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Jesus’ Prophecy of the Destruction
of Jerusalem and the Temple
“And we have more firm the prophetic word, to which we do well giving heed, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, till day may dawn, and a morning star may arise in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19 Young’s Literal Translation
Several versions translate “light” instead of “lamp,” and a number of Spanish versions translate “antorcha,” that is, torch.
The scene is “Jerusalem in 30 a. d.,” with the three most impressive buildings being: Herod’s Palace, the Roman Fortress Antonia, and the jewel of all, the Jewish Temple, and Courts.
A Prophetical Lamp Shining for all to see who want to see, and have the dark places of mind, heart, and spirit illuminated, is that of Jesus’ prophecy for Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple. Fulfilled 40 years after proclaimed.
The year 30 of the Christian Age was unwinding when a man from Nazareth, Galilee, came out one day from the great complex of the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem.
About 30 years old, his physical presence was not all that impressive, for, according to Isaiah 53:2, his physique and general appearance would not be pleasing to people. His name was Jesus, born in Bethlehem, Judea. Despite his unattractive physical appearance and humble condition, he had thousands of followers, demonstrating, as he frequently did, his sublime gift as a Teacher par excellence.
Well now, when Jesus and those who accompanied him came to a place where they could contemplate an impressive panorama of Jerusalem, one of his disciples said:
“Look, Teacher, what LARGE STONES and what LARGE BUILDINGS!”
“Then Jesus asked him, Do you see these GREAT BUILDINGS? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.” Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6, 32 NRSV
“…great buildings”, plural, observed Jesus himself, and not just one, nor small.
The great Jewish temple, with all its enormous patios and porticos, would be destroyed completely before the passing of the generation alive in the year 30! This was the prophecy spoken by that prophet of Nazareth regarding the city of Jerusalem, in the 30th year of the first century.
In the artistical representation to the right, the Jewish temple is shown within its own protective walls. It was the equivalent of about 15 stories tall.
The diminutive figures in one of the large plazas represent people.
Two, very large towers, with living quarters for soldiers and Roman officials, to protect the palace of Herod the Great.
The commodious palace of Herod, with accommodations for hundreds of guests in two identical, multilevel, buildings, separated by a large plaza. In a rectangular design, with its own protective, stone wall.
Apartment buildings, urbanizations, commercial buildings, markets, stores, plazas, porticos, and a Roman theater.
The Jewish Temple, with its own protective walls, porticos, and large plazas.
Adjoining the Temple was the Antonia Fortress, with four large towers where a contingent of Roman soldiers lived, charged with the protection of the Temple, the Temple Mount, and the rest of Jerusalem.
The normal population of Jerusalem in Jesus’ time was about 85,000. During Passover week and through Pentecost, 50 days later, the number of people in and around Jerusalem could swell to over a million.
We select this panoramic, artistical rendering of Jerusalem to convey, somewhat, the greatness and beauty of the city in the first century, to the time of its destruction beginning in the year 67.
Let us try to see the prophecy of that Man of Galilee in the setting in which it was made: Jerusalem, in the year 30.
The Temple, with smoke ascending from the altar of burnt offerings.
The Roman Fortress Antonia.
Patios and porticos of the Temple.
The city of Jerusalem and the whole country of Israel had been under the rule of the Romans since the year 63 before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
Herod the Great, vassal king under Rome, whose reign over Israel began in 37 b. C., ending with his death in 4 b. C., expanded considerably the area of the Temple Mount, rebuilt the Temple itself, and ordered the construction of spacious patios, with large, elegant porticos.
The Romans did not want to destroy the magnificent Jewish Temple.
Nor the great Antonia Fortress. Neither the beautiful Palace of Herod.
Not even all the Jews were fanatically opposed to the presence of Roman officials and soldiers in Jerusalem, a good number of them forming the Herodian Party, mentioned in Matthew 22:16.
An enormous complex, that of the Temple Mount! For its time frame of the first century. Occupying 356 acres (144,000 square meters).
Enormous, beautiful stones! The largest in the retaining walls, weighing up to 628 tons (1,256,000 pounds), while the average weighed about 28 tons.
