20 Aug The Futurist Interpretation of Luke’s Version of the Olivet Discourse
Among commentators, there is an ongoing debate concerning Jesus’ Olivet Discourse. This end-time sermon is found in the synoptic gospels of Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. While most commentators are okay seeing a fully futurist interpretation of Matthew 24-25 and Mark 13, many others have a hard time seeing Luke 21 through a fully futurist lens, especially the following portion of the text:
they (The inhabitants of Israel) will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Luke 21:24
While it is understandable why many would prefer not to see this portion of Jesus’ prophecy as yet-future, as painful as it is, I am of the opinion that we must understand all of Luke 21 as yet to be fulfilled. The purpose of this brief post is not to argue exhaustively for this case, but simply to present one simple historical argument for a futurist interpretation as opposed to a fulfillment in 70 AD. The argument revolves around a simple examination of the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD under General Titus.
How the Siege of AD 70 Actually Went Down
I believe that even a brief review of the manner in which Titus’s siege of Jerusalem unfolded will show that Jesus could not have been speaking of the events of 70 AD. The historical record shows that the vast band of Roman legions and auxiliaries led first by Vespasian, and then by his son Titus, made its way to Jerusalem quite gradually over a period of years. But Jesus described the assault of Jerusalem as an event that is to unfold rather suddenly, leaving no time even to gather one’s basic items.
In AD 66 the advisors to Vespasian, the Roman general in charge of the campaign at that time, had actually directed him to ransack Jerusalem then. But because the city was already in the thick of a drastic internal civil war, Vespasian determined to simply let the Jews wipe themselves out, as they seemed to be doing a much faster job than he himself could have done. Vespasian also didn’t want an invasion to bring unity to the deeply divided city against a common enemy. So for almost three years, it was quite easily discernible that thick storms clouds of an invasion were gathering on the horizon. In both AD 67 and 68, there were two substantial Roman campaigns launched from Caesarea in the north that saw the fall of several cities throughout the land.
When the assault of Jerusalem did finally begin, Titus established a camp on Mount Scopus, just northeast of the city. Initially, to test the resolve of the Jews, he led a small detachment of a mere six hundred troops to the city. But defenders rushed out of the city walls, divided Titus’s troops, and nearly captured Titus himself. Then, in early AD 70, Titus, utilizing the full force of all of his legions and auxiliaries, erected three camps around the city and set up a siege line. By this time, fleeing the city for the mountains was simply no longer an option. Surrender was an option, but fleeing to the mountains was not. In fact, many who did attempt to flee at that point were captured or slaughtered in the process.
My point is this: if Jesus was warning about the siege of AD 70, then He actually gave some truly terrible advice. Notice that Jesus did not say that when armies begin marching toward Jerusalem, then it is time to flee. He did not say when the Romans come for the first preliminary assault, then it is time to flee. He did not say that when troops enter into the land of Israel, then it is time to prepare an escape. No, Jesus specifically warned that “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies” that was the time to flee. And so I repeat, if Jesus’ warning in Luke 21:20–21 concerned Titus’s destruction of Jerusalem, as so many commentators argue, then He gave some truly poor advice. Anyone in Jerusalem who waited until the city was surrounded to attempt to flee would have been taken prisoner or killed.
If, on the other hand, Jesus’ warning pertained to the last-days assault against Jerusalem by the Antichrist, then it is far more realistic to imagine a surge of troops being mobilized rather suddenly around Jerusalem. A few possible scenarios could explain this. Perhaps it will happen during a time when the city will be divided (see Joel 3:2) and shared by the Israelis and Palestinians, and perhaps even policed by some form of international “peacekeeping” forces. In such a case, it would be quite possible for a sudden surge of troops to gather against Jerusalem in a rather abrupt and unexpected manner, exactly as Jesus described. While it is difficult to know precisely how the events will unfold, it seems that there will come a moment at the center of the final seven years before Jesus returns when the Antichrist will remove his mask of tolerance, and will demand full control of the city of Jerusalem, including the Temple, using his troops, many of who will have already been in the land to carry this out. This is the aforementioned abomination that causes desolation wherein the Antichrist will sit in and desolate the Temple of God (see 2 Thess. 2:4). And of course, all of this will be accompanied by terror for Israel’s inhabitants, many of whom “will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations,” a time of tribulation so severe that Jesus described as unparalleled throughout all of world history—and beyond.
For further consideration of this position, see the following article by Samuel Whitefield
StevePosted at 06:25h, 21 August
After chewing on this very question for awhile, I believe what we have is a classic near/far answer by Jesus. A near term historical by Titus, and a more complete end time picture about what will take place when the next Temple is defiled by AC. If we compare Luke 19:41-44, Mat 23:37-39, and Luke 21:5-6. Then read Luke 21:7, we find that the disciples were asking about the Temple of Jesus’ day. He did not answer them about this until verse 20. So this would have to have, at least a partial aplication, because that is what Jesus lead off with in verse-“there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” And with the background of the other verses, it seems clear to me this is the answer to their questions about this Temple. And I believe it could be significant that Luke was taught on the Temple grounds, Mat & Mark on the Mt of Olives, away from scene-where He will set His foot down upon. Zech 14:4. We talk about near and far all the time, you all know this. So as Samuel Clough’s great post teaches, there has to be an end time desolation and scattering too- I think by seeing near/far, we can reconcile some of the problems. We all in the future camp, see 25-28 as end time anyway. I believe with no disrespect to your scholarship Joel, that Luke 21:20-21 was and is a faith issue for the reader, just as Mat 24:15-18, will be a faith issue. Remember when the angels took Lot and his family out of Sodom? Was this not at the last minute? All I am saying is I believe Jesus did give good instructions, and even with a seige around Jerusalem I bet we will get a bolw by blow account of how some were super naturally delivered from Jerusalem in 70 AD in the Kingdom! Also history can be biased, just as we see today when we watch different TV channels. The Bible is our only 100% trustworthy history book. This is all good stuff and I have learned alot from thses posts. Keep up the good work Joel! Peace in the Lord. 🙂
JoelPosted at 10:25h, 21 August
As always, I regret my lack of time to properly answers questions, objections, etc. But the issue of many of the inhabitants of Judah and Israel being taken captive and exiled during the final 3.5 years is not at all based on Luke 20:24 alone. This concept is well established in numerous other texts throughout the prophets. So again it is not an issue of merely staring at this passage alone to see how you feel about it, but seeing the larger biblical context. Jesus was simply explaining that which the prophets had already long established. Again, as Clough accurately pointed out, Jesus said, “these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled” (v. 22). Not only do we have an eschatological timing statement here—calling it the “days of vengeance,” but there is also the important point that it is to fulfill that which has already long been written. As you know, Jesus disciples were thoroughly OT literate Jews and far less ignorant than most modern preachers often cast them. Thus to say that the Abomination of Desolation is a “faith issue” is to ignore its context in Daniel 11-12 where the last-days timing of the abomination of desolation is made abundantly clear. The same is said of the coming exile of Luke 21:24 in numerous passages, of which Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 14:2, Joel 3:2 are some of the more frequently cited. For further reading on the issue of the futurity o the Abomination of Desolation, see this article: https://joelstrumpet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Daniel-11-Abomination1.pdf
StevePosted at 13:40h, 21 August
I agree with you totally about the captivity. I just don’t see it as an either or thing when it comes to the text at hand. Again, comparing Luke 19:41-44, with 21:6-7, leads us to Jesus answering the disciples question in verse 20. That Jesus was talking about the Temple in His day is pretty clear in the text because they were admiring the Temple’s construction. And also Mat 24:37-39, seems to teach the destruction of the Temple in Jesus’ day. Within the text there could be very well things that will only take place totally until the end times. Just like when we talk of how Antiochus did things that the AC will do in the end times in Daniel. So I see it as a double fullfillment. Just like you said we know there will be another Temple. Rev 11:1-2, makes this clear. But it is not destroyed as Luke 19:41-44 says. “The time of your visitation”, shows us that the Temple in Jesus’ day is in view when He answered the disciples question in Luke. But also,(the kicker) the end times surrounding and desolation is in view-so a double fullfilment! This is what I am trying to bring out. So maybe 70 AD did not fulfill every piece of the prophetic picture, but the end times will. Just like Antiochus did not fulfill every piece. I do understand your arguments, but it is just like the differences between Pre-Wrath and Post-Trib, this view seems to reconcile things in my mind-so don’t be offended brother!I am with you on about 95% of your teaching, so this is a good thing. 🙂
NelsonPosted at 15:16h, 21 August
Fantastic article Joel. A tremendous amount of information to consider. For instance:
Desolation: are the uses of this word in Daniel and the Gospels referring to the taking captive of the residents of Jerusalem thus making it “desolate.” This seems to fit with the city being trampled (walked on) by the Gentiles.
Times of the Gentiles: this is the Greek word “kairos” in Daniel and Luke meaning “appointed time” or time set aside by God. I think this definately shows it is not the entire time from 70 AD till now but rather only the 42 months.
This teaching seems to fit perfectly with your last post on the Gog/Magog war and the “captives” there as well.
Now here is a question for all. Daniel divides the 42 months into “time, times and half a time.” There are 3 divisions. I don’t think this is accidental or “poetic.” I think each division of the time will represent something. Any guesses?
David LindhjemPosted at 18:07h, 21 August
Thanks for a great post Joel! I have pondered why people must run up in the mountains and have the following suggestions.
Matthaw 24 speak about the same moment, but gives us another sign: “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains….. Why must the people flee to the mountains? It may for example be a sunami from Mediterranean that clash over Israel at this time. If we look at Rev. 12:15 we get a hint of what happens when Israel gets invaded the last 3.5 years: Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river(Moslem crowds), to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent(human stream). But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth……The verse says that the earth is going to help Israel when Satan sends multitudes to destroy her. We know that at the very end, the world will culminate with huge earthquake and it may be that it then turns into sunami from the Mediterranean which turns out attacking armies. This may be why they must run up in the mountains, those who are in lowland areas will drown.
linda keyesPosted at 18:16h, 21 August
I’m sorry if i have commented to many times, but i have been really thrilled. I have been going over all the references in Luke, although Luke17:30-31 stumps me, i noticed Luke19:42-44:
If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
I thought this maybe sounded like your description of Titus invasion,
and i notice here there is no option to flee. Obviously i could be wrong.
O. A. FishPosted at 02:26h, 22 August
Joel, in viewing a map of Israel, I’m having a hard time picturing the mountains which 8.2+ million Jews could flee too. It is a very densely populated small country.
HenryPosted at 04:15h, 22 August
Is it possible that “mountains” refers to nations, or kingdoms?
HenriquePosted at 15:39h, 22 August
I’m from Brazil and always read your texts (and books). First of all, I give thanks to God for your insights and end-time view. I think you’re right about the role of the nations of Middle East in the prophetic events leading to the return of the Lord. About this post, seems to me that the apostles ask 2 things to the Lord, when we read the 3 passages (Lc 21, Mt 24 and Mk 13)- When the ‘stone over stone of that Temple will happen’ AND ‘signs of His coming and the end’:
1) And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in which there shall not be left here ONE STONE UPON ANOTHER, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Teacher, when therefore shall these things be? and what [shall be]
2)And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall THESE THINGS BE ? and what [shall be] the sign of THY COMING, and of THE END OF THE WORLD? Matthew 24:3
So, if Jesus only talks about the end times He didn’t aswer one of the disciples questions. This is what you understand He did?
Thanks and God Bless you in all things!
P.S.: When you’ll come to Brazil?
JoelPosted at 18:43h, 22 August
Yes, Jesus essentially focused only on the end of the age.
JeannePosted at 19:06h, 22 August
O.A. Fish: Some think the Jews who are able to escape will flee to Petra, in Jordan, where there are many labyrinths of caves.
MikePosted at 22:02h, 22 August
Luke 21:20-24 cannot be an near/far thing. Luke 21:22 says, “for these are days of vengeance to fulfill all that is written.” These days include the vengeance of the Son of Man (Luke 21:27). They also include the 6th seal signs in verse 25. Neither of these events were part of the events of 70 AD. The history according to Josephus as depicted in the original article also speaks against a near fulfillment.
JoelPosted at 22:34h, 22 August
Seeing your name jogged my memory to the effect that you had also written two excellent articles pertaining to this issue. I’ve posted the links below and added them to the body of the article:
WBPoundPosted at 00:32h, 23 August
I would just like to point out that Jesus’ statement about the “days of vengeance to fulfill all this is written” was spoken before the New Testament was written. The only scriptures that were written were the Old Testament. I do understand that there is lots written in the OT about the end-times and the 2nd coming of the Lord, however, it seems to me much more logical that Jesus was referring to the national penalties for Israel’s disobedience in Leviticus 26. Luke 21:12-24 is so clearly pertaining to the 1st century. At the VERY LEAST, it is a near/far prophecy.
StevePosted at 01:03h, 23 August
But you still have not convinced me! Love your posts and you are preaching to the choir except this issue brother. 🙂 I see part of everyting being fulfilled is: Duet28:15-68 (key verses 63-64).Luke 19:41-44 (notice the stones of the Temple-compare 21:5-7. That this is talking about 70AD is pretty clear, so the “surrounding” must be compared to 21:20.
Mat 23:37-39-“House left desolate”. Read 1st Kings 9:7-9, Jerm 22:5. He was talking about the Temple. Mat 27:25. “on our children”. This would be 70 AD too, when 1 million Jews werew killed.(that’s what I’ve read). This in NO WAY, takes away that there will be a final consumation of all things in the end times, during the 70th week, and another desolation of the AC Temple, and another PARTIAL scattering of the people. Had a longer answer, but got shut down by the spam man!:( Peace in the Lord!
JoelPosted at 01:09h, 23 August
Although I appreciate you expressing your opinion, I must repeat what has been stated here a few times. The specific phrase “days of vengeance” is one that was used frequently throughout the Old Testament, most specifically throughout Isaiah. It had the connotation of great calamity in Israel, yes, but it was moreso specifically referring to the subsequent deliverance of Israel, and judgment against her enemies. There is simply no way that one can say that Israel was vindicated and delivered in 70 AD, nor can it be said that Rome was not judged. We cannot shoe-horn the events of 70 AD into Luke 21:24. When Jesus’ disciples heard this phrase, they knew what He was referring to. They knew the Scriptures. If we know the Scriptures, then likewise we will acknowledge that Jesus was not speaking of 70 AD but the last days. The context is clear:
JaredMithrandirPosted at 15:21h, 23 August
“My point is this: if Jesus was warning about the siege of AD 70, then He actually gave some truly terrible advice. Notice that Jesus did not say that when armies begin marching toward Jerusalem, then it is time to flee. He did not say when the Romans come for the first preliminary assault, then it is time to flee. He did not say that when troops enter into the land of Israel, then it is time to prepare an escape. No, Jesus specifically warned that “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies” that was the time to flee. And so I repeat, if Jesus’ warning in Luke 21:20–21 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] concerned Titus’s destruction of Jerusalem, as so many commentators argue, then He gave some truly poor advice. Anyone in Jerusalem who waited until the city was surrounded to attempt to flee would have been taken prisoner or killed. ”
You show your historical Ignorance here. The Seige was halted when Vespasian returned to Rome to become Emperor. And it is Documented form Church historians that the Christians in Jerusalem were able to flee at this time. Those didn’t flee didn’t only because they chose not to.
JoelPosted at 17:27h, 23 August
With all due respect, the Christians fled to Pella some years prior to the fall of Jerusalem. Most scholars seem to think it took place in 66 AD after the attack by Gallus. This was before Vespasian’s brief visitation.
The Christian escape is universally however acknowledged to have been largely due to a private revelation, or even an angelic visitation among the Christians. This is recorded by Eusebius. I’m well familiar with this bit of history.
But if you are suggesting that this is what Jesus was speaking of, then you have the insurmountable problem of the simple fact that a few years, or even minimally several months before the fall of Jerusalem is far from urgent. In each of the synoptic gospels, Jesus spoke of the need to flee suddenly and with extreme urgency. The difference between survival or death was a matter of minutes, not weeks, months, or most certainly not years. Jesus’ warning not to go back and get anything is not a warning that can be reconciled with a destruction that would come arguably some years, or even months later.
