In September, 70 A.D., General Titus and his Roman army finally defeated the Jewish zealots after a long siege of Jerusalem. The last few hundred Jews stood on the roof of the Temple, pleading to God for help. They were quickly overcome by Roman swords and thrown off the roof to the ground below. Later, their bodies were tossed onto piles and burned.
The magnificent city and its Temple were destroyed, not one stone left upon another. Only a small section of wall still remains today and is known as the Wailing Wall.
Josephus, the historian, estimated that 1.1 million people – mainly Jews – were killed in the siege. Another 95,000 Jews were captured and forced to be Roman slaves.
Where was the Lord God of Israel during all of this slaughter? Didn’t He care?
Forty years earlier, thousands of Jews stood along the road and watched Jesus as He headed for Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. All wondered if He would declare His kingship over Israel during the upcoming feast of Passover. He paused on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem and the Temple, and He prophesied:
If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now, they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation. (Luke 19:42-44)
Jesus proclaimed on that day what would eventually happen to Jerusalem in 70 A. D.
Then, in 66 AD or 67 AD, depending on which sources you read, a Christian gave a prophetic word to the Jerusalem church. In the prophecy, believers were reminded of Jesus’ above prophecy and were warned anew about the upcoming devastation of Jerusalem. All believers were advised to move out of the city.
Over the following two years, one third of Jerusalem (approximately forty thousand people) fled the city for safety in far off cities. Surely, the Christians would have related the prophecies of Jesus and the other believer to their Jewish neighbors and friends. If nothing else, the empty homes and not seeing the believers in the Temple’s courts should have been continuous reminders that something was wrong.
Yet, the remaining Jews in Jerusalem and the pilgrims who came for Passover in 70 A.D. ignored the warnings and were then slaughtered by the Romans.
And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24)
Are the times of the Gentiles fulfilled for us believers of today?
This is an important question, especially since the Fig Tree Parable Theory, which has been taught by almost every reputable Christian teacher and preacher, is not working out well. The so-called prophetic time period has come and gone.
Twenty-seven years after Jesus spoke about the times of the Gentiles in Luke, Paul wrote:
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery – so that you will not be wise in your estimation – that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I will take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27)
According to the Apostle Paul, the times of the Gentiles can not be fulfilled yet because all of Israel is not being saved right now. The Jewish branches are not yet being grafted back into the olive tree (the church).
So, will today’s Israel survive as a nation?
I have great doubts that Israel will continue to survive as the nation it is right now. If Israel is not totally removed from the world scene, it may at best survive as a discarded remnant. But this in no way presupposes that I do not agree with all of the prophecies for Israel in the Old Testament and the New Testament because I do. If God said it, I believe Him. It’s just that I sadly believe the times for the prophecies to be fulfilled for Israel’s greatness have not yet arrived and may be many years off in the future from now.
Undoubtedly, if I’m correct, there will soon be tremendous hardships for the Israeli people. As Jesus prophesied in Luke 21:24 – “…they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations.”
Many Jewish people may die and many may be forced to flee to other nations.
But I can offer this one sign of hope to the Jews who are living in Israel right now:
This time when you see the Christians packing up and leaving Jerusalem and Israel, it’s time for you to flee, too. Don’t linger.
(Art Katz: the late Jewish prophet and teacher has a great website filled with awesome teachings here.)