He wept over it - Showing his compassion for the guilty city, and his strong sense of the evils that were about to come upon it. See the notes at Matthew 23:37-39. As he entered the city he passed over the Mount of Olives. From that mountain there was a full and magnificent view of the city. See the notes at Matthew 21:1. The view of the splendid capital - the knowledge of its crimes - the remembrance of the mercies of God toward it - the certainty that it might have been spared if it had received the prophets and himself - the knowledge that it was about to put “him,” their long-expected Messiah, to death, and “for” that to be given up to utter desolation - affected his heart, and the triumphant King and Lord of Zion wept! Amid all “his” prosperity, and all the acclamations of the multitude, the heart of the Redeemer of the world was turned from the tokens of rejoicing to the miseries about to come on a guilty people. Yet they “might” have been saved. If thou hadst known, says he, even thou, with all thy guilt, the things that make for thy peace; if thou hadst repented, had been righteous, and had received the Messiah; if thou hadst not stained thy hands with the blood of the prophets, and shouldst not with that of the Son of God, then these terrible calamities would not come upon thee. But it is too late. The national wickedness is too great; the cup is full: mercy is exhausted; and Jerusalem, with all her pride and splendor, the glory of her temple, and the pomp of her service, “must perish!”
For the days shall come - This took place under Titus, the Roman general, 70 a.d., about thirty years after this was spoken.
Cast a trench about thee - The word “trench” now means commonly a “pit or ditch.” When the Bible was translated, it meant also “earth thrown up to defend a camp” (Johnson‘s “Dictionary”). This is the meaning of the original here. It is not a pit or large “ditch,” but a pile of earth, stones, or wood thrown up to guard a camp, and to defend it from the approach of an enemy. This was done at the siege of Jerusalem. Josephus informs us that Titus, in order that he might compel the city to surrender by “famine,” built a wall around the whole circumference of the city. This wall was nearly 5 miles in length, and was furnished with thirteen castles or towers. This work was completed with incredible labor in ten days. The professed design of this wall was “to keep” the city “in on every side.” Never was a prophecy more strikingly accomplished.
Shall lay thee even with the ground - This was literally done. Titus caused a plow to pass over the place where the temple stood. See the notes at Matthew 24. All this was done, says Christ, because Jerusalem knew not the time of its visitation - that is, did not know, and “would not” know, that the Messiah had come. “His coming” was the time of their merciful visitation. That time had been predicted, and invaluable blessings promised as the result of his advent; but they would not know it. They rejected him, they put him to death, and it was just that they should be destroyed.
The time of thy visitation - That is, the time of God's gracious offers of mercy to thee. This took in all the time which elapsed from the preaching of John the Baptist to the coming of the Roman armies, which included a period of above forty years.
In this our day, as in Christ's day, there will be a misreading and misinterpreting of the Scriptures. If the Jews had studied the Scriptures with earnest, prayerful, humble hearts, their searching would have been rewarded with a true knowledge of the time, and not only the time, but also the manner of Christ's first appearing. They would not have ascribed the glories of the second appearing of Christ to His first advent. They had the testimony of Daniel; they had the testimony of Isaiah and other prophets; they had the teaching of Moses; and here was Christ Himself in their midst, and still they were searching the Scriptures for evidence in regard to His coming. They were doing to Christ, at the same time, the very things that it had been prophesied they would do. They were so blinded that they knew not the time of His visitation, or what they were doing. Thus they were fulfilling the Scripture. UL 368.3Read in context »
When Christ spoke these words, He was standing in the shadow of the shameful cross, the symbol of the guilt which made the sacrifice of Christ necessary in order to save the world from complete ruin. Christ looked forward to the time when the Holy Spirit, as His representative, should come to do a wonderful work in and through His merits; and He felt privileged to communicate His relief to His disciples.... TM 402.1
Those who have not a living connection with God have not an appreciation of the Holy Spirit's manifestation, and do not distinguish between the sacred and the common. They do not obey God's voice, because, as the Jewish nation, they know not the time of their visitation. There is no help for man, woman, or child who will not hear and obey the voice of duty, for the voice of duty is the voice of God. The eyes, the ears, and the heart will become unimpressible if men and women refuse to give heed to the divine counsel, and choose the way that is best pleasing to themselves. TM 402.2
Oh, how much better it would be if all who do this were connected with some other work than the sacred institutions appointed by God as His great centers! They are supposed to be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; but this is a mistake. They do not do the work of God faithfully; they do not give evidence that they realize its sacred character. Their influence misleads others, causing them to regard lightly God's instrumentalities ordained for the saving of souls, and leading them to think that they may bring in their own ideas and common thoughts and plans. Thus a low, cheap level is reached, and God is greatly dishonored. TM 402.3Read in context »
The Lord is soon to come. In fire and flood and earthquake, He is warning the inhabitants of this earth of His soon approach. O that the people might know the time of their visitation! We have no time to lose. We must make more determined efforts to lead the people of the world to see that the day of judgment is near at hand. Carefully prepared literature on the significance of the scenes we are now witnessing is to be circulated everywhere. Our understanding is to be quickened by the Holy Spirit. O if our people would feel as they should the responsibility resting upon them to give the last message of mercy to the world, what a wonderful work would be done! A thousand times more work for God might be accomplished if all His children would fully consecrate themselves to Him, using their talents aright.—The Review and Herald, May 24, 1906. PM 313.1Read in context »
Oh, what a lesson is this wonderful story of Bethlehem! How it rebukes our unbelief, our pride and self-sufficiency. How it warns us to beware, lest by our criminal indifference we also fail to discern the signs of the times, and therefore know not the day of our visitation. GC 315.1
It was not alone upon the hills of Judea, not among the lowly shepherds only, that angels found the watchers for Messiah's coming. In the land of the heathen also were those that looked for Him; they were wise men, rich and noble, the philosophers of the East. Students of nature, the Magi had seen God in His handiwork. From the Hebrew Scriptures they had learned of the Star to arise out of Jacob, and with eager desire they awaited His coming, who should be not only the “Consolation of Israel,” but a “Light to lighten the Gentiles,” and “for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” Luke 2:25, 32; Acts 13:47. They were seekers for light, and light from the throne of God illumined the path for their feet. While the priests and rabbis of Jerusalem, the appointed guardians and expounders of the truth, were shrouded in darkness, the Heaven-sent star guided these Gentile strangers to the birthplace of the newborn King. GC 315.2
It is “unto them that look for Him” that Christ is to “appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28. Like the tidings of the Saviour's birth, the message of the second advent was not committed to the religious leaders of the people. They had failed to preserve their connection with God, and had refused light from heaven; therefore they were not of the number described by the apostle Paul: “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.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4, 5. GC 315.3Read in context »