Luke 17:1-2. “And He said to His disciples, It is impossible that offenses should not come; but woe unto him by whom they come! It is better for him if a millstone is hanged about his neck, and he has been precipitated into the sea, rather than that he may offend one of these little ones.” Offense is scandalon, “a stumbling-block,” laid in the way of any one, over which he stumbles and falls. Jesus has much to say about the little ones, always giving them prominent recognition as members of His kingdom, whether natural infants or spiritual babes in Christ. The world, and even the Church, is under a deep sleep in reference to this awful responsibility. The greatest possible care and vigilance should be on us all at this point, lest we, even inadvertently, should prove the unfortunate instrument in leading little children and young converts into sin. How innocent and unsuspecting they are, and consequently their fearful susceptibility of being led astray! Little things may induce or provoke them to do what they know -to be wrong, thus grieving the Holy Spirit, falling under condemnation, and becoming backsliders. O what a delicate point, and what an awful responsibility! The reason why it is “impossible that offenses should not come” is because of human probation, which implies trial, and of course temptation. So long as we are in this world, we are all on trial, and liable to run over a stumbling-block and fall. O how we need the genuine sanctification, which gives us the wings of perennial victory, and qualifies us, by the help of the blessed Holy Spirit, to fly over every stumbling-block, even though as broad as the “Rockies” and as high as Pike’s Peak!
Luke 17:3-4. “Take heed unto yourselves: If thy brother may sin, correct him: if he may repent, forgive him. And if he may sin against thee seven times a day, and turn unto thee, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him.” This Scripture follows in immediate connection with the preceding on offenses. The rabbis taught that we should not forgive more than three times, as a rule; and in extreme cases, and under the most apologetical circumstances, not more than seven times. You see that our Savior makes the matter utterly indefinite, as seven times a day would actually run up to twenty-five hundred a year. Consequently there is to be no limitation whatever on this line. O how plain and unmistakable is the teaching of our Lord on every matter of duty and responsibility! It is utterly impossible to abide in God’s kingdom and knowingly disobey. Our only hope of heaven is to walk in all the light of God’s Word, Spirit, providence, and our own consciences.
QUALITY RATHER THAN QUANTITY
Luke 17:5-6. “And the apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If you have faith as a seed of mustard, you said to this sycamine-tree, Be thou plucked up and planted in the sea, and it obeyed you.” The apostles, heating and considering His weighty and straight deliverances on offenses and forgiveness, feel convicted for entire sanctification, which they received two months from that date, when Jesus, from heaven, poured on them the sanctifying baptism of the Holy Ghost. Under this conviction they pray for an increase of faith. Jesus notifies them that a greater quantity of the justifying faith, which they then had, is not what they need; but a purer and move efficient quality of faith. Though it may be very small, like the mustard-seed, since faith is the hand of the soul by which it takes hold of God, the power has nothing to do with the size or strength of the hand, because it is not in the hand, but in God. Touch the galvanic battery with the end of your little finger, and you get as big a shock as if you took it in your arms. We need no great amount of faith for entire sanctification; but we do need faith, definite and straight, for that very thing, and so condensed and concentrated that every vestige of doubt has been eliminated, and there is nothing left but actual, real, and genuine faith. Now with that faith, though small like the mustard-seed, touch heaven’s battery, and you will receive a Pentecostal shock. Take hold of the Omnipotent Savior for entire sanctification, and the old up as-tree of inbred sin will leap up out of your soul’s soil, and root and branch, pursuant to the Divine toss, light in the sea of forgetfulness. These bold metaphors about the “tree” and the “sea” symbolize tremendous spiritual truths. The sycamine in Palestine is the mulberry-tree, and not the sycamore, as some have supposed, Which is the Egyptian fig-tree.
