Christs Olivet Discourse - RR129R31
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Almighty God our Heavenly Father, we give thanks unto thee for the joy of salvation, for the blessed assurance that our times are in thy hands, who doest all things well. And so our Father we come into Thy presence with gratitude and thanksgiving, with confidence, knowing our father that that which thou has begun in us, thou wilt continue. Guide us and protect us, by Thy word and Thy spirit, and grant us Thy peace. In Jesus name, amen.
Our scripture is from Saint Matthew, the 24th chapter.
“24 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said unto them, 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.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” [00:04:24]
“28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [00:07:10]
This chapter is very commonly cited in our day by many
This chapter is very commonly cited in our day by many preachers in churches and on the radio, as a chapter that gives us a great deal of information about our day and the end of the world. The sad fact is that age after age has so read this chapter. When people go to the scripture, too often they read it in terms not of what our Lord said to the people to whom he spoke, but: “What about my problem, here and now, and how can I get out of them?”
And so they go to the bible, and because they want to be raptured out of their problems, and because they want to be delivered out of tribulation, they look I the Bible to find something that will confirm their hopes. And so they twist and turn every passage in terms of this. Such interpretations of Matthew 24 have been popular again and again in history as men have faced a crisis; but Scripture from beginning to end was written for specific people living at the time. To confront them with the word of God, and the responsibilities God required of them in the here and now. And it speaks to us because it first spoke to the people to whom it was addressed. It charged them with their responsibilities. It did not tell them how they were to be raptured out of their problems.
To understand this chapter therefore, let us examine its settings. Our Lord had confounded the disciples in their Jewish expectation of a millennial messianic Kingdom for the Jews. He had spoken instead of his coming death at Jerusalem and his resurrection. He had described the kingdom of God in terms very different from that which Israel expected. The gospel of Matthew in particular gives great prominence to our Lords teachings concerning the kingdom, and at every point it confounds the Jewish expectation. Indeed as he entered into Jerusalem on Pal Sunday, he wept over the ruin Jerusalem faced, and immediately before the discourse of this chapter, as he taught them for the last time in the temple, he said in Matthew 23:38 “Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” [00:10:30]
He had in his teachings in the temple in the last two
He had in his teachings in the temple in the last two days emphasized this point that the temple would be ruined, and the whole nation laid waste and set aside by God. And he had declared in Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given unto a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” It was precisely because of this teaching which had been his word from the beginning, that the Sanhedrin had come to the decision to sentence him to death, saying: “It is necessary that this man die, that the whole nation perish not.”
Now as he had left, having pronounced that the kingdom of God would be taken from them and be given to another, and that the very temple would be left desolate, as they left the temple, the first verse tells us, the disciples showed to him the buildings of the temple, they called attention to the magnificence and the solidity of the temple, huge stones weighing tons apiece. 10 acres of ground covered by the temple buildings, with great courts that could seat or hold 5-10 thousand people.
But as they called his attention to the glory of the temple and its permanence Jesus said unto them: “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.”
This was a tremendous jolt to the disciples. They had fought this teaching right along, and now very bluntly, very openly to the whole nation, judgement had been declared. The temple was to be destroyed. And so, they were in silence until they came to the Mount of Olives, and then the disciples came to him privately, that is, when the crowds were not around, saying: “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Thy coming? And of the end of the world?” [00:13:27]
Mark tells us this question was raised by Peter, James
Mark tells us this question was raised by Peter, James, John, and Andrew. And they asked for the sign of these things. Moreover, they assumed that all these things, they talk about 3 things, are going to happen all at once. First, the fall of Jerusalem with a destruction of the temple together with the destruction of the nation, second His coming in power as king, and third the end of the world. To them the idea that the temple could be destroyed and Jerusalem destroyed meant the end of the world, therefore if he said the temple was going to be destroyed it was the end of the world that was coming, and because of a like feeling, a few centuries later, when people thought about the fall of Rome they thought about the end of the world, it had to be the end of the world and the second coming if Rome were going to fall. And later, when the Medieval church began to crack and totter, people again began to feel that the end of the world was upon them, because if that which to them in this world looked permanent, certainly it meant that God was ending the world, ending history. And of course we have that kind of talk and preaching today. Everything is beginning to crack and totter and fall, therefore they say it must be the end of the world.
And so it was that the disciples spoke. They assumed that the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple meant the end of the world. But our Lord in answering their question distinguishes between these three events, and he gives an answer to these three questions, carefully distinguishing between them.
Now the first section is verses 4-28, and it deals with the first two questions, the fall of Jerusalem and the coming of Christ as king in judgment. In judgment. Now they had asked for signs, and our Lord said: “Take heed that no man deceive you.” And he proceeds to give several false signs. Now it is a grim illustration of the falsity of so much preaching today that you often hear these false signs cited as though they were signs of the coming of Christ. What are these things that they are to take heed of, that they be not deceived? The false signs? First, “False messiahs shall arise in my name, saying: “I am Christ” and shall deceive many.” Now this happened. False messiahs arose among the Jews promising to overthrow Rome, and they thereby led many Jews astray. So many arose in those days, and for a time seemed to perform actual miracles, marvelous things, that it was staggering. We do not know the names of all of them, but there were a significant number of them. Many of them during the last days of the battle against Rome, and they launched out in battle against the Romans, and seemed to be supernaturally immune to any kind of attack. But after a period they perished.
The Second sign is Wars and rumors of wars, “See ye be not troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Rom had enjoyed a long period of peace under Augustus Caesar. Now that period of peace was gone, and now wars and rumors of wars were everywhere in the Empire, and the Empire was in serious trouble on all its frontiers and within its boundaries. And in the capitol itself a long procession of emperors began their swift successions and bloody deaths. Within the empire Jews were persecuted and slain, in many parts by the 10’s of thousands. And these signs seemed to portray the end of the world to many, but our Lord says: “They are false signs.” [00:18:43]
The third false sign is famine and pestilence and earthquake
The third false sign is famine and pestilence and earthquakes in diverse places, and these too occurred in striking prominence in this period from our Lords death and resurrection to the fall of Jerusalem. We are familiar of course with the famine in the days of Claudius Caesar which is mentioned in scripture, and for which the collection among the saints was taken to relieve those who were in distress, and of course we know of the destruction of Pompeii. But this is another false sign.
Then Fourth, persecutions constitutes another false sign. These things happen, but they are not to be taken as signs of his coming, our Lord declares. These things he says are only the beginning of sorrows, or birth pangs it can be rendered, of sorrows. These things therefore are not to be seen as signs of the end. Moreover, the 14th verse declares: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations. And then shall the end come. Of course, the question here is, what end does this refer to? And the answer we shall see is the fall of Jerusalem. And the gospel was preached into all the world before that time. We know it was preached throughout Europe and Asia and Africa, how much further it went we do not know, we know that Saint Thomas went as far as China twice and died after his second journey in India. The witness was made, this does not mean there was conversion everywhere, but the witness was made.
Then our Lord proceeds to speak of the abomination of desolation, which shall stand in the holy place. In other words, the temple shall be desecrated. And he declares that when this happens it is time for them to flee into the mountains. “Let he which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house, neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.” And he goes on to tell them, when they see the temple desecrated it is time for them to flee.
Now the desecration of the temple, contrary to the belief of many, was not by the Romans. The first desecration of the temple was by the zealots, the revolutionary party in Israel, which admitted the Edomians or Edomites into the Holy Place. Into the sanctuary, and as a result of which there was serious rioting, and 8 thousand 500 men were killed. And this happened before the siege of Jerusalem. And our Lord says: “When you see this happen, the temple profaned, get out of the country.” And we know from the earliest records of the Christian church that this is precisely what the Christians did. And therefore in the Jewish Roman war, the bloodiest war in all history, not a single Christian lost his life. They took warning, and they left.
Our Lord describes what that war, that end of Judea and of Jerusalem shall be like: “For then shall be great tribulation, since as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be.” From this we can take comfort. The worst disaster in all of history has already taken place. Nothing shall ever equal it. [00:23:27]
It was a fearful thing
It was a fearful thing. And we can see why when we look back to the previous chapter. When our Lord says that their sins are such, he speaks of them as a generation of vipers. And because of their rejection of the prophets and of Christ, their sin was greater than that of all other peoples, and upon them shall come the righteous blood shed upon the earth, “for the blood of righteous Able, unto the blood of Zechariah son of Berechiah, whom ye slew between the temple and the alter. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation.” Can you imagine a more devastating judgement than that? All the righteous blood from Able to Zechariah at the end of the closing of the Old Testament Canon; the guilt for all of that wherever it took place in the world would fall upon Israel. Because they had not used their privilege to serve God, and to make known His word unto all nations, but to despise God, and to sin. Therefore, the great tribulation, the greatest devastation of all history would befall them.
What was it like? Well it would turn your stomachs if I would bring Josephus’s eye witness accounts and read to you what went on in the siege, the horrors of the people within Jerusalem, the cannibalism they resorted to, but when all of it was over and Romans entered, what then? Jerusalem was a major city, the debunkers today tell us that it only had a population of a quarter of a million to half a million, but even that is a sizeable city. And the estimates of older scholars ascribe to it a population in terms of the records of the day of well over a million, possibly a million and a half. At the time of the Passover, at which time the siege began, the pilgrims who came into the city numbered from 1-2 million. So the city was especially crowded, and therefore especially vulnerable to the siege, because it had a swollen population, and therefore its food and water supply were over taxed. [00:26:28]
During the course of the siege and battle, a million
During the course of the siege and battle, a million died. Many of them, those who were taken at the last stage of fighting and crucified, so that there was no wood left on all the hills round about. The trees were stripped, the timbers taken, and the hills and mountains covered with crosses on whom were the dying Jews. And 2 million were sold to die in slavery. There has never been a disaster to equal this, and our Lord says: ‘No, nor ever shall be. Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved. But for the elects sake those days shall be shortened. Because you who are the elect have many loved ones and relatives there, and the horrors will be so great, and the suffering so great as long as it goes on, I am shortening it.’ And it was 3 years only.
Even Titus, the Roman general who later became an Emperor acknowledged that there was something supernatural about their victory. Because Jerusalem was such a tremendously powerful city. And Titus said and I quote: “We have certainly had God for our assistance in this war. And it was no other than God who ejected the Jews out of these fortifications, for what could the hands of men or any machines do toward overthrowing these towers?”
But in the fearful days as Jerusalem and the whole nation goes down in blood, then if any man shall say unto you: “Lo here is Christ, or there,” Believe it not. For there shall arise false Christ’s and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders, in so much that if it were possible they should deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. And therefore whatever they say concerning the fact that the messiah has come believe it not, for as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the son of man be. No one will have to tell you. When the lightning flashes, everyone sees it everywhere, whether they are outside or inside, the flash of lightning illumines itself everywhere. And so the coming of Christ when the end coms shall be apparent everywhere. But why these false Christ’s and false prophets? Wheresoever the carcass be, there will the vultures or eagles be gathered together. Because it is a time of destruction, the rotting carcass of Israel will draw the vultures. Thus the end of Jerusalem, thus the fall of Judea, of Israel. [00:30:24]
In the next section, ...
In the next section, 29-35, our Lord describes his coming in power as king in the judgement upon Jerusalem. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be shaken, and so on. Now, the sun, the moon, and the stars falling from heaven and being darkened, and our Lord coming in clouds as it is also spoken of here, in the 30th verse, as we saw in Revelation is a familiar image from the Old Testament. The collapse of the powers of this world, typified in the Sun the Moon and the Stars, and our Lord coming in judgement, these for example we find in Isaiah 13:10, Isaiah 34:4-5, Isaiah 19:1, Ezekiel 32:7-8, and other passages. Moreover, we find that these same statements appear in the prophet Joel, the second chapter, 28-32. And when saint Peter cites these in Acts 2:16-21 on the day of Pentecost, he says that these things take place before that great and notable day of the Lord comes. In other words, before the coming of Christ, long before, the sun, the moon and the stars will be darkened and cast down, that is, the powers of this world will be shaken and cast down, and the Lord will come in judgement upon them. Not personally, but in judgement through history, long before the end of the world and the second coming.
Verse 31 again is significant: “And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds.” from one end of heaven to the other. Now, we have again through so much of the teaching of our day associated this with the last trump and the end of the world. But when we go back to the Old Testament we find that the trumpet sounded normally, and the great sound of the trumpet was generally associated with the new year, with a convocation gathering together people for a march or for a celebration, for a new month, the first day of the month was heralded with a great sound of a trumpet, and so on. So that here it very clearly signifies that now is the time to send forth the summons to the four corners of the world concerning Christ. Jerusalem shall fall, the old kingdom is cast aside, and the summons now goes forth. And the 32nd verse clearly reveals that this is the proper interpretation. Why? [00:34:01]
Because it says
Because it says: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree. When its branches are yet tender and putteth forth leaves ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things shall ye know that it is near, even at the doors.” In other words, when a fig tree puts its leaves out it doesn’t symbolize fall or winter or the end, it is the beginning is it not? If any of you have fig trees, then you that, well, if you are in the San Fernando valley by mid February this year the leaves were out. In other parts of the county perhaps in march. But it signified that spring is here, and summer is around the corner, that summer is nigh. That harvest is ahead. So that, our Lord by this parable does not say “The end is here” It isn’t winter, it isn’t the curtain, it isn’t harvest time, it is now just the beginning. So likewise ye when ye shall see all these things know that it is near, even at the doors, the beginning of the new era. Jerusalem is destroyed, the powers that are this world shall be shaken, the summons to the harvest, so this is the beginning of these things.
“Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these thing be fulfilled.” Jerusalem shall be destroyed, and the beginning of the great shaking shall take place, and the gospel shall go out into all the world. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
Thus our Lord has spoken first about the fall of Jerusalem, second that he comes as king in judgement, long before the end.
The third section deals with the third question, the end of the world. And this is from verse 36, to the end of the chapter. And our Lord says there: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man. No not the angels of heaven, but my father only. There is no sign of that, as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man shall be. Even as in the days of Noah there were no signs of a flood coming, and people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,” that is following the normal course of life, and then suddenly like that, it was the end. “So shall the end of the world be.”
There will be nothing to proceed it in the way of a sign. The Gospel shall be preached, we are told in numerous passages, not only before the fall of Jerusalem as a witness, but before the end of the world, and the whole world shall be brought into dominion to Christ. But that does not mean that it is the end. It can be centuries and ages after, we are not given any sign. It shall come, and it shall take those who are the Lords immediately, and the rest remain for immediate judgement. “Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” A Thief does not send warning of what hour he is coming. He doesn’t send to the person he is robbing an appointment note saying: “At 2:35 am, next week Saturday I shall call on you.” And our Lord said: “I shall come as a thief on this world to take away everything that the ungodly still hold. “Therefore be ye also ready, ye who are my people, for in such an hour as ye think not the son of man cometh.” “A wise and faithful servant,” He goes on to say in a parable, “Is always ready to give an accounting. Because he is rewarded for his faithfulness, his continual honesty and readiness to give an accounting. But an evil servant who thinks he is serving the Lord, but in his heart says: “My Lord delayeth his coming, and I have time to get in my licks.” He shall be cast aside. Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. [00:39:22]
This then is the significance of the ...
