Doomsday? Will Earth Be Destroyed? (Olivet Discourse [Historical Context]) Part 2

In this post, I want to give some background information about the Temple’s destruction that I will be arguing as the fulfillment of the entirety of the Olivet Discourse (Mark 13 and parallels). This interpretation confronts popular dispensational theology of rapture and tribulation… but more on that point in a later post. For now, lets look at some needed information about the Temple.
The Temple in Jerusalem was the center of religious worship for the Jews of antiquity. From the days of Solomon, until after the time of Jesus, this structure served as a focal point for religious Jews. After the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, this great structure was destroyed by the Romans, thus ending the age of sacrifice.[1] This would change the culture of Jerusalem forever. Christians of the time believed that in “…the destruction of Jerusalem in 70…were signs of God’s displeasure toward the Jews for having rejected Jesus as Messiah.”[2] Was this actually true? How does this accusation tie into the statements that Jesus is recorded to have made about the structure? In order to understand the significance of the Temple and its eventual destruction, I want to use this post to examine the historical setting of 70 AD and then in future posts look at how this compares to the various perspectives on the language of Mark 13 (and parallel passages).

A Brief History of the Temple

The first temple was erected by King Solomon (961 to 922 BC). Solomon’s Temple would become a central part of religious and ethnic identity in Palestine. This would remain true until around 586 BC when the Babylonians destroyed the 400 year old structure under King Nebuchadnezzar II. Later, when some of the Jews were released from exile, a new temple was built and was completed in 516 BC. In about 20 BC, King Herod began to remodel and rebuild the Temple, as to reclaim some of its former glory. The major work on the building itself were completed within about 18 months, although exterior renovations continued until its final destruction in AD 70.[3]

The Final Sacrifice

In 63 BC, the Romans invaded Judea and added the surrounding area to their empire.[4] Two main sects of Judaism formed during the years that followed as a result of the rule of their new overlords: Pharisees and Sadducees. The Sadducees emerged as an aristocracy chose to make the best out of the present life, whereas the Pharisees believed in resurrection and of a life in the world to come. Therefore, the Pharisees held to a strict adherence to the Mosaic Law, resisting Greco-Roman culture in order to preserve the traditions of God. This created much friction between the Pharisaic Jews and the Roman government. The Jews considered themselves as an oppressed people group.[5] This resistance would eventually become a sect of rebels known as Zealots, who would revolt against the Romans with hopes of vindicating national Israel.[6]

Ancient historian, Flavius Josephus provided a thorough account of the events leading up to the Jewish war and the eventual destruction of the Temple and city. The Zealots mobilized and killed a Roman garrison. This led Emperor Nero to commission Vespasian and his son Titus, to end the uprising that had taken place with the rebels. This would not be an easy task. From 66 until 70 AD, war would ensue. For four years, the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding area, was plagued by a war that the Zealots considered to be religious in nature.

The final siege on Jerusalem would last about 5 months.[7] With the Zealots busy fighting amongst themselves, rather than coming up with solid leadership and a plan to properly deal with invading Roman forces, they were powerless when the siege finally came. The commander of the Romans, Titus, surrounded the city with three legions on the western side, and one other on the Mount of Olives in the east. A series of negotiations with Flavius Josephus and the Jewish Zealots would not bring about a compromise. In fact, one of these incidents ended with Josephus having been wounded and Titus’ near capture. After several failed attempts to breach the walls of the fortress, the Romans launched a secret attack that surprised the guards at night. They then penetrated the walls and fought for the city. Jerusalem was completely under Roman control by September 7, 70 AD. Not only were the Romans successful, but they laid the city bare; destroying both the city and its Temple.[8] With this event, Temple worship ceased and most of the Jews were displaced.[9]

