(Olivet discourse) Jesus’ prediction of the Temple’s destruction…from an eyewitness account (Part 1)

Jesus’ prediction of the Temple’s destruction…from an eyewitness account (Part 1) – National methodist | Examiner.com.

During the last week of Jesus’ life, when He was teaching in the Temple in Jerusalem, His disciples were awestruck by the Temple’s grandeur (as any Galilean peasants and fishermen would’ve been!).  Jesus told them that as impressive as it all looked, it would be destroyed brick by brick.  As they left Jerusalem later that afternoon and headed across the valley to the Mt. of Olives, the Disciples asked Jesus to clarify what He had told them.  When would the destruction happen and what would be the sign of His coming into power?

(Many readers of the Gospels, upon hearing the Disciples use the word „coming” have mistakenly assumed that they were asking Jesus about His „Second Coming” and thus the end of the world.  However, they were asking about His coming to power as Messiah, not His return from Heaven–they didn’t even believe that He was going to die at that point, much less ascend to Heaven for a few thousand years and then return afterwards!)

Jesus’ answer to their question, which has come to be known as the „Olivet Discourse”, can be found in 3 forms in Matthew (24:1-26:2), Mark (13:1-37), and Luke (21:5-38).  This Discourse is given in a format that is very much in keeping with Jesus’ role of 1st century apocalyptic prophet.  In it, He warns His followers of Jerusalem’s coming destruction at the hands of Rome using language and imagery that earlier Hebrew prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel used to warn God’s people of impending destruction and judgment at the hands of foreign oppressors.

What is especially interesting is that Jesus tells His Disciples that it would all happen within „this generation” (Lk 21:32 and parallels).  In Scripture, a generation is roughly 40 years, give or take a few.  Jesus spoke these words around 30-33 AD.  Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD…right on schedule.  This has led many scholars who deny the possibility that predictive prophecy can actually happen to hold the Olivet Discourse as an account composed after the fact and placed on the lips of Jesus in order to validate Him in the eyes of the faithful.

Others, mistaking His description of Jerusalem’s fall for a description of the end of the world have taken one of two approaches:

1) Jesus was describing the end of the world as taking place within that generation; and since it didn’t happen, Jesus was simply wrong.

2) Jesus was describing the end of the world, but the phrase „this generation” should be translated „this race” (i.e. the Jews) instead.  Thus, we are still waiting on the fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse to occur.

Neither of these approaches are acceptable from the perspective of the New Testament as a whole.  The first errs in not recognizing Jesus’ use of apocalyptic imagery to describe the fall of Jerusalem rather than the end of the world.  The second not only commits that same error, but also insists on translating the word that means „generation” every other time it’s used by Jesus as „race” in order to keep Jesus from being wrong in His timetable for the events He’s describing.  But in context, telling His Disciples that the Jewish people will not pass away until the world ends doesn’t make any sense with regard to the question they are asking and the events He is describing.

No, Jesus is describing the impending judgment by God upon His city and His Temple due to their rejection of His faithful messenger…who also happens to be their long-awaited Messiah!  Just as Jeremiah had done, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem for its hard-hearted disobedience as a whole (though just as in Jeremiah’s day, there is a large remnant of faithful Jews who would survive the destruction and continue bearing the promises of the People of God).

So reading Jesus’ words in the Olivet Discourse gives us a prophetic apocalyptic depiction of the destruction of Jerusalem.  But what did the event itself actually look like?  Is there any way for us to fast forward those 40 years and see it all take place?

Yes, there is.

The Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, was an eyewitness to the destruction of Jerusalem and wrote about it extensively and in great detail in his historical work „The Jewish Wars.”  And when we read his account of the events of 70 AD, it gives us a whole new level of appreciation for the events Jesus warned His followers to be on the lookout for and flee the city before they were caught up in them.

It is to Josephus’ account that we will now turn.

[To be continued…]

By James-Michael Smith

Blogosfera Evanghelică

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

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