Revelation is very much concerned with the future. But it is not trying to warn us when to duck. If that were its intent, it would paint the future much less enigmatically. The great value of prophetic foretelling comes either in the midst of crisis or afterward. In that time, remembering and recognizing what has been foretold, we are encouraged by the perception that the misfortune or blessing which we now witness has always been within God’s plan, and we are reassured that He is present with us.
Well beyond foretelling, Revelation works to identify us within a complex and highly relevant landscape. In the time of Revelation the subjects of the kingdom of God were in radical need of a guide which would allow them to identify the historical moment and get their bearings in a sea of change. In the space of a few decades, from 30 A.D. to 70 A.D., everything had been overturned. Israel had known reversal and changes in the past, yet they were essentially changes on earth [submission to foreign powers, assaults on the temple, forced exile]. Now the changes were both on earth and in the heavens, and Israel’s relationship with God himself was in transformation.
Revelation is a guide to the new age and a guide to the newness of God – the Father and the Son, the Lamb in the midst of the throne, he who wept in the garden of Gethsemane now at the center of the court of the heavens.
From the opening paragraphs we are struck by the transformation in the appearance of Yeshua, as in the comparison of these two descriptions. Isaiah had foretold the appearance of the Messiah on earth:
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
Now, having ascended to the court of the heavens, Yeshua is Logos and King of kings in the most striking bodily form:
“…I saw…One who resembled a human being, with a long robe, and a belt of gold round his breast; his head and hair were white as wool, white as snow; his eyes flashed like fire, his feet glowed like molten bronze, his voice sounded like many waves, in his right hand he held seven stars, a sharp sword with a double edge issued from his mouth, and his face shone like the sun in full strength. When I saw him I fell at his feet like a dead man; but he laid his hand on me, saying, ‘Be not afraiid; I am the First and the Last, I was dead and here am I alive for evermore, holding the keys that unlock death and Hades.”
In Revelation Yeshua transports the consciousness of John into the heavens to be witness to the heart of the kingdom and witness to seminal events in the court of the heavens. Recent events on earth had not at all followed the trajectory expected of a kingdom being newly established. The king had been nailed to a cross. A limited number had been witness to his resurrection. And he, the king, leaving his disciples behind, had left the earth to sit on the throne of the heavens. He was, in the eyes of those who knew him, the glory of Israel and the Son of God. However, his disciples, who spread the knowledge of him throughout Asia and the Mediterranean, would be despised and killed.
Jerusalem, having killed its king, struggled against the Roman occupation in order to redefine itself and recapture its glory. Roman power, homogeneous and unchallenged throughout the Mediterranean, could not endure the challenge from little Judea. Rome crushed Jerusalem and erased the glory of her temple. In the wake of these disasters one did not need to be a citizen of Jerusalem to feel that the kingdom on earth had been lost. Even in Asia and Greece, the spread of the news of the Messianic kingdom was confused by the news of the destruction of the Holy City.
Into this space Revelation appeared, teaching us that, until the end of the age, we will not escape adversity, and assuring us that we must not lose sight of the fact that, until the return of our king, our kingdom is a transcendent kingdom, bound together, not by armaments and territories and domains, but by the Spirit of God binding each of us to the throne of God.
Prologue to the discussion of Revelation:
The seed of the woman and the labor of history
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3.15
In the time of its appearance, John’s manuscript represented a critical transformation in the fabric of the world. Through the centuries many a mother had dreamed that her son might be the seed that would fulfill the ancient prophecy and crush the head of the enemy! Then, in the reign of Herod the Great, a child was born in Israel who grew to manhood and manifested himself as Immanuel, God With Us, the conqueror who would heal the wound of history.
Outside the walls of Jerusalem, in sacrifice upon a Roman cross, Yeshua stood in for his people and subjected his life to the divine imperative that the reward of rebellion is death. Death did not hold him in the grave. Once risen, his body transformed, he returned to his disciples and then was caught up to the throne of the heavens.
The redemption of mankind, so long implicit in Creation, was now explicit, and now the voice of the Accuser rang hollow in the court of the heavens. There was no place for him in heaven any longer. Thus the kingdom of heaven was re-engineered to secure the occupant of the heavenly throne in the hearts of men and women of all nations. The Passover sacrifice of the Lamb changed everything, and now history would move forward with new momentum toward the fulfillment of hope.
The world of Revelation was and is a world of division and conflict. Within the text Yeshua repeatedly addresses as “conqueror” the one who survives the perils of history – the devastation of nations as well as the devastation of spirit. By 70 A.D. Rome destroyed Judea, Jerusalem and the Temple. The missionary efforts of the apostles had been initiated prior to that year. Revelation came afterward, near 92 A.D. The disappearance of a geographical center of gravity increased the challenge to know and hold to the spiritual center of the kingdom: the person of the Messiah of Israel upon the heavenly throne.
Revelation owns the task of cultivating our expectations while instructing us to watch warily for the realities of a world that is broken by rebellion and must remain so until the return of Yeshua to the streets of Jerusalem. We, the subjects of our Messiah, must find our safety in our king. He is our home and he is our center of worship. Meanwhile, by the measure of the visions of Daniel and John, the world at large must suffer the tyranny of Rome. Beyond investiture in the Messianic kingdom, Revelation offers no prospect of reversal until the end of the age.
As the manuscript of Revelation was carried into western Anatolia, it found its way to many who had seen the face and heard the voice of Yeshua in Israel. From the island of Patmos, where John was detained, copies were sent to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. The choice of these cities was not based on the limitations of the currier system. These were cities which, for most of a millennium, had been hosting the collision of two massive cultures, the land- based empire of Persia challenging the maritime culture of Greece, as both brought their influence to these centers of trade and industry. During this same period expatriate Jews were active minorities in the great international cities. The powers of the Mediterranean met the powers of the East along these Aegean shores and along the rivers and tributaries which fed into them.
Here the Greeks encountered the teachings of Zoroaster and began to temper their reverence for unpredictable demigods with the more rational monotheism of the Persian Magi. On these oriental shores Pythagoras, Thales, and other pre-Socratic philosophers emerged as the midwives of Greek philosophy. Alexander and his heirs did their best to give each city the refinements of the Greek polis. Rome coveted and then cultivated these centers of exchange in the course of its own consolidation of the commerce and allegiances of the Mediterranean world. Ultimately they became cities of refuge for many who escaped the devastation of Jerusalem. These were cities from which the word would spread rapidly that the long- awaited “seed of the woman” had come for all mankind, that Jerusalem was to become a city without walls, and that the Temple of God is to be in the hearts of men and women of all nations.
Revelation discloses a profile of events which are a measure of the purpose and permissive will of God. The drama ranges through the heavens and over the earth. The mercy of the king, now made manifest, has become the rebuke of Satan the Accuser. There is “no more place for him in the heavens.” Now the final powers can be released to test the character of men and to prove the emptiness of the enemy. There has come into being a new intimacy between heaven and earth, as the anointed Lord of the earthly kingdom is now seated with the Father, ruling his people from the heavenly throne.
The dynamic of Revelation begins at the cross and leads us forward to the consummation of the labor of history. What is that labor? In order to appreciate the gravity of that work and its resolution, we must reflect upon its beginnings. For this reason, we open the study of Revelation by giving consideration to the problem of history, its origins, and the historic role of our God in addressing it, for we have a God with a purpose, and he reaches into history for the sake of that purpose.
In increments of time, in widening circles of light, Scripture articulates the divine vision of the shape of human history. We do not know what might have happened had not the purposes of God left room for self-willed freedom and pride — inflations which first found their home in the heart of a prince of the skies. In the beginning God, perhaps, might have made the world immutable, like a mountain peak or a marble sculpture. It might have been a finished work. But there would have been no room for human consciousness and freedom and the grave processes of learning and becoming.
God did not make the world to be static. He made suns and planets in motion. Inseparable from motion is time. He gave us consciousness and placed us in this world where we live and learn in time. Life takes time. Time makes life possible. Consciousness, over time, enlarges itself and is changed. Consciousness adopts purpose. God has shared with us his purpose.
He made us to be like gods, and so, like gods, to come to him in free acknowledgment of his sovereignty. But tragedy slipped in under cover of freedom. The siren call of personal autonomy overcame the voice of our own magnificence. And now the call of God is no longer issued in the tranquility of Paradise. It is issued across a thorny and dry terrain.
So it is determined that we on earth are now born into the Battle of the Ages. The proud one, the dragon, entered Eden, there seducing our most ancient parents. Puffed up, he struck a blow against his Lord and against us, the heart of God’s creation. Then was the gauntlet thrown down in the shadow of the gates of Paradise:
And the God YHVH said unto the serpent, “…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he [the seed of the woman] will crush your head, though you will strike his heel.”
So it was laid down, a deadly judgment and a first foretelling, an imperative stretched forward into the undefined future, commanding that the victory of Satan in the garden someday be undone. Now it was written: though wounded, this human creation will give birth to a champion who will overthrow the enemy and restore the broken order.
The labor of history is the labor of God to gather to himself a people. We see that work in the heart of the great saint — of Abraham, of Moses, of David — and in the heart of each person who saw in them the purposes of God and served those purposes. We see it also in the lives of those who have been unjustly crushed in conflict and yet struggle to serve the truth, even when their “shepherds,” – their kings and priests and teachers – serve only themselves. Consequently we see the epic Battle of the Ages not only in the Exodus but also in the conquest of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar and the devastation of Jerusalem by Vespasian and Titus.
The core hope of history is the hope of the Messiah, and yet, in the century of his appearance, events transpired in such a way that only the vision that was spiritually rooted could recognize the reality of the victory of his king. The Messiah appeared to his people, taught them and healed them, assuring his disciples, almost in secret, that he had come to die and then rise to life eternal, victor over death. He who had appeared and had been baptized in the Jordan was, just a few years later, gruesomely slaughtered upon a cross. Then Jerusalem, the city of hope, the center of every aspiration of Israel, was surrounded and starved and crushed beyond recognition by the might of Rome.
guardians of the promise
Five generations after Adam, “in the days of Jared,” a terrestrial rebellion arose, overwhelming all nature, as a faction of heavenly beings mated with mortal women and created a race of giants, the “demigods,” the ancient men of renown. So the seed of the dragon polluted the earth, interbreeding with mankind and confounding the species of animals, till YHVH determined to save the remnant in a ship fashioned by the hand of a faithful son, while committing the earth to the destruction of a universal flood.
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days – and also afterward – when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. YHVH saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. YHVH was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So YHVH said, “I will wipe mankind whom I have created from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of YHVH.
The flood subsided. The ship endured. The world began anew. Noah carried forward the blessing and the hope sealed in the promise of YHVH at the gates of the garden. Noah stepped onto dry land and built an altar, and the smoke of sacrifice rose up to God. Noah knew that the survival of the world rested upon the architectural foundation of God’s mercy, that deep in the structure of the world lies something both horrible and wonderful, a sacrifice which shakes the throne of the heavens and restores peace between God and man.
Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, fathered a generation which became the patriarchs of the ancient nations. Stewardship of the promise passed from Noah to Shem. Ham fathered Cush and Cush fathered Nimrod, who, as lord of Babylon, assembled a body of city states in rebellion against YHVH. On the plains of Shinar he led them to construct a massive tower, mocking the God of the heavens and rejecting the call of God to go out and inhabit the breadth of the earth. YHVH acted to confuse their common language, so bringing their proud project to an end and scattering them across the earth.
“That is why it was called Babel – because there YHVH confused the language of the whole world. From there YHVH scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”
Toward the end of Noah’s life, not long after the fall of Babel, there appeared a descendant of Shem named Abram. With Abram the kingdom of God came to earth. Abram opened his heart to hear the voice of God. YHVH loved Abram, changed his name to Abraham, “father of many nations,” and made with him a covenant, by which he and his descendants might know themselves to be bound to YHVH. So our God would reckon that of all mankind a remnant would have the heart to give up their right to themselves. So He would take to himself those who would have the heart of Abraham, take them as his own people, unique to him in all the earth.
“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”
Abraham lived as a child of God, by the hand of God alone. Abraham knew that the fulfillment of the promise was not for the time of his mortality but rather for a coming time which he would share with all who hold to YHVH as their God. Though promised a kingdom, he lived among aliens the life of the nomad.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Before the death of Abraham, YHVH assured him that from his offspring would come that champion who would heal history:
“The angel of YHVH called to Abraham from heaven…and said, ‘I swear by myself, .. I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your seed all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.’”
YHVH also forewarned Abraham that his descendants would undergo a period of subjugation. This trial would define them more sharply as a people and predispose them to see the presence of YHVH as God over them:
“Then YHVH said to him, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.”
The promise passed from Abraham to his son Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob. The household of Jacob, seventy strong, went into Egypt, rescued from famine through the fortunes of Jacob’s young son Joseph. There the sons of Jacob, now “Israel”, became a people a million strong while subject to a power that feared them. Then Moses heard the call of YHVH to lead these people out of Egypt.
On the night of the exodus, a night of the full moon, the angel of death passed over Egypt. This night has stood throughout history as the night of Israel’s redemption. But how was it redemption? What price was paid? It was much more than the life of the lambs whose blood was spread iconically over the doorways of the houses of Israel. That blood was a prayer looking deep into the future to the true price of redemption, the blood of our king upon the cross.
Israel went free, her children safe, as the land of Egypt wept. On that night Egypt knew what the Lamb would savor upon the cross: in this creation, the high purpose of a holy God calls us to surpass the spirit of autonomy.
YHVH made Moses guardian of the promise given to Abraham, the promise that has endured from the time of the Exodus to the very last pages of Revelation, the promise that YHVH is forming for himself a people that they may know him for eternity as their God.
“I am YHVH and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.”
At Mt. Sinai YHVH gave Moses and the people the commandments, the terms of his covenant with them, and he made it clear that the promises of blessing through the covenant were conditioned upon true fealty under the terms of the covenant:
“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
The restoration of our bond to our Creator becomes for us the restoration of blessing. So in Revelation, in the final pages of Scripture, as the labor of history is reaching its climax, we read this final testimony, echoing the promise given in Egypt:
“Lo, God’s dwelling place is with men, with men will he dwell; they shall be his people, and God will himself be with them. …’I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. I will let the thirsty drink of the fountain of the water of Life without price. The conqueror shall obtain this, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.’”
from covenant people to holy nation
When YHVH first delivered the core commandments of his covenant, Moses gathered the people at the foot of Mt. Sinai. YHVH descended onto the mountain in fire, and it was shrouded in smoke. There came thunder and lightning and the loud blast of a trumpet. Then from the mountain YHVH spoke the words of the covenant to the people. They were terrified.
“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’”
Moses uniquely came into the presence of YHVH and they spoke together “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” Moses stood as mediator between YHVH and the people of Israel. So he prefigured the coming of Yeshua. Moses followed the instruction of YHVH and led the people in the construction of the Tabernacle “according to the heavenly model,” so bringing to Israel both a temple and a ritual iconic of the divine order. Struggling in the desert to recognize and honor YHVH, the people of Israel learned the majesty and the faithfulness of their God. They learned to know him as Lord.