This then is the significance of the 24th chapter of Matthew. It was a very practical statement. It was spoken to his disciples privately. It prepared them for what they were facing, the fall of Jerusalem. And they got ready. We are told in Acts that what did they do? They sold their property in Jerusalem did they not. Why? Because they knew the city was going to be destroyed, and why hold property in Jerusalem when it was headed for ruins? And this was the so called communism of Acts. Those who had a great deal of means, put as much as they chose into the common treasury, so that it could be used for missionary work, to alert the nation of the judgement it faced from God. It was missionary work, it was not communism. It was because they knew Jerusalem was to be destroyed. And what was their responsibility? Why were they told these things? To satisfy their curiosity? No. To prepare themselves and to make a witness to these people while there was time to save themselves, to summon he people to faith and to obedience. This is the purpose of the word of God always. It summons men to their responsibilities, it doesn’t tell them that they are going to be raptured out of them. It declared that Christ as king would not have to be waited for to the end of the world, that he was coming in Judgement, that he was always present, and he would be there in a short time to bring forth the judgement upon Jerusalem and upon all Judea. As for the end of the world, indeed it shall come and Christ shall return again, but no man knoweth the day nor the hour. And what is the responsibility of Christians then in relationship to this doctrine? To believe, that He shall come, to believe that the world shall end according to His purpose, but beyond that, to do our day by day responsibilities. The Bible never speaks a word of escapism but a word of responsibility. And this was the purpose of the 24th chapter. [00:42:08]
It is important therefore because it speaks to us the
It is important therefore because it speaks to us the same way. Jerusalem was destroyed. Our Lord prophesied these things and they came to pass 40 years later, exactly as he declared. Not one stone was left standing upon another. It was totally destroyed. And the Christians saved themselves by obedience to His word. And the word that He speaks to us today is to declare: “My word is true, my kingship is real. I shall come in judgement upon every generation that is apostate, upon this generation. But I am mindful of my own. Stand fast therefore in terms of your faith, and in obedience to my word, and I shall be with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Let us pray.
Our Lord and our God we give thanks unto thee for this Thy word. We thank Thee our God that our times are in Thy hands. We thank Thee our Father that, Thou wilt prepare a way of escape for us in the time of judgement, and Thou wilt use us mightily to the tearing down of the powers that are unto the building of those things which are conducive to Thy reign. Use us mightily therefore oh Lord unto thy glory. Protect us by thy might, bless and prosper our Labors for Thy names sake, in Jesus name, amen. [00:44:52]
[Audience Leader] It’s our custom to take up an offering
[Audience Leader] It’s our custom to take up an offering to the work of Mr. Rushdoony and we will do that at this time, if you would like to make a tax deductible check it should be made to Americanism Educational League. That’s Americanism Educational League. I know of one meeting tomorrow morning here with the two speakers, (?) Reagan and Francis Larry, …?... Miss Larry will be speaking on the Federal Reserve and money I guess in general. (?) Reagan, do we know what her talk is about?
[Audience Member] …?...
[Audience Leader] Fine, that’s tomorrow morning here starting at 10 o’clock. (?) Our Bible study meeting will be Thursday.
[Audience Member] …?...
[Audience Leader] Fine. And can we have our first questions on today’s lesson before we branch out onto other subjects?
[Audience Member] I would like to have you elaborate if you will, on this Jerusalem tragedy, this tremendous debacle that you spoke of, being the worst thing that ever happened, the worst thing that could ever happen, to me in my mind is the thought that’s estimated something in the nature of 83 million people killed by the Communists, now Khrushchev was said to have done away with some excess of 8 million of the Ukraine, I won’t doubt your statement, but I’d like to kind of get a reference in my mind of the 1-2 or 3 million people that you spoke of, and the immense number of people that are involved in Communism.
[Rushdoony] Right. Well, first of all the numbers can be misleading in that when you realize the population of say the Ukraine, as against the total population of Judea at that time, the devastation was far, far greater. Proportionately. First the horrors, were far greater also. This is not to underestimate anything that has taken place in the Ukraine, or under Communism, but in terms of the total devastation, so that almost an entire country was turned into a desert, there has never been anything to equal it.
[Audience Member] What was it, they sowed salt In Jerusalem? [00:48:54]
[Rushdoony] It was Titus
[Rushdoony] It was Titus. Yes. They had it plowed up, and then they sowed salt so that nothing, not even weeds would grow there.
[Audience Member] Pretty thorough.
[Rushdoony] Very thorough.
[Audience Member] Thank you.
[Audience Member] Was that resulting in changing the climate, there were wondering whether the climate became more arid.
