Religion in Politics Means War with God
“You have played the harlot with the nations.”—Ezek. 23:30, AT.
1. Why be fearless of a drop of water or a speck of dust?
ARE you afraid of a drop of water? Are you scared of a speck of dust? After pouring the water out of a pail you set the pail aside and say it is empty, though some drops cling to the inside. But of what account are a few drops in the bucket? Practically speaking, it is empty. You get on scales to weigh. Do you take your handkerchief and flick the dust off the platform? What are a few specks of dust? They amount to nothing, are of no weight, of no consequence. So when you are asked whether you are afraid of a drop of water or scared of a speck of dust you answer No with unhesitating confidence.
2. In what way do some fight against God?
2 From your viewpoint you may be right, but from God’s viewpoint you may be wrong. Your fear of what is like a drop of water and a speck of dust may be making you fight against God. Many do without knowing it. If they belong to a group, or a religion, or a nation, or a world that fights against God, they had better separate from activity with such bodies. The Bible establishes the principle that to support or put into power a person or group makes the supporter a sharer in the sins the person or group may commit. (1 Tim. 5:22) It may be the sin of fighting against God that the supporter shares in, to his dismay.
3. What is likened to a drop of water and a speck of dust?
3 The apostle Paul, who recorded that principle, also wrote: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31, NW, margin) Who can be against you? Why, your neighbor can, your religion can, your nation can, the world you live in can; but what are they? God tells us what they are, at Isaiah 40:15: “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance.” If God is for you, who can be against you that matters? But if God is against you, who can be for you that matters? You can have the whole world on your side, but what have you got, what does it amount to? A drop of water, a speck of dust—strong support that is for someone in a war against God!
4. How may we get God’s thoughts, and what text is introduced to give us God’s thought on religion in politics?
4 Yet because of fear of what Jehovah likens to a waterdrop and a dust speck millions side with this old world and against God. Hence his Word warns: “The fear of man lays a snare.” On the other hand, “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge.” (Prov. 29:25, RS; Pr 1:7, AS) His knowledge is lofty. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (Isa. 55:8, 9) We must rise to his; we cannot pull his down to ours. He helps us rise to grasp his by using words and illustrations in the Bible that put his thoughts in down-to-earth language. Here is some earthy language that fallen humanity can understand, language that brings well within the grasp of the earthly human mind God’s thought on religion in politics: “Can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk upon hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished. Do not men despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry? And if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house. He who commits adultery has no sense; he who does it destroys himself. Wounds and dishonor will he get, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation, nor be appeased though you multiply gifts.”—Prov. 6:27-35, RS.
5, 6. How does Proverbs 6:27-35 enlighten us on religion in politics?
5 For a woman to commit adultery with another man not only puts her in strife with her husband but puts the husband in strife with the other man. God’s law provided death for adulterers. (Deut. 22:22) Restitution must be made by a man who stole to satisfy his hunger, though it leaves him bankrupt; but what payment can atone for adulterous conduct? The relation of husband and wife is intimate and sacred, and when that bond is broken jealous fury is roused. A gift does not compensate, a bribe does not appease, the disgrace is not wiped away. Only through mercy can forgiveness come.
6 But how does this relate to religion in politics as meaning war with God? Because Jehovah God refers to himself as the husband of those with whom he is in covenant relations. When Zipporah entered a covenant relationship with Jehovah she referred to him as her husband. (Ex. 4:25, 26) Because of the Law covenant with Israel Jehovah said of the Israelites: “I was an husband unto them.” (Jer. 31:32) That placed the nation of Israel in the position of wife toward Jehovah. By covenant she was obligated to be true to Jehovah God, politically as well as religiously: “Jehovah is our judge, Jehovah is our lawgiver, Jehovah is our king; he will save us.” (Isa. 33:22, AS) In him were combined the judicial and legislative and executive branches of government, as well as the religious. Hence to be faithful to Jehovah the great Husband the nation of Israel had to follow him in matters not only religious but also governmental. To form other religious or political connections in opposition to Jehovah constituted spiritual harlotry on Israel’s part, as the Bible states: “They had unfaithful intercourse with other gods.” (Judg. 2:17, NW; Ex. 34:15, 16; Ps. 73:27; Ezek. 6:9; Hos. 4:12) So just as a wife in adultery means strife with the husband, religion in politics means war with God.