Moses taught the people of Israel that there would someday appear a prophet to whom all would be accountable, even the eternal king, the Messiah. Balaam, a renegade prophet, appeared and left the message that out of Israel would come the great king. Jacob, blessing his sons, prophesied that the king would come from the tribe of Judah.
At the end of forty years in the Sinai desert, Joshua led the children of Jacob northward into Canaan, the land of promise. In battle, YHVH gave the Canaanites into their hands. With victory, however, Israel discovered its own appetite for the pleasures of the land. Freedom became license, and they quickly fell under the spell of the self-indulgent culture of the Canaanites. Soon Israel scarcely acknowledged her heavenly king, and she owned no king on earth. Failing in loyalty to YHVH, governed by a series of judges, Israel struggled unsuccessfully to fill her assigned role in the land.
Tiring of the effort to serve the heavenly throne, the people went to the prophet Samuel and asked him to appoint for them “a king to lead us such as all the other nations have.” Following the trials of Saul, YHVH anointed David, by the hand of the prophet Samuel, to be king over Judah and then over all of Israel. David understood that on earth he was entrusted with an authority which originated in and was seated in the throne of God in the heavens.
David and his small army were given victory over the ancient Jebusite city of Salem, and there he established the seat of his authority. David understood that YHVH had created Israel for himself and that apart from YHVH Israel has no meaning. Like Abraham, David trusted God for all his life and wanted nothing of the world but what came from the hand of God. Under David, Israel grew strong.
The prophecies of YHVH are like spears hurled forward in time, destined to reach their objective, laying down an imperative which orders the world which they penetrate. YHVH gave many prophecies to David which were specific to the life of Yeshua. They have come to us incorporated in the Psalms. Through them we know that in his life and in his sacrifice Yeshua is truly the long awaited “seed of the woman.”
David also, through the prophet Nathan, received from YHVH the promise that the abode of God would be built by “his son.” Like many other prophecies, it carried both an immediate objective and a transcendent objective.
That night the word of YHVH came to Nathan, saying: ‘Go and tell my servant David, This is what YHVH says: “Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day….
“YHVH declares to you that YHVH himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son.”
This message enigmatically allowed that David’s heir, his son Solomon, would build a Temple in Jerusalem, while the real power of the prophecy was to foretell that the ultimate heir of David would be the Messiah who would redeem Israel and restore the hearts of the people so that they themselves might become the abode of God. So it was lofted, the greatest spear thrown forward, that the Messiah would come from the seed of David, and that the Messiah would rule as heir to the throne of David, the earthly throne whose authority originates in the heavenly throne.
Solomon profited from all that David had done to bring peace and stability to Israel. He went on to establish the kingdom with palaces and outposts and the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple was the externalization of the hope of Israel, and, through the rites of sacrifice, it illustrated the confidence that YHVH, who made his presence to live among them, was also the Lord of history and the healer of the wounds of history.
the question of the promise is a question of identity
Solomon, though blessed with wisdom and unbounded riches, was unfaithful in his heart. He turned often to the worship of the gods of other nations. YHVH eventually determined to tear the kingdom from his hands. Division entered Israel. In the time of succession, Solomon’s son Rehoboam had no thought for the heart of the people and made demands beyond what they could bear. Of the twelve tribes only two remained loyal: the tribe of the royal house, Judah, and the tribe of Benjamin. The other ten tribes broke away, despising the house of David, and with that despising the Messianic promise:
“When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: ‘What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!’ So all the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.”
This was the inception of the most profound division in Israel, a breach which has yet to be repaired. It began with the arrogance of Solomon to be so blessed by YHVH and yet to worship the gods of the nations. In Solomon it was revealed that Israel cannot endure apart from consciousness of its calling. There can be Israel built on promise and covenant. Or there can be a semblance of Israel built on nothing more than convention. The people must choose. Every person must choose. But the blessing of YHVH is not awarded to mere convention. To profess, as do most in this time, that Israel is whatever default construct that happens to raise its flag over Palestine, is to assign the Israel of promise to the grave.
Judah represents that part of Israel which knows that it has no meaning or purpose or national definition apart from the Davidic throne and the Messianic promise. The ten tribes, greater Israel, often known as Ephraim, represents the Israel that is content to be defined by its genetic and cultural history, without regard for the house of David and the Messianic promise. In the present moment the culture of the state of Israel is the culture of Ephraim, scorning Yeshua Messiah and the Messianic promise. The Christian church, equally, though it invites Yeshua to be a “personal savior,” scorns any part in Israel and does not recognize Yeshua as their king, as Messiah on the throne of a transcendent Israel.
division, rebellion, defeat and exile
Rehoboam ruled Judah, and in succession after him a continuous line of kings occupied the throne — some who pleased YHVH, some who did not. The ten tribes, however, having alienated themselves from Judah, gave allegiance to Jeroboam, he being of no royal lineage. Following Jeroboam a broken line of intrigue occupied his throne. Jeroboam also severed the religious sentiments of the tribes from the Temple in Jerusalem by establishing two northern centers in which to worship the image of a golden bull, claiming it to be the god which delivered them from Egypt. The pattern of rebellion established under Jeroboam endured under the hand of his successors, until, by the middle of the 8th c. B.C., Hosea prophesied that Assyria would conquer and destroy the northern kingdom of Israel. The final half dozen kings fell to chaos, murder or capture. In 722 B.C. Assyria conquered and brought an end to the northern kingdom, forcing its people into exile.
Rehoboam in Judah was only slightly less blatant in his rebellion than Jeroboam in the north. He readily established worship of the goddess Asherah, consort of Baal, and sanctioned the institution of male shrine prostitutes. On the other hand, successors such as Asa, Jehoshaphat, Azariah and Hezekiah tried to serve YHVH. During the reign of Hezekiah, the prophet Isaiah foresaw destruction coming to Judah as it had already come to the northern kingdom. Isaiah tried to warn his people. He also became God’s voice of assurance to the people, that, even as they saw their world threatened, YHVH would never completely abandon them, and, though their victory would not come in battle with their neighbors, there would yet come the Messiah, his redemption, and his victory over the causal enemy at the root of the agony of history.
Hezekiah’s son Manasseh, assuming the throne over Judah in 686 B.C., led the people in such immorality that they became “more evil than the nations YHVH had destroyed before the Israelites.” YHVH then determined to turn over Judah to the hand of its enemies.
“I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and hand them over to their enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their foes, because they have done evil in my eyes and have provoked me to anger from the day their forefathers came out of Egypt until this day.”
In 588 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar built siege works around Jerusalem and two years later broke through the walls of the city. He captured king Zedekiah, murdered his sons before his eyes, blinded him and took him to Babylon along with the best and brightest of the kingdom.
Desolation, transcendent Israel and the Messianic hope
Where now was the hope of the people of God, the hope of his unique possession? The ten tribes of the northern territory were in Assyria resisting dominion and seemingly making their way as refugees through Anatolia or Mesopotamia and off into distant territories. The kingdom of Judah was in subjection in Babylon.
The book of Lamentations expresses the sorrow of the prophet Jeremiah:
“Zion stretches out her hands, but there is no one to comfort her. YHVH has decreed for Jacob that his neighbors become his foes; Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them. YHVH is righteous, yet I rebelled against his command. Listen, all you peoples; look upon my suffering. My young men and maidens have gone into exile.”
Psalm 137 recalls the sorrow of exile:
“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ How can we sing the songs of YHVH while in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.”
During the time of conquest and exile, YHVH gave Judah and Israel great prophets and far reaching prophecies. Isaiah foresaw that YHVH would bring Judah back to Jerusalem after its period of captivity. Isaiah also saw and told the people to trust in the coming of a new Messianic age when Jerusalem would be the true City of God and all the earth would come to Jerusalem to honor their God. Isaiah was given the pivotal vision that out of the ashes of rebellion would come the great burgeoning of the Messianic promise when the knowledge of God would burst across the national boundaries of Israel and run free to the consciousness of the whole world. Isaiah transcribed a penetrating prophetic dialogue, YHVH in conversation with his Prince, a mystical dialogue in which Yeshua emerges as the very being of Israel:
“Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born YHVH called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name….He said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.’ But I said, ‘I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the hands of YHVH….
“And now YHVH says – he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of YHVH and my God is my strength – he says:
“’It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
The prophet Jeremiah warned Judah that, because of their faithless rebellion against YHVH, Jerusalem would fall to its enemies. He also assured them that YHVH would be faithful to his ultimate promise, that he would gather his people to himself, and that he would enlarge his covenant with them, “writing” his law upon their hearts, so making them capable of union with himself:
“’The time is coming,’ declares YHVH, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares YHVH. ‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares YHVH. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’”
Ezekiel warned Jerusalem of its impending fall, but, once in exile, he called them to set their hearts upon the ultimate faithfulness of YHVH and the coming of a profound restoration reaching into the very hearts of the people:
“For this is what Sovereign YHVH says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered…. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. …I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down.’
“’I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.”
Ezekiel foresaw the advent of a revolution which would heal the heart of sin and free the spirit of men to live in communion with the Spirit of God.
Daniel, taken to serve under Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, would come to foresee two separate profiles, the ascent of the political order which originates in the kingship of the Messiah, and the vicissitudes of mundane power as the world kingdoms struggle to maintain an order which has little concern for the claims of the heavenly throne.
The reach for the Messiah
Daniel was a scholar and a student of Scripture. He was conscious of the entire field of prophecy, from Eden to the Exile. Through that prophecy Daniel was confident that Israel, at an appointed time, would come to know the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham. He shared with Job the knowledge that the day was coming when he would see with his own eyes the reign of the Messiah:
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
Yet Daniel received additional visions and dreams. Daniel was enabled to see across the terrain of the coming five centuries, for these would be the final setting of the stage for the appearance of the eternal king. Daniel was entrusted with insight into the grand transformations of earthly power: the Babylonian kingdom submitting to the advance of Persia, the overthrow of Persia by Alexander the Great, the fragmentation of this empire, and ultimately the rise of Rome. In all this he was given a vision of how these events would affect the holy people. Prophecy is for the children of the promise, to maintain their hearts in times of adversity, to sustain the faithful remnant until the time when our Messiah comes to establish his power in the dust of Jerusalem and gather the nations of the earth under his sovereignty.
As to Isaiah, so to Daniel it was revealed that the Messiah would suffer for the sake of his people. Isaiah was told, “By his stripes we are healed.” Daniel was told, “He will be cut off and will have no one, but not for the sake of himself.” Daniel also was allowed to see deep into the future when the trial of Israel would come to an end and our king would return to govern the world in peace:
“And there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
In 604 B.C., one year after Daniel arrived in Babylon, king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream for which he demanded that whoever might interpret it must first relate the content of the dream, so to prove his credentials. In prayer to YHVH it was given to Daniel to envision the substance of the king’s dream. It opened with an iconic representation of the coming succession of world kingdoms: the figure of a huge statue, head of gold, chest and arms of silver, thighs of bronze, and legs of iron with feet of iron and clay: gold representing the Neo-Babylonian empire of Nebuchadnezzar, silver the Medo-Persian empire which would assume power in 539 B.C., bronze the empire of Alexander the Great beginning in 333 B.C., and iron the Roman empire, which, by Daniel’s vision, emerges and then remains the empire of the world to the very end of the age. Then in the dream it was shown that “in the time of those kings” a rock was “cut out, but not by human hands.” It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and the entire structure disintegrated. The rock of divine origin supplanted the kingdoms of the earth. In Daniel’s words,
“But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.”
“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands – a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.”
Here in exile, in the loss of the nation, in the most desperate circumstances of God’s people, YHVH brought to them an affirmation that he had not abandoned his purpose in history, that the promise to Abraham was still firm, that the eternal kingdom would be realized. It is significant that “in the time of those kings,” – in the time of Nebuchadnezzar and of Cyrus and of Alexander and his heirs and in the time of Rome, even in times of the greatest darkness – YHVH is steadily establishing his kingdom that will never be destroyed.
For a Jew exiled in Babylon, both the national territory and the transcendent nation seemed to be lost, for in the minds of most they were simply aspects of a single entity. Now came the call to true reckoning, the call to recognize that the nation of custom and tradition, should it turn away from the lordship of YHVH, must fall. Now they had to recognize that there is no nation of promise without the commitment of the spirit of the people. There is no kingdom of God on earth apart from being rooted in the heavenly throne.
Here in Babylon, divorced from Jerusalem, it was most painful to rally the optimism which some had entertained so effortlessly in their own land. For many, it was only the wealth and ponderous stability of the great city and empire of Babylon that now gave them a sense of safety. Then, overnight, that hedge was also taken down. In 539 B.C. the Persian king Cyrus conquered Babylon. The fate of exiled Israel was momentarily even more uncertain. But the sure progress of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of empire would have been evident to some. The head of gold now yielded its authority to the arms and shoulders of silver. Furthermore, this Cyrus turned out to be the Cyrus named in prophecy years earlier in the revelations of Isaiah, named as guarantor of the rebuilding of the temple:
I am YHVH who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, …who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be built,’ and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’ who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry, and I will dry up your streams,’ who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’
Isaiah had brought word of Cyrus to Israel before Cyrus was even born, more than a century before Cyrus assumed power over Babylon. Within a year of the conquest of Babylon, Cyrus made a proclamation to the Jews in exile that he himself would sponsor the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, and that all who were ready and willing to return could do so for this purpose. With them he would send all the gold articles of the temple which Nebuchadnezzar had taken. Forty-two thousand people of Judah then returned to Jerusalem accompanied by servants, musicians, horses, camels, mules and donkeys. A miracle of restoration was underway.
In this same year Daniel, still in Babylon, was devoted in prayer, knowing that indications had been given to Jeremiah that exile would end after seventy years. Daniel himself had been among the first wave taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. If the count began in that year, then the seventy years would come to an end soon in 535 B.C. As Daniel was praying, the angel Gabriel came to him.
While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to YHVH my God for his holy hill – while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me,
“Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision:
Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.
Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens’, and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens’, the Anointed One will be cut off but not for himself. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
Daniel’s prayer had reached deeper than the simple hope to return home. He was grieving for the sin of his people, their need for forgiveness, and the hope that Jerusalem might be an honor to the Name of YHVH. The angel Gabriel appeared and delivered a timeline reaching beyond the coming terminus of the seventy years. He told Daniel that a measure of seventy sevens [490 years] lay ahead for the establishment of Jerusalem and the appearance of the Messiah. The seventy “sevens” would be divided into three unequal periods, and the starting point for the first two periods would be a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. That decree, following the pleas of Nehemiah, was delivered by Artaxerxes in the spring of 445 B.C.
The first period of time, as given, was seven “sevens” [49 years], allotted to the rebuilding of Jerusalem. From there the second period of sixty-two “sevens” [434 years] would measure the remaining time until “the Anointed One will be cut off but not for himself”: a prophecy with an eerie finality but little detail. The final measure, a single “seven,” is not directly connected to the other sevens. In Daniel and in Revelation, it becomes a timeline of the dark events at the end of the era.
