“The affairs of the Jews were growing more and more troubled. The country was filled with robbers and false prophets fooling the people….And this seems to be the reason God rejected Jerusalem and its impure temple and brought the Romans upon the Jews, purging the city with fire and sending the Jews into slavery as a lesson to them….Jerusalem was filled with impiety. Deceivers and false prophets arose, leading the Jews into the wilderness in search of signs and wonders from God”.
Recently, I finally had the time and opportunity to sit down and read through Josephus’ ‘Thrones of Blood’. A short and surely informative read. Especially if you are trying to get an understanding of the 1st century and how that corresponds to the rather strange imagery of the Jewish ‘end of age’.
One of the obvious things that stood out to me throughout the reading was, ‘If only they had listened to Jesus Christ’. Going back 30-40 years, we know Jesus spoke of that generation as a “wicked generation” that sought for a sign (see, Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4), he spoke of the judgement that wpould come upon that generation in Matthew chapter 23-34, and promised that the only “sign” they would see was the ‘sign of Jonah’ (see, Matthew 12:38-45).
Reading through the accounts of rebellion and destruction throughout the Roman Empire during this time becomes somewhat depressing. You are literally witnessing the ‘judgment of God’ take place in that “generation” upon all people on earth, even those who pierced Him (clear fulfillment of Revelation 1:7, as well as the details and context of the ‘Book of Revelation’).
Gessius Florus succeed Albinus as procurator of Judea in AD 64. If life for he Jews was harsh under the prior procurator, Albinus, they had another thing coming. Florus made the lives of the Jews in Judea so difficult in hopes that they would rebel. And they did.
I preached about this as the beginning of the end. You can listen to that sermon at the following link,
In response to the wickedness of Florus,the Jews revolted, and in response to that Florus ordered his troops to plunder the upper marketplace and kill anyone they came across. Many innocent people were were whipped and crucified – it was said in one day the total killed was 3,600.
Herod Agrippa II urged the Jews in Jerusalem to submit to Gessius Florus making the following remark, “You are the only people who think it is a disgrace to be servants to those whom all the world has submitted”.
Rome was a conquering people operated by carnality. That is why Jesus Christ Himself said the ‘Kingdom of God’ would not be revealed in that manner (see, Matthew 20:17-28). Their condemnation was evident. The ‘Zealots’ who also operated by the same carnality, as did the Pharisees, in their failure to be obedient to the Law of God which they had been blessed with, would see their condemnation as well.
Josephus makes some interesting remarks about the ‘zealots’ who rebelled throughout the Roman Empire. “Sedition broke out in every area, those who supported the Romans fighting those who didn’t, with the rebels pillages and robbing the people of the country more severely than the Romans ever did”. Carnal leadership led by further carnal leadership will always produce the same, if not worse results. Godly leadership must fill the gap (see, 2 Chronicles 7:14). Surely, there is a historic lesson in that for us today in the 21st century. Despite their wickedness, some has come to see the ‘zealots’ as a possible solution to Roman occupation, yet Josephus accounts:
“Now the zealots began to kill anyone in the city they envied or feared…No one was safe from the zealots, no matter how they acted. Those who disagreed with them were killed. Those who didn’t were watched until an excuse was found for their death. Those who stayed away from them were condemned as proud men; those who approached boldly were coming to condemn them. Those offering help were suspected of plotting. The poor and the rich suffered together, and the only punishment for any offense was death.”
Josephus lamented for his generation:
“It could only be because God had doomed Jerusalem to destruction that He allowed this…..No one left alive dared to weep for their slain relatives or bury them, for anyone caught morning soon joined those they mourned. Only in the night could they safely take up a little dust and scatter it on their bodies, even though some were bold enough to do so in the daytime. Twelve thousand of the city’s better people died in this massacre”.
“Dead bodies were left to putrify in the sun by the side of the roads and within the city, in defiance of the Law. The prophets were laughed at, although they foretold that Jerusalem would be taken in war and destroyed once sedition took over the Jews and they polluted their temple”.
“No other city ever suffered such miseries, nor did any age ever breed such a wicked generation. They confessed truthfully that they were slaves, scum, the spurious and abortive offspring of our nation, overthrowing the city themselves and forcing the Romans to gain a bad reputation by acting gloriously against them”.
“The suffering of the city grew worse every day, until even the Rebels began to suffer the famine…The people were raking through dung piles for food… The heaped-up bodies by the gate were such a horrible sight producing such a terrible smell that they hindered those sallying out against the Romans, although by now they were so used to death that they merely walked over the death”
“The temple was burned on August 10, AD 70, exactly the same day as it was burned by the Babylonians…The Romans decided it was useless to try and save the many buildings outside the Temple and burned everything, including the Temple treasury containing the entire wealth of the Jewish nation. The soldiers then went to the remaining cloisters of the outer temple, where about 6,000 people had fled, and set the cloisters on fire, killing all 6,000”.
Listen to what Jesus said to the generation in Jerusalem:
“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.” – Matthew 22:1-7
Josephus’ wisdom on this is surprisingly accurate:
“But they had ignored the signs they had already been given of the coming destruction. A star resembling a sword and a comet has stood over the city for a whole year”. See, Luke 21:25
Noting all the warnings and signs that Jerusalem had been given, Josephus further remarks, “If anyone thinks about these things, he will find that God takes care of us and shows us how to preserve ourselves, but we perish by the miseries we bring on ourselves.” (see, Matthew 6:33; Matthew 7: 24-27 ; 2 Peter 1: 2-11)”.
According to Josephus, “The number taken captive during the whole war (seven years) was 97,000. The number perishing during the siege was 1.1 million, most of them Jewish, but not from Jerusalem. Most of the victims had come to Jerusalem for Passover, been trapped there, and died from plague and famine”. see, Revelation 18:8
He went on the remark that, “Neither its great antiquity, its vast riches, the spread of its people over all the earth, nor the veneration paid to it could preserve Jerusalem from destruction. And thus ended the siege of Jerusalem”. See, Deuteronomy 28:37; as well as the following link
And boy, oh boy…what he right.
Coming the to grips with how the 1st century Jewish-Roman War fulfills the details of the ‘end times’ of your Bible is very important. In a nutshell, what this conveys is that mankind (whether Jew or Gentile) has now been shown very clearly that any ‘natural’ system that endeavors to lead men through carnality will fail. The only ‘kingdom’ that will stand is the Kingdom of God manifested through Jesus Christ.. Let those who have the eyes to see, see; and those who have the ears to hear, hear.
Pastor Michael Miano