Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Olivet Prophecies Are Fulfilled!
No comparison is to be made -- or was intended by the Messiah -- between the distresses of the siege of Jerusalem and those which are yet to come upon "all them that dwell upon the earth." The fact is, and it fully verifies the words of the Messiah, that NO CITY AND NO PEOPLE have ever endured such terrible sufferings as those which attended the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies; and we must be thankful for Yeshua's assurance that no city or people will ever again suffer so severe a calamity.
by John D. Keyser
The sixty-nine weeks of the seventy weeks mentioned by Gabriel in his message to Daniel reached "unto the Messiah" -- that is, unto what Alfred Edersheim calls "his first Messianic appearance," which was at his baptism. This was when he was anointed with the holy spirit and borne witness to by the Voice from heaven and publicly proclaimed by John the Baptist (John 1:29-34).
That great event marked the beginning of the Seventieth Week of the prophecy, the "one week" which is mentioned separately in Daniel 9:27 -- the "fullness of the time" of Galatians 4:4. That "week" was, without a single doubt, the most momentous period in all the course of time. It was the great and wonderful era of the Messiah's own personal ministry among men, "the days of his flesh," when he glorified YEHOVAH God and finished the work YEHOVAH had given him to do. It was that brief period of the earth's history which the apostle Peter spoke of when he told a group of Gentiles "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him" (Acts 10:38). Never had there been a "time" like that.
Towards the midst of that week, after three years of ministry, the Messiah went to Jerusalem in order to fulfill all that was written of him, by offering himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the Israelite people. At that season, when Jerusalem was thronged with people for the days of Passover, Yeshua uttered his "woes" upon the scribes and Pharisees, closing with the following words which have an important bearing upon our subject --
"Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that ON YOU may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, ALL THESE THINGS WILL COME UPON THIS GENERATION" (Matthew 23:31-36).
We need to pay close attention to these words because of their bearing upon the prophecy (the Olivet discourse) which immediately follows, and also because of their bearing on the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.
In these verses from Matthew the Messiah distinctly speaks of a terrible retribution that was to befall that generation; and he sums up the items of wickedness for which they were to be punished. He declared that, in putting him to death, they were about to prove themselves to be the children of those who killed the prophets, and that they were also about to fill up the measure of their fathers. Nor would the wickedness of that "brood of vipers" stop there. For when the Messiah's messengers came to them with YEHOVAH's message of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, they scourged, persecuted, killed and crucified them. As a result, they would bring upon themselves a retribution of such terrible severity that it would be as if they were visited for all the righteous blood that had ever been shed upon the earth. Distinct and plain, and emphasized by his great "Amen" (Assuredly), Yeshua's words pronounced doom on that generation: "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon THIS generation."
Here we have a clear explanation of the words of Daniel 9:24, "Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression"; and also the words of Daniel 12:10, "the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand."
Daniel's people (the Jews) were to be the agents, and Jerusalem (the holy city) the place of the finishing of "the transgression." The seventieth week of the renewed national existence was to be the time when the transgression should be finished. We also have in these words of the Messiah, and in verses 37-9, which follow, a clear affirmation of that part of the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks which foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. We quote those heart-rending words:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who were sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house [the Temple] is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say, "Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the LORD!" (Matthew 23:37-39).
The Importance of the Destruction of Jerusalem
It is to be much regretted that those who, in our day, spend a great deal of time studying prophecy and writing books on the subject, seem to be almost totally unaware of the IMMENSE SIGNIFICANCE of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. This destruction was accompanied by the extinction of Jewish national existence and the dispersion of the Jewish people among all the nations of the then known world. The failure to recognize the significance of that event, and the VAST AMOUNT of prophecy which it fulfilled, has been the cause of great confusion because the failure to see the past fulfillment of predicted events is to leave on our hands a mass of prophecies for which we must twist and rend the scriptures to make fit into the future! This produces TWO harmful results:
1). We are therefore deprived of the evidential value, and the support to the faith, of those remarkable fulfillments of prophecy which are so clearly found in authentic contemporary histories, and
2). Our vision of things to come is greatly obscured and confused by the transference to the future of predicted events which, in fact, have already occurred and complete records have been preserved for our information!
We cannot enter into a profitable study of unfulfilled prophecy until we have resolved in our minds the question of the predicted events that have already come to pass.
A striking instance of the dislocation of great historical events which happened in accordance with, and in fulfillment of, prophecy, is revealed in the case of that unparalleled affliction which is called the "great tribulation" in Matthew 24:21. This "great tribulation" was so bad that there was nothing like it since the beginning of the world, and is the same as that spoken of in Jeremiah 30:7 as "the time of Jacob's trouble," and in Daniel 12:1 as "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation." From the clear indications given in these three prophecies, and from the detailed records that have been preserved for us in trustworthy contemporary history, it should be an easy matter to identify the period of history thus referred to with THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM by Titus. The Messiah's own predictions and warnings concerning that event -- which was then close at hand -- were most explicit. And not only that, but he PLAINLY said that "all these things will come upon THIS generation." As well as all that, he specified the very sins for which that generation was to be punished beyond anything known before, or that should come thereafter -- thus making it totally IMPOSSIBLE that the "tribulation" and "vengeance" which he predicted could fall on any subsequent generation.
