Temple destroyedPMW 2021-060 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Today we are so distant from the events of AD 70, so removed from the ancient culture, so little acquainted with the first-century Jewish outlook, and so accustomed to the Christian perspective, we tend to overlook the enormous redemptive-historical significance of AD 70. Those events are not merely another sad instance in the history of “man’s inhumanity to man which makes countless thousands mourn.” They serve not as demonstration of “nature, red in tooth and claw.” Neither do they merely remind us of “the carnage of war, the blood-swollen god.”

But such is mistaken. Rather the devastating events of the Jewish War are the historical manifestations of the furious wrath of the offended God of Israel. Transcendent realities stand back of these temporal events. With Nahum we see the smoke of destruction as the dust clouds from God’s feet (Na 1). We learn that truly “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:27) for “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 10:31).

Israel’s failure and God’s response

Jehovah God sent His own Son to his covenant people, but they “received him not” (Jn 1:11). Indeed, they spitefully abused him in defiance of his gracious and loving overtures (Mt 11:28; 21:33-46; 23:34-47; Ac 7:51-53). Consequently, with His rejection, “the sons of the kingdom were cast out” (Mt 8:12), and “the kingdom of God was taken” from them (Mt 21:43).

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Hebrews was written to warn of the disastrous consequences of Jewish Christians apostatizing back into Judaism (Heb 2:1-4; 6:1-4; 10:26-31), just as Jesus had warned (Mt 24:10, 12). It portrays “the day drawing near” (Heb 10:25; cp. Ac 2:16-20,40). This would effect a grand change in God’s redemptive administration — a change that both the author of Hebrews and John liken to “a new Jerusalem” (21:1; cp. 2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15; Heb 12:22; Rev 21:2), which is Christianity (Heb 12:23-25; cp. Gal 4:25-26; Rev 14:1-5).

In Hebrews 12 the writer powerfully presents his conclusion to his book-long warning. After reminding them from whence they had originally come (OT Israel, Heb 12:18-21), he informs them of where they have most recently been (NT Christianity):

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel” (Heb 12:22-24).

But many are defecting back to Judaism. And at the worst possible time. They were leaving the spiritual, anti-typical, fulfillment realities of Christianity to return to the material, typical, ceremonial world of a now-defunct Judaism. This apostasy occurred when God was about to “shake not only the earth, but also the heaven” (Heb 12:26). The shaking of the “created things” (12:27) speaks of the destruction of the temple system with its “made with hands” ritual implements (9:11, 24; cp. Mk 14:58), which are “ready to vanish away” (8:13; cp. Jn 4:21; Ac 6:14; 7:48; 2Co 3:11; Gal 4:25-30). In place of the OT system, Christianity will remain as a “kingdom which cannot be shaken” (12:28).

Israel’s failure and John’s Revelation

John’s message in Revelation performs the same play but on a different stage and in slightly different dress. John’s new creation presents a new world order: Christianity, which arises from within Israel (Rev 12) and remains after the destruction of the Jewish temple-based system (Rev 11). We know this is John’s point because immediately after describing the new creation in Revelation 21:1–22:5, we read:

“’These words are faithful and true’; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place. And behold, I am coming quickly…. Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near” (22:6-7, 10).

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Though even today we await a final, consummational, eternal new creation order (2Pe 3:7-13), we now live in the preparatory, spiritual new creation order established in the first-century. Calvin comments on Isaiah 65:17 noting that the “new heavens and new earth” is metaphorical language that “promises a remarkable change of affairs” when God “restores his Church” so that it “shall appear to gain new life and to dwell in a new world” (Isaiah, ad loc.). Westminster divine John Lightfoot even relates it to the destruction of Jerusalem “which is very frequently expressed in Scripture as if it were the destruction of the whole world” (2:318). We know Isaiah 65 does not speak of the consummate order for it includes child bearing, sinners, death, and curse (Isa 65:20).


12 thoughts on “THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AD 70

  1. Steve Crain March 14, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Dr. Gentry, I may seem to be edging very close to a proverbial “lunatic fringe” position, but what if that is only because the church has been programmed so long by what is actually on the fringe? All this studying has convinced me that Dispensationalism is not only a 19th century eschatological innovation piggy-backing on historical premillennialism, but a hybrid Christianity, with its own theology and its own hermeneutical system, all of which borders on the cultic! It seems a virulent parasite, that has so attached itself to its host as to over-power it and spread like a virulent disease throughout the whole body. I believe that it may be the most dangerous and successful deterrent to the advancement of the kingdom of God in the history of the church. Our pastor included a reference to the fact that there had been no great movement of God in this country for about 150 years. I do believe that that is about how long dispensationalism has been developing in this country – coincidence? Am I crazy or what? Steve

  2. Kenneth Gentry March 14, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    My sentiments exactly!

  3. Steve Crain March 16, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Thank you! I was afraid I might have been pushing the envelope a step too far. I have lately been looking back through Dr. Gerstner”s “Wrongly Dividing The Word Of Truth” and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

  4. Ian Renfrow January 22, 2021 at 11:33 am

    Great discourse. Im researching due to a dear friend in ministry who has accepted a hyperpretarist approach. He is now wanting to teach it publicly and proclaim universalism. I have mentored him for several years now. He is hung up on the dates of the writings. I was taking the same stance that you take on Hebrews 12 which I believe to be the proper hermeneutical approach. Which he states that because Hebrews was written prior to AD 70 it makes it irrelevant to the very events of AD 70. These teachings really take hold of some people who follow other men instead of following the redemptive narrative of scripture and simply using other men’s teachings to enrich our confidence in what we know to be true based on scripture.

  5. Kenneth Gentry January 25, 2021 at 6:52 am

    Every interpretive system has its abuses. Balance is required in all things.

  6. B Jay August 3, 2021 at 6:57 am

    Your article skillfully ties together key scriptural passages around the epochal 70 AD event with a preterist hermeneutic that fits intuitively with the message of the scriptures. Thankyou for this greatly insightful piece.

  7. James Lillis August 4, 2021 at 7:09 am

    Great article. So just to clarify, you feel confident in saying that the following biblical ideas and passages refer to the AD 70 judgment:

    The sons of the kingdom being cast out – Mt 8
    The day that is drawing near – Heb 10
    The shaking of the earth and heavens – Heb 12
    The vision of the new heavens and earth – Rev 21-22

  8. Kenneth Gentry August 23, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Yes, though the new heavens and new earth vision is an ongoing fulfillment as its presence in the affairs of men grow until finally it is permanently established in a recreated new heavens and new earth. This is the Already/Not Yet feature of biblical eschatology.

  9. David Johnson September 16, 2021 at 10:16 am

    I’m confused. I thought the writer of Hebrews said that his audience lived in the “preparatory” (types and shadows) of the old covenant that was about to pass away? How can the types and shadows give way to another “preparatory” age that must pass away? Are you advocating two last days? Is the second appearing in Hebrews 9:28 referring to AD 70 which he says “will not delay” (Heb 10:37) or to some future appearing that had no significance to them?

  10. CAIQUE MATHEUS RIBEIRO CALIXTO September 18, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    Hi, dr. Kenneth.
    James 5:9 says that Jesus would judge those brothers and sisters who “grumble against one another”. How could the fall of Jerusalem be used to punish those church members who “grumble one another”?

  11. Kenneth Gentry October 11, 2021 at 11:24 am

    The old covenant fades as the new covenant begins. But the new covenant initiates the first stage of the final era: the period of the overlap of the ages, which was not noted in the OT. In the new covenant overlap period we have the Now/Not Yet reality at work. We are now spiritually resurrected, but not yet physically resurrected. We are now spiritually a new creation, but not yet physically a new creation. Etc.

  12. Kenneth Gentry October 11, 2021 at 11:26 am

    He is warning that historical judgment is coming against the Jews and Jerusalem. The grumbling and in-fighting among Christians should be aware that sin will be judged one way or the other.

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