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Daniel 12 Prophecy Foretold The Desolation Of The Jews

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This Olivet Discourse Deception study is about the fulfillment of Daniel 12, and the desolation of the temple, the city and the Jews.

In the 70 weeks of Daniel prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27) he was told when the long-awaited Messiah would appear, be anointed, and offer a new covenant.

But he was also told that his people (the Jews) and Jerusalem would be desolated, because they would deliver the Messiah up to be killed.

This caused Daniel such great distress, that he mourned for three weeks.

The fresh communication from heaven in Chapters 10, 11 and 12, was for the express purpose of enabling Daniel to understand matters concerning his people, which had not been disclosed by the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.

The 70 weeks of Daniel prophecy has nothing to do with the end times, as it was fulfilled during the 490 years from 457 B.C. to 34 A.D.

Daniel 10 and 11 describe what would take place during that time, and Daniel 12 gives more information about the desolation of the Jews in 70 A.D.

Most false teachings on prophecy are a result of the teacher not understanding how the prophecy has already been fulfilled, so they speculate that it must be future.

Daniel 10 records his sorrow and the purpose of the angel’s message.

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” Daniel 10:2-3

So the angel returned to Daniel to help him understand the 70 weeks of Daniel prophecy.

Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.” Daniel 10:14

My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength.” Daniel 10:16

During their 70 year captivity in Babylon, Jerusalem and the temple laid in ruins, so they had no home.

The “former days” of Israel’s national existence occurred before their Babylonian captivity.

The “latter days” of Israel’s national existence began when they were released by Cyrus in 457 B.C. to go rebuild Jerusalem and the temple; and they ended in 70 A.D., when the Roman army destroyed the city, temple and people.

Note: If a prophecy teacher applies the term “latter days” to the end times, you now know that their teaching is out of context.

Daniel 11 gives the continuous historical narrative of events that would take place during the latter days.

This time frame spanned 490 years, so there are detailed accounts of its fulfillment by historians. Here’s a list of key figures who fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 11:

The Father used Cyrus, leader of Medes-Persia, to set the Jews free from Babylonian captivity, and to empower them to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the temple.

Alexander the Great of Greece rose up and ruled with great dominion.

The Seleucids (kings of Syria, “the north”) and the Ptolemies (kings of Egypt, “the south”) had incessant wars.

Antiochus Epiphanes, the vile person, surrounded Jerusalem with his armies (the abomination of desolation) and killed 10’s of thousands of Jews. They defiled the sanctuary and caused the daily sacrifice to be taken away for 2,300 days (Daniel 8:14). His persecution of the Jews began in 171 B.C. and the temple was cleansed on December 25, 165 B.C., which is 2,300 days.

The Maccabean uprisings delivered the Jews in the reign of Antiochus, and faithfully served their people as rulers and priests for 130 years.

King Herod exalted himself above all gods (leaders). To protect his kingdom, he decreed for the slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem, in an attempt to kill Messiah as a baby.

Caesar Augustus conquered many countries such as Egypt, and took power of their treasures.

Many prophecy teachers incorrectly apply Daniel 11 verses to an end-times Antichrist, but the context clearly shows that they are not, and that history has confirmed their fulfillment.

Seventh-Day Adventists apply the day-for-a-year concept to the 2,300 days, making it 2,300 years from 457 A.D. to 1844 A.D, which they initially said was the year Messiah would return. Obviously He didn’t return, so now they call the period after 1844 A.D., the period of Investigative Judgment. But you can clearly see that it was 2,300 days, not years.

Daniel 12 records the details he was given regarding the desolation of his people.

Daniel 12:1

And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.”

This lines up with the warning in Jeremiah 30:7, “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.

And it lines up with Messiah’s words in Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

Note: The 70th week of Daniel was fulfilled by Messiah, so His Olivet Discourse and some of His parables warned about this time. His Olivet Discourse is not about the end times, it’s about the great tribulation that would come upon the Jews from 66-70 A.D.

As you will see in the timeline below, the desolation of the Jews was horrific, but all of the elect (spiritual Jews) escaped Jerusalem, and none were lost.

Daniel 12:2

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

This isn’t about Messiah’s second coming, rather it’s about waking up people who are spiritually dead.

Referring to the beginning of Messiah’s ministry, Matthew 4:14-16 says, “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, Light has dawned. From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Messiah said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” John 5:25

Paul affirmed this, “Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14

Messiah, the Light of the World, shined on them during His 3.5 year ministry, which occurred during the 70th week of Daniel. Some accepted Him as their Messiah and were saved to everlasting life; some rejected Him and were condemned.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18

When Paul preached the gospel to the Jews in Antioch, they rejected his message.

Paul responded with “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.” Acts 13:46

This fulfills Messiah’s parable of the Wedding Feast, that when the Jews rejected Him as their Messiah and they persecuted and killed His servants, He responded with,

But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”

Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’”

Daniel 12:3

Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3

Messiah disciples shined the light of the gospel and many were saved.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15

Daniel 12:4

But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

This is not talking about the end of time, but the time of the end of the latter days of Israel.

These words bring the prophecy to an end; and it is not difficult to see the resemblance they bear to the final words of Matthew 28:19-20,

Go therefore (run to and fro) and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching (increase knowledge) them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The day spring of true knowledge from on high waited upon the footsteps of the apostles of Messiah, as they traversed the Gentile world, dispelling darkness, and doubt and fear, and diffusing light, and confidence and joy over every condition of human life.

Colossians 1:26-27 verifies the unveiling of knowledge, “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Daniel 12:6

Daniel asked for more information about the desolation of Jerusalem and the Jews.

How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?

Daniel 12:7

The angel answered, “it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.”

The time, times, and half a time is 1260 days or 3.5 years, which occurred from Dec.. 66 A.D. to July 70 A.D.

The holy people are the Jews, who were shattered by the Roman army.

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. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 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.” Luke 19:42-44

Note: This is not about the end times where there is great tribulation in the whole world, rather it is about the Jews in Judea being shattered because of their rejection of the Messiah.

Daniel 12:8

Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?”

He was asking how the “time of trouble” (which was spoken of in verse 1) would end.

It is the same period as that to which Messiah was referring when He said in Luke 21:22, “these be the days of vengeance that all things that are written may be fulfilled.”

Daniel 12:9

And he (the angel) said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”

Again, it doesn’t say “the end of time” as in the last days; but “the time of the end” of the prophecy regarding the Jewish national existence.

Messiah’s book of Revelation (written in 95 A.D.) describes the fulfillment of many of the prophecies of Daniel, so knowledge of their fulfillment increased after the time of the end, after the latter days of the Jews national existence ended in 70 A.D.

Daniel 12:10

Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.”

The precious shed blood of the Lamb of Elohim made many pure, white and refined.

And He(Messiah) said to them, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28

But the wicked did not understand the time of Messiah’s coming.

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 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. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 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.
Luke 19:41-44

And they rejected their promised Messiah.

Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” Matthew 23:32-36

And the wicked Jewish leaders delivered Him up to be crucified.

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Luke 23:34

Daniel 12:11,12

And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits (i.e., survives, or endures), and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.”

This tells us that the interval of time between when the abomination of desolation occurred and when the daily sacrifice was taken away, was 1,290 days.

Daniel 12:13

But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.”

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So let’s see how Daniel 12 was fulfilled on the timeline.

Day 1 – Nov. 66 A.D.

The first approach of the Roman army under Cestius surrounded the city, which was the “abomination of desolation” that Messiah warned the disciples about.

Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ ; spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” Matthew 24:15-16

This is confirmed in the corollary passage of Luke 21:20-21, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

Note: The abomination of desolation had to be something that the disciples could see. An idol placed in the temple would not be seen except by the priests. For more information, read the Abomination Of Desolation Deception

The Jewish historian Josephus records that Cestius made such rapid progress that the city was on the point of being captured.

The seditious element fled in large numbers, and the peaceable inhabitants were about to throw open the gates to the Romans, when a remarkable thing took place, so unaccountable from any natural standpoint that it can only be attributed to the direct intervention of God, and for the fulfillment of the word of Christ.

Josephus tells how the people were about to admit Cestius as their benefactor, when he suddenly recalled his soldiers and retired from the city without any reason in the world.

Had he not withdrawn when he did, the city and the sanctuary would, of course, have been spared; and Josephus says it was, I suppose, owing to the aversion God already had towards the city and the sanctuary that he (Cestius) was hindered from putting an end to the war that very day (II 19:6).

This happened because Messiah promised His disciples a way of escape, that ‘when they should see the abomination of desolation’ (the idolatrous Roman armies, with the images of their idols in their ensigns) ready to lay Jerusalem desolate, ‘stand where it ought not,’ ‘in the holy place‘ of Jerusalem; they should then ‘flee to the mountains‘.

They escaped and Josephus did not record one death of a Christian at the hands of the Romans.

Roman Commander Titus and his army division was then sent to Judea, where they killed Jews in outlying cities, and then surrounded Jerusalem.

During this time, Nero, the Emperor of Rome died, so the Roman army stayed camped around the city of Jerusalem, awaiting further orders.

They tried to get the Jews to surrender, but the Jews were emboldened because they saw the Father cause the first division of the Roman army leave for no reason, so the Jews warred against the Romans.

When Vespasian was declared Emperor in 69 A.D., Titus (Vespasian’s son) was commanded to end the Jewish rebellion. For this achievement Titus was awarded a triumph; the Arch of Titus commemorates his victory to this day.

The 70 weeks of Daniel prophecy foretold the people of the prince coming to desolate the city and the temple.

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. ” Daniel 9:26

And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate.” Daniel 9:27

Of this period of great tribulation Josephus says, in the introduction of his ‘Wars of the Jews‘ historical documentary.

“It had come to pass that our city Jerusalem had arrived at a higher degree of felicity than any other city under the Roman government, and yet at last fell into the sorest of calamities again. Accordingly it appears to me that the misfortunes of all men from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to those of the Jews, are not so considerable as they were.”

The sufferings of the Jews had this peculiar characteristic, namely, that they were mostly inflicted upon themselves by the warring factions within the city, concerning whom Joseph says in another place:–

“It is impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men’s iniquity. I shall, therefore, speak my mind here at once briefly: That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world” (Wars V. 10:5).

Because the Romans had surrounded the walled city, the food supply was cut off and the Jews were trapped inside.

As a result, 100′s of thousands of Jews died:

From infighting, as different factions warred against each other.

From starvation and disease.

From being crucified by the Romans when the Jews tried to find food outside of the city walls. Hundreds of people a night were caught and crucified outside the city walls, so many in fact, that trees had multiple bodies hung on them.

Josephus recorded that one man, by consent from his family, killed his parents, his wife, his children, and then himself, in order to escape a much worse fate at the hands of the wicked people in the city.

but the wicked shall do wickedly..” Daniel 12:10

Day 1290 – July 70 A.D.

The Roman army breached the walls of Jerusalem and the daily sacrifice was taken away.

Josephus has recorded the very date on which it occurred, saying:

“And now Titus gave orders to his soldiers that were with him to dig up the foundations of the tower of Antonia, and make a ready passage for his army to come up, while he himself had Josephus brought to him; for he had been informed that, on that very day, which was the seventeenth day of Panemus, the sacrifice called ‘the daily sacrifice’ had failed, and had not been offered to God for want of men to offer it; and that the people were grievously troubled at it” (Wars, VI. 2.1.).

1,290 days had passed from when the the abomination of desolation (the Roman army under Cestius) appeared; until “the daily sacrifice was taken away.

Messiah had warned about the bloodshed that would come on this generation.

And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Luke 21:24

This fulfilled Matthew 24:29, as the High Priest (Sun), the High Council (moon) and the Jewish religious leaders (stars) were removed from power, their leadership darkened forever.

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.”

This fulfilled the Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers” where the wicked tenants killed the son of the vineyard owner.

But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.” Luke 20:14-15

This fulfilled Messiah’s words of Woe to the scribes and the Pharisees.

Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” Matthew 23:34-36

Recall what the Jewish leaders said when they handed Messiah over to be crucified:

And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.” Matthew 27:25

As so it was as the Roman army flooded into the city and killed 100’s of thousands of Jews by the sword. And those who were captured were sold into slavery.

Titus wanted to save the temple, but the Roman soldiers were so enraged at the wicked Jews, that they tore it down brick by brick, to be able to capture all of the gold.

This fulfilled Messiah’s words in Matthew 24:1-2, “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 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.”

Day 1335 – Sept 70 A.D.

In correspondence with this is the recorded fact that a month and a half after the daily sacrifice failed, the siege was ended by Titus’ getting sudden and unexpected possession of the upper city, the last stronghold of the besieged.

This last action took place, according to Josephus, the seventh day of the Hebrew month Elul, answering to our September; so that the further duration of the siege after the failure of the daily sacrifice was approximately one month and a half (Wars, VI 8, 4, 5).

And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” Matthew 24:22

That those days were “shortened” by some Divine interference, is indicated by the abrupt and unexpected manner in which the last stronghold fell. Josephus tells how the “tyrants” (the dominant faction in the city) surrendered.

“Did now wholly deprive themselves of the security they had in their own power, and came down from those very towers of their own accord, wherein they could never have been taken by force. …They left those towers of themselves; or rather they were ejected out of them by God Himself. …The Romans, when they had gotten on the last wall without any bloodshed, could hardly believe what they found to be true” (ibid).

In regard to the promised blessing of Daniel 12:12 (Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.), it may be observed that Titus immediately extended clemency to the survivors and he set free those who had been bound by the tyrants (Wars, VI, 9, 1).

Recalling the words of our Messiah when, referring to the same period of unequaled distress, He said in Matthew 24:13, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

So the followers of Messiah who had been taken captive by some Jews, were set free by Titus, fulfilling Messiah’s promise to those who endure during that time of great tribulation.

Note: 1,290 days + 45 days = 1335 days, so the 1,260, the 1,290 and the 1,335 day prophecies have been fulfilled. If you heard a Pastor teaching that they apply to the future, you now know that their teaching is false.

As you can see, the prophecies in Daniel 12 describe the desolation of the Jews and Jerusalem in 70 A.D., not a future tribulation period that affects the whole world.

Here’s the scene of the “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.”