As for the previous sixty-nine sevens [483 years] which mark the distance from the initial decree to the appearance of the Anointed One, if we measure by prophetic years [years of 360 days], the time between the decree of Artaxerxes in the spring of 445 B.C. and the time of the triumphal entry of Yeshua in the spring of 32 A.D., it is exactly 173,880 days or 483 prophetic years – sixty-nine sevens of years. This was worked out in great detail by Sir Robert Anderson and undoubtedly it was charted carefully by Daniel. It is very plausible that, as Daniel remained in Babylon through the transition from Neo-Babylonian empire to Persian empire, this knowledge would have been shared with certain people in the Persian court, in particular the Zoroastrian Magi. It then would have become part of the information guiding the later Magi to Judea in the time of the appearance of Yeshua.
The Persian Period
“Writhe in agony, O Daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There YHVH will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies.”
This is what YHVH says – your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb; I am YHVH, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself…who says to Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt.” And of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.” ‘ This is what YHVH says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains… so that you may know that I am YHVH, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. For the sake of Jacob my servant…I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me….It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts. I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: …He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says YHVH Almighty.
Nearly two millennia passed from Creation to the birth of Abraham. Another two millennia passed before our Messiah appeared in the streets of Jerusalem. YHVH created the nation of Israel as a people apart. This people was the setting, the amphitheater within which YHVH labored to teach each person the meaning of fealty to their eternal king. Here within Israel YHVH was laying the groundwork for the restoration of the union of the spirit of man with the Spirit of God. The call of YHVH is not only a social and political program; it is a reach into the soul of the individual.
For the individual to respond freely and intelligently to the divine call, there had to be an understanding of the divine mission. From spiritual starvation in Egypt, Israel had to undergo trial. Suffering bred union. Union bred identity. Identity sought purpose. Purpose sought education. In Israel the hunger for knowledge was answered with the rituals of the Tabernacle, the rituals of the Temple, and the written words of Moses and the prophets. This education taught men that the individual is damaged, that there is a vast gulf between his aspirations and his broken capacities. It taught him the need of restoration, of redemption and renewal of spirit.
It would have been without result to send the Redeemer of mankind into a world which had no understanding of redemption, of sin, or of the holiness of God. This was the work of Israel, to be the place into which the Messiah could be born such that his birth and life and sacrificial death would have meaning and be understood. Vanquished and in exile in Babylon, the spirit of Israel had been wounded. With the support of Cyrus to rebuild the temple, and with the call of Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls of the city, there was freedom to return home. Again there was reason for hope. Many now dared reach into their hearts to be obedient to the mystery of the greater promise of Israel. They dared to rebuild the temple. The order of the temple, even in the reconstruction, was always the image of the heavenly model. The temple was a prayer held up in aspiration for the Presence of YHVH in Israel, a lens held up in worship of the heavenly reality.
By 516 B.C., seventy years after Nebuchadnezzar had set fire to the first temple, the second temple was complete. It had been brought to completion under the leadership of Zerubbabel, acting governor, and Jeshua the high priest. Zerubbabel was of the house of David, a potential heir to the throne, but under Persian dominion he could not expect to occupy the royal seat. He was the last Davidic ruler until the appearance of Yeshua. Yeshua’s descent from David was through Zerubbabel.
Upon completion of the temple, some wept with joy to see the miracle of its restoration. Some wept in sorrow to see it so much smaller than the grand edifice of Solomon. Through the prophet Haggai, YHVH addressed the people with a promise that held the hearts of many through the coming centuries of longing for Messiah:
On the twenty-first day of the seventh month [Otober 17, 520 B.C.], the word of YHVH came through the prophet Haggai: “Speak to Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, O Zerubbabel,’ declares YHVH. ‘Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong all you people of the land,’ declares YHVH Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’
“This is what YHVH Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says YHVH Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares YHVH Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says YHVH Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares YHVH Almighty.”
This was the promise of the Messianic glory yet to come. But in the intervening five centuries much would transpire that would also sanctify and bring glory to the temple – the blood of thousands of Judean men and woman who would give their lives to defend it against the abuses of Hellenistic and Roman entitlement.
The above-mentioned “shaking of all nations” would include the trial of Israel. Less than a century after the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, Alexander would cross the Hellespont, defeat Darius, and take command of the vast Persian empire. He would die prematurely at age thirty-two, and the empire, unable to remain whole, would fall, in division, to Alexander’s Macedonian generals and their heirs. In the coming centuries the jealousies and competing ambitions of these rulers would bring constant suffering and chaos to their people. The ecumenical Greek culture, so attractive to most of the nations, would find its stumbling block in Judea. There the rich and powerful would eagerly compete to imitate and gain the approval of their Hellenistic lords, while the masses would give their lives to resist them and stand for the honor of the name of YHVH.
The reconstruction of the temple under Zerubbabel was the first phase of the restoration of Jerusalem. The second phase was the reconstruction of the city walls under the leadership of Nehemiah in 445 B.C. This decisive reclamation of Jerusalem’s divine promise intimidated Judea’s neighbors, but it revived the spirit of Judah and prepared them for survival in the coming onslaught of Greek culture. ix
The Greek Period
“But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, ‘Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!’ But they do not know the thoughts of YHVH; they do not understand his plan, he who gathers them like sheaves to the threshing floor.”
I Maccabees opens with this succinct description of Judea’s collision with Hellenism:
“Alexander of Macedon, the son of Philip, marched from the land of Kittim, defeated Darius, king of Persia and Media, and seized his throne, being already king of Greece. In the course of many campaigns he captured fortified towns, slaughtered kings, traversed the earth to its remotest bounds, and plundered innumerable nations.
“When at last the world lay quiet under his rule, his pride knew no limits; he built up an extremely powerful army, and ruled over countries, nations, and dominions; all paid him tribute.
“The time came when he fell ill, and, knowing that he was dying, he summoned his generals, nobles who had been brought up with him from childhood, and divided his empire among them while he was still alive. Alexander had reigned twelve years when he died. His generals took over the government, each in his own province. On his death they were all crowned as kings, and their descendants succeeded them for many years. They brought untold miseries upon the world.
“A scion of this stock was that wicked man Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus. He had been a hostage in Rome before he succeeded to the throne in the year 137 of the Greek era. [175 B.C.]
So Alexander and the era of Greek dominion brings us to the collision of Antiochus Epiphanes and the people of Judah, an encounter which epitomizes the trials of Judah during what is known as the Greek period.
Under both Persia and Greece, the demotion of secular [royal] authority, the rebuilding of the temple, and the profound role of the temple at the center of Jewish life – all combined to place increasing authority in the hands of the high priest. The same high priest who was seen as intermediary between YHVH and the nation became intermediary between the nation and the imperial power. The high priestly office, by divine mandate, was attainable only by Levites, descendants of Aaron. But now, under Greek dominion, reckless men attempted to acquire the office, not by respect for the divine parameters but through cash payment made to the Greek overlord.
A man named Jason was successful in gaining this power, not only through the promise of money but also in promising to transform Jerusalem into another “Antioch,” a Greek polis or city- state after the Greek model, with a registered loyal citizenry and a system of gymnasium education of youth destined for military service.
Following the example of Jason, another ambitious man, Menelaus, made his own bid for the high priesthood, offering greater sums of money, and so obtaining the position. Menelaus was not a Levite and so had no natural right to the priesthood. This marked the end of the Aaronic priesthood which had prevailed since the time of the Exodus. Menelaus saw to the murder of Onias, who, prior to Jason, had been the last high priest to stand boldly in defense of traditional Jewish life.
By 168 B.C. Jason and a small army made a move to retake Jerusalem from Menelaus. All Judea was in turmoil. Enter Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the enemy of Judah who is the antetype of the “stern-faced king” whom Daniel foresees oppressing the people of God at the end of the age.
Antiochus Epiphanes, in 175 B.C., by deceit, installed himself as heir to the Seleucid empire as it held power over Judea. He entered into constant conflict with Egypt. Egypt responded by reviving an alliance with Rome. In the second campaign of Antiochus against Egypt, he and his army, upon arrival in Egypt, found themselves standing before the Roman consul Gaius Popilius Laenas and twelve lictors. Gaius took his staff and traced a circle in the sand around Antiochus. He told Antiochus, “Before you step out of this circle, think again, and when you do step out of it, be facing east and go home to Syria.” The power of Rome was by now so manifest, and so certain, that a consul and a few men could intimidate an army. Antiochus, angry and humiliated, exited the circle to the east.
On his way home, Antiochus learned that Jason was trying to retake Jerusalem from Menelaus, and that all Judea was in a state of rebellion. Relishing an excuse to prove the vigor of his disgraced army,
“he set out … in savage mood, took Jerusalem by storm, and ordered his troops to cut down without mercy everyone they met and to slaughter those who took refuge in the houses. Young and old were murdered, women and children massacred, girls and infants butchered. At the end of three days their losses had amounted to eighty thousand: forty thousand killed in action, and as many sold into slavery. Not satisfied with this, the king had the audacity to enter the holiest temple on earth, guided by Menelaus, who had turned traitor both to his religion and to his country. He laid impious hands on the sacred vessels; his desecrating hands swept together the votive offerings which other kings had set up to enhance the splendor and fame of the shrine.”
Antiochus returned to Antioch, but left commanders and 22,000 mercenaries in Jerusalem with orders to kill all adult males and sell women and boys into slavery. Antiochus ordered the enforcement of an end to every ancestral custom, including the keeping of the Sabbath. His forces polluted the temple and dedicated it to Olympian Zeus, installing an idol of Zeus within the temple. They promoted prostitution in the temple. They sacrificed pigs on the altar. The true operation of the temple ceased from 168 to 165 B.C. All who refused to change over to Greek ways were ordered to be killed. Scrolls of the Book of the Covenant were gathered and burned. Many thousands of Judeans died rather than submit to the yoke of Antiochus Epiphanes.
In the midst of this a priest named Mattathias Maccabeus boldly opposed the Greek tyranny. In the town of Modin officers of the king ordered Mattathias to lead the people in sacrifice at a pagan altar. Instead Mattathias struck down the officer, pulled down the altar, and called out,
“’Follow me, every one of you who is zealous for the law and strives to maintain the covenant.’ He and his sons took to the hills, leaving all their belongings behind.”
Mattathias led a forceful opposition. Upon his death his son Judas assumed leadership of the rebels. He and his men successfully drove off their Seleucid masters, pulled down the abominable idol of Zeus, and in 164 B.C. restored the temple and the rites of sacrifice. This restoration of the life of Jerusalem revived the fears of Gentile neighbors on all sides, and wars ensued. Judas was able to maintain the integrity of Judea until he died in battle.
The populace of Judea subsequently chose a brother of Judas, Jonathan, to replace him. In 152 B.C. Jonathan was encouraged by his Greek lords to assume the position of high priest, which position he gladly occupied, even though he had no true qualification for the office. To the Hellenizing enemy this marriage of church and state was efficacious in taming the independent spirit of the children of the covenant. Jonathan nevertheless fought for Judea, defending Jerusalem through many campaigns, finally dying in battle. His brother Simon replaced him.
Under the governance of Simon, in the year 142 B.C., the Seleucids relaxed their hold on Judea and “Israel was released from the gentile yoke.” Under his rule Judea remained at peace. He also assumed simultaneously the offices of ethnarch and of high priest without right of investiture, so presuming to bear the dual role which only the Messiah may hold.
Simon, for all his bravery, having received his authority by the voices of men, sought security in the powers of men. Simon strove to maintain the “independence” of Judea [from the Seleucids] by sending an embassy to Rome requesting recognition and alliance. This was granted by the Roman senate.
Simon’s lack of sensitivity toward the stricture that king and priest remain discreet was curiously augmented by his willingness to take the greatest liberty with that which, other than the temple, was most iconic of Jerusalem: Mt. Zion itself. The Jebusite city of Salem, as conquered by David, occupied the crescent shaped ridge between the Kidron Valley and the Tyropoeon Valley [to the south of what is now called the Temple Mount]. In the southern portion of this crescent stood the most elevated geographic feature of the the city, Mt. Zion, overlooking the northern terrace called the Ophel. Evidence is very strong that Solomon’s temple was built not on the “Temple Mount” but on the Ophel, just above the Gihon spring. Upon the height of Mt. Zion had been built a nearly impregnable citadel, overlooking the temple just to the north. This physical relationship appears repeatedly in the descriptions of Josephus.
The citadel was the ultimate guarantee of the protection of the city. However, the occupying forces of the Seleucid kings took possession of the citadel decade after decade, and from it became a source of grief to the temple and the city. With Jerusalem now fully liberated, Simon brought this issue before the people and they were persuaded to raze Mt. Zion and deposit it in the adjacent valleys!
“So they all set themselves to the work, and leveled the mountain, and in that work spent both day and night without intermission, which cost them three whole years before it was removed, and brought to an entire level with the plain of the rest of the city. After which the temple was the highest of all the buildings, now the citadel, as well as the mountain whereon it stood, were demolished. And these actions were thus performed under Simon.”
However, this transformative piece of engineering would call for a new solution to the need for protecting the temple from foreign predators and the need for a garrison of troops to protect the city. This apparently led to the Hasmonean construction of the Baris just north of the temple, the beginnings of the great area now considered to be the “Temple Mount,” where, it would seem, the Roman legions were billeted during the times of Herod and Yeshua.
The division of Alexander’s conquests had led to nearly two centuries of increasing instability. No kingdom was able to establish an enduring peace, and constant conflict brought political and social decay, especially under the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria. As these kingdoms fragmented, Rome stood firm and grew great through guaranteeing privilege to its friends and suitors, while crushing the enemies of its allies. As the Seleucid empire degenerated into a collection of city- states, Judea would soon find its own place within the Roman hegemony. By 100 B.C. it seemed that no national leader could expect to retain power without securing his place within Rome.
By 103 B.C. the Hasmonean [Maccabean] Alexander Janneus occupied the double role of ethnarch and high priest in Jerusalem. With his wife, Salome Alexandra, he had two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. By 63 B.C. the two sons were grown and vying for power – as petitioners at the feet of the Roman Pompey — Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus.
The Roman Period
“Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod. But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of YHVH, in the majesty of the name of YHVH his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.”
In 63 B.C. Pompey arrived in Damascus after doing battle in Armenia. Hyrcanus and Aristobulus appeared before him. Needing to instruct his petitioners in the fact that they were kneeling before the new power over the Mediterranean world, Pompey decided to visit Jerusalem in the company of his army. Aristobulus, eager to win favor, tried to gift the city to Pompey. The troops of Aristobulus, however, refused to enable this betrayal of their city, and opposed him.
Pompey, sensing reproval, stormed the walls and made his camp within the city. The resistance withdrew to the temple. Pompey laid siege to the temple precincts. Twelve thousand Jews were slain. He took command of the temple and dared to enter the Holy of Holies. Then, apparently out of a sense of honor, he commanded that the temple be cleansed, that sacrifice be restored, and that Hyrcanus be reinstated as high priest.
