“And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. For those will be days of God’s vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. For there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.
“And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”Luke 21:20-28
You can see here, how what Jesus is saying switches from near future to distant future. The previous section we looked at in Gem 1181 was more focused on the immediate future, from the disciples point of view. This section appears to focus more on End Times. But is it really? What is being said here? What is in focus? Is it something that is coming upon Jerusalem in the near future which the disciples will experience, or is the focus of this passage something else? It’s interesting to note, that the line “Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles come to an end”, is a periphrastic future construction. The idea being expressed is durative. In other words, the sense is more: Jerusalem shall continue to be trampled by Gentiles until the end of the time of Gentiles. Jerusalem will fall into the hands of the Gentiles and will be dominated by them for an ongoing period of time.
Is this prophecy meant for the disciples in the immediate future or is it a prophecy meant for some later point in time? Remember what I told you “yesterday”. We tend to view biblical prophecy as if it were on a linear timeline — an event is prophesied and then it happens and it is over and done with. But prophecy in Scripture is more cyclic than linear. In other words, there is application at a particular point in time after the prophecy was given and then there are future occasions when the “prophecy” is fulfilled again. This is especially true of the armies surrounding Jerusalem. It doesn’t just happen once, but rather happens numbers of times. The issue of who controls Jerusalem has been a hot topic for a long time at international level. It is one of the central issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
How many times has Jerusalem been surrounded by armies or attacked through history? During its history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Archaeologists have discovered layer after layer of rubble, indicating that parts of Jerusalem had been destroyed at least 40 times. Some of those layers of rubble are more than 20 metres deep. Jerusalem sits at the crossroads of the ancient world and is highly significant to three major religions. It has been involved in wars throughout most of its 3000+ year history.The Holy City of Judaism, the third most holy city in Islam according to Sunni Muslims, and of course the prime city of focus for Christians. The city has been claimed by Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and the oldest portions of the city have long been divided into the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters.
Eric Cline, in his book “Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel”, tells us Jerusalem has been the subject of at least 118 conflicts over the years, beginning with one in 1350 BC between Abdi-Heba, the ruler of Jerusalem, and a people called the “Habiru.” In his letter to the king of Egypt (one of the Amarna tablets), he asks for help because all of the surrounding country has been captured by the Habiru. Cline states that the city was completely destroyed at least twice, once by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:8-10)and again by the Romans under Titus in AD 70. The Roman emperor, Hadrian, destroyed it again in AD 135. The Mongols destroyed at least a portion of the city around AD 1260. There are those who dispute just how many times it has been destroyed and how extensively. After the 1948 war which brought independence to Israel, West Jerusalem was captured by Israel, while East Jerusalem was captured by Jordan. In 1967, Israel captured East Jerusalem and annexed it, though the international community still views it as Palestinian land under military occupation.
I am sure you can see the complexity of matters related to our understanding of this passage in Luke. What time frame is meant here? We will add to our understanding of it in the next Gem. This is enough for today.
If you do nothing else,“pray for the peace of Jerusalem”Psalm 122:6
You’ll never find your future in the rubble of your past.Ian Vail
You Are Either A Prisoner Of Your Past Or A Pioneer Of Your Future.Robb Thompson
Your past doesn’t disqualify what God has for your future!Anon
Don’t let the sadness of your past and the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present.Linnea Sinclair
The privilege of a life time is being who you are, assured that your future is secure, knowing whose you are.Ian Vail