Matthew 23: 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate! 39 For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
The End of Time
Matthew 24 –
3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
15“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand
The abomination and the desolation could be interpreted by many things, an example of this when the Roman forces invaded the Holy site of Israel and destroyed the temple. The Roman soldiers are the abomination, causing the desolation of the Holy City.
16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
Major urban areas in the region include Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Gush Etzion, Jericho and Hebron. Geographers divide Judea into several regions: the Hebron hills, the Jerusalem saddle, the Bethel hills and the Judean desert east of Jerusalem, which descends in a series of steps to the Dead Sea. So, the invasion of Jerusalem was a big blow to Judea.” Josephus said: “And truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing; for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor had anyone who had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again. But though he [a foreigner] were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it.
17Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
Jesus is talking about events that are happening in Israel, nowhere else.
22“If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
23At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.25See, I have told you ahead of time. 26“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.
In the middle of the distress that Israel was going through caused by the invasion of the Romans, the destruction of the temple and the forced exile the majority of the population had to face, some Christians may have believed that Jesus was coming back, in their time, to stop the end of Israel from happening. The Christian population must have suffered the cruel invasion of the Romans the same way any average Jew would have done. During these vulnerable times, some hypocrites must have posed as the coming Jesus himself, appointing themselves as spiritual leaders over the masses.
Jesus said that hearing or seeing someone claiming to be the Christ does not make him one. The coming of the ‘Son of Man’ was a nationwide event. His coming was death for those who chose death.
The Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE led to the first war between the Jews and Rome. The future Emperor Titus, and his commander Tiberius Julius Alexander, first besieged then conquered Jerusalem, a city which was under rebels’ control since 66 CE. Before the year 66, huge riots gripped the city, becoming the decisive factor of the first Jedean free government since the Roman occupation in the first century BCE.
When the siege ended in 30th August 70 CE, Jerusalem watched in horror as its precious second temple was being destroyed by fire. The Roman army ransacked the Lower City, savagely killing whoever appeared in their way.
Peter Schafer, in the History of the Jews in Antiquity, describes the events of the invasion in graphic details. He says: “As the legions charged in, neither persuasion nor threat could check their impetuosity: passion alone was in command. Crowded together around the entrances many were trampled by their friends, many fell among the still hot and smoking ruins of the colonnades and died as miserably as the defeated. As they neared the Sanctuary they pretended not even to hear Caesar’s commands and urged the men in front to throw in more firebrands. The partisans were no longer in a position to help; everywhere was slaughter and flight. Most of the victims were peaceful citizens, weak and unarmed, butchered wherever they were caught. Round the Altar the heaps of corpses grew higher and higher, while down the Sanctuary steps poured a river of blood and the bodies of those killed at the top slithered to the bottom.“
29“Immediately after the distress of those days “ ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
These signs could indicate the occurrence of an eclipse accompanied by an earthquake. However, according to NASA, there were no eclipses at all between 183 BC and 418 AC.
Josephus; the historian, had acted as a mediator for the Romans and, when negotiations failed, witnessed the siege and the aftermath of the invasion. He wrote: “Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done), [Titus]
Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and Temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as they were of the greatest eminence; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison [in the Upper City], as were the towers [the three forts] also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall [surrounding Jerusalem], it 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. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.” Translated by Whiston William]
30“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.
What is the sign of the “Son of Man”? It is possibly the cross or the heavenly being himself. The sign has appeared to over 1.5 million Jews who were in exile. Those who saw the sign mourned. Why did they mourn? The sign was for them either the Roman invasion and the terror of death or the realisation that the ‘Son of Man’ was coming after their bodies had already surrendered to the power of death.
Josephus claims that 1.1 million people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish. Josephus attributes this to the celebration of Passover which he uses as a rationale for the vast number of people present among the death toll. Armed rebels, as well as the frail citizens, were put to death. All of Jerusalem’s remaining citizens became Roman prisoners. After the Romans killed the armed and elder people, 97,000 were still enslaved. Of the 97,000, thousands were forced to become gladiators and eventually expired in the arena. Many others were forced to assist in the building of the Forum of Peace and the Colosseum. Those under 17 years of age were sold into servitude. However, around the time about a million people lived in Palestine, about half of them were Jews, and sizable Jewish populations remained in the area after the war was over, even in the hard-hit region of Judea. Could this be the remnant?
Many fled to areas around the Mediterranean. According to Philostratus writing in the early years of the 3rd century, Titus reportedly refused to accept a wreath of victory, saying that the victory did not come through his own efforts but that he had merely served as an instrument of divine wrath.
31And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
They collect the elects from the heavens, not the earth. This means these were not physical beings.
32“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
Jesus is warning his own friends to take care and know when it is the beginning of the end.
This is the ultimate evidence that Jesus was prophesying about the Roman invasion and the end of Jerusalem, and not the end of the world.
36“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Only the Father (the source of everyone, the general consciousness) knew when the invasion will be taking place and when over a million Jewish people will be dying.
37As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
This is a shred of clear evidence that it was not the Son of Man who willed for the destruction to happen. The Son of Man came; as was Noah, to save the elect.”
38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
The Son of Man ‘harvesting’ the elect suddenly, this means the elects passing away, dying in the body, but living in the spirit, for those who haven’t embraced death.
42“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
The coming of the Lord is a symbol of death; the death of the body. When the Christian dies, the Lord meets their soul. So, the day of the coming of the Lord is the day the Christian’s soul meets its Lord.
43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
This is a message to prepare the disciples for death, in general. One has always to be prepared, for death could be just around the corner.
45“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.