[Rushdoony] Yes, that is a good question, the beginning of the downfall of that whole area goes back much earlier. Now, in Abrahams day, the whole of Arabia in fact as well as the promised land, Canaan, was well wooded country. In fact, North Africa was too. And what happened was that the area was progressively abused and eroded, and the captivity, the purpose of the captivity was of course to exact of the land 70 years of rest, because they were to give the land a rest every 7th year, and because they did not, 70 years of Sabbaths, in other words, each year, 365 days, for one year Sabbath. Which indicates that very early they had forsaken, centuries back, the observance of the Sabbath.
So, the area was to a great extent penalized and of course eroded, but during the 70 years of captivity the land was largely empty, a handful of people. It came back. After the fall of Jerusalem, the devastation was very real, but it began to recuperate. 2-3 centuries later the Christians in the 4th century especially, began to go there, as pilgrims to see the holy places and so on, and they rebuilt much of the area there. However under the Muslim rule, what trees there were left and what forests remained were cut and destroyed. And this happened in North Africa as well as in Arabia. When you realize the tremendous powers that once existed in North Africa, for example Carthage, a very powerful and prosperous empire, and when you realize that the Goths from northern Europe when they went there found it to be a very lush and inviting area and settled down, you realize how far downhill that whole area goes. There are parts of the area that do not get as much rain as some parts of the Sahara, but that area is so eroded that it would take tremendous work to restore it. It was once all orchard country, and this was true of course of the whole of Arabia and the Promised Land. The Negev, the southern part, when Abraham sojourned was a very rich, lush area. So when anybody goes to Palestine now they do not see it as it was in Bible times. The streams don’t flow year round, the trees are not there, the area has been under the curse of God, very definitely. And Babylon of course now is nothing but totally eroded wasteland, whereas once it was a city set in many waters. Yes? [00:53:06]
[Audience Member] Now, other civilizations as John
[Audience Member] Now, other civilizations as John or you have mentioned …?...
[Rushdoony] It certainly is. It certainly is. But, cultures are not organic institutions, that is, they are not like an organism maturing and dying inevitably, they can be renewed; but the renewal can come only through a renewal of faith. This is why only in Christian civilizations has there been renewal. Yes?
[Audience Member] …?...
[Rushdoony] This is precisely the kind of interpretation I was criticizing as I was interpreting this chapter. These people who hold this interpretation don’t want to believe there can be a renewal of any culture, because what they are looking for is the escape, they want to be raptured out of it, or they want to see the kingdom established, and they want all their problems to end, because Jesus is going to come and solve all of them. And this to me is not Christian, and what they do is to create a kind of total irresponsibility in the name of Christ, and I think it ends up as real wickedness, because the Christian instead becoming Gods soldier and Gods man in this world, becomes a person who has surrendered to the world. Yes?
[Audience Member] Could it be intentional …?...
[Rushdoony] I think it is sin, I think they don’t want first of all the responsibilities that the word requires of them, and second they do not interpret scripture properly, because as we saw last week, the law is basic to scripture. Grace and law are not hostile to one another in the scriptural sense, they are different aspects of one and the same thing. If you pray for grace, what are you praying for? For judgement are you not? Because the sinner who prays to God for grace is saying: “Lord judge my sins in Jesus Christ, and cleanse me and make me righteous.” So he is praying for judgment, and he must say: “I am a sinner, and I deserve your judgement, and I accept your judgement in Christ. A sentence of death on me.” And this is the way to grace and life is it not? So, you cannot have grace without judgement, without accepting the one you cannot have the other.
Now, the word of scripture is always a law word. Because it is never a word that sets us free from the obligation to fulfill the righteousness of God. It is a law word. Now it is a word of grace but it is also a law word, we are not called to break the 10 commandments, we are called and given grace to keep them. So first they have a misconception of the gospel, they want a cheap gospel, and therefore they want an escape rather than responsibility. If you see that that gospel is a law word you thank God for His grace, and then you set out to make sure that His law is kept in your home, and it is applied in the affairs of nations and churches and schools, and in every area of life. You have a responsibility, but if you reject the law what do you want? “Take me out of it Lord, it’s an awful mess and I want out.”
