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doubt, must apply to the same period, since the fact of the tribulation being such as never was and never will be, in the very nature of things, can only apply to one and the same
The only places in which this great tribulation is described under that character, are the following:
"Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jer. xxx. 7. "And there shall be a time of trouble, such as
never was since there was a nation even to that same time:
and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.". Dan. xii. 1. "A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations."-Joel ii. 2. "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."-Matt. xxiv. 21.
If these passages of Scripture be considered apart from all preconceived notions, the following truths will at once be evident :
First. That the tribulation such as never was, is confined to the Jewish nation, and has no reference whatever to the Christian Church. In the first passage quoted, the prophecy is thus introduced, “These are the words concerning Judah and Israel," and the tribulation is termed"Jacob's trouble," without any reference to the world at large as being involved in it. In the passage from Daniel the same thing seems clearly implied in the language used to describe the trouble, viz.: “such as never was since there was a nation,” or as the meaning evidently is, "since they were a nation;” whilst there is no mention of the trouble as falling upon the world. The third passage, Joel ii. 1, is more decisive in proof
of this circumstance than either of the preceding, "Blow ye
the trumpet in Zion." Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thy heritage to reproach; wherefore should the heathen say, where is now your God?" This clearly proves that the rest of the world is exempt from this trouble, for if it comprehended all mankind how could the Jews become a reproach to the heathen by enduring it? Lastly,-in Matt. xxiv. 21, it must denote some judgment falling upon the Jews in the city of Jerusalem, otherwise they could not be directed to flee from that city as a means of escaping it. We may therefore consider the first particular, respecting this tribulation, as clearly established, that of its being a period of unparalleled affliction to the Jewish nation alone.
Second. That the time of this visitation is that of the termination of their captivity. The passages just quoted plainly assert this; in fact, the trouble referred to is represented as the occasion of their final deliverance. "In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, I will break thy yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him-”—Jer. xxx. 8. "At that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."-Dan. xii. 1. "Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people,....and say, behold I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen."-Joel ii. 18, 19.
Third. That the trouble referred to will arise from a tremendous attack upon the city of Jerusalem, by countless and implacable hosts of enemies. This will at once be evident if we reflect, that the deliverance of the Jews from this trouble is expressly said to be, their deliverance from the yoke of their enemies:- "He shall be saved out of it, for it shall come to pass in that day I will break his yoke from off thy neck," &c.-Jer. xxx. 7, 8. So that saving them out of their tribulation, is also breaking their yoke from off their neck. The
same thing is also evident from Joel ii. 17,-" Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thy heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them." This passage proves that if not delivered from this tribulation, the Jews would still continue, or again be placed, as the case might be, under the yoke of their enemies. The heathen would still rule over them. It is therefore certain, that the tribulation of the last days must arise from some mighty effort of the nations of the earth, to perpetuate the captivity of the ancient people of God, to fix or else re-fasten their yoke upon their necks, or, otherwise, in being rescued from their trouble they would not also be delivered from their captivity.
Accordingly, the context of the passage from Joel plainly ascribes the distress of the Jews, during this unprecedented visitation, to a siege and capture of the city of Jerusalem, by a countless army of figurative locusts. "For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion."-Joel i. 6. "The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array."-Joel ii. 4, 5. The opinion of the Commentators is, that the prophecy of Joel is to be understood in a literal sense, as foretelling a plague of locusts; but if this be true, how is it that no records of such a dreadful judgment have come down to us in history? how is it that these locusts are represented as coming from the north? and with what propriety could those insects be represented as falling upon the sword, and yet remain unwounded, as running to and fro in the city, running upon the wall, climbing up upon the houses, and entering in at the windows like a thief? These and other particulars, it is manifest, are totally inconsistent with such an idea, and we are
therefore compelled to view the great army of locusts, &c., which God is here represented as sending amongst the Jews, (chap. ii. 25,) in accordance with other passages of Scripture, as denoting countless hosts of rapacious and irresistible enemies. In this case,—in accordance with the previous deductions, the Great Tribulation is evidently occasioned by some tremendous and unparalleled attack from a northern foe, producing famine, and the various other horrors of a siege in the first instance; this is followed by the storming and capture of the devoted city;-eventually, however, complete deliverance, in answer to their prayers and fasting, is granted to the Jews, and in the destruction of the hostile armies, they are for ever delivered from their yoke of servitude.
The following chapter, from its striking resemblance, appears to be an explanation of the figurative prophecy of the locusts contained in the two previous chapters. It is accordingly introduced by the copulative "for." If this be correct, the foregoing exposition of the tribulation such as never was and never will be, will be placed beyond all doubt.
1st. The first coincidence I shall notice, is in the period to which both these predictions refer, which is that of the future restoration of the Jews to their land. The 3rd chapter of Joel clearly states this: "For behold, in those days, and in that time when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,"-(verse 1); and we have found from other passages, that this is the period of "the great tribulation," especially Jer. xxx. 8,-" For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him."
2nd. The accompanying judgments are the same," the sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shinings." This passage occurs in both prophecies. That of the locusts threatens "the earth shall quake before them,
the heavens shall tremble;" and similarly in the 3rd chapter it is, "the heavens and the earth shall shake;" intimating clearly, that tremendous convulsion and universal judgments will characterize the period of fulfilment.
3rd. The consequences of these judgments are the same in both prophecies, the plenteous outpouring of the Spirit of God, the spiritual recognition of the Divine Being by the Jews, their exemption from all future evil, and their instrumentality in converting the world, are alike represented as the results of the affliction in both prophecies. It cannot therefore be questioned, that both these periods of visitation,— that of the unparalleled plague of locusts, described in the two first chapters of Joel, and that of the assembly of all the nations of the earth, by the Almighty, in the valley of Jehoshaphat, "to plead for his people," are identical.
"I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.”—Joel ii. 28, "The mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk."-iii. 18.
"And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else.”Joel ii. 27. "So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain.”—iii. 17.
My people shall never be ashamed....I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen"-Joel ii. 27 & 19. "Then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more."-iii. 17.
"Your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”Joel ii. 28. "All the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim."-iii. 18.
From these numerous and striking coincidences between the prophecy of the symbolical locusts, and that of the mighty conflict with all nations of the earth in the valley of