A very OLD and ANCIENT doctrine among the first and second century Christians is the teaching that the Second Temple and the Hebrew theocracy, the Law, and the customs of Moses would soon permanently vanish as a result of the birth, mission, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and return of Jesus of Nazareth.
This idea was promulgated by Simeon, Elizabeth, the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, our Lord, the Apostle Peter, Saint Stephen, the Apostle Paul, the Hebrew Writer, James, our Lord’s half-brother, Silas, the Apostle Peter’s amanuensis, the Apostle John, and Jude, our Lord’s other half-brother.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
The truth of this idea and the promising nature of these expectations can be seen not only in what our Lord definitively taught, emphasized, and vowed during his Judæan ministry but also in what was crystalized as standard Christian doctrine from the day of Pentecost following his Ascension to the urgent declarations of the Book of Revelation (Acts 2:16 cf. Revelation 1:1,3,7). All the warnings, heralds, and acclamations related to the end of the Second Temple and the overthrow of Jerusalem between Acts, the epistles, and the Book of Revelation describe the social and spiritual condition of the Old Testament people of God all the way up to the run-up to the First Jewish Revolt, the subsequent Roman Captivity and the downfall of the second century Israelite State of Simeon Bar Kokhba, culminating in an unparalleled debacle of Universal Destruction.
The Four Gospel Biographies Set the Scene
In order to understand the setting and the circumstance of our Lord’s return we need to have a grasp of the spiritual condition of the Old Testament people of God in the fifteenth century of their aging and decaying era. In their eyes, Jesus committed blasphemous crimes that were worthy of death, and the hatred they had against him was quickly transferred to the first Christians who continued to publish and preach the Gospel and spread his legacy all over Judæa and the Diaspora and beyond.
First, it was widely believed that Jesus was born out of wedlock and was the result of fornication and, in disputes between Jesus and his foes this dark suspicion would pop up . . .
“I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
BUT NOW YE SEEK TO KILL ME, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, WE BE NOT BORN OF FORNICATION; we have one Father, even God.
Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: FOR I PROCEEDED FORTH AND CAME FROM GOD; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
YE ARE OF YOUR FATHER THE DEVIL, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
AND BECAUSE I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, YE BELIEVE ME NOT.” (John 8:38-45).
Nasty rumors were whispered about who Jesus’ ‘real father’ was and Jesus’ foes were very eager to take the proverbial gloves off to spell out what they thought really happened.
Second, similar to the controversy above, Jesus claimed that God was his Father, making himself equal to God. He also drove this point home by exercising prerogatives such as forgiving people’s sins, which only God can do. It is written:-
“. . . Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”(John 5:17-18).
And they said,
“Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? WHO CAN FORGIVE SINS BUT GOD ONLY?” (Mark 2:7).
From these passages we see that TWIN ISSUES irritated the Jews: Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and exercised what they understood to be Divine prerogatives that ‘implied’ that he ‘thought’ he was God.
Third, Jesus also made claims that seemed to directly suggest the Second Temple, the house of the God of Israel, would be destroyed.
It is written:-
“And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And found in the Temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.
And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body” (John 2:13-20).
At that time nobody believed the destruction of the Second Temple was even possible and his saying so was perceived as the height of disrespect, impiety, and blasphemy. While it is true that Jesus said his authority to cleanse the Temple was that HE would be destroyed and be raised from the dead and they thought he spoke of the Second Temple, at the end of his ministry, however, Jesus made it plain that the SECOND TEMPLE would indeed be destroyed, but he NEVER promised it would be raised again.
It is written:-
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the Temple: and his disciples came to him to shew him the buildings of the Temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here" one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1-2).
And it is written:-
“And as he went out of the Temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the Temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:1-4).
And, finally, it is written:-
“And as some spake of the Temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?”(Luke 21:5-7).15
It is clear from the Word of God that Jesus’ proof for his authority to cleanse the Temple in John 2:20 is about him raising himself from the dead, however, Matthew 24:2 and 15, Mark 13:3 and 14, and Luke 21:6 and 20 ARE about the destruction of the Second Temple. Passages beyond the Gospels in Acts, 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, and the Book of Revelation, ESTABLISH THAT THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SECOND TEMPLE WAS IN VIEW, but for the sake of establishing a firm and stable basis for understanding the Second Coming, it was necessary that we present the proofs in the order that they appear.
Fourth, Jesus performed astonishing miracles and these (in the eyes of many) WERE NOT TO BE BELIEVED,
It is written:-
“But whereunto shall I compare this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified by her children.
THEN BEGAN HE TO UPBRAID THE CITIES WHEREIN MOST OF HIS MIGHTY WORKS WERE DONE, BECAUSE THEY REPENTED NOT:16
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! FOR IF THE MIGHTY WORKS, WHICH WERE DONE IN YOU, HAD BEEN DONE IN TYRE AND SIDON, THEY WOULD HAVE REPENTED LONG AGO IN SACKCLOTH AND ASHES.
But I say unto you, It shall be MORE tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, THAN FOR YOU.
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: FOR IF THE MIGHTY WORKS, WHICH HAVE BEEN DONE IN THEE, HAD BEEN DONE IN SODOM, IT WOULD HAVE REMAINED UNTIL THIS DAY. But I say unto you, That it shall be MORE TOLERABLE for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, THAN FOR THEE.
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because THOU HAST HID THESE THINGS FROM THE WISE AND PRUDENT, and HAST REVEALED THEM UNTO BABES.
Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matthew 11:16-27).
But many did not understand his mighty deeds to be from God but from ‘Beelzebub’ the ‘Lord of the Flies’ (Matthew 10:25; 12:23-29, and John 9:1-41), in other words, they believed the miracles and mighty works were from an infernal source, NOT from God.17
Fifth, Jesus broke the Sabbath by doing what the Chief Priests and elders considered to be ‘work.’ It is written:-
“At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were hungry, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.
But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, BEHOLD, THY DISCIPLES DO THAT WHICH IS NOT LAWFUL TO DO UPON THE SABBATH DAY.
But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the Law, how on the Sabbath days the priests in the Temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?
But I say unto you, THAT IN THIS PLACE IS ONE GREATER THAN THE TEMPLE.
But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. FOR THE SON OF MAN IS LORD EVEN OF THE SABBATH DAY” (Matthew 12:1-8).
They truly believed it was okay to commit a crime (even murder!!) on the Sabbath but they DEEPLY RESENTED any good the Lord was doing on the seventh day of the week! However, Jesus enraged them even more when he announced that he was ‘Lord of the Sabbath’ (which meant he was calling himself the Lord and ORIGINATOR of the Sabbath and NOT subject to it).
“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath. The Jews, therefore, said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward, Jesus findeth him in the Temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (John 5:1-14).
These and other passages remind us that the ‘issue’ of the Sabbath was a sore point between Jesus and his Judæan contemporaries and a cause for a lot of strife and ill-will.
Sixth, Jesus announced Judæa’s forfeiture of the promised and coveted kingdom of God,
“And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, HOSANNA TO THE SON OF DAVID: BLESSED IS HE THAT COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST.
And when he came into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
And Jesus went into the TEMPLE OF GOD, and CAST OUT ALL THEM THAT SOLD AND BOUGHT IN THE TEMPLE, AND OVERTHREW THE TABLES of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
And the blind and the lame came to him in the Temple; and he healed them. And when the Chief Priests and Scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the CHILDREN CRYING in the Temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; THEY WERE SORE DISPLEASED,
And said unto him, HEAREST THOU WHAT THESE SAY? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES AND SUCKLINGS THOU HAST PERFECTED PRAISE?
AND WHEN HE CAME INTO THE TEMPLE, THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND THE ELDERS OF THE PEOPLE CAME UNTO HIM AS HE WAS TEACHING, AND SAID, BY WHAT AUTHORITY DOEST THOU THESE THINGS? AND WHO GAVE THEE THIS AUTHORITY?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?
AND THEY REASONED WITH THEMSELVES, SAYING, IF WE SHALL SAY, FROM HEAVEN; HE WILL SAY UNTO US, WHY DID YE NOT THEN BELIEVE HIM? BUT IF WE SHALL SAY, OF MEN; WE FEAR THE PEOPLE; FOR ALL HOLD JOHN AS A PROPHET. AND THEY ANSWERED JESUS, AND SAID, WE CANNOT TELL. AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, NEITHER TELL I YOU BY WHAT AUTHORITY I DO THESE THINGS.
But what do you think? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, THAT THE PUBLICANS AND THE HARLOTS GO INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD BEFORE YOU.
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dug a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
AND THE HUSBANDMEN TOOK HIS SERVANTS, AND BEAT ONE, AND KILLED ANOTHER, AND STONED ANOTHER.
AGAIN, HE SENT OTHER SERVANTS MORE THAN THE FIRST: AND THEY DID UNTO THEM LIKEWISE. But last of all, he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. BUT WHEN THE HUSBANDMEN SAW THE SON, THEY SAID AMONG THEMSELVES, THIS IS THE HEIR; COME, LET US KILL HIM, AND LET US SEIZE ON HIS INHERITANCE.
AND THEY CAUGHT HIM, AND CAST HIM OUT OF THE VINEYARD, AND SLEW HIM.18 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
They say unto him, HE WILL MISERABLY DESTROY THOSE WICKED MEN, AND WILL LET OUT HIS VINEYARD UNTO OTHER HUSBANDMEN, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THE SAME IS BECOME THE HEAD OF THE CORNER: THIS IS THE LORD'S DOING, AND IT IS MARVELLOUS IN OUR EYES?
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God SHALL BE TAKEN FROM YOU, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: BUT ON WHOMSOEVER IT SHALL FALL, IT WILL GRIND HIM TO POWDER. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had HEARD his parables, THEY PERCEIVED THAT HE SPAKE OF THEM.
But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet” (Matthew 21:1-46).
Jesus brazenly and flatly told them to their faces that the kingdom of God would be TAKEN FROM THEM because of their MURDEROUS conduct towards God’s messengers and, moreover, that THEY WOULD BE CRUSHED by the Stone and that they would find themselves thrust out of the kingdom and would be WEEPING AND GNASHING THEIR TEETH because of this (Luke 13:18). On the other hand, he told the Roman centurion that many would come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, BUT THE CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM WOULD BE CAST INTO OUTER DARKNESS (Matthew 8:5-12).
Seventh, our Lord believed and championed the idea of the RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD at a time when the highest authorities in ancient Judæa thought such ideas were BACKWARDS, SILLY, and INTOLERABLE ‘SUPERSTITIONS.’19
“The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:
Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them,
Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,
“I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? GOD IS NOT THE GOD OF THE DEAD, BUT OF THE LIVING.”
And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.
34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together” (Matthew 22:23-34).
But not only did Jesus teach this, but he also DEMONSTRATED BY HIS OWN ACTIONS that he was able to raise dead people to life again—Jairus’ daughter, the son of the widow of Nain, and most importantly, Lazarus—and this was seriously threatening to the authorities who were not only alarmed and intimidated by this display of Divine power but THEY SECRETLY MADE PRACTICAL PLANS TO KILL JESUS (Luke 8:53 cf. John 11:41-53).
Eighth, Jesus announced himself not only to be the one who would raise the dead but also the king, judge, and executioner to whom God had committed all authority. Jesus said,
“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity for thirty eight years.
When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, WILL THOU BE MADE WHOLE? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steps down before me.
Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore, said unto him that was cured, IT IS THE SABBATH DAY: IT IS NOT LAWFUL FOR THEE TO CARRY THY BED.
He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked him, Who is the man which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward, Jesus findeth him in the Temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
AND THEREFORE DID THE JEWS PERSECUTE JESUS, AND SOUGHT TO SLAY HIM, BECAUSE HE HAD DONE THESE THINGS ON THE SABBATH DAY.
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. THEREFORE THE JEWS SOUGHT THE MORE TO KILL HIM, BECAUSE HE NOT ONLY HAD BROKEN THE SABBATH, BUT SAID ALSO THAT GOD WAS HIS FATHER, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD.
