Why is it that we are not taught these things vital to our comprehension of Scripture? Wouldn’t it be extraordinarily relevant to understand the times, events and conditions that existed as the Canon was being written and ultimately completed? Were the events leading up to and including the demise of the Temple in AD 70, a fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Most scoff at the idea. Preposterous they say. Instead of dismissing this possibility out of hand, wouldn’t it behoove us to be faithful Bereans seeing if “these things are so?” (Acts 17:11)
The majority of Christians today ascribe a still future fulfillment to both Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (Mt 24; Mk 13; Luke 21) and John’s Revelation. But have you ever wondered why this is the common belief, given the fact that Jesus told his disciples rather emphatically, “Truly, truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things [not some] take place”? How can “this generation” refer to a generation 2,000 years future? If He wanted to suspend or elasticize the time clock, couldn’t Jesus have just as easily said, “that generation”, so as to introduce some level of ambiguity as to which generation He was referring?
(a few blogs back, we made a sound case HERE, arguing that “this generation” was directed specifically to those to whom Jesus was speaking. We contended that any other conclusion would be the result of presupposition and paradigm not exegesis. In other words, if we predetermined that Jesus could not have been referring directly to the generation at hand between AD 30-70, we must either change the meaning of generation [as some have tried] or we must add our own qualifiers, like “this generation that sees the signs” etc. Either way, in my view, the interpreter is playing with fire)
Most are unaware of the overwhelming evidence supporting the first century fulfillment of these predictions. May it never be, you say! If this is even a remote possibility why are so many (as I was) in the dark regarding these matters?
Although the first and third verse of Revelation’s first chapter confirm the near-term expectation of this prophetic fulfillment, why don’t people today embrace this timing?
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants–things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. Revelation 1:1-3
Why don’t we search diligently for historical corroboration of the events that match the Revelation’s first century predictions. If the events recorded in the Revelation were to “shortly take place…for the time is near”, would it not be wise to see if these things actually took place shortly thereafter? I can hear the wheels turning as you read this.
We don’t look back 2,000 years for fulfillment we say, because we “know” these things are reserved for our future. Really? Isn’t this a leap of unbelief since we are ignoring the timing of these things while we allow our presuppositions to run amuck? Why are we, who pride ourselves in a literal interpretation of God’s Word, so quick to jettison the common, literal understanding of “shortly” and “near”? Doesn’t this bother us just a little?
Have you ever wondered where we obtain the Scriptural license justifying our alteration of word meanings like “shortly” and “near” to suit our own “private interpretations”? Aren’t we even a little concerned that we are dabbling rather precariously with the inspiration and inerrancy of God’s Word? Was God not able to communicate His plans clearly and effectively within the context of our finiteness? Isn’t the test of a prophet (Deut 18:18-22) such that his prophesied word would come to pass within the time constraints of his prophetic utterance?
If we faithfully ignore the timing of these prophecies, are we not a mite intellectually dishonest? Isn’t faithfulness predicated upon timely fulfillment of a promise? If the people in the Old Testament accepted the normative interpretional methods of the 21st century, would they have possessed the necessary means to determine the veracity of a prophet? If for example, the prophet Isaiah predicted the near term fall of the Babylonians to the Medes (Isaiah 13:1-22), would there have been any consequence to Isaiah if the Babylonians had not yet been defeated? Would Isaiah not have received swift rebuke for His inability to speak for the Lord?
Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Isaiah 13:6
Let me share with you why I believe we have left clear interpretations of “shortly” and “quickly” and have thus ended with an interpretational free-for-all. First, as we read the uninspired footnotes of our Bibles, we find that the Revelation was written in approx 95-96 AD. Why is this significant and what impact does this have upon the time expectations with these first three verses? No events occurring shortly after AD 95-96 fit John’s prophetic description. Therefore, “things which must take place shortly” and “for the time is near”, must not mean what they appear to mean, or so we are told.
The truth is that once I realized the absolutely flimsy evidence of the “late date” (AD 96), and after I began to study both the internal and external proofs, it became clear to me that not only was the Revelation written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, but our entire Canon was comprised before this earth shattering event. In “Before Jerusalem Fell“, Kenneth Gentry makes a very compelling case for a mid AD 60s date, hence the book’s title.
The sheer fact that the War of the Jews, culminating in the Destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, (which resulted in well more than a million Jewish deaths) is not mentioned in one book of Holy Scripture, should cause us pause and thus burden us to consider the reasons. Gentry’s 409 page tome (above), along with a plethora of audio/written evidence HERE, is available for your perusal. In my view, the correct dating, specifically of the Revelation, is absolutely crucial to the integrity of God’s Word.
A great deal of the impetus to treat time words and phrases like “things to take place shortly”, “for the time is near”, “He is coming quickly”, and “the time is at hand”, ambiguously, is gained by our attempt to justify the fact that the Revelation (as I mentioned earlier) has no immediate application regarding an AD 96 date. In other words, the events nearing the end of the first century don’t seem to have any correlation with the predicted calamities in the Revelation.
