Sign of the Times

templeThen as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?” And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. “For many will come in My name, saying, `I am He,’ and will deceive many. “But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows. “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. (Mar 13:1-9 NKJ)

Jesus knew what was to come not in the far, distant future, but the century following his death. Revolts were always brewing under the surface. In AD 66, on the Sabbath day, a Gentile offered a pagan sacrifice next to the entrance to the synagogue. There was an outcry from the citizens of Caesarea. The authorities in Jerusalem decided to end all foreign sacrifices, including the one for Caesar himself, in the Temple. Florus the governor, who lived in Caesarea, came to Jerusalem with troops, entered the Temple treasury, and took a large amount of gold. When people gathered to protest, Florus unleashed his legionnaires on innocent civilians of the city. Hundreds of women were raped, whipped, and crucified. More than 3,500 people were killed, including women and children.

The reaction was outrage. Mobs swarmed the streets, driving the outnumbered soldiers out of the city. The people stormed the Roman fort and burned the archives, destroying records of debts. The revolt spread. The Zealots surprised the Roman garrison and occupied the fortress of Masada. From this fortress, vast supplies of weapons were distributed. Though there were voices urging calm, even the nonpolitical Pharisees joined the Zealot movement in droves. Hearing of the Jewish rebellion gentiles killed Jews all around the empire, 50,000 were killed in Alexander alone. Gaius moved against the Jews with a garrison from Syria, but he was ambushed and his garrison destroyed.  The Jews had independence, even if it was for a short time.

In 67AD Vespasian, with 50,000 soldiers moved to Galilee, Joppa, and Jericho before surrounding Jerusalem. The Jews big problem was not the Romans as much as it was the in-fighting between liberals and conservatives. In 70AD the Romans breached the walls and destroyed the temple.

Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem and built a temple to Jupiter. The Jews, angry at the Roman mockery, led a second revolt under the leadership of Ba Kokhba.  Hadrian responded with the full weight of the Roman empire. 580,000 Jews were killed. Jewish were banished from the region and only allowed to return on the 9th Av to mourn their dead.  Judea was renamed Palestine.

Published by Terry Threadwell

Dr. Terry Threadwell has thirty five years ministry experience. Author, educator and Director of the Institute of Progressive Pentecostal Studies.

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