An earth-shaking event took place in AD 70.  After a brutal war and siege of three-and-a-half years, Jerusalem fell to the Roman armies led by Titus.  The Romans dismantled the Temple so thoroughly that its exact position was uncertain until recent years.

Most Christians know little of the fall of Jerusalem because it happened after the New Testament was written and so the event itself isn’t described in the Bible.

But in his last week on earth Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, depicting it as judgment on the Jewish nation for failing to acknowledge Him as the Messiah (Luke 19.41-44 cf. Matthew 23.37-39 and 22.7).

Late in that week, when the apostles pointed out the grandeur of the Temple complex, Jesus responded:
            “You see all these, do you not?  Truly, I say to you, there will not be left
              here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

                                                            -- Matthew 24.1-2 // Mark 13.1-2 // Luke 21.5-6

When the disciples asked when Jerusalem would be destroyed, He delivered a lengthy message in which he instructed them . . .

. . . not to worry about tumultuous world events and “signs”, but to focus on the mission and preach the gospel to the world, steadfastly enduring any persecution in the process (Matthew 24.3-14).

. . . to ignore those who preach that the Messiah will save Jerusalem from destruction.  The appearance of “the abomination of desolation” (which Luke 21.20 says refers to the armies besieging Jerusalem) Jesus says is a signal for his followers to flee the city and Judea (Matthew 24.15-28).  The Messiah will not save Jerusalem; His return will be after that time of tribulation, not before it (Matthew 24.29-31 cf. Luke 21.24).

. . .that the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of the Temple will take place within the lifetime of the generation then living (Matthew 24.32-35).

We moderns somehow think that if the writers of the New Testament speak of something as being “in the future”, it must mean “in our future”.  It seems far more reasonable to believe they were speaking of events that were still future to them, but which may well be in our past.

Some argue that Jesus wasn’t talking about the Temple that stood before him, but rather a temple that is yet future, even to us.  I think that’s a stretch; it violates the context of the passage.  Both Jesus and his apostles were clearly speaking of the Temple of their day that they were viewing firsthand.

I interpret most of the book of Revelation as depicting the same thing -- the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70 – though it’s done with highly symbolic imagery.

Some evangelicals find this view “weird”.  We always find “weird” those things that are unfamiliar.  I did too.  But familiarizing myself with Roman and Jewish history and with the history of biblical interpretation made these views seem much less weird.




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