However, if one considers the probability of an AD 65 or 66 date, the events described in this very heavily sign-ifed book, along with the “all these things” from the Olivet, fit the time period from AD 66-70 like a glove.
I believe, if you truly look at the evidence while attempting as best you can to be objective, you may be shocked to find that every last sign/warning found in Matthew 24 (wars, earthquakes, famines, desolation; false Christs, gospel preached to the whole world, tribulation etc.) took place by the fall of the Temple in the annihilation of Jerusalem in AD 70. Just 40 years prior, Jesus prophesied that “the end of the age” would culminate with the destruction of Temple/Jerusalem at His Parousia (return with a consequential presence).
And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2
With this as a backdrop, please prayerfully consider the extra-Biblical description of the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the multi-national army lead by Rome. This brief historical outline regards the prophetic fulfillment of both Jesus’ Olivet (AD 30) and Jesus’ revelation to John 35 years later (AD 65). I believe it is imperative to be certain that when Jesus or one of the New Testament’s inspired writers said that something was near and right at the door, they were speaking the truth.
I’m confident that you will find the following account rather fascinating in so far as it fulfilled Jesus’ prediction 40 years earlier (a generation), that “not one stone will be left upon another.” May your faith be increased exponentially by the proof of God’s faithfulness to avenge His adversaries. (2 Thes 1:6-10)
The Destruction of Jerusalem
Kirchenagenda für Ev.-Luth. Gemeinden
ungeänderter Augsburgischer Konfession.
Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Missouri, 1922.
D. J. Muehlenbruch, translator
For this reason the Emperor Nero sent Gessius Florus to the Jewish lands. And, compared to him, the Jews were so obstinate in their greed, arrogance and wantonness, the Jews hunted down and killed five thousand of his men. The Jews were also fanatical, because of the will of God, about setting themselves against the Romans and revolting. When the Emperor Nero became aware of this he send Flavius Vespasianus and his son, Titus, to Syria.
Vespatian came to Galilee, which was heavily populated, and laid waste to everything; there being no end of murder, plundering, and fire. Many thousands of Jews were slaughtered, on one occasion as many as fifty thousand valiant men, together with women and children. The soldiers spared neither old nor young, neither the pregnant nor babes in arms. On one occasion Vespatian send six thousand young men as slaves to Achaia, to dig on the Isthmus. Thirty thousand Jewish combatants were sold into bondage. In desperation, five thousand threw themselves off of high cliffs.
At this time there was an admirable man, wise and judicious, a priest among the Jews, and once their leader in war, named Josephus. He had fled with several others to a cave near Jotapata after the first alarm, he had been captured and sent to Vespatian. Since he had prophesied to Vespatian that he would become emperor, he was permitted to live. And this same Josephus has written what we know of this history.
As this was taking place in Galilee, a great crowd of rapacious people, at the instigation of Johannes, one of the great men, came to Jerusalem, so that he might use this rabble to break up the regiment there. There was also much secret murder, robbery and plundering in Jerusalem. It also happened that several high priests were slaughtered, and much blood was spilled, even in the temple. Josephus wrote that twelve thousand of the best and noblest Jews were overtaken in this uproar, and had their houses and possessions given as plunder to the mob and the vulgar and lowly.
So it was, that even before agreeable weather returned, Jerusalem had been plagued with threefold misfortune, namely a war with Rome; with insurrection and all manner of mutiny; and tyranny, which had faction rising against faction, and with the knowledge of the rulers, shedding much blood.
Now, at the beginning of Winter, Vespatian heard that Nero was dead, besieged the city with Roman legions so that he might easily storm and take Jerusalem. Now, since Vespatian was recalled from his legions to become emperor, so that he might go to Egypt, and then to Italy, he gave commend of the Jewish campaign to his son, Titus.
Titus established his encampment hear to Jerusalem, and divided the legions to besiege the city from several sides. Meanwhile, a great host of people from all cities and regions were gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. There were also, as mentioned above, three factions in the city seeking to destroy unity and order. One element was the Temple faction, among these Eleazar, son of Simon, was the leader. The Zealots, an evil, hypocritical lot, hostile to the populace, belonged to this faction. In the lesser faction, Johannes, the source of all misfortune, as mentioned above, held sway. The principal faction was controlled by Simon, with the help of twenty thousand Idumeans, sought to save the city from the wantonness and determined intention of the Zealots. Many would have had these guests somewhere else, but they could not be gotten rid of.
When Titus saw that the city was overcrowded beyond counting, hastily armed and reinforced himself in order to lay siege to the city and, as Christ had foretold, to encircle it with wagons so that hunger might drive them to greater distress and anxiety. When the Jews saw this, they with all their might to hinder and prevent this, and to keep it from happening, but it was completed and they were out of lick; For our Lord God wanted to make an end of them.
The city of Jerusalem was well fortified and had three walls. Therefore the Roman forces approached in full force to storm the city; and after much work, the first and second walls conquered and taken. At this same time, an innumerable multitude of people died of hunger, as Josephus wrote. The best of friends would often come to blows over a small piece of bread; children would often rip food from their parents’ mouths. Neither brother nor sister had mercy upon the other.
