CHAPTER 9 - The Fifth and Sixth Trumpets
Sanctions of the Covenant Treaty Lawsuit cont.
(Yahweh speaking to the prophet Ezekiel) " 'Son of man, take a sharp sword, use it like a barber's razor and run it over you head and beard. Then take scales and divide the hair you have cut off. Burn one-third inside the city, while the days of the siege are working themselves out. Then take another third and chop it up with the sword all round the city. The last third you are to scatter to the wind, while I unsheathe the sword behind them. Also take a few hairs and tie them up in the folds of your cloak; and of these again take a few, and throw them on the fire and burn them. From them fire will come on the whole house of Israel.......(v.12) A third of your citizens will die of plague or starve to death inside you; a third will fall by the sword round you; and a third I shall scatter to the winds, unsheathing the sword behind them.'"-Ezekiel 5:1-4 &12
In the opening of the 7 Seals (beginning in chapter 6 and being completed in chapter 8) we saw the prophecy of God's wrath being poured out on Jerusalem and Israel/Judah. The first four horsemen sent out in the opening of the first 4 seals recalled the 7 fold Covenant Curses pronounced 4 times in Leviticus 26:18-34 that would be called down upon the Covenant breakers. Now those Covenant Curses are intensified in the opening of the 7th Seal, which results in the blowing of the 7 Trumpets. But instead of destruction coming in fours (as they did in the Seals) we have the imagery of Covenant Curses coming in 3rds which recalls God's message to Ezekiel before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 586/6BC (Ez. Chapter 5 quoted above).
At the end of chapter 8 John heard an eagle calling out "Disaster, disaster, disaster, on all the people on earth.." This is the angel-cherub of Rev 4:7; the Living Creature that John saw around the Throne of God who looked "like a flying eagle." His cry heralds (Rev. 8:13)"Disaster, disaster, disaster, on all the people on earth at the sound of the other three trumpets which the three angels have yet to blow!" This action of the eagle/cherub is a repetition of Hosea's prophetic statements concerning the destruction of the Covenant breakers of northern Israel in 722BC and the scattering of the 10 Northern tribes of Israel in the first great Diaspora: Hosea 8:1 "Put the trumpet to your lips! Like an eagle, disaster is swooping on Yahweh's home! Because they have violated my covenant and been unfaithful to my Law, in vain will they cry, 'My God!'" and to continue in verse 8 Israel has himself been swallowed; now they are lost among the nations like something no one wants." This historical event, the scattering of the 10 tribes into the gentile world, was repeated at the end of the Jewish Revolt against Rome; the surviving Jews were rounded up and sent into slavery all over the Roman world. Revelation chapters 8-11 are visions fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.
Let's review the Old Testament references and imagery presented in the blowing of the first four Trumpets:
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE FIRST 4 TRUMPETS
Trumpet #1: -Holy fire from God's altar thrown upon the earth reminiscent of the destruction of the Canaanite cities of Sodom and Gomorah. Gen. 19:23 "God rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire of His own sending." (For a comparison between the sins of Sodom and Jerusalem in the 6th century BC see Ezekiel 16:44-63).
-the plague of hail & blood: Egyptian plagues #1 (Nile turns to blood) and plague # 7 (plague of the hail)
-the blowing of the 7 trumpets by 7 angels also recalls the destruction of Canaanite Jericho when 7 trumpets were blown by God's representatives, the 7 Priests of Israel (Joshua ch. 6)
Trumpet #2: -"a great mountain blazing with fire hurled into the sea" (8:9). This verse recalls the Old Testament passages in which Israel and the Temple are referred to as "God's holy mountain (ie Ex. 15:17; Ps 43:3; 48:1;Ez. 6:1-3;etc.). God is now speaking of Jerusalem in the same language He once used to speak of Babylon in Jer. 51:25 &42 as a "destroying mountain". This passage also references Jesus' message to the disciples in Matt. 21:20 when He was standing in front of the Temple which was built on the mountain of Moriah: "..but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be pulled up and thrown into the sea,' it will be done."
Trumpet #3: -a huge star falling from the sky = Satan's fall from paradise given in imagery related to the destruction of the city of Babylon in Isaiah 14:12-15. -"wormwood" a term used in the Old Testament to warn Israel of its destruction as a punishment for apostasy ( Jer. 23:15, etc)
- wormwood is bitter which recalls the first Egyptian plague
when the waters of the Nile turned to blood and all the fish died in the river (Ex 7:21). -this trumpet is a reverse of the healing of the "bitter waters" of Marah in Exodus 15:22-26. The Fathers of the Church taught that this miracle was a foreshadowing of the healing Christ would bring to the world through His crucifixion when He would provide the life-giving waters of Baptism. The Jews have now rejected those healing waters and their punishment is the "bitterness" of judgment.
Trumpet #4: -the great darkness recalls the 9th plague on Egypt= the darkness.
-this trumpet announces the flying eagle: this is the 4th Living
Creature around the throne of God that John saw in Rev. 4:7 "the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle." He is calling out "disaster" 3 times which recalls Ez 7:1-14 in which Yahweh instructs Ezekiel to call out repeatedly to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: "disaster ..the end is coming" and in v 14 Yahweh says "The trumpet sounds, all is ready, but no one goes into battle, since my fury rest on all alike." This image of the flying eagle is also a reference to Hosea 8:1, which is a prophecy of the destruction of apostate Northern Israel in 722BC by the Assyrians: "Put the trumpet to your lips! Like an eagle, disaster is swooping on Yahweh's home! Because they have violated my covenant and been unfaithful to my Law, in vain will they cry, 'My God!'"
What do Egypt, the Canaanite cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Jericho, the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Babylon all have in common with 1st century Judea (Israel) and Jerusalem? They all stood in opposition to God's plan for His Covenant people! Sodom seduced His people into idolatry and sinful practices, Egypt refused to let God's people go and worship Him so He could establish the Old Covenant Church. Canaanite Jericho was the stronghold that the Children of Israel had to conquer before they could take possession of the Promised Land. The Northern Kingdom of Israel rejected the covenant when they rejected God's holy Temple in Jerusalem and descended into idolatry, and Babylon held God's people in bondage when He required them to return and renew their Covenant with Him. In 70AD, 40 years after the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of the Messiah, Judea/Israel and the Old Covenant Temple in Jerusalem stood in opposition to God's plan to establish a New Covenant Church that would take possession of the whole earth by calling all the gentile nations back into a Covenant relationship with God (Rev. 11:15-19; 21:22-27). Roman Judea rejected God's plan when they rejected the Messiah in 30AD. The sending of the 7 Letters prepared the way and now God's wrath would be poured out on Judea and Jerusalem in the opening of the 7 Seals, in the Blowing of the 7 Trumpets, and finally in the pouring out of the 7 Chalices. Judea and Jerusalem would suffer the same fate as those idol worshipers and covenant breakers of the past: The Day of Yahweh has come!
Please read Rev. 9:1-12
Verses 1-2 "Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven onto the earth, and the angel was given the key to the shaft leading down to the Abyss. When he unlocked the shaft of the Abyss, smoke rose out of the Abyss like the smoke from a huge furnace so that the sun and the sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss,..."
The "star that had fallen from heaven" is in the past perfect tense. John did not see a star falling from heaven to earth but a star had already fallen. This is probably a reference to the fall of Satan from his place as an angel in Paradise in Isaiah 14:12-15: "How did you come to fall from the heavens, Daystar, son of Dawn? How did you come to be thrown to the ground, conqueror of nations? You who used to think to yourself: 'I shall scale the heavens; higher than the stars of God I shall set my throne. I shall sit on the Mount of Assembly far away to the north. I shall climb high above the clouds, I shall rival the Most High.' Now you have been flung down to sheol, into the depths of the Abyss!" Jewish tradition and the Fathers of the Catholic Church identified the fall of the Dawnstar (Lucifer in the Latin vulgate) with the fall of the prince of demons, Satan. The Fathers of the Church also taught that the 5 "I shalls" or "I wills" of Satan were answered in the 5 wounds of Christ on the Cross. Jesus also spoke of Satan's fall from heaven in Luke 10:18 when He said: "I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven." This fallen star will also be identified as Satan in Rev. 9:11 "As their leader they had their emperor, the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek Apollyon." Just so we don't miss the identity of the personage John gives us both his Hebrew and Greek names. "Abaddon" in Hebrew means "destruction" and "Apollyon" in the Greek is translated "destroyer."
Did you notice in the Isaiah passage that Satan will be confined in the depths of the Abyss. This is the same Abyss which is mentioned in Rev.9:2. The Abyss, (in Greek abussou = unfathomably deep) according to Hebrew tradition, is the shaft that leads to the bottomless pit where Satan and his other fallen angels are imprisoned until their final punishment. It is not Hell nor is it sheol (Hebrew), the grave or Hades (in Greek). It is the abode of demons. The word in Hebrew for Abyss is Tehom.
According to tradition, the entrance to the Tehom or Abyss is a hole in the great rock that was under the Temple and is now under the Moslem shrine, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Tradition (both Hebrew and now Moslem) says that as long as the Temple (or the Dome of the Rock according to the Moslems) is on top of the Abyss, Satan, and his demons are imprisoned. I have been to Jerusalem and I have seen the hole to the Abyss. It is a hole in the rock, just wide enough for a man to squeeze into; it leads down into the passages under the Dome of the Rock. This Moslem shrine stands where the Holy of Holies of the Temple probably once stood before the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed.
Question: In the Old Testament there are more than 20 references to the "Tehom", which is usually translated as "the Deep." Do you know what passage has the very first reference to the Tehom/Abyss? Hint: it is in Genesis.
Answer: see Genesis 1:1-2.
There are 9 New Testament references to the Abyss. Once each in Luke and Romans and 7 times in Revelations
Question: What is the most terrifying statement in this passage concerning Satan and the Abyss? Answer: That the 5th angel/messenger of God (Christ) has unlocked the Abyss, which will result in the release of Satan and his demons. When the Abyss was unlocked smoke rose up from the depths and out of the smoke came....
Verses 3-6 "..and out of the smoke dropped locusts onto the earth: they were given the powers that scorpions have on the earth; they were forbidden to harm any fields or crops or trees and told to attack only those people who were without God's seal on their foreheads. They were told not to kill them but to give them anguish for five months, and the anguish was to be the anguish of a scorpion's sting. When this happens, people will long for death and (will) not find it anywhere; they will want to die and death will evade them." There are 4 verbs in the future tense in verse 6. Contrary to popular belief a scorpion sting usually doesn't kill, but the poison from the sting causes sever suffering.
Question: What is the most obvious connection between these locusts from the Abyss and an incident involving locusts in the Old Testament? Answer: The 8th plague of locusts in Egypt. There is also a connection to the plague of locusts in the Book of the post-exile, 6th century BC prophet, Joel in chapters 1-2. In these passages 4 names are used for the insect including 'arbeh which in Hebrew means 'destroyer'(this is the meaning of the names given for Satan in Rev. 9:11: Abaddon and Apollyon = destroyer).
According to St. Jerome, the Jews interpreted the four armies of locusts as being historic successive invading gentile armies. Joel 2:1 particularly recalls Revelation chapters 8&9. After the prophecy of the invading armies of locusts in chapter 1 Joel prophesizes: "Blow the ram's-horn in Zion, sound the alarm on my holy mountain: Let everybody in the country tremble, for the Day of Yahweh is coming, yes, it is near." And then in verses 4-5 "They (the locusts) look like horses, like chargers they gallop on with a racket like that of chariots they spring over the mountain tops, with a crackling like a blazing fire devouring the stubble, a mighty army in battle array."
Question: Why is Joel called the prophet of Pentecost? Answer: Because in his first homily after the Holy Spirit takes possession of the New Covenant Church at the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, Peter quotes Joel 3:1-5 (see Acts 2:17-20). Joel was God's prophet after the return from the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BC.
Keeping in mind Joel 2:4-5 "They look like horses, like chargers they gallop on with a racket like that of chariots......a mighty army in battle array." read Rev. 9:7-9.
Verses 7-9 "These locusts looked like horses armored for battle; they had what looked like gold crowns on their heads, and their faces looked human, and their hair was like women's hair, and teeth like lion's teeth. They had body-armour like iron breastplates, and the noise of their wings sounded like the racket of chariots with many horses charging." The Greek word used for horses (hippos) may mean either 'horse' or 'cavalry' (mounted horsemen). I think John sees a human army in this vision. Roman soldiers on horse back are coming down on Judea like a swarm of locusts but human soldiers driven onward, or influenced by the demons of Satan so that in John's vision their human form, and the form of their horses, is distorted by this unearthly, evil, influence. One of the clues to this demonic influence is the "sound of their wings." This is the same description of the sound made by the wings of the angels in the Glory-Cloud (see Ezek 1:24; 3:13; 2Kings 7:5-7). The difference is that this "sound" is made by the wings of fallen angels from the Abyss!
The description of this invading heathen army also bears many similarities to the descriptions of invading armies mentioned in the other prophets like Jer. 51:27; Lev. 17:7 and 2 Chron. 11:15, where the Hebrew word for demon is "hairy one' like John vision's of these locust/soldiers with women's hair. Another possible suggestion for the mention of the long hair could be that many Celtic and Germanic Roman troops wore their the hair very long, or the long hair could be the long manes of the horses themselves but hair like teeth in Scripture are also symbols of 'strength' (ie. Samson, the Nazarite, and his long hair). The "gold crowns on their heads" may be the bronze helmets of the Roman legionnaires, which were burnished with gold.
Verses 10-12 "Their tails were like scorpions; tails, with stings, and with their tails they were able to torture people for five months. As their leader they had their emperor, the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek Apollyon. That was the first of the disasters; there are still two more to come." The reference to 5 months is interesting. The 5 months could refer to a limited amount of time; then too the number 5 in Scripture usually refers to God's grace so this could be a period of grace that allows the righteous to escape before the end.
Abaddon is used in the Old Testament for the realm of the dead and the place of destruction (see Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Ps. 88:11; Prov 15:11; 27:20). Satan in this passage is presented as the very personification of death (see 1Cor 10:10 and Heb 2:14).
There may also be a historical connection. In May of 66 Gessius Florus succeeded in inciting a revolt by killing 3,600 Jews and by crucifying 2000 of this number; some of the crucified were Jews of the equestrian order and Roman citizens (it was a crime to crucify a Roman citizen). For 5 months Florus set his soldiers on the population and gentile controlled towns like Caesarea massacred much of its Jewish population. The Roman governor of Syria amassed Roman legions in northern Syria and crossed the Euphrates river to smash the revolt (see Rev. 9:14 and Josephus The Jewish War, 2.18.9-2.19.7). In October the Jews managed to form a defensive army; it is 5 months into the revolt when they are able to stop the persecution. In November they are able to drive the Roman legions out of Judea. It was an incredible feat and should have been the end of their troubles when it fact it was really the beginning. Now Rome had to make an example of these people. The problem is the Jews were not able to maintain a cohesive force. The Jewish historian Josephus says it is as though they were controlled by demons because the Jews immediately broke into 3 different factions and began to fight and kill each other. Then too, most the other great invasions of Israel/Judah had come across the Euphrates: The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks and now the Romans.
Question: What were the 'locusts' forbidden to harm? See verse 4. Answer: "they were forbidden to harm any fields or crops or trees and told to attack only those people who were without God's seal on their foreheads." This is the New Jerusalem translation but the more literal New American translation reads: "The locusts were commanded to do no harm to the grass in the land or to any plant or tree.." Grass in Scripture usually symbolizes humanity while trees refer to God's elect. See Isaiah 40:6-7: "All humanity is grass and all its beauty like the wild flower's. The grass withers the flower fades when the breath of Yahweh blows on them. (the grass is surely the people)." Psalms 104:16 "The trees of Yahweh drink their fill.." The New Jerusalem scholars adjusted their translation because "grass" in this passage cannot refer to the human population in general because as the verse continues the 'locusts' are commanded to "attack only those people who were without God's seal on their foreheads." Then too, the Greek word used for grass (chortos) can also mean 'hay.' The command not to harm the crops or God's elect seems to be the more reasonable interpretation.
The command is 'do not totally destroy yet.' They were not to harm God's righteous elect symbolized by the 'trees.' God's elect had to be given the chance to escape. In that sense, those 5 months could have been a period of grace for the elect to escape. It was at this time, in 66AD, that the Christian communities fled eastward across the Jordan River away from the conflict.
If this is the historical fulfillment of this passage, the 'locusts' of Roman invaders have to be the army of General Gallus which withdrew in November 66. This period of the 5 months gave Christians enough time to recognize that this was the period of destruction Jesus had prophesized, and even though they suffered persecution apparently they were able to escape with their lives. Curiously enough, the evidence is that Cestius Gallus 'withdrew' his forces from the siege of Jerusalem (a seige that lasted 5 days in the month of Tishri'the month that began with the Feast of Trumpets). The Jewish forces did continue to attack his forces as they retreated back to Syria but why did Gallus retreat? His army was composed of battle hardened Roman soldiers who had successfully fought the fierce Parthian armies for the past several years. Historians have no explanation as to what caused this Roman general to flee the battlefield!
Then too, this 5-month period from May to October was season of locust infestation and yet we are told the crops were not harmed so these locusts are not the common insects that normally plagued the growing season. The command to "harm no crops" also has a historical fulfillment. In the harvests leading up to the spring of 70AD Judea experienced especially abundant harvests.
The mention of body armor is also historically accurate. The Roman soldiers wore a type of breastplate that protected the soldier. The scorpions' tails may the Roman gladius or short sword with which they intimidated and brutalized or killed. "The noise of their wings sounded like the racket of chariots with many horses charging" probably refers to actual chariots and horses. And even though they were commanded by a human Roman general, it was Satan who inspired the lust for inflicting suffering and war.
Question: How many more disasters will follow? See v. 12. Answer: two more
Please read verses 13-21
Verses 13-15 "The sixth angel blew his trumpet and I heard a single voice issuing from the four horns of the golden altar in God's presence. It spoke to the sixth angel with the trumpet and said, 'Release the four angels that are chained up at the great river Euphrates.' These four angels had been ready for this hour of this day of this month of this year, and ready to destroy a third of the human race."
The 'horn' in Scripture represents strength. Both the bronze Sacrificial altar and the golden Incense altar in the Temple had 4 projections at the four corners of the altar which represented God's power and His mercy. Those fleeing civil justice could seek mercy by taking hold of the horns (1Kings 1:50-51; 2:28) horns, and the altar horns were also used in connection with the swearing of oaths.
God's heavenly Incense altar also had 4 horns. It is important to note that the command to the sixth angel is given by a "voice from the four horns of the golden altar (Incense altar) which is before God." The point is God's actions in history proceed from His altar, where He has received the prayers of the Saints. John states that the voice just doesn't come from the altar but from the four horns which has an important connection to Old Covenant liturgy: the purification offering. The purification offering (Lev. 4:13-21) dealt with the pollution caused by sin. The seriousness of the pollution depended on the gravity of the sin and the status of the sinner. If an ordinary citizen sinned, his sin polluted the sanctuary only to a limited extent. In that case, the blood of the animal he brought to sacrifice for his sin was only smeared on the horns of the Bronze altar. If however, a high priest, or a king, or the whole nation sinned, the blood had to be taken inside the tabernacle (or in the case of the Temple, inside the Holy Place) and sprinkled on the golden Incense altar and on the veil that separated the Holy of Holies. This was the only way the altar could be purified so that the incense could be offered with the assurance that God would hear their prayers. On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the blood of the sacrificial lamb was smeared on the horns of the altar of Incense (see Lev. 16:1-34, especially v. 18). God's voice issuing from the "horns" is a message to the Saints that Christ's blood has taken away their sins and nothing stands in the way of the Church's access to Him.
Another important point in this regard is that the prayers of polluted and defiled Judea/Israel cannot be heard (Lev. 18:24-30) because they have rejected the one atonement for sin: Jesus Christ, the Lamb of sacrifice. The unclean land of Judea will therefore be judged in terms of the curses of Leviticus chapter 26 and the 4 seven-fold judgments (like the 4 horns of the altar). John's 7 churches would understand that they now have the confidence to enter the Holy Place by the blood of Jesus" (Hebrews 10:19) and that their prayers will be answered.
If the 5th Trumpet was the invasion of Cestius Gallus, then this 6th Trumpet vision has to be looking forward to the invasion of General Vespasian and his son Titus with their Roman legions. God had held them back until the time was completed for the New Covenant believers to escape. Now it was time for Vespansian to bring his legions across the Euphrates River and end the revolt. And this time the army of locust/Romans is much bigger! There is another interesting historical note that may be a connection to the 7 trumpets of Revelation is the Roman army's use of trumpets. Scholar and archaeologist Yagel Yadin offers, in the conclusion of his discussion of the trumpets in the Roman army in his book The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness; page (pp 111-113), this statement:"It must be noted that the number of trumpets and horns at the disposal of the 'central command' of the legion did not exceed seven of each type."
Question: How is the 'completeness' of the time set for destruction expressed? Hint: see verse 15. Answer: "as the hour of this day of this month of this year" which indicates that this was a prearranged or predestined time = 40 years after Christ's ascension, in the same month and the same day as the destruction of the Temple of Solomon in 586/7BC = the 9th of Ab 70AD. Notice the reference to "a third" which recalls Ezekiel's vision of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586/6BC as "a third" (Ezekiel 5: 1-4,12).
Verses 16-17 "I learnt how many there were in their army: twice ten thousand times ten thousand mounted men. In my vision I saw the horses, and the riders with their breastplates of flame color, hyacinth-blue and sulfur-yellow; the horses had lion's heads, and fire, smoke and sulfur were coming from their mouths."
This is a symbolic number indicating a tremendous number, but the number is taken from Psalms 68:17 "The chariots of God are twice ten thousand times then thousand."
The "smoke and fire from the horses mouths" are visions of Hell, see Rev. 19:20; 21:8,and "the Abyss" of 9:2 as well as Job's fire breathing Leviathan in Job 41:18-21.
"The horses had lion's heads" could be a reference to a type of plate armor that the Roman cavalry had on the faces of their horses to protect them from arrows or sword blows. The horses of Roman chariots sometimes had plumbs adorning the bridles if the chariots belonged to ranking officers. These could be viewed as manes of a lion. The "lion's heads" reference also reminds me of the 6th century prophet Joel's description of the invading "locust"–gentile army in chapters 1-2 when in 1:6c Joel describes them as "with teeth like a lion's teeth.."
Verses 18-19 "It was by these three plagues, the fire, the smoke and the sulphur coming from their mouths, that the one third of the human race was killed. All the horses' power was in their mouths and their tails: their tails were like snakes, and had heads which inflicted wounds."
Question: Did you notice the symbolism of 3s again? What are the 3 plagues?
Answer: fire, smoke and sulfur resulting in the death of a third of the human race; which indicates once again not a literal third but that it is not a complete annihilation. This can also be a reference to the third part of oil and wine offered in the sacrificial offerings since these dead are also a sacrificial offering to Yahweh which is also a reference to Ezekiel chapter 5 and its one third dead. The rest of the imagery recalls the demon forces at work here.
Verses 20-21 "But the rest of the human race, who escaped death by these plagues, refused either to abandon their own handiwork, or to stop worshipping devils, the idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood that can neither see nor hear nor move. Nor did they give up their murdering, or witchcraft, or fornication or stealing."
Question: How many classifications of sin violations are mentioned in this passage? Answer: 1) worshiping devils = man made idols; 2) murdering; 3) witchcraft; 4) fornication; 5)stealing.
Neither the warnings of the Messiah and His Apostles (Matt. 23:33-36 "..look I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes...In truth I tell you, it will all recoil on this generation."), or the disciplinary wrath of God in the first year of the revolt could turn 1st century Judea and Jerusalem to repentance. They had so completely given themselves over to apostasy that neither God's goodness nor His wrath could turn them from error. The Jewish historian Josephus recorded that even to the very end'after the famine brought on by the destroying of their own crops, after the mass murders, the cannibalism, the crucifixion of Jewish men at the rate of 500 a day'the Jews still preferred to turn to the insane ravings of false messiahs and prophets who promised them victory. Josephus: The Jewish War, Book 6.5.3: "Thus were the miserable people beguiled by these charlatans and false messengers of God, while they disregarded and disbelieved the unmistakable portents that foreshadowed the coming desolation; but, as though thunderstruck, blind, senseless, paid no heed to the clear warnings of God."
In Luke 21:10-11 Jesus had warned that, preceding the Fall of Jerusalem, God would send miraculous signs and wonders to testify of the coming judgment "Then He said to them, 'Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines in various places; there will be terrifying events and great signs from heaven."
Josephus reported that there were 5 signs that God gave as a warning of the destruction of the Temple.
1. before the rebellion started in 66AD Josephus reports that the Jews did not give credit to the signs that God gave them "Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year." The Jewish War, 6.5.3
2. in the Spring of 66AD "While the people were assembling for the Feast of
Unleavened Bread, on the eighth of the month Xanthicus (Nisan), at the 9th hour of the night (if Hebrew time = 3AM; if Roman 9PM), so bright a light shone round the altar and Temple that it looked like broad daylight; and this lasted for half an hour. The inexperienced regarded it as a good omen, but it was immediately interpreted by the sacred scribes in conformity with the subsequent events." The Jewish War, 6.5.3.
3. during the same feast: "The east gate of the inner sanctuary was a very
massive gate made of brass and so heavy that it could scarcely be moved every evening by 20 men; it was fastened by iron-bound bars and secured by bolts that were sunk very deep into a threshold that was fashioned from a single stone block; yet this gate was seen to open of its own accord at the 6th hour of the night (if Hebrew time = 12 midnight; if Roman 6PM). The Temple guards ran and reported the news to the captain and he came up and by strenuous efforts managed to close it. To the uninitiated this also appeared to be the best of omens as they had assumed that God had opened to them the gate of happiness. But wiser people realized that the security of the Temple was breaking down of its own accord and that the opening of the gates was a present to the enemy; and they interpreted this in their own minds as a portent of the coming desolation." You may recall a similar event at Jesus' crucifixion when the Temple veil that covered the entrance to the Holy of Holies (24 feet wide and 80 ft. tall) was ripped from top to bottom (see Matt. 27:50-54; Mk 15:37-39; Luke 23:44-47). The Talmud also records that in 30AD (when Jesus was crucified) the gates of the Temple opened by themselves apparently due to the collapse of the overhead lintel, stone which weighed about 30 tons).
Passover Feast was so important that a second date was set a month later in case anyone through illness or another emergency was unable to attend the prescribed Passover (Num. 9:9-13). "A supernatural apparition was seen, too amazing to be believed. What I am now to relate vouched for my eyewitnesses, then followed by subsequent disasters that deserved to be thus signalized. For before sunset chariots were seen in the air over the whole country, and armed battalions speeding through the clouds and encircling the cities." (The Jewush War, 6.5.3.)
Josephus: The day after the first Sabbath (Saturday) of Passover week was the Feast of
Firstfruits. Fifty days later the Jews celebrated the Feast of Pentecost. It was one of the 3 Pilgrim Feasts that, along with Passover and Feast of Tabernacles, every man in the Covenant was commanded to attend: "At the feast called Pentecost, when the priests had entered the inner courts of the Temple by night to perform their usual ministrations, they declared that they were aware, first, of a violent commotion and din, then of a voice as of a host crying, 'We are departing hence!" (The Jewish War, 6.5.3
The pagan, Roman historian, Tacitus, records some of the same events: "In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armor. A sudden lightning flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure." Histories, v. 13
This 5th sign recalls Ezekiel 10:18-11:23 when the glory of God leaves the Temple and Jerusalem: 10:18-19"The glory of Yahweh then came out over the Temple threshold and paused over the winged creatures. These raised their wings and rose from the ground as I watched, and the wheels were beside them. They paused at the entrance to the east gate of the Temple of Yahweh, with the glory of the God of Israel over them, above." 11:23 "And the glory of Yahweh rose from the center of the city and halted on the mountain to the east of the city."
In Ez. 12:28 Yahweh tells Ezekiel: "There will be no further delay in the fulfilling of any of my words. What I have said shall be done now'declares the Lore Yahweh." This is the same message for Jerusalem in the summer of 70AD.
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