|Posted by donnadawson on February 18, 2009 at 4:25 PM|
In view of my last post, I thought it might be interesting to do a bit of a study on Matthew Chapter 24. Why would I pick this one chapter? Well, this just happens to be the chapter where Jesus explains the signs that would come with the end of the church age. I thought it might be beneficial to do short segments and simply dissect them. So without further adeu, let us begin.
Matthew 24:1-2 "Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its building. 'Do you see all these things?' he asked. 'I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.' " (NIV)
We initially look at this portion of scripture and it seems pretty simple but Jesus was beginning the first of a series of prophecies that would lead us through church history. At the time that Jesus was uttering this particular prophecy Jerusalem was a busy hub of activity for the Jewish nation. But it was also under the authority of the Roman Empire and it was this very empire that allowed the extravagance of the temple to remain.
A few mere decades later the Emperor, Nero, also known by then as Imperato Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, decided he needed more money so he ordered his Judean governor, Gessius Florus, to confiscate it from the temple treasury. Gessius Florus proceeded to do as he was told but ended up crucifying some innocent bystanders over a joke made by Jewish citizens who 'passed the hat' to help poor Florus. That began the rebellion which likely wouldn't have started had it not been for the Roman Empire's penchant for starving Jewish citizens. The war began in 66 and carried through to 70.
In 66 a man by the name of Menahem, who, incidently, was referred to as the king of the Jews, raided the fortress of Masada. He was then declared openly as king of the Jews and he and his men, the Sicarians or dagger men, laid seige to Jerusalem. Menahem had Ananias the high priest killed and then very shortly after found himself dangling at the end of a rope. That nicely ended his short-lived reign.
Somebody in Rome got the hint and decided to replace Gessius Florus but the new guy, Gaius Cestius Gallus, decided that force was the best remedy to free Jerusalem. He wasn't prepared for the ambush by Eleaser son of Simon and managed to lose his standard and his pride. Over the next three years the two forces would struggle for dominance.
By 70 Nero had committed suicide, Vespasian ruled the army and his son Titus was doing the political tapdance to get in good with the new emperor Galba. Before he could get there Galba was lynched and the fight for the throne was on. Before long Vespasian slipped into the emperor's clothes and order was restored. This left Titus as the head of the army and on April 14, 70 which happened to coincide with the Passover, he laid seige to Jerusalem. With the city surrounded, the Jews finally united and prepared to defend their city. Starvation became the rule of the day for the Jews and some tried to escape only to find themselves nailed in various poses to crosses--nearly 500 per day were crucified.
Historian Josephus Flavius stated that the fire to the temple was set deliberately by the Roman soldiers however it has been questioned that perhaps he documented it this way to help Titus who was his friend. Cornelius Tacitus who later was appointed to the senate made it very plain that Titus had ordered it done. According to Josephus, the Romans levelled all the walls around Jerusalem right down to the bedrock. While many believe that the existing wall is one of the temple walls, both Josephus Flavius and Emperor Titus declared that the temple was completely destroyed. In Josephus' writings you will find: "It [Jerusalem with its walls] was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited" (War VII.1,1).
So that first portion of scripture we just read was loaded with far more information than first thought. It was a profound collection of words and thoughts. Not only did Jesus say the temple would be destroyed--a blanket statement that time could have fulfilled without a prophet's utterance--but every stone was thrown down with not one left on another--exactly as Jesus had said.