Meriwether Co., Ga.
November 20, 1868.
Brother Beebe: – I was much interested in your editorial on the “Portentous Signs,” and would like to have your views more extensively on that subject. The minds of the Lord’s people in this section of the country are exercised on the subject. Will you please give us your views on Matthew 24:42, through the “Signs of the Times.”
Yours in hope of eternal life,
George W. Gersham.
Reply: - The text proposed contains a very appropriate admonition to the saints, especially to the ministers of the gospel, which although never unopportune, is peculiarly applicable when unusual and portentous signs are given to warn the children of God of approaching events of fearful import. The words were addressed to the disciples by our Lord after he had told them of the signs which should precede the destruction of Jerusalem, his coming, and the end of the world. He said to them, “Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” They could not know the hour until it should arrive, because it was not a matter of revelation. “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” The wisdom of God in withholding this knowledge from his saints and from his angels, or messengers, is unquestionable; and while the profound secret was thus locked up in the inscrutable counsel of his own sovereign will, the signs of near approach to that day and hour were clearly stated. “Behold [says Jesus] I have told you before.” Knowing therefore what should be the signs, and being ignorant of the day and hour was calculated to impress their minds with the importance of the admonition to watch. And as he has elsewhere added, “and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” Our exposure to temptation at such times, when iniquity abounds and the love of many waxes cold, and when the fearful judgments of the Lord are about to surprise the ungodly, all urge the necessity of watchfulness, and prayer to him who alone can shield us from all harm. To illustrate the necessity of watching, our Lord says, “But know this, that if the good man 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. Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Then he applies these warnings to his servants, or ministers, who like stewards are put in trust over their Lord’s household, to give them meat in due season. “Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” The stewards in the household of our Lord have a solemn charge over all the men servants and maid servants of the house of God, to take the oversight thereof, and to feed the flock of God which he hath purchased with his own blood: and it shall be blessed for them to be found at all times so doing; instant in season, out of season; rightly dividing the word, and giving to every one an appropriate portion in due season. But in the day of temptation we have reason to apprehend that some even of the Lord’s servants who have been set apart to feed the sheep and lambs will be found remiss in the discharge of the duties enjoined on them. This we infer from the following: “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour when he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The temporal calamities which came upon Jerusalem and the cities of Judah must have involved the heedless and disobedient disciples, as well as the hypocrites, if any of them were lingering there after the signs were given, until the storm of wrath came down; and so it shall undoubtedly be when Babylon shall receive her doom, with such of the servants of Christ, if any there shall be who disregard the signs and warnings given, and say in their heart there is no danger; my Lord delayeth his coming; and abuse their fellow servants - when the judgments clearly indicated shall come, they will with the hypocrites and unbelievers receive of the temporal plagues, in common with others, and they shall weep, while the hypocrites shall gnash their teeth. John “heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues (Revelation 18:4).” If the children of God, the stewards, and servants, who have received a charge to give to those of the household of God their meat in due season, drink and become drunken with the cup of Babylon, and eat and drink with the enemies of the truth, and use their influence against the advocates of the truth and righteousness, in disregard of the warning that comes from heaven, they shall as surely be cut asunder from the church, from her fellowship, and the protection from temporal judgments which are thrown around the church, as that the mouth of God has spoken it.
Watch, therefore, from these solemn considerations, and know ye there is a necessity for watching, diligently, vigilantly, and prayerfully. If it had pleased the Lord to inform us of the day and the hour, we would have no occasion to watch for the premonitory signs; but we know not the day nor the hour, and therefore our Lord has commanded us to watch, and not only to watch, but also to admonish one another, and so much the more as we see the day approaching; and not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, for that purpose, as the manner of some is.
“For ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” We are fully satisfied that our Lord is to come, will come, and will not tarry; and we are further instructed that when he shall come, he will be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power. When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. (See II Thessalonians 1:8-10.)
The coming of our Lord should not be regarded with any dread by those who love and obey him. His coming will be a glorious jubilee of triumph and rest to them. When in all the power, majesty and glory of the Father, he shall come with a shout, and with the voice of the Arch Angel, and with the trump of God, they shall hail him with joy, saying, “Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him.” It shall be sudden. “For as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.” How instantaneous will be the change. As the vivid lightning darts from the cloud, shall be his advent; and who can stand when he appeareth?
Could we but realize that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night, sudden as the lightning’s flash, and that, from the numerous indications by signs on which we are instructed to rely, it may be very near at hand, may we not conclude that many a wayward Christian would be this moment hastening to confess his faults to his offended brother; that many a delinquent child would make haste to find the footsteps of the dear flock of Christ; that many a quickened child of God who has long delayed to obey the precepts of Christ, and to take his yoke in the sacred ordinance of baptism, would rally to Jordan’s banks in anxious haste to own his Lord and Master? How it would allay our thirst for the treasures and vanities of this vain and transitory world. How easily then they could find more time for frequenting the house of prayer, and for mingling in sweet devotion with the children of God. “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thessalonians 5:4-9).”
February 1, 1869.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 350 – 353