Astounding prophecy, of a truth! That of the humble Galilean prophet.
“The days will come when not one stone will be left upon another;
all will be thrown down.”
And it would happen before that generation passed!
Any ordinary citizen of that time and place would surely think that only some deranged, self-appointed prophet with a screw loose would be so bold as to prophesy the total destruction of such great works, constantly guarded by officials and soldiers of the powerful Roman Empire.
Was Jesus such a prophet?
Multitudes of Jews and Romans thought so in those days of the year 30. Catastrophic events occurring 40 years later in Jerusalem would prove them totally mistaken.
Do YOU perchance think Jesus was a hair-brained prophet? Stay with me, to see what really happened.
“…WHAT LARGE STONES…” observed the disciples of Christ. Large stones, indeed!
Following are the measurements of the largest stone in the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, one of four that make up the Master Line.
44.6 feet long (13 meters).
16.5 feet wide (4.9 meters).
11.5 feet high (3. 7 meters).
Weight: from 567 to 628 tons.
The stone is rectangular, and was quarried, on site, for a precise fit in the base of the retaining wall. HUGE! 1,256,000 pounds.
How it was hewn out and moved to an exact position is another story worth telling!
Today, these stones are just where they were placed by the workers of King Herod the Great a few years before the birth of Jesus Christ. If you travel to Jerusalem, you can go where they are, stand beside them and touch them.
In his prophecies about the destruction of the “…great buildings” of Jerusalem, Jesus did not refer to these enormous quarried stones in the foundation of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, but to the much smaller quarried stones used to construct buildings such as the Temple and the Antonia Fortress.
Well then, though many people of that time, perhaps even some of the closest disciples of Jesus Christ, might have classified his prophecies about the Temple, and the rest of the “…great buildings” of the Temple Mount, as the fantastical projections of a nonsensical prophet, they were fulfilled to the letter of the law forty years later, in the year 70 a. d.!
Two empirical evidences that prove their fulfillment exist today, 1,950 years after the events.
In this photograph, stones, many broken, used in the construction of buildings on the upper, level grounds of the Temple Mount, lie where they fell 1,950 years ago.
In the view, we see the intact thick wall constructed to enlarge the level area of the Temple Mount.
This wall was not an integral part of any of the buildings. Neither was the famous “Wailing Wall” (Western Wall).
The prophecy “not one stone will be left upon another,” did not apply, we iterate, to this wall. Rather, to the buildings above it.
Of those buildings, one stone did not remain on the other, that was “not thrown down,” when the taking of Jerusalem by the Roman army was concluded in the year 70!
AN UNDENIABLE FACT! A historical FACT! A FACT verifiable today!
A prophecy fulfilled 40 years after it was proclaimed! Despite the improbabilities of its fulfillment.
Dear Jewish friend, you who does not believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah announced by Isaiah, Ezequiel, and other prophets of ancient times, how do you respond to this inexpugnable FACT?
Dear friend, you of the Gentile race, that resists believing in Jesus of Nazareth and following his teachings, how do you respond to this inalterable FACT?
Consider still another empirical evidence, also existing to this day, that proves the precise fulfillment of the prophecy made by Jesus Christ.
We are looking at the Arch of Triumph of the Roman general Titus, who was commander of the Roman legions when they overcame, at last, after three long years of furious battles, the tenacious defenders of Jerusalem.
This Arch commemorates that victory in the year 70. Very, very costly, to be sure, for the Romans, for great numbers of their soldiers were killed or wounded by the Jews.
Images, clearly visible, of some of the sacred objects of the Jewish Temple are chiseled on the interior walls of the Arch. For example, the lampstand, with its seven lamps, and the Table of Shewbread, part of the spoils of war the victorious Romans took to Rome.
Very definitely, this Arch of Titus also contributes to the evidences for the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus of Nazareth. If you travel to Rome, you can go to that Arch, located on the Via Sacra, and see, with your own eyes, this witness in marble to the fulfillment of the prophecy. A witness that has continued, visible and palpable, for 1,939 years. It was erected by the emperor Domitian in 81 a. d.