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father LOVETH THE SON, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, BUT HATH COMMITTED ALL JUDGMENT UNTO THE SON: THAT ALL MEN SHOULD HONOR THE SON, EVEN AS THEY HONOR THE FATHER. HE THAT HONORS NOT THE SON HONORS NOT THE FATHER WHO HAS SENT HIM.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, THE HOUR IS COMING, AND NOW IS, WHEN THE DEAD SHALL HEAR THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD: AND THEY THAT HEAR SHALL LIVE.
For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; AND HATH GIVEN HIM AUTHORITY TO EXECUTE JUDGMENT ALSO, BECAUSE HE IS THE SON OF MAN. MARVEL NOT AT THIS: FOR THE HOUR IS COMING, IN THE WHICH ALL THAT ARE IN THE GRAVES SHALL HEAR HIS VOICE,
AND SHALL COME FORTH; THEY THAT HAVE DONE GOOD, UNTO THE RESURRECTION OF LIFE; AND THEY THAT HAVE DONE EVIL, UNTO THE RESURRECTION OF DAMNATION. I can of my own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.
But I receive not testimony from man: BUT THESE THINGS I SAY, THAT YE MIGHT BE SAVED; He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. BUT I HAVE GREATER WITNESS THAN THAT OF JOHN: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. AND YE HAVE NOT HIS WORD ABIDING IN YOU: for whom he hath sent, him YE BELIEVE NOT. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: AND THEY ARE THEY WHICH TESTIFY OF ME. AND YE WILL NOT COME TO ME, THAT YE MIGHT HAVE LIFE. I receive not honor from men.
But I know you, that YE HAVE NOT THE LOVE OF GOD IN YOU. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: IF ANOTHER SHALL COME IN HIS OWN NAME, HIM YE WILL RECEIVE. HOW CAN YE BELIEVE, WHICH RECEIVE HONOR ONE OF ANOTHER, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: THERE IS ONE THAT ACCUSETH YOU, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For HAD YE BELIEVED MOSES, ye would have BELIEVED ME; for he WROTE OF ME. BUT IF YOU BELIEVE NOT HIS WRITINGS, HOW SHALL YOU BELIEVE MY WORDS?” (John 5:1-47).
Jesus also believed he had the authority to slay those who opposed his kingship over the people of God (Luke 19:27).
Ninth, Jesus announced the dissolution and end of the Second Jewish Commonwealth by Acts of God and by right of war (Matthew 5:17-19 cf. 24:35, and Luke 21:20-27).20 The leadership of the Jews, however, believed that Jesus’ popularity with the masses would cause the Romans to destroy Judæa and the Second Temple. In their eyes letting him alone and allowing the nation to fully come to believe in him was the biggest threat. It is for this reason, they decided to have him arrested and killed - John 11:42-53.
Tenth, Jesus flunked the Jewish test on the trick tax question. It is written,
Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel on how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.
Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him, and went their way” (Matthew 22:15-22).
The question posed to Jesus was ‘loaded’ because the Jews resented the image of Tiberius who was on the coin and it offended them that they had to pay any taxes to the Romans. Nevertheless, in order to get Christ in serious trouble they posed such a question to him that if he had said, “No, don’t pay it,” they could have reported him and had him immediately arrested, tried, and executed for treason EVEN THOUGH THEY THEMSELVES DISAGREED WITH THE TAX. And so, not only did Jesus evade their subtle snare he also, in a strange way, gained their grudging admiration (Matthew 22:15-22).21
Eleventh, Jesus delivered a twelve-count indictment that included eight woes against the scribes and Pharisees because, like their forefathers, they were accustomed to behaving sinfully without remorse; they stole the properties of widows and otherwise exploited and profited handsomely off of the sacred things of God and did so to the detriment of the spiritual well-being of the people of God—and Jesus, to their faces, told them he was coming back to judge them for these reasons,
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, 'The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: FOR THEY SAY, AND DO NOT.
For THEY BIND HEAVY BURDENS AND GRIEVOUS TO BE BORNE, AND LAY THEM ON MEN'S SHOULDERS; BUT THEY THEMSELVES WILL NOT MOVE THEM WITH ONE OF THEIR FINGERS.
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
But WOE unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for YE SHUT UP THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AGAINST MEN: FOR YE NEITHER GO IN YOURSELVES, NEITHER SUFFER YE THEM THAT ARE ENTERING TO GO IN.
