Some Specific Scriptures Fulfilled with the Destruction of Jerusalem
During the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the events leading up to the destruction, a number of significant prophecies in the Bible were fulfilled. Some of these are listed and explained below.
A. Speaking about the Temple, “…There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matt.24:2).
Titus burned the Temple down in August, AD 70 according to Josephus the Jewish historian, in his document The Wars of the Jews, Book 6, Chapters 4–5. Over the next three years the Temple stones were dismantled and leveled to the ground after which the area was plowed over (Josephus, The War of the Jews, Book 7, Chapter 1).
“Titus forced his way into the city [of Jerusalem], breaking through the three north walls in August, AD 70, and his army burned the Temple, eventually leveling it” (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Page 486).
Josephus also writes that, “Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder….Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were the greatest eminency; that is, Phasaclus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne, and so much of the wall as 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; as were the towers 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, 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 had ever been inhabited.”
Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book 7, Chapter 1, Paragraph 1, Lines 1–3.
Adam Clarke (1715–1832) writes that a Jewish rabbi by the name of Maimonides wrote in a Tract. Taanith, c.4, “that the very foundations of the temple were dug up, according to the Roman custom. On the ninth day of the month of Ab, fatal for vengeance, the wicked Turnus Rufus, of the children of Edom, ploughed up the temple, and the places round about it, that the saying might be fulfilled, Zion shall be ploughed as a field.” The prophecy being referred to by Maimonides is found in Micah 3:12.
B. In Matthew 24:4–5, we read, “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”
It is a historical fact that in AD 36 under the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate that one such false Christ appeared in Samaria and deluded great multitudes. Another appeared under the procuratorship of Cuspius Fadus in AD 45. During the government of Felix (AD 53–60), Josephus tells us that the country was full of robbers, magicians, false prophets and imposters who deluded the people with promises of great events. This may be verified in The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, Chapter 8, Paragraphs 5–6.
C. In Matthew 24, verse six, we read, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars! see that ye not be troubled: for all these must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”
During the period of AD 60–69, skirmishes between the Jews and Romans began to break out. Many false Christs appeared among the Jews. Wars and rumors of wars were rampant.
D. In Matthew 24:7 we read, “…and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”
Agabus gives us testimony that, “And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth [famine] throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar” (Acts 11:28).
Another significant historical record of famine, “in divers places,” in this case specifically the City of Jerusalem, is given to us through the writings of the Jewish historian, Josephus (37 AD – c.100). The following quote is from his writings.
“The madness of the seditious did also increase together with their famine….for there was no corn which anywhere appeared publicly….Many there were indeed who sold what they had for one measure; it was of wheat, if they were of the richer sort, but of barley, if they were poorer….But the famine was too hard for all other passions, and it is destructive to nothing so much as to modesty; for what was otherwise of reverence was in this case despised; insomuch that children pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths; and, what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do as to their infants….yet the seditious everywhere….when they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they broke open the doors, and ran in and took pieces of what they were eating, almost up and out of their very throats.”
Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 10, Paragraph 2, Lines 424–432.
E. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt.24:14).
Although the church has spent enormous sums of money and expended a gargantuan effort to fulfill this prophecy to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, the written record of the Scripture shows that this has already been accomplished. The church will always share the good news of Jesus Christ in a spontaneous manner with those who are open to the gospel, but never should the motivation be the above words of Christ because that prophecy has already been fulfilled.
1. In a hyperbolic way, and in the context of the Jewish world view, “every nation under heaven” was present on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5).
2. The Apostle Paul, a short time later, stated that the gospel was producing fruit and growing “…in all the world…” (Col.1:6).
3. Paul further states that the gospel had been preached to “…every creature which is under heaven…” (Col.1:23).
4. In Romans 1:8, Paul reports that “…your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
5. “But I say, Have they not heard? (the gospel – see verse fifteen) Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Rom.10:18).