Here lay the consummation of Judea’s marriage to Rome: Pompey made Jerusalem tributary to the Republic – subject no longer to the Macedonian province of Syria but to the Roman province of Syria. He took Aristobulus as prisoner to Rome. From this day until the time of Revelation the history of Judea would unfold as intercourse with the Roman power.
In less than a century Yeshua Messiah would proclaim the advent of the eternal kingdom. Few would stand with a king who would not pause to overthrow Rome. The Judean power structure, Sadducees and Pharisees, and large numbers of the people, would reject him.
“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
The battle between Judea and Rome would continue and would darken.
The Roman period would see the claim of the house of Levi to the priesthood well forgotten, the claim of the house of David to the throne deferred, the reputation of the Hasmoneans insufficient to survive the ambitions of Herod the Idumean. Although his ruling temperament would be volcanic, Herod would maintain the support of Rome, enough to sustain him in his contradiction of the laws and traditions of the people of Judea. But the people themselves, in large numbers, would stand in regular resistance to Herod and Rome. There would always be a faction, always a remnant, standing for the sanctity of YHVH and the inviolability of the covenant.
The influence of Pompey in Judea would soon accrue to Julius Caesar. Pompey was son-in-law of Julius Caesar, being married to his daughter Julia. In 60 B.C. Caesar and Pompey and Crassus formed the political alliance known as the First Triumvirate. This however did not prevent Caesar and Pompey from becoming rivals for the leadership of Rome. Caesar, with some support from Mark Antony, outmaneuvered Pompey in the Battle of Pharsalus. Pompey then fled to Egypt, where Ptolemy XIII had him assassinated. Caesar was stricken and became the devout enemy of Ptolemy as he had hoped to pardon Pompey, his son-in-law.
In Judea, the Hasmonean Hyrcanus maintained authority over the affairs of the temple, and he established his civil authority in the form of five councils to govern the people. So Judea was ruled for a time not as a monarchy but as an aristocracy.
Crassus, the third member of the Triumvirate, while passing through Judea on his way to fight the Parthians, again pillaged the temple, taking its gold by deceit. With a hint of justice, Crassus marched into Parthia where he and his army perished.
Hyrcanus, gentle and soft spoken, had a powerful patron, a wealthy Idumean named Antipater, who, by Hyrcanus’ father, had been made general of all Idumea [Edom]. He also had strong ties to the Arabians to the east. Antipater married Cypros, daughter of a Nabataean aristocrat, and by her had four sons and a daughter. Antipater would prove to be the patriarch of the family that would replace the Hasmoneans. Antipater’s sons were Phasael, Herod [who would become king], Joseph, and Pheroras; the daughter, Salome.
Antipater successfully cultivated friendship and alliance with Rome, even sending soldiers to aid Caesar in several campaigns. Caesar made Antipater procurator of Judea and allowed Hyrcanus to restore the walls of Jerusalem which Pompey had torn down. Antipater personally managed the reconstruction of the walls and won favor with the people, though many mistrusted this migration of influence from the Hasmonean Hyrcanus to the Idumean Antipater.
Hyrcanus being reticent in the exercise of power, Antipater, in 47 B.C., further advanced his family by positioning his son Phasaelus as governor of Jerusalem and Herod as governor of Galilee. Herod, being bold and aggressive, soon offended the Judeans by taking the law into his own hands and awarding death to a man named Hezekiah without trial by the Sanhedrin. Herod himself was then called before the Sanhedrin, where he displayed great arrogance, yet escaped judgment due to the influence of powerful voices in Rome.
On the Ides of March, 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was slain by Cassius and Brutus. Herod rapidly ingratiated himself with Cassius, who responded by placing him in charge of the forces of Coelesyria and promising to make him king of Judea! Here the affirmation of Rome would prove to have more gravitas than the weight of tradition in the Hasmonean royal line.
Caesar Octavian and Mark Antony put down Brutus and Cassius in a battle near Philippi. Octavian then went west to take control of Gaul, and Antony went east to take control of Asia. Antony looked favorably on both Herod and Hyrcanus.
There was a Hasmonean challenge to the increasing authority of Herod – in the person of Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus, brother of Hyrcanus. Herod had driven Antigonus once out of Judea, but he reappeared, this time with the support of the Parthians – this nettlesome challenge to Rome from the east. Antigonus and his forces were powerful enough to drive Herod down into Idumea. He also captured Hyrcanus, imprisoned him, and cut off his ears – rendering him, by reason of deformity, no longer qualified to sit as high priest.
Herod escaped to Alexandria and then sought the aid of Mark Antony by going to Rome. There, in 40 B.C., Caesar and Antony and the Senate proclaimed Herod King of Judea.
Herod left for Egypt, gathered an army there, and marched to Galilee to attack Antigonus. All Galilee joined him. In all his efforts to reclaim Judea he looked to Antony as his supporter and guarantor.
Three years after being proclaimed king at Rome, Herod pitched camp near Jerusalem. Briefly he took leave of his army to marry Mariamne, daughter of Alexander, who was son of Aristobulus, the brother of Hyrcanus. This Hasmonean wife would generate a limited restoration of the legitimacy which Herod now squandered in putting down the claims of the Hasmonean Antigonus.
Rome added its voice: Antony stepped in, sent men to join Herod, and declared Antigonus an enemy of Rome. This gave Herod the confidence to seize his prize by force. He assaulted and breached the walls of Jerusalem. The Jews fled into the temple, still hoping to see Antigonus victorious. Then Herod, assisted by a Roman contingent, but opposing Antigonus and the will of his own people, took the city by storm, slaying everyone he and his men encountered, including women and children. Antigonus surrendered. Herod’s “victory” came twenty-seven years to the day following the victory of Pompey over Jerusalem.
* * * *
Herod, now in full control of Jerusalem, hunted his enemies and supported his allies. He stole wealth from the city and made a lavish gift of it to Mark Antony. Antony had Antigonus beheaded. Hyrcanus, absent in Babylon, returned to be near Herod, for whom he always had strong attachment. Herod made Ananelus to be high priest. This upset Alexandra, daughter of Hyrcanus, as she wanted her son, also named Aristobulus, to be high priest. Mariamne strongly supported this. Herod gratified them – removed Ananelus and installed the young Aristobulus. Never before had anyone but a foreign power decommissioned a high priest.
This appearance of a handsome young Hasmonean high priest celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles in the temple made a sensation in Jerusalem and Herod was soon driven to resent this new challenge to his popularity. Herod had a solution: the accidental drowning of the young Aristobulus during a pool party in Jericho. Alexandra saw Herod’s hand in her son’s death. She would never forgive him.
About 33 B.C. Octavius Caesar came to believe that Mark Antony’s loyalties were no longer to Rome but rather to Antony’s vision of an eastern empire under the rule of himself and Cleopatra. In the mind of Octavian it was time to bring an end to Antony’s apostasy. Antony saw Octavian’s preparations for war, and he and Cleopatra prepared a fleet to advance on Rome. In 31 B.C. Octavian and Agrippa brought their fleet against the ships of Antony and Cleopatra at the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf on the west coast of Greece [the Battle of Actium]. Octavian and Agrippa were victorious. Antony and Cleopatra escaped with part of their fleet and returned to Alexandria. Antony committed suicide. A few years later Cleopatra ostensibly followed suit.
The defeat of Antony at Actium raised issues for Herod. He feared that Octavian might prefer the Hasmonean Hyrcanus and transfer power to him. Herod’s solution: coldly to put Hyrcanus to death. Herod then met Octavian on the island of Rhodes and swore fealty to Rome. Octavian reconfirmed Herod’s kingship over Judea. Subsequently Herod escorted Octavian through his voyage to Egypt and through the return, receiving him with great generosity in Judea.
Herod now returned home to rule in security. Of course much of this security stemmed from his violence to the remnants of the Hasmonean line. Herod discovered that his Hasmonean wife Mariamne was distressed by his successes, as she felt that these only enlarged his power over her and that his care for her was mostly a precaution against what she might do if she were free. Herod was encouraged by members of his own family to be suspicious of her, as they despised the lofty Hasmonean princess in their midst. Mariamne grieved over the deaths of Aristobulus and Hyrcanus. A confusion of affairs led to extreme jealousy and torment in the mind of Herod. Ultimately, by his command, Mariamne was executed. In consequence, he began to go mad, as he had always been hugely devoted to her.
At this time Alexandra, daughter of Hyrcanus and mother of the slain Aristobulus, sensed the severe distraction of Herod, so she took advantage of this opportunity to attempt to secure the loyalties of the two main fortifications which were the security of Jerusalem. However, her machinations were discovered and Herod had her killed. This was a grave moment, the death of the last Hasmonean of influence. Josephus writes:
“…there was nobody remaining of such dignity as could put a stop to what he [Herod] did against the Jewish laws.”
In the 13th year of the reign of Herod [circa 24 B.C.] calamities fell upon Judea: perpetual drought, hunger, and the illness coming from poor nutrition. In this state of want Herod’s subjects despised him for spending their wealth on construction. Herod then sold all his treasures and bought corn from Egypt. His liberality, even to the hungry in Syria, wiped away some of the popular resentment of his efforts to alter customs and Romanize the culture of Judea.
The Roman republic came to an end as Octavian, in 27 B.C., became Caesar Augustus, the unchallenged first emperor of Rome. Herod married again. He sent his two sons [Alexander and Aristobulus] to Rome to become known in the court of Augustus Caesar. Herod became a valued friend of both Caesar and Agrippa.
Herod felt increasingly secure in Rome’s sponsorship of his power. But he ruled in the spirit of Rome. He aggravated the people’s resentment by alienating them more and more from the divine covenant, from their practice of worship, and from their traditions. He grew to mistrust them. He prevented the people from public assembly. He had many spies and killed those who were suspect of rebellion.
“…nor did he permit the citizens either to meet together, or to walk or eat together, but watched everything they did, and when any were caught, they were severely punished; and many there were who were brought to the citadel Hyrcania, both openly and secretly, and were there put to death; and there were spies set everywhere, both in the city and in the roads, who watched those that met together… and as for those that could be no way reduced to acquiesce under his scheme of government, he persecuted them all manner of ways; but for the rest of the multitude, he required that they should be obliged to take an oath of fidelity to him…”.
Herod, the tyrannical Idumean, needed a project that would convince his people to bring him their respect and gratitude. He proposed the rebuilding and expansion of the temple, all costs to come from the royal coffers. He guaranteed that all plans and materials would be on hand before he would undo anything of the existing edifice. On these terms the people were willing to see him proceed.
Zerubbabel’s temple was 60 cubits high, as limited by the Persians. Herod would make the new temple 100 cubits high. Herod would dismantle the temple of Zerubbabel down to its foundations and would lay new foundations for what is by some interpretations a third temple. It was designed in contradiction of Jewish statutes.
“Herod enlarged the Azora [Inner Cojurtyard] which was forobidden by Halacha without a Sanhedrin of 71 judges, a Jewish king, and the Urim and Tumim [the oracle of the High Priest’s breastplate.] Herod, who was not Jewish, had murdered all the members of the Sanhedrin; the Urim and Tumim had not existed since the destruction of the First Temple. In effect, the Second Temple described in the Mishna and Ramban was an illegal structure, doomed to destruction from the very day it was built.”
The construction of a magnificently enlarged temple won Herod a great deal of favor. It was also a meaningful contribution to the life of the nation that Herod, with the aid of Rome, was able to maintain a semblance of peace. Herod’s greatest trouble was now within his family, this rooted especially in having put his beloved wife Mariamne to death. Her sons Alexander and Aristobulus now profoundly mistrusted their father. Conversely, Herod’s sister Salome despised the offspring of Mariamne. In order to temper everyone’s sense of entitlement, Herod introduced to the royal court yet another son – his oldest, Antipater, born to his first wife, Doris, before his becoming king. In time he even brought the mother to the palace!
Young Antipater had his own expectations, and he turned out to be an ambitious schemer, encouraging Herod to be suspicious of his step-brothers, Alexander and Aristobulus. The two factions became heatedly opposed until accusations and suspicions had to be argued in an audience before Caesar in Rome. Caesar heard them out and gave Herod liberty to settle things however he saw fit. After much discussion, Herod had Alexander and Aristobulus strangled in the town of Sebaste in 12 B.C.
The scheming Antipater now reaped the ill will of the people and the army as it was suspected that his conspiracies had led to the murder of his step-brothers, children of the much loved Hasmonean Mariamne. Antipater feared full discovery of his hand in the plots and calumnies which were the origin of Herod’s judgment against the two boys. Therefore Antipater even began to plot Herod’s destruction. Herod, remorseful of the murder of his sons, paid great attention to the elevation of their now orphaned children. This angered Antipater all the more.
In the meantime Herod continued his building projects. In his 28th regnal year [10 B.C.] he completed a twelve year project, the construction of Caesarea Maritima, a remarkable Roman style city with a large man-made harbor, temples, theater, hippodrome, and aquaduct. This he celebrated by the initiation of games to be repeated every five years, encompassing horse races, beasts of combat, music, and “games to be performed naked.”
In 5 B.C. Antipater was brought to trial before Publius Quinctilius Varus, Roman governor of Syria. The charge: the attempted murder of his father. Antipater’s conspiracies had spread to the house of Herod’s brother Pheroras. Antipater had been indirectly encouraged by the Pharisees, who refused allegiance to Caesar and prophesied the rise of Pheroras. Herod had their prophets killed. Pheroras died of poisoning and it was discovered that Antipater and his mother Doris were at the root of the affair. Varus found Antipater guilty of attempted parricide and Augustus sentenced him to death.
Herod, overcome with anger over his family, began to grow ill, but cared for his loyal sister, Salome, and promised the throne to his youngest son [by Malthace], Herod Antipas.
Then a significant incident transpired in the year 1 B.C. Herod authored the installation of a golden Roman eagle over the gate to the temple. Judas and Matthias, two revered and eloquent teachers, led their students to pull down the golden eagle. Consequently the two teachers and about forty of the students were burned alive by Herod. That same night there was an eclipse of the moon. The city went to bed in shock and outrage.
Herod’s condition worsened.
“But now Herod’s distemper greatly increased upon him after a severe manner, and this by God’s judgment upon him for his sins: for a fire glowed in him slowly, which did not so much appear to the touch outwardly, as it augmented his pains inwardly.”
His entire body was overcome with decay, something Josephus describes in graphic detail. Then, sensing that his death would only produce celebration, Herod cynically devised a stratagem by which the day of his death might become a day of mourning. He had the prominent men of the nation summoned to him, then arrested, then imprisoned in the hippodrome, so that on the day of his death soldiers might shoot them fatally with darts. Salome and her husband claimed that they would see to the details of this abomination.
Herod finally acted upon Caesar’s death sentence and had Antipater executed. Five days later he himself died. Before dying he changed his testament and gave the throne to his son [by Malthace] Archelaus, making Herod Antipas tetrarch of Galilee and Perea.
Salome released the prisoners from the hippodrome.