WOE unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for YE DEVOUR WIDOWS' HOUSES, AND FOR A PRETENCE MAKE LONG PRAYER: THEREFORE YE SHALL RECEIVE THE GREATER DAMNATION.
WOE unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, YE MAKE HIM TWOFOLD MORE THE CHILD OF HELL THAN YOURSELVES.
WOE unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the Temple, IT IS NOTHING; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the Temple, HE IS A DEBTOR!
Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, THE GOLD, OR THE TEMPLE THAT SANCTIFIES THE GOLD? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, IT IS NOTHING; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall swear by the Temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
WOE unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
WOE unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
WOE unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
WOE unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.22 FILL YE UP THEN THE MEASURE OF YOUR FATHERS. Ye SERPENTS, ye generation of VIPERS, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?23
WHEREFORE, BEHOLD, I SEND UNTO YOU PROPHETS, AND WISE MEN, AND SCRIBES: AND SOME OF THEM YE SHALL KILL AND CRUCIFY; AND SOME OF THEM SHALL YE SCOURGE IN YOUR SYNAGOGUES, AND PERSECUTE THEM FROM CITY TO CITY: THAT UPON YOU MAY COME ALL THE RIGHTEOUS BLOOD SHED UPON THE EARTH, FROM THE BLOOD OF RIGHTEOUS ABEL UNTO THE BLOOD OF ZACHARIAS SON OF BARACHIAS, WHOM YE SLEW BETWEEN THE TEMPLE AND THE ALTAR.
VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, ALL THESE THINGS SHALL COME UPON THIS GENERATION.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.24
For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:1-39).25
In the above indictment, Jesus declared the leadership echelon guilty of egregiously breaking the Law of Moses, killing the prophets, saints, and wise men of God down through the ages going all the way back to Abel. In that same sermon, which he said to their faces in the Second Temple, he foresaw that they would also kill the Apostles in their efforts to suppress the preaching of sin, righteousness, and judgment.26
Twelfth, the coming of the Son of man: the occurrence of the glorious and miraculous appearance of our blessed God riding the clouds of heaven would be potent and electrifying proof of Jesus’ claims to be Divinity and there at his trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrim Jesus boldly reaffirmed that they would see him high and lifted up in a beatific vision—which claim, in their eyes, WAS NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY PUNISHABLE BY DEATH (Matthew 26:64 cf. Daniel 7:7-27).27
These fourteen issues represent a crisis between the God of Israel and his people who, in their incomprehension, did not understand that God was among them in the person of Christ. For this reason, a dynamic was set in motion which would see the State and the civilization descend into rebellion, anarchy, and destruction at a pace that quickened just past the second year of the sixth decade of the first century,
Thirteenth, the plot behind our Lord’s betrayal and arrest and unjust crucifixion was seen by the leaders of the Aristocracy as a “Master Plan” to save Jerusalem and the Second Temple from being destroyed by the Romans. Judas Iscariot was our Lord’s treasurer and he, of all people, was actually stealing the ministry’s money! We thus see that he had money issues, to begin with. Then for thirty pieces of silver (which, by the way, was 30 tetradrachm or four months’ worth of wages, approximately $3,000.00 in today’s USD) he was taken in by the temptation offered to him by the crooked leaders. They plainly said, “If we let him alone the whole world will believe and the Romans will come and take our Place and nation.”
Fourteenth, Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week and thereby confirmed and topped all his ministry predictions that he would do so, however, even this was not enough for the Aristocracy who heard the terrifying report of what happened straight from the mouths of some of the soldiers who witnessed exactly what happened.
Jesus was wrapped in a burial shroud and placed in the brand-new tomb of the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea. To prevent what they believed was the possible theft of Jesus’ body to pull off a stunt that he arose from the dead, the leaders requested a guard to watch the tomb to make sure it remained secure through the weekend. They also had the tomb sealed with an official government seal which, if broken, according to Roman law, all sixteen of those guards should have been put to death! (See, e.g., Acts 12:18-19).
