December 17, 2017

Modern Israel and Jerusalem

By Wm. E. Wallace

Jerusalem is in the hands of Jews for the first time since 13 5 A.D. This date - 13 5 A.D. - may cause you to pause. Why 135 A. D.? Do not most writers consider 70 A.D., the time of Roman general Titus' destruction of Jerusalem, as the end of Jewish rule in Jerusalem? Yes, it seems most writers consider 70 A.D. as the last date of Jewish rule in Jerusalem. While this date fulfills the Lord's prophecy of Matthew 24:1-34, Mark 13:1-30, and Luke 21:5-32, it also begins the period described in Luke 21:24, which period ended in 135 A.D.

 

I find that a great many scholars, especially those among us, have overlooked the historical importance of the Bar Kokba (Kochba) rebellion of 132-135 B. C. Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, the Jewish rebellion of 132-135 B. C. has come to light in a more vivid manner. Discoveries subsequent to 1947 have produced Jewish documents dating between two destructions of Jerusalem - 70 A. D. and 135 A. D.

The Roman emperor Hadrian prohibited circumcision and attached the penalty of death for violation. He planned to rebuild Jerusalem as a pagan 'center with pagan temples on the site of the Old Jewish temple, and to rename Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina." The Jews revolted as they had done previous to 70 A. D. The revolt (132 A. D.) was led by one Bar Kokba. Samaritans, heathen, and Jews joined in "a common attempt to throw off the Roman yoke."

The revolt met with great success. "As evidence of this it is reported that Tinnuis Rufus, governor of Judea, in one year gave up 50 fortified places together with 985 cities and villages to the rebels. At the height of the revolt the rebellious Jews appear to have controlled all of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee." (20th Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Volume II, page 109). This revolt was too great in impact and in import to be overlooked by history and prophecy students.

In Jerusalem the Jews ruled again. They issued coins, attempted to restore the old temple ritual, and started construction on a new wall. But in 135 the Romans were able to end the rebellion and recapture Jerusalem. The site of the Temple was plowed and sowed to salt, and the rubble of the ruins filled the hollows of the Tyropean valley which intersected the city from the north to south. Only the massive retaining wall of the Temple area erected by Herod the Great still remained, known today as the Wailing Wall . . ." (Merrill C. Tenny, New Testament Times, page 350).

The destruction of 135 A.D. was the sequel and finale of the destruction of 70 A. D. Jesus prophesied the destruction of 70 A. D. but may well have projected toward the one of 135 A.D. in the statement: ". . . and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). After 70 A. D. Jerusalem was trodden down of the Gentiles until Bar Kokba took it for the Jews in 132 A. D. By this time the church had ceased to be predominantly Jewish and had become predominantly Gentile in membership. Thus the "times of the Gentiles" were fulfilled so far as the church is concerned - when the church became predominantly Gentile. As to Jerusalem, it ceased to be trodden down by the Gentiles. Those who see in the June, 1967 conquest of Jerusalem the fulfillment of Luke 21:24 overlook the similar and parallel event of 132 A.D.

Perhaps Luke 21:24 has no reference to A.D. 132 and certainly not to June 1967, but if it has anything to do with such an event as the two represent, A.D. 132 would fit the picture. To say the least, it should not be ignored in attempts to interpret Luke 21:24. It is assumed that the phrase "until the times of Gentiles" means that after these times Jerusalem would be once again in the hands of the Jews. If this is the meaning of the passage, 132 A. D. fits the picture before and instead of June, 1967.

On this passage and on a parallel in Romans 11:25 Foy E. Wallace, Jr. comments: "What then was the 'hardness in part' and 'the fullness of the Gentiles'? The hardness in part implies that later the hardening would be complete. The fullness of the Gentiles means conversion of the Gentiles. The gospel had first been preached to the Jews, and then the Gentiles were gathered into the church. Until the fullness of the Gentiles, Israel was hardened 'in part' then their hardening became complete" (God's Prophetic Word, pg. 154). By 132 A. D. the church was predominantly Gentile, There are but relatively few Jews who are Christians now, either in actuality or by profession. Gentiles are and have been in a state of "fullness" in the church, and in Christendom, since the second century. Thus the concept that the conquest of Jerusalem in June, 1967 fulfills Luke 21:24 is both fanciful and farfetched.

A number of other passages are misused by prophecy hounds who are excited over the current political events in the Middle East. Some see in these events an approaching fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel. But a proper evaluation of the Biblical history of Israel's fall, exile, and restoration should dismiss this error. In the Pentateuch, particularly in Deuteronomy, God warned Israel that continued possession of the land promised was conditioned on Israel's faithfulness to God. (Deuteronomy 4:25-27; 11: 17; 28:62-68). Deuteronomy 30:1-14 offers a restoration based on repentance and Nehemiah refers to it as being fulfilled after Israel's Babylonian exile (Nehemiah 1:8-9).

In the conquest under Joshua Israel got all that was coming to them, and all that God promised the Hebrews exclusively through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was fulfilled (Joshua 21:43-45). All that God intended for Israel ever to have (Genesis 15: 18), Israel possessed in Old Testament times (I Kings 4:21; cf. 2 Samuel 8:3; 2 Chronicles 9:26). Nehemiah said God "has performed" what he promised to the descendants of Abraham (Nehemiah 9:7-8).

Some suggest that Deuteronomy 28:68 and Isaiah 11:11 might be involved soon in the current events in the Middle East. It is believed that Israel is destined to a "second exodus" out of Egypt - en masse. Whether Israel goes to Egypt as captives or conquerors is declared to be uncertain. Egypt has always been a place of refuge for those who needed, to flee from Palestine. jereboam fled to Egypt and returned. Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt and returned. As to the prophecies referred to, fulfillment is seen in the flight of Jews to Egypt in times of the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests (See Jeremiah 43-44). Dummelows' Commentary on the Holy Bible points out in comment on Deuteronomy 28:68, "After the capture of Jerusalem the Roman general Titus sent a great many captives to the Egyptian mines." This illustrates my point. So the fulfillment of the prophecies mentioned can be pinpointed to ancient events. Any application of these prophecies to current events is pure speculation - and a "wresting" of scripture (2 Peter 3:16).

The old saying "that history repeats itself" is the answer to the similarities of today's Middle East events. What happens over there is exciting because Bible places and Bible events are brought to light. Bible prophecy is remembered. But the real, the past fulfillment of Bible prophecy is often ignored or forgotten. Bible prophecy is a vast field of study and people who know but little about it are led into false conceptions about Middle East events by those who are obsessed with speculative interpretation.

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XII: 3, p. 1a
December 1967

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