“A man he was of great barbarity towards all men equally, and a slave to his passions; but above the consideration of what was right; yet was he favored by fortune as much as any man ever was, for from a private man he became a king, and though he were encompassed with ten thousand dangers, he got clear of them all, and continued his life till a very old age;…”
Josephus records that Herod died between an eclipse and the following Passover. The events of Passover would be as dark as those on the day of the eclipse just mentioned. Archelaus, as heir – in – waiting to the throne, was received amicably by the people. However, there was still great grief over the burning death of Matthias and his students by the hand of Herod his father. Just prior to Passover, the more seditious mourners undertook an assault on the soldiers of Archelaus. In response, the troops of Archelaus slew 3,000 men of Jerusalem.
Archelaus slipped away to Rome to be confirmed as king of Judea. Sabinus, Caesar’s steward for Syrian affairs, went to Jerusalem and seized the royal palace. Herod Antipas also sailed to Rome seeking the kingship. Upon arrival before Caesar, Archelaus found himself opposed on account of his Passover conduct, when 3,000 were slain as in a Passover sacrifice. Meanwhile, with Archelaus absent from Jerusalem, with Sabinus occupying the palace of the king, and with the Passover slaughter fresh in their minds, all Judea was in turmoil.
A terrible battle ensued between the Romans and the Judeans. The action migrated to the temple and the cloisters which surround the outer court of the temple. The grand structure of the cloister roof being wood, the Romans set it on fire. Many died and the gold of the temple was plundered. [In the coming years 18,000 workmen would be continually employed in rebuilding and repairing the temple.] Varus arrived from Rome and sought out the authors of the Judean revolt. To satisfy his need for Roman justice, two thousand men were openly crucified.
Caesar finally decided upon a division of power between the sons of Herod. He chose to allow Archelaus to rule, not as king but as ethnarch, over Judea, Idumea, and Samaria, with kingship held out as a possible reward after a period of moderate behavior. [Which Archelaus never achieved.] Herod Antipas was made tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. Herod Philip was made tetrarch of Batanea, Trachonitis, and Auranitis. Archelaus again behaved as a tyrant. After ten years the people of Judea accused him before Caesar and he was banished to Gaul.
“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
Josephus cannot be impuned for what he includes in or excludes from his history. Due to the circumstances of his life, he, being a Jew of some importance, was extraordinarily sympathetic to the spirit of Judah, and, upon becoming a willing citizen of Rome and living in the circles of power, he knew intimately the Roman use of power as well as the very human aspirations which enabled them in its employ.
Herod the Idumean lived and ruled as a Roman aspiring to gain the honor of the people of Judah. Josephus never mentions a skirmish which occurred in the last days of the life of Herod. Josephus might not have been aware of it. He might have felt it was too anomalous to mention, although in Herod’s first campaign to seize power over Jerusalem and Judea, it is noted that the lives of many women and children were extinguished. This armed sortie into the town of Bethlehem Ephratah was directed not at militants or rebels but at children of two years and under.
It is difficult to imagine that even Herod could send his soldiers out to kill infants [or that the soldiers could carry out the order] unless there were some very pressing reason. We know that Herod’s inspiration for his “slaughter of the innocents” was his perception of a challenge to his sovereign [under Rome] power, the prospect of the appearance of a king having such august origins and such unquestionable right to the throne over Israel that even Augustus Caesar would have no power over him, and the careful cultivation of Herod’s children in Roman royal circles would swiftly lose its consequence.
“After Yeshua was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of king Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:
“’But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’
“Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’
“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’
“So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’
“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’
“After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.’
“So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’”
So he came to live among us, he the seed of the woman, whose origins are from ancient times — the object of all prophecy, the healing of the wound of history, the one against whom Herod’s power was mere dust in the wind. Herod the Great, being near death, feared not for himself but for his legacy. He also had reason to fear the atomization of his first principle: that the power of YHVH is not real, that his worship need only be a token worship, and that security lies not in the eternal power of God but in a mundane force, the empire of Rome. Herod had been a Roman puppet king on ground made glorious by King David’s obedience to the will of YHVH, and yet Herod totally ignored and spurned that power in favor of Augustus Caesar, who was known in obscenity as “Son of God” ever since it was decreed by the Roman senate that his father, Julius Caesar, was a god.
Herod believed and feared the narrative of the Magi enough to slaughter the infant children of Bethlehem. He saw that the restoration of the house of David and the manifestation of the true Son of God might be imminent, should he not act boldly. He readily presumed equality with God, enough that he dared to raise his sword against his Messiah.
Herod died early in the year 1 B.C., barely two years after the birth of Yeshua in the fall of 3 B.C. It was only a matter of weeks after the death of Herod that troops under his son Archelaus slaughtered three thousand at the temple. For Joseph and his family, Galilee under the rule of Herod Antipas would be less hazardous.
The throne of David is rooted in the throne of the heavens
By the time Yeshua was a child lingering in the Temple, it had been nearly six centuries since anyone from the house of David had held the throne over Judah. Judah in servitude to Nebuchadnezzar, in servitude to Cyrus, in servitude to Greece, Judah wearing an appearance of sovereignty under the Hasmoneans, sporting a pretense of autonomy under Herod — and no one pushed the descendants of David onto the stage or pressed for their assumption of power!
Why was the house of David so silent? Did they feel inferior to the Hasmoneans? Inferior to the Herodians? History in this period makes little mention of them. And yet they were there. In the two Scriptural genealogies of Yeshua, both through Mary and through Joseph, each has a line of ancestors in the house of David, and both lines of descent pass through Zerubbabel who led the building of the temple under Cyrus. Why did the heirs to the throne never come forward? And if the parents of Yeshua were both of the house of David, why were they just simple people without entourage?
It is more than a coincidence that the house of David faded from view at the moment the great empires took control of the eastern Mediterranean. It must be remembered that YHVH, by his own will, brought down the kings of Judah in anger at their rebellion and literally ceded power over the world to Nebuchadnezzar and those who would come after him. Jeremiah gave word of this judgement to Judah before it was fulfilled:
“This is what YHVH said to me, “…I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will sujugate him.”
The Israel of God is “not one of the nations.” Israel was formed by God to be “his inheritance.” The tribe of Judah was chosen to be the source of the line of kings which would culminate in “Shiloh,” the one to whom kingship belongs for eternity. That line of kings was founded upon the anointing of David son of Jesse as king of Israel. To him went the promise that the Messiah of promise would arise from his house. The Davidic throne was established by God for the Israel of God. It is the royal seat whose authority is rooted in the throne of the heavens, a royal seat above every mundane right of dominion.
This was the burden of the kings of Israel and, after the separation, the burden of Judah: there could be no compromise, no submission of the Davidic throne to any other power, no alliance binding its sovereignty to Egypt or Babylon or Persia. Unfortunately the kings repeatedly failed to maintain their trust in YHVH alone. Not only did they make alliances with other nations but they also scorned their own God and worshipped the idols of other nations. By the time YHVH came to punish Israel by conquest, the rule of the Davidic kings was brought to an end and the power of all nations was given over to Nebuchadnezzar.
In Daniel’s vision of the great statue we are shown the subsequent succession of the kingdoms of the world, from Babylon to Medo-Persia to Greece to Rome. In the end of the vision the appearance of the kingdom of YHVH foretells the end of the dominion of those kingdoms. For Daniel the kingdom of Yeshua appears in the figure of a rock cut out not by human hands,
“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands – a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay,, the silver and the gold to pieces.”
Should the house of David contest the rule of the Hasmoneans or the Herodians or Rome itself? Whatever the house of David does, it must stand without compromise, bowing to no earthly power. Where is the power of David? They have no army. Their power is God alone, lest anyone be confused as to the origins of the coming victory. So the word of YHVH to Zerubbabel:
“’Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit,’ says YHVH Almighty.”
When Herod learned that the Messiah in the house of David had been born in his lifetime, he had every reason to fear the loss of “his” kingdom. The forward advance of the Davidic king onto the field of history was the announcement of final opposition between the Kingdom of Heaven and the City of the World. The Hasmoneans could kneel before the Seleucids. Herod could kneel before Caesar Augustus. But the ultimate heir to the throne of David does not kneel before any power, and certainly not Rome.
The dominion of Yeshua Messiah is rooted in the heavens. When Yeshua was taken captive and brought before Pontius Pilate, there was a brief exchange in which Yeshua revealed to Pilate the order of their relationship:
“Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my subjects would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
“Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”
Satan’s weapon of choice is deception. Rome enforces the deception of its claim to divine authority by the use of weapons of steel. The true king stands on the battle line with the sword of truth. He empowers his subjects with the truth which he brings to them. This power is destined to overthrow the power of Satan and to overthrow the power of Rome. It is a mortal threat to the pride of Pilate and to every royal claim of Augustus Caesar.
Yeshua was about to accomplish the act which would bind his subjects on earth to the heavenly throne.
In Yeshua Messiah, spirituality and politics are inseparably bound together.
Yeshua was entering a world where Judah was suffering. Much of that suffering was caused by the collusion of the rich and powerful with the agents of Roman power. It tended to be the poor who held to faith in their identity as the people of God, and it was they who suffered unjustly under rapacious overlords with, at best, formal attachment to Torah and covenant. These who suffered also lived in anticipation of the coming of that Messiah whom the Magi had come so far to discover and to honor.
But it was not only Judah that was suffering. Nor was the Messiah of Israel coming only to redeem Israel.
“…for I am honored in the eyes of YHVH – he says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
The rest of mankind was also suffering. All were suffering from the fundamental trauma that breeds chaos in the history of mankind: the alienation of the heart from the purposes and person of God. The chaos of history is immediately political as the alienated heart attempts to rule over that which opposes its desires, and those who are injured wage war on those who oppress them.
At the birth of John the Baptist, his father, Zechariah, sang of the Messiah whom John would precede, an inspired song of political liberation:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David as he said through his holy prophets of long ago, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us – to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days….”
Zechariah had a vision of redemption that was political. But if we look at the end of his song, we see that his vision of political redemption is uniquely appropriate to a people that is the people of God. It is unlike any other political liberation ever touted: it is founded on the spiritual liberation of the individual. So Zechariah ends his song:
“…And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.”
The king who stands in for his people in a Passover sacrifice will so initiate the liberation of his people from the spiritual dominion of the City of the World. Rome can wait. First must come the restoration of the soul before the throne of God.
When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a child from God, his message was political:
“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Yeshua. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
A few months later, when Mary visited Elizabeth and rejoiced in the coming of her child, her song was of a renewed hope of justice for the victims of an unjust society:
“My soul glorifies the Lord… He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”
When the infant Yeshua was brought to the temple for consecration, he was met by two people who were watching day by day for the appearing of the Messiah. Simeon, who was “waiting for the consolation of Israel,” said to Mary, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel.” Anna, a prophetess, came up to them, thanked God for the child, and “spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Following this we know nothing of Yeshua as a child or as an adolescent or as a young man apart from his visit to the temple with his parents. There, after losing him, they found him in discussion with the teachers in the temple. His apology: “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Already his bond to his heavenly Father transcended his bond to his earthly father. So was he on earth to form us into the transcendent kingdom of God which shall assume its inheritance through the power of the Spirit of God, not through raising a sword against the forces of Rome.
Luke tells us that at the time of the appearance of John the Baptist there was a mood of expectation of the coming of the Messiah. Luke gives the very year:
“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar – when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene – during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert…” 
And this is how Luke describes the masses:
“And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ [anointed king] or not; John answered, saying unto them all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.’”
For all its transcendence, the political program of Yeshua was not less real but rather more real; his threat not less threatening but rather more fearsome. John the Baptist heralded the coming Messiah in a context of “the coming wrath” where “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Thousands upon thousands came to John for baptism. This was normally a rite by which a gentile proselyte would be confirmed as having entered into Israel. But these who were baptized were mostly Jews, genetically descended from Abraham. John’s message was clear, that the coming kingdom was a transcendent kingdom not accessible merely through the grace of genetics:
“Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”
These who came to John to be baptized in the Jordan were those who wanted the Israel of transcendence, the Israel of God.
The sealing of his royal office
Near the age of thirty, the first public act of Yeshua was to come before John beside the Jordan and be baptized. This became the moment of the first anointing of Yeshua by the Father. The anointings of Yeshua loosely follow the paradigm of the anointings of David. Samuel, by the will of YHVH, first anointed David simply to mark him as God’s choice as king over all Israel. He did not assume rule at that time.
“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of YHVH came upon David in power.”
David became known within his tribe, the tribe of Judah, and the day came when David was anointed a second time as king over Judah by the men of Judah.
“Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.”
Eventually all the tribes were reconciled to David and they recognized that he had been called by YHVH to rule Israel. They bound themselves to David by covenant and anointed him the third time as king over all Israel.
“All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, ‘We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And YHVH said to you, “You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.”’ When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a compact with them at Hebron before YHVH, and they anointed David king over Israel.”
John was baptizing on the far side of the Jordan River. Yeshua emerged from the crowd. John saw Yeshua approaching and said,
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
John saw in him the Passover sacrifice that would shake the throne of the heavens. Yeshua had come to be baptized by John. John resisted, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Yeshua replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” In baptism John guided Yeshua down into the current of the Jordan, and Yeshua then rose up out of the water.
“At that moment heaven was opened and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”
YHVH had marked Yeshua as the Messiah of eternal promise first by the anointing of the Holy Spirit and secondly by the anointing words conjoining two Messianic prophecies which could only be fulfilled in speech between the divine Father and the Son who is the eternal Messiah.
John recognized the import of the anointing of the Holy Spirit due to prior instruction:
“John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.’”
Only the king with a claim to the throne of the heavens could promise to baptize his people with the Spirit of YHVH. And only the Father could speak to his Son the words of prophecy which men heard from the heavens at that moment:
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
This was the expression of two phrases within well known Messianic passages, one from David, the other from Isaiah. In the second Psalm, David portrayed YHVH speaking these words to the coming king:
“He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.’”
The rest of the anointing phrase came from the first servant song of Isaiah which marked the coming Messiah as beloved of God, as bearing the Holy Spirit, and as bringing justice to the earth:
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations….In his law the islands will put their hope…I, YHVH, have called you in righteousness;…I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
This was the first anointing of Yeshua as the king who will heal the wounds of history. The second anointing came on the Mount of Transfiguration. There Yeshua stood in the presence of YHVH and in the presence of representatives of the eternal people, both from heaven and from earth. Yeshua had set out with Peter, James, and John to go up onto a mountain and pray. As he was praying,
“…he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.”
They talked with him about the coming days in which he would go to the cross and be taken up to the throne of the heavens. Then,
“…a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’”
These were the paired phrases again spoken from the heavens as in the first anointing — with the addition of a call to obedience, as Yeshua was now taking to himself his holy people, entering into that chain of events by which he would set his people free. In going to Jerusalem he was taking upon himself the most noble act of kingship: the agony of a tortuous death, standing in for his people in the face of the awesome call of YHVH for justice.