Vespasian never surrounded Jerusalem. Vespasian never laid siege Jerusalem. In 68, Vespasian had much of Judah conquered and thus you could say that Jerusalem was isolated, but he never surrounded J’lem with troops. Nero died on June 9, 68. When this happened, Vespasian retuned to Rome. Vespasian’s son Titus’ initial movement around J’lem was not until May of 70. This is almost two years later. Not exactly the amount of time that one would say with such urgency, do not go back to get your jacket.
Again, the events of 66-70 AD cannot be reconciled with Jesus’ warnings.
MikePosted at 20:14h, 23 August
The time of “vengeance to fulfill all that is written” (Luke 21:22) is what in most translations is called, “the indignation” of Daniel 11:36. The indignation (or wrath) is directed at Israel. The willful king of this verse shall proper until the indignation (wrath) is accomplished. His time to prosper and display wrath is decreed. This willful king is commonly understood to be Antichrist. And he shatters the holy people (Daniel 12:7) for a time, times, and a half time. He is also known as the little horn or little king of Daniel 7:25. What Jesus is describing in Luke 21:20-24 is the time, times, and half a time of Daniel 12:7. Make no mistake Daniel’s people and Jerusalem are the targets of the shattering of Luke 21:20-24. The prophecy of Daniel 9:24 which frames end time events concerns Daniel’s people and their holy city.
StevePosted at 22:40h, 23 August
I agree now that this is future and not 70a.d. You all have missed one major thing:
They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
This connects Luke 21 with Rev 13, the final 3 1/2 years. It also explains why God has to yet regather the remnant from everywhere back to Israel.
Steve SmithPosted at 23:18h, 23 August
I made the 10:40pm post. I’m a different Steve from above. Sorry, I didn’t mean to confuse, forgot to add my last name.
KellyPosted at 19:28h, 24 August
I would like to present a modification of the near/far understanding of certain prophecies mentioned above. I once heard the story of a man who died on the table, and met the Lord as if viewing the earth from space. For a few brief moments the Lord allowed the man to hear the voices, the groans, the suffering of every living person on earth at the same time. He was subsequently returned to life a changed man with a renewed vision for ministry.
I think a parallel is in order to understand the prophets’ experience of their visions in a similar way. God allowed them to see time and history from ‘his perspective outside of time’ e.g. Daniel 9’s desolations and desolator–was it fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes? Yes. Was it fulfilled by Titus? Yes. Will it be fulfilled the future Antichrist? Yes. All part-n-parcel of one event, each a fulfillment in and of itself, but part of the whole, of God’s perspective of history. Various hermeneutical theories have been proposed to get at and understand the prophet’s prophecies: typological fulfillment, multiple fulfillment, near/far, mountain-tops/valleys, etc. but I think we need to go upstream to see if perhaps understanding the prophecies from the way the prophet’s may have experienced them can be a helpful change of perspective, and in our understanding of certain prophetic events.
Underlying this is the prophet’s broader understanding of history. It recognizes that God’s relations with man assume a recognizable purposeful pattern which provided an orientation toward an even greater work of God in the future. Best example of this in the OT of course is the Exodus event. Based on this redemptive act of God which brought the children of Israel out of bondage making them into God’s own people, later references to Egypt and the Exodus event (in ‘almost’ every OT book) became for Israel the proclamation for even greater works of God in the future. It was God who established the continuity between the various separate events and who ordained their direction as they followed one another in time, the earlier stages preparing for future events and salvation acts. In this sense the redemptive acts of God within history themselves become prophetic. As God had acted on behalf of his people in the past, so could he be relied on to act in the future. These acts of God came to be viewed as prototypes to which a new and complete redemptive act of God could correspond. I think the prophets were allowed in their visions to see these events from God’s perspective of the whole. Of course certain other prophecies came about in other ways . . . verbal predictive (e.g. Micah 5:2), dictation (“write this down”) etc. Trust this will further discussion. 🙂
DLPosted at 02:37h, 26 August
Thank you for everything you’re doing, Joel. You bring us the truth, and you do it with love and wisdom. There are a lot of us who are hungry for Biblically sound teaching, and we’re not finding it in a lot of places. Too many teachers are stuck in the past, teaching prophetic nonsense that doesn’t add up and ignoring the real threats. I appreciate that you’re doing this, especially considering how dangerous it is for you. I’ve learned a lot from all of your DVDs, and I’ve been looking forward to this documentary for a long time. I’m glad it’s finally going to be available. Congratulations.
AzimPosted at 20:01h, 28 August
Hi Joel, thank you for all the work you are doing, I find it extremely helpful to properly understand the Scriptures. I’ve got two questions:
1. Who do you think is Paul referring to in 2 Thess 2:7 as ‘he who now restrains’?
2. Do you think Nahum 1:11 is talking about where the antichrist is coming from?
JoelPosted at 21:16h, 28 August
I’m not sure I know for sure the answer to your first question. Some say it is (1) an angelic being, (2) Michael, some even say (3) Satan who will be cast down out of heaven.
As for Nahum, I am also not sure. Have not considered it that I can remember. Sorry for not being more helpful. Bless you!
AzimPosted at 17:18h, 29 August
Joel, thanks for your comments. I would not be surprised if antichrist comes out or originates of Nineveh area (near Mosul), and over a period of time starts the invasion to Israel from the north (Turkey). We know the prophesies about Jesus, who would be born in Bethlehem, but would come out and start His ministry from Galilee.
I was compiling all the prophesy related to various countries. I was trying to find any evidence related to those specific prophesies on Egypt Isaiah 19:1-10, Ezekiel 29:9-15, 30:6-7, and I couldn’t find any. Do you think these events are to come?
JoelPosted at 21:53h, 29 August
I see Isaiah 19 as yet to come for sure. Chapter 29 however is historical. It has already happened.
I think that the national boundary lines of Turkey will likely change in the days ahead. So I agree. He could come Nineveh or Turkey, or perhaps one day these ill all be part of the same nation.
Frances MunroPosted at 19:05h, 10 January
Dear Joel,I just want to thank you tremendously for all your wonderful work. I have read your Mid-East Beast & Islamic Antichrist with my mouth open and gasps of astonishment and enlightenment. Your humble and gentle manner is inspirational and I am so glad I have found your work.
I have a couple of questions on the above subject. Having studied Arnold Fruchtenbaum, whom you undoubtedly are familiar with, you will know that he interprets the Luke 21 discourse as being at a separate time to the one in Matt 24. I can follow much of what you are saying about them being the same end-time discourse, but I would be grateful if you could explain the different expressions in Matt24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to oppression, and will kill you.” and then in Luke21:12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you up to synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for my name’s sake.”. These two verses seem to be relating to different order of events, with Luke referring to events BEFORE the end-times birth pangs, and the Matthew verse referring to the events following the birth pangs. Do you have a different interpretation on this?
Many thanks and blessings, your sister in Christ.
JoelPosted at 04:13h, 11 January
21:12 is a parenthesis referring to events prior to the tribulation.
Brian HennessyPosted at 21:40h, 08 June
Joel – Your teaching on Matt 24, Mk 13 and Lk 21, combined with Mike’s, is very good and quite airtight. My main problem is that I cannot believe God will put the Jewish people through yet another time of punishment greater than anything that preceded it, which included the first destruction of Jerusalem, the Inquisition and the Holocaust. I desperately want to believe there is another way to understand those passages and that the Holocaust was the final judgement upon them for the sins of the fathers.
He may still be still using the Muslim pressure to bring them to the end of their strength in preparation for receiving Messiah but that their long night of exile is over. That God is now on their side restoring them to the land and fighting for them. And that He is doing it “for His name’s sake” (Ezek. 36:2), not based on their obedience. That it is the time to have mercy upon them because of the mercy He showed us who were just as disobedient (Rom. 11:30-32). If not, it would mean God is setting them up for what would clearly be seen as another betrayal. How can we ever say God loves them if He has brought them home to inflict yet another disaster – even worse than the Holocaust? Our command now is to comfort them (Isa. 40;1). How can we do that if we also believe they are about to be massacred again? It doesn’t fit.
That’s why, like many who have written above, I have to believe Lk. 21:24 was fulfilled in 70AD in spite of your exegesis which admittedly seems quite good.
I also read Mike’s article as you suggested and saw he gives 3 scriptural examples which he believes confirms Israel shall be exiled again at the second coming of Messiah: Zech 14:2; Amos 9:9-10, and Jer. 30:7,8. I don’t know if you agree with those examples but Zech 14 only states 1/2 the city will be captured (East Jerusalem?), which is hardly a destruction of Jerusalem, much less the nation. Amos 9 is NOT referring to the Jews but the disbursement of the northern kingdom by Assyria in 722 BC. And Jer. 30 only talks about the “time of distress’ – not a time of destruction – and that Israel will be saved out of it.” In fact when you add Daniel 12:1 we see that Michael will arise to protect Israel(compare with 11;1) in the face of that great distress and many will be rescued.There is no sense of Israel’s complete destruction again. Only a time of great pressure (from AC) out of which many (most?) will be delivered.
So I can’t see where another wholesale destruction and exile is prophesied once they return. Which has to happen if Lk 21;24 is as you say. In fact Amos states in 9:14-15 that once He begins their restoration, which He clearly has, “they will NOT again be rooted out of their land.”
And one more thing. You pointed out that God’s ‘wrath” as spoken by Isaiah is aimed at the enemies of His people, not Israel. Especially Isaiah 34:8 -“For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.”
JoelPosted at 22:19h, 08 June
Of course, I understand your feelings, as I sympathize fully with them. However, how we feel is generally a terrible hermeneutic. How people feel has led them to renounce the doctrine of hell as conscious and eternal, despite various passages which affirm such. I often hear people defend the pre-trib rapture based on shallow appeal to emotions. So I would counsel against beginning with comments such as “I cannot believe” something, especially when you admit the Scriptures seem to indicate otherwise.
I would suggest that the best solution is to reconcile the various passages you cited concerning God fighting on behalf of Israel with some of the others that speak of a severe chastisement within the context of the final period. Ezekiel 38-39 is a good example of one passage that contains both imagery of Israel’s enemies being destroyed, but also clearly describes Israel being led back to the land from captivity that did not exist prior to the invasion.
Thus, Jerusalem will be trampled yes, but that does not mean Israel will experience an absolute or complete destruction——which is something I have most certainly never taught. But too many passages such as Daniel 8,11-12, Ezekiel 38-39 are really quite impossible to get around. There is such an abundance of passages that affirm that something horrific is yet to come. Jeremiah 30 is clearly paraphrased by Gabriel in Daniel 12:-12 and then again by Jesus. They both say that something unparalleled is yet to come. No where does it say that “most” will be saved. In fact, it repeatedly says just the opposite. In so many passages, it says, “a remnant,” “those who are left,” “the residue of my people.” It is both repeated, emphatic and quite clear that “most” will not be saved.
