The Book of Luke, The Destruction of Jerusalem Foretold - Lesson 222
Luke 21:20, And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
This is a warning that is particularly pertinent to those who were with Christ at that time.
For this event, the destruction of the temple and all of Jerusalem was to happen in their lifetime.
Remember the time reference the Lord gave to the disciples in verse 12 where he told them of the persecution that they would face.
And now he tells them of the fate of Jerusalem and gives them direction which will result in the saving of their lives.
The instruction is to not trust in protection that the city affords but to flee the city and find refuge in the mountains.
For Jerusalem is destined to be encompassed by the Roman armies within the lifetimes of these disciples.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Siege of Jerusalem
The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 was a decisive event in the First Jewish-Roman War, followed by the fall of Masada in 73. The Roman army, led by later Emperor Titus besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by Jewish rebels in 66.
Despite early successes in repelling the Roman sieges, the Zealots fought amongst themselves, lacking proper leadership, discipline, training, and preparation for the battles that were to follow.Titus surrounded the city, with three legions on the western side and a fourth on the Mount of Olives to the east. He put pressure on the food and water supplies of the inhabitants by allowing pilgrims to enter the city to celebrate Passover, and then refusing them egress. After Jewish sallies killed a number of Roman soldiers, Titus sent Flavius Josephus, a former Jewish commander now loyal to Rome, to negotiate with the defenders; this ended with Jews wounding the negotiator with an arrow, and another sally was launched shortly after. Titus was almost captured during this sudden attack, but escaped.
In mid-May Titus set to destroying the newly built Third Wall with a ram, breaching it as well as the Second Wall, and turning their attention to the Fortress of Antonia just north of the Temple Mount. The Romans were then drawn into street fighting with the Zealots and sustained heavy enough losses that they were ordered to retreat. Josephus failed in another attempt at negotiations, and Jewish attacks prevented the construction of siege towers at the Fortress of Antonia. Food, water, and other provisions were dwindling, but small foraging parties managed to sneak supplies into the city, harrying Roman forces in the process. To put an end to the success of these foragers, orders were issued to build a new wall, and siege tower construction was restarted as well.
After several failed attempts to breach or scale the walls of the Fortress, the Romans finally launched a secret attack, overwhelming sleeping Zealot guards and taking the Fortress. This was the second highest ground in the city, after the Temple Mount, and provided a perfect point from which to attack the Temple itself. Battering rams made little progress, but the fighting itself eventually set the walls on fire, when a Roman soldier threw a burning stick onto one of the Temple's walls. Destroying the Temple was not among Titus' goals, possibly due in large part to the massive expansions done by Herod the Great mere decades earlier. Most likely, Titus had wanted to seize it and transform it into a pagan temple, dedicated to the Roman Emperor and to the Roman pantheon. But the flames spread quite quickly and were soon unquenchable. Even if the flames were manageable, the Roman soldiers wanted vengeance. The Temple was destroyed on Tisha B'Av, (a major annual fast day) at the end of August, and as the flames spread into the residential sections of the city, along with the Roman legions, Jewish resistance crumbled quickly.
Destruction of JerusalemSulpicius Severus (363Ė420), referring in his Chronica to an earlier writing by Tacitus (56Ė117), claimed that Titus favored destroying the Jerusalem Temple to help uproot and demolish both the Jewish and Christian sects. Some scholars argue that this was not completely effective, and that the destruction of Jerusalem liberated the Christian church to fulfill its destiny as a universal religion offered to the whole world. The account of Josephus, generally considered unreliable in this case, described Titus as moderate in his approach and, after conferring with others, ordering that the thousand-year-old (at that time) Temple be spared. (Solomon's Temple dated to the 10th Century BC, though the physical structure was Herod's Temple, about 90 years old at the time.)
During the long siege a terrible famine raged in the city and the bodies of the inhabitants were literally stacked like cordwood in the streets. Mothers ate their children to preserve their own strength. The toll of Jewish suffering was horrible but they would not surrender the city. Again and again they attempted to trick the Romans through guile and dishonesty. When at last the walls were breached Titus tried to preserve the Temple by giving orders to his soldiers not to destroy or burn it. But the anger of the soldiers against the Jews was so intense that, maddened by the resistance they encountered, they disobeyed the order of their general and set fire to the Temple. There were great quantities of gold and silver there which had been placed in the Temple for safekeeping. This melted and ran down between the rocks and into the cracks of the stones. When the soldiers captured the Temple area, in their greed to obtain this gold and silver they took long bars and pried apart the massive stones. Thus, quite literally, not one stone was left standing upon another. The Temple itself was totally destroyed, though the wall supporting the area upon which the Temple was built was left partially intact and a portion of it remains to this day, called the Western Wall.
Josephus had acted as a mediator for the Romans and, when negotiations failed, witnessed the siege and aftermath. He wrote:
Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done), [Titus] Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and Temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminence; and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison [in the Upper City], as were the towers [the three forts] also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall [surrounding Jerusalem], it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.
And truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing; for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor had anyone who had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again. But though he [a foreigner] were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it. The Temple was destroyed, and the ruins raked over so no stone stood on top of another and the ground was left flat.
Remember verse 6 spoken by our Lord, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
These great events were to happen during the lifetimes of the disciples who were with Jesus.