Yet, in face of all this, we have today a widely held school of prophetic interpretation which has for its very cornerstone the strange idea that when YEHOVAH's time to remember His promised mercies to Israel shall have at last arrived, He will gather them into their ancient land again only to pour upon them calamities and horrors far exceeding even the horrors that occurred during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.! Not only is this ridiculous, but it is an error of such proportions as to derange the whole program of unfulfilled prophecy. With this in mind, this article will present an overview of some of the available evidence from the Bible to clearly establish that the "great tribulation" of Matthew 24:21 is now a matter of the DISTANT PAST.
First, then, let us direct our attention to the fact that, according to the words of the Messiah (spoken to the leaders of THAT GENERATION of Jews (Matthew 23:32-39)), the punishment that was then about to fall upon the city and people, was to be of an EXHAUSTIVE NATURE. His words utterly preclude the idea of another and more severe national calamity reserved for a future day or time. Nobody questions the fact that the Messiah's lament over Jerusalem (recorded in Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34) was delivered in view of the city's approaching devastation by the Roman army. This being so, then clearly his words to his own disciples -- which immediately follow (Matthew 24) and include the reference to the "great tribulation" -- refer to the SAME event.
There are a number of additional scriptures which show what a tremendous event in the history of YEHOVAH's dealings with the Israelites (including the Judahites), and in the carrying out of His purposes for the whole world, was the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.
We learn from the gospel of Luke that, upon approaching Jerusalem on his last visit, the Messiah was so distressed in his heart at the realization of the terrible calamities soon to overtake the beloved city, that he wept over it (Luke 19:41). Although his own personal sufferings, his shame and agony, were much closer at hand, yet it was not for himself, but for the city that his heart was torn with grief, and his eyes flowed with tears. This is the record --
"Now as he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, 'If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation'" (Luke 19:41-44).
Here is a wonderfully vivid, accurate and detailed prediction of what was about to overtake the beloved city of Jerusalem. We quote the passage at this time for the special purpose of showing how great a matter, in Yeshua's view, was the approaching destruction of Jerusalem -- great in its historical relation to the Jewish nation, great in the completeness of the destruction, and great in the unspeakable sufferings that were to accompany it.
Once more, when Yeshua was being led forth to the Mount of Olives to be crucified, and there followed after him a great company of people, including women who bewailed and lamented him, he turned to them and said:
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore, and the breasts which never nursed!' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?" (Luke 23:28-31).
Here we perceive that, even in that hour, the sufferings which were to come upon Jerusalem meant more to the Messiah than were his own.
Old Testament Prophecies Concerning Jerusalem
We should remember that in the Old Testament there are many pages of prophecy concerning the capture and desolation of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar showing that, in YEHOVAH's eyes, it was an event of great importance to Him. It was, however, an affair of small magnitude when compared to the destruction and desolation wrought by the Romans under Titus -- whether we regard it from the point of view of the sufferings of the people, or of the numbers who were tortured and slain, or of the extent of the captivity which followed, or of the extinction of the nation, or of the "desolation" of the city, or of the sins for which these judgments were the respective punishment. For the captivity in Babylon involved only a relatively small number of people; it lasted only 70 years; and the people were removed only a short distance from home. The event foretold by the Messiah involved THE COMPLETE EXTERMINATION of national Israel, the scattering of the survivors to the very ends of the earth, and "desolations" of the land and city which lasted for nearly 2,000 years! The afflictions and desolations wrought by the Romans were incomparably GREATER than those inflicted during the Babylonian captivity.
Wrath to the Uttermost
The greatness of the calamity which the Messiah foretold would strike Jerusalem can best be understood by considering the gravity of the sin which brought it upon the city and people, in comparison with that for which YEHOVAH God used Nebuchadnezzar as the instrument of His vengeance in a former time. The Messiah laid to the charge of the fathers that they had "killed the prophets" and stoned the messengers YEHOVAH had sent to them. This agrees with the record found in 2 Chronicles 36:14-17:
"Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the LORD [the Temple] which He had consecrated in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand."
But now (in the Messiah's day) they despised the words of YEHOVAH spoken to them by his Son. They mocked him and finally betrayed him and put him to death. Who can measure the enormity of this crime? But there is even more. Not only did they reject the Messiah in person, but they subsequently rejected, persecuted, killed and crucified those whom the resurrected Messiah sent to them with the message of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. Yeshua included this in the iniquity he charged against them; and he said that because of this they would fill up the measure of their fathers.
The apostle Paul was one of those messengers who suffered at their hands. Speaking of this wickedness of the Jews, he said --
"For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost" (I Thessalonians 2:14-16).
