God’s Reason for the 70 AD Judgment

The 70 AD Destruction of the Jewish Temple. Painting by Nicolas Poussin
The 70 AD Destruction of the Jewish Temple. Painting by Nicolas Poussin

God gave terms of residency to His first tenants, Adam and Eve. They rebelled against His rules, and because so, were removed from their home in Eden. Similarly, the Canaanites lived within a “Promised Land” also. They were allowed to remain there until their continual sinning became an insult to all God allotted that land’s borders to represent. God told Abraham that his descendants, the Israelites, would not be allowed to move into this land until its current occupants’ sins were full (See Genesis 15:13-16). God being omniscient, already foreknew of this coming Canaanite removal to make way for the Israelites, which, as promised, came to pass almost 400 years later.

God, as the Land’s rightful owner, gave His former tenets, the Canaanites, a set of rules by which to abide; He did the same for the land’s new tenants, the Israelites. These regulations are found listed in the Bible’s “Old Covenant.” They contain both promises of prosperity on the land for those who kept its stipulations, and curses and removal from the land for those who disobeyed and rebelled against them (In regard to these blessings and curses, Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 give detailed explanations how God uses them as an established rule in His Kingdom). If they agreed and were responsible, they could stay; but just like He did to Canaan’s disobedient former tenets, God could equally remove the Israelites from this same land if He deemed them deserving. Moses lists for us a set of these rules in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 6:10-15
(10)  And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
(11)  And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;
(12)  Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
(13)  Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
(14)  Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;
(15)  (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

When the Israelites entered their “Promised Land” of Canaan, they inherited the same land as promised to Abraham. This fulfillment came completely furnished with homes and all the trimmings needed to make life for them rather easy. And just as was also promised, for them to remain within these new borders, they would need to remember to follow the rules of their land’s owner—God. In these passages from Deuteronomy we find Moses said these rules were:

1.  Remember the LORD saved you from bondage.

2.  Fear and serve only the LORD.

3.  Do not follow after any other gods.

4.  Your future in this land is dependent upon your response to these given stipulations.

Here we see THE DECISION OF THE ISRAELITES REMAINING OR NOT IN THEIR LAND WAS COMPLETELY BASED UPON THEIR OBEDIENCE. If they obeyed, they stayed; if they disobeyed, they were removed. But even after all God did for them, we see the Israelites slipping away from these God-established regulations in preference to their own lust-driven ways. And just as God had waited on the Amorites to fill up their measure of iniquity, the Israelites eventually filled theirs as well.

Through inspiration of the Holy Ghost, David said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (Psalms 33:12) But as time passed, we see rebellion worsening against God’s lordship of the Promised Land until obedience to His rules was forgotten. This caused curses to come against these individuals and their land.

The prophet Isaiah said of this rebellion: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2) This separation was their will against God’s will. In Leviticus 18 Moses had warned sinfulness and blatant rebellion against the things of God would cause Heaven’s blessings to turn away from the Children of Israel. While they wandered through the wilderness, God prepared their entrance into the Promised Land with this admonition:

 Leviticus 18:24-28
(24)  Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
(25)  And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquit thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
(26)  Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
(27)  (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
(28)  That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. 

Moses warned his people that just as God had evicted the sinning nations that lived in the land before they did, He would do the same to them if they also sinned against the Lord. Jesus gave notice of this coming eviction in His Parable of the Vineyard. As you read His words, look how similarly His warning is to that of Moses’.

Matthew 21:33-45
(33)  Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
(34)  And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
(35)  And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
(36)  Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
(37)  But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
(38)  But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
(39)  And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
(40)  When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
(41)  They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
(42)  Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?
(43)  Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
(44)  And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
(45)  And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

How did the Chief Priests and Pharisees so quickly discern what the lord of this parable should do? Could it be that they were familiar with the fact their forefathers got their homes and lands because of the eviction of the rebellious heathen who had first lived there? Jesus made it clear He was speaking of severe judgment in His parable. It also states that those religious leaders knew to whom Jesus was referring this parable, and that was to them! With all this said, they must have known Jesus was forewarning of the same type land eviction coming to them and their generation if they did of repent of their sins.

Jesus stated that the generation of His day was guilty of filling up the measure of iniquity that began with their fathers. This is the same type filling that God told Abraham would happen to the Amorites before they were removed from this same land.

Matthew 23:32-38
(31)  Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
(32)  Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
(33)  Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
(34)  Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
(35)  That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zechariah son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
(36)  Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
(37)  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
(38)  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

This filling of their iniquities was what Jesus said would be the final measure before the lord of the vineyard destroyed the tenants in His Vineyard parable. Jesus specified that this was to happen, not in some future generation, but to the very ones to whom He was speaking at that time. And those who heard Him speak this parable understood it was for them and their generation as well. Jesus also said that their sins would leave their “House desolate.” Only one house fits this statement, and that was the Jewish Temple.

In the next scriptures, Paul identifies what grave sins filled this measure to the top bringing “wrath” upon the perpetrators to “the uttermost.”

1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
(14)  For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
(15)  Who both KILLED THE LORD JESUS, and THEIR OWN PROPHETS, and have PERSECUTED US; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
(16)  Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be savedTO FILL UP THEIR SINS ALWAYSFOR THE WRATH IS COME UPON THEM TO THE UTTERMOST.

Those to whom Paul is referring are those Jews living during his generation. Their grave sins included not only persecution of the LORD’s servants, but also the killing of His Son, Jesus. No other generation can be labeled with such a horrifying record. These sins are exactly what Jesus said would happen in the Vineyard parable. For these offences against God, Jesus said that the lord of the vineyard would come and remove those unrighteous-souls from off his land. This fulfillment took place in 70 AD when Jesus returned to bring judgment on Jerusalem for her rebellion against Him, His people, and His New Covenant.

Jeremiah forewarned that the consequence of such rebellion was a discontinuing of the inheritance for those guilty of such sin.

Jeremiah 17:4
(4)  And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.

In 70 AD we see all of this take place; the Temple was made desolate, the Promised Land was taken from the Jews, roughly two-thirds of the population died, and the remaining one-third who survived the siege went into enslavement. These horrific events perfectly fulfilled prophecies of God’s judgment, and they all happened within the 30-70 AD generation, just as Jesus had foretold.


Copyright © 2009 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.

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