6. “But now is made manifest, (the gospel – see verse twenty-five) and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (Rom.16:26).
7. “For we have found this man (Paul – see verse one) a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5).
8. “And they (the eleven – see verse fourteen) went forth, and preached every where…” (Mark 16:20).
The above are not just the opinions of Paul, Mark and Luke, it is inspired scripture! A few years after these words were written the end came in AD 70.
F. “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whosoever readeth; let him understand:) (Matt.24:15).
The Jews of Jesus’ time were the “ye” group in the above verse, which Jesus was warning. He expected them to understand what He was talking about without having to explain because most of them were schooled in Jewish history. They knew that the last abomination of desolation that stood or took place in the holy place was the Temple desecration and temporary cessation of religious practices caused by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167–164 BC.
During the intertestamental period, the Jews had been taught that all of Daniel’s prophecy concerning the abomination of desolation had been fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes second century BC abomination. Jesus, to the contrary, prophesied that all had not yet been fulfilled. Antiochus Epiphanes second century abomination, as prophesied in Daniel eight and eleven, was a type (types and anti-types will be explained in Learning Activity #66), and was going to happen again, as prophesied in Daniel nine and twelve. This next time, as before, the very “standing” or presence of pagans in the holy place would be the abominating offense. But unlike before, this next time would bring more than a temporary three-year period of desolation. It would bring permanent and everlasting desolation. What follows below is a brief synopsis of what transpired.
Early in the period of AD 60–69, an unqualified Jew by the name of Phannias was appointed to the position of high priest. Prior to that time, nothing secular or unholy was allowed in the Temple. This high priest and his staff of other priests failed to properly perform the daily sacrifices and many other required Temple duties. Instead, they made a mockery of the holy ordinances. (Josephus Wars of the Jews, Book 4, Chapter 3, Paragraph 8, Lines 155–157).
In AD 66, priests and Zealots fought each other in the Temple courts. Josephus reports that the floors swam with the blood of more than eight thousand who stabbed each other. Many more atrocities (abominations) between the Zealots and other Jewish factions occurred in the holy place between AD 66–70.
Ananus, another high priest, is quoted as saying, “Certainly it had been good for me to die before I had seen the house of God so full of so many abominations, or these sacred places that ought not to be trodden on at random, filled with the feet of these blood shedding villains.”
Josephus wrote of the Zealots that, “they occasioned the fulfilling of those very prophecies belonging to their own country: for there was a certain ancient oracle of those men, that the city should then be taken and the sanctuary burnt, by right of war, when a sedition should invade the Jews, and their own hands should pollute the temple of God.” This permits us to believe that the abomination of desolation could have been fulfilled by the pollution of the holy place by the activities of the Jewish militants.
The final abomination that caused the final desolation was similar to that of Antiochus Epiphanes. What happened before, happened again. It came in the same way, when another foreign Gentile army, the Roman army, stood in the Temple and raised and worshipped its standards as was the custom. Thereafter, the Romans destroyed the Temple and tore it down stone-by-stone.
G. The testimony of some early church fathers.
Clement of Alexandria, (AD 150–215), wrote, “Accordingly, therefore, prophesying concerning the temple, He said: ‘See ye these buildings? Verily I say to you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another which shall not be taken away [Matt. 24:3]; and this generation shall not pass until the destruction begin [Matt. 24:34]….And in like manner He spoke in plain words the things that were straighway to happen, which we can now see with our eyes, in order that the accomplishment might be among those to whom the word was spoken.” (Clementine Homilia, 3:15. See Roberts & Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, 8:241).
Tertullian, writing in the second century completely interprets Daniel Chapter Nine as being fulfilled during the life of Jesus Christ and the destruction of the Temple (AJ VIII–XIII).
Eusebius, writing in the fourth century stated that the calamities that befell the Jews during the time period we are studying were in direct fulfillment of the words of the Lord in Matthew 24 (HE 3.7:1–10).