The Coming Prince
CHAPTER XIII: SECOND SERMON ON THE MOUNT
THE connecting link between the past and the future, between
the fulfilled and the unfulfilled in prophecy, will be found in the Gospel
of St. Matthew.
The chief Messianic promises are grouped in two great classes, connected
respectively with the names of David and of Abraham, and the New Testament
opens with the record of the birth and ministry of Messiah as "the Son
of David, the son of Abraham"; (Matthew 1:1) for in one aspect of His
work He was "a minister of the circumcision for
the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers." (Romans
15:8) The question of the Magi, "Where is He that is born king
of the Jews?" aroused a hope which was part of the national politics of
Judah; and even the base Idumean who then usurped the throne was sensible
of its significance: "Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him."
And when the proclamation afterwards was made, first by John
the Baptist, and finally by the Lord and His apostles, "The kingdom of heaven
is at hand," the Jews knew well its import. It was not "the Gospel," as
we understand it now, but the announcement of the near fulfillment of Daniel's
prophecy. And the testimony had a twofold accompaniment. "The Sermon
on the Mount" is recorded as embodying the great truths and principles which
were associated with the Kingdom Gospel; and the attendant miracles gave
proof that all was Divine. And in the earlier stages of the ministry of
Christ, His miracles were not reserved for those whose faith responded to
His words; the only qualification for the benefit was that the recipient
should belong to the favored race. "Go not into the way of the Gentiles,
and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost
sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom
of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead,
cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." Such was the
commission under which the twelve went forth through that little land, to
every corner of which their Master's fame had gone before them. (Matthew
1. Matthew 2:3. It must not be imagined that it was
any religious emotion which disturbed the king. The announcement
of the Magi was to him what the news of the birth of an heir is to an
heir-presumptive. The Magi asked, "Where is He that is born King
of the Jews?" Herod's inquiry, therefore, to the Sanhedrin was,
"Where should Messiah be born?" and on being referred to the
prophecy which so plainly designated Bethlehem, he determined to destroy
every infant child in that city and district. Herod and the Sanhedrin
had not learned to spiritualize the prophecies.
But the verdict of the nation, through its accredited and
responsible leaders, was a rejection of His Messianic claims. The acts
and words of Christ recorded in the twelfth chapter of Matthew were an open
and deliberate condemnation and defiance of the Pharisees, and their answer
was to meet in solemn council and decree His death. (Matthew 12:1- 14) From
that hour His ministry entered upon a new phase. The miracles continued,
for He could not meet with suffering and refuse to relieve it; but those
whom thus He blessed were charged "that they should not make Him known."
(Matthew 12:16) The Gospel of the Kingdom ceased; His teaching became veiled
in parables, and the disciples were forbidden any longer to testify to
His Messiahship. (Matthew 16:20)
2. Cf. Pusey, Daniel, p. 84
3. Matthew 10:5-8. The chapter is prophetic, in keeping with the character
of the book, and reaches on to the testimony of the latter days (see
ex. gr., ver. 23).
The thirteenth chapter is prophetic of the state of things
which was to intervene between the time of His rejection and His return
in glory to claim the place which in His humiliation was denied Him. Instead
of the proclamation of the Kingdom, He taught them "the mysteries of
the Kingdom." (Matthew 13:11) His mission changed its character, and instead
of a King come to reign, He described Himself as a Sower sowing seed. Of
the parables which follow, the first three, spoken to the multitude, described
the outward results of the testimony in the world; the last three, addressed
to the disciples, speak of the hidden realities revealed to spiritual
4. In our own time the Jews have had the temerity to
publish a translation of the Mishna, and the reader who will
peruse its treatises can judge with what contempt and loathing the Lord
must have regarded the religion of those miserable men. The treatise
Sabbath will afford an invaluable commentary on the twelfth of
Matthew. The Mishna is a compilation of the oral traditions of
the Rabbins, made in the second century, A. D., to prevent their being
lost by the dispersion – the very traditions, many of them, which
prevailed when the Lord was on earth, and which He so unsparingly condemned
as undermining the Scriptures, for then as now the Jews regarded them
as possessing a Divine sanction. (Cf Lindo's Jewish Cal.,
Introd.; Milman's Hist. Jews, Book 18.)
5. Matthew 13:3, 13. "From the expression ardzato
in Mark, compared with the question of the disciples in ver.