As David was made king over all Israel, so we expect the eternal Messiah to have a third anointing, in which he assumes rule over all Israel. But this is not yet possible! The division of Israel has not yet been healed! Israel is broken apart since the days of Rehoboam. The ten tribes have not yet returned to their Messiah. Israel must be restored. Its people must rediscover and reach out for their king. This day is coming. It was promised by the word of the prophet Zechariah:
“‘This is the word of YHVH concerning Israel. …’I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great…The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves; the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives….They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people, and they will say, “YHVH is our God.’”
Not only will Yeshua bind all Israel to himself. He will rule all the earth in justice.
“The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name….Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, YHVH Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. …On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the house of YHVH will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar.”
What is described here is something far beyond the investiture of David as king over Israel. It is the accession of Yeshua to full authority over the heavens and the earth and the healing of the wound of history, so that even the most lowly objects are holy to God. It is the end of the shame of nakedness. It is the restoration of Creation. This investiture, this “third anointing,” is so massive that it is the underlying context of the entire book of Revelation. It has many phases, and it does not come about without a massive confrontation between the City of God and the City of the World – a confrontation in which the faithful pay for their loyalty with their lives.
Yeshua declares himself to his people
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
In all the world, it is Yeshua alone who calls on us to surrender our right to ourselves. Every other regime leaves our autonomy intact. Time after time Israel experienced the glory of being ruled by God and by his stewards, and time after time Israel turned away and asked for a king like the other nations. The voice of the carnal soul demands its sovereignty. Its voice is rarely heard before the throne of God until its petty kingdom has been proven bankrupt. When Yeshua appeared it was a time when many in the nation saw their need for the divine king who would redeem the soul and revive the nation. But there were also many still clinging to Rome, clinging to the appearance of power, preferring the treasure they held in their hand to the treasures of a kingdom they could not see.
Herod, for all his limitations, wore splendid robes. Even his most evil presence still inspired awe. Yeshua walked in the dust like other men. He dressed like other men. He ate and drank and slept like other men. Only his words, his bearing, his power of healing, his power over the spirits of the underworld, and his eternal purpose — in these he was different from other men.
It seems that Yeshua first declared himself shortly after his anointing beside the Jordan. Immediately after leaving John he went into the desert for forty days and was tested by Satan. At the end of that time Satan pressed Yeshua to see if he could be made to doubt his being the “Son of God,” and to see if he could get Yeshua to counter him with a meanness that would be a denial of his holiness. But, weakened from hunger, Yeshua was unphased and answered all of Satan’s taunts and insinuations with simple quotations from Scripture. Then he headed north toward his home town and ultimately the synagogue which he had known as a child. There he did not try to prove himself. He simply testified that in his person the Messianic hope was now being fulfilled:
“Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
‘The Spirit of YHVH is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’
This passage was just part of Isaiah’s well known Messianic prophecy. As much as the townsmen of Yeshua appreciated the gracious demeanor of Yeshua, they did not expect a Messianic claim to come from the son of the local carpenter.
“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
Telling them “no prophet is accepted in his hometown,” Yeshua then challenged them to consider that Israel had a tradition of rejecting its prophets, even when outsiders welcomed them.
“There were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian.”
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Demons, on the other hand, had little trouble recognizing Yeshua for who he really was. Nor did they hesitate to obey him. Shortly after leaving Nazareth Yeshua arrived in Capernaum and went to the synagogue where he met a man possessed by a demon.
He cried out at the top of his voice, “Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!”
“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
The Pharisees and teachers of the law, who represented themselves as the very voice of God to the people, had issue with Yeshua. He was asking too much. The pleasure of the Pharisee was to imagine that God’s call to obedience is purely formal. In the world of formal obedience even an angry and jealous man can keep the law. It is conceivable that even a demon possessed man can obey Caesar, because formal adherence to the law is all that is expected. But a demon- possessed man cannot belong to Yeshua. Yeshua must have the whole man. Yeshua must enter the heart’s house, and we must maintain an environment for his enduring presence. In the kingdom of Yeshua, healing is not a perquisite. It is requisite. Yeshua condemned the Pharisees for holding to an idea of religion that failed to recognize the essential presence of the person of God.
“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
But many came eagerly to Yeshua, recognizing him immediately as the Messiah promised since the time of Moses — first and foremost the disciples whom Yeshua called individually. Seemingly they already had a place for him in their heart, and he commanded them to follow him.
“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.
“Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
“Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.”
“Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.’
‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’
Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.’
Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Yeshua is the ladder between heaven and earth. In him all things are bound together. Through him we ascend into the presence of the Father. In him the Father finds us beautiful and takes us as his people.
Yeshua went throughout Judea and Galilee teaching that the kingdom of God was theirs to be seized – by opening their hearts to their God, by being born of the Spirit, by taking up their cross and following him, by looking to the Son and believing in him, by recognizing that Yeshua had come to bring life to us who are captive to the spirit of the world. In sum, he called men and women with a message which was totally demanding and often difficult to hear.
“I am the bread of life….Here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world…Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you….Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “…The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”
The road to Jerusalem
“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”
In the winter of 32/33 A.D. Yeshua made his way through Galilee and turned toward Jerusalem, avoiding Samaria, crossing to the east side of the Jordan, heading south through Perea [“Judea beyond the Jordan”].
Yeshua, with his disciples, visited Caesarea Philippi, at the foot of Mount Hermon, once a much simpler town known as Panea, devoted to Pan. It was a town renowned for the worship of pagan gods under Greece and under Rome. There in the precincts of the enemy, surrounded by memorials to false gods, Yeshua asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter famously responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” To which Yeshua replied,
“Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
So Yeshua asserted that our intelligence of the nature of God and of Yeshua is dependent upon God himself. It is divine knowledge. It is in no way common knowledge.
This moment in Caesarea Philippi was a turning point.
“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Peter was immediately horrified and assured Yeshua that he would never let such a thing happen to him. Yeshua replied that Peter’s words were an argument of Satan, that Peter was expressing the thinking of men, not the thinking of God. Here Yeshua paused to reinforce in them the understanding that the way of the disciple is the way of the cross:
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
A second time in Galilee Yeshua told them,
“The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
John the Baptist had known that Yeshua was the Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. It would seem that the disciples would have grown to share this understanding. They undoubtedly knew what Isaiah had prophesied of the Messiah who takes upon himself the penalty of our sin. Was it beyond reckoning that their Messiah, with all the character and command of God, should be on his way to death at the hands of blighted and evil men? Were they blinded by grief in imagining that for their own sins this one whom they loved would die a tortuous death?
As they travelled south, Yeshua spoke to them a third time of his coming death and resurrection. Six days before Passover he arrived in Bethany, at the home of Mary and Martha, and of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
The Passover sacrifice
The times of the Passover ritual were given by God to Moses, so to define the program of Israel’s redemption from Egypt. The application of the blood of lambs to the lintels of the houses of Israel was a prayer looking forward in anticipation to the one who would pay the true price of redemption.
“YHVH said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ‘This month [Nisan] is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household… The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect… Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. …On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn – both men and animals – and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am YHVH. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
In Revelation John will point to Yeshua repeatedly as the Lamb, referring back not only to the events of the Exodus but even to the beginning of time on earth: John calls Yeshua “the Lamb slain from the creation of the world.”
With the Sabbath coming to a close at sunset, on a Saturday evening, in the first hours of the 10th of Nisan, Yeshua, with his disciples, completed his journey from Ephraim to Bethany and entered the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, joining them for dinner. This was the ingathering of the Lamb.
“Six days before Passover Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor.”
John says that word spread that Jesus had arrived there, and many came to see him, presumably in the following daylight hours of that first day of the week. After passing the night, Yeshua did not remain long in Bethany, but set out for Jerusalem.
“The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, …’Blessed is the King of Israel.’”
Matthew tells how this moment became the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah:
“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on theMount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.’ This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to the Daughter of Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”’
“…The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’”
Luke elaborates on the disparity in his reception – the good will of the masses at odds with the contempt of the religious elites. Up until this moment he had warned people not to broadcast the word that the king of destiny had come. Now, on this day, he presented himself openly as king of Israel, heir to the throne of David. This day was the day of fulfilment of the prophecy of Daniel. And on this day Yeshua saw that in the coming hours Jerusalem would kill its king:
“The whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’
“…Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’
“‘I tell, you, he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.’”
So the destruction of Jerusalem, the grim prophecy which Yeshua laid down, would soon be fulfilled by the hand of Rome in 70 A.D.
Having entered the city, Yeshua went to the temple, physically overturned the tables of the money exchange and the benches of those selling sacrificial doves, declaring,
“It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a den of robbers.”
Yeshua was claiming the temple as the house of his Father – as his own house. That night he returned to Bethany. Early the following morning he was on his way back to the temple, back to his house, where he was questioned by the Pharisees and Sadducees, where he answered their riddles with parables.
Two days before Passover Yeshua and his disciples were leaving the temple and his disciples were taking note of the grandeur of the Herodian edifice. Yeshua responded,
“Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
…again alluding to the destruction that would arrive before the end of the century. The disciples asked him when this would occur and “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” They were beginning to have a vision of the trajectory along which Yeshua was moving. Yeshua tried to shore up their vision of this trajectory. He gave them a general sequence of events which would transpire in the space between his victory at the cross and his return in glory. Revelation is the expansion of this brief narrative, as it is also the narrative of the final gathering of all things under the rule of our king.
Addressing his disciples, Yeshua expressed special concern that in the coming time they not be deceived by Satan. Yeshua IS Truth. He is the Logos of God. He is the Tao. All things have their origin in him. In him lie all the secrets of majesty and power. We are safe from deception if we remain in him. We are warned to remain fixed on him alone, to be wise to the difference between the nominal Christ of our own imagining and the actual Christ who rules history and rules in the heart’s house. He warned the disciples,
“Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”
And, in the time of greatest distress,
“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ of ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.”
Yeshua clearly stated that his return, coming upon the heels of solar and planetary disruption, will be a return in grandeur, apparent to all the world:
“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. …Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ [quoting from Isaiah 13.10]
“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory….
“… No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor even the Son, but only the Father.”
The disciples were beginning to take possession of a sharp revision of their expectations. Their eternal king was not about to assume an earthly throne. He was about to die, to rise from the dead, to ascend to the throne of the heavens, and then, in some future and unknown time, to return and establish his power in the dust of Jerusalem. This still would have been a hard doctrine, had it not been for the final teaching which Yeshua would deliver the following evening at the Preparation Day dinner.
During the daylight hours of 13 Nisan Yeshua indicated to the disciples where they would set up for the celebration of Passover. That evening, in the early hours of 14 Nisan, they held a Preparation Day dinner. Yeshua knew that in the coming hours he would be arrested, put through the ritual of a mock trial, and, at the hour when the Passover lambs are slain, would be nailed to a Roman cross.
In the course of that dinner Yeshua shared with the disciples his instruction as to the profound restructuring of the communion between man and God which he was about to realize through the agency of his Passover sacrifice. Prior to this they had received only a hint:
“’If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
Now Yeshua saw his death as imminent. He knew that his sacrifice would have long-intended consequences throughout the world. During that day, in agony, he had hesitated and then called out to YHVH: “Father, glorify your name!” And the voice came down from heaven: “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Then Yeshua said,
“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.”
[Revelation will teach us the mystery of the power of Christ’s sacrifice to cast Satan from the courts of heaven.]
Seated at dinner with his disciples, Yeshua saw their growing despair that they should lose sight of their king. Philip was looking for a way to carry on, to live with Yeshua absent and still love God, so he said,
“Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
But Yeshua wasn’t letting go of them. Yeshua replied,
“I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”
This answer was double-sided, solace and loss. So now it was time for the teaching that would heal everything, the guarantee that they would know God and be known by God, the teaching that they would never be separated from Yeshua and that, through the Spirit of Yeshua, they would know Yeshua and the Father with an intimacy which far exceeds the intimacy of mere proximity in space:
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and your are in me, and I am in you….If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”
The Spirit of YHVH, the Spirit of Yeshua our king, this is the steel wire binding us to the person of God, to the throne of the heavens. Our hearts being open, he holds court in the heart’s house, ruling, healing, teaching, breaking, removing, rebuilding, until we are made ready for his purposes. In Revelation Yeshua will give us this golden truth in an iconic picture of himself coming to claim his place at the table:
“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and sup with him and he with me. And the conqueror [the survivor!] shall sit beside me on my throne as I myself have conquered and sat down beside my Father on his throne.”
* * * *
That evening Yeshua and the disciples did not retire to Bethany but rather crossed the Kidron Valley and entered an olive grove known as Gethsemane. “Overwhelmed with sorrow” Yeshua prayed and asked the disciples to keep watch. Judas, who had gone away during dinner, now reappeared, followed by a band of soldiers and Jewish officials. They seized Yeshua, bound him, and led him toward the city. They brought him to Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest, and then to Caiaphas the high priest. Caiaphas in the night hours had already assembled the court of the Sanhedrin in his home. They interrogated Yeshua. Through their questions they were searching for the charge that they would try to stick to him. For their own purposes they were happy to settle on Blasphemy – that he should call himself the Son of God. Yeshua satisfied their perverse plot as he told them,
“From now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
The priests and their armed men took Yeshua to Pontius Pilate, as Judea at this time fell under the jurisdiction of the Roman province of Syria. Pilate had come to Jerusalem, knowing that the feast of Passover would create an unusual congestion of pilgrims from the countryside, and anticipating that he should be present to keep an eye on it.
Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin wanted Rome’s participation to help legitimize their undertakings, since at every turn they were in violation of their own process of law. Blasphemy would not be a capital offense in the eyes of Rome. Nor did the claim to be king of the Jews offend Pilate. In the end Pilate said he found Yeshua innocent of any crime and washed his hands of all accusation. He put the death sentence in the hands of the Jews by offering to free either of two “criminals,” Yeshua or Barabbas. The mob chose to see Barabbas go free and Yeshua to perish. Pilate disavowed a hand in his death, and the crowd cried “His blood be upon us.” So it is indeed the deeds of each one of us that put him on the cross.
Pilate still failed to understand that, unlike the Hasmoneans and the Herodians, the royal claim of Yeshua upon his subjects transcended the claim of Caesar and every other earthly power. Taken aback by Yeshua’s lack of effort to speak in his own defense, Pilate confronted him:
“Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Yeshua took this moment to intimate to Pilate that he was in the face of something greater than Roman power:
Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above….”
But nothing could now inhibit the momentum of this event of ancient origin, born at the gates of Eden with the words,
“He shall crush your head though you shall wound his heel.”
Now was the moment when the City of God and the City of the World met head on, and our king was wounded and brought down, though only to rise up again, victorious over death, while his love for his children would lead to the full expulsion of the Accuser from the courts of heaven, and, eventually, his expulsion from the face of the earth. For now, Caesar must have his day, in order that his impotence be manifest, in order that the love of our king be revealed.
“From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, ‘If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.’ When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement [which in Aramaic is Gabbatha]. It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.
’Here is your king,’ Pilate said to the Jews.
But they shouted, ‘Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!’
’Shall I crucify your king?’ Pilate asked.
’We have no king but Caesar,’ the chief priests answered.
