Before reading this brief study, please read the previous articles in this series,
- The Meaning of Eschatology
- Flashback to the Prophecy of Jesus Christ
- The Parable of the Vineyard – Part 1
- The Parable of the Vineyard – Part 2
- The Parable of the Vineyard – Part 3
- The Wedding Feast
- The Temple – Old and New
- The Questions
- The Beginning of Signs
- Misleading Signs 1 – False Messiahs
- Misleading Signs 2 – Wars and Rumours of Wars
Matthew 24:7 — ”For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…”
Mark 13:8 — For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Luke 21:10 — Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
Jesus was preparing His disciples for all the events that would take place in their lifetime. Jesus expected His disciples to be bold and understand the things He said. There was continual factional fighting internally and externally.
The Jews had constant tension with the Romans and the Greeks. The pressure was always increasing as the Romans had imposed heavy taxes that were ruining the Jews physically and materially. This was one of the major causes the Jews rebelled against the Romans and hence there were always threats of wars.
WORLD WAR 3
The generation today is in constant fear of WW3 because of the media hype that creates a lot of tension and fear. Jesus was not telling His disciples of things that would be taking place two thousand years ahead, but He was making sure that the ones He loved would be ready for the difficulties that were coming in their present generation so that they could be of help to other believers.
Josephus in his preface to the “Wars of the Jews” comments: “
…WHEREAS the war which the Jews made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of; both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations…” [Josephus, Wars, Preface. Section 1]
Many factions were battling for power in Jerusalem from AD. 66 to 70,
- Ananus, son of Ananus: Former high priest; moderate leader of Jerusalem during the rebellion.
- Sicarii – the dagger – men: This was a group who fought with daggers and their leader was Menahem ben Yehuda. They resorted to stealth and terrorism to achieve their objectives. They would carry small daggers under their cloaks and stab their enemies, Romans or Roman sympathizers, often wealthy Jews and elites associated with the priesthood, and then blend into the crowd.
- Eleazor Ben Simon and Zacharias, the son of Phalek – Leader of the Zealots: The Zealots were passionate nationalists who broke away from the Pharisees because they wanted to fight the Romans at all costs, while the Pharisees hesitated. [Josephus, Wars, 4.4.1]
- John of Gischala: Josephus’ enemy in Galilee, who fled to Jerusalem and then took control of the Zealots. [Josephus, Wars 4.2.1]
- Simon Ben Giora: Popular leader from the countryside who gained control of much of Jerusalem. [Josephus, Wars 4.9.3]
- The Idumaens: Skilled soldiers from Idumaea, south of Judaea, who were strongly anti-Roman but found themselves manipulated by the factions. Josephus notes, “The Idumaens are military minded, and with little motivation make haste to a battle as if it were to a feast.” [Josephus, Wars 4.4.1]
ATROCITIES IN THE CITY – VESPASIAN’S INTERVENTION
As long as Jews were killing each other in Jerusalem, Vespasian refrained from attacking it for two years, allowing his troops to squash resistance in Peraea and Idumaea. Many fled Jerusalem and some were killed by Zealots out of fear that they would join the Romans. Factional fighting caused Vespasian to delay the attack as the Jews were killing each other faster than the Romans could.
Michael Goodwin summarizes the Jewish war,
“The crafty and despotic John betrays secrets learned from Ananus to the Zealots. The Zealots appeal to the Idumaeans (South of Judaea) for support, saying that Ananus had deceived the people. On the arrival of Idumaeans at Jerusalem, the priest Jeshua addresses them and heaps scorn on John’s followers. His speech falls on deaf ears.
Jerusalem had previously been free for foreigners to worship in. The Idumaeans are excluded however from admittance and from worship, and are angry at this exclusion, become opposed to the orthodox faction. The Zealots quietly admit the Idumaeans to the City, and slaughter of local inhabitants and plunder of their houses ensues by Zealots and Idumaeans. The high priest Ananus (and soon Jeshua) is killed. Bodies are desecrated.
Josephus states that the fall of Jerusalem began with the slaying of Ananus. He believes “God had sentenced this polluted city to destruction and willed that the Sanctuary should be purged by fire, and so cut off those who clung to them and loved them so dearly.” Savagery continues, butchery, torture. Reign of terror, sham courts, faked trials. For example, the distinguished citizen Zachariah is murdered. The Idumaeans regret coming and their participation in this unparalleled savagery-some depart.
Vespasian hears of the internal dissension and civil war of the Jews and views this as a godsend. The Jews are occupied fighting each other rather than preparing weapons to fight the Romans. Many deserters flee the City. Burial is forbidden, the bodies rot in the streets. John is determined to be the sole leader. Another calamity develops as the Sicarii begin to plunder villages surrounding Masada, taking the loot to the fortress. There is widespread terrorism and plunder in Judaea. Vespasian moves toward the City 68 CE. Peraea is crushed.” [Josephus: The Jewish War, (Bellum Judaicum), Summary by Michael McGoodwin, prepared 2002, “Atrocities in the City – Vespasian’s Intervention”]
Tacitus also describes the generation between the resurrection of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD. 70:
“I enter upon a work fertile in vicissitudes, stained with the blood of battles, embroiled with dissensions, horrible even in the interval of peace. Four princes slain; three civil wars, more with foreign enemies, and sometimes both at once; prosperity in the East, disasters in the West; Illyricum disturbed; the Gauls ready to revolt; Britain conquered, and again lost; Samaritans and Suevians conspiring against us; the Dacians renowned for defeats given and sustained; the Parathions almost aroused to arms by a counterfeit Nero.
Italy afflicted with calamities unheard of, or recurring only after a long interval; cities overwhelmed or swallowed up in the fertile region of Campania; Rome itself laid waste by fire, the most ancient temples destroyed, the very capitol burned by its citizen.”
World turmoil and conflict Tacitus, covering the period from AD. 14 to the death of Nero in AD. 68, describes the tumult of the period with phrases such as: “disturbances in Germany”, “commotions in Africa”, commotions in Thrace”, “insurrections in Gaul”, “intrigues among the Parthians”, “the war in Britain”, and “the war in Armenia”. Wars were fought from one end of the empire to the other.” [Tacitus, The Histories, 4 vols, trans, Clifford H. Moore, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1962), 16.13, pp. 5-7]
Gary writes commenting on the fact that this verse of scripture was fulfilled in the lifetime of these disciples:
“But what about world conditions? Aren’t we seeing prophecy being fulfilled right before our eyes? This protest is offered when people are hit with an interpretation that no longer fits their doctrinal views. They shift from the clear teaching of Scripture to current events. The Bible is then read through the lens of today’s newsprint, a form of ‘newspaper exegesis.’ Our nation, and every nation, could go through the most tumultuous upheaval that history has ever experienced, and this still would not mean that Jesus was returning soon. For date setters, history is ignored; the result is that the church experiences wild gyrations in the field of biblical prophecy.”
With these descriptions we can see further fulfillment: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” [Matthew 24:7]