THE HERESY OF SUPEREROGATION
Luke 17:7-10. “And which one of you having a servant, plowing or herding stock, who will say to him, having returned from the field, having come in immediately, Sit down to eat? But will he not say to him, Prepare what I may sup, and girding thyself, wait on me until t may eat and drink, and alter these things, you eat and drink? Does he thank the servant because he did those things which were commanded? So you, when you may do all things which have been commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do.” False religions, in all ages, have taught salvation by legal obedience. Judaism was deep in this heresy in the days of Christ. Pagans, Moslems, and Romanists are wrapped in that fond delusion this day, blinded by the devil, depending on their own good works. priestly intercession and absolution, to save them — a dismal nightmare from the bottomless pit, manipulated by demons, and stealing on religious people before they are aware, lulling them into deeper slumber, as the years by, till they are awakened by the awful thunder-peals of their own damnation. This seductive heresy is fast stealing in on the Protestant Churches, substituting Church loyalty for holiness of heart and life, and so beguiling the preachers that thousands of them are giving the people a clear record and an easy conscience if they will pay all their dues, attend all the meetings, and thus prove their loyalty to the Church week in and week out; meanwhile they can take recreations in the devil’s fandangoes, neglect family prayer, and thus turn over the home to the devil, and get up as many Church frolics as they want for jollification and pastime, thus practically receiving a ticket through the Church down to hell, and really degrading the house of God into a mere tollgate, at which the people must pay their way to the bottomless pit. We are saved, not by our own work, or that of the preacher, but by the work of Christ, which we receive by faith. (Ephesians 2:8) Our Savior clearly exposes this seductive heresy by a simple illustration of the man an, his servant. When the latter has done all of his work the former does not thank him, because he simply did, his duty. Hence the utter impossibility to bring God under the slightest obligation to us, from the fact that all of our time, members, faculties, resources, and facilities belong to God, and our very best service is due His every moment. This is an exceedingly important truth which our Savior enforces so clearly that no one can be mistaken, sweeping away forever the idea of salvation by works in any sense whatever, and the bare possibility of bringing God under any obligation to us. Hence everything we receive from Him, spiritual and temporary is the free and unmerited gift of God for Christ’s sake alone, which we receive by faith alone, radical repentance putting the sinner on believing ground, where he can b justified by faith, and utter and eternal abandonment of all things, temporal and spiritual, to God in entire consecration, putting the Christian on believing ground, to be sanctified wholly by faith alone, in every case a: obedient life following as the normal fruit of your faith and whose absence is demonstrative proof of spurious profession or subsequent apostasy.
THE TEN LEPERS
Luke 17:11-19. “And it came to pass, while He was journeying to Jerusalem, and He was going through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.” These two countries lie side by side. I traveled that same route from the, Sea of Galilee, through Samaria and Judea, to Jerusalem. “And He, coming into a certain village, ten leprous men met Him, who stood far away; and they lifted up their voice saying, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” The lepers are still in that country. I saw them, and contributed a little to their temporal support. The city of Sychem — or Shechem, O. T.; and Sychar, N. T. — and now called Nablus, contains a leprous quarter. These lepers stood a long way off and called to Him; for two reasons doubtless:
(a) Their loathsome and embarrassing condition; and
(b) Their faith in Jesus to heal them even at that distance. “And seeing them, He said, Going, show yourselves to the priests. And while they were going, they were cleansed.”
a. No leper was allowed to show himself to the priest till he had already been cleansed (Leviticus 14), as neither the priest nor any human being had the power to cleanse a leper. The matter was understood by everybody that the cleansing of a leper could only come about by the miraculous intervention of the Almighty.
b. A great popular mistake is entertained with reference to the contagion of leprosy. It is neither contagious nor epidemic, as you see in that case the priest, whose office brings him in constant contact with it, would have no chance whatever to escape the contagion.
c. The separation of the lepers from the people, instituted in the days of Moses and perpetuated to the present, is simply because of its awful loathsomeness.
d. How strikingly is the Scripture corroborated in that country in every respect, customs remaining unchanged from the patriarchal ages, so the traveler sees his Bible verified when he looks out on all sides, even the leprosy, in separate quarters, to be seen now as in the days of Christ!
e. We never read about the healing of the leper, but always his “cleansing,” that word being used indicative of the dismal and awful impurity characteristic of leprosy, which is the very synonym of loathsome, living death, its poor victim living on like well people, and dying all the time — a finger dropping off, then another and another, till the hand drops off at the wrist, and finally the arm at the elbow, and then at the shoulder, all this time the decaying flesh emitting a most intolerable carrion odor. Hence the O. T. requirement of seclusion, which is perpetuated to the present day, the lepers themselves, conscious of their obnoxious repellency, preferring seclusion all the time.
f. The solution of the whole problem is, that leprosy is the most vivid symbol of sin in all the world; and consequently always incurable by all human remedies. Therefore in all ages it was always understood that none but God could cleanse the leper.
g. While leprosy is not contagious, it is intensely hereditary, being a blood trouble, and always transmitted from sire to son through the generations indefinitely, and in that respect most vividly emblematizing inbred sin.
