As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man.
Matthew 24:36 (as in Revised Version)
I. THE FACT. No one but our Father in heaven knows the whole future. Some parts of it are revealed to all of us, some are within the perception of prophets, more may be specially known to angels, very much must have lain open before the eye of Christ. But God only knows the whole. The final judgment is known only to him. Why is this?
1. Perhaps the date is not fixed. To God, who is independent of time, all our uncertainties and contingencies must be visible and sure. But it is impossible for us to imagine the form of thought that comprehends such things. To us many things are uncertain, in part because they are dependent on changing conditions. Will a particular man be saved or lost? No one can say, because no fixed destiny determines his future. It will be conditioned by his conduct, by the action of his free will. It is open for him to repent at any time. So it may be that the date of the final judgment will be determined according to the conduct of men, according to the course of history. It may be hastened or it may be postponed, as the behaviour of the world changes.
2. Certainly full knowledge would be injurious. It is one of the greatest mercies of life that God hides the future. If any sorcery could reveal it, the depth of folly would belong to those people who resorted to that sorcery. The knowledge of future evil would crush us; the knowledge of future good would take the zest out of our joys and make the blessings of life stale and uninteresting. Moreover, God disciplines us by ignorances. This should not make us indifferent to truth; it must be our duty to learn what God teaches. But it cannot be healthy to attempt to pry into secrets which God means to keep to himself. Calculations of modern prophets about unfulfilled prophecy are here rebuked beforehand by our Lord.
II. INFERENCES IN REGARD TO JESUS CHRIST.
1. The distinction between Christ and his Father. Clearly they are here seen as two Persons. Yet it is the fashion of popular theology to "confound the Persons," and to speak of Jesus as if he were just the same as the Father.
2. The comparative subordination of Christ. We dare not say, with Cyril, that the ignorance of Christ was only apparent. That must be to represent him as an unreal Actor. He meant what he said in all honesty. It may be that Athanasius was right in applying all such passages as that before us to the earthly humiliation of our Lord. Still, the statements of Scripture as to the Son being sent by the Father (e.g John 20:21), applying as they do to the first advent and the very origin of the lncarnation, suggest something like a secondary position even prior to the earthly life, as we shall see if we reverse the phrases, and think of the Son sending the Father - a most improper notion. The Sender must be in some way superior to the Sent.
3. The Divinity of Christ. This is apparent even in this passage, where the secondary position is stated:
(1) Because Christ separates himself from all other men, and even places the angels between himself and them.
(2) Because Christ shows Divine knowledge of the fact of the ignorance of angels as well as men, and of the fact of his Father's unique consciousness. - W.F.A.
But My words shall not pass away.
1. The authority which speaks in them.
2. Their elevation.
3. Their awful depth.
The Weekly Pulpit.1. The words of Christ are abiding because of their special inspiration. His words cannot die by reason of the living power that is in them.
2. The teachings of Jesus have a great and an enduring task to perform. The gospel has the "power of an endless life" which the work before it demands. Great things and great ends require great and large preparation. The Niagara Falls is one, if not the greatest, of the wonders of the world; but the river St. Lawrence was twenty-seven thousand years making the deep cutting in the rock which forms the cataract. The great task before the gospel, of bringing the light of truth to every heart, must be accomplished. The efforts of the Church must not be relaxed until this end has been attained. Whatever changes are woven into the nature of things the continuation of gospel teaching is inevitable. "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand for ever."
3. As the gospel has survived the revolutions of more than eighteen centuries, so it will survive those yet to come.
4. The impression which the words of Jesus make on the souls of the redeemed is another proof that they shall not pass away. When the world has passed away, these words will abide in the hearts of men who have believed in Christ. Every portion of the gospel we learn and feel and practice will remain with us for ever.
(The Weekly Pulpit.)
I. IT NEEDS SOME THOUGHTFULNESS TO APPREHEND THE TRANSIENT CHARACTER OF THESE GREAT OBJECTS OF OUR INTEREST.
1. The forms of life and activity with which we are familiar pass away. The morning light, buds, seasons, living creatures, soon die.
2. If we extend our vision and take within its sweep not only the life of the individual, but the course of the ages, and the history of the world. These pass away.
II. AND YET IN ALL THIS THERE IS PERMANENCE. The form passes, but the material remains. Perhaps even the material may be our name for the unknown nothing, and there remains only the law, only the type, only the order, which unceasingly lives. Thus the form of the living thing disappears, but life remains; and that vegetable life which we saw so busy and so plentiful in forms of flower and leaf and tree, shall next year bring forth new flowers and put out fresh leaves; and when the trees that to-day stand erect, monarchs of the forest, shall, fallen prone, be slowly turning into the fuel of future ages, that same life shall yet be lifting up new pillars of the forest, tall and stately, beautiful and strong, over which new generations of branches and leaves shall wave beneath the sunshine and be swayed by the breezes of the future years. And so is it with the life of the animal and man. This animal, this man, may perish, but man remain. And the human race has not vanished. Babylon, Egypt, and ancient Greece and Rome have disappeared, but man remains, in his essential nature unchanged. The moods of the sensitive nature pass away and follow each other like the shadows on the mountain-side when the fleecy clouds are floating o'er the sky on a summer noon. And yet there is something that remains. There is the subject of these sensations; there is that element which is always present in these conscious states which knows itself and them, and the differences between each state, and the resemblances and the differences between itself and them, and the combination of all into one homogeneous whole. There is something permanent, something that lasts. You cannot destroy, you cannot waste it, you cannot, indeed, change it. It is itself — itself always — eternal, I believe, as the eternal God. Or we might illustrate it again in relation to thoughts, to ideas, to concepts; to those class cognitions of the mind which result from the comparison and the abstract classification of states of sensation, of memory, of judgment. We thus gain ideas — the good, the beautiful, the true, the evil, the human, the Divine. The individual states, the individual acts, the individual persons who, by these acts, produce these states — all these may vanish. They may be only a memory; or even grow in memory dim, and at last fade away from the last reminiscence of the soul; but the ideas we have formed — that abstract beauty, goodness, humanity, or divineness — these remain. Their light will play about other forms; their relations dwell within the caverns of our nature and fill them with music, or make them hideous with discord.