Therefore, we are distinctly informed by both the Messiah himself, and by his servant Paul, that
1). The sin and iniquity of THAT GENERATION of Jews went far beyond the evil deeds of their fathers; and that
2). The "wrath" which was then about to be poured out on them was to be "to the uttermost."
These being the facts of the matter, we should first ask if there is to be a future generation of Jews upon which is to fall a yet greater tribulation. What is the occasion of such a tribulation? and what is the crime for which that future generation of Jews is to be punished? What crime could they commit that would be in any way comparable to that of betraying and crucifying their Messiah? You might bring up the "holocaust" during World War II. However, horrific as this was, it was not leveled against true Israelites, but against modern "Jews" who, in the most part, do not have a drop of Israelite blood in their veins! At any rate, a greater percentage of the Judean population was cut down and forced into slavery by the forces of Titus during and after the siege of Jerusalem than the Khazarian "Jews" that were dispatched by Hitler's ovens.
Second, if indeed such a terrible punishment yet awaits "Israel's long afflicted race," how is it that every prophecy that speaks of YEHOVAH's future dealings with that people, holds out the prospect -- NOT of wrath to the uttermost, but -- of MERCY? We are simply not aware of any prophecy -- concerning the remainder of Israel -- that gives any hint of such a thing as the greatest of all afflictions being yet in store for them, but rather blessings through believing the Gospel message of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God (cf. Romans 11:23).
Isaiah 51, for example, is a prophecy which plainly has its fulfillment in this present era of the gospel. Notice! "My righteousness is near; My salvation is gone forth," and again, "My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not be abolished" (Isaiah 51:5, 6); and YEHOVAH refers to "the people in whose heart is My law," saying to them, "Do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their revilings" (verse 7). Then comes this promise: "So the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (verse 11). It is our belief that this verse has its fulfillment in those of Israel who are now being saved through the gospel; but we cite it to show that the era to which this prophecy relates is NOT that which began with the return from Babylon. Therefore, what is written in the succeeding verses CANNOT refer to the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, but must refer to that by Titus and the Roman army -- notice!
"Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you have drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of His fury; you have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, and drained it out. There is no one to guide her among all the sons she has brought forth; nor is there any who takes her by the hand among all the sons she has brought up. These two things have come to you; who will be sorry for you? -- Desolation and destruction, famine and sword -- By whom will I comfort you? Your sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, like an antelope in a net; they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of your God" (Isaiah 51:17-21).
This is a strikingly accurate description of what took place at the capture of Jerusalem by Titus; and that must be the event referred to, because none would claim that there is yet another "desolation" and "destruction" in store for Jerusalem. This being so, there can be no uncertainty as to the meaning of what follows:
"Therefore please hear this, you afflicted, and drunk but not with wine. Thus says your LORD, the LORD and your God, who pleads the cause of His people: 'See I have taken out of your hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of My fury; you shall no longer drink it. But I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you'" (verses 21-23).
From this it is poignantly clear that Jerusalem and the people of Israel will never suffer again as in the days of siege by the armies of Titus.
Future Troubles for Mankind
The words of prophecy that we have just read in Isaiah 51 do not mean that there will not be any more troubles for the world, distress of nations, wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes; these being the FINAL "birth pangs" of whose "beginning" the Messiah spoke of in Matthew 24:8. No doubt there will be grievous tribulations and persecutions in the "latter days." We immediately think of the predicted "woes" of the last three trumpets, the outpourings of the vials of wrath, and "the hour of trial" which is to "come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth." However, these yet future distresses (which were a NEW revelation given to John by the risen Messiah) were not what he spoke of to the disciples on the Mount of Olives. What he predicted at that time was that "great tribulation," exceeding everything of the sort before or since, would come upon THAT GENERATION of Jews -- most of which would live to see it. The Messiah was hoping that those who heard his discourse would avail themselves of the warnings and instructions that he then gave them.
The yet future troubles for mankind are distinctly mentioned by Yeshua in this prophecy, but are clearly distinguished from the "great tribulation" because he discusses what will happen "after the tribulation of those days" (verse 29), and then passes on to the subject of his future appearance. In connection with his future appearance he says, "and THEN shall all the tribes of the earth mourn" (verse 30). The distinction is perfectly clear.
No comparison is to be made -- or was intended by the Messiah -- between the distresses of the siege of Jerusalem and those which are yet to come upon "all them that dwell upon the earth." The two cases are too widely different for any comparison to be made. The fact is, and it fully verifies the words of the Messiah, that NO CITY AND NO PEOPLE have ever endured such terrible sufferings as those which attended the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies; and we must be thankful for Yeshua's assurance that no city or people will ever again suffer so severe a calamity.
We are not questioning at all that there will be "tribulation and wrath" during the closing days of this age. Our contention is merely that the Messiah, in his Olivet discourse, was NOT warning his disciples concerning the distresses of that far-off period, but concerning those which were close at hand.
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