h. Of course, the leprous eruptions and running sores typify actual sins, which are the unhappy fruits of original sin, just as the awful cancerous sores of the leper all originate from contaminated blood.
i. Leprous infants are bright, beautiful, and sprightly, exhibiting not a solitary symptom of the disease which, erelong, is sure to develop somewhere on the body, and cling to them through life, unless miraculously healed. In a similar manner, the infantile rattlesnake has no poison in his bite, the narcotic glands having not yet sufficiently developed to concentrate the poisonous virus from his blood and transmit it to another. Yet the poison is there, and as the snake grows, it becomes transmissible by his bite.
j. In a similar manner, the virus of inbred sin in the blood of humanity is transmissible indefinitely, like the infant leper, originally bright and fair, but in due time the occult virus making its appearance and intensifying to the end.
k. The outward manifestations of the devouring leprosy symbolize evil habits, whose natural tendency is to accumulate impetuosity and dimension, culminating in hopeless ruin.
l. Study the Oriental leprosy in all its phases, from its latency in the blood of the beautiful infant, its gradual and progressive development in the organism till it traverses the whole body, transforming it into a fetid, loathsome, living death, and how vividly does it symbolize sin, transmitted in the blood, but unseen in the beautiful, innocent babe, but sure ill due time to develop, making its manifestation on some part of the organism, and if not taken away by Omnipotent grace, spreading on indefinitely, culminating in irremediable ruin!
“And one of them, seeing that he was healed, turned back, with a great voice glorifying God, and fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him; and he was a Samaritan.” Here we see a case where sheer misery had triumphed over all the inveterate race prejudices which for ages had alienated the Jews and Samaritans, so that there was no intercommunication; and thus these poor lepers, both Jews and Samaritans, amid their awful sufferings and forlorn alienation from society, forgetting race antipathies, are all living together. “And Jesus responding, said, Were not the ten cleansed? Where are the nine? They were not found returning to give glory to God, except this foreigner.” When the Israelites were carried into captivity by Shalmaneser, B. C. 721, a few poor people were left in the country, who in after years proved insufficient to so occupy it as to prevent the wild beasts, especially the lions, from multiplying among them to their serious detriment. Consequently, Esarhaddon, the Chaldean monarch, sent to that country inhabitants from some of the heathen nations of the great North, who, with the few surviving Hebrews, eventually became the Samaritan nation, having predominantly the foreign, heathen blood, so that here, Jesus calls them “a foreign nation;” i. e., not Jews, but heathens. “And He said to him, Arising, go; thy faith hath saved thee.” Here our Savior, as constantly and uniformly in His preaching, recognizes faith as the human condition of salvation, a truth so prominent in the Scripture that the most superficial Bible reader can not fail incessantly to recognize it. We see here salvation affirmed of this Samaritan, who returned to give glory to Jesus, our Lord remaining reticent in reference to the other nine, involving the conclusion that they did not get saved, but only healed. Hence you see it is quite an ill omen of salvation for people not to confess it to the honor and glory of God.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD UNOBSERVABLE
Luke 17:20-21. “And being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God is coming, He responded to them and said, The kingdom of God comes not wit observation; neither shall they say, Lo here or there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is among you.” Our Savior’s teaching is frequently enigmatical, elaborating and enforcing some isolated phase of truth, as in this case, when the whole multitude had imbibed the idea, always prevalent among the Jews, that the Messiah is to be their King. This impression, received by a few about the beginning of His ministry, and frequently increasing under the influence of His stupendous miracles until He is constrained to render Himself invisible and change His location in order to keep them from crowning Him King, has been constantly increasing through the three years of His ministry; especially since He came to Southern Palestine, nearly six months ago, has the popular fide been constantly rising; and since His open proclamation of His Christhood at Caesarea-Philippi, a short time before He left Galilee, His preaching has been more and more conducive to the open avowal of His Messiahship. The resurrection of Lazarus, about a week previous to this date, gave a tremendous impetus to the popular apprehension of His Christhood; and now, during these several days of His sojourn in Perea, the multitudes are following Him with great excitement, much trepidation, solicitude, and thrilling anticipation that He is about to proclaim Himself King and ascend the throne of Judea. At this critical epoch, when the multitudes are momentarily on the lookout for His assumption of the royal scepter, and bounding with eager enthusiasm to crown Him King, the Pharisees, watching Him with hawk-eyes every