In the course of my revision of this book for the printing of a new edition
(just twenty years after the first edition) I have found less need than
might have been expected for corrections and additions. For the then existing
conditions of the world, political and industrial, afforded warrant for
the belief that the great and final shaking of "The heavens, the
earth, the sea, the dry land, and all nations, " foretold by the
Prophet Haggai (#Hag 2:6,7) and quoted in substance in Hebrews (#Heb 12:26,27)
was even then in progress. But now, as these lines are being written,
the whole world is in the throes of a convulsion so violent and so widespread
that it seems well nigh impossible there should ever be a greater.
However that may be (as to which I make no prediction) there is certainly
one conspicuous feature of this present outpouring of divine judgments,
which comes within the scope of the purpose of this book, and is well
worthy of additional discussion. I have in mind the distresses, cruelties
and persecutions, unprecedented in violence and extent, now being visited
upon that "people scattered and peeled, " the sorely afflicted
survivors of the Jewish race, which persecutions in themselves constitute
a "tribulation" unsurpassed in all previous history.
It is impossible, however, that the present day affliction of the Jews
should be taken as the "great tribulation" of the futurist scheme
of interpretation of prophecy. For, according to the basic assumptions
of that system, the "great tribulation" will not (and indeed
cannot) come to pass until the surviving Jews shall have been reconstituted
as a nation, shall have regained possession of Palestine, and shall have
rebuilt the temple at Jerusalem, re-established the Mosaic sacrifices
and ordinances, made a covenant with antichrist for the absurdly brief
period of "one week, " and until that covenant shall have been
broken in the midst of the "week." For the futurist system requires
that all these great events shall take place in the "week" (seven
years) which immediately precedes the second coming of Christ.
On the other hand, however, and directly to the contrary, the unparalleled
"distress of nations, " now in progress, and especially the
bloody persecutions of the widely dispersed survivors of the Jewish race,
which have now reached a degree of intensity (in the fiendish cruelties
devised by Adolph Hitler) unequalled hitherto in the annals of mankind,
do accord perfectly with that interpretation of prophecy, to which nearly
all evangelical commentators have adhered from the days of the Protestant
Reformation until a recent date; and which is advocated in this book.
From current news sources (October, 1943) we learn that the estimated
"Jewish population of Europe ten years ago was 8,300,000; "
and that "has been reduced by 5,000,000." So that "in the
whole of continental Europe occupied by the Axis, only 3,000,000 Jews
remain alive." Surely we have here a harrowing item of a "tribulation"
which is immeasurably "great." Is it supposable that a tribulation
of even greater severity is yet in store for that sorely afflicted race,
and the mouth of the compassionate Saviour has declared it? Impossible.
In view of these things I welcomed the opportunity now presented for calling
attention to certain features of the great subject we are studying (the
"great tribulation" of the Olivet prophecy) which lend additional
support to the view of that subject presented in this book.
It is manifest that, in order to arrive at a fairly correct estimate of
the magnitude of that "great tribulation" (which was to be "such
as was not since the beginning of the world nor ever shall be"),
due weight must be given to the words: "And they shall be led away
captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles
until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." It is likewise manifest
that this part of verse 24 (#Lu 21:24)) deals with the very same topics
(Jerusalem and the Jewish people) as the preceding clause of the verse.
Moreover, it is now evident that the period of trials and sufferings,
which the survivors of the destruction of Jerusalem were to endure during
their age long dispersion throughout the nations of the world, constitutes
by far the major part of the predicted tribulation, which was to be without
parallel in the history of the world. This is more clearly seen when the
history of the Jews of the dispersion is viewed in the light of the prophecy
of Moses in his last words to that nation whereof he was the founder and
the "nursing father." Those words are recorded in the concluding
chapters of Deuteronomy. In that final message he faithfully warned his
beloved people, and in the clearest words, of the consequences of departure
from the commandments of the Lord. A long chapter (De 28) is occupied with the details of this vital
subject. He had previously reminded them of the "great"
features, which distinguished in a remarkable way the beginnings of their
history from those of all other nations. Those differences are notable
indeed (See #De 4:7-12). But we will not comment upon them now. It is
sufficient for our present purpose to refer to verse 34, where it is forcefully
implied (in the form of a rhetorical question) that never, in any case
save that of Israel, had "God assayed to go and take Him a nation
out of the midst of another nation." What is, however, comparable
to this, and is foreshadowed by it, is that God is now visiting all nations
of the world "to take out of them a people for His Name" (#Ac
Thus, taking chapter 4 of Deuteronomy with the Olivet prophecy of our
Lord, we have His word for it that, like as God visited Egypt (the greatest
of all nations of that era) to take out of it a people for His Name (His
old covenant people) so likewise, in this era of the fulfilment of all
the types and shadows of the law, He would visit ALL nations, to take
out of them "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation,
a peculiar people" (#1Pe 2:9). Thus we are given to know that, like
as Israel was unique as a nation in its beginning, in that it was taken
as an entiretymen, women and children, with all their possessions
and much spoilout of the midst of another nation, in which they
had been captives, even so its end was to be unique, in that its survivors
were to be "led away captive into all nations." Furthermore,
their holy city was to be given into the hands of their enemies for the
duration of the entire "times of the Gentiles."
One of the most remarkable facts connected with the ending of the history
of Israel as an earthly nation, and the age long condition of its city
and its surviving people, as we behold them todaypreserving their
racial identity despite the most cruel and contemptuous treatment to which
a people were ever subjectedwas clearly foretold by the great founder
of their nation, in what were almost his last words to the people he so
dearly loved. We quote:
And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people from the one end
of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods,
which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And
among those nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of
thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart,
and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. And thy life shall hang in doubt
before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance
of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and
at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine
heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which
thou shalt see(#De 28:64-67).
Thus ends the history of the natural Israel as seen and foretold by its
founder. It is a dark picture indeed. But there is nevertheless a brighter
side, whereof we may get a satisfying glimpse in our Lords Olivet
prophecy. For He Who, "when He beheld the city, wept over it, "
foreseeing its approaching doom (#Lu 19:41-44) spake a gracious word of
promise, wherein is an assurance of mercy and salvation that was to follow
that people and to be accessible to them in all their wanderings throughout
this long "day of salvation." For "God has not cast away
His people which He foreknew." And this is to be seen in the fact
that, while decreeing that they should "be led away captive into
all nations, " He also decreed that "This gospel of the Kingdom
shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, "
before "the end" shall come.
Therefore, in whatever nation they may be throughout "the times of
the Gentiles, " they are within reach of the life saving sound of
"the gospel of God, " which is "the power of God unto salvation
to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first" (#Ro 1:16). Moreover,
through the gracious providence of God there are now in all the principle
countries of the world special agencies for the evangelization of the
people of Jewish descent.
"What shall we then say to these things?" Let us be zealous
to take up the unfinished business of the great apostle to the Gentiles,
"preaching the Kingdom of God" (#Ac 28:31) with special efforts
at reaching "the lost sheep of the house of Israel, " to the
end that they, "the natural branches, " may be "graffed
into their own olive tree." For "God is able to graff them in
again; " and He will do so, "if they abide not still in unbelief."
For "SO"and not in any other way"ALL ISRAEL
SHALL BE SAVED." -End of Book-