Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

the significance of AD 70 in the History of mankind

3/2/05

 

Bible students and Christians in general have long recognized the first century AD as a significant period in human history because in this period Christ was born, lived, taught, died, and was resurrected. These events were judged to be seminal in the working out of God’s plan of salvation. However, as important as these first century events were taken to be, a yet even more important event was generally seen in the indeterminate future. That event was the so called “second coming”, the culminating act in God’s overall plan to deal with man’s sin. In this traditional understanding of events, the first century events were important but the future event was even more so.

 

One of the primary texts for evaluating the second coming has historically been Jesus’ Olivet discourse as variously outlined in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13. In these passages Jesus alerts his disciples to important events that extend beyond those immediately associated with his then current earthly ministry. Looking at the Matthew account of this discourse, we can notice that the entire teaching begins in Chapter 23 and extends throughout the 25th chapter. In other words, chapter 24 does not contain all that Jesus spoke on this occasion about his “second coming”. The preceding and following chapters also deal with this same subject.

 

In chapter 23 Jesus addresses the Jewish religious leaders of his day in very scathing terms, calling them a variety of unflattering terms. At the end of that chapter he makes a dire prediction concerning Jerusalem and by extension those same religious leaders. In these closing verses Jesus warns that all the past sins of the nation are to be visited on the city within the lifetime of the generation then living. Verse 39 ties this desolation of Jerusalem to one who comes in “name of the Lord”.

 

In chapter 24 several of Jesus’ disciples, who have apparently witnessed Jesus’ prediction of chapter 23, ask him several questions, all dealing with this same predicted event: when are you (Son of Man) coming and when will this (Jewish) age end (please note that the KJ version of the Bible incorrectly translates “the end” as that of the world and not that of the age). Throughout the remainder of this chapter Jesus describes the events and circumstances associated with the end and his coming. Tribulation, the worldwide spread of the gospel, the surrounding of Jerusalem by armies, the desolation of the Temple, “heavenly” manifestations are all listed as indicators of the predicted end which is reiterated as occurring in that generation (verse34). Additionally, Jesus warns that some will not heed the signs of the impending judgment on Jerusalem as outlined earlier in the chapter and consequently they will be caught unawares.

 

Finally, in chapter 25 Jesus completes his discourse on this subject on this occasion. Verse 1 of this chapter links it to the discussion of chapter 24 with these words, “At that time”, the time of the destruction of Jerusalem as outlined in the preceding chapter. Therefore the story of the ten virgins, the talents, and the separation of sheep and goats are all part of the impending events as introduced in chapter 24. In other words the end of the age and the destruction of Jerusalem include the judgment event which has generally been associated with a yet future end of the world. This point is critical. The judgment scene described in Matthew 25: 31-46 is clearly tied to the destruction of Jerusalem predicted in Matthew 24.

 

Historically, we know that the destruction of Jerusalem took place in the year 70 AD. This event has long been recognized as significant to the Jewish people because in that year they ceased to exist as a nation in their promised land. What has been often lost is the overriding significance of this event in redemptive history. In the careful evaluation of the Olivet discourse, one sees that the AD 70 destruction was actually the culmination of God’s total redemptive plan. In this event are included all the eschatological promises of the Bible. Not all these promises were fulfilled in the physical realm and not all were therefore discernible by everyone. Some saw but did not realize what they saw. Only those who were looking with the right “minds eye” made the proper connection.

 

In the events of AD 70, God once and for all settled the issue of who was the Messiah. Jesus predicted the destruction of the Jewish city and it happened in precisely the fashion he foretold. Some of those who had been instrumental in his death, lived to see this happen. The book of Hebrews tells us that the return of the high priest from the heavenly “holy of holies” was the final step in completing salvation (9:28). This 70 AD coming was that return, the glorious culminating event of God’s redemptive work. It was truly the most significant event in human history. 

 

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