What now remains to look at is our question: Is the destruction of Jerusalem and specifically the temple the ONLY “doomsday” that Jesus predicts during the Olivet Discourse or can these passages be used to justify a ‘coming’ doomsday for this world?
_________________________________
[1]Gundry, Robert H., A Survey of the New Testament, 4th ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 15.
[2]Manschreck, Clyde L., A History of Christianity in the World, 2d ed. (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Hall, Prentice, 1974), 17.
[3]“Temple (sanctuary, Jerusalem),” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2007_, http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
[4]N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 193.
[5]“Jews,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2007,, http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
[6]Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, 193.
[7]Manschreck, Clyde L., A History of Christianity in the World, 17.
[8]Nigel Cawthorne, History’s Greatest Battles: Masterstrokes of War (n.p.: Arcturus, 2005), 31-37.
[9]Gundry, Robert H., A Survey of the New Testament, 15.
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  • http://newwaystheology.blogspot.com/ Mason

    “King Herod began to remodel and rebuild the Temple, as to reclaim some of its former glory.”

    King Herod could probably be seen as offering a counter narrative to the Pharisees, Zealots, Essens and the rest through his building projects.

    After all, for a king who was widely seen as illegitimate, doing things that defined the best of Israelite kingship and the Messianic tradition (like rebuilding the Temple) could serve as a way to claim legitimacy and even divine sanction for his rule.

  • Francis

    Simply, “progress”, so-called, is destroying the earth(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Life, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Grace, Miracles, Faith, etc.) ;-(

    Postings have been made at TheDestructionOfTheEarth.Wordpress.com concerning such destruction and perversion and also concerning The Creator’s(GOD, Father) promise that HE will “destroy those who destroy the earth(HIS Creation)!” (Rev11:18c)

    Yet there is a Living, Lively Hope!

    However, such Hope is not for that which is of the earth, earthly and fleshly, but there is a Living, Lively Hope for that which is Spirit, Heavenly and Spiritual.

    Hope for that which is Spirit is Alive because “progress”, which is the product of mankind’s “imag”ination, can pervert, yet not destroy that which is Spirit! For that which is Spirit is Real, and that which is Real is Forever!

    So no matter how perverse this world’s systems of religion become, that which is Spirit can only be abused and perverted, not destroyed!

    That which is Spirit is Eternal…….

    As for that which is called “religion”.

    “Pure religion and undefiled before GOD The Father(Creator) is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the world.” (James 1:27)

    Simply, every other religion is impure and defiled!

    As stated previously, “that which is called “”progress” is of mankind’s “imag”ination and can pervert, yet not destroy, that which is Spirit”, and so it is that this world, and it’s systems of religion, have their version of “Light”, which can be turned on and off;

    Their version of “Truth”, which is of the “imag”ination;

    Their version of “Love”, which should be called lust;

    Their version of “Peace”, which needs be enforced;

    Their version of “Hope”, which is but a desire for temporal “things”;

    Their version of “Faith”, which is powerless;

    Their version of “Grace”, which is the liberty to “do your own thing”;

    And sadly, the favorite color of this world’s religion is gray ;-(

    So come out of the shadows! And as is said by many, “Get Real”!

    Once again, “only that which is Spirit is Real, and only that which is Real is Forever”!

    Hope is there would be those who “see” that The Life is in and of The Spirit. Those who “see” will no longer have their portion with the multitudes who are destroying the earth(and, air, water, creatures, vegetation) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Life, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Faith, Grace, etc.) ;-(

    Simply, each breath(Spirit) you take is a revelation of The Source of Life.

    And “A Simple and Spiritual Life is the only Life that will survive!”

    Forever…….

    So “set your affections on Heavenly things” and be not of those “whose god is their bellies because they mind earthly things”. Be not of those who “love this world and it’s things” and who are “progress”ively destroying the earth(land, air, water, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Light, Life, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Faith, Grace, etc.)…….

    Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it’s systems of religion, for “The WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one” (1John5:19) indeed and Truth…….

    Truth is never ending……. TheDestructionOfTheEarth.Wordpress.Com


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