Eschatology – The Fall of Jerusalem – A Judgment from God
We’ve recently passed the 9th of Av 2018 (July 21 this year. This is the 1948th anniversary of the fall of Jerusalem so it’s time to take a closer look at what happened and most importantly, why. (1948 is an interesting anniversary considering Israel became a nation again in 1948, but I don’t want to read too much into that). The fall of Jerusalem as the capstone of the Jewish war was certainly a judgment from God. The reader may consider that statement and think ‘well, obviously it’s a judgment from God, Yeshua said: ‘there would not be left here one stone upon another’ referring to the Temple. It’s however, easy to miss what a profound judgment this was on Judea.
Individuals don’t like reading about God’s judgment as it’s uncomfortable to consider. We then have to ask the troubling question of why God had such a judgment on His people. Why did Yeshua weep over Jerusalem?
When Yeshua started His ministry, Judea was ruled by Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great who was a vassal king of the Roman Empire. Rome had control of Judea and treated it as a strategic occupied state. Jews hated the fact that Rome had control of Judea. The Pharisees and Sadducees had a measure of political power and were also corrupt as Yeshua points out on many occasions. There were no governing authorities that were ruling righteously in the sight of God, only tyranny, corruption and hypocrisy. Yeshua wasn’t outspoken against Rome, nor was He outspoken against Herod Antipas, his focus was on the Pharisees, those that ‘represent’ God.
So let’s have a look at what Yeshua said about the Pharisees. In Matthew 12:14, we see that the Pharisees went out to conspire to kill Yeshua after he heals a man with a withered hand:
Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
In Matthew 12:22-32 Yeshua casts a demon out of a man and healed him. The Pharasees accuse Yeshua of casting out the demons by the power of ‘Beelzebub’, a reference to Satan. Yeshua then accuses them of Blasphemy for this statement and that they would not be forgiven (Matthew 12:32). He then says the following to them:
Matthew 12:33-37 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. (34) O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (35) A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. (36) But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (37) For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
In chapter 13, we see that it is the same day and Yeshua’s disciples ask him why He speaks in parables. His answer was to confuse those that are against Him, the Pharisees and Jewish leadership.
Matthew 13:11-13 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. (12) For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. (13) Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
So very shortly after Yeshua starts His ministry and selects His Disciples, there is already a plot to kill him from the Pharisees. Yeshua was gaining a following and He was a threat to their control.At no time did Yeshua try and mend relations with the Pharisees, partner with them for a sense of unity, embrace them as fellow keepers of Torah, show them kindness or hold out His hand to them. Instead He provoked them, made them look foolish at every opportunity and exposed their hypocrisy and wickedness. So moving from the start of Yeshua’s ministry to His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, the first item on His order of business for the day was to cleanse the Temple. Before He enters Jerusalem, Yeshua knows what He is about to do and what would result from it. He weeps over Jerusalem.
Luke 19:41-44 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, (42) Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. (43) For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, (44) And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
To set the scene, Yeshua had a ‘multitude’ following Him on that day, and the Pharisees must have been seething in rage at the time Yeshua rode in and cleansed the temple. (Luke 19:45-48, Matthew 21:12-17, John 2:13-22)
So what would this look like today? Many draw an analogy of Yeshua walking into the Vatican and cleansing it, or into a large American prosperity focused mega church and cleansing that. However these are not workable analogies. As heretical and corrupt as the Vatican is, in words, they still worship Jesus. As with the American prosperity megachurch, in words, they worship Jesus even though they are off the mark. To set this stage, we need to go to Jerusalem. The Jewish Orthodox still have a ‘distaste’ for Yeshua and at the very least claim that Yeshua was a false Messiah. Now imagine that Yeshua has been antagonizing the Rabbi’s for the past 3 years, claiming He was the Messiah and doing signs and wonders drawing Jews to follow Him. The Orthodox persecute the Messianic movement today. Now imagine Yeshua riding down to the Western Wall a couple days prior to Passover, taking out a whip, turning over tables in anger and cleansing the area. Certainly the anger of the Orthodox would rise up and undoubtedly, Yeshua would be arrested to suppress any tension. Those that have been to Jerusalem would be able to picture this clearly.
So what did Yeshua say in anger to the Pharisees at the Temple. In Matthew 23, Yeshua lays out Seven Woes:
Woe 5, 6 and 7 are in regards to hypocrisy. I’ll let the text speak for itself:
Matthew 23:27-36 “How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead people’s bones and every kind of impurity. (28) In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (29) “How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous. (30) Then you say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our ancestors, we would have had no part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ (31) Therefore, you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. (32) Then finish what your ancestors started! (33) You snakes, you children of serpents! How can you escape being condemned to hell? (34) “That is why I am sending you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will whip in your synagogues and persecute from town to town. (35) As a result, you will be held accountable for all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of the righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. (36) I tell you with certainty, all these things will happen to those living today.”
In John 8:44, Yeshua says: ‘ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the begininning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.’
This statement is so harsh and absolute that Jewish sources today cite the Gospel of John as antisemetic. In Matthew 27:25, All the people, not only the Pharisees and Jewish authorities answered Pilate:
Matthew 27:25-26 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. (26) Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Thus the responsibility isn’t only on Jewish leadership, the crowd chose the hypocrisy and corruption of the Pharisees over Yeshua, their Messiah.
Yeshua wept over what He knew His kinsmen, fellow Jews would choose. They not only rejected Him as Messiah, they called for His crucifixion, called for Barrabas to be released in His place and said ‘His blood be on us, and on our children’. God answered their request even though what they chose would fulfill His judgment on Jerusalem. We’ll unpack that idea next week.