III. THUS THE WORDS OF CHRIST SEEM ONLY TO BE THE FOLLOWING, ACCOMPANIMENT OF WHAT WE SAW ON ALL SIDES OF OUR QUEST — THAT THERE IS A PERMANENT, AND THAT THERE IS A TRANSIENT. He goes down to the very base of the nature, and declares that a man must be born from above if he is to see the kingdom of God. The spiritual only can behold the things of that kingdom, which are wholly spiritual. The worship of God is to be in spirit and in truth. His own very words are to be interpreted in the sphere of the spiritual and the true, and the work He came to do for men was not to make their lot here easy or hard, not to spread life's path with flowers or with thorns; it had no respect to these mere circumstances and conditions of outer life. But it went to the very centre of being, to the inner personality of the man. And, as Christ Himself gave up all that He had that was external, material, physical, letting it all go in death, and living only in His living union with the eternal God, so must man live only in that living personality, letting all else die with Christ, and even when living, not living except as Christ lived in him.
(L. D. Bevan, D. D.)I. The permanence and immutability of the gospel are proofs of the perfection of its plan.
II. The immortality of the words of Christ is proof of their perfect adaptability to the constitution and course of nature.
III. Is proof of their perfect consonance with absolute truth.
IV. Is proof of their identity with the ultimate basis of life.
V. Two lessons.
1. He that formulated this immutable scheme and must be Divine.
2. Upon these words of Christ we have an assured and stable basis upon which to build for eternity.
(E. S. P.)I. WHAT WORD IS THIS?
1. "My Word." Who spoke this word? Jesus Christ the Saviour. Must not He be God who could fling upon the winds such a prophecy as this, and be sure of its everlasting success? It is not the word of Jeremiah, John, etc. They were the instruments, but Christ's word is nevertheless audible in all.
2. What are some of the marks and characteristics of Christ's word?Given in the Bible.
1. Authoritative. We hear men saying, "We want an authority:" here it is.
3. Spirit and life.
4. "Never man spake like this man."
II. WHAT DOES CHRIST SAY? of His word? It shall not pass away. Empires, etc., have passed away, but the word of Christ still survives; it speaks with undiluted emphasis; it spreads with uninterrupted speed. All things that threatened to extinguish it have only aided it. Those things that once seemed to rise like mountain obstructions to its march are day by day dissolving like wreaths of snow in the sunshine, in contrast to the advancing and triumphant word of the Lord. And when the new heaven and the new earth shall come, Christ's word shall not cease. The only change will be, all its promises will be enjoyments, etc. Comfort for the believer. Of the least promise that you choose to select you may say, "Heaven and earth," etc. Encouragement to the seeker, worker, minister, etc.
(J. Cumming, D. D.)1. The certainty of Divine truth.
2. The words of Christ considered in their necessary imperishableness.
3. The words of Christ shall never pass away, because they form the last of that series of communications given by God to a lost world.
4. Because they are founded on eternal truth, and on the fixed counsels of the immutable God.
5. Because of their connection with His own final glory as Mediator.
6. These are the words preached unto you.
(D. Moore, M. A.)
PeopleDaniel, Jesus, Noah, Noe
PlacesJerusalem, Judea, Mount of Olives
TopicsNoah, Noe, Presence
Outline1. Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple;
3. what and how great calamities shall be before it;
29. the signs of his coming to judgment.
36. And because that day and hour are unknown,
42. we ought to watch like good servants, expecting our Master's coming.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesMatthew 24:36-39
2309 Christ, as judge
2333 Christ, attitude to OT
LibraryThe Carrion and the Vultures
'Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.'--MATT. xxiv. 28. This grim parable has, of course, a strong Eastern colouring. It is best appreciated by dwellers in those lands. They tell us that no sooner is some sickly animal dead, or some piece of carrion thrown out by the way, than the vultures--for the eagle does not prey upon carrion--appear. There may not have been one visible a moment before in the hot blue sky, but, taught by scent or by sight that their banquet …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Two Forms of one Saying
Watching for the King
March the Twentieth the Lord is at Hand!
What Lasts, and what Passes Away.
"And Watch unto Prayer. "
Of Meditation Upon Death
Destruction of Jerusalem Foretold.
The Second Coming of Christ.
The Christian Conception of Life Has Already Arisen in Our Society, and Will Infallibly Put an End to the Present Organization of Our Life Based On
The Evening of the Third Day in Passion-Week - on the Mount of Olives: Discoures to the Disciples Concerning the Last Things.
A Key to the Knowledge of Church History
Our Lord's Olivet Discourse Shows that There is no Universal Triumph of the Gospel Before his Second Advent.
Third Sunday Before Lent
The vineyard and Its Keepers
Watching the Horizon
Another Shorter Evening Prayer.
There is a Blessedness in Reversion
An Analysis of Augustin's Writings against the Donatists.
The Completion of Our Saviour's Prophecies Confirmed Pagans in their Belief of the Gospel.
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