100’s of thousands of Jews died inside the walled city of Jerusalem even before the Roman army entered the city. Nobody buried anyone for fear of being killed. All of those bodies were just heaped up in the streets and around the temple.

Many thousands of Jews were crucified outside the walled city, so that all the trees were full of dead bodies.

100’s of thousands of Jews were killed by the Roman sword.

97,000 Jews were captured and sold as slaves.

But everyone who was found written in the book of life, Messiah’s Church, were delivered.

This was the time of Jacob’s Trouble, not some end-times scenario.

And the “the power of the holy people had been completely shattered, and all these things were finished.” Daniel 12:7

So when you hear a prophecy teacher quoting verses from Daniel 9, 10, 11 and 12, to apply them to an end-times Antichrist, you now know that they are a False Prophet.

They may just be misguided, they may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, either way their prophecy teachings are false, and they will be held accountable before the Father.

If your pastor is teachable (many aren’t), please share this study with them, for surely Elohim’s true ministers want to know the truth. Amen!

If you wonder how it’s possible that so many Pastors don’t understand the fulfillment of prophecy, click  on How The Deceptions Spread

The Word of God, the Bible is our authority on Daniel and Revelation prophecy

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All Posts · The Sun, Moon And Stars

The Sun, Moon And Stars Of Matthew 24:29

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This Olivet Discourse Deception study is about the meaning of the Sun, Moon and Stars of Matthew 24:29.

The ‘sun, moon and stars’ are symbolic of earthly dignitaries, great political authorities and great lights in the political or religious heavens.

We know this because in Genesis 37:8-10, Joseph had a dream, ..”And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me. So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” It was symbolic of the power structure.

Isaiah used this same terminology when he referred to the judgment of God against the leadership of Babylon in Isaiah 13:10 “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine.“ And indeed, the power of Babylon was destroyed by the Medo-Persian empire.

The disciples would have clearly understood that it was symbolic.

Here are more examples which are clearly not about the literal sun, moon and stars.

Isaiah 13:10 is referring to the Babylonian leaders being removed from power by the Medo-Persians.

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

Isaiah 13:17 confirms this with, “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them,”

Isaiah 34:3-5 foretold the destruction of the Edomites and other nations which were enemies.

Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.”

Ezekiel 32:6-8 points to the Babylonians desolating Egypt, removing the Pharaoh (Sun) and his leaders (moon) from power.

I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee. And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD.”

Applying the symbols to Matthew 24:29, we can see that the Jewish leaders having their power structure removed, is clearly indicated.

As a result of the ‘people of the prince‘ of Daniel 9, the Roman army of Prince Titus; the temple and Jewish leadership system were desolated.

The High Priest was the Sun, the Sanhedrin Council was the Moon, and the many rabbis were the stars.

Mark 13:24-25 says:

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

This fulfilled the prophecy in Daniel 12:7, that said that the power of the holy people, the Jewish leadership, would be scattered.

And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

Commentaries from great theologians about the Sun, Moon and Stars of Matthew 24:29:

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

Shall the sun be darkened, etc. The images here used are not to be taken literally. They are often used by the sacred writers to denote any great calamities. As the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars would be an inexpressible calamity, so any great catastrophe, any overturning of kingdoms or cities, or dethroning of kings and princes, is represented by the darkening of the sun and moon, and by some terrible convulsion in the elements. Thus the destruction of Babylon is foretold in similar terms, Isa 13:10; and of Tyre, Isa 24:23. The slaughter in Bozrah and Idumea is predicted in the same language, Isa 34:4. See also Isa 50:3; 60:19-20; Eze 32:7; Joe 3:15. To the description in Matthew, Luke has added, Lu 21:25 there should be “distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts falling them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth.” All these are figures of great and terrible calamity. The roaring of the waves of the sea denotes great tumult and affliction among the people, Perplexity means doubt, anxiety; not knowing what to do to escape. Men’s hearts failing them for fear, or by reason of fear. Their fears would be so great as to take away their courage and strength.

Adam Clarke (1837)

“Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man. The plain meaning of this is, that the destruction of Jerusalem will be such a remarkable instance of divine vengeance, such a signal manifestation of Christ’s power and glory, that all the Jewish tribes shall mourn, and many will, in consequence of the manifestation of God, be led to acknowledge Christ and his religion. By.. of the land, in the text, is evidently meant here, as in several other places, the land of Judea and its tribes, either its then inhabitants, or the Jewish people wherever found.” (On Matt 24:30)

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Immediately after the tribulation of those days,… That is, immediately after the distress the Jews would be in through the siege of Jerusalem, and the calamities attending it; just upon the destruction of that city, and the temple in it, with the whole nation of the Jews, shall the following things come to pass; and therefore cannot be referred to the last judgment, or what should befall the church, or world, a little before that time, or should be accomplished in the whole intermediate time, between the destruction of Jerusalem, and the last judgment: for all that is said to account for such a sense, as that it was usual with the prophets to speak of judgments afar off as near; and that the apostles often speak of the coming of Christ, the last judgment, and the end of the world, as just at hand; and that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, will not answer to the word “immediately”, or show that that should be understood of two thousand years after: besides, all the following things were to be fulfilled before that present generation, in which Christ lived, passed away, Mt 24:34 and therefore must be understood of things that should directly, and immediately take place upon, or at the destruction of the city and temple,

Shall the sun be darkened: not in a literal but in a figurative sense; and is to be understood not of the religion of the Jewish church; nor of the knowledge of the law among them, and the decrease of it; nor of the Gospel being obscured by heretics and false teachers; nor of the temple of Jerusalem, senses which are given into by one or another; but of the Shekinah, or the divine presence in the temple. The glory of God, who is a sun and a shield, filled the tabernacle, when it was reared up; and so it did the temple, when it was built and dedicated; in the most holy place, Jehovah took up his residence; here was the symbol of his presence, the mercy seat, and the two cherubim over it: and though God had for some time departed from this people, and a voice was heard in the temple before its destruction, saying, “let us go hence”; yet the token of the divine presence remained till the utter destruction of it; and then this sun was wholly darkened, and there was not so much as the outward symbol of it:

and the moon shall not give her light; which also is to be explained in a figurative and metaphorical sense; and refers not to the Roman empire, which quickly began to diminish; nor to the city of Jerusalem; nor to the civil polity of the nation; but to the ceremonial law, the moon, the church is said to have under her feet, Re 12:1 so called because the observance of new moons was one part of it, and the Jewish festivals were regulated by the moon; and especially, because like the moon, it was variable and changeable. Now, though this, in right, was abolished at the death of Christ, and ceased to give any true light, when he, the substance, was come; yet was kept up by the Jews, as long as their temple was standing; but when that was destroyed, the daily sacrifice, in fact, ceased, and so it has ever since; the Jews esteeming it unlawful to offer sacrifice in a strange land, or upon any other altar than that of Jerusalem; and are to this day without a sacrifice, and without an ephod:

and the stars shall fall from heaven; which phrase, as it elsewhere intends the doctors of the church, and preachers falling off from purity of doctrine and conversation; so here it designs the Jewish Rabbins and doctors, who departed from the word of God, and set up their traditions above it, fell into vain and senseless interpretations of it, and into debates about things contained in their Talmud; the foundation of which began to be laid immediately upon their dispersion into other countries:

and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; meaning all the ordinances of the legal dispensation; which shaking, and even removing of them, were foretold by Hag 2:6 and explained by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 12:26 whereby room and way were made for Gospel ordinances to take place, and be established; which shall not be shaken, so as to be removed, but remain till the second coming of Christ. The Jews themselves are sensible, and make heavy complaints of the great declensions and alterations among them, since the destruction of the temple; for after having taken notice of the death of several of their doctors, who died a little before, or after that; and that upon their death ceased the honour of the law, the splendour of wisdom, and the glory of the priesthood, they add1,