Jesus’ story about the Rich man and Lazarus already foretold that the Aristocracy was so personally invested in their stubborn and wicked unbelief while they faced the distinct danger that they actually would not be persuaded, even if someone really arose from the dead—and then it happened!
When some came running back and their breath was so short, and hot, and quick, that of itself declared the tale they told, though highly strange, was honest and true; but it still failed to move the leaders one iota toward repentance or to be kindly disposed toward the Gospel but made them simply reach for their wallets and devise an alternative set of facts: a Lie. That monumental lie told in A.D.33 would, in due time, culminate in a staggering litany of commotions and crisis till the Holy Land lay in ruins and smoldering rubble as all the prophecies foretold in the Old Testament and reiterated in the New converge to fruition without any controversy whatsoever, as we shall soon see.
The setting of the environment in and around Jesus’ ministry in first century Judæa and the precise framework of how our Lord’s was received and perceived and what his claims, determinations, and promises were must inform us about what ‘Second Coming’ actually was intended to mean. Our examination of the story that Jesus was born of a virgin was hardly universally believed; skeptics and doubters believed otherwise and were only too happy to boast, “We be not born of fornication”—because they believed he was born out of wedlock!
Next, Jesus’ monumental gall and audacity to include himself in the identity of God was unquestionably seen as a reason he should be stoned to death. Jesus’ regard for the Second Temple—be it its sanctity or potential destruction—was NOT appreciated nor taken kindly by the rank and file. Furthermore, Jesus’ mighty works and miracles were believed to be proof of magic, collusion with evil forces, or evidence of idol worship and witchcraft.28
Our Lord’s actions on the Sabbath predictably and consistently infuriated and enraged his foes and the implications of Jesus’ parable was that Daniel 2’s promised kingdom of God would not be given to the Jews but a nation BESIDES Judæa. When they heard his parable of the vineyard they clearly understood what he said and wanted to lay hands on him then and there.
Christ was a believer and a teacher of life beyond the great and of the resurrection, but more than that, he claimed himself to be the Resurrector. He understood himself to be ‘the king,’ ‘the judge,’ and ‘the executioner’—but as far as the leaders and many of the people were concerned Jesus was completely beside himself and a real menace to society!
Jesus was unable to ‘win friends and influence people’ with his ominous message of judgment and doom against Jerusalem and the decaying fourteen-century-year-old Hebrew age. Like Jeremiah, who saw the Babylonian Destruction looming and was thrown into a miry cistern, Jesus was deeply resented for what he said about the Hebrew civilization’s future outlooks. The Jews completely disagreed with the Roman tax but sought to trap Jesus in interrogation (but to no avail!).
In Matthew 23 Jesus handed over a twelve count/ eight woe indictment against Jerusalem even as he steadfastly believed his Second Coming would be the settlement of everything that was wrong. After all this, our Lord’s raising of his friend Lazarus from the dead and the chief priests, elders, and scribes’ plot with Judas Iscariot to have him arrested, tried, and crucified was what the hatred, hostility, controversy, and hostility led to.
And Jesus fulfilled his resurrection predictions which he had so frequently made: But this made no difference at all to the leaders who paid the soldiers to spread propaganda about a stolen body. Would Jesus’ charges against Jerusalem, Judæa, and the Second Jewish Commonwealth stand? Would he indeed return in the clouds, as promised? Only a comprehensive reading of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John can help us see the issues correctly and from a contemporary standpoint and NOT from today or a current events point of view.
The ideas put forth by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John establish for us what the teachings, prophecies, and expectations of angel Gabriel, the Virgin Mary, Zacharias, Simeon, John the Baptist, and our Lord were and the historical constraints and the social context in which they were expected to happen: This idea is not easily perceivable by insinuating, accusing or otherwise trying to frame issues around the Roman world but by understanding the matter through the lens of the Jewish world, the Second Jewish Commonwealth which was, at the time of our Lord’s ministry, 546 years old; the religious traditions of that society dated back 1,400 years to Mount Sinai, and the Second Temple had been undergoing remodeling and renovation for 46 years.