10, – and with ver. 34, – it appears that this was the first
beginning of our Lord's teaching by parables, expressly so delivered,
and properly so called. And the natural sequence of things here agrees
with and confirms Matthew's arrangement against those who would place
(as Ebrard) all this chapter before the Sermon on the Mount. He there
spoke without parables, or mainly so; and continued to do so
till the rejection and misunderstanding of His teaching led to His judicially
adopting the course here indicated, choris par.
ouden elalei autois." – ALFORD, Gr. Test, Matthew
But these very parables, while they taught the disciples
in the plainest terms that everything was postponed which the prophets had
led them to look for in connection with the Kingdom, taught them no less
clearly that the day would surely come when all should be fulfilled; when
evil should be rooted out, and the Kingdom established in righteousness
and peace. (Matthew 13:41-43) They thus learned that there was to be an
"age" of which prophecy took no account, and another "Advent" at its close;
and "the second Sermon on the Mount" was the Lord's reply to the inquiry,
"What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age?"
6. As were also the interpretations of the Parables
of the Sower and of the Tares.
The twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew has been well described
as "the anchor of apocalyptic interpretation," and "the touchstone of apocalyptic
systems." The fifteenth verse specifies an event and fixes an epoch,
by which we are enabled to connect the words of the Lord with the visions
of St. John, and both with the prophecies of Daniel. The entire passage
is obviously prophetic, and its fulfillment clearly pertains to the time
of the end. The fullest and most definite application of the words must
therefore be to those who are to witness their accomplishment. To them it
is that the warning is specially addressed, against being deceived through
a false hope of the immediate return of Christ.
7. Matthew 24:3. "As He sat upon the Mount of Olives,
the disciples came unto Him." Compare Matthew 5:1 "He went up into a
mountain, and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him." The Sermon
on the Mount unfolded the principles on which the Kingdom would be set
up. The King having been rejected by the nation, the second Sermon on
the Mount unfolded the events which must precede His return.
A series of terrible events are yet to come; but "these are
the beginning of sorrows"; "the end is not yet." How long these "sorrows"
shall continue is not revealed. The first sure sign that the end is near
will be the advent of the fiercest trial that the redeemed on earth have
ever known. The fulfillment of Daniel's vision of the defilement of the
Holy Place is to be the signal for immediate flight; "for then shall be
the great tribulation," (Vers. 15-21. Compare Daniel 11:1.) unparalleled
even in Judah's history. But, as already noticed, this last great persecution
belongs to the latter half of Daniel's seventieth week, and therefore it
affords a landmark by which we can determine the character and fix the order
of the chief events which mark the closing scenes foretold in prophecy.
8. Alford, Gr. Test., vol. 4., Pt. 2. Proleg.
9. Matthew 24:4, 6. That is, the final stage of the advent; not His
coming as foretold in 1 Thessalonians 4 and elsewhere, which has no
To refer verse 5 to the times of Barcochab involves a glaring anachronism.
The primary reference in vers. 15-20, and, therefore, of the
earlier portion of the prophecy, was to the period ending with the destruction
With the clew thus obtained from the Gospel of St. Matthew, we can turn
with confidence to study the Apocalyptic visions of St. John. But first
it must be clearly recognized that in the twenty-fourth of Matthew, as in
the book of Daniel, Jerusalem is the center of the scene to which the prophecy
relates; and this of necessity implies that the Jews shall have been restored
to Palestine before the time of its fulfillment.
Objections based on the supposed improbability of such an
event are sufficiently answered by marking the connection between prophecy
and miracle. The history of the Abrahamic race, to which prophecy is so
closely related, is little else than a record of miraculous interpositions.
"Their passage out of Egypt was miraculous. Their entrance into the promised
land was miraculous. Their prosperous and their adverse fortunes in that
land, their servitudes and their deliverances, their conquests and their
captivities, were all miraculous. The entire history from the call of Abraham
to the building of the sacred temple was a series of miracles. It is so
much the object of the sacred historians to describe these that little else
is recorded… There are no historians in the sacred volume of the period
in which miraculous intervention was withdrawn. After the declaration by
the mouth of Malachi that a messenger should be sent to prepare the way,
the next event recorded by any inspired writer is the birth of that messenger.
But of the interval of 400 years between the promise and the completion
no account is given."
10. The question of their restoration to a place of
blessing spiritually has already been discussed.
The seventy years from Messiah's birth to the dispersion
of the nation were fruitful in miracle and prophetic fulfillment. But the
national existence of Israel is as it were the stage on which alone the
drama of prophecy can, in its fullness, be displayed; and from the Apostolic
age to the present hour, not a single public event can be appealed to as
affording indisputable proof of immediate Divine intervention upon
earth. A silent heaven is a leading characteristic of the dispensation
in which our lot is cast. But Israel's history has yet to be completed;
and when that nation comes again upon the scene, the element of miraculous
interpositions will mark once more the course of events on earth.
11. Clinton, Fasti H., vol. 1., p. 243.
On the other hand, the analogy of the past would lead us
to expect a merging of the one dispensation in the other, rather than an
abrupt transition; and the question is one of peculiar interest on general
grounds, whether passing events are not tending towards this very consummation,
the restoration of the Jews to Palestine.
12. There is, doubtless, what may be called the private
miracle of individual conversion, and the believer has transcendental
proof not only of the existence of God, but of His presence and power
The decline of the Moslem power is one of the most patent of public facts;
and if the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire be still delayed, it is due
entirely to the jealousies of European nations, whose rival interests seem
to render an amicable distribution of its territories impossible. But the
crisis cannot be deferred indefinitely; and when it arrives, the question
of greatest moment, next to the fate of Constantinople, will be, What is
to become of Palestine? Its annexation by any one European state is in the
highest degree improbable. The interests of several of the first-rate Powers
forbid it. The way will thus be kept open to the Jews, whenever their inclinations
or their destinies lead them back to the land of their fathers.
Not only would no hostile influence hinder their return, but the probabilities
of the case (and it is with probabilities that we are here concerned)
are in favor of the colonization of Palestine by that people to whom historically
it belongs. There is some reason to believe that a movement of this kind
has already begun; and if, whether by the Levant becoming a highway to India,
or from some other cause, any measure of prosperity should return to those
shores that were once the commercial center of the world, the Jews would
migrate thither in thousands from every land.
True it is that to colonize a country is one thing, while to create a nation
is another. But the testimony of Scripture is explicit that Judah's national
independence is not to be regained by diplomacy or the sword. Jerusalem
is to remain under Gentile supremacy until the day when Daniel's visions
shall be realized. In the language of Scripture, "Jerusalem shall be trodden
down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
But long ere then the Cross must supplant the Crescent in Judea, else it
is incredible that the Mosque of Omar should give place to the Jewish Temple
on the Hill of Zion.
If the operation of causes such as those above indicated,
conjointly with the decay of the Moslem power, should lead to the formation
of a protected Jewish state in Palestine, possibly with a military occupation
of Jerusalem by or on behalf of some European Power or Powers, nothing more
need be supposed than a religious revival among the Jews, to prepare the
way for the fulfillment of the prophecies.
13. Luke 21:24. That is, till the end of the period
during which earthly sovereignty, entrusted to Nebuchadnezzar twenty-five
centuries ago, is to remain with the Gentiles.
"God has not cast away His people;" and when the present
dispensation closes, and the great purpose has been satisfied for which
it was ordained, the dropped threads of prophecy and promise will again
be taken up, and the dispensation historically broken off in the Acts of
the Apostles, when Jerusalem was the appointed center for God's people on
earth, will be resumed. Judah shall again become a nation, Jerusalem
shall be restored, and that temple shall be built in which the "abomination
of desolation" is to stand.
14. The following extract from the Jewish Chronicle
of 9th Nov., 1849, is quoted in Mr. Newton's Ten Kingdoms (2nd
Ed., p. 401): "The European Powers will not need to put themselves to
the trouble of restoring the Jews individually or collectively. Let
them but confer upon Palestine a constitution like that of the United
States…and the Jews will restore themselves. They would
then go cheerfully and willingly, and would there piously bide their
time for a heaven-inspired Messiah, who is to restore Mosaism to its
15. Gentiles were then admitted within the pale, not
on an equality, but in some sense as proselytes had been received within
the nation. The Church was essentially Jewish. The temple was their
place of resort (Acts 2:46; 3:1, 5:42). Their testimony was in the line
of the old prophecies to the nation (ibid. 3:19-26.), and even
when scattered by persecution, the apostles remained in the metropolis,
and those who were driven abroad evangelized only among the Jews (ibid.
8:1, 4, and 11:19). Peter refused to go among Gentiles save after a
special revelation to him (ibid. 10.), and he was put on his
defense before the Church for going at all (ibid. 11:2-18. Comp.
16. Scattered among the people will be a "remnant," who will "keep the
commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation
12:17); Jews, and yet Christians; Jews, but believers in the Messiah,
whom the nation will continue to reject until the time of His
appearing. It must be obvious to the thoughtful mind that such prophecies
as the twenty-fourth of Matthew imply that there will be a believing
people to be comforted and guided by them at the time and in the scene
of their fulfillment.