Jerusalem Will Be Trampled on by the Gentiles Until the Times of the Gentiles are Fulfilled

Luke 21: 20-24

Late in the afternoon on Wednesday the thirteenth of Nisan

DIG: The Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. Why would Jesus warn of this forty years before it happened? Why will Zion be devastated (see Lk 11:49-51, 13:34-35 and 19:41-44)? How does Messiah describe this time? What does He tell the people to do? Why?

REFLECT: What does this tell you about the accuracy of God’s Word? Even though the TaNaKh teaches us: Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will observe your righteous rulings (Psalm 119:105-106 CJB), does it still take faith to live it out?

After the Passover Seder, the Lord and His talmidim walked past the Temple, across the Kidron Valley with the intention of going to their familiar spot retreat on the Mount of Olives. On the way Peter, James John and Andrew came to Him privately (Mark 13:3) and asked Messiah three questions (see Jh – The Three Questions). Jesus did not answer their questions in the order that the apostles asked them. He answered the third question first; then after describing how both the Jews and the Gentiles will reject them, Christ answered the first question: When would the Temple be destroyed and what will be the sign that this is about to happen?

Christ then gave a near historical prophecy that would signal Jerusalem’s destruction. When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near (Luke 21:20). In 66 AD the first Jewish revolt broke out against the Romans. When it started, Cestius Gallus, the Roman general in the land of Syria, came with his armies and surrounded Yerushalayim with the Twelfth Roman Legion. That was the sign Jesus had spoken of and the Jewish believers knew that Tziyon would soon be destroyed. But they couldn’t leave the City while the Romans were surrounding it. After a short time his supply lines were cut and he withdrew his army back towards the coast. Because he was inexperienced in military tactics, he did not take the high ground and was ambushed and killed in the pass of Beth Horon. So temporarily, Jerusalem was no longer surrounded.

The Jewish believers were told that when they saw that sign, they were to leave Jerusalem and Judea and escape outside the Land. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the City get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written (Luke 21:21-22). They crossed the Jordan River and set up a new community of Jewish believers in the town of Pella in the Transjordan. Jewish believers from Judea, Galilee and the Golan joined them. They waited there for the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Emperor Nero appointed general Vespasian instead of Gallus to crush the rebellion. Vespasian, along with the fifth and tenth legions landed at Ptolemaist in April 67. There he was joined by his son Titus, who arrived from Alexandria, Egypt at the head of fifteenth legion as well as by the armies of various local allies including that of king Agrippa II. Fielding more than 60,000 soldiers, Vespasian began operations by subjugating Galilee. Many towns gave up without a fight, although others had to be taken by force. Of these, Josephus provides detailed accounts. By the year 68 AD Jewish resistance in the north had been crushed, and Vespasian made Caesarea Maritima his headquarters and proceeded to methodically clear the coast and once again the Roman armies surrounded the Holy City.

In 70 AD, after Vespasian had ascended to emperor of Rome, his son Titus took over as general and destroyed the Temple and the Sacred City. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people (Luke 21:23). Upon such people “total war” is always more severe. Whether their condition hindered their fleeing Jerusalem is uncertain, but ultimately it didn’t make any difference if they didn’t listen to Yeshua’s warning forty years earlier. What was normally seen as a blessing and joy was now a curse because of defiance.

They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. All together, 1,100,000 Jews – according to Josephus - were killed in this final onslaught (see Mt – The Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple on Tisha B’Av in 70 AD). It was another three years until the last of the fortresses, Machaerus and Massada, were conquered. From that point on, the Gentiles will continually trample on Jerusalem until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24) (see my commentary on Revelation An – The Times of the Gentiles). But not one messianic Jew died because they trusted in, and obeyed the words of Jesus.

Tziyon will not be free from Gentile nations trampling on her until Yeshua ha-Meshiach returns. With these words, Christ answered the four apostle’s first question, the sign of the coming destruction of the Sacred City. That left one more question to be answered.1329


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