Summary: All religious books claim to be the word of God, but prophecy sets the Bible apart as having God’s seal of authentication. This section looks at the destruction of Jerusalem and the prophecies that foretold it.
The Destruction of Jerusalem (Part 6 of 6)
At this point we should lay the historic foundation and take some time to look at the destruction of Jerusalem. After Jesus’ triumphant entry, He looked over Jerusalem and wept. Look at Luke 19
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,
42 saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
43 "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,
44 "and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
Jesus also added:
15 " Therefore when you see the ’abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand),
16 "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. – Matthew 24:15-16
This was the day that God’s people should have recognized. Not only did they fail to recognize it, but the leaders did everything in their power to prevent this day from arriving. Jesus foretold of this destruction on several occasions. In Luke 21 the disciples were talking about how marvelous and beautiful the temple was. The temple was the pride and glory of Israel. Jesus said that not one stone would be left on the temple. Because of these prophecies, the early Christians recognized the coming destruction and were able to escape.
Look again at Daniel 9:
26 "And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate."
Jesus’ prophecy refers back to this prophecy which says, “The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary”. The prince is not referring to the Messiah, but the prince that shall come after the Messiah is cut off. Jesus added to it by saying that not one stone of the temple will be left on top of the other. The temple and the sanctuary are the same. When Rome came to destroy Jerusalem they fulfilled the destruction of the sanctuary, but that prince did not exalt himself as God and did not defile the temple.
Under the emperor Nero, the Jews revolted against Rome. Insurrectionists were a part of the Jewish mindset from the beginning of Roman occupation. When Jesus arrived on the scene, those who acknowledged Him as Messiah were looking for Him to free Israel from Rome and become a military leader as King David had been. When Jesus failed to meet the expectations of the people, they rejected Him completely. If we look back at the trial of Jesus, Pilot gave the people a choice to free Jesus or Barabbas. Barabbas was an insurrectionist who murdered others to promote his cause. The Jews chose the murderer over Jesus.
Under the burden of the insanity of Nero, the Jews launched an outright rebellion in AD 66. Several cities around Jerusalem were destroyed as a show of force. The rebellion continued until Vespasian began his march to destroy Jerusalem. Vespasian unexpectedly turned away from Jerusalem and all the Christians fled Jerusalem. A short time later, Vespasian’s son, Titus returned with the Roman armies to lay siege around Jerusalem. Even while Titus was marching to Jerusalem, his father, Vespasian was proclaimed Emperor of Rome, thus making Titus a prince of Rome. Daniel’s prophecy stated that the people of the prince to come would surround Jerusalem. Once again we can see the amazing accuracy of scripture. Only God could have foreknown that the coming general would become a prince before he arrived at Jerusalem.
While Jerusalem was encompassed around outside, they warred among themselves inside. Two ‘crime lords’, whom Josephus called the seditious, were jockeying for control of the city. These were very evil men who looked at the chaos as an opportunity to rise to power. One was named John and the other Simon. They thought nothing of killing each other and any who sided with the other. During their internal war, they burned storehouses of food in an attempt to make the other vulnerable. During the early years of the siege, food could be used to gain power. After destroying the storage, food was too scares to use for anything but survival. Out of spite they self-inflicted a famine that would not have occurred for many years if at all. After food became scarce, the followers of these two seditious men would go house to house searching for food to confiscate. They would frequently torture people to find out if they had or knew of hidden food.