7. How do Christendom’s religions try to justify entering politics?
7 Christendom’s religions say they are in covenant relation with God and are the virgin bride of Christ, yet they are so preoccupied with false philosophies and political meddlings that they have no time for serving Jehovah. (2 Cor. 11:2; Col. 2:8; Rev. 21:2, 9) They endeavor to justify themselves by saying they enter politics to clean it up. This fallacious reasoning justifies them with God about as much as an adulterous wife could justify herself by saying to her husband: “I had relations with that immoral man to clean him up.” If one enters a wallow to wash a sow the washer is soon as filthy as the sow. Common sense would dictate the removal of the sow from the mud hole before washing. Christ Jesus did not become part of the corrupt world to convert it into his congregation, but he chose his congregation and ordered it to be separate from the world, “cleansing it with the bath of water by means of the word, that he might present the congregation to himself in its splendor, not having a spot or a wrinkle or any of such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish.”—Eph. 5:26, 27, NW; John 15:19.
8. For whom is political meddling spiritual adultery, and why?
8 The Bible shows that Satan is the god of this world and that its human rulers are maneuvered by the demons he sends forth, and any who yield themselves over to the service of this world have been subtly made slaves of Satan its god. (Rom. 6:16; 2 Cor. 4:4; Rev. 16:13, 14, 16) “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19, NW) Any who are a part of the world must share its sins and come under the power of its god Satan the Devil, and this submission by any in covenant relation with Jehovah would constitute spiritual adultery. That is why those in covenant with God who are friends with the world are classed as adulteresses by the Bible: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (Jas. 4:4, NW) Hence any religious organization that dabbles in politics while claiming to be in a covenant with Jehovah and while parading as the bride of Christ is committing spiritual adultery. That is grounds for divorce, and it was on such grounds that Jehovah God did divorce the nation of Israel.—Isa. 50:1.
JUDAH DESOLATED IN 607 B.C.
9. What events were typical, and why consider them now?
9 Jehovah’s dealings with Israel were typical and serve as instructive examples for us now. (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) Among such typical happenings were the events that befell the nation in 607 B.C. and A.D. 70. It was Babylon that desolated Jerusalem and Judah in 607 B.C., yet after Jerusalem had ceased to exist and when Babylon’s ruins lay buried under mounds of accumulated dust and dirt the Bible speaks of future activities of Jerusalem and Babylon, which shows these places were typical. In Mt chapters 24 and Mr chap13 and Lu chap21 of Matthew, Mark and Luke respectively Christ Jesus foretold the desolating events that overtook Jerusalem A.D. 70, yet the world war and earth-wide preaching and second presence he spoke about did not then occur, which shows that A.D. 70 marked only a miniature fulfillment and that a future, major one remained wherein all features of the prophecy would find complete fulfillment. Not just because they are typical do we now consider the events of 607 B.C. and A.D. 70, but also because they show the consequences of Israel’s mixing in with worldly politics do we find it specially fitting to review these historical happenings. Jehovah’s dealings with that covenant nation when it strayed into politics disclose his mind on such matters.
10. How did Judah become adulterous in Jehovah’s sight, prior to 607 B.C?
10 For many years prior to 607 B.C. the land of Judah heard warnings from Jehovah; he repeatedly sent his prophets to point out the gross sins by which the inhabitants were defiling the land. (Jer. 7:13, 25) Both by delving into the worship of false gods and by forming political alliances with the nations round about Judah made herself adulterous in Jehovah’s sight. The prophet Ezekiel warned that Judah was provoking Jehovah by her flagrant worship of idols and demon gods and even the sun, saying all the while: “Jehovah seeth us not; Jehovah hath forsaken the land.” (Ezek. 8:1-18, AS) Again, the prophet showed how Jehovah rescued the nation when it was exposed to destruction, how he cleansed it and clothed it and made it as his wife, only to have it thereafter play the harlot with the heathen nations of Egypt and Assyria and Babylon, so that he said of it: “A wife that committeth adultery! that taketh strangers instead of her husband!” So this harlotrous one was to be stripped and exposed before its lovers and overthrown by them: “I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will bring upon thee the blood of wrath and jealousy. I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thy vaulted place, and break down thy lofty places; and they shall strip thee of thy clothes, and take thy fair jewels; and they shall leave thee naked and bare. They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords. And they shall burn thy houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee.”—Ezek. 16:32, 38-41, AS.