A bushel of corn was more precious than gold. Driven by hunger, some ate manure; some, the cinches of their saddles; some, the leather stripped from their shields; some still had hay in their mouths when their bodies were found; some sought to escape starvation by means of their own filth. So many died of starvation that 115,000 corpses were found in the city and buried. Hegesippus reported that, at one gate alone, several thousand were carried out, and that 600,000 dies because of the siege.
Josephus reported that such a fearful, gruesome event occurred, that future generations would hardly be able to believe it. There was a respected woman, wealthy and well bred, across the Jordan; having fled Jerusalem in fear with some others. Now, since the city had been so grievously beset with hunger, (with what manner of crying and pain, one can only imagine) slaughtered her young child in the cradle, roasted half of it and ate it. When the soldiers came by looking for food, she set the remaining portion before them. The soldiers removed themselves from this gruesome scene, and having mercy upon the miserable woman, revealed this event to the lord of Jerusalem.
The Jews occupied the Castle Antonia, which was a strong fortress; they also occupied the temple compound, from which a stream flowed into the city. It cost more to conquer this fortress than all other the others combined.
Titus, however, fired up his men to storm the fortress by force. When the Romans had taken the castle, the trumpeter sounded a signal and all the Jews who had occupied the castle were slain or thrown from the walls; but some hurriedly escaped to the city in the darkness.
It is said that Titus wanted to spare the temple; but God decreed that it would not be spared. For after men had long walked and worked, and the Jews could not be moved, neither with threats or exhortations, to give up their fortified positions, the soldiers realized that the temple could only be conquered with fire; some of the men it afire. And in that hour the magnificent, exquisite and priceless building, which was celebrated far and wide, burned and was reduced to ashes.
The priests must beg and entreat pitifully to keep themselves alive; but the grace of God and men had run out. Titus, so Hegesippus writes, stated: “Now that their temple and services are gone, the priests are no longer needed.” This destruction of the temple occurred on the tenth day of the month of August.
But the Jews that remained, after the destruction of the temple, in the section of the city not conquered by the Romans, thought to surrender themselves and went to Titus. Although they had not waited too long to make peace, and they did petition for peace and freedom because they were starving and in great need, nothing came of it, as it was only a few days since the city had been taken. Meanwhile, uncountable numbers of people, driven by anxiety and the distress of unbearable hunger, ran from the city into the hands of the enemy camp; there they sold themselves cheaply. It was then that the soldiers became aware that a certain Jew was picking gold which he had swallowed our of his own excrement.
Thus a rumor began to spread throughout the entire camp. This rumor caused those soldiers who thought about it to believe that they could find gold in all the Jews who had come out of the city to their encampment. More than two thousand Jews were disemboweled in a single night; and many m ore have suffered the same fate had Titus not decreed that the captives should not be killed.
Finally, the entire city of Jerusalem was conquered, neither young nor old were spared. Then a decree went out that all miserable people who were incapable of offering any resistance should be spared. Also, Jerusalem was thoroughly plundered by the foe, razed, burned and left in ruin. Some buildings were left standing, so that a few Roman soldiers might have been able to stand watch there. Only a few devastated buildings and towers were left standing to indicate that a city had once been there.
Thus the city of Jerusalem was destroyed and razed on the eighth day of September, in the fifth month of the siege.
From the host of captives Titus sent seventeen thousand healthy, young and strong men to Alexandria as quarry slaves. Many Jews were sold as cheaply as animals. Two thousand were distributed across the entire roman empire to become players in the spectacles, and to be torn apart by wild beasts in the arenas.
The total number of captives who remained alive came to ninety-seven thousand; however, at the beginning of the siege, ten times one hundred thousand were in the city, the majority of them strangers and not residents, although all were of Jewish descent and blood.
Thus Jerusalem, the most celebrated city in all of the East, came to a miserable and lamentable end, as had been prophesied, in the seventieth year after the birth of Christ our Lord.
(For a more complete account of the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem, you may find it great benefit to download and read George Holford’s 1805 account of, “The Destruction of Jerusalem, An Absolute and Irresistible Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity.)
***NOTE: Proving exact dates within the historical timeline are extremely difficult. The Jewish calendar is primarily lunar, with each month beginning on the new moon. The problem with strictly lunar calendars is that there are approximately 12.4 lunar months in every solar year, so a 12-month lunar calendar loses about 11 days every year and a 13-month lunar calendar gains about 19 days every year. The months on such a calendar “drift” relative to the solar year. On a 12 month calendar, the month of Nissan, which is supposed to occur in the spring, occurs 11 days earlier each year, eventually occurring in the winter, the fall, the summer, and then the spring again. To compensate for this drift, an extra month was occasionally added; a second month of Adar. The month of Nissan would occur 11 days earlier for two or three years and then would jump forward 29 or 30 days, balancing out the drift.
According to www.hebcal.com, in A.D. 70 the 1st of Tishrei was on September 22. But they add this warning: “WARNING: Results for year 1752 C.E. and before may not be accurate. Hebcal does not take into account a correction of ten days that was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII known as the Gregorian Reformation.” (Provided by David Curtis, Pastor, Berean Bible Church)