Decisive Moments: The Fall of Jerusalem

Decisive Moments: The Fall of Jerusalem

For the Jews the greatest tragedy of all happened in September of AD 70.  The Romans got into Jerusalem and they destroyed and desecrated the temple.  In fulfilment of Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24:2, not one stone was upon another.  The entire temple complex was razed to the ground, never to be rebuilt.  According to our Lord Jesus in Matthew 24, this was the definitive earthly expression of God’s covenant wrath against the unbelief of the majority of the Jewish people. 

Today I’m starting a new church history series. Taking my inspiration from Mark Noll’s Turning Points, we’ll be looking at some of the key events of the last 2000 years. Some of these might be well-known to you, but others maybe not so much.

We’re starting today in the first century, not long after the time our Lord Jesus walked on the earth.  During this period, the Romans occupied Judea.  There’s evidence of that throughout the New Testament.  We hear of centurions, governors, garrisons, coinage, and much more.

Understandably, the Roman occupation of Judea was not something the Jews readily accepted.  In fact, there were both passive and active forms of resistance to the occupation.  But resistance was on a relatively slow boil until the late 60s.

In AD 66 there were tensions over taxes.  The Romans demanded more from the residents of Judea.  When they weren’t willing to pay up, the occupiers took drastic action.  Governor Gessius Florus plundered the temple treasury in Jerusalem to make up for the shortfalls.

That created an uproar in Jerusalem and beyond.  It was one of the catalysts for the Jewish Revolt, a stretch of seven years of bloody fighting.  The Jewish Revolt got off to a promising start, giving hope to the Jews that finally the Romans would be sent packing.  But in AD 67, the Jewish Revolt started circling the drain.  That year Roman General Vespasian showed up with four legions of soldiers – that’s about 20,000 infantry and 1200 cavalry.

The following year the Roman Emperor Nero died and Vespasian returned to Rome.  Eventually, in AD 69, Vespasian became Roman Emperor.  He continued the campaign against the Jewish rebels.

Vespasian’s son Titus became the Roman commander in the field.  In April of AD 70, Titus besieged Jerusalem, causing horrific suffering in the city due to famine.  Those Jews who were caught sneaking out of the city were crucified on the ridges surrounding, being made a public example and warning.

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