In what we have covered we can clearly see that Jesus was intimating that the Second Temple, the religious Polity, that wicked civilization and all of its customs were to shortly and speedily come to an end. So what this is that the belief that the New Testament teaches the very opposite and that Christ WOULD NOT RETURN in ‘THIS GENERATION’ (but WILL come in OUR lifetime is an unfounded conviction that is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what the narrative SAYS or IMPLIES.
This essay sets the stage for a Seven Part series on the exact presentation of the expected occurrence of our Lord’s Second Coming to the citizens of the Second Jewish Commonwealth, a civilization that disappeared forever in A.D.136, eighteen centuries ago.
1 The declarations of Gabriel - (Luke 1:16-17 and 1:32-33).
2 The declarations of the Virgin Mary - (Luke 1:51-55).
3 The declarations of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist - (Luke 1:67-79).
4 The declarations of Simeon of Jerusalem - (Luke 2:34-35).
5 The declarations of John the Baptist at the very beginning of his ministry - (Matthew 3:7-12).
6 The declarations of our Lord throughout his ministry - (Matthew 8:1-12, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 13:1-5; 17:20-37; 21:5-36).
7 The declarations of the Apostle Peter on the first day of Christianity and near the end of his life in the mid A.D.60s - (Acts 2:14-21 and 2 Peter 3:10-14).
8 The declarations of Saint Stephen before his arrest and at the time of his stoning - (Acts 6:9-15 and 7:47-50).
9 The declarations of the Apostle Paul while preaching in Athens, Greece, and at his arraignment before the fourth Roman procurator of Judæa, Antonius Felix - (Acts 17:30-31 and 24:25).
10 The declarations of the Hebrew Writer - (Hebrews 1:1 and 10:37).
11 The declarations of James, the Lord’s half-brother - (James 5:1-9).
12 The declarations of Silas, the Apostle Peter’s clerk - (1 Peter 4:7 and 17).
13 The declarations of the Apostle John - (1 John 2:18-19; Revelation 1:1, 3, 7, and 22:10).
14 The declarations of Jude, the Lord’s other half-brother - (Jude 4-23).
15 The Olivet Discourse, its tribulation, the preaching of the Gospel to the whole ‘world,’ the abomination of desolation, and the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven are redirected away from the world of the Second Temple into our future, which is completely contrary to the integrity of the narrative.
16 See also Luke 13:1-17 where Jesus speaks of the upcoming dangers along the same lines.
17 Their slander “You are a Samaritan and have a devil,” (John 8:48 and 52), shows the depth of the hatred and vitriol that was felt towards Jesus by his opponents.
18 Acts 7:52; 1 Thessalonians 2:15; Hebrews 12:3, and Revelation 11:8.
19 Acts 4:1-2.
20 Understanding the end of the Age of Moses and the beginning of the Age of Jesus Christ in no way diminishes or disempowers the Church. It is the confusion fomented by swapping the end of the Age of Moses with that of Jesus (which has no end) that creates chaos, confusion, and disappointment. Study texts: Acts 2:16; 13:14; 2 Corinthians 3, 5:1-4; Hebrews 8, Revelation 6, 19:1-4, the raging waves of the sea in Jude 13 and the end of them in Revelation 21:1 are the actions of our Lord Jesus to subdue and punish the raging social forces unleashed by the seditious and bring calm. In the end, he could say, “Behold I make all things new” - Revelation 21:5).
21 Judas the Gaulanite initiated the Jewish rebellion against paying taxes to Rome and so began the Fourth Philosophical sect that would become responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem. Christians were admonished to pay their taxes to the and avoid the predilections of anti-Roman activism - Romans 13:6-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17.
22 During a furious national religious dispute between those loyal to King Judah Aristobulus II and the other faction loyal to John Hyrcanus II, Onias the Circle-drawer was called to pronounce curses against Aristobulus but he refused. Instead, he said this to God,
“O God, the king of the whole world! since those that stand now with me are thy people, and those that are besieged are also thy priests, I beseech thee, that thou wilt not hearken to the prayers of those against these, nor bring to effect what these pray against those." Whereupon such wicked Jews as stood about him, as soon as he had made this prayer, stoned him to death” (Antiquities of the Jews 14.2.1:22-24).