[Audience Member] I understood that you mentioned that the chapter depicted conditions at that time and was for the people, but doesn’t it apply to us too?
[Rushdoony] Yes, because first He tells them that He is king even now in judgement. Second He tells us concerning the end times that we cannot know, we have a responsibility, and what is the responsibility in every age? Exactly what He gave, that the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached. So He summons us to our responsibilities. [00:59:14]
[Audience Member] Are we gonna be called a generation
[Audience Member] Are we gonna be called a generation of vipers?
[Rushdoony] If we fall short of them, and I think many of the clergy are. And this is where many men are falling short, they are not calling a spade a spade, and they are not facing up to what the world is. One of the saddest things this week when I was back East, and it was a wonderful meeting, I was at the board meeting of Christian Freedom Foundation, was to hear a very wonderful businessman who has been richly blessed, as very few men in this country have been, because he has kept the law in the area of his work, but he did not face the church or anything else in terms of the world of God. And we were in a three way discussion, he and I and another minister, the minister was a prominent Congregationalist who was something of a conservative, a national review type conservative, and theological liberal. And he was saying: “I cannot call any minister an evil man. This is unchristian, because we must condemn the sin but never the sinner.” Well of course the Lord condemns sinners abundantly, I said: “We must condemn evil men, because you cannot disassociate a man from his deeds, this is schizophrenic interpretation.”
And the businessman said: “Of course we cannot refuse to call some of the clergy evil,” and he said: “I know %13 percent of the clergy are evil men.” I thought this was interesting. How? Well he said he knew who the 13% were. He had a group of men work out a fine questionnaire of 16 questions, mailed out to all the clergy in the country, and one of the questions was: “Do you believe the government should own the means and tools of production?” 13% said yes. Which meant that they were hard core Marxists. Therefore, this 13% was evil, the rest were just ignorant.
Now of course, he was judging men not in terms of Christ, but in terms of the means of production and our attitude towards them. Certainly the 13% were evil, but I would say about 80% more are very definitely evil, and you can never cope with a situation until you recognize that. This is why that man, a very wonderful man, and others like him have given millions to lost causes, because they will not face up to the monstrous evil around us. And until you do and face it for what it is, you cannot begin to fight it. First you have to see the evil, call it what it is, evil, and second you have to know where you power comes from in fighting it, from God. Yes? [01:02:39]
[Audience Member] Some of these people who try to stretch
[Audience Member] Some of these people who try to stretch it out anticipate this rapture, they almost pray for all these evil things to happen so the end of the world can come and so forth. But also when we pray we pray for these things to happen do we not, for judgement to come, …?...
[Rushdoony] Well, yes. Alright. Now let’s look at it this way. About 15-20 years ago for a while someone was handing me regularly with a great deal of zeal, copies of eternity magazine. When it was edited by Barnhouse. And there was a section in it in every issue, where (eternity?) would tell you all the terrible things that were happening, with such glee! Why? This was a sign of the times, Jesus was coming soon and he was going to rapture us out of this mess. Now, this is an attitude of total responsibility, the real delight, I wish I had saved those copies, with which they would record these horrible happenings, and editorialize on them, because goody goody, look how bad everything is getting! The whole country is going down the drain and we are going to be raptured soon.” So, if I believed that I would go out and give things a shove down the drain. And in effect this is what they are doing. Alright. So when we see evil, around us, we are appalled as Christians. We fight it tooth and nail. We know Gods judgement will come, but when we recognize that judgement is coming, we still continue to fight; what do we do, we build forces for reconstruction, we prepare for the future, because we believe that we have a responsibility under God to bring everything, state, school, business, every area of life, family, art, science, under the dominion of God, and in subjection to His law word. So, for us it is a cause for fighting, for action, Christian action. For them, goody goody. Now I think there is a world of difference of course, between the two attitudes.
[Audience Member] …?...
[Rushdoony] We need to pray for judgement upon the ungodly, yes. [01:05:40]