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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE END OF THE JEWISH STATE

Matt 24:14-22 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day: for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (Also see Matt. 24:23-28; Mark 13:14-23; Luke 21:20-24)

In Luke's inspired gospel (Luke 21:12-19) we find additional teachings of Jesus that took place before the invasion and destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies. These are worthy of brief study before looking at the lesson text. The signs and wonders discussed by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as the coming of false prophets, and the preaching of the gospel in all the world (Matt. 24:14), would all precede the destructive invasion of Israel. However, beginning in Luke 21:12, it is recorded that Jesus gave this prophesy: before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. In that future date, the saints in Christ, those who had obediently become Christians, and were added to His church,will be warned of suffering and persecution, not only from ruling authorities, but from parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends (Vs. 16). However those that remain faithful are given the assurance that they would escape so that there shall not an hair of your head perish (Vs. 18). Their testimony before God would save them, but would convict and bring death to their persecutors by the Roman invaders. Verse 19 assures all faithful Christians living then, that by sustaining the afflictions and enduring the trials and tribulations of the Roman conquest of Palestine, God would protect them and their lives will be spared.

Jesus then told His disciples that before the destruction of the temple, many other buildings, and the walls of Jerusalem, by the Roman armies, this would occur: this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. From the inspired writings of the apostle Paul, we are assured that this took place before the fall of Jerusalem and the Jewish state. The gospel message of Christ's kingdom and eternal salvation was, indeed, preached in all the world, and brought forth fruit (Col. 1:6), and was preached to every creature which is under heaven (Col. 1:23).

The faith that was established by Paul's preaching was spoken of throughout the whole world (Rom. 1:8). Other New Testament scriptures tell of the gospel message of salvation through Christ Jesus being spread, not only in Jerusalem and other cities of Israel, but also to numerous countries and territories throughout the world including Arabia, Crete, Illyricum, Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, and Spain, to mention a few.

With the gospel of Christ having been preached throughout the known world, Jesus told his disciples that then ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place. The "abomination," referred to here, means a horrible, loathsome, and detestful enemy that is committed to the complete destruction of the people they are invading. Luke 21:20 assures us that this is referring to the armies of the Roman government. The prophet Daniel foretold this destruction of the Jewish state using these same words - the abomination of desolation (See Dan. 9:27-27; 11:31; 12:11). And whoso readeth (this prophecy of Daniel) let him understand its true meaning and act wisely to avoid its devastating, life-threatening consequences.

When the armies encompass Jerusalem, Jesus gives His followers these warnings: let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains. With all of these prophecies being fulfilled, and with the Roman armies approaching, the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem are told to flee for safety in order to avoid the predicted calamities that were soon to take place. They were told to seek safety in the mountains; probably not those that immediately surrounded Jerusalem, but the mountains located a safe distance away. Many historians say that these were located beyond, or east of, the Jordan River - those noted as having caves in which to hide and find shelter. In order to escape eminent danger of the invading armies, they are told that they must flee immediately without any delay. They are to leave their homes quickly, not pausing long enough to gather additional food, clothing or any other sustaining provisions. Jesus also warns women that are expecting a child or already have very young children. By inference He tells them to also flee, but to expect their escape to be much more difficult. While waiting for all of these things to take place before the siege of Jerusalem, these Christians are to sincerely seek God's favor that weather conditions will not be a hindrance, or the gates to the city will not be closed by the orthodox Jews as they normally were on the Sabbath Day.

History tells us that there was never a greater tribulation experienced by human beings than that of the Jews that remained in the city of Jerusalem during the vengeful blockade and bombarding attack by the Roman armies - not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. The Jewish historian, Josephus, witnessed this war and recorded the complete devastation of buildings, walls, and monuments, as well as the inhumane starvation and massacre of over a million Jews that remained in Jerusalem at the time of the Roman siege. Luke adds that many Jews would be led away captive into all nation (Luke 21:24b). This too was recorded by this same historian who wrote that many other Jews were taken captive and sold into slavery.

The redemptive joy that Josephus witnessed and wrote about was the fact that not one Jewish Christian lost his or her life that heeded Jesus warning, fled Jerusalem, and found refuge in distant mountains. As soon as Jerusalem completely fell into the hands of the Roman armies, Titus, the military leader was called to return to Rome. Therefore, further military action ceased, the war was shortened, and the elect (Jewish Christians) were saved. Salvation during that period of Christianity, as well as now, can only be found in hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel message of Christ Jesus.

Continuing on with verses 23-28 we find Jesus foretelling that the period of tribulation following the fall of Jerusalem would be filled with the arising of false Christs, and false prophets from many different places. They will attempt to deceive all followers of Christ with false allusions that appear to be great signs and wonders. Of these, Jesus gives this warning: believe it not. He reminds them that when He comes again, there will be no doubt that He is the Son of God, the promised Savior. When Jesus comes again, there will be no reason for anyone to tell you that He is the Christ. His coming cannot be mistaken for He will come as a flash of lightening that will shine visibly to all people throughout the heavens - from the east to the west.

Continuing Jesus' prophecy of the Jewish state, He says that wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Here, Jerusalem is depicted as the carcass of a dead, decaying animal that will be devoured by the Roman Empire, which is here represented, in a proverbial manner, as vulture-like eagles. This seems to be fitting symbolism because every division of the Roman army carried a standard which bore upon it the image of an eagle. This, too, was a true fact recorded by the historian, Josephus.