11. How was Judah fickle in her adulteries, resulting in what?
11 Under the figure of two sisters the wayward courses of the ten-tribe nation of Israel and the two-tribe nation of Judah are dramatically shown. Oholah, picturing Israel, doted on the Assyrians and committed whoredoms with them, and finally Jehovah said: “Wherefore I delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted. These uncovered her nakedness; they took her sons and her daughters; and her they slew with the sword: and she became a byword among women; for they executed judgments upon her.” But her sister Oholibah, picturing Judah, was not warned away from such a corrupt course by seeing Israel overthrown and taken captive by Assyria in 740 B.C. Instead, she became entangled with the Assyrians, and later increased her whoredoms by involving herself with the Babylonians. But even in her whoredoms she was fickle, and turned her back on the Babylonians to form alliances with Egypt; so to her Jehovah said: “I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy soul is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side: the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans.” (Ezek. 23:9, 10, 22, 23, AS) After describing the utter desolation that would come to Judah at the hand of these former lovers, Jehovah adds: “So shall the shame of your harlotry be exposed—your lewd harlotry. It shall bring these things upon you, because you have played the harlot with the nations.”—Ezek. 23:29, 30, AT.
12. How was Jehovah to use Babylon, but how did Judah receive the warning?
12 Jehovah’s prophet Jeremiah was commendably zealous in warning Judah of its sins and the desolation that was coming if a reform was not quickly forthcoming. Ezekiel recorded these words of Jehovah concerning the Babylonians and their associates: “I will intrust to them the execution of judgment.” (Ezek. 23:24, AT) Jeremiah indicated the same thing when he recorded this expression repeatedly made by Jehovah: “Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant.” (Jer. 25:9; 27:6; 43:10) Jeremiah called attention to some of the specific sins of Judah, and warned that because of them the Babylonians would come against the city of Jerusalem and raze it to the ground, and that the land of Judah would lie desolate for seventy years. (Jer. 25:11; 32:26-35) But the Jews brushed Jeremiah aside as a fanatical calamity howler, took no note of his warnings, and made no moves toward reform. They had gotten away with their idolatries for so long that they saw no need to change now. Their smug attitude was: “Jehovah seeth us not; Jehovah hath forsaken the land.”
13. Rejecting the warning, where did Judah turn for help?
13 Jehovah through Jeremiah told Judah to submit to the yoke of the king of Babylon, for he was being used to execute judgment against the wayward nation. Had the Judeans submitted they would not have suffered the slaughter by sword and famine and pestilence and their city of Jerusalem would not have been laid waste. (Jer. 27:12-17) But instead of believing in Jehovah and escaping destruction by reforming from their idolatries and submitting to the Babylonians, the stubborn Judeans sought security in a political alliance with Egypt. When the Babylonian threat hovered ominously on the horizon the Jews looked toward Egypt and trusted in it to dispel the danger. This they did despite a warning given some hundred and fifty years earlier: “Woe to the rebellious children, saith Jehovah, that take counsel, but not of me; and that make a league, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; that set out to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh. and to take refuge in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the refuge in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.” “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek Jehovah! Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evil-doers, and against the help of them that work iniquity. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit: and when Jehovah shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall stumble, and he that is helped shall fall, and they all shall be consumed together.”—Isa. 30:1-3; 31:1-3, AS.
14. What made Judah think her alliance with Egypt was paying off, but what proved Judah wrong?
14 This political alliance shows Judah was looking to material and fleshly strength as a defense against a judgment from God. It was folly, as unfolding events showed. In 609 B.C. the Babylonian armies laid siege to Jerusalem. It was apparently at this time that the Jews became frightened and belatedly instituted reforms, such as the freeing of slaves at the time required by the Mosaic law. Then Pharaoh’s armies came out from Egypt, and caused the Babylonians to lift their siege of Jerusalem. Immediately the Jews thought their political alliance with Egypt was paying off in rescue and protection from the Babylonians, and they forgot all reforms as they quickly rounded up and enslaved anew those they had just recently freed in compliance with the law of Moses. Jeremiah warned that the lifting of the siege was only temporary, that the Babylonians would return and sack the city; but the Jews trusted in Egypt and said the armies of Babylon would not come back. But they did come back, and in 607 B.C. Jerusalem and Judah were completely laid waste and desolate.—2 Ki. 25:1-12, 22-26; Jer. 34:1, 8-11, 21, 22; 37:5-10.
