By Nathan Jones
How accurately did Jesus foretell the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD?
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista and I will look at the ninth end times sign related to Jerusalem prophesied by Jesus in Luke 21:20-24.
Vic Batista: Nathan, before we get into the end times sign of Jerusalem, could you give a quick recap of the background behind Jesus' teaching in Luke 21, paralleled in Matthew 24 and Mark 13?
Nathan Jones: The Apostles had asked Jesus three questions:
- When will the Temple fall?
- What will be the sign of the end of the age?
- And, what will be the sign of Jesus' coming?
They wanted to know what would be the signs that would proceed His coming. We know that Jesus is coming back to rapture the Church, that is those people who believe in Jesus as Savior, off this planet before a terrible seven year time period called the Tribulation befalls the world. It's when God's wrath will be poured out on the world, and as a result, much of the planet's population and the ecology will die. Jesus will return at the very end of this time, and it's called the Second Coming. That's when Jesus will defeat evil and set up His 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom. His Kingdom will be characterized as a time of peace, righteousness and justice that will reign throughout the land. That time has been what those faithful to God have been looking out for millennia.
By asking the second and third questions, the Apostles had inadvertently pointed out that the Second Coming will be divided into two stages. The Rapture is the first stage and then the Second Coming is the second stage.
Jesus said that ten different signs would occur before His return, and they would come more frequently and more intensely and with much more destruction the closer humanity rocketed to those fateful days. Jesus said there would be a huge influx of false prophets, there would be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilence, signs in the skies, Christian persecution and other signs.
Vic Batista: Nathan, you've taken us through eight out of the ten end times signs, so now let's look at another sign. What is the ninth sign Jesus gave us in Luke 21?
Nathan Jones: The ninth sign that Jesus talked about was the fall of Jerusalem.
Remember when the Apostles were asking, "When was the Temple going to fall?" They asked that just across the valley from the Temple in Jerusalem. They had been oohing and aahing over how amazing it was, that is until Jesus declared that it was going to be destroyed. He even said that not one stone would be left upon another. The fulfillment of that prophecy happened in 70 AD.
We can read about how bad the fall of Jerusalem would be in Matthew 21:20.
"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies you will know that its desolation is near. Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those in the great city get out, and those in the country not enter the city for this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers. There will be great distress in the land and wrath against His people. They will fall by the sword and be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles to the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
That scenario Jesus described was played out exactly when the Roman General Titus Vespasian and four legions marched into Jerusalem. From 68-70 AD, they besieged Jerusalem. The Romans starved the people in the hopes they'd surrender. The historian Josephus left us detailed stories about the horrific suffering that went on in Jerusalem. They were stories of how the starvation was so bad that even cannibalism was occurring.
When Titus' armies broke through the walls, they slaughtered the Jews en mass. A recorded 1.1 million estimated were killed and 98,000 Jews captured. Josephus wrote:
"The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without. Men and women old and young and servants and priests, those who had fought and those who treated mercy, were hewed down in discriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers. The legionnaires had to clamor over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination."
Vespasian's victory was so fierce and so brutal that when his victory was complete, it was reported that he refused to accept the wreath of victory that was always given to the victor. The reason he said was, "There is no merit in vanquishing a people forsaken by their God."
Vic Batista: Wow! The works of Josephus are a great resource which provide so much history about the destruction of Jerusalem.
Nathan Jones: Josephus was also a Jew who lived during that very time. His rebellion against Rome was shortened when he was captured by the Romans and then switched sides. The Romans used him as a historian to record the slaughter of his own people and all the other events that went on during era. Josephus recorded some horrible, horrible stories.
The reason for the fall of Jerusalem was because the Jews had rejected Jesus as the Messiah. So, just as Jesus said, the Temple fell, which occurred in 70 AD. Jesus said not one stone would be left upon another, and that's absolutely what happened. The Romans came in and they were mad. It'd been three years since they'd begun to besieged the city. They'd chopped down most of the trees in Israel to use as their fortifications. They swept into the city and then they looted the Temple. The soldiers set fire to Temple and the fire melted all the gold which oozed down into the cracks between the stones. History records that the Romans pried up all the stones to get at the gold that had melted and then solidified between the stones. Literally they lifted up every stone off the Temple so that there was not one stone left upon another. Then they threw the stones all down into the Kidron Valley. And so, the Temple was totally destroyed, exactly as Jesus said it would.
Vic Batista: That's why we encourage everyone to be reading the Word of God, because everything that's written in this book comes to pass 100% of the time. What an incredible prophecy that was literally fulfilled! That's why Jesus is the only true prophet. We have so many so-called prophets today, such as Nostradamus and so many others, and yet much of what they say is pure nonsense, right?
Nathan Jones: Today's prophets' prophecies are totally make-believe. In Deuteronomy you can read about how if what a prophet says does not come true then we know they are not a prophet. Just forget them. Don't be afraid of them. So many people are out there predicting this and that. They are setting the day that Jesus is supposedly going to come back, though Jesus said we cannot know the day or hour. There are prophesying the demise of countries, economic collapses, and other impossible things. All these so-called prophecies are extra-biblical.
We must go to the Bible for knowing the future, for the Bible is the very Word of God. When Jesus came at His First Coming, well 300 general prophecies and 109 distinct prophecies had foretold about that coming. These were very specific prophecies like what town He would be born in, which was Bethlehem Ephrata, what tribe his family would be part of, what His lineage would descend from, that He would be born of a virgin, and many other different yet specific things. Jesus fulfilled all 300 prophecies. That means that 100% of these prophecies were fulfilled!
Concerning Jesus' Second Coming, some 500 verse in the Old Testament and one out of every 25 verses in the New Testament prophesy Jesus return at the Second Coming. These verses provide great detail about the event. So, if 100% of the prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus' First Coming, then what percent will be fulfilled by His Second Coming?
Vic Batista: Absolutely 100%!
Nathan Jones: Yes, 100%! Therefore, we can put our faith and trust in what the Bible says about Jesus Christ, about salvation, and about the future, because we know what the Bible prophesies always comes true. There is no religious book at all in all the world that contains fulfilled prophecy. Only the Bible has prophecies that have been fulfilled. And, when those prophecies are fulfilled, we then know we can put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. We can have the assurance of our salvation once we've accepted Jesus as Savior.
Vic Batista: People can put their faith in the Word of God and what the Bible says about salvation.
Nathan Jones: We can indeed put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ and in what He says about the future.
In the second segment of our discussion on the end times sign of Jerusalem, Vic and I will look at Jerusalem's role in the final days.