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 15:14).
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-