15. What facts should we keep in mind regarding the events of 607 B.C?
15 Here are some important features of this historical event to keep in mind. The Judeans were warned of their sins against God, but they did not heed that warning, thinking that Jehovah was not looking, that he had forsaken the land, that they had sinned with apparent impunity for so long that there was no need to change now. Instead of submitting to Jehovah’s servant they trusted in a worldly political alliance. They had an excellent opportunity for flight, after seeing the massed power of Babylon. When the siege was temporarily lifted they should have fled to the one Jehovah was using, to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and thereby avoided destruction. But not only did they refuse to flee themselves, they also prevented any others from fleeing. If any left town they accused them of sedition! (Jer. 37:11-15) Finally, the mere fact that Jehovah used Nebuchadnezzar to punish Judah and called him His servant does not mean Nebuchadnezzar or the Babylonians under him were worshipers of Jehovah. They were not. They were demon religionists and even before Jehovah used them he said he would destroy them in his due time. (Jer. 25:12) An illustration might clarify this situation. During World War II the Communists served the purpose of the democracies in helping overthrow Hitler, and from that viewpoint could be called a servant of the democracies. But that does not make the Communists adherents of democracy, and does not preclude the democracies’ ever fighting the Communists. So Jehovah might use demon-worshiping Babylonians, yet later destroy them.
JERUSALEM DESOLATED A.D. 70
16. What events led up to A.D. 29?
16 Just as foretold, Jehovah did raise up Cyrus of Medo-Persia to smash Babylon and release the Israelite captives, that they might return and rebuild the temple and their homeland. (Ezra 1:1-4; Isa. 44:28; 45:1-4; Dan. 5:30, 31) In the centuries that followed the Jews, while avoiding the gross idolatries of former times, built up a mass of tradition and split up into several religious sects. They strayed far from the path of true worship of Jehovah. In the spring of A.D. 29 John the Baptist began a work to “prepare the way of Jehovah,” to alert the people to Jehovah’s coming representatively in the person of the promised Messiah. John warned them of their sins and of the necessity to repent and be like wheat and like trees producing fine fruit, rather than being like chaff and like trees bearing rotten fruit destined to be thrown into a fire no man could quench. As a result the Jews were expecting and watching for the Messiah.—Luke 3:1-17, NW.
17. What warning did Jesus give the rebellious Jews?
17 In the fall of A.D. 29 Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, was anointed with Jehovah’s spirit and thereafter offered himself as the promised Messiah. In him were fulfilled the Hebrew Scripture prophecies concerning the Messiah. But the Jewish religious leaders did not accept him. Jesus did not feed their vanity or fit into their political ambitions. Instead he warned them of their sins, that they voided God’s Word by their tradition, said one thing and did the opposite, oppressed the common people, sought to shine personally, craved flattering titles, refused true worship themselves and hindered others from practicing it, strained at the little minor matters and left undone the big major requirements of godliness, and specialized on an outward appearance of righteousness while keeping under cover their many gross sins. Calling them serpents and the offspring of vipers, he demanded to know how they expected to escape destruction, and proclaimed to them: “Look! your house is abandoned to you.”—Matt. 23:1-39, NW; Mt 15:3-9.
18. What disgusting act of the Jews brought on what fulfillment of the warnings sounded by both John and Jesus?
18 But the Jews would heed the warning of neither John the Baptist nor Jesus. Not only from the trend of events but also from Bible chronology they should have expected the Messiah and identified Jesus as such. (Dan. 9:24-27) Yet they preferred to play politics with the Roman Empire, and when Pilate presented Jesus as their king they angrily rejected him, demanded his execution, and cried out: “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:14, 15, NW) Pagan Rome with its false gods and demon religions and idolatrous standards to which it sacrificed was an abominable and disgusting thing in Jehovah’s sight, and for his supposed people to make a political alliance with it could bring only destruction and desolation to them. Pilate became a party to Jesus’ death along with the Jewish religionists, and this conspiracy was a first fulfillment of Psalm 2:1, 2. (Acts 4:25-27) The rotten fruitage of this alliance proved the Jews to be like bad trees and worthless chaff fit only for utter destruction symbolized by fire, as both John and Jesus had warned. (Matt. 7:19) Their warnings found fulfillment in the disastrous events of A.D. 70, when desolation came to Jerusalem because of their abominable, disgusting alliance with the Roman Empire. Such momentous happenings demand close scrutiny.
