Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light…
The kingdom of God is within you, but the crises of judgment are periodical and outward. The kingdom is within the individual the kingdom of habit, which eludes observation; silently formed day by day, growing as seed grows in the earth, full of slow, secret developments; the kingdom of impressions received — no change on the face showing the inner working; the kingdom of life discipline — lessons quietly, privately learned — experiences which only you know of laid to heart — memories hoarded; the kingdom of prayer, aspiration, spiritual communion, into which you can enter alone, none knowing how or when you pray — the Divine Host coming in silently, "without observation." It comes also, this spiritual kingdom, to nations, "without observation;" slowly beneath its invisible sway slavery disappears; the place of woman is secured; human law brought into nearer affinity with Divine law; the brotherhood of man gradually acknowledged, in theory, at least; even the horror of war alleviated. Thus slowly, without observation, do the kingdoms of the world tend to become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. But, oh, how much remains to be done! Philosophers talk of the military barbarous phase giving place to the industrial phase in civilization, and we enter the Inventions Exhibition, 1885 — that late product of the nineteenth century — and the first things which meet our gaze are certain awful cannons and war implements for the destruction of human life, and the unfaternal torture of human beings. Cold steel, gunpowder, and the big battalions have it all their own way in a world which laughs at arbitration, sneers at right, and still swears by Christ. And now see how the judgment crises of this kingdom within work themselves out, and are as startling and as terrible as any appearance of the Son of Man in the clouds, surrounded by His angelic heralds of judgment. Every time the measure of a nation's iniquity is full, there comes such a judgment crisis. It came to Jerusalem when the armies of Vespasian, in the year 70, trampled out the heartless and effete ecclesiastical system of the old Judaism. It came to Rome when the unparalleled corruption of the Caesars had spread to the provinces, and in due time the empire went to pieces, under the weakness of its head, and was broken up to be re-constituted in the Christian nations of modern Europe. It came to England when the Reformation stamped the authority of the Pope out of the kingdom. It came again when huge popular oppression and political wrong nerved the people to strike for justice in the execution of an English king. It came to France after centuries of organized selfishness and robbery of the poor by the rich, in the French Revolution and Reign of Terror, 1793. It came again with the overthrow of an adventurer, who in our time rose to power by treachery and massacre, and wielded the sceptre of France for more than twenty years until the judgment fell upon him at Sedan and hurled him from the throne. People were taken in by Napoleon III. and the glitter of his empire. They thought that he at all events had outdone Providence. But neither he nor any one else can do that. One Frenchman at least saw clear — stood firm for the permanence of spiritual principle, and waited for the kingdom of God which cometh not with observation. That was Victor Hugo. Nothing could induce him to enter France whilst Antichrist was on the throne. The day after Sedan he presented himself at the ticket-office in Brussels, and left that night for Paris.
(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: