PMW 2020-068 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Many evangelicals express surprise, dismay, and alarm when the preterist focuses so much attention on the destruction of the temple in AD 70. They are not aware of this catastrophe’s enormous redemptive-historical significance. In this posting I will provide a summary statement of its significance for evangelical theology and practice. I will not be highlighting all that could be said, but these few observations should help show why AD 70 is so significant for Christian theology and practice.
AD 70 Dramatically Displays God’s Judgment on Israel
The destruction of the temple is a revelation of God’s judgment on Israel for rejecting her Messiah and putting him to death. God’s people Israel was not crushed simply by some superior military engagement despite God’s presence with Israel. The catastrophe was not simply another tragedy such as often befalls men in the course of history. It was God’s judgment on a recalcitrant nation. Note that:
It was God’s judgment. In Matthew we read 23:35–38; 24:1–2: “Upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. 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. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!” (Matt. 23:35–38).
Then in the next chapter we read: “Jesus 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’” (Matt. 24:1–2). Thus, at his trial shortly after this prophecy, the crowds cry out: “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” (Matt. 27:25).
It was God’s judgment upon Israel for rejecting her Messiah. John informs us that “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). Thus, as noted above, Jesus laments “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37).
Olivet Discourse Made Easy (by Ken Gentry)
Verse-by-verse analysis of Christ’s teaching on Jerusalem’s destruction in Matt 24. Shows the great tribulation is past, having occurred in AD 70, and is distinct from the Second Advent at the end of history.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
This rejection comes to dramatic expression when Pilate presents him to the crowds, for they cry out “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” (John 19:15a). When Pilate challenges them, they reject the Lord’s claim: “Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar’” (John 19:15b).
This explains why for 2000 years, Israel has no longer been central in God’s plan. She had been central in the Old Testament era. We read in the Psalms: “He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; And as for His ordinances, they have not known them” (Psa. 147:199–20). In Amos we read: “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2).
It was God’s judgment upon Israel for crucifying her Messiah. Though the Romans were the physical tools of the crucifixion, they would not have crucified him unless pressed by the Jews to do so. In Acts 2:23 we read Peter’s declaration to the Jews gathered at Pentecost: “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:23). Peter drives home this point in his second sermon in Acts: “you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14–15). See also Matt. 20:18; 27:11–25; Mark 10:33; 15:1; Luke 18:32; 23:1–2; John 18:28–31; 19:12, 15; Acts 5:28; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27; 1 Thess. 2:14–15).
AD 70 Powerfully Confirms Christ’s Messianic Authority
After weeping over Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37) and declaring it desolate of God’s presence (Matt. 23:38), the Lord dramatically departs the temple as an act of “prophetic theater” (an enacted prophecy). Notice the two ways Matthew 24:1 speaks of his leaving the temple, doubling it for dramatic effect: “Jesus came out from the temple and was going away” (Matt. 24:1a).
Then in Matthew 24:2 he issues the remarkable prophecy of the temple’s destruction for rejecting his overtures: “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.” Now follows a lengthy discourse on the approaching destruction which ends with: “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:34–35). Thus, he declares its destruction coming in that generation and stakes his prophetic claim on the certainty of his prophecies fulfillment, noting that it is more stable than the universe itself.
(After the prophecy of the temple’s destruction in “this generation” [Matt. 24:34], he launches into a prophetic discourse on his Second Advent and the Final Judgment [Matt. 24:36–24:47].This history-ending climax is pictured in AD 70, but will occur at a time that no one knows [Matt. 24:36].)
AD 70 Permanently Removes Sacrificial Worship
For 1500 years, God’s corporate people had engaged in God-revealed, centralized, corporate sacrificial worship. This centralized worship began with the Mosaic tabernacle (1450 BC), and was eventually replaced by a permanent temple under Solomon (1000 BC).
Getting the Message
(by Daniel Doriani)
Presents solid principles and clear examples of biblical interpretation.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
But while on earth, Jesus instructed the woman at the well that temple worship would soon be ending:
“Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:21–24).
The Epistle to the Hebrews anticipates the soon-coming change of worship. For in Hebrews 8:13 we read: “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” Then in Hebrews 9–10 we see how Christ finalized the typological system of worship by fulfilling the sacrifices in himself.
Finally, in Hebrews 12 we learn that the coming shaking down of the temple system will lead to a permanent, unshakeable kingdom wherein we are to worship “with reverence and awe”:
“His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:26–29)
Thus, we may see from these three observations that AD 70 is a vitally important historical-redemptive act. It was God’s judgment on his old covenant people for rejecting his son. It resulted from Jesus’ prophecy which was more sure and secure than the universe itself. And it ended temple-based worship, allowing the spiritual worship that we enjoy today.
OLIVET IN CONTEXT: A Commentary on Matthew 21–25
I am currently researching a commentary on Matthew 21–25, the literary context of the Olivet Discourse from Matthew’s perspective. My research will demonstrate that Matthew’s presentation demands that the Olivet Discourse refer to AD 70 (Matt. 24:3–35) as an event that anticipates the Final Judgment at the Second Advent (Matt. 24:36–25:46). This will explode the myth that Jesus was a Jewish sage focusing only on Israel. The commentary will be about 250 pages in length.
If you would like to support me in my research, I invite you to consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to my research and writing ministry: GoodBirth Ministries. Your help is much appreciated!