Click on the following for an earlier article in the series: Part 1.
The siege of Jerusalem which I used as a time warp short story in Part 1 is the New Testament’s clearest example of God’s divine judgment being prophesied to a specific people, and then, falling upon them. The actual siege occurred in 70 AD, nearly forty years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Let’s look at the facts as we know them today:
In Jesus’ time, the Romans had already been occupying Jerusalem for approximately ninety years. The Roman rule was harsh and exacted heavy taxes from the Jewish citizens. And of course, the Jews hated the Romans. Prosperity for most Jews would have been measured in the simplest of terms: food and a place to sleep.
The average Jewish male in 30 AD lived to the age of 42 years old while females lived to an average age of 38 years. Half of the Jewish children died before they were five years old. 90% of the people could not read and 95% could not write. Fifty per cent of the people in the Roman Empire were slaves and lived to an average age of 25 years old. Malnutrition was the single biggest threat to health.
Also, there was a religious revival going on. Herod was rebuilding the Temple to its former glory. (This was not fully completed until 60 AD.) And the Pharisees woke up the Jews to the importance of loving God, loving their neighbors and returning to the strict edicts of the Law and Prophets. They were known as the “hope of Israel.”
Josephus, the historian, estimated there were 120,000 people living in Jerusalem and a total of 3-4 million inhabitants in all of Palestine.
So, with these facts, we can better understand that when Jesus preached the gospel and performed miracles, the Jews were looking for an earthly king. One who would deliver them from the Romans and their everyday miseries.
However, Jesus preached a heavenly kingdom. A message which was so simple; and yet so hard for most Jews to swallow.
As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. (John 6:66)
Still, Josephus estimated that one third of Jerusalem and Palestine converted to Christianity during this time period. Plus, a large number of Pharisees were converted.
These facts should help us have a clearer understanding of the divine judgment carried out on Jerusalem in 70 AD.
(Continued in Part 3)