19. What happened A.D. 66, reminding Christians of what?
19 For some years unrest and seditions had stirred in Palestine, but it was A.D. 66 when revolt really broke out and Cestius Gallus the Roman president over Syria marched in with his army and bottled up the Jews in Jerusalem. Whether faithless Jews thought of Jesus’ warning to flee or not, certainly Christians trapped in Jerusalem did: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then understand that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw, and let those in the nearby regions not enter into her, because these are days for meting out justice that all the things written may be fulfilled.” Also, “When you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place, (let the reader use discernment,) then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains.”—Luke 21:20-22; Matt. 24:15, 16, NW.
20. What made flight possible, and who seized the opportunity?
20 But how could Christians in Jerusalem obey the command to flee, with a hostile army ringing them in? The way for flight was opened for them when Gallus, for some unaccountable reason, withdrew his army. The historian Josephus said that Cestius, “had he but continued the siege a little longer, had certainly taken the city.” Instead, “he retired from the city, without any reason in the world.”a Just as the withdrawal of Nebuchadnezzar’s armies allowed for flight before Jerusalem’s overthrow in 607 B.C., so Gallus’ strange withdrawal A.D. 66 gave an opportunity for flight, gave opportunity to heed Jesus’ warning. In a very literal way the abominable Roman army with its disgusting, idolatrous standards had stood around the holy place of Jerusalem with its temple; surely it was time for flight to escape the desolation that Jesus said would follow. Hence when Gallus’ army withdrew the Christians fled not only from Jerusalem but from Judea, crossing the Jordan and taking up residence in the mountains of Gilead, and settling particularly at Pella.b Thus they escaped the desolation that later came as a result of the disgusting political alliance with Rome, the disaster caused by the abominable placing of Caesar in the position of kingship reserved for the Messiah alone.
21. How and when was judgment finally executed on Jerusalem?
21 But how did the divine judgment finally fall upon those Jews that mixed in politics and spurned the warning to flee? Christ Jesus, who had pronounced fiery destruction against Jerusalem and to whom judgment was committed, was the one Jehovah used to supervise the execution of judgment from heaven, and the Roman general and prince, Titus, son of Emperor Vespasian, along with his armies, was the human agency used to bring it about. The prophet Daniel, when speaking of the disgusting and abominable rejection of Messiah and choosing of Caesar, said: “He [Messiah] shall destroy the city and the sanctuary with the prince [Titus] that is coming.” Or, “Afterwards he [Messiah] shall waste the city and the sanctuary, by the prince [Titus] that is to come.” (Dan. 9:26, LXX; Houbigant) True to Daniel’s prophecy and Jesus’ words concerning the temple that “by no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down,” the Roman armies under Titus did desolate the city and its temple, A.D. 70.—Matt. 24:2, NW.
STRIKING HISTORICAL DETAILS
22-24. What warnings did the Jews ignore, and with what results?
22 When Cestius Gallus withdrew A.D. 66 and flight to safety became possible, the warning of Jesus applied from that time onward: “Let those in the nearby regions not enter into her.” (Luke 21:21, NW) The faithless Jews ignored these words, and as a result when Titus came A.D. 70 he found the city overcrowded with visitors from all Palestine, “for they were come up from all the country to the feast of unleavened bread, and were on a sudden shut up by an army. . . . Now this vast multitude is indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants.”c
23 Jesus warned against any delay in fleeing. (Matt. 24:16-18) Yet this warning was also flouted, and when many Jews did desire to flee it was too late to do so successfully. Luke 19:41-44 (NW) states: “And when he [Jesus] got to a nearby position, he viewed the city and wept over it, saying: ‘If you, even you, had discerned in this day the things having to do with peace—but now they have been hid from your eyes. Because the days will come upon you when your enemies will build around you a fortification with pointed stakes and will encircle you and distress you from every side, and they will dash you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave a stone upon a stone in you, because you did not discern the time of your being inspected.’” The Jewish religionists did not discern the things having to do with the Prince of Peace, but in stubbornness they closed eyes and ears to the evidence concerning him and embraced Caesar. They did not discern that when Jesus was on earth it was a time of inspection and judgment for the nation of Israel. They were found barren of fine fruit to Jehovah’s praise. (Isa. 6:10; 9:6; Matt. 13:14, 15; 21:19) Nor would they flee doomed Jerusalem when they had the chance, but delayed till the Roman armies returned and not only surrounded the city themselves but circled it with a wall or “fortification with pointed stakes,” just exactly as Jesus had forewarned thirty-seven years earlier. This five-mile-long wall was completed in three days, and because of it Josephus said: “So all hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews, together with their liberty of going out of the city.”d They had delayed till flight to safety was impossible!
