23, 24. (a) Why did the independence of Judea not last long? (b) How serious and menacing did the siege of Jerusalem become?
23 The independence of the Jews in Judea proved to be of short duration. Roman General Vespasian succeeded to General Gallus and reached Palestine early in the following year, 67 C.E. His endeavors to get the rest of the country under control allowed for the Jews to strengthen their defenses. After the death of Emperor Nero in 68 C.E., Vespasian was elevated to imperial power. Leaving Palestine, he reached Rome about the middle of 70 C.E. He left his son General Titus in charge of Roman military forces in Syria. The Jewish Passover of the year 70 approached, and the non-Christian Jews flocked to the city of Jerusalem for the celebration. It was then that General Titus came with four legions and bottled up the celebrating Jews inside the city. To starve out the rebellious Jews, he did what Jesus had foretold, build a fortified stockade, “a fortification with pointed stakes,” about five miles long all around the city, to prevent any Jews from escaping.
24 The straits of the cooped-up Jews inside Jerusalem became desperate. The first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, in his writings, vividly describes the horrors resulting from the Roman siege. The loss of Jewish lives was mounting higher and higher. It appeared that, if the siege lasted too long, “no flesh” inside the besieged city would survive. It was as Jesus had foretold concerning this “great tribulation” upon Jerusalem and Judea: “In fact, unless Jehovah had cut short the days, no flesh would be saved. But on account of the chosen ones whom he has chosen he has cut short the days.”—Mark 13:19, 20.
25. (a) How were the days of that tribulation upon Jerusalem cut short? (b) Were the surviving Jews the “chosen ones” spoken of by Jesus in his prophecy?
25 Providentially, the days of the siege proved to be relatively short, just 142 days, counted from Nisan 14 to Elul 7, or parts of six lunar months. That is to say, according to the Gregorian calendar, by August 30, 70 C.E., it was all over. Some Jewish flesh was permitted to survive, 97,000 Jews, according to Josephus’ account, whereas he reports that 1,100,000 perished in the siege. Were those 97,000 survivors the “chosen ones” on account of whom Jehovah had cut short the days? Not unless you would call them chosen for captivity and enslavement. For it was just as Jesus had said: “There will be great necessity upon the land and wrath on this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.”—Luke 21:23, 24.
26. (a) Who, then, were the “chosen ones” spoken of in Jesus’ prophecy? (b) In what way was the number of days of Jerusalem’s tribulation cut short on their account?
26 No! the “chosen ones” on account of whom the number of days of Jerusalem’s “great tribulation” was cut short were not those 97,000 miserable Jewish captives, upon whom Jehovah’s great “wrath” rested in those “days for meting out justice.” Jehovah’s “chosen ones” were the Christianized Jews, to whom he had given the signal to flee without delay from all of Judea, including its capital Jerusalem. He desired all of them to get safely out of the danger zone, by acting in faith on Jesus’ counsel to flee promptly after seeing the “disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place.” After Jehovah got all these “chosen” disciples of his Son Jesus Christ out of the place upon which divine justice was to be meted out, he could let the execution of his vengeance upon the rebellious Jews be of short duration. As it is written: “Jehovah will make an accounting on the earth, concluding it and cutting it short.” (Romans 9:28; Isaiah 10:23) Rightly, then, “on account of the chosen ones” those days of great tribulation on Jerusalem were cut short.
FULFILLMENT UPON ANTITYPICAL UNFAITHFUL JERUSALEM
28. In speaking about Jerusalem’s destruction as being so terrible, in what senses must Jesus have been referring to Jerusalem?
28 It becomes plain that, in his prophecy, Jesus was using the city of Jerusalem not only in a literal sense but also in a typical sense, as prefiguring something else of greater proportions. Otherwise, he would not have said concerning her destruction in 70 C.E., “then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19) All informed persons know that Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 C.E. was not the worst catastrophe since the world’s beginning, for, what about the global deluge of Noah’s day? And as for the equal of Jerusalem’s destruction by the Romans never occurring after 70 C.E., what about World War I and World War II in this twentieth century? Jesus’ language was not exaggerated, but evidently he was thinking of Jerusalem as a prophetic type, as a warning example of something that would embrace the whole world in a similar destruction. He was thinking of the antitypical unfaithful Jerusalem, namely, one of modern times. And what is that? It is Christendom with her hundreds of conflicting religious sects.—1 Corinthians 10:11.
29. (a) To what else, in addition to Christendom’s destruction, does Jesus’ prophecy apply? (b) To what, then, does the time from Jesus’ prophecy to Jerusalem’s destruction correspond?
29 This application of Jesus’ prophecy holds true, not only as to Christendom’s approaching destruction with all her political, commercial, military and judicial paramours, but also as to the world events that immediately lead up to her annihilation. Christendom now lives in a period of time that resembles in her twentieth-century experiences the period of time from Jesus’ prophecy given on the Mount of Olives until the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and her temple in 70 C.E. This particular corresponding period of time for Christendom began at the close of the “appointed times of the nations” in the year 1914.