“from the time that the temple was destroyed, the wise men, and sons of nobles, were put to shame, and they covered their heads; liberal men were reduced to poverty; and men of violence and calumny prevailed; and there were none that expounded, or inquired, or asked. R. Elezer the great, said, from the time the sanctuary were destroyed, the wise men began to be like Scribes, and the Scribes like to the Chazans, (or sextons that looked after the synagogues,) and the Chazans like to the common people, and the common people grew worse and worse, and there were none that inquired and asked;

that is, of the wise men there were no scholars, or very few that studied in the law,

Kenneth L. Gentry (1997)

“The cloud-coming of Christ in judgment is reminiscent of Old Testament cloud-comings of God in judgment upon ancient historical people and nations. The nature of the event has to do with a ‘Cloud-Coming’ of Christ. It is necessary here to understand the Old Testament backdrop for a proper comprehension of the matter. The Old Testament frequently uses clouds as indicators of divine judgment. That Christ’s taking vengeance of that exceeding wicked nation is called Christ’s “coming in glory,” and his “coming in the clouds,” Daniel 7.

Marcellus Kik (1971)

“This clause has been thought to relate definitely to the second, visible, and personal coming of the Lord.  But in the light of well-defined biblical language, the reference is rather to a coming in terms of the events of his providence in judgment against his enemies and in deliverance of his people..  Many commentators have taken it for granted that the expression “coming in the clouds” refers to a visible coming of Christ.  A careful study of the Scriptures, however, reveals that that is not a necessary interpretation.” (An Eschatology of Victory, p, 140-141, cf. 142-143)

“The judgment upon Jerusalem was the sign of the fact that the Son of man was reigning in heaven. There has been misunderstanding due to the reading of this verse, as some have thought it to be ‘a sign in heaven.’ But this is not what the verse says; it says the sign of the son of Man in heaven. The phrase ‘in heaven’ defines the locality of the Son of Man and not of the sign. A sign was not to appear in the heavens, but the destruction of Jerusalem was to indicate the rule of the Son of Man in heaven.”

“The apostle Paul states in the eleventh chapter of Romans that the fall of the Jews was a blessing to the rest of the world. He speaks of it as the enriching of the Gentiles and the reconciling of the world. The catastrophe of Jerusalem really signalized the beginning of a new and world-wide kingdom, marking the full separation of the Christian Church from legalistic Judaism. The whole system of worship, so closely associated with Jerusalem and the Temple, received, as it were, a death blow from God himself. God was now through with the Old Covenant made at Sinai: holding full sway was the sign of the New Covenant.”  (ibid., pp. 137-138)

“The Old Testament is filled with solar, lunar, and stellar language depicting great political upheaval.  The rise of kingdoms is compared to the brightness of the sun, moon, and stars.  The brightness of these heavenly bodies means that a nation is in ascendancy.  When a nation is described as falling – coming under the judgment of God – it is compared to the sun and moon going dark and stars falling from the sky.” [Last Days Madness: The Folly of Trying to Predict When Christ Will Return (Atlanta: American Vision, 1977),96.]

As you can see, the symbolic language of Matthew 24:29 is describing the casting down of the Jewish leaders from power, ending the Jewish national existence.

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All Posts · The Great Tribulation of Matthew 24

The Great Tribulation of Matthew 24

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This Olivet Discourse Deception study is about the time of Great Tribulation that Messiah described in Matthew 24.

Note: There are several different times of ‘great tribulation‘ that are defined in the New Testament; which do not point to the same period of time.

One was fulfilled when Satan used the Roman Empire to try to wipe out the Early Church, killing 10 million saints.

Another was fulfilled during the 1,260 years of the reign of the antichrist Popes of Rome, from 538-1798 A.D.; when they killed over 50 million saints. Read 1,260 Years Of Great Tribulation

The other one will be covered on this study.

The proper context of the Olivet Discourse is not the end times, but rather about Messiah’s proclamation that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed.

The disciples understood the prophecy in Daniel 9, and they were inquiring about when Messiah would cause the temple and city to be destroyed, thus ending the latter days of the Jews, who Messiah had just berated in Matthew 23.

Matthew is the only one who wrote about the ‘end of the world’, Luke and Mark did not. It should be rendered as ‘age‘, as it points to the latter days of the Jews, from when they were released from Babylon, until the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.

Daniel 9:26 warned the Jews that the temple and city would be desolated. Daniel understood this to mean that because the Jews would deliver the Messiah up to be killed, they would be desolated. This is why Daniel was so distraught.

and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”

Siege of Jerusalem by the Roman army, the people of the prince Daniel 9

In Matthew 24:20-22, Messiah warned about the coming time of Great Tribulation, which Daniel had foretold:

And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

Note: The command for the saints to flee Judea is very specific to the saints in the first century, and can’t apply to saints in the end times where there is no Judea. Praying that their flight would not be on the Sabbath applies to the first century, when the Jewish leaders would have closed the city gates and prohibited them from walking out of the city; which does not apply to the end times.

Then in Matthew 24:34 Messiah told us that all of the things that He just proclaimed would be fulfilled in that generation:

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”

Some people dismiss His words by saying that He was not referring to that generation, but His words to the Jews of His day reveal that He was indeed talking about them:

For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. Luke 11:30

But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. Luke 17:25

From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Luke 11:51

Because people don’t understand the terrible calamity that happened to the Jews in the first century, they assign the fulfillment to the end times.

But as you will see, this was an intense time of suffering for the Jews, who had rejected the Messiah. When Messiah was being led to be crucified, He said:

But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.” Luke 23:28

Note Luke’s explanation:

For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Luke 21:22

The days of vengeance are from Elohim against the apostate Jews, not some end times antichrist.

Judgment had been threatened by almost all the prophets against that wicked city. They had spoken of its crimes and threatened its ruin. Once Elohim had destroyed Jerusalem and carried the people to Babylon; but their crimes had been repeated when they returned, and Elohim had again threatened their ruin. Particularly was this very destruction foretold by Daniel, in Daniel 9:26-27.

Note Luke’s explanation:

But 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. And 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.” Luke 21:23-24

This clearly shows that Luke anticipated a fulfillment in terms of Jerusalem only — the final Diaspora, and the trodding down of Jerusalem by the Gentiles.

The word gentiles is speaking of the Romans, who were being used to fulfill prophecy about the desolation of the temple, city and Jews.

So let’s take Messiah at His word and see how in fact His words were fulfilled, when the people of the prince, the Roman army, invaded Judea to desolate the temple, the city of Jerusalem, and the Jewish people.

Most Christians severely underestimate the desolation of the Jews in the first century, not understanding how Messiah caused the Roman army to cause calamity unlike any other time in history.

Notice that it says “nor ever shall be“.  If this time of Great Tribulation was in fact fulfilled in the last days before Messiah returned, then there would be no more time to have another time of great tribulation; and Messiah’s explanation does not make sense.

Instead the tribulation of 70 A.D., would be followed by other times of tribulation, which fits Messiah’s explanation.

This lines up perfectly with Daniel 12:1, “And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.

The punishment, which was then about to fall upon the city and people, was to be of an exhaustive character. His words utterly forbid the idea of another and more severe national calamity reserved for a future day. (PM)

Here is a summary of what happened, as documented by Jewish historian Josephus:

On the way through Judea to Jerusalem, the Roman army killed Jews by the 10 thousands in the outlying cities. They invaded Judea from the north, marching along the coast, and killing many – 18,000 at Askelon alone.

The Roman army surrounded Jerusalem, cutting off the food supply. Warring factions inside the city destroyed the granaries. This led to a severe famine, killing many. Josephus records that the famine widened its progress and devoured the people by whole houses and families. The upper rooms were full of women and children dying by famine; and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged.

People killed each other as they fought over food. The most horrible and unbelievable torments were inflicted upon all who were suspected of having any food concealed.

The city was divided against itself with rival groups. The most violent party in the city was the Zealots. These called to their aid a band of blood thirsty Idumeans, who set upon the people who were peaceably inclined, and slaughtered young and old until the outer temple was all of it overflowed with blood, and that day they saw 8500 dead bodies there.

But as for the seditious bands themselves, they fought against each other while trampling upon the dead bodies which lay heaped one upon another, and being filled with a mad rage from those dead bodies under their feet, they became the more fierce. They, moreover, were still inventing pernicious things against each other; and when they had resolved upon anything, they executed it without mercy, and omitted no method of torment or of barbarity.

Josephus also tells of the terrible torments inflicted upon nobles and citizens of the better sort who refused to comply with the demands of the Zealots. Those, after being horribly tortured, were slain, and through fear, none dared bury them. In this way 12,000 of the more eminent inhabitants perished.

The noise of those that were fighting was incessant, both by day and by night; but the lamentations of those that mourned exceeded the noise of the fighting.

The dead bodies were not taken outside the city and buried, for fear of being killed, so they stacked up around the city. The blood of all sort of dead carcases stood in lakes in the holy courts themselves.

Pestilence from unclean conditions caused diseases and death.

One man, with the consent of his family, killed his parents, his children, his wife and himself; to save themselves from a worse fate.

A woman, eminent for her family and her wealth, who, while suffering the ravages of famine, slew her infant son and roasted him, and having eaten half of him, concealed the other half.

Because the food supply was cut off by the Romans, Jews out of desperation would sneak out of the city walls at night to find food. They were captured, tortured and crucified by the Roman army. At one point 500 a night were being crucified on the trees around the city, so that all of the trees had multiple bodies on them. And these bodies were not taken down, but left up there to rot and be eaten by birds and animals.

In 70 A.D. when the people of the prince, the Roman army flooded into Jerusalem, they killed the remaining Jews with the sword, trampling over dead bodies.

Birds, dogs and wild animals, ate the flesh of the fallen.

15,000 fugitive Jews were killed by the Romans, and the number of those that were forced to leap into the Jordan was prodigious. The whole country through which they fled was filled with slaughter, and Jordan could not be passed over, by reason of the dead bodies that were in it.

97,000 were taken captive and sold cheaply to places like Egypt, as if back into bondage.

At the end of the siege in 70 A.D., there were 1.1. million dead Jews, none of which were buried.

Their bodies were stacked in the city and fallen in the temple. Their bodies filled all of the trees outside the city. Blood no doubt was everywhere. Wild animals and birds of prey feasted on the dead bodies.  The scene and stench had to be intense, unlike anything ever seen before or after.

Of this period of great tribulation Jewish historian Josephus says, in the introduction of his ‘Wars of the Jews‘ historical documentary.

It had come to pass that our city Jerusalem had arrived at a higher degree of felicity than any other city under the Roman government, and yet at last fell into the sorest of calamities again. Accordingly it appears to me that the misfortunes of all men from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to those of the Jews, are not so considerable as they were.”

The sufferings of the Jews had this peculiar characteristic, namely, that they were mostly inflicted upon themselves by the warring factions within the city, concerning whom Josephus says in another place:

It is impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men’s iniquity. I shall, therefore, speak my mind here at once briefly: That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world” (Wars V. 10:5).

Messiah had warned about the bloodshed that would come on this generation.

And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Luke 21:24

This fulfilled the Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers, when the wicked tenants killed the son of the vineyard owner.

But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.” Luke 20:14-15

This fulfilled Messiah’s words of Woe to the scribes and the Pharisees.

Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” Matthew 23:34-36

Recall what the Jewish leaders said when they handed Messiah over to be crucified:

And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.” Matthew 27:25

As so it was, as the Roman army flooded into the city and killed 100’s of thousands of Jews by the sword. And those who were captured were sold into slavery.

Titus wanted to save the temple, but the Roman soldiers were so enraged at the wicked Jews, that they tore it down brick by brick, to be able to capture all of the gold.

This fulfilled Messiah’s words in Matthew 24:1-2, “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 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.”

Video: Rome and Jerusalem at War – The destruction of the Jewish Temple

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The following information is from Philip Mauro’s well-documented work, ‘The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation – A Study of the Last Two Visions of Daniel, and of the Olivet Discourse of the Lord Jesus Christ.’

The Jewish historian Josephus devotes nearly two hundred large pages (they would fill upwards of four hundred ordinary size) to the account of the events of’ those ‘days of vengeance’.

We can refer to but a very few of those tragic events; but, inasmuch as not many of our readers have access to the history of Josephus, we believe we are rendering them a service in giving the best idea we can, in small compass, of the happenings of those times.

After the retreat of Roman army leader Cestius, there was a slaughter of about 10,000 Jews at Damascus; and then, it being evident that war with the Romans was inevitable, the Jews began making preparations to defend Jerusalem.

At that time Josephus, the writer of this history, was appointed general of the armies in Galilee. He seems to have had great ability and success as a soldier, though he was finally overpowered and captured by the Romans. Concerning one of his military operations his translator says’ I cannot but think this stratagem of Josephus to be one of the finest that ever was invented and executed by any warrior whatsoever.

At this point the emperor Nero appointed Vespasian, a valiant and experienced general, to the task of subduing the Jews; and Vespasian designated his son Titus to assist him. They invaded Judea from the north, marching along the coast, and killing many–18,000 at Askelon alone. Thus Galilee was all over filled with fire and blood; nor was it exempt from any kind of misery or calamity (III 4:1).

The incidents of this siege were terrible; and among them were events which forcibly recall the Lord’s words, But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days. The Romans were so enraged by the long and fierce resistance of the Jews that they spared none, nor pitied any. Many, moreover, in desperation, killed themselves.

The life of Josephus was spared in a manner which seems miraculous (III 8:4-7), and he was taken captive to Vespasian, to whom he prophesied that both he and Titus his son would be Caesar and emperor.

Josephus was with Titus during the subsequent siege of Jerusalem, in which the atrocities and miseries reached a limit impossible to be exceeded on earth. Only the state of the lost in hell could be worse.

After Jotapata fell, Joppa was taken, and then Tiberias and Taricheae on Lake Gennesaret. Thousands were killed, and upwards of 30,000 from the last named place alone were sold into slavery. Having now completely subdued Galilee, Vespasian led his army to Jerusalem.

For a right understanding of Matthew 24:15-21 it is important to know that the Roman armies were, for more than a year, occupied with the devastation of the provinces of Galilee and Judea, before Jerusalem was besieged. It should be noted also that Christ’s first warnings to flee were to them which be in Judea (#Mt24:16).

This makes it perfectly certain that the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, which was the appointed signal for them which be in Judea to flee into the mountains, was not an idol set up in the inner sanctuary of the Temple. For the desolation of Judea was completed long before Jerusalem and the Temple were taken.

At the time Vespasian led his armies to Jerusalem, that doomed city was in a state of indescribable disorder and confusion insomuch that, during the entire siege, the Jews suffered far more from one another inside the walls than from the enemy outside.

Josephus says there were disorders and civil war in every city, and all those that were at quiet from the Romans turned their hands one against another. There was also a bitter contest between those that were for war, and those that were desirous for peace (IV 3:2).

Josephus further tells of the utter disgrace and ruin of the high priesthood, the basest of men being exalted to that office; and also of the profanation of the sanctuary.

The most violent party in the city was the Zealots. These called to their aid a band of blood thirsty Idumeans, who set upon the people who were peaceably inclined, and slaughtered young and old until the outer temple was all of it overflowed with blood, and that day they saw 8500 dead bodies there.

Among the slain was Ananias, formerly high priest, a venerable and worthy man, concerning whom Josephus said:

“I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananias was the beginning of the destruction of the city, and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs; that being the day whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city. * * *

And I cannot but think it was because God had doomed this city to destruction, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge His sanctuary with fire, that He cut off these, their great defenders, while those that a little before had worn the sacred garments and presided over the public worship, were cast out naked to be the food of dogs and wild beasts.

Now after these were slain the Zealots and the Idumeans fell upon the people as upon a flock of profane animals, and cut their throats.”

Josephus also tells of the terrible torments inflicted upon nobles and citizens of the better sort who refused to comply with the demands of the Zealots. Those, after being horribly tortured, were slain, and through fear, none dared bury them. In this way 12,000 of the more eminent inhabitants perished (IV 5:3). We quote further:

“Along all the roads also vast numbers of dead bodies lay in heaps; and many who at first were zealous to desert the city chose rather to perish there; for the hopes of burial made death m their own city appear less terrible to them. But those zealots came at last to that degree of barbarity as not to bestow a burial either on those slain in the city or on those that lay along the roads; as if at the same time that they defiled men with their wicked actions they would pollute the Deity itself also, they left the dead bodies to putrefy under the sun. (IV. 6. 3).

About this time above 15,000 fugitive Jews were killed by the Romans, and the number of those that were forced to leap into the Jordan was prodigious. The whole country through which they fled was filled with slaughter, and Jordan could not be passed over, by reason of the dead bodies that were in it (IV. 8. 5, 6).

VESPASIAN RECALLED. TITUS PLACED IN CHARGE

At this point Vespasian was called to Rome by reason of the death of the emperor Nero, and the operations against the Jews devolved upon Titus. Vespasian himself was soon thereafter made emperor.

Meanwhile another tyrant rose up, whose name was Simon, and of him Josephus says: Now this Simon, who was without the wall, was a greater terror to the people than the Romans themselves; while the Zealots who were within it were more heavy upon them than both the other.

Those Zealots were led by a tyrant named John; and the excesses of murder and uncleanness in which they habitually indulged are indescribable (see Bk. IV, ch. 9, sec. 10).

In order to overthrow John, the people finally admitted Simon and his followers. From that time onward the civil warfare within the city became more incessant and deadly. The distracted city was now divided into three factions instead of two.

The fighting was carried even into the inner court of the temple; whereupon Josephus laments that even those who came with sacrifices to offer them in the temple were slain, and sprinkled that altar with their own blood, till the dead bodies of strangers were mingled together with those of their own country, and those of profane persons with those of priests, and the blood of all sort of dead carcases stood in lakes in the holy courts themselves (V 1:3).

Surely there never were such conditions as these in any city before or since.

Among the dire calamities which befell the wretched people was the destruction of the granaries and storehouses of food;so that famine was soon added to the other horrors. The warring factions were agreed in nothing but to kill those that were innocent. Says Josephus:

The noise of those that were fighting was incessant, both by day and by night; but the lamentations of those that mourned exceeded the noise of the fighting. Nor was there ever any occasion for them to leave off their lamentations, because their calamities came perpetually, one upon another.

But as for the seditious bands themselves, they fought against each other while trampling upon the dead bodies which lay heaped one upon another, and being filled with a mad rage from those dead bodies under their feet, they became the more fierce. They, moreover, were still inventing pernicious things against each other; and when they had resolved upon anything, they executed it without mercy, and omitted no method of torment or of barbarity” (V. 2. 5).

At the time described in the preceding paragraphs, the Roman armies had not yet reached the city, and inasmuch as the Passover season now came on, and things seemed to quiet down momentarily, the gates were opened for such as wished to observe the great feast. The translator, in a footnote, says:

“Here we see the true occasion of those vast numbers of Jews that were in Jerusalem during this siege by Titus and who perished therein. For the siege began at the feast of Passover, when such prodigious multitudes of the Jews and proselytes were come from all parts of Judea, and from other countries.

As to the number that perished during this siege, Josephus assures us, as we shall see hereafter, they were 1,100,000, besides 97,000 captives.

This is notable as the last Passover. That joyous feast of remembrance of God’s great deliverance of His people out of Egypt ended in an orgy of blood.

The tyrant John took advantage of this opportunity to introduce some of his followers, with concealed weapons, among the throngs of worshipers in the temple, who slew many, while others were rolled in heaps together, and trampled upon, and beaten without mercy.

And now, though the Roman armies were at their gates, the warring factions began again to destroy one another and the innocent inhabitants.

“For”, says Josephus, they returned to their former madness, and separated one from another, and fought it out; and they did everything that the besiegers could desire them to do. For they never suffered from the Romans anything worse than they made each other suffer; nor was there any misery endured by the city which, after what these men did, could be esteemed new. It was most of all unhappy before it was overthrown; and those that took it did it a kindness. For I venture to say that the sedition destroyed the city, and the Romans destroyed the sedition. This was a much harder thing to do than to destroy the walls. So that we may justly ascribe our misfortunes to our own people (V. 6. 2).

This is the most astonishing feature of this great tribulation; for surely there never was a besieged city whose inhabitants suffered more from one another than from the common enemy. In this feature of the case we see most clearly that it is one of judgment; and that, as the apostle Paul said, the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

At this point the siege began in earnest. Titus, however, sent Josephus to speak to the Jews, offering them clemency, and exhorting them to yield. Josephus made a most earnest plea to them not to resist the might of Rome, pointing out that God was no longer with them.

But it was to no purpose. So the siege proceeded outside, and the famine began to rage inside, insomuch that children pulled out of their parents’ mouths the morsels they were eating, and even mothers deprived their infants of the last bits of food that might have sustained their lives.

The fighters, of course, kept for their own use what food there was, and it seems that they took a keen delight in seeing others suffer. It was a species of madness. They invented terrible methods of torments, such as it would not be seemly for us to describe. And this was done, says Josephus, to keep their madness in exercise (V 10:3).

The most horrible and unbelievable torments were inflicted upon all who were suspected of having any food concealed. The following passage will give an idea of the conditions:

“It is impossible to give every instance of the iniquity of these men. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly:–that neither did any other city suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world. (This forcibly brings to mind the Lord’s own words.) Finally they brought the Hebrew nation into contempt, that they might themselves appear comparatively less impious with regard to strangers. They confessed, what was true, that they were the scum, and the spurious and abortive offspring of our nation, while they overthrew the city themselves, and forced the Romans, whether they would or no, to gain a melancholy reputation by acting gloriously against them; and did almost draw that fire upon the temple which they seemed to think came too slowly” (V. 10. 5).

Under pressure of the famine many Jews went out at night into the valleys in search of food.

These were caught, tortured and crucified in sight of those on the walls of the city. About five hundred every day were thus treated. The number became finally so great that there was not room enough for the crosses, nor crosses enough for the victims. So several were ofttimes nailed to one cross.

A little later the Roman armies encompassed the entire city, so that there was no longer any egress therefrom.

“Then, says Josephus, did the famine widen its progress and devour the people by whole houses and families. The upper rooms were full of women and children dying by famine; and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged. The children also and the young men wandered about the marketplaces like shadows, all swelled with the famine, and fell down dead, wheresoever their misery seized them (V. 12. 3).

Thus did the miseries of Jerusalem grow worse and worse every day.

And indeed the multitude of carcases that lay in heaps, one upon another, was a horrible sight, and produced a pestilential stench which was a hindrance to those that would make sallies out of the city and fight the enemy (VI. 1. 1).

The number of those that perished by famine in the city was prodigious, and their miseries were unspeakable. For if so much as the shadow of any kind of food did anywhere appear, a war was commenced presently, and the dearest friends fell a fighting one another about it.

In this connection Josephus relates in detail the case of a woman, eminent for her family and her wealth, who, while suffering the ravages of famine, slew her infant son and roasted him, and having eaten half of him, concealed the other half.

When presently the seditious Jews came in to search the premises, and smelt the horrid scent of this food, they threatened her life if she did not show them what food she had prepared. She replied that she had saved for them a choice part, and withal uncovered what was left of the little body, saying, Come, eat of this food; for I have eaten of it myself. Do not you pretend to be more tender than a woman, or more compassionate than a mother. Even those desperate and hardened men were horrified at the sight, and stood aghast at the deed of this mother. They left trembling; and the whole city was full of what the woman had done. It must be remembered that all this time the lives of all in the city would have been spared and the city and temple saved, had they but yielded to the Romans. But how then should the Scripture be fulfilled? (see #De 28:56,57)

Soon after this the temple was set on fire and was burned down, though Titus tried to save it. Josephus says:

But as for that house, God had for certain long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages. It was the tenth day of the month Ab, the day upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon (VI. 4. 5).

Further Josephus says:

“While the holy house was on fire everything was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those were slain. Nor was there commiseration of any age, or any reverence of gravity; but children, old men, profane persons, and priests were all slain in the same manner.

Moreover many, when they saw the fire, exerted their utmost strength, and did break out into groans and outcries. Perea also did return the echo, as well as the mountains round about Jerusalem, and augmented the force of the noise.”

Yet was the misery itself more terrible than this disorder. For one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the temple stood, was seething hot, as if full of fire on every part, that the blood was more in quantity than the fire, and that the slain were more in numbers than they who slew them. For the ground did nowhere appear visible because of the dead bodies that lay upon it (VL 5. 1).

In describing how a number were killed in a certain cloister, which the soldiers set on fire, Josephus says:

“A false prophet was the occasion of the destruction of those people, he having made a public proclamation that very day that God commanded them to get upon the temple and that they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. There was then a large number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who announced to them that they should wait for deliverance from God (VI. 5. 2).

In this detail also the Lord’s Olivet prophecy was most literally fulfilled.

When at last the Romans gained entrance into the city, the soldiers had become so exasperated by the stubborn resistance of the Jews, that they could not be restrained from wreaking vengeance upon the survivors.

So they indulged in slaughter until weary of it. The survivors were sold into slavery, but at a very low price, because they were so numerous, and the buyers were few. Thus was fulfilled the word of the Lord by Moses, And there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you (#De 28:68).

Many were put into bonds and sold to slavery in the Egyptian mines, thus fulfilling several prophecies that they should be sold into Egypt again, whence God had delivered them (#Ho 8:13; 9:3).

This fulfills Luke 21:24, “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations.”

In concluding this part of his history Josephus gives the number of those who perished (a million one hundred thousand) and of those sold into slavery (ninety seven thousand), and explains, as we have already stated, that they were come up from all the country to the feast of unleavened bread, and were on a sudden shut up by an army. And he adds:

“Now this vast multitude was indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants. Accordingly the multitude of those that perished therein exceeded all the destruction’s that either men or God ever brought upon the world” (VI. 9. 4).

Thus ended, in the greatest of all calamities of the sort, the national existence of the Jewish people, and all that pertained to that old covenant which was instituted with glory (2 Corinithians 3:7,9,11), but which was to be done away.

Here may be seen an example of the thoroughness of God’s judgments, when He arises to do His strange work. Judgment must begin at the house of God; and in view of what is brought to our notice in this history of Josephus, how impressive is the question, And if it begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17).

Commentaries on the Abomination of Desolation of Matthew 24:15:

Alfred Edersheim – Life And Times Of Jesus The Messiah

This, together with tribulation to Israel, unparalleled in the terrible past of its history, and unequalled even in its bloody future was about to befall them. Nay, so dreadful would be the persecution that, if Divine mercy had not interposed for the sake of the followers of Christ, the whole Jewish race that inhabited the land would have been swept away. There should have been no flesh saved.

C.H. Spurgeon

The Jews impiously said, concerning the death of Christ, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Never did any other people invoke such an awful curse upon themselves, and upon no other nation did such a judgment ever fall. We read of Jews crucified till there was no more wood for making crosses;

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

There shall be great tribulation. The word tribulation means calamity, or suffering. Lu 21:24 has specified in what this tribulation should consist. “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 shall be fulfilled.” That is, until the time allotted for the Gentiles to do it shall be fully accomplished; or as long as God is pleased to suffer them to do it.

The first thing mentioned by Luke is, that they should fall by the edge of the sword. That is, should be slain in war, as the sword was then principally used in war. This was most strikingly fulfilled. Josephus, in describing it, uses almost the very words of our Saviour. All the calamities, says he, which had befallen any nation from the beginning of the world, were but small in comparison with those of the Jews. Jewish Wars, book i., preface, 4.

He has given the following account of one part of the massacre when the city was taken: “And now rushing into the city, they slew whomsoever they found, without distinction, and burnt the houses and all the people who had fled into them. And when they entered for the sake of plunder, they found whole families of dead persons, and houses full of carcasses destroyed by famine; then they came out with their hands empty. And though they thus pitied the dead, they had not the same emotion for the living, but killed all they met, whereby they filled the lanes with dead bodies. The whole city ran with blood, insomuch that many things which were burning were extinguished by the blood.” Jewish Wars, book vi. chap. 8, 5; chap. 9, 2, 3. He adds, that in the siege of Jerusalem, not fewer than eleven hundred thousand perished (Jewish Wars, book vi., chap. 9, 3)–a number almost as great as are in the whole city of London. In the adjacent provinces no fewer than two hundred and fifty thousand are reckoned to have been slain; making in all whose deaths were ascertained, the almost incredible number of one million three hundred and fifty thousand, who were put to death. These were not indeed all slain with the sword. Many were crucified. “Many hundreds,” says he, (Jewish Wars, book vi. Chap. xi Chap. xi. 1) “were first whipped, then tormented with various kinds of tortures, and finally crucified: the Roman soldiers nailing them (out of the wrath and hatred they bore to the Jews) one after one way, and another after another, to crosses, by way of jest, until at length the multitude became so great that room was wanting for crosses, and crosses for the bodies.” So terribly was their imprecation fulfilled–” His blood be on us, and on our children,” Mt 27:25. If it be asked how it was possible for so many people to be slain in a single city, it is answered, that the siege of Jerusalem commenced during the time of the passover, it is estimated that more than three millions were usually assembled. See Josephus, Jewish Wars, book vi., chap. ix., 3, 4.

A horrible instance of the distress of Jerusalem is related by Josephus. The famine during the siege became so great that they ate what the most sordid animals refused to touch. A woman of distinguished rank, having been plundered by the soldiers, in hunger, rage, and despair, killed and roasted her babe, and had eaten one half of him before the deed was discovered. Jewish Wars, book vi., chap. 3, 3, 4. This cruel and dreadful act was also in fulfillment of prophecy, De 28:53,56-57.

Another thing added by Luke Lu 21:24) was, that “they should be led captive into all nations.” Josephus informs us that the captives taken during the whole war amounted to ninety-seven thousand. The tall and handsome young men Titus reserved for triumph; of the rest, many were distributed through the Roman provinces, to be destroyed by wild beasts in theatres; many were sent to the works in Egypt; many, especially those under seventeen years of age, were sold for slaves. Jewish Wars, book vi., chap. 9,. 2,3.

Coke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible

Then shall be great tribulation— In the preceding verses our Saviour warned his disciples to fly as soon as ever they saw Jerusalem besieged by the Romans, and now he assigns a reason for his giving them this caution. The words used in this verse seem to be a proverbial form of expression, as in Exodus 10:14. Joel 2:1 Maccabees ix. 27. Our Lord, therefore, might fitly apply the same manner of speaking upon the present occasion: but he does not make use of proverbial expressions without a proper meaning; and this may be understood even literally.

For indeed all history cannot furnish us with a parallel to the calamities and miseries of the Jews; rapine and murder, famine and pestilence within, fire and sword, and all the terrors of war without. Our Saviour wept at the foresight of these calamities; and it is almost impossible for persons of any humanity to read the relation of them without weeping too.

The Jewish historian might well say, as he does in the preface to his history: “If the misfortunes of all, from the beginning of the world, were compared with those of the Jews, they would appear much inferior upon comparison. In short, no other city ever suffered such things, as no other generation from the beginning of the world was ever more fruitful of wickedness.”

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

For then shall be great tribulation,… This is urged as a reason for their speedy flight; since the calamity that would come upon those who should remain in the city, what through the sword, famine, pestilence, murders, robberies, etc. would

be such as was not since the beginning of the world, to this time, no, nor ever shall be. The burning of Sodom and Gomorrha, the bondage of the children of Israel in Egypt, their captivity in Babylon, and all their distresses and afflictions in the times of the Maccabees, are nothing to be compared with the calamities which befell the Jews in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Great desolations have been made in the besieging and at the taking of many famous cities, as Troy, Babylon, Carthage, etc. but none of them are to be mentioned with the deplorable case of this city. Whoever reads Josephus’s account will be fully convinced of this; and readily join with him, who was an eyewitness of it, when he says1, that

“never did any city suffer such things, nor was there ever any generation that more abounded in malice or wickedness.”

And indeed, all this came upon them for their impenitence and infidelity, and for their rejection and murdering of the Son of God; for as never any before, or since, committed the sin they did, or ever will, so there never did, or will, the same calamity befall a nation, as did them.

Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible

Mark hath the same in effect, Mark 13:19-20. Luke speaks more particularly, Luke 21:23-24, “For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And 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.”

These verses must be understood with reference to the Jewish nation, and whoso shall read in Josephus the history of the wars of the Jews, will easily agree there is nothing in all the foregoing Jewish story which we have recorded in Scripture like unto it; the final destruction of them by Titus was rather an abatement of miseries they suffered by the factions within themselves, than any thing else.

And thus some think that God shortened those days of their misery by sending the Roman armies to quiet the seditions and factions amongst themselves, which were more cruel one to another. God promises to shorten these days for the elect’s sake that were amongst this sinful people. So that as the city was taken in less than six months, so was their whole country in less than eighteen months more. And if the Lord had not, in compassion to those amongst this people who belonged to his election of grace, shortened these days of calamity, both by sending the Roman armies to quiet their intestine divisions, and then giving these armies so quick a victory, none of the Jews would have been left alive, which indeed any one will judge that shall but read those histories.

Philip Mauro – The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation

“That these calamities of the Jews, who were our Saviour’s murderers, were to be the greatest that had ever been since the beginning of the world, our Saviour had directly foretold, (#Mt 24:21; Mr 13:19; Lu 21:23,24) and that they proved to be such accordingly, Josephus is here a most authentic witness.”

The People’s New Testament

The account given by Josephus, the Jewish historian who witnessed and recorded the war, is almost an echo of the predictions of Christ. Women ate their own children from starvation; the Jews within the city fought each other as well as the Roman army; on August 10, A.D. 70, the city was stormed and there was a universal massacre; 1,100,00 persons perished, and 100,000 survivors were sold into slavery.

As you can see, the time of great tribulation that Messiah foretold in the Olivet Discourse was fulfilled in the first century, and that it was horrifying in its intensity.

 

Next Olivet Discourse Deception Study: Messiah Coming In The Clouds

 

Additional Study Resources:

Flavius Josephus describes the destruction of Jerusalem. http://www.bible.ca/pre-flavius-josephus-70AD-Mt24-fulfilled.htm

Jerusalem, AD70: The Worst Desolation Ever? http://www.ukapologetics.net/09/AD70.htm

Keys To The Great Tribulation – Historicist.com http://www.historicist.com/historicism/keys-to-the-great-tribulation

The Great Tribulation of Matthew 24 Olivet Discourse, Desolation Jews

The Olivet Discourse Studies in Order Below

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