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 Sign 1 – False Messiahs
- Misleading Sign 2 – Wars and Rumours of Wars
- Misleading Sign 3 – Nation against Nation & Kingdom against Kingdom
- Misleading Sign 4 – Famines
Luke 21:11 — There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.
Right now, as the world is battling with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, many preachers and teachers in Christianity are predicting the coming of Christ and this pandemic to be one of the signs of His soon coming. However, history and the scriptures tell us differently. The coming of any pandemic does not mean the world is going to end. The scriptures, when speaking of world coming to an end always speak of the end of the Mosaic Old Covenant world and not the present world. We will get into this in upcoming studies.
When the Lord prophesied the destruction of the Temple and the great City of Jerusalem, He meant it to happen in that generation and it did happen then. We will cover the understanding of generation in the upcoming articles.
Our Lord Jesus added “pestilences.” Pestilence accompanied famines in the first century, and it was this terrifying scourge in first-century Israel.
In history, however, there are two cases of this catastrophe, which happened before the start of the Jewish war. The first is recorded at Babylon in about AD. 40, and spread so quickly, that great multitudes of Jews fled from that city to Seleucia for safety.
The other occurred at Rome AD. 65, and carried off large multitudes. Both Tacitus and Suetonius also record, that similar calamities prevailed, during this period, in various parts of the Roman empire. After Jerusalem was surrounded by the army of Titus, pestilential diseases soon made their presence there to intensify the misery and increase the terrors of the siege. They were partially caused by the enormous numbers of people who were gathered together in the city, notably by the decayed odors which arose from the un-buried dead, and partly from the spread of famine.
HISTORIANS IN AGREEMENT
Spence and Excel also quote historians such as Josephus, Suetonius, and Tacitus who wrote of one autumn in which thirty thousand died of famine and pestilence in Rome.
There were terrible epidemic diseases like the plague killed thousands in Babylon in AD. 40, [Josephus, Antiquities, 18.9.8] and in Italy in AD. 65-66. [Tacitus, 16.13.]
The Roman historian Suetonius wrote:
“In the days of Nero there was a pestilence in Rome that was so severe that within the space of one autumn there died no less than 30,000 persons.”
Josephus records a terrible pestilence in Babylonia in AD. 40:
“The Babylonians were now freed from Anileus’s heavy incursions, which had been a great restraint to the effects of that hatred they bore to the Jews; for they were almost always at variance, by reason of the contrariety of their laws; and which party soever grew boldest before the other, they assaulted the other: and at this time in particular it was, that upon the ruin of Anileus’s party, the Babylonians attacked the Jews, which made those Jews so, vehemently to resent the injuries they received from the Babylonians, that being neither able to fight them, nor bearing to live with them, they went to Seleucia, the principal city of those parts, which was built by Seleucus Nicator. It was inhabited by many of the Macedonians, but by more of the Grecians; not a few of the Syrians also dwelt there; and thither did the Jews fly, and lived there five years, without any misfortunes. But on the sixth year, a pestilence came upon these at Babylon, which occasioned new removals of men’s habitations out of that city; and because they came to Seleucia, it happened that a still heavier calamity came upon them on that account which I am going to relate immediately. [Josephus, Antiquities, 18.9.8]
The words of Jesus once again came true in this prophecy as in all others.