24 Nevertheless, Jews did attempt belated flight, but even yet persisted in ignoring features of Jesus’ warning. For instance, Jesus told them not to try to take their material possessions with them, as it would slow them down and put in jeopardy a successful flight. (Mark 13:15, 16) Yet when some deserted the city they swallowed their gold in order to take it with them, without the Jews within the city and the Romans outside it knowing they had it. Josephus tells what resulted: “But when this contrivance was discovered in one instance, the fame of it filled their several camps, that the deserters came to them full of gold. So the multitude of the Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night’s time about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected.”e Though Titus threatened death to those guilty of this infamous practice, Roman soldiers joined the others in this gruesome prospecting for gold in the bellies of men. So, “They dissected them, and pulled this polluted money out of their bowels; which money was still found in a few of them, while yet a great many were destroyed by the bare hope there was of thus getting by them, which miserable treatment made many that were deserting to return back again into the city.”f
25. How did the Jews add to their difficulties?
25 What further added to the difficulties of flight was the Jews themselves. Years before they falsely charged Jesus with sedition against Caesar and implied that anyone favorable toward him was also of questionable patriotism. They accused Christ’s followers of sedition, though the disciples only shunned politics and supported Christ’s kingdom. (Luke 23:2; John 19:12; Acts 17:7; 24:5) But by A.D. 70 the Jews were seditious as far as Rome was concerned, and any who sought to escape the deathtrap at Jerusalem by fleeing was counted seditious against the Jews and was put to death. So if the Jews caught any trying to flee the charge was sedition and the sentence death; if the fleeing ones escaped the Jews and reached the Roman lines it was captivity at best. But to remain behind meant ultimate death, either by sword or pestilence or famine. When the Jews were not fighting the Romans they were fighting among themselves, being divided into several political and religious factions, each of which was intent upon controlling the doomed city. It was a case of every man’s hand being against his brother. In their internal fighting they even destroyed their own food supplies, thereby hastening famine and pestilence and Roman victory.
26, 27. What calamities did Jehovah foretell for disobedience, and when and how were they strikingly fulfilled?
26 Fifteen centuries before the disastrous events of A.D. 70 Jehovah God had foretold that they would come as a result of disobedience: “They will indeed besiege you within all your gates until your high and fortified walls in which you are trusting fall in all your land, yes, they will certainly besiege you within all your gates in all your land, which Jehovah your God has given you. Then you will have to eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom Jehovah your God has given you, because of the tightness and stress with which your enemy will hem you in. And Jehovah will certainly scatter you among all the peoples from the one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, and there you will have to serve other gods whom you have not known, neither you nor your forefathers, wood and stone. And among those nations you will have no ease, nor will there prove to be any resting place for the sole of your foot, and Jehovah will indeed give you there a trembling heart and a failing of the eyes and despair of soul. And you will certainly be in the greatest peril for your life and be in dread night and day, and you will not be sure of your life. And Jehovah will certainly bring you back to Egypt by ships by the way about which I have said to you, ‘You will never see it again,’ and you will have to sell yourselves there to your enemies as slave men and maidservants, but there will be no buyer.”—Deut. 28:52, 53, 64-66, 68, NW.
27 History testifies to the striking fulfillment of these calamities upon the Jews from and after A.D. 70. Josephus gives a graphic and horrifying account of a woman in the siege of A.D. 70 that “slew her son, and then roasted him, and eat the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed. Upon this the seditious came in presently, and smelling the horrid scent of this food, they threatened her that they would cut her throat immediately if she did not show them what food she had gotten ready. She replied that she had saved a very fine portion of it for them, and withal uncovered what was left of her son.” The men, amazed and horror-struck, tremblingly left the sickening scene.g When Titus finally took the city the toll was 1,100,000 dead and 97,000 captives.h The surviving Jews were scattered to all parts of the earth, and nowhere did they find rest, but wandered with hearts filled with despair and dread and fear for their life. Not only that, but large numbers of these captives were returned to slavery in Egypt, reduced to the very status from which Jehovah delivered their nation more than fifteen centuries before. Josephus says their captors “put them into bonds, and sent them to the Egyptian mines.”i A Jewish Bible commentary, edited by J. H. Hertz, states in considering Deuteronomy 28:68 that “at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, both Titus and Hadrian consigned multitudes of Jews into slavery; and Egypt received a large proportion of those slaves.” It continues to show that the Romans had a fleet in the Mediterranean by which they transported the enslaved Jews to Egypt, and that though the Jews sought to sell themselves as slaves there were no buyers for many of them, so despised were they and so glutted was the market. How forcefully was the prophecy in Deuteronomy fulfilled fifteen centuries later!
28. What observations does Josephus record? and, though only a side feature, how in a literal way did an abomination stand in the holy place?
28 These calamities befell a generation that was notoriously wicked. Of it Josephus said: “Neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world.”j It was Josephus’ belief that God brought the Romans to punish the Jews, and he quotes Titus as saying: “We have certainly had God for our assistant in this war, and it was no other than God who ejected the Jews out of these fortifications; for what could the hands of men or any machines do towards overthrowing these towers?”k Divine vengeance was due in recompense for the disgusting political alliance the Jews made with pagan Rome to secure the execution of Christ Jesus. Their putting Caesar in the position of kingship reserved for Messiah was the great overt act that was so disgusting and caused their desolation, but it is also interesting to note that after Jerusalem’s fall “the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple, and set them over against its eastern gate [near the altar]; and there did they offer sacrifices to them.”l Thus in a very literal way abominable idols stood in the Jews’ holy place.
29. What remarkable parallel of events is there between 607 B.C. and A.D. 70?
29 There is a remarkable parallel of certain events occurring both in 607 B.C. and A.D. 70. It is fittingly so, since both those periods foreshadowed happenings now befalling this present generation. Preliminary to the disasters of both 607 B.C. and A.D. 70 the people claiming to be in covenant with Jehovah and posing as a faithful “wife” were guilty of many sins. Because of their religious straying and political meddling they were spiritually adulterous, and were repeatedly warned that Jehovah would destroy them if they did not reform, and that to do this he would use nations they had made alliances with but from whom they were now alienated. They could expect a visitation from Jehovah, and a desolating from him through their former political paramours. In both instances the desolating forces came to destroy, yet thereafter withdrew for a time, allowing an opportune period for flight to safety. The rebellious ones delayed to flee and branded as seditious any who did try to flee. The opportunity for flight slipped by, the destroyers returned, and desolation fell with a vengeance. As foretold, however, the powers used to bring this vengeance were themselves later destroyed. Babylon fell after it was used in 607 B.C. The Roman Empire disintegrated and collapsed after it was used A.D. 70. Revelation 17:10 showed that that sixth world power would not endure but would be succeeded by a seventh world power. How all of these momentous happenings of the past are pictorial of events befalling the present generation will be shown in the succeeding article.
a Wars of the Jews, Book 2. chap. 19, ¶6, 7.
b Marston’s The Bible Is True, page 45 Albright’s The Archaeology of Palestine, page 242.
c Wars of the Jews, Book 6, chap. 9, ¶3, 4.
d Id., Book 5, chap. 12, ¶2, 3.
e Wars of the Jews, Book 5, chap. 13, ¶4.
f Id., Book 5, chap. 13, ¶5.
g Wars of the Jews, Book 6, chap. 3, ¶4.
h Id., Book 6, chap, 9, ¶3.
i Id., Book 6, chap. 9, ¶2.
j Id., Book 5, chap. 10, ¶5.
k Id., Book 3, chap. 7, ¶31; Book 6, chap, 9, ¶1.
l Wars of the Jews, Book 6, chap. 6, ¶1.