We know from the book of Acts that most of the saints would have fled from Jerusalem by the time of its destruction, but not the apostles:
For we read in Acts 8:1, And at that time (the time of Stephenís stoning) there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
God used persecution of his church to remove it, except the apostles, from Jerusalem before its destruction.
An interesting aside is that this is a precursor of that which takes place to the church before the time of tribulation for the church is kept from wrath by its rapture by Jesus Christ.
So these last words of Christ regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple were most pertinent to the apostles.
When they saw the Roman army coming to besiege the city, they should flee from it, so as to escape from the wrath of God at the hands of these soldiers.
The common advice would have been to flee to the walled city however the Lordís instruction is to keep as far from the city as they could."
"According to Josephus (The Jewish War, vi, 9) 1,000,000 Jews perished at that time with the destruction of Jerusalem through famine, pestinences, violent death by the Roman sword and 97,000 prisoners were taken and carried off everywhere.
The Roman historian Tacitus states that the normal population of Jerusalem was 600,000 before A.D. 70.
But the siege took place during the time of the Passover when tens of thousands swelled the population of the city and were forced to remain there throughout the five monthsí siege.
Historians tells us that not a single soul was left alive in the ruined city.
By this destruction the old Jewish order was done away with.
The priesthood was done away with.
This cleansing of the old way made way for the church to be established as the dwelling place of God, the "new temple" made without hands (cf. Ephesians 2:18-22).
The temple made with human hands would be no more.
The Jews were removed from their land until such time as Godís purposes would be fulfilled.
Until the Lordís return, Jerusalem will be under the power of the Gentiles, to deal with as they chose, which even continues to this day in spite of the fact that Israel is occupied by Jews.
So we have seen thus far in chapter 21, of Luke a dispelling of many of the false ideas of the disciples.
They were enamored with the beautiful temple and temple grounds of their day.
They were high with expectations of an immediate kingdom that would be brought about by their powerful, miracle working master, Jesus Christ.
But this same Jesus Christ lays to rest the disciplesí visions of an immediate kingdom, with Jerusalem and that temple they see as so permanent, as the kingdomís headquarters.
He corrects their pie in the sky notions by telling them of the soon destruction, not only of the temple, but of their beloved Jerusalem.
And not to stop there, he tells them of a long period with the Gentiles ruling this place until He comes the second time.
He erases the sugar plums dancing in their heads by telling them of the "hard times" ahead for those who would follow Him, rather than "happy days," that nearly all, including the disciples, hoped for and expected from such a powerful leader.
Jesus did not paint a false picture of where he was leading but gave his disciples truth about what was to come and we, as teachers and preachers must do likewise.
Many preachers today promise immediate glory, peace, and good times, but do not talk of suffering, persecution, and endurance, as Jesus does.
Jesus consistently spoke of hard times to those who would follow Him.
He did not dangle promises of immediate relief from suffering and pain, but warned that the way of the disciple was difficult.
Those who would follow Jesus should expect the path of adversity and persecution.
For that is just what Jesus promised.
But within that promise Jesus teaches that those days will be times of opportunity for the proclamation of the gospel.
So a lesson here is that we do not need only "good times" to preach the gospel.
The gospel is "light" to those in "darkness," and it offers hope to those in despair.
That is why Jesus says the gospel is cause for rejoicing for those who weep, for those who hunger, and for those who are persecuted for His nameís sake as he spoke in His sermon on the mount (cf. Luke 6:20-26; Matthew 5:1-12).
And while preaching the gospel He told them to beware of deception and following false messiahís.
He told them to not be afraid, even in the midst of chaos and persecution, and not to seek safety where Godís wrath abides.
They were attracted to the temple and its glories.
But He told them of the templeís demise and destruction.
In doing this he reminded them and us of this principle.
THE DISCIPLE OF CHRIST SHOULD NOT BE ATTRACTED TO THAT WHICH GOD WILL DESTROY, AND SHOULD NOT SEEK SALVATION IN THAT WHICH GOD HAS CONDEMNED.
In pointing out to them the demise of the temple and Jerusalem
Jesus was teaching them, that they should not be attracted to that which God was about to destroy.
They also had a great love for and attraction to Jerusalem, and yet Jesus told them that in the day of His wrath on Jerusalem, they should flee from Jerusalem, not flee to it.
They should not seek salvation in that place which had rejected Him as Messiah, and which He now for a time was to reject and to destroy.
How this lesson applies to all of us as we become enamored with that which this world has to offer.
But if you live long enough you realize the lesson that God has for us as everything you have falls into decay and ruin including your own body.
And that which does not decay and ruin God will destroy in the re-creation of the earth.
This prophecy of Christ must teach us to stop placing too much value on that which God has told us He would destroy.
Peter learned this lesson well, for we can see his conclusion in his second epistle:
2 Peter 3:10-13, But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
There is a saying that goes: Donít be so heavenly minded as to be no earthly good.
So far, Iíve come across few that fit into this category.
Most of us are so earthy minded as to be no heavenly good.
I think Jesus is teaching us here that we need to love the world less and to love His world more.
We need to have our trust in Him alone, and to seek to share the gospel with a world that is under condemnation, and soon to be destroyed in judgment.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
O soul are you weary and troubled?
Through death into life everlasting
His Word shall not fail you - He promised;