moment, propound this insidious question, as they had no good motives in the matter, “When is the kingdom of God coming?” To whom He responds, “The kingdom of God comes not with observation;” i.e., “When the kingdom of God comes, you will not see it.” Let us all profit by this correction given to the materialistic Pharisees. We go out and hold meetings, and, as Jesus says, if you do not see signs and wonders you will not believe. So it is with the present generation. If the people do not crowd the altar, and make great demonstrations, we think nothing is being done. This is our mistake. The thunder never kills anything. It is the silent lightning of the Holy Ghost that does all of the execution. Many an undemonstrative meeting has brought the kingdom to more souls than others where they joined the Church in platoons. The Holy Ghost is the Executive of the kingdom, working silently and unobserved in the deep interior of the heart, bringing the people to that repentance which evacuates the kingdom of Satan, and working in them the faith which cheers the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the Divine Government, established by the Holy Ghost in all truly humble, penitent, believing hearts. You can not see the Government of the United States. Yet it is everywhere, prevailing from ocean to ocean. But you can see the officers of the Government, and the work it is doing. While no one can observe the kingdom of God, because it is invisible and inaudible, like its Divine Executive, the Holy Ghost, yes you can see the officers of the kingdom and its work. Our Savior here lays a tremendous emphasis on the real spiritual essence of the kingdom, which is silently wrought in the human spirit and life by the invisible and inaudible Spirit of God. The E. V. translation of this passage, “The kingdom of God is within you,” upon a moment’s recognition, the reader will pronounce incorrect, as He was answering the insidious question propounded by those malicious, hypocritical, unbelieving Pharisees, with no good motive in view, but capriciously seeking to entangle Him, and if possible secure an accusation under which they could arraign Him, either before the Sanhedrin or the proconsul. The true reading of this passage is, “The kingdom of God is among you,” involving the conclusion: “Here are My apostles and disciples in your midst, mud scattered about over the country, who have the kingdom of God in their hearts, and here am I, their King, in the midst of you. Consequently the kingdom of God has already come, and is among you.”
OUR LORD’S SECOND COMING
Luke 17:22; Luke 18:8. “And He said to the disciples, The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and shall not see it.” Having answered the captious question of those critical Pharisees, informing them that the kingdom of God, which comes by the silent, invisible work of the Holy Ghost in the heart, is already among them, though in their gross spiritual blindness they are utterly unapprehensive of the fact, He now turns and addresses His disciples with reference to Himself, stating to them that the days will soon come when they will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man and shall not see it. As this is only about eight or nine days before His crucifixion, He notifies them that, having been with them three years, He is going to leave them, and they will desire to see Him and be with Him as hitherto, but shall not be able; this idea of His departure and return now running on into a beautiful and sublime revelation and exposition of His return back to the earth, where they will see Him again.
WARNING AGAINST IMPOSTORS
Luke 17:23-24. “And they will say to you, Lo here! lo there! Go not away, neither pursue them; for as the lightning, shining from the region under heaven, flashes out to that which is under heaven, so shall the Son of man be in His day.” Jesus knew that impostors were going to rise, and they did. Theudas, Simon Magus, Marchochab, and many others, did rise in that generation. So Jesus is warning them against these impostors who are going to rise, claiming to be Christ, and lead many after them, doomed to destruction. Now He gives a clear and unmistakable manifestation of His own coming, amply sufficient to fortify all of His disciples, in all coming ages, against imposture. So you see that when our Lord returns to the earth, a great light, like lightning, will flash athwart the firmament, girdling the globe with its splendor and glory, pouting its sweeping illuminations into every land and nation, so that “every eye shall behold Him.” (Revelation 1:7) There is no reason why the disciples of the Lord should ever run after impostors, because the revelation of our Lord’s return will be so demonstrative that none can fail to find it out; and with the light of this Scripture before us, we can actually know that it is none other than the splendor radiating out from the glorified Savior, whose visible person will quickly appear to all the earth.
Luke 17:25. “But in the first place, it behooveth Him to suffer many things, and to be set at naught by this generation.” The whole panorama of the Messianic history was simultaneously moving before His eyes. He saw the cruel mob, the frowning tribunals, the rugged cross, the bloody death, and the open sepulcher before His eyes, anticipating Him in a little more than a week; and at the same time the unutterable glory of His second coming was equally vivid and conspicuous.