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull [which in Aramaic is Golgotha]. Here they crucified him, and with him two others –one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read:
JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Because the next day was the High Sabbath of Passover, Yeshua was buried soon after he died and was taken down from the cross. Joseph of Arimathea had obtained permission from Pilate to take care of his burial. He was aided by Nicodemus. John writes:
“At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”
The tomb remained closed and under guard from Preparation Day through the High Sabbath of Passover, from Passover through the regular seventh day Sabbath which followed and into the early hours of the first day of the week. Before dawn, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. The burial clothes lay inside the tomb, but Yeshua was not there. Peter and John came to witness the scene and did not understand the meaning of it. The disciples went home, but Mary remained in the garden, weeping. Mary sought information from a man in the garden, who then said to her, “Mary!” and then she saw that it was Yeshua. That very evening Yeshua went to meet with his disciples in the house where they were staying.
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’
“After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”
For forty days Yeshua taught his disciples and others who had held close to him during his ministry. In the book of Acts Luke says that to them “he spoke about the kingdom of God.” He gave them this command, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised…For John baptized with water but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Near the end of the forty days Yeshua met with his disciples on a mountain in Galilee. There he gave them “the great commission,”
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Not long afterward he was with them on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem. He blessed them and then ascended into heaven.
From this time forward the kingdom and the kingship of Yeshua and the binding power of the Holy Spirit would be manifest. On the day of Pentecost, barely a week after Yeshua’s ascension into the heavens, the disciples were waiting together in Jerusalem as Yeshua had commanded, and the Holy Spirit came upon them in such a way that they spoke in foreign languages and people from all over the eastern Mediterranean heard them speak in their own tongue.
This was the outward sign which God chose for that moment to mark an inner event, the advent of the Spirit of Yeshua into the heart of the believer to heal and instruct and sustain. It was significant that this enlistment of men should occur on Pentecost, a day appointed between YHVH and Moses as the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover. It was on this 50th [Pentecost] day when Israel received the commandments of the Law in the Sinai desert. Now on this 50th day the advent of the Spirit would mark the commencement of the living law reigning within the heart:
“I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel… I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.”
This was the birth of the transcendent Israel of God. The geopolitical nation, within a few decades, would be ripped to pieces. But, ruling from the heavenly throne, Yeshua could say,
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live you also will live….I am the vine, you are the branches… Remain in me and I will remain in you.”
“As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ….You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
The kingdom of God is in man
During his early passage through Samaria, Yeshua held a significantly prophetic conversation with a woman drawing water at Jacob’s well in Sychar. She had uttered a mild complaint that, whereas Samaritans are happy to worship on Mt. Gerizim, Jews insist that worship must take place in Jerusalem. She was accurately alluding to the ancient expectation that Israel celebrate its major feasts at the temple in Jerusalem. Yeshua then opened to her an insight into a time which was fast approaching, and would in fact be fulfilled before the end of the century, before the arrival of the Revelation:
Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Within the next sixty years Galilee and Judea would be laid waste by Rome. The Temple, after becoming a bastion of rebel resistance, would be overcome, burned, and dismantled down to its foundations. The occupants of Jerusalem would be slaughtered, the city burned and razed. For the foreseeable future, and up into the present, this was the end of Jerusalem and the temple as the center of worship. Now the true worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth, “for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” The limited bonds of geography and kinship and nation were now to be replaced by the bond of Spirit uniting the heart of the individual with the person of Yeshua on the throne of the heavens.
Under the imperative of the “great commission” and under the compulsion of the love of Yeshua made known to them through the Spirit, the disciples, now apostles, spread out through the Mediterranean and eastern nations.
Peter remained a leader among Jews. It is claimed that he led the assembly in Antioch. And his first letter suggests that he was familiar with much of Asia Minor. There is a strong tradition that he went to Rome toward 62 A.D. and was martyred there. By his teaching in Rome four concubines of king Agrippa II and the wife of Albinus, a friend of the emperor Nero, were converted. This infuriated Albinus and Agrippa, leading to the crucifixion of both Peter and his wife.
James, brother of Yeshua, remained at the head of the assembly in Jerusalem and was revered for his integrity by most in the city. He scrupulously adhered to Jewish law. Ananus the high priest came up with a way to entrap James in the interregnum between the death of Festus, the Roman governor, and the appearnace of Albinus the next governor. Given the public trust, Ananus asked James to speak publicly against the radicalism of faith in Yeshua Messiah. Instead James spoke out, saying,
“Why do you ask me concerning Jesus the Son of Man? He is now sitting in the heavens on the right hand of the Great Power, and he is about to come on the clouds of heaven.”
For this they pushed him off the wall of the temple, stoned him and beat him to death.
John had been very close to Peter, his partner in the fishing trade. John became perhaps the closest to Yeshua of all the disciples. From the cross Yeshua asked John to take his mother Mary into his care. John stayed in Jerusalem and cared for her until her death. It would have been during this time in Jerusalem that he wrote his gospel. Later, toward 61 A.D., he went to Rome. In the time of Domitian [81- 96 A.D.] he was banished to the island of Patmos, where he received the Revelation.
Andrew was Peter’s brother. He first introduced Peter to Jesus. Tradition claims that Andrew went to Cappadocia, Bithynia, and Galatia [all in eastern Asia Minor], Byzantium and Greece, and also Scythia [Ukraine, southern Russia and Kazakhstan]. There are legends connecting him to Scotland. [There is a Celtic connection between Galatia, Gall, and the Gaelic speaking people of Scotland and Wales]. Andrew was martyred in Patras, Achaia, just west of Corinth. There Maximilla, wife of the governor, was healed through his prayer and she turned to follow Yeshua. Aegeas, the governor, remained hostile to her faith. Then his brother’s servant was healed and converted. Andrew was condemned, tied to a cross and left to die of starvation and exposure. 
Thomas spread knowledge of Yeshua from the Tigris River in Mesopotamia to the Indus River and on into India.
“Sophronius, in his additions to Jerome’s Lives of Illustrious Men, says that Thomas preached the gospel ‘to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Carmanians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians and Magians and died at Calamina in India.’”
A sixth century traveler found Christian assemblies in India in Malabar and in Caliana, south of Bombay. It is said that Thomas died by the thrust of a lance at Mailapore [Myalapur, now a suburb of Madras].
Matthew wrote a gospel, and there is broad agreement that he first wrote it in Hebrew. Few details of Matthew’s later life are known. It is said that when the apostles first divided their efforts, Matthew was destined for Ethiopia. Others connect him with Persia and Parthia and Macedonia. According to Eusebius, Philip became a leading witness in Asia [western Anatolia] and was martyred in Hierapolis. Simon the Zealot is said to have spread the word in Africa, in Egypt, in Britain, and in Persia. James, brother of John, is recorded as preaching Christ in Spain, then, upon returning to Judea, being martyred by one of the Herods. Legends connect Bartholomew to India, Phrygia, and Armenia.
Jerome and Eusebius record the story of Thaddaeus taking the message to Edessa, a town in northern Mesopotamia, and they record his synoptic response at a time when he was called to summarize his message before the whole town:
“I will preach in their presence, and sow among them the word of God, concerning the coming of Jesus, how he was born; and concerning his mission, for what purpose he was sent by the Father; and concerning the power of his works, and the mysteries which he proclaimed in the world, and by what power he did these things; and concerning his new preaching, and his abasement and humiliation, and how he humbled himself, and died and debased his divinity and was crucified, and descended into Hades, and burst the bars which from eternity had not been broken, and raised the dead; for he descended alone and rose with many, and thus ascended to his Father.”
It is said that Thaddeus died, shot with arrows, on Ararat, near Lake Van, in northeast Turkey.
There were many others who carried to the nations the news that the seed of the woman had come. Most notable among them was Saul, who came to be called Paul. Originally a Pharisee persecuting the rise of believers in Yeshua, a staunch defender of tradition and the status quo, he was present at the stoning of Stephen. While traveling to Damascus he was struck by a light from heaven and confronted by a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Curiously, he answered, “Who are you, Lord?”
The voice answered, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
In a short time Saul also was travelling throughout the Mediterranean world teaching that Yeshua is the Son of God, the long awaited Messiah of Israel. From his conversion in 35 A.D until his final imprisonment in Rome in 68 A.D. he traveled back and forth between Corinth and Jerusalem, with much time spent in the Aegean cities of coastal Asia [Troy, Pergamum, Smyrna, Ephesus, and Miletus] as well as Athens, Thessalonica, Philippi, Antioch in Pisidia, Antioch in Syria, Cyprus, Damascus, and many others. It is believed that Paul was judged in Rome and executed.
The apostles suffered and died for the name of their Lord. But it was a special kind of suffering. It was not a rude anguish. It was more like the hymn of souls given the honor of expressing the depth to which they entrusted soul and body to their Lord. Barclay quotes a prayer attributed to Andrew as he was tied to the cross.
“Hail, precious cross! Thou hast been consecrated by the body of my Lord, and adorned with his limbs as rich jewels. I come to thee exulting and glad. Receive me with joy into thy arms. O good cross, thou hast received beauty from our Lord’s limbs. I have ardently loved thee. Long have I desired and sought thee. Now thou art found by me, and art made ready for my longing soul. Receive me into thine arms; take me up from among men, and present me to my Master, that he who redeemed me on thee may receive me by thee.”
During these same years another kind of suffering was growing and overwhelming Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. The killing of the king leads to chaos. To kill the king under normal circumstances is to take down the embodiment of order and law. To kill the king who is the Son of God is to reject the order of the universe and to presume to install in the world an order of one’s own making.
Yeshua, on the day of his triumphal entry, had foreseen the coming darkness.
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
In 37 A.D. Caligula [Caius Caesar] came to power in Rome. He saw himself as a god and sent Petronius and an army to Jerusalem to install statues of himself in the temple. Petronius appeared with several legions in Ptolemais on the northern coast. Large numbers of Jews gathered near that city and told him the nation would die before allowing an image of Caligula in the temple. Petronius was persuaded by the gravity of the response. He proposed to Caligula that the plan be abandoned, which produced a violent response from the emperor. But Caligula died so soon afterward that the confrontation passed.
During Passover, 48 A.D., there was new trouble at the temple in Jerusalem. At this time Caligula’s successor, Claudius, was emperor, and Ventidius Cumanus was procurator of Judea. As was the habit during Passover, a Roman cohort stood guard over the cloisters adjacent to the temple. A soldier exposed himself and made an obscene gesture toward the crowds. In return, some threw stones at the soldiers. Some ran to Cumanus and demanded justice. Cumanus responded by sending more soldiers to the scene. As the soldiers crowded into the cloisters, the people attempted to force an exit from the temple and down into the city. There was such chaos that ten thousand died, most being trampled in the narrow streets. This sent the nation into mourning.
Soon afterward a servant of Caesar, carrying a piece of furniture along a road, was attacked by robbers. Cumanus sent a small detachment of soldiers to find the robbers. One of the soldiers, coming upon a copy of the sacred book of the law, tore it to pieces and threw it into the fire. Protest over this incident was intense, until Cumanus agreed to execute the soldier.
The accession of Nero in 54 A.D., like a fever, destabilized the empire. His dissolute and often barbarous conduct inspired license in the behavior of those beneath him. Given a sense of underlying chaos in the powers now ruling over Judea, the rebels in Jerusalem became more audacious. There came to be a lawless group known as the sicarii, named after the daggers they carried under their cloaks. They were not rebels with an ideal. They were more like accidental anarchists taking advantage of weakness for their own profit. They justified their actions in the universal hatred of Rome, but in reality they preyed upon both Romans and Jews. Their destructive influence was seconded, and sometimes opposed, by the Zealots, who espoused the purpose to employ violence to overthrow Rome and “obey no one but God.”
The sicarii murdered Jonathan the high priest, after which no one felt safe. Men claiming to be rebels against Rome randomly pillaged the villages of Judea. From 59 to 62 the Roman procurator Festus did his best to chase down the anarchists, but his successor, Albinus, was completely corrupted by the spirit of Nero. [During this transition James, brother of Jesus, was martyred]. Albinus made himself rich by filling the prisons, then allowing the prisoners to buy their freedom. He plundered the estates of the rich and demanded heavy taxes of the whole nation. At this same time there was extensive unemployment in Jerusalem as the restoration of the temple came to completion. To further unsettle the lords of the realm, Albinus’ wife Xanthippe, and four concubines of Agrippa were converted to follow Yeshua through the word of Peter.
The Great Fire of Rome came about in 64 A.D. Nero eventually blamed it on the Christians, who were not considered to be distinct from Jewish culture, only a Messianic cult within Jewish worship. The scapegoating of a Jewish cult further destabilized relations between Jews and Rome.
In 64 A.D. Gessius Florus replaced Albinus. He was even more corrupt and rapacious, to the point that the people were fond of mocking him. Then, in 66 A.D., the 12th year of Nero, there was an incident which is considered to be the act which precipitated the rebellion which would end in the fall of Jerusalem. Coming up to Passover, when Cestius Gallus, governor of Syria, visited Jerusalem, three million Jews crowded around him and begged him to free them of the burden of being ruled by Gessius Florus. Cestius took it lightly, since Florus was there in his presence; then, without response, Cestius returned to Antioch. Florus took the incident as a warning that the population bitterly opposed him.
Then there followed an incident in Caesarea Maritima, Florus’ seat of power, where a Greek landowner, on the Sabbath, offended the Jews at the synagogue by sacrificing birds at the entrance and destroying the ritual cleanliness of the place. Huge protests followed. Florus at this time was moving his residence to the royal palace in Jerusalem and was very sensitive to the angry reactions of those in Jerusalem. Florus demanded of the leaders in Jerusalem that they produce the leaders of the protest. They instead asked for mercy and consideration that the protest was justified. Florus was incensed and sent soldiers to plunder the Upper Market Place in Jerusalem. They ravaged the area, but then, after taking whatever they wanted, they went from house to house murdering the inhabitants, in all about three thousand six hundred people. Josephus adds:
“..what made this calamity the heavier, was this new method of Roman barbarity; for Florus ventured then to do what no one had done before, that is, to have men of the equestrian order whipped, and nailed to the cross before his tribunal; who, although they were by birth Jews, yet were they of Roman dignity notwithstanding.”
King Agrippa and his sister Bernice witnessed the cruelty of Florus and his soldiers toward the population of Jerusalem and begged him to leave them in peace, but Florus ignored their pleas. Bernice stood barefoot with her head shaved before the tribunal of Florus, but she was ignored.
Florus attempted to take control of Fort Antonia just north of the temple in order to break through the connecting cloisters and plunder the temple. The more active rebels cut down the cloisters in order to protect the temple. Florus abandoned his plans and returned to Caesarea Maritima.
A man named Menahem was the son of Judas the Galilean, one of the founders of the Zealots. He broke into Herod’s armory at Masada and so made himself leader of the sedition, stealing a large stash of weapons. People disliked Menahem and killed him, but now the opposition to Rome was more motivated and better armed. Agrippa and Bernice begged the Jews to understand that a war against Rome could not succeed. Their words made little impression. Those in favor of sedition acted treacherously against Rome and against the moderate citizens of Jerusalem. This only amplified the will of Rome to suppress them.
