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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Which Bible Passages Predict the A.D. 70 Destruction of Jerusalem?

by Michael J. Vlach

A.D. 70 witnessed the catastrophic destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple by the Romans. This is a historical fact and one that the Bible predicted. But the issue of which Bible passages predicted the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem is heavily debated. Put simply, there are many differing views and combinations concerning which Bible passages refer to the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem.

Even people who are closely aligned on most eschatological issues can have differing opinions on this. But below are the Bible passages I believe predicted the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem. Note that this is not a full discussion of the Olivet Discourse, nor do I explain why I do not include passages that others would use (such as Matthew 24 and the Book of Revelation). Thus, what follows is more of a statement of how I view this matter more than a full blown defense of why I include these passages and do not include others.

So here are the passages I believe predicted the A.D. 70 Jerusalem destruction. The first is an Old Testament verse:

Daniel 9:26aThen after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood.

This is a prediction of the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem that occurs in the gap after the 69th week of Daniel (7 + 62 years) yet before the 70th week that Daniel 9:27 addresses. The “people of the prince who is to come” refers to the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Since this prediction of Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D. 70 is found in an Old Testament passage, Jesus can say, “so that all things which are written will be fulfilled” in Luke 21:22 concerning this event. The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was predicted in the Old Testament.


Hosea 3:4-5For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. 5Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.

Another verse that could have reference to A.D. 70 is Hosea 3:4-5 (particularly v. 4). For “many days” the people of Israel will be without “king or prince,” “sacrifice,” “sacred pillar,” “ephod or household idols.” Together, these items indicate that Israel’s sovereignty and self-determination as a nation will not exist for a long time. The reference to “king or prince” refers to Israel’s governmental rulers. “Sacrifice” and “sacred pillar” refer to religious and temple activity. So for “many days” Israel will not function and worship independently as it desires.

So when does Israel go for “many days” without these matters? Does this begin with the exile in the OT or does it begin with the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70? The latter is the better option since the Roman destruction of Jerusalem led to a complete cessation of all the things mentioned in Hosea 3:4. With the A.D. 70 destruction, the temple was destroyed and the people of Jerusalem were scattered. The impact of this event remains until our day. From our standpoint in history the “many days” covers nearly two thousand years. Yet that is not the end of the story for Israel since verse 5 predicts a restoration of Israel. (NOTE: This section on Hosea 3:4-5 was added on 2/19/2017)

Luke 19:41-44When He [Jesus] approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,42 saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

As Jesus approached Jerusalem shortly before His death, He wept over the people of Jerusalem who had missed their “time of visitation” by rejecting Him. The peaceful conditions of the kingdom of God could have come to Israel with belief, but instead the people will experience a violent overthrow of their capital city—Jerusalem. This prediction will be further described in Luke 21:20-24 and was fulfilled in A.D. 70.

Matthew 22:7: “But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. 

This verse comes from Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:1-14. Here Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a wedding feast a king was throwing for his son. Israel is likened to guests who on two occasions stubbornly refuse to respond positively to the invitation, even killing the messengers of the wedding feast. The enraged king represents God the Father, and the armies that destroy the city represent the Roman armies that destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70

Matthew 23:37-38:  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!” 

Just days before His death Jesus announced that Jerusalem and its temple would be made desolate. This was fulfilled in A.D. 70. The next verse (v. 39) does predict that the nation of Israel will believe in Him on a future day. Thus a happier day is coming for Israel after the awful event of A.D. 70.

The next three references are parallel and introduce what is often called the Olivet Discourse:

Matthew 24:1-2Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”

Mark 13:1-2As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

Luke 21:6:  “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”

These three parallel passages above show Jesus predicting the utter destruction of the Jerusalem temple. The details of this prediction are explicitly found in the Luke 21:20-24 passage below:

Luke 21:20-24“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; 24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

While some see Luke 21:20-24 as being fulfilled in the coming Tribulation Period or Seventieth Week of Daniel I think this passage refers to the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem. This is not the rescue of national Israel that Matthew 24:30-31 depicts but “days of vengeance” with catastrophic consequences to the people of Israel for missing their time of visitation (see Luke 19:41-44). Plus, this event is linked with a period known as “the times of the Gentiles” in which Israel is dispersed and oppressed by Gentile powers for an extended period of time. The rescue of Israel will come later after the times of the Gentiles with the subsequent return of the Son of Man (Jesus) (Luke 21:27-28).

Thus, these are eight passages that I believe predict the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem. Fortunately, this is not the last word for Israel since the Bible also predicts a future salvation and restoration of national Israel (Matt. 19:28; 23:39; Luke 21:24; Acts 1:6; Rom. 11:26-27).

NOTE: Feel free to comment. If you disagree with what I have written on this topic just make sure that the comments are with a gracious spirit and not condescending, emotional, or overly argumentative. Inappropriate comments will be removed.

4 comments:

  1. Dr. Vlach,

    I mostly agree. The difficulty I have is with your take of the Olivet Discourse in Matthew and Luke.

    Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem in Mark 13:1-2. In Mark 13:4, the disciples ask "when will these things be?"

    If your view is correct, then Jesus never actually answered the disciples' question in the Matthew/Mark discourse. Instead, he spoke exclusively of events that lay well beyond the destruction of the Second Temple.

    I believe that some of the discourse does pertain to future events. However, it seems to me that at least some of it must provide an answer to the disciples question about the temple.

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  2. Michael your point is a good one and well taken. Every Olivet Discourse view has weaknesses and I tell my classes up front that lack of direct mention of the A.D. 70 destruction in Matt 24 (and Mark 13) is a weakness of my view. But as I go over Matt 24 and Mark 13 I'm convinced these are events leading to the second coming of Jesus, not A.D. 70. I do believe, though, when we look at the Olivet Discourse as a whole we see the direct answer to the temple destruction question in Luke 21:20-24, of which these details are not found in Matthew and Mark. So the question is answered, but in Luke. I know others will not find this satisfying but when I look at all three accounts of the Olivet Discourse, I find this approach to have the least weaknesses.

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  3. Wonderful reading your discourse on a very favorite subject of mine and the arguments you list are what I have studied and found much more accurate than others before.

    The Matthew 24 response to the disciples question has to be about the events coming of the Roman Legions to destroy the Temple and what reactions the Jewish people, but especially the Believers, should take to escape to safety.

    I am not a member of Clergy but as a lay member of the Body of Christ we are to study to show ourselves approved and I take that very seriously. Beyond studying for myself, I spend a great deal of time searching for sound doctrine and to me the electronic age is a real God send for all of us when it is used wisely and with attention to what the Holy Spirit directs all of us to.

    Thank you for sharing and Shalom,
    Great Grany 5

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  4. Great Granny, thank you for your very thoughtful comments. I take them seriously. When I go through Matthew 24 verse by verse I have trouble seeing how the events described were fulfilled in A.D. 70 but many agree with you and what you claim must be taken seriously.

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