It is thus that you and I are face to face with a tremendous, indisputable FACT! The unquestionable fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus Christ of the destruction of the “…great buildings” of the Temple Mount precisely during the time frame set for it, to wit: BEFORE the passing of the generation that first heard it proclaimed!
Do we accept this FACT, or do we obviate it, as if it did not exist? For a fact is a fact, and continues to be a fact, even though we do not believe it. Do you agree?
So then, the fact of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus Christ is just as real and solid as the heavy rocks laying where they were thrown down on the ancient, paved Roman street beside a retaining wall of the Temple Mount, or as the Triumphal Arch of General Titus, constructed of solid marble.
As no one in his right mind can deny the existence of those rocks and that Arch, neither can he deny the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy!
You still have doubts? Based on what consideration or fact, I would, personally, like to know?
Could it be possible the exact fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy was a mere coincidence?
While there might be some slight possibility of “fulfillment by chance or coincidence,” the parameters of the case render void and null that possibility, for all practical purposes. Parameters already pointed out in part. For example, the strong Roman presence in Jerusalem that kept a vigilant watch for the security and conservation of the Temple Mount buildings.
Equally relevant is the fact that General Titus himself ordered his soldiers NOT to destroy the Jewish Temple. But, so ferociously angry were they because of the deceitful tactics, barbarisms, and great losses they had suffered at the hands of the fanatical Jewish defenders, that they disobeyed him! A fact witnessed to by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who was personally present, in his “Annals of Jewish Wars.”
Given that a fulfilled prophecy effectively constitutes an UNDENIABLE FACT, it ought to be, must be, conceptualized as an extremely strong reason to believe in its AUTHOR.
A fulfilled prophecy produces FAITH in the intelligent, rational, objective, mentally honest person, in his reasonings and conclusions.
A fulfilled prophecy eliminates DOUBTS in such a person, keeping him from falling into the deep, dark well of Incredulity.
What do we conclude about Jesus Christ, the AUTHOR of the prophecy?
His prophecy having been perfectly fulfilled, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the only logical conclusion is: That man of Galilee was a true prophet, and, therefore, spoke by divine inspiration, that is, by the power of the Creator God who can see the future before it happens.
Another inescapable conclusion becomes quickly obvious to the perceptive, to wit: that man of Galilee was not a liar! Therefore, he was, truly and indisputably, who he said he was, and he said he was the Son of God, the promised Messiah.
Esteemed Jewish friend, what do you say about that? Is it possible you would be so brave as to deny, or simply dismiss, the incontrovertible FACT set before you? The prophecy of Jesus of Nazareth was fulfilled. True or false?
Mr. Gentile, lady Gentile, you who does not believe in Jesus, nor in the Bible, that perhaps makes fun of God and Christians, or maybe halfway believes, your soul eaten up with doubts that leave you on the edge of pure atheism, what do you have to say?
You are face to face with a set of great facts that your doubts, derisions, and incredulity absolutely cannot make disappear. Will you accept them, making the corresponding changes in your moral-spiritual life, or will you coldly discard them, condemning yourself to the eternal consequences?
When, as a result of the light shining, through fulfilled prophecy, on mind and spirit, the Day Star of understanding arises in the heart of Jew or Gentile, the next steps to be taken are:
Believe in God and Christ.
Repent of disbelief and all other sins, and…
Be baptized, that is, be immersed in water, for the forgiveness of sins.
Thus, being born of the water and the Spirit, you become a new person, raised up to walk in newness of life. These are the steps Jew and Gentile alike should take.
Mark 16:15-16; John 3:1-7; Acts 2:37-47; Romans 6:3-7; Hebreos 11:3, and dozens of similar Bible texts.
PDF of this study
The Dilemmas of Mind, Heart, and Spirit of John Puzzle. An analogy highlighting the importance of authentic prophecies.
Studies in the Bible and related subjects. Articles, tracts, Bible class guides, sermons and slides. PDF's. By Homer Dewayne Shappley, teacher and evangelist.
Prophecies of the New Testament. LIST of studies available on this site.