Jews became hated by the heavily Greek and Roman population of Caesarea. Florus, in one day, gathered the entire Jewish population of Caesarea, and, in one hour, slaughtered twenty thousand. The nation was enraged. Jews then attacked cities throughout the Syrian [i.e. Antiochian Greek] regions. With mixed populations, this created even greater divisions among the Jews.
Division spread to Alexandria, exacerbating a longstanding contempt there for Jews since the days of Alexander the Great when he gave Jews civic privilege above that of the Egyptians and equal with that of the Greeks. A minor incident led to the Roman governor allowing two legions of soldiers to attack the Jewish settlement, plunder and burn their houses. After a fierce battle, fifty thousand Jews were killed.
Cestius Gallus, governor of Syria, decided it was time to act to mute Jewish anger. He took a legion from Antioch to Ptolemais. He was joined by King Agrippa and a contingent of men. They overran the countryside around Ptolemais. They plundered Zebulon in Galilee. They killed eight thousand four hundred in Joppa. Cestius began to observe that the Jews were gathering themselves to fight back. Sensing a threat to Roman positions, he turned his army toward Jerusalem.
Advancing with thirty thousand men, he broke through into the city. Many tried to aid his entry, treating him as their rescuer, but he mistrusted them. Meanwhile the active combatants rapidly gathered around him and assaulted him. He lost his confidence and retreated out of the city. Josephus claims that if he had understood his huge advantage he would have remained and would have easily taken the city. This was in the “twelfth year of Nero,” 66/67A.D. The easy “victory” of the Jews over the Roman legions would contribute to their unwarranted confidence in the battles to come. Evidence that Rome would be back caused many to quit the city at this time. It is said that many followers of Yeshua went to Pella.
Three mutually antagonistic factions began to organize themselves territorially within Jerusalem, Simon bar Giora along the outer walls and closer to the populace, Eleazar ben Simon in the temple, and John of Gischala in the cloisters on the north side of the temple. John overtook Eleazar in the temple and murdered him, leaving two factions, both of which preyed upon the population. In their struggles they destroyed much of the corn which was the city’s food reserve. Both Josephus and Tacitus mention that in this time there were signs in the sky, in particular a comet which hung in the sky like a sword. All sides interpreted these as portending their own victory.
Nero was grieved that Cestius had failed to take Jerusalem. He sent Vespasian to govern Syria and to take command of Jerusalem. Vespasian gathered several legions and had his son Titus bring up two legions from Alexandria. Titus and his army joined with Vespasian at Ptolemais. They also were joined by the forces of King Agrippa. Vespasian intended to eliminate resistance in the countryside before focusing on Jerusalem. They proceeded to take the rebel held towns of Galilee. In the conquest of the town of Jotapata Vespasian captured Josephus, commander of the army of Galilee. Josephus prophesied his belief that Vespasian was destined to become emperor. This pronouncement won him enough favor that he was maintained as an interpreter and intermediary close to Vespasian and then Titus. In this capacity he had the most privileged point of view from which to witness the wars. Supported by later access to documents, and even the books salvaged from the temple, Josephus was able to write his histories.
The death of Nero in the summer of 68 A.D. caused Vespasian to pause his planned assault on Jerusalem. He did however lay waste to much of Judea, Perea, and Idumea. From the summer of 68 to the summer of 69, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, in succession, all briefly held power in Rome. In July of 69 A.D. the Roman legions of Egypt and Judea dared to declare their commander Vespasian to be Emperor. But Vespasian had to await events in Rome.
Meanwhile the factions within Jerusalem were so intent on their civil war that Vespasian judged it prudent to hold off and let the factions slay each other. Many did their best to flee the city. In general the rich succeeded in escaping by paying money to the Zealots. The poor who tried to flee were killed. Josephus writes that the dead lay in piles in the streets as the Zealots tried to rule through terror.
“These men, therefore, trampled upon all the laws of man, and laughed at the laws of God.”
“The citizens themselves were under a terrible consternation and fear; nor had they any opportunity of taking counsel, and of changing their conduct; nor were there any hope of coming to an agreement with their enemies; nor could such as had a mind flee away; for guards were set at all places, and the heads of the robbers, although they were seditious one against another in other respects, yet did they agree in killing those that were for peace with the Romans, or were suspected of an inclination to desert them, as their common enemies. They agreed in nothing but this, to kill those that were innocent.”
Then came the day in December, 69 A.D., that Vitellius was murdered in Rome and Vespasian was hailed as emperor. Vespasian determined to remain in Rome and trust Titus to succeed in taking Jerusalem. Titus set out with his legions and made an initial encampment on Mt. Scopus, about a mile north of the city. He then had his troops level all the land between Mt. Scopus and the northern wall of the city, cutting down trees and burning villages. On this side of the city there were three walls, at some distance from each other, separating the Romans from the inner city. Titus began his advance in the spring of 70 A.D. as the city was filling with pilgrims for Passover. Titus breached two of the walls quickly and then sent Josphus to negotiate a peace. The Jewish rebels refused. They were determined to fight.
Titus paused in his attack in order to build an outer wall encircling the entire city, so to bring an end to any escape from the city or any further resupply from the neighboring towns. Once this was complete, famine increased rapidly. People either died of starvation or were murdered for what food they possessed. The streets were soon littered with rotting bodies. The appraisal of Josephus is dark:
“…for the war was not now gone on with as if they had any hope of victory, for they gloried after a brutish manner in that despair of deliverance they were already in.”
And yet the eyewitness Josephus claims that the Romans were moved by the courage of the Jews:
“…and, what was their greatest discouragement of all, they found the Jews’ courageous souls to be superior to the multitude of the miseries they were under by their sedition, their famine, and the war itself.”
Soon, with heavy battle engines in place, Titus undertook the assault which would eventually lead him to the temple itself. Titus made siege ramps up to the walls on the west side of Fort Antonia. Fort Antonia sat just north of the temple, separated by an area of cloisters and two bridges which led from the fort to the temple. Titus took control of the fort. Then a vicious battle ensued on the narrow space of the bridges to the temple. The Jews set fire to the cloisters at the northwest corner of the temple in order to arrest the Romans, but the fire began to spread to the sanctuary. Battering rams were set up on the western wall of the inner temple, but six days of battering made no impression on the massive temple wall. Titus ordered his men to set fire to the gates of the temple, and all the cloisters caught fire. Titus tried to both quench the fire and seize the temple, but the fire went out of control and could not be stopped. The temple was destroyed on the same month and day, the 9th of Av, as it had formerly been taken by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar.
“The flame was also carried a long way, and made an echo, together with the groans of those that were slain; and because this hill was high, and the works at the temple were very great, one would have thought that the whole city had been on fire….Yet was the misery itself more terrible than this disorder; for one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the temple stood, was seething-hot, as full of fire on every part of it,that the blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain more in number than those that slew them; for the ground did nowhere appear visible, for the dead bodies that lay on it; but the soldiers went over heaps of these bodies, as they ran upon such as fled from them.”
Soon the Romans established their ensigns on the grounds of the temple, clearing every citizen from the area. A priest named Jesus, son of Thebuthus, brought out from the walls of the temple certain holy objects and gave them to Titus, including the menorah which is now seen carved on the arch of Titus in Rome. The Romans proceeded to burn most of the city, including the lower city [City of David] as far as the pool of Siloam.
In the course of this whole war, ninety-seven thousand people were taken captive, and, partly due to the large influx into the city for Passover, one million one hundred thousand were killed, a figure sustained by the record of the number of Passover sacrifices ordained at that time.
And now the prophecy of Yeshua came to pass, that not one stone would lie upon another:
“Now, as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, …Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne, and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison; as were the towers also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valour had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.”
So Josephus affirms that what remains from that time in Jerusalem is not the base of the temple but the base of Fort Antonia. Modern archaeology increasingly affirms that the temple was, as asserted repeatedly in Scripture, in the city of David, close above the Gihon spring, its eastern and southern walls plunging down into the Kidron Valley.
The Domitian persecution and the exile of John to Patmos
Titus took his spoils and left to spend the winter in Caesarea Maritima. The tenth legion guarded over the remains of Jerusalem. A contingent of the Sicarii established a final point of resistance in Masada, the great hilltop fortress built by Herod the Great. Here they found ample provision of food and weapons. The tenth legion built an enormous siege ramp. Upon penetrating the fortress the Romans found that the defenders, nearly a thousand men, women and children, had committed mass suicide.
After the fire in Rome and the year of anarchy which saw Galba, Otho, and Vitellius come and go, Vespasian had his hands full restoring order and structure to Rome. He ruled until the summer of 79 A.D. Upon his death his son Titus came to power. Titus ruled with great popularity, though his younger brother Domitian plotted against him. According to Suetonius,
“Titus was seized with a dangerous illness, when Domitian ordered that he be left for dead, before he had actually drawn his last breath.”
In the fall of 81 A.D., after just two years and a few months in power, Titus, the conqueror of Jerusalem, died.
He was followed by Domitian. After slaying his brother, Domitian killed his enemies in the senate. He soon turned against Jews, rigorously demanding that Jews everywhere, even children, pay the fiscus judaicus, the tax instituted by Vespasian,without which a Jew was not free to practice his religion. As for Christians, Domitian decreeed that “No christian, once brought before a tribunal, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing his religion.” He ordered that anyone found to be of the lineage of David must be put to death. For this leader of the Roman world empire, his imperial cult was of great importance. Followers of Yeshua refused to take part in the imperial cult and for this they were condemned. The persecution may have been of brief duration, but one of the most prominent people to endure the persecution was John the apostle, who received and recorded the vision now known as Revelation.
 Isaiah 53.2,3
 Revelation 1.13-19
 Revelation 12.7-12
 Genesis 1.14,15
 Genesis 6.4-8
 Genesis 9.18-27
 Genesis 11.9
 Genesis 17.7
 Hebrews 11.8-10
 Genesis 22..15-18
 Psalm 78.49 “He unleashed against them his hot anger, …a band of destroying angels.”
 Exodus 6.6,7
 Exodus 19.4-6
 Revelation 21.3,6,7,8
 Exodus 20.18,19
 Exodus 33.11
I Samuel 8.5
 II Samuel 7.5,6,11-14
 II Chronicles 10.16,17
 II Kings 21.9
 II Kings 21.14,15
 Lamentations 1.17,18
 Psalm 137.1-6
 Isaiah 49.1-6 excerpts
 Ezekiel 34.11-15 excerpts
 Ezekiel 36.24-28
 Job 19.25-27
 Daniel 7.13,14
 Daniel will have an analogous vision of his own in 553 B.C. It is recorded in Daniel 7. Instead of a statue of four metals, four beasts represent the four world kingdoms, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece/Macedon, and Rome, until the appearance of “one coming with the clouds of heaven….He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7.13,14
 Daniel 2.35
 Daniel 2. 44-45
 Isaiah 44.24-28; see also Isaiah 41.2 and 46.11
 Daniel 9.20-27
 Nehemiah 2.1-9
 reckoned as 1 Nisan or 14 March 445 B.C.
 6 April 32 A.D.
 Sir Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince
 Micah 4.10
 Isaiah 44.24,28; 45.1,2-5,12,13
 Matthew 1.12; Luke 3.28
 Haggai 2.1-9
 Samaria, Edom, the Ammonites, the Arabs, and the Philistines
 Daniel’s [chapter 11] vision of the warring kings foresees the events of the Persian and Greek periods in great detail – more detail than necessary for our narrative, therefore it is included as an Appendix.
 Micah 4.11,12
 334 B.C.
 June 11, 323 B.C.
 I Maccabees 1.1-9
 II Maccabees 5.11-16
 I Maccabees 5.22-24
 II Maccabees 6.8,9
 I Maccabees 2..27,28
 Samaria, /Gaza, Edom, Arabia, Samaria
 I Maccabees 13.41
 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XII. 6.7
 Micah 5.1-5
 John 11.11
 Antiquities XV.7.10
 Antiquities XV.10.4
 Ezra’s Temple, Herod’s Temple and Ezekiel’s Vision of the Third Temple., Judaism.stackexchange.com
 This event is relevant in the dating of the death of Herod.
 Antiquities xvii.6.5
 Antiquities xvii.7.1
 Eclipse records reveal
 Antiquities xvii.10.2
 A clear reference to his reputation as an uncontrolled tyrant.
 Under Herod Antipas
 Matthew 2.1-23
 Mattthew 1.1-17
 Jerenmiah 27.2,5-7
 Daniel 2.44,45
 Zechariah 4.6
 John 19.9,10,11
 John 18.36,37
 Isaiah 49.5,6
 Luke 1.31-33
 Luke 1.46,51-53
 Luke 2.38
 September 28 A.D. to September 29 A.D., with baptism and temptation of Yeshua taking place somewhere between September and December of 28 A.D.
 Luke 3.1,2
 Luke 3.15-18
 Luke 3.8
 Luke 3.23
 I Samuel 16.1
 I Samuel 16.1
 I Samuel 16.13
 II Samuel 2.4
 II Samuel 5.1-3
 John 1.32-34
 Isaiah 42.1,4,6,7
 Mathew 17.2
 Zechariah 12.1,10-14
 Zechariah 14.9,16,20
 John 1.10-13
 Luke 4.25-30
 Luke 4.34,35
 John 6.39
 Matthew 4.18-22
 Luke 6.27,28
 John 1.43-51
 John 6.48,51,53-56,63
 Luke 9.51
 Matthew 16.17
 Matthew 16.21
 Matthew 16.24,25
 Revelation 13.8
 John 12.1
 John 12.12,13
 Matthew 21.1-9
 Luke 19.37-44
 Matthew 26.2
 Matthew 24.5
 Matthew 24.23,24
 Matthew 24.26-30,36
 John 7.37-39
 John 12.28-31
 John 14.10
 John 14. 15-23
 John 14.25-27
 Revelation 3.20,21
 This is the clear statement, in complete agreement with all other information in the gospels, that Yeshua was crucified on the day before Passover, at the time when the lambs are sacrificed.
 John 19.41,42
 John 20.19,20
 Matthew 28.18-20
 Jeremiah 31.31-34
 John 14.18,19; 15.5,4
 I Peter 2.4,5,9
 John 4.21-24
 Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, 2.23
 Nicephorus, The Ecclesiastical History, 2.2
 William Barclay, The Master’s Men
 Barclay, p. 52
 Barclay p.91; Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, 3.21
 Barclay, p. 122; Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, 1.13; Jerome, Homily on Matthew, 10.4
 William Barclay, The Master’s Men, p.45
 Luke 19.41-44
 Wars of the Jews, II.14.9
 Wars II.15.1
 Wars II.19.9
 Wars IV.6.3
 Wars V.1.5
 Wars VI.1.1
 Wars VI.1.2
 Wars VI.5.1
 Wars VII 1.1
 Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars, Domitian
 On this subject Eusebius quotes Irenaeus: “The Apocalypse was seen not long ago, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian.”