Sunday, January 16, 2011

Famines and Pestilence.

And there shall be famines, and pestilences…. (Matt 24:7)

It should be noted that some of the best manuscripts omit the word “pestilences” in this passage. However, where there is famine, there is always pestilence.)

Both the Bible and the historians of the day show that indeed famine and pestilence did occur before the time of the end. The Bible speaks of famine in Acts 11:27-29. The famine was so great that the church as far away as Corinth participated in relief efforts (1 Corinthians 16:1-5, Romans 15:25-28).

The historians of the day wrote extensively about famines in that day. Secular historians such as Tacitus wrote that famine fell upon the entire Roman Empire. It was established that at one point there was no more than fifteen day’s supply of food in the city of Rome. Josephus said there were famines leading up to the time of Jerusalem’s destruction. He records the consequences in graphic detail.

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 by her concealed.” When the seditious men smelled “the horrid scent of this food, they threatened her, that they would cut her throat immediately if she did not show then 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 the all the city came under distress when they heard about it. (Josephus pp. 443-444.) Of course, we know that hundreds of thousands died from starvation during Titus’ final siege of Jerusalem.

One of the most moving scriptures to me is Luke 23:28, “But Jesus turning unto them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”

This is the time right after Jesus had been led to Pilate and the (Jewish Chief Priests) were accusing Jesus of perverting the nation (Rome), forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and “saying that he himself is Christ a King”.

Pilate found no fault in Him and sent Jesus to Herod. Herod questioned Jesus, but Jesus answered nothing. The chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod and his men mocked Jesus and arrayed in a georgeous robe and sent him again to Pilate. Pilate again found no fault in Jesus.

The crowd (Jews) cried out more and required that Jesus be crucified. Verse 26 “and as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. And there followed him a great company of people and of the women which also bewailed and lamented him.

But Jesus turning unto them, said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blesssed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps they never give suck. Then shall they begin to say to these mountains, Fall on us: and to the hills, Cover us.”

The setting of this scripture is around AD 30, Jesus has just been given over to crucifixion and is on his way to Galgotha, the hill to be crucified. There were two crowds that day, those who wanted him to die and the others who were mourning his impending death. The women were weeping heavily for the man Jesus that was about to be crucified.

The relevant audience is the women who are crying for him. Jesus is speaking to them, not to us today. Their hopes of a King, who would liberate them from Rome and reestablish the Kingdom as in the time of David, was vanishing away.

They were not only crying for the loss of Jesus, but also the loss of the kingdom that the prophets had promised with the coming of Messiah.

But, Jesus, who was full of love, full of compassion, knew what was coming. Jesus knew, that Luke 21:22-23, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 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.’ Thessalonians 2:16, ‘for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

Jesus knew what lay ahead during the 40 years of AD30 to AD70. He knew how many would die in the wars. Many would die by starvation, by the sword, and by famines, and pestilences for he had forewarned the day were coming in the Old Testament.

Fulfillment of prophecy. (Lamentations 4:9-12 concerning the "Daughters of Jerusalem) Those slain by the sword are better off Then those who die of hunger: For these pine away, Stricken for lack of the fruits of the field. The hands of the compassionate women Have (cooked their own children: They become food for them) In the destruction of the daughter of my people. The Lord has fulfilled His fury He has poured out His fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion And it has devoured its foundations. (emphasis added) See also (Lamentations 2:11-12)

'And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. 'Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments among you, and all of you who remain I will scatter to all the winds. 'Therefore, as I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. 'One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. Ezekiel 5;9-12)

The young of both sexes were sold as slaves. Those under seventeen were sold as slaves. In the days it took Fronto to make these decisions, 11.000 perished for want of food. (Josephus 37:B.C A.D. 70 p. 230) The Roman general Titus, who conquered Jerusalem and Israel, sent 17,000 adults Jews to Egypt."

Jesus knew these mothers would sit and cry for the mountains to fall upon them and the hills to cover them as the pain of their children’s death filled their hearts.

Hosea 10:8, “ The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come upon their alters; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us: and to the hills, Fall on us.”

Much horrendous calamity was going to befall the chosen people of God.

Jesus had warned them to repent, to change their minds, to not follow the way of the sword. He had tried to gather them under His wing as a hen gathers her brood. Yet, they cried, “We have no King but Caesar”. John 19:15 But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"

Today, we need not fear the calamity that befell Israel, we do not need to weep for our children because THOSE WERE THE DAYS OF VENGEANCE THAT ALL THINGS WRITTEN WOULD BE FULFILLED.

All this occurred in Jesus’ contemporaries..