1. A PREVIEW OF COMING EVENTS
a. What prediction did the Son of man make about the grand temple existing in His day—an event the disciples could not fathom? Matthew 24:1, 2.
“As Christ’s attention was attracted to the magnificence of the temple, what must have been the unuttered thoughts of that Rejected One! The view before Him was indeed beautiful, but He said with sadness, I see it all. The buildings are indeed wonderful. You point to these walls as apparently indestructible; but listen to My words: The day will come when ‘there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’ ”—The Desire of Ages, p. 627.
b. What questions intrigued the disciples, and how was this intermingled with Christ’s prophecies concerning the end of the world? Matthew 24:3.
“With the overthrow of Jerusalem the disciples associated the events of Christ’s personal coming in temporal glory to take the throne of universal empire, to punish the impenitent Jews, and to break from off the nation the Roman yoke. The Lord had told them that He would come the second time. Hence at the mention of judgments upon Jerusalem, their minds reverted to that coming.”—The Great Controversy, p. 25.
2. PROPHECY FULFILLED AFTER CHRIST’S ASCENSION
a. What warning should we heed from the spiritual implications of the fate of the temple in A.D. 70, just as Jesus had prophesied? Isaiah 30:12, 13.
“The blind obstinacy of the Jewish leaders, and the detestable crimes perpetrated within the besieged city, excited the horror and indignation of the Romans. . . . In their fury the soldiers hurled blazing brands into the chambers adjoining the temple, and then with their swords they slaughtered in great numbers those who had found shelter there. Blood flowed down the temple steps like water. Thousands upon thousands of Jews perished. Above the sound of battle, voices were heard shouting: ‘Ichabod!’—the glory is departed.”—The Great Controversy, p. 33.
“Both the city and the temple were razed to their foundations, and the ground upon which the holy house had stood was ‘plowed like a field’ (Jeremiah 26:18).”—Ibid., p. 35.
b. Name some interesting points we can glean from how only those who had heeded the words of Jesus were spared. Luke 21:20–22; Psalm 27:5.
“For seven years a man continued to go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, declaring the woes that were to come upon the city. . . . This strange being was imprisoned and scourged, but no complaint escaped his lips. To insult and abuse he answered only: ‘Woe, woe to Jerusalem!’ ‘woe, woe to the inhabitants thereof!’ His warning cry ceased not until he was slain in the siege he had foretold.
“Not one Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem. Christ had given His disciples warning, and all who believed His words watched for the promised sign. [Luke 21:20–22 quoted.]”—Ibid., p. 30.
“[Luke 21:20–22 quoted.] This warning was given to be heeded forty years after, at the destruction of Jerusalem. . . .
“ ‘Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day,’ Christ said (Matthew 24:20). . . . Forty years after His crucifixion [the Sabbath] was still to be held sacred. For forty years the disciples were to pray that their flight might not be on the Sabbath day.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 630.
3. A PROPHETIC TIME PERIOD—THE DARK AGES
a. What would eventually come upon the believers after the general destruction of the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70? Matthew 24:21, 22.
“From the destruction of Jerusalem, Christ passed on rapidly to the greater event, the last link in the chain of this earth’s history—the coming of the Son of God in majesty and glory. Between these two events, there lay open to Christ’s view long centuries of darkness, centuries for His church marked with blood and tears and agony.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 630, 631.
b. How was this same historic period of tribulation depicted in prophecy in the book of Revelation? Revelation 11:2, 3; 13:5.
c. What scriptural guideline about prophetic time helps us understand how to calculate mathematically the actual length of this period, keeping in mind that the the prophetic reckoning is a 30-day month with 360 days each year? Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6.
“The suppression of the Scriptures under the dominion of Rome, the terrible results of that suppression, and the final exaltation of the word of God, are vividly portrayed by the prophetic pencil. To John the exile on lonely Patmos was given a view of the 1260 years during which the papal power was permitted to trample upon God’s word.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 188.
“The forty and two months are the same as the ‘time and times and the dividing of time,’ three years and a half, or 1260 days, of Daniel 7—the time during which the papal power was to oppress God’s people. This period began with the supremacy of the papacy, A.D. 538, and terminated in 1798. At that time the pope was made captive by the French army, the papal power received its deadly wound, and the prediction was fulfilled, ‘He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity’ (Revelation 13:10).”—The Great Controversy, p. 439.
4. THREE LANDMARK EVENTS
a. Just before the end of the 1260-year-prophetic-time period (since the actual persecution was “shortened”), what signs in nature showed that Jesus’ return was soon? Matthew 24:29, 30; Mark 13:24–26; Revelation 6:12, 13.
b. Examining these prophecies one by one: According to the record of Inspiration and history, which occurred first? Revelation 6:12.
“In fulfillment of this prophecy [of Revelation 6:12] there occurred, in the year 1755, the most terrible earthquake that has ever been recorded. Though commonly known as the earthquake of Lisbon, it extended to the greater part of Europe, Africa, and America. It was felt in Greenland, in the West Indies, in the island of Madeira, in Norway and Sweden, Great Britain and Ireland. It pervaded an extent of not less than four million square miles.”—The Great Controversy, p. 304.
c. How was the prophecy about the sun and the moon fulfilled? Mark 13:24.
“The 1260 days, or years, terminated in 1798. A quarter of a century earlier, persecution had almost wholly ceased. Following this persecution, according to the words of Christ, the sun was to be darkened.”—Ibid., p. 306.
“May 19, 1780, stands in history as ‘The Dark Day.’ Since the time of Moses no period of darkness of equal density, extent, and duration, has ever been recorded. The description of this event, as given by eyewitnesses, is but an echo of the words of the Lord, . . . ‘The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come’ (Joel 2:31).”—Ibid., p. 308.
d. How was the prophecy of the stars fulfilled? Mark 13:25; Revelation 6:13.
“[Revelation 6:13 quoted.] This prophecy received a striking and impressive fulfillment in the great meteoric shower of November 13, 1833. That was the most extensive and wonderful display of falling stars which has ever been recorded.”—Ibid., p. 333.
5. PROVIDED TO MAKE AN IMPACT
a. Besides the three great natural events Christ gave as signs of His soon return, name some other signs, and explain how they are rapidly fulfilling more and more. Matthew 24:6–12; Mark 13:7–9; Luke 21:9–11, 25–27.
b. What should we recall in seeing these signs? Luke 17:26; Jeremiah 8:11, 12.
“Calamities, earthquakes, floods, disasters by land and by sea, will increase. God is looking upon the world today as He looked upon it in Noah’s time. He is sending His message to people today as He sent it in the days of Noah. There is in this age of the world a repetition of the wickedness of the world before the flood.”—The Advocate, December 1, 1900.
c. Why can we be encouraged by prophecies being fulfilled? 1 Samuel 12:16; 1 Peter 2:9.
“Those who accepted the advent doctrine were roused to the necessity of repentance and humiliation before God. Many had long been halting between Christ and the world; now they felt that it was time to take a stand. ‘The things of eternity assumed to them an unwonted reality. Heaven was brought near, and they felt themselves guilty before God.’ . . . Christians were quickened to new spiritual life. They were made to feel that time was short, that what they had to do for their fellow men must be done quickly.”—The Great Controversy, p. 340.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. In A.D. 70, why did God allow the magnificent temple to be destroyed?
2. Why was the lone man pronouncing woe against Jerusalem not spared?
3. How do we know that a day in prophetic time often equals a year?
4. Name the dates of the great three-landmark-signs of Christ’s soon return.
5. As I see the signs fulfilling, what impact should I allow it to make on me?