Thursday, September 22, 2011

"End Times" or the "End of Time?"


The 2nd Temple circa 30 A.D.


A Continuing Exposition of Matthew 24 & Luke 21


As we continue to explore the singular meaning of the Matthew 24 / Luke 21 Mount Olive discourse regarding the two apostolic questions; “When will the Temple be destroyed?” and “What are the signs of your (2nd) coming and the end of the world?” we will fail in our exegesis unless we grasp the fact that this discourse is neither chronological nor sequential in the 21st century mindset.  Christ does not put everything in exact “time sequence” and “chronological” order.  To our way of thinking, He jumps around and gets things “out of order.”  In fact, such chronological and sequential concepts are foreign to the 1st century Jewish way of thinking.  Though many, if not most, of the dialogue is in what we would call “proper sequence,” it is by no means 100% so.  Frankly, such concepts as time, chronology and sequence were not important to the writers of Jewish literature, inspired or otherwise.  What was important was the impact of certain people, places and events in order of importance to God’s long term plan for mankind.  In other words, “correct” chronological and sequential order has little, if nothing, to do with how God communicated His Holy Word to the Jewish people.  As the Littman Co. © says;

The comprehensive study of time, time reckoning, and chronology in ancient Jewish sources demonstrates that the concept of time as an entity or a continuum was entirely absent from ancient Judaism.  Reality and change were conceived in terms of concrete processes.  This stands in contrast with the world view of Greco-Roman culture and its pervasive concept of chronos[1]

This, of course, is not to say that viewing history chronologically is in any way right, wrong or indifferent.  It is to say, however, that the 1st century Jew did not communicate discourse and dialogue in the same way we do 21 centuries later.  Now back to our text(s).

The Jewish revolt that resulted in the complete destruction of the 2nd Temple and the city of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. began in 66 A. D. when 3,000 Romans were lost in battle with the Jews.  The Romans withdrew for a time and then returned with a massive army of 60,000 men made up of the combined forces of the 5th and 10th Legions.  The combined force was commanded by Vespasian moving the 10th southward out of Syria and his son, Titus, pressed north from Egypt with the 5th.  Rome was determined to put down Jewish uprisings for all time and eternity.  When it was all over, the only thing left of Jerusalem was a small Roman garrison camped on top of Mt. Zion where the Temple once stood.  Josephus records a detailed history and archeology has un-earthed a Roman marker dedicating the victory to “Imperial Caesar Vespasian…”  Vespasian led the army to a rout of Jewish opposition in Israel, pushing Jewish forces gradually into Jerusalem which he then began to besiege.  However, he was called back to Rome by his supporters where he was installed as the imperial emperor on 21 December 69 A. D.[2]  In his absence, the siege was temporality lifted and people were able to leave Jerusalem.  Shortly, in the new year, the siege was begun anew under the new commander, Titus.  Titus, on behalf of Vespasian, destroyed the Temple, conquered Jerusalem, killed 1.1 million persons in there, defeated the remnant Jewish garrison at Masada, and ended the revolt.  The events of 70 A. D. had consequences that last until this very day.  Not since the destruction of the Temple have the Jewish people been able to prove what tribe they are from, no person(s) of Levitical linage ancestry are identifiable thus completely destroying the Mosaical sacrificial system.  Everything near and dear to the Jewish mindset and identity as a people was swept away forever.  In fact Jesus said that “…Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled…” – Luke 21:24b (KJV).  Thus it is so, Jerusalem has been fought over and trampled by Gentile peoples from that day until this very day.  As we speak Gentile Arabs possess and control the very Temple Mount that was swept clean of the Temple of God by Titus.  Gentile peoples will continue to fight over this mount until the last trumpet sounds.  The seed of Abraham is now living in Spiritual Israel, the hearts of Christian men and women and His law is no longer written in stone but on the hearts of every faithful Christian!  - TO BE CONTINUED



[1] From the on-line intro to the book Time and Process in Ancient Judaism by Sacha Stern.  See: http://www.littman.co.uk/cat/stern-time.html
[2]  69 A. D. is known as "The Year of the Four Emperors."  Vespasian was proclaimed emperor only after 3 other men temporarily held the Imperial Seat. Nero committed suicide in 68 A. D. In 69 A. D. Galba was assassinated in the Forum by the Praetorian Guard, Otho committed suicide, thirdly, Vitellius was killed by Vespasian's soldiers as they overran Rome.  Interestingly, as his son would do a year later in Jerusalem, Vespasian burned down the Temple of Jupiter which was associated with Vitellius.  The fourth emperor that year, Vespasian, was proclaimed emperor just before years end.
NOTE: For a detailed history of "The War of the Jews" see: http://www.historynet.com/first-jewish-roman-war-siege-of-jerusalem.htm

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