THE DAYS OF NOAH
Luke 17:26-27. “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of man. They were eating, drinking, marrying, getting married, until the day on which Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” Abel was a holy man, and God’s first martyr, succeeded by his brother Seth in the leadership of the antediluvian Holiness Church; while Cain was the patriarchal founder of the Anti- holiness Church, being very religious, as we see from his offering to the Lord; but no blood — i. e., no sanctification. After many centuries of separation, unfortunately the holiness people intermarried with the Cainites, the latter predominating and leading the former into worldliness, till the lights of truth and holiness had yielded to an almost total eclipse amid the fogs of worldly wickedness and dead Churchism, till God in mercy found it necessary to interpose, and miraculously give victory and a new start to His truth and righteousness on the earth, lest the last hope of humanity should go down in the gloom of rayless night, thus bringing the flood on an ungodly world, which He saw, if let alone, would do nothing but populate hen. Therefore, in mercy interposing to arrest the otherwise hopeless, hellward-bound trend, He rescued the only surviving righteous family to populate the newborn world, Noah’s ark, in which the faithful few mounted the raging floods and rode above a perishing world, emblematizing the cloud in which the faithful few will be caught up when the Lord comes. Here you see our Lord’s description of the business rush among the antediluvians, going fight on till the flood came. So the legitimate conclusion follows that this wicked world will be, like the people before the flood, engrossed and bewildered with transitory things, heeding not the solemn warnings we have in this precious Book, amply sufficient to fortify us against all delusion and surprise. So it was in the days of Noah, who knew well that the flood was coming, and preached it to the people; yet they believed him not, but rushed right on in their worldly impetuosity till the flood came and took them all away. Our Infallible Savior assures us that a repetition of these events is impending at the time of His coming. God help us to be true, and, like Noah, warn the people, and thus clear our skirts of their blood! If they believe us, it will be well for them; if not, we have delivered our souls.
THE DAYS OF LOT
Luke 17:28-30. “Likewise it was thus in the days of Lot. They were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; and on the day Lot went out from Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from heaven, and destroyed them all. According to these things shall it be in the day the Son of man is revealed.” Among the cities which dotted the Salt Sea round and round in the beautiful Vale of Siddim, indescribably fertile, and “well watered as the garden of the Lord,” encompassed by the mountains of Simeon, Judah, and Benjamin on the west, and those of Moab on the east, the largest and most prominent were Sodom and Gomorrah. We not only have Lot’s testimony as to the fertility, irrigation, and prosperity of this country, but (Genesis 14) we find four great kings coming from Babylon, Nineveh, Persia, and Mesopotamia to invade this country, conquer it, and carry away the spoils. Hence it must have been very important. At present that whole region is desolate and barren, without an inhabitant, unless the wandering Arab should there pitch his tent. It is now a desert for the want of water, whereas the Bible assures us that in the days of its prosperity it was “well watered.” The soil is now very rich, and would be exceedingly productive if the rains fell on it. It is by all authorities admitted that the very site of Sodom and Gomorrah is now under the waters of the Dead Sea, so called because no fish can live in its waters, which doubtless abounded with valuable fish before the retribution of the Almighty fell on it, destroying the cities with fire and brimstone, withering and blighting all the surrounding country, so that death reigns without a rival, and the sea is significantly denominated “Dead.” The ruins of cities are found all around on the coast of that sea, while all authorities locate Sodom and Gomorrah within the territory now occupied by the sea. Just as Lot and his family were delivered from the awful doom of Sodom and Gomorrah, so will the saints be delivered when the Lord cometh. Jesus here says, with reference to both Noah and Lot, that they illustrate the state of things — calamities on the wicked and deliverance to the righteous — when the Son of man is revealed.
Luke 17:31-32. “In that day, let him who shall be upon the housetop, and his goods in the house, not come down to take them; and he who is in the field, likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife.” From these and many other clear affirmations of our Savior, we learn that He will come very suddenly, giving no time for any preparations after the great light shall flash athwart the sky, belting the globe with the splendors of His glory, and attracting the attention of all the people in the world. “Every eye shall behold Him.” (Revelation 1:7) Lot’s wife, in the precipitate flight from burning Sodom, only looked back, and, as E. V. says, was turned to a pillar of salt. The R. V. is evidently the more correct, rendering it “a monument of warning,” as the presumption is she dropped dead in her tracks. That whole country gives every manifestation of volcanic influence. Where E. V. says, “God rained on them fire and brimstone from heaven,” the verb is impersonal, and properly rendered, “It mined on them fire and brimstone,” corroborating the hypothesis that these cities in the Vale of Siddim were destroyed by volcanic eruptions. In that case the brimstone gases are awfully suffocating. I tried them when I visited the crater of Mount Vesuvius. Hence there is quite a plausibility in the conclusion that the woman, halting and facing the scene, fell dead by suffocation of the sulfurous exhalations. As God rules the material world, with its oceans, seas, mineral resources, and volcanic fires, the hypothesis which imputes the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes is in perfect harmony with the Biblical history, imputing it directly to Divine intervention. The Dead Sea, which is about a thousand feet deep. doubtless occupied a much smaller area before the destruction of those cities, as now all authorities certify that the site of Sodom and Gomorrah is covered by the sea. Antecedently to that notable epoch, the Vale of Siddim, encompassing the Salt Sea, was exceedingly prosperous. Now, while the soil is immensely rich, it is all desert for the want of water, rains never falling there, and without an inhabitant except the roaming Bedouin. I have visited it twice, both times being under the necessity of hiring an armed escort. All this is a most striking and incontestable manifestation of the Divine retribution, which rained fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah, not only burning the cities, but bursting up and consuming the great strata of bitumen and asphaltum by the heaving of earthquakes and the eruptions of volcanoes, changing the face of the entire country, consuming the foundation and reducing the surface, and thus letting in the thundering sea, whose rolling billows for these thirty-eight hundred years have passed over the streets where once thronged the precipitate multitudes of these mighty cities. Such was the impregnation of the waters by the excessive quantities of sulfur, bitumen, asphaltum, and other poisons, as to render them so buoyant that the human body will not sink, and so caustic that no animal can live in them. Since the destruction of those cities, that country, once the garden of the East, has been deserted by the rain-clouds till utter desolation has monopolized it these long, rolling centuries. Ezekiel 47:1-12, tells us about the glorious redemption which awaits this wrath-smitten country in the coming millennium, when that great river, coming out of Jerusalem, shall course down the mountains into the Vale of Siddim, redeeming all of that desolate land, and transforming it into the garden of the Lord, and pouting into the Salt Sea, which has been denominated the Dead Sea ever since the calamitous visitation, healing its waters, so that they will be again occupied by vast quantities of valuable fishes, and the shore again dotted with thriving villages and populous cities, while the whole surrounding country shall again groan beneath the abundant harvests, the luscious semi-tropical fruits everywhere saluting the eye and gladdening the heart. The prophet says that the, grand restoration shall extend from Engedi — which means the “goat-spring” — a short distance below the, southern terminus of the Dead Sea, to Enrogel, which is a celebrated well in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, thus including the Vale of Siddim, encompassing the Dead Se and the wilderness of Judea, an arid desert, extending from the plain toward Jerusalem, within about a dozen miles of the city.
SANCTIFICATION AND GLORIFICATION
Luke 17:33. “Whosoever may seek to save his soul shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose it, shall find it.” The E. V. here says “life,” where I have translated “soul.” The Greek is not zoe, “life,” but psyche, the regular word always used for soul. If you will analyze the above translation contrastively with the E. V., you will find it much more harmonious with the uniform teaching of God’s Word. Where James speaks of the “double minded,” the Greek says “double souled,” making the application to the unsanctified Christian — the sinner having one bad soul; the wholly sanctified, one good soul and the unsanctified having the depraved soul with which he was born, but now in a subjugated state, an, also tile good soul imparted in regeneration, but involved in an irrepressible conflict with the old enemy which he found dwelling in the heart. Now, if you see: to save the soul with which you are born into the work after doing your best you will wake up in hell. But: you turn over that fallen soul, which is none other than old Adam, to Adam the Second, and let Him slay him with the sword of the Spirit, then you will find your bright, spotless, immortal soul. in coming eternity, triumphant among the angels and all right. Sanctification must qualify you for the bridehood of Christ and a place in the first resurrection. The Greek zoogoneo, translated “find,” has a wonderful signification, too ample and complex to be translated by any one word. We can only reach it by circumlocution. It is from zoon, “a living animal,” and ginomai, “to bring forth,” and is the word used in reference to the parturition of the animal kingdom; i.e., in which a living being is brought forth into life, liberty, and activity infinitely superior to that of the former state. Here it imparts a wonderful signification to the developments which await the living saints at the coming of the Lord, when both soul and body, though formerly alive, will leap into a sphere of life, liberty, glory, and felicity infinitely superior to the former physical life of the body and spiritual life of the soul which we here enjoy in the sanctified state. The illustration enforced by this word is inconceivably vivid and potent, contrasting the life of the glorified soul and body with that of the present state, as the aerial life of an animal is contrasted with its prenatal existence. So this word really means the glorification of the souls and bodies of the saints living on the earth when the Lord comes, as well as the resurrection of the sleeping generations, into an identical transfiguration glory.
