Jesus, we will remember, is uttering a prophetical discourse in which he answers the question of Peter, James and John concerning the time when the destruction shall be upon Jerusalem, and, therefore, upon the whole World. For judgment must needs begin at Jerusalem, from the “house of God,”I Peter 4:17; Ezekiel 9:6; Jeremiah 25:29; II Thessalonians 1:8. There where the Gospel is known, and yet not obeyed, judgment begins. From the center out in ever widening circles. For Jerusalem of the Old Testament and the Temple are the center of the revelation of God. When this is destroyed one sees a picture, a type of the end of the world. And the prophets always see this within the perspective of the final judgment of the world.
History will be one continued series of wars and rumors of wars. What is happening even in our day, in the life of the “nations,” should not cause us surprise nor should it cause us undue concern. For all these things “must come to Pass,” Daniel 2:28, Matthew 24:6. And the Mystery of God in it all is that the center of this history is the great fact that God is declaring from the Decree, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I will give thee the heathen for thy inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession,” Psalm 2:7, 8. History is full of “birth pangs.” It is the “begetting of the Son” so that He may be the First-Born of all creatures, as the First-Born out of the dead, and may have the preeminence in all things! For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 1:15-20.
Hence, when we hear the would-be saviors preach of a different kind of world, we must not be deceived. We must give heed to the more sure prophetic word which shines as a light in a dark place until the day dawn and the daystar of the eternal hope arise in our hearts! II Peter 1:19.
It will ever be wars and rumors of wars!
In verses 9-14 of this chapter the Lord depicts and exhibits the effects of this universal “beginning of sorrows” in its special effect and application .upon the entire Christian church.
The key-note in these passages is that the church shall have affliction in the world! She shall be “delivered unto affliction” by these nations. And that is only because it is necessary for the trial of the faith, which is far more precious than gold which perishes; it must be found to be unto the honor and praise of this faith, as the work of God, in the day of the revelation of Jesus Christ, I Peter 1:6, 7. The approved character of faith must be demonstrated. For the victory that overcometh the world is “faith”—faith in God, trusting in his deliverance not simplyfrom afflictions, but through afflictions. For affliction worketh patience, and patience approvedness, and approvedness hope, and hope does not put to shame because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, Romans. 5:6. If any man hath an ear let him hear. Here is the patience and faith of the saints!Revelation 13:10b. In verse 14 we read, “then” shall they deliver you unto affliction, tribulation! The term “tote” in Greek is an adverb of time. The question is whether it here refers strictly to time, or whether it refers to a kind of time. In the Gospel of Matthew the term “tote” often refers to time as a special or general occasion. When there are wars and rumors of wars the nations try to overcome the “wound” of Babel. That’ was a deadly wound in the plan of the people for “one world.” See Genesis 11:1-9; Revelation 13:3. And in so doing they “make war on the saints,”Revelation 13:6; Daniel 7:21. The initiative is from these nations, the beast which cometh up out of the sea of the restless life of “nations” and the second beast, which stands in the service of the “first beast.” This second beast is the false prophet. Together they are the antichristian world-power.
“Then” shall they “deliver” you to tribulation. The way of life and obedience will be exeeedingly difficult. The road which leads to life, which is very “narrow” will be a way of extreme hardship. The enemies of the Christ of God and of His exaltation will press hard upon the church.
They will go “the limit.” And the limitation of the world’s torture-rack is that they can only kill the body. However, they cannot destroy the soul! Hence, we need not fear them. Rather we are to fear God who can “destroy” (apolusai) both body and soul in hell. The term employed in the Greek for “they shall kill” you is “apoktenousin.” This does not simply mean to “kill” but it means to “kill off.” The German renders this “abschlachten”! It refers to murder on a grand scale without reference to right and wrong. That will be the lot of the church. Here is the patience of the saints!
And the motive? They shall be constantly hating you. It is the hatred of the godless for the godly. It is Cain against Abel. The Greek emphasizes that there will be a constant hatred without let-up! The term in Greek is esasthe misoumenoi, a paraphrastic future passive. It will simply be the order of the day. Such is the ever repeated prediction of Jesus. See Matthew 10:16, where we read, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep among the wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” And in John 16:33 we read, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
And why does the world hate God’s people? We read in, John 15:18-19, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
Clear language, isn’t it!
This is not the ill-treatment which one receives for his faults. That is possible too. Of this Peter speaks in I Peter 3:17, where we read, “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing”!
Simply because the church is the, “peculiar treasure of God,” His chosen generation, His royal priesthood, His holy nation—therefore is she hated by the world, killed off, afflicted. But it cannot separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord!
When the heat of affliction is brought to bear upon the church it will show who has “depth of earth,” and who are like the seed sown on stony ground, on hard-pan ground. Of this verse 10 speaks. Here is an implicit warning too. It is not mere prediction, but a call to be watchful unto prayer. Then (tote) shall many be offended.
The term offense comes from the Greek:skandalon. This is properly a trapstick, a bent stick on which bait is fastened, and so springs the trap. Hence, anything that is a trap, or snare! It is anything which one stumbles or strikes against. Here it must be offense because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. It is for this Word of God and testimony of Jesus that the world hates and persecutes the church. And when this hatred is experienced the real character of faith comes to manifestation. But it then is also manifested who do not have true faith, who do not bring forth fruit in patience, a hundredfold, sixty-fold and thirty-fold. For let us remember that we enter the kingdom of God through much affliction.
“Many” shall be offended. The fact is that this exhibits the truth that “many are called” but “few are chosen.” All through history “many” were offended at the straightness of the “gate”‘ and the narrowness of the “way”! And few there are that find it! Few are ever the number that find it in proportion to the “many” who do not.
It is these “many” which are offended who become the enemies of the church. They are the “foe within”! They are the evil fish in the nets of the Kingdom of heaven. Here one has the great persecution. Here is the hatred, the killing off of each other. The reason? It is hatred for God, His Word, His Christ. They will think to do God a service.
It will be an abundance of lawlessness. And this shall arise especially out of the bosom of the church. It will be the great apostasy. Always there are apostates. The measure of sin will become full. The mystery of iniquity will become evident. The secret nature of sin will reveal itself. And the effect will be that many will reveal this sinfulness of .sin against God because of and through the trials of afflictions. There will be much religion but no power of godliness! The fruit shall not be found on the tree which looks so promising.
The term employed by Jesus in the Greek for “iniquity shall abound” is worthy of note. The term is “to pleethuntheenai,” that is, shall be made full. The infinitive here used may be constative, simply stating a fact, or it may be durative, that is, expressing a degree of action which increases over a period of time until it reaches a climax of lawlessness. One will see this in the parallel of the days of Noah! The ungodliness of the men of the church in Noah’s day was its amalgamation with the world. The difference between church and world must be erased. The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful. Athens must be wed with Jerusalem. Secularization of all things. God is not in all their thoughts—while they profess to know Him!
And then the “love of many will have the cold breath blown upon it.” This love was not really present in them who perish. In those who endure to the end it may wax cold for a bit, but it will surely revive. But in the case of the many we see that they are filled with the spirit of delusion. It will be like a contagious disease. Departure from the truth will be seen in great proportion. Indifference to God, His Word, His Christ, His church will be seen on every hand. The church becomes very small in number. And it becomes really a very terrible place for the church.
But there is a note of hope. Some will “endure to the end.” The Son of God defends, gathers and preserves to Himself a church. And He will preserve her right through this great “lawlessness,” keeping the flame of love for God, hope for eternal life alive in her heart!
When will the “end” be? When all this beginning of birth pangs has reached its ultimate, when the last tear has been shed, when the last prayer has been uttered, and when the last sermon has been preached.
For the Gospel of the Kingdom shall continue. The Word shall not fail the church. The means of grace shall be constant to the end.
Thus this prediction of Christ ends in a note of hope, and tells US when the end shall be. It wil1 be when the history of the church has come to its end. Then there shall be ho more night, unrighteousness.
It will be the parousia of Christ, to be forever with us and we with him, when the tabernacle of God shall be with man!