It was as a result of such impieties that the Hasmonean State was handed over to the Romans and lost their hard-won sovereignty which, by the third decade of the first century, their taxes to Rome seemed unbearable.
23 The strong-arm Sadduccee groups who had control of the Second Temple and political control of the Second Jewish Commonwealth had little regard for what was true or the truth! Even the most surprising development, like our Lord’s third-day resurrection from the dead, was waived away simply by a pay-off of filthy lucre to the soldiers who witnessed it with their own eyes (Matthew 28:1-15). However, disbelief in what is real CHANGES NOTHING and Jesus directly spoke to this specific issue in Luke 16:19-31. Accordingly, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, such refusals to believe would only last till they actually found themselves faced with the reality of its truth when they were finally on the other side.
24 The prediction and completion of the violent fall of Jerusalem mean God’s punishment, divorce, and destruction of the unfaithful city, and his marriage to his new wife, the Church, is a historical reality rooted in ANCIENT and OBSCURE events which can STILL be referenced in Jewish, Roman, and Christian chronicles that have survived the ravages of time.
25 Fulfilled in James’ testimony of the Second Coming of our Lord at Passover in A.D.62 led to a mass conversion of Pharisees (Hegesippus). Afterward, he was immediately stoned to death by the Sanhedrim after being thrown down from the portico of the Second Temple.
26 Acts 2:22-24; Acts 7:51-60; Acts 12:1; Romans 8:36; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16; Revelation 6:9-11; 11:1-8; 12:10-11; 15:1-4; 16:1-7; Revelation 17:1-6; 18:20-24, and 19:1-4.
27 Jesus’ electrifying claims of being the One who would appear in the clouds at the nation’s twilight were not seen to be credible or pious claims to make, but these are the claims that are threaded through the fabric of the Synoptics and John: Matthew 7:15-27, 10:6-42, 11:16-24, 12:8-45, 13:47-50, 16:27-28, 19:27-30, 21:42-46, 22:1-14, 23:39, 24:29-34, 25:31-46, 28:20 cf. John 20:23.
28 Jesus was believed to be guilty of idolatry and witchcraft. Mattis Kantor, The Jewish Timeline Encyclopedia, p. 87.
Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls:
The History of Judaism, the Background of
Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran
This in-depth examination of the Dead Sea Scrolls reveals their true heart: a missing link between ancient and modern Judaism. Because the Dead Sea Scrolls include the earliest known manuscripts of the Bible as well as Jewish documents composed just after the Hebrew biblical period, they contain a gold mine of information about the history of Judaism and the early roots and background of Christianity. Schiffman refocuses the controversy from who controls access to the Scrolls today to what the Scrolls tell us about the past. He challenges the prevailing notion of earlier Scrolls scholars that the Dead Sea Scrolls were proto-Christian, demonstrating instead their thorough-going Jewish character and their importance for understanding the history of Judaism.
Schiffman shows us that the Scrolls library in the Dead Sea caves was gathered by a breakaway priestly sect that left Jerusalem in the aftermath of the Maccabean revolt. They were angry that their fellow Sadducees in the Temple were content to accommodate themselves to the victorious Hasmonaean rulers who had embraced the views of the Pharisees - forerunners of the Talmudic rabbis. This loyal opposition, a band of pious Sadducee priests, retreated to the desert, taking up residence at Qumran. From this group, the Dead Sea sect developed.
In addition to its own writings, the sect gathered the texts of related groups, placing them in its library along with numerous biblical and apocryphal texts. Those other works, some previously known, others unknown, were preserved here in the original Hebrew or Aramaic. Numerous prayer texts, either from the Dead Sea sect or other Jewish groups, were also preserved.
Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls puts into perspective the triumph of rabbinic Judaism after the Jewish military defeat by Rome. Readers will appreciate this lost chapter of Judaism, not only for its historical insights, but also for its parallels with modern Judaism on such issues as religious pluralism, sectarianism, Jewish identity, and spiritual questing.
Finally, Schiffman maintains that a true understanding of the Scrolls can improve relations between today’s Jewish and Christian communities. Across the centuries, the Scrolls speak to us about our common roots, showing precisely how Christianity emerged from currents in ancient Judaism - currents that were much more widespread in that period than we previously imagined.