THE RAPTURE OF THE SAINTS
Luke 17:34-35. “I say unto you, That night two men shall be on one couch; one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.” As the coming of the Lord will be simultaneous to all the world, the sun shining on one hemisphere and the night enveloping the other, you see “the night,” here specified as the time of His coming, must have a symbolic signification, typifying the sudden surprise which will light on the whole world when that most notable of all events shall transpire, as if all were lying wrapped in lethean slumber. It is really wonderful how the customs and popular habits stand still in the Bible lands, the people still sickling their wheat and barley and treading it out with cattle, and the women grinding it with their little hand-mills, sitting on either side, the one turning and the other feeding and taking out the flour. There is a deeply significant providence in this strange immutability of Oriental customs. These women are still holding on to the hand-mill, waiting for the Lord to come, and take one and leave the other. This is a clear reference to His pre-millennial coming to take away His bride, as it can not refer to the final judgment, as at that time all will be taken and none left. (Revelation 20:11-15)
THE CARCASS AND THE EAGLES
Luke 17:37. “And responding, they say to Him, Where, Lord? And He said to them, Where the carcass is, there the eagles will also be gathered.” This statement is momentously significant. Humanity has always been a failure, every dispensation winding up with tremendous calamities — Eden, with the fall; the Antediluvian, with the flood; the Patriarchal, with slavery, the desolating plagues, the death of the first-born, and the drowning of Pharaoh’s army. Now, the awful doom o£ Judaism is hastening and her destruction ripening. Jesus sees the Roman armies coming to obliterate the nation and annihilate the Jewish polity. Judaism at that time, both political and ecclesiastical, was well comparable to an old carcass, full of diseases, rotten, odoriferous, and already seeming up the birds of prey. The vulture belongs to the eagle species, mad is here really meant, as the bird of all others most voracious of carrion. It would be an exceedingly superficial view of these prophecies that would restrict them to their merely preliminary fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem; whereas you see plainly that the great moment is our Lord’s second coming, which did not take place at that time. He began this discourse by reminding His disciples of His speedy death, resurrection, ascension, and utter removal from the earth, and their subsequent anxiety “to see one of the days of the Son of man.” Hence you observe the emphasis laid on His personal coming throughout, and at the same time the warning He gives them in reference to the signs which would precede the destruction of Jerusalem, posting them lest they be led astray with reference to His coming, and at the same time assuring them that His personal return to the earth will be so distinctly marked that no one can possibly be mistaken, as “every eye shall see Him.” Now, we know that this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, neither the rapture of the saints nor the gathering of the eagles, except in a preliminary sense at the termination of preceding dispensations.
“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool; His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fire stream issued, and came forth from before Him; a thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him… I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:9-14.)
This is a clear and unmistakable prophecy setting forth the glorious pre- millennial coming of the Lord, preceded by the Ancient of Days — i. e., the Father — who has nobody, and is consequently invisible, but will come, and, as you here see, shake every monarch from his throne, both political and ecclesiastical, thus clearing the way for the coronation of His Son, according to His promise, “Sit Thou on My right hand, until I may make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” Do you not see in the above quotation from Daniel, that when the Father comes to “cast down the thrones,” He will be accompanied by innumerable hosts of angels? Quite legitimate is the conclusion that these are angels of vengeance — i. e., destroying angels — executive of the just retribution which the righteous government will inflict upon the usurpers of earth when the awful castigatory wars of Armageddon, so prominent in the prophecies, shall vacate every human throne for the coronation of the Son, as you see in verse 14, King of kings and Lord of lords, to reign forever. Hence these destroying angels are symbolized by the eagles, that will devour the old, corrupt, and debauched body of the Gentile dispensation, both political and ecclesiastical, thus literally verifying the “great tribulation.”
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Luke 17". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany