Saturday, October 3, 2009

The people that time and the Church has forgotten.

Before God disciplined His people He ALWAYS raised up prophets to warn the people to repent. In Matthew 23:32-37, Jesus makes it clear that it was the Jews of that generation who were THE REAL THREAT to the Christians. It was they (not the Romans) who had all the blood of the righteous imputed against them! It was the corrupt Jewish leadership who persecuted them “from city to city.” It was the corrupt Jewish leaders that got Rome to believe Christianity was an illegal religion in the Roman empire.

No other persecution (including all the Roman ones) ever threatened the followers of Christ like the Jewish leadership. Terullian even said that the Roman persecution helped the church grow (“seed of the Kingdom”, Apologies). No one know better how to “destroy” the Christians then the Jews. The Jewish temple-system and sacrificial system was being challenged by the new spiritual system, and the Jewish religious leader were OUTRAGED!

As long as the Jewish leaders of that generation had any power behind them they would be a threat to the Christians. Paul’s letters and the book of Acts show that constant struggle going on. (Galatians 1:13) These same Jews foolishly shouted ‘Crucify him! Crucify Let his blood be on us and our children (Matthews 27:25). They had no idea of what they were saying when they shouted.

The Jews had committed two grave errors; (1) they had forsaken God and (2) they had killed the prophets and saints. Now Judgment and Great Tribulation was about to be pronounced on Israel and it would not make a pretty picture.

Do to a miscalculation they thought they were going to destroy Christianity and that the real Messiah, obviously not this fake Jesus, would help them overthrow Rome and they would then, physically rule the world. Only due to the Jewish rebellion did Rome turn against the Jews. God would now step in to alter the course of events. God would use the same power in judgment upon the unbelieving Jews that they used against Him and his Church

God was coming in judgment with the use of the Roman armies, upon the Jews. The Romans would have overwhelming military might. Joel had said, “A nation has invaded my land, powerful and without number” (Joel 1:6) The result would be devastating. The cry of the martyrs that had been killed by the Jews, would now be answered as the Romans turned upon Jerusalem and destroy her according to God’s will. (Revelation:6:10)

The must tragic time in the history of the nation of Israel was in 67-70 A.D., during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies. This approximate 3 ½ years of Great Tribulation upon the unbelieving Jewish people in Jerusalem 67-70 A.D. would be the some period of time with some months separating the two periods. Jesus said it would be a time of (great tribulation) such as never had been before, nor ever would be again. (Matthews 24:21)

The great tribulation was not a new idea of Jesus. This was a event that God warned Israel about over and over again in the Old Testament scriptures. Starting from Jesus' words in the Olivett Discourse (Mt. 24, Lk. 21, Mk.13) we can see that the events spoken of refer to the same events in Daniel. Daniel was specifically told that "the end" would come when the "power of the holy people [the Jews]" was shattered. (Daniel 12:7)

The power of the Jews was shattered in 70 A.D at the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem . . . and it was this very destruction that Jesus was speaking of in the Olivett Discourse (Mt.23:38-24:2).

The numerous prophecies spoken by Moses, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and even Christ found their fulfillment in the great tabulation In Luke 21:22-23 Jesus said concerning that awful time of tribulation, “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, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. “For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

It is important to remember that (all the things written) was their Old Testament scriptures. The New Testament had not yet been written.. This would be the time when God’s wrath was finally poured out on Israel to the uttermost as stated by Paul in (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16). Jesus predicted, 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." (Lule 19:43-44) That day would be just around the corner.

In February 67 A.D. the Emperor Nero put Vespasian in charge of the plans to destroy Israel who had revolted against the Roman Empire. (Please keep in mind this is a time that the Jews made a miscalculation and thought they were going to destroy Christianity and the real Messiah, would help them overthrow the Rome yoke and they would then, physically rule the world).

His invasion of Palestine started in A.D. 67. General Josephus and his troops were the first Jews to start the war. Vespasian and his troops were soon victorious over Josephus and his troops . Josephus, with his last 24 men, hid in a cave and carried out a suicide pact. All but two of the men, Josephus and a companion participated and these two soon surrendered to the Romans. Josephus managed to get the Romans to spare his life and he became a historian for the Romans of the war with Jerusalem. Although he is not an inspired writer, his history can be trusted as being fairly accurate. The reason his information is so valuable is because he was an eyewitness to the great tribulation.

Vespasian’s son Titus helped. Vespasian, in the spring of A.D. 67, advanced against a Jewish rebels. They had 60.000 soldiers. Gadara was the first target. They took it. He came into it and slew all the youth, the Romans having no mercy on any age whatsoever; and this was done our of the hatred they bore the nation” (Josephus, p 236).

Jotapata was next, the Japaha were 15, 000 Jews were destroyed and 2,130 made captives. It took longer to take Jotapata. Then Mt Gerizzim (the Samaritans had assembled their). 11, 600 were slain. Taricheae was next. 6,500 were slain, while 5,000 killed themselves by throwing themselves over precipices. Then there was the small city of Gischala. There they slew 6.000 women and children when many of the men fled and went to Jerusalem. Titus pitched camp at Scopus neat Jerusalem. The siege began April 14,70 ‘A.D.

The Romans tortured those who ventured out of the city to escape the tortures of the Jewish zealots inside”...they were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city. Every day five hundred Jews were caught some days more.... So the soldiers out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those that caught; one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of Jest; when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies” (Josephus p.410)

When others deserted the city they swallowed gold pieces for their later use, but “the Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible that this, since in one night’s time about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected.’ (Josephus, p. 417)

As time went on, the miseries of the Jews grew worse, and finally the Romans made an assault on the tower of Antonia (Josephus, p.420) This assault was made on July 17, 70 A.D.. The Romans once again urged the zealots to surrender so that their religious laws and sacrifices could continue, and ones again were ignored. At Caesarea, in honor of his brother Domitian’s birthday Titus punished many of the captive Jews making a total of those who died fighting the beast and who were burned to be over 2,500. The same thing was done at Berytus, in honor of his father’s birthday (Josephus, p 477)

Whole houses were filled with unburied families of the dead. Mothers slew and devoured their own children. Hunger, rage, despair, and madness seized the City. As predicted, in (Lamentations 2:11-12; 4:9-12; Ezekiel 5:5-17 along with Jesus (Luke 23:28) Please read these verses.

One women who had lost everything but her baby to blood-thirsty Jews, then killed her baby son, “and then roasted him, and ate the one half of him, and kept the other half concealed.” When the seditious men smelled “the scent of this food," they threatened her, that they would cut her throat immediately if she did not show them what food she had gotten ready. She replied, that she had saved a very fine portion of it for them and uncovered what was left of her son. She said this is my own son and he was killed by my own doing. Come eat of this food; I have eaten of it myself. The men left, trembling and frightened and all the city came under distress when they heard about it. (Please see Lamantation 4:9-10 )

The famine inside the city was such that children pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths. And even more madness the mothers did the same to their infants that they might preserve their own lives.

Fighting broke out inside the city between the warring factions of Jews. The innocent were killed. Nothing was done for the wounded. And Dead bodies lay unburied. The madness in side the city of Jerusalem was so great that set on fire the houses that were full of corn, and all other provisions.
They polluted their own drinking water. Truly this time for Jerusalem was a “great tribulation.”

The sword of Roman soldiers would be outside the city and pestilence and famine within the city. (Ezekiel 7:14-15) This was the direct occasion of that terrible famine, which consumed incredible number of the Jews in Jerusalem during its siege. They had to concern themselves with their own survival and had no time for the persecution of Christians.

Luke's account records Jesus Christ saying: “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences diseases; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11)

In 61 a great earthquake struck Phrygia, in Asia Minor, wreaking vast destruction. In 62 or 63 an earthquake near Mount Vesuvius in Italy destroyed half the city of Pompeii. (It was completely buried 17 years later, in 79.)

From 66 to 70, according to Josephus, terrifying apparitions appeared in the sky around Jerusalem:
“Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. Thus also, before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus, (Nisan,) and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day-time; which light lasted for half an hour. .
“Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one-and-twentieth day of the month Artemisius, (Jyar,) a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.

“Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner (court of the) temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence' ” (Wars, VI, v, 3). Indeed, great distress and tribulation did come upon the Israel.

The daily sacrifice ceased July 17tn, because the hands were all needed for defense. The last and bloodiest sacrifice at the alter of burnt offering was the slaughter of thousands of Jews who had crowded around it” (Philip Schff, vol. 1 p. 397) Daniel was specifically told that "the end" of city and sanctuary would bring an end to sacrifices and offering. (Daniel 9:27)

After the war was over. Of those above seventeen years of age multitudes were doom to work in chains in the Egyptian mines. Others were sent as presents to various towns to be slain by wild beasts or gladiators, or by each other’s swords in the provincial amphitheaters.

The young of both sexes were sold as slaves. Even during the days on which these arrangements were being made, 11.000 perished for want of food. Josephus reckon the number of captive taken during the war at 97,000 and the number of those who perished during the siege at 1,100.000. The number who perished in the whole war are reckoned at the total of 1,337,490 and the number of prisoners at 101,700; but even these estimates do not include all the items of many skirmishes and battles, nor do they take into account the multitudes who, throughout the whole country, perished of misery, famine and disease.

In may well be said that the nation seemed to have given itself ‘a rendezvous of exterminations.’ Two thousand putrefying bodies were found even in the subterranean vaults of the city, (F.W. Farrar. pp 487-489).

Zechariah also spoke of these day. Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken. The houses rifled. And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity (Zechariah 14:1-2) Please notice that this is the (day of the Lord) when He gather the nations to battle against Jerusalem. Never before, nor since, has the world seen such a great tribulation and mass suffering they endured. The Jews of that generation must have been extremely wicked for God to destroy them in this way.

The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D put a stop to threat by the Jews. Only because God was able to bring to pass this Great Tribulation are we able to know he is God. He did not fail the martyrs who gave their lives in his behalf.