Fall of Jerusalem: Part 1--The Revolt Against God
Aug 24, 2007
The past series of web logs have a natural break point with the death of Peter, Paul, and especially James, the intercessor for Jerusalem. With the martyrdom of James, the spiritual path was paved for the destruction of Jerusalem.
There were, of course, many political causes of that destruction, and on different levels, blame can be placed on many factors. My perspective, however, is that of the sovereignty of God and the fact that History is simply "His Story." In my view, then, history cannot be understood unless it is told from God's perspective, which takes into account the spiritual causes of the political events. In fact, the Bible is His Story.
The spiritual causes of this war are clearly laid out in Scripture, and I covered these in detail in my book, The Struggle for the Birthright. When God made a covenant with His people in the days of Moses, He told them in no uncertain terms that if they were disobedient to the Law, they would be judged. And if they continued in disobedience, refusing to repent, He would put an iron yoke upon them (Deut. 28:48). He defined that iron yoke as being deported off the land by a foreign nation. Deut. 28:63 says,
" . . . the Lord will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you shall be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it."
The parallel passage in Lev. 26 tells us further,
" (23) And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me, (24)then I will act with hostility against you. . ."
In other words, when His people were in disobedience, God would become their "enemy," as Isaiah 63:10 tells us,
"But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore, He turned Himself to become their ENEMY; He fought against them."
In other words, no Israelite could say that he or his nation was immune from divine judgment on account of being "chosen." God shows no partiality, but deals with everyone according to their level of knowledge and accountability. Those who possess the law and claim to believe it have more accountability than others, as even Jesus affirmed (Luke 12:48).
In the book of Judges we read how God judged Israel for disobedience, as God "sold" them into the hands of various nations until they repented. But each time they eventually repented, and God then sent "Judges" to deliver them and set them free. But finally the people refused to repent and to hear the prophet's message. So God first sent the house of Israel into an Assyrian captivity in 745-721 B.C., from which they were scattered among the nations (as Deut. 28:64 had threatened). This was the iron yoke upon Israel.
Then, because Judah also refused to repent and hear the word of Jeremiah, God sent that nation to Babylon for 70 years under an iron yoke. Jeremiah had offered them a wooden yoke (Jer. 27:2), whereby they might serve their sentence in the land without deportation, as their forefathers had done in the days of the Judges. But the national prophet, Hananiah, broke that wooden yoke (Jer. 28:10), thus earning them the iron yoke (28:13).
For this reason, God sent Judah to Babylon under an iron yoke. They returned 70 years later to serve out the rest of the sentence under a wooden yoke, for after the fall of Babylon, they remained under the rule of Medo-Persia, followed by Greece and then Rome. Daniel's prophecies had made it clear that this Babylonian captivity was to consist of more than just 70 years under Babylon. Babylon was merely the "head" of gold, which was to be followed by Medo-Persia, the "arms" of silver, then Greece, the "belly" of bronze, and finally Rome, the "legs" of iron.
The people of Judah, however, grumbled and complained at their lot, and many continued to believe that God expected them to break the wooden yoke of nations, even as Hananiah had broken Jeremiah's yoke. They thought God wanted them to be free, but in fact, God was judging them and therefore wanted them to be under the yoke.
The only exceptional time in those centuries was when the Syrian (Greek) empire so abused their divine right to rule that God granted Judah liberty for 100 years (from 163-63 B.C.). These were the final years given to the Grecian empire, and then in 63 B.C. they were eclipsed by the iron kingdom of Rome. The Roman general Pompey took control of Jerusalem in 63 B.C. Judah went back under the wooden yoke.
But that century of independence under the Hasmonean Dynasty only served to give the people a taste of freedom. Not believing either Jeremiah or Daniel, the people revolted from Roman rule as often as they could, led by many false prophets calling themselves messiahs. It was commonly believed that the true Messiah would be successful at overthrowing the rule of Rome and establishing Judah in its place as head of the nations.
Unfortunately, their carnal viewpoint was such that they envisioned themselves ruling as oppressors of the nations in much the same manner as Rome was oppressing the nations. Instead of contemplating how to set the nations free in the glorious liberty of the sons of God, they dreamed of enslaving the nations by the power of the Messiah.
And so whenever a false messiah presented himself, there were always men ready to follow and fight for him. But when the true Messiah came in the person of Jesus, they rejected Him, for He was much too friendly with the Romans and with non-Jewish people. He showed no inclination to learn the arts of war. He did not come as a great military commander to overthrow Rome. He did not fit their idea of a Messiah.
But the fact is, Jesus submitted Himself to the wooden yoke of Rome, as the law and the prophets had commanded. Even His own disciples did not really understand this very well until after the day of Pentecost. Philip's revival in Samaria, followed by Peter's vision taught the early Church that the Holy Spirit, "the Promise of the Father," (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4), was for EVERYONE--not just an exclusive blessing for the few. This absolutely amazed them (Acts 10:45).
But meanwhile, "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11). Though, of course, His rejection and death were prophesied by all of the laws of sacrifice as well as in Isaiah 53, nonetheless, God held them accountable for their actions. Yet He gave them 40 years of grace in which to repent, as established by the intercession of the prophet Ezekiel (4:6). During much of that period, James interceded for them as an extension of Ezekiel's ministry.
This intercession resulted in many believers, but the nation as a whole continued to reject the true Messiah. They stoned and clubbed to death their intercessor, James, while he was praying for them in 62 A.D. As a result, God became their enemy and fought against them, as Isaiah put it. He sent Roman procurators to Judea who were the worst in their history and who would provoke them to revolt. Thus, the purposes of God were fulfilled to bring judgment upon Jerusalem.
The revolt was the equivalent to breaking the wooden yoke offered to them in the days of Jeremiah and Hananiah. And once again, because they refused the wooden yoke, God put upon them an iron yoke, destroying their city and scattering them into all nations, as the law had threatened.
The reasons for this judgment were not posted in secret, but in the very law in which they trusted. Their rebellious hearts prevented them from believing what was written. And so, what they thought was a revolt against Rome in order to better serve God was actually a revolt against God and His judgments.
This is the first part of a series titled "Fall of Jerusalem." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones