden call. This is a sober and reasonable representation of the duty of waiting by one who understands what is possible; for, in a certain sense, sleep of the mind in reference to eternity is as necessary as physical sleep is to the body. Constant thought about the great realities of the future would only result in weakness, distraction, and madness, or in disorder, idleness, and restlessness; as in Thessalonica, where the conduct of many who watched in the wrong sense made it needful that Paul should give them the wholesome counsel to be quiet, and work, and eat bread earned by the labor of their own hands.[20.30]

 

The great prophetic discourse worthily ended with a solemn representation of the final judgment of the world, when all mankind shall be assembled to be judged either by the historical gospel preached to them for a witness, or by its great ethical principle, the law of charity written on their hearts; and when those who have loved Christ and served Him in person, or in His representatives, — the poor, the destitute, the suffering, — shall be welcomed to the realms of the blessed, and those who have acted contrariwise shall be sent away to keep company with the devil and his angels.

 

A. B. Bruce: The Training of the Twelve