How tremendous then is our responsibility! We are to lay down our lives standing with the Jewish people, proclaiming the Gospel to them and their enemies. The comfort we have is concerning their ultimate deliverance at the resurrection, for those who truth to Him. The context of “they shall be delivered out of it” is the resurrection. Ours is most certainly not to give anyone a false sense of comfort that would suggest that things are going to get better and nothing bad is coming, etc. That would be downright irresponsible in my view, especially if that message came in the midst of rebellion. Which is why we must place the Gospel first and foremost as our highest priority.
Forgive my brevity, but I hope my few comments are helpful.
Brian HennessyPosted at 19:19h, 09 June
Joel – Thank you for your reply. I realized when writing I was being more emotional than focused on what the text says. Or what we assume it says. But I knew you had a love for Israel and I just jumped to her defense in an appeal to your heart to somehow say it isn’t so. But you are absolutely right. We need to base our beliefs on what God has said, not feelings. So let me restate what I believe God’s said in His word and what I am spiritually discerning He is doing in our day. Because sometimes what we think the word teaches and what it actually says is quite different and we have to take a second look at things. The Jews in the first century, who had all the prophecies, were pretty sure they could spot the Messiah when he showed up. And they missed him completely. And I believe the Church, which was deceived for centuries, could easily fall into the same trap again regarding Jesus return unless we are tuned to hear the latest updates from heaven. And to be ready to receive understanding of the Word that may been hidden from our understanding until now.
I’ll start by saying I believe a paradigm shift has taken place in God’s dealings with the Church and Jewish Israel. That the times of the Gentiles have now been fulfilled, although the door hasn’t shut completely yet. And that God is about to remove the Jews divinely-imposed blindness and restore them to righteousness. Not all of them, it is true, but those who are chosen so that “all Israel will be saved.” And by “All Israel” I don’t mean all Jews, but all Jews and non-Jews in Messiah.
I know you are very much against Replacement Theology because I saw your Dove interview which led me to your site. I’m sure you agree there is still a strong RT influence in much of the Church’s teaching on Israel regarding the last days that is reflected in little sympathy for her predicament as the nations make ready to come up against her. Because the mostly Gentile Church still pretty much sees herself as Israel’s replacement. That we are now God’s favorites.
But as many believers realized following the miraculous victory in June of 67 (even more so than ’48) RT was a lie. That God had not rejected the Jews. That He is still on their side and now even fighting for them. That they were still His people “beloved for the sake of the fathers.” What that war also informed me of was that the curse Moses had said that would befall them for their idolatry was over. The Holocaust was the last of it. Everything had now changed and the time of restoration of Israel had begun. It was time to come home. Not the time for yet another devastating blow from the backhand of God (as they would see it)! Such a view I feel feeds into the belief of those who hold to RT. Even Mike on his site has positioned Jerusalem as the Whore who rides the Beast. If that isn’t RT, I don’t know what is. The Whore I’m sure is the false Christian Church cobbled together again.
The reason most Christians think the Jews are still going to get ‘a whuppin,’ Matt 24/Lk 21 aside, is because they are still unbelievers in Jesus and largely secular. (Only the worst of the worst still accuse them of being “Christ-killers.”) But weren’t we “gentiles” in the same place when God broke into our lives? I was a Roman Catholic as lost as a goose in a snowstorm until God stepped in and revealed Himself to me. So their present sin and unbelief should not be held against them as a precondition for salvation. Or a reason for receiving the wrath of AC. Ezekiel 36:22-24 NAS clearly says God has a stake in His name which He has intimately attached to Israel. And because He realizes they can never clear His name on their own He will take matters into His own hands and first bring them home -and then clean them up. And I believe the love Christians have shown towards them in the last few decades has largely erased much of the justified anger towards us and prepared them to receive the Father’s love as we did. So that finally, as brothers, we could “dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133)
So what are we to do with Jesus end time words? As I said, your analysis looks pretty airtight, and if I didn’t believe differently already I’d have to agree. But like so many other Scriptures that looked right as we gazed off into the future and tried to make sense of them, I have a strong check in my spirit that there is more here than meets the eye.
First, I cannot believe Jesus would ignore the soon coming utter desolation of Jerusalem in his remarks that began with an inquiry to the temple’s destruction. It certainly appears he addressed the 70 AD in Luke 19:41-44. And I have to believe it is also covered in 21: 20-24. I can only explain it by the near and far understanding that it covers both 70 AD and the future. I know you disagree but for your view to prevail another temple has to be constructed (which I believe Hebrews 9:8,9 precludes from ever happening) so it can be torn down again. And although you say you never taught an absolute destruction of Israel, what would you call a “desolation” that exceeds even the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holocaust, if that is how Jesus words are to be understood?
I prefer to believe that God is now with Israel, and though a great time of distress and tribulation is coming, that she will be “saved from it” as Jeremiah said. And “rescued” as Daniel said. And warned when to “flee to the mountains” for safety, as Jesus stated. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a further purging because we know “not all Israel is Israel.” But many Jews are already making themselves vulnerable by not returning to Israel from the Diaspora while they can. But as a nation I do not believe she will be devastated or taken into exile into all the nations again.
As for Ezekiel 38 and 39 I see that Gog and Magog war taking place at the end of the Millennium as Rev. 20:8 states. And as for their return from exile in 39:25-29, I see that as a restatement of His purposes prior to the start of the Millennium. There has to be a supernatural peace in the land to attract Gog, and that peace will not be present until Messiah returns and both Judah and Israel are living as brothers again. (Ezek 34:23-27;37:26)
I guess that’s where I have to leave it until I see it unfold differently, in spite of your otherwise excellent analysis.
Feel free to shine more light on my path if you like.
JoelPosted at 21:10h, 09 June
We are in agreement on many things obviously. Concerning Ezekiel 38-39 however, you said this:
The problem with equating Ezekiel 38-39 with Rev. 20 is the great distinction between the two passages. Ezekiel 38-39 ends with Israel returning as exiles and former captives to Israel. If this takes place at the end of the Millennium, then Jesus is an impotent leader. This is to say that He will be unable to deliver his kingdom from invasion.
What is clear is that in 39:17 to the end of the passage, it describes several things that take place as a direct result of the defeat of Gog and his hordes, (which leads to the feast of the birds and beasts, clearly the same as in Rev. 19) a few things take place. A few of these things include that Israel will know that Yahweh is their God. He pours out His spirit on them. He delivers them from captivity.
Which leads us to ask the obvious question: Does Israel get “saved” and come to know God, and He pour out His spirit on them when Jesus returns, or a 1000 years later? If when Jesus returns, then Ezekiel 38-39 cannot be equated with Rev 20:8.
I hope that helps.
Brian HennessyPosted at 16:10h, 10 June
Joel – Yes, the Gog/Magog war is a lot like the timing issue of Matt 24/L21. We’re again squinting into a dark glass trying to see as best we can. And no matter what our personal conclusions, ultimately we have to trust that no matter when or what happens to God’s Israel (and I include the true followers of Yeshua in that number) He will work it all to our good and His glory. That His grace will be sufficient for the day. For, as you said, only a remnant will be saved.
I agree the weakness in assuming the Ezek. 38/ 39 war comes at the end of the millennium is vs. 39:17-29. But I feel there is an even bigger weakness in assuming it is the AC war of Rev. 19 and Zech. 13/14 because Israel must then be living in unwalled villages, secure and unafraid. And I cannot see that happening in this age prior to the return of Messiah – even if we assume AC concludes some sort of guaranteed peace treaty with Israel. I can’t see Israel ever disarming and trusting a Gentile power again to protect them. Certainly not to the point where the whole populace is at such a total rest they feel they can “sleep in the woods” unafraid of the beasts of the earth (demons?). That sounds like a supernatural peace upon the land, the kind of peace God said he would bring under King David (Jesus) as envisioned in Isaiah 2. And which Ezekiel begins to speak about starting in Chapt. 34:23-31 and restates in 37:24-28. Besides it says at that time “the land has been restored from the sword” (38:8). That means AFTER a war – like the AC war. Today Israel is being restored from neglect and abandonment – not the sword.
Indeed there seems to be a progression in time also from 34-37 that starts with their regathering to the land, the reunification of the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel and the millennium reign of “My servant David.” It is with that divine peace in tact that Gog and Magog thinks the people have been lulled to sleep and ripe for the picking that persuades me it is in the next age of the Millennium.
As for 39:17-29, the similarity to Rev. 19 (and Zeph.1:7) with the army being a sacrifice meal for the birds is obvious. But to have birds eating the bodies suggests they are lying on the open field (as we see in 39:4), not buried in the ground as the following verses describe the scene. And if a chronological progression is to be understood then why switch back to the birds eating the flesh on the open field?
So my only defense is to think 17-29 represents a sudden return to the present age and is now speaking of the AC war. Add to that that the strong argument that the post-millennium war described in Rev. 20 is the only other place in the Bible that speaks of a war with Gog and Magog. You’d think there’d be some prior reference to it somewhere in the OT. If not here, where?
The bottom line is we probably don’t have all the pieces yet. We may camp somewhere but I have learned not to stake my tent too securely lest I have to move quickly as more truth is revealed. So time may prove you right.
Brian HennessyPosted at 00:30h, 26 June
Joel – Forgive for returning again to the topic of whether the Jews will suffer another Holocaust-type devastation again, this time from anti-Christ, but I found that understanding so disconcerting I really had to pray about it. It made me realize for the first time there were two totally different understandings being held by Christian Zionists today concerning Israel’s future. And depending on which one you held would profoundly affect how we minister to the Jews at this time. For if you are right then I could not in good conscious urge any Jew to go home. Nor would I want to go there. And that goes completely against everything that is within me.
It caused me to truly seek the Lord about it. I had to know which view was correct. And I want to tell you I was quickly reconfirmed in my belief that the Holocaust was the end of the punishment upon Judah. And although there will be the threat of annihilation, she will indeed “be saved from it” (Jer. 30:7). God is indeed in their corner now and He WILL NOT let the Gentile world dominate Israel or “let her be led captive into all the nations” (Luke 21:24) ever again. It is time for the mercy of God to be poured out upon her, not His wrath, even though she is still far from Him and deserving of judgment.
The two verses He showed me, and I’ll let you be the judge, are Isaiah 40:1 and Jer. 29:11-13.
The 40th chapter of Isaiah, which as you know marks a transition in Isaiah from doom and gloom to new hope, has been the mandate of the ICEJ for 35 years and for all us CZ’s who love Israel. It is understood as a command for believers in Yeshua to “comfort My people… to call out to her…that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the Lord’s hand, double for all her sins.”
And what could be more comforting than Jer. 29:11? “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
To believe God is not finished whacking Israel for her sins, I believe, will cause many Christians to hesitate when the Lord begins His second Exodus of His chosen ones (which includes us) as prophesied by Jeremiah (23:5-8) and Isaiah 11:11-16. So even though Matt 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 all look like end time prophecies, I believe most of the Luke verse were speaking of 70 AD.
