Still in the Olivet discourse, Jesus’ teaching his disciples on the end. The End which came in AD 70 with the fall of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, indeed the entire city. As Jesus told them, for these are days of vengeance. These were the days of vengeance, Roman vengeance. The Jewish War had started in AD 66, and was not without Jewish victories. They were able to drive Rome out of some cities and reclaim them as Jewish territory. Until the emperor Vespasian had seen enough and sent his son, General Titus, with the Roman 10th legion, with their eagles high upon their standards, their banners blowing in the breeze. They laid seize to Jerusalem, and it went just as Jesus had said. But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Jerusalem was surrounded by armies, and its desolation was near. Jesus told them, when they saw this sign, to GET OUT!! Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. And as he had told them previously, “On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back.” Luke 17:31 ESV.
Jesus had warned his disciples, and anyone else listening, what to do when the armies surrounded Jerusalem. And when this indeed happened, the Romans actually stopped and announced that whoever wanted to leave at that point would be given safe passage. The only people who accepted this offer were the Jews in the city who recognized Jesus as Messiah and remembered what he taught them. They took their chance, came down from the rooftops, did not turn back from the fields. These early Christians in Jerusalem were the only ones who heeded the warning. They were the only ones to escape the massacre to come. We know from history where they went – to a city called Pella in Jordan.
Everyone else, either not knowing or simply ignoring the words of Christ, stayed. Those who were outside the city flooded into the city. They came ready to fight, because of course we must fight for our salvation. Of course, as Jesus told Peter as he was being arrested, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Matthew 26:52 ESV. They flooded into the city to rake up their swords. They went through months of intra city warfare breaking out, people fighting about just what to do. They endured famine. They endured a plague that broke out. Some turned to cannibalism.
Some would then try to escape after the Roman offer had expired. These were crucified. Tens of thousand of crucifixes ringed the city, all with a decaying body upon them. The choice was given. Most chose to ignore the teachings of Jesus Christ forty years earlier, and chose to stay for the fight. Others chose to come for the fight. They chose hell, and that’s what they got.
And when the day came and the city fell, most died the death they chose. They died by their swords. Depending on which estimates, 600,000 to 1.1 million perished. About 80,000 were taken as slaves. The Romans destroyed the temple, but not before they took all the gold and valuables inside. They took all that Jewish gold, along with their Jewish slaves, back to Rome with them. In Rome to this day, there is the “Arch of Titus” which depicts this great victory. It shows the Roman soldiers carrying out the gold, the valuables, and taking them back to Rome.
They brought that gold and those slaves with them, and guess what they used them to build?? A little thing called the Roman Colosseum. Yes, the Roman colosseum was built by the Jewish slaves with their temple gold. You might even say this about it – you just might say that the Jewish temple was rebuilt in Rome, by Jewish slaves with their temple gold, as the Roman Coliseum. The times of the Gentiles, the Romans, were fulfilled. The days of vengeance had come.
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. I thought this is what I would be writing about today, but I’m out of time. Tomorrow is always a new day…
“”But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
Luke 21:20-33 ESV