So that’s where I must stand. Just wanted to share that with you.
JoelPosted at 00:52h, 26 June
As I said before, I think you are committing several very serious errors. Beyond ignoring numerous very very clear passages, you are allowing your emotions to determine your theology. The hope and comfort of Israel is the same as ours. It is in the resurrection and the return of Jesus. What would you have said to the Jews before the Holocaust? Despite their long painful history of suffering, would you have said the worst is yet to come or not? To go to modern day Tel Aviv, to see the rampant rejection of God, the thousands of pornographic sex-service cards lying everywhere in the streets by the beach, the kids strung out on drugs, and to say, “comfort, oh comfort,” is a deeply dangerous and irresponsible thing. Biblically speaking, this is the very definition of a false prophet. Of course, you are certainly allowed to believe what you wish, but my reading of a wide range of Scriptures simply does not allow me to see things as you do.
Brian HennessyPosted at 13:53h, 26 June
I appreciate your concern for righteousness, Joel, and I agree it is a bit of a conundrum. But I believe that God will somehow find a way to separate the tares from the deserving wheat without having to destroy and exile the whole nation again. As Paul asks, “What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?” (Rom. 3:3) And the miraculous restoration of the Jews to their homeland is certainly a major fulfillment of His faithful promises to do so in the last days.
Did God just bring them home to pour out His wrath on them again? Or did He bring them home, even in their unbelief, to create a tempting target for the world’s antisemitism – fueled by Christian Replacement Theology – to pour out His wrath on THEM? That seems to me to be the scenario as described in Zechariah 12.
We know “they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” So I have to believe that God will find a way to purge the Ishmael’s and Esau’s from among His chosen ones without re-enacting another 70AD.
I guess we will have to just let it play out to see how it unfolds. But I appreciate your frank and honest (and prompt) responses.
Kathie ZPosted at 00:08h, 21 March
I don’t know too much as I am still learning but isn’t the wrath taken out during the end time coming from Satan and not God? And isn’t it when Christ returns that His people will be delivered and THEN Gods wrath will be unleashed on those who have persecuted His people??
I am just getting more and more confused.
Rick GrimmPosted at 23:20h, 21 December
Luke 21:24 states:
and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (NASB)
Fruchtenbaum fairly characterizes Jerusalem as “God’s timepiece.” Jesus uses the phrase “times of the Gentiles.” Jesus doesn’t define the phrase, which leads one to believe that his audience knew what He meant. In 586 BC, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar brought the Kingdom of Judah to its end when he captured it, destroyed the temple, and brought most of its citizens into exile (Jeremiah 32). This anchors the beginning point of the Times of the Gentiles. Wikipedia does an excellent job of listing all subsequent tussles over Jerusalem over 2600+ years to the present day, and there are many (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Jerusalem).
But there is another reference that defines when the Times of the Gentiles ends:
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25 (ESV)
Israel will see 2/3 of its people lost because of this hardening. The 1/3 will be the remnant that Jesus focuses on in His second coming:
8In the whole land, declares the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive. 9And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
This 1/3 remnant will escape Jerusalem in the final battle to Bozrah, Jordan:
12“I will surely gather all of you, Jacob;
I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.
I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, — many translations say “sheep of Bozrah”
like a flock in its pasture;
the place will throng with people.
13The One who breaks open the way will go up before them;
they will break through the gate and go out.
Their King will pass through before them,
the Lord at their head.” (Micah 2:12-13)
This remnant now gathered, feel the heat of the armies of Armageddon descending upon them. They finally figure out that Jesus is their Messiah, and they cry out to Him for their deliverance (Isaiah 53):
1Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
3He was despised and rejectedb by men, a man of sorrowsc and acquainted withd grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makesh an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall seei and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
God hears this confession from His chosen people and He is on it. Now is Jesus’ Second Coming, coming to Bozrah to rescue this remnant and vanquish its enemy all the way back to Jerusalem (Isaiah 63:1-6):
1Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.” 2Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? 3“I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. 4It was for me the day of vengeance; the year for me to redeem had come. 5I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support; so my own arm achieved salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me.
6I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.”
Now, finally, Jesus has come, Israel is rescued, and the times of the Gentiles has been fulfilled. No longer will any Gentile snatch Jerusalem from God’s hand.
Stuart KeismanPosted at 07:45h, 11 February
Something I’m wondering is when will it ever be safe for people to flee a city surrounded by armies? You argue that Jesus couldn’t have been warning of the siege of 70ad because it would have been terrible advice for people to flee when the city was surrounded. Okay, so let’s say sometime in the future the city is surrounded by end time Antichrist armies, would it be safe to try to flee the city then? Wouldn’t the same fate await those who attempted to flee in 70ad? Wouldn’t Jesus advice to flee a surrounded city be terrible advice no matter what time (past or future) he was actually referring to. I don’t see how this argument proves a point against Jesus prophecy applying to 70 Ad. This argument seems to only point out that Jesus gave bad advice to people in Jerusalem of what to do when the city is surrounded by armies.
JoelPosted at 07:56h, 11 February
Very briefly. You are making assumptions about the future. Because the future is not here yet, we cannot make assumptions about that time. With regard to the past, we know for a fact that it would have been horrible advice. In the future, because we trust Jesus and His words, we can assume there will be options available. In fact, there is quite a bit of evidence that a great number will flee toward the Jordanian desert in the south. I hope this helps.