Volume. XXXIV, No. 11
Sunday, 15 September 2019

From the Pastor’s Heart: Jerusalem (13)

As I was reading through Josephus’ writing about the Jewish wars against the Romans, I could not but be impressed that the Jewish rebels inside of Jerusalem city were no better than the godless pagans, if not worse than them.  Their cherished religion was despised in the midst of chaos and the holy Temple was not adored anymore.  The surrounding areas of the Temple were all burnt down and became “an intermediate desert space” for the fighting grounds between the rival factions.  In the meanwhile, they burnt almost all the stock of corn which could have sustained them during the Roman siege.  Famine was a consequence of their own evil and reckless acts of violence without the contribution of their arch enemy, the Romans. 

The people and the priests had planned to raise the Temple twenty cubits higher, and king Agrippa supported them at his own expense.  Thus they brought building materials into the Temple area.  However, as the war was looming, the work was stopped, and the evil ones used them to build towers to fight against their rival factions  

(The Wars of The Jews, Book 5. Chapter 1:4, 5).

When Titus came to Jerusalem, his chosen Roman army were not the only ones with him.  There were servants belonging to every legion following them, and there were also mercenaries coming after them.  And then, there were rear guards.  When Titus went out to see the city with a small group of his soldiers, he was ambushed by the Jews.  His legions were not aware of his absence from their midst, and he did not wear even a head-piece and breastplate for protection, while a number of darts came directly against him.  After all, he did not go out to fight but to view the city.  He escaped, though some of his faithful soldiers fell while opening the way of his escape.  This incident falsely emboldened the hearts of the evil ones even more.  The warring parties agreed to fight together against the Romans and even made a surprise attack on a Roman legion busily building their fortress.  The Romans laid their weapons aside for a while to build the fortress, and this surprise attack was so successful that they ran away from the Jews.  Such conflicts went back and forth for a while.  In order to frighten the Jews, Titus even ordered his soldiers to crucify a few captured Jews (Book 5. Chapter 6: 5). 

The Roman General, Titus, was a man of war but considerate and prudent, too.  He ordered his soldiers “not to kill any of those they caught, nor to set fire at their houses neither; nay, he gave leave to the seditious, if they had a mind to fight without any harm to the people, and promised to restore the people’s effects to them; for he was desirous to preserve the city for his own sake, and the temple for the sake of the city” (Book 5. Chapter 8, 1).  He gave the people enough time to comply with his proposals, but he was hard on the fighting men in the city with threats to kill them.  These fighting men were evil to their own people by threatening them not to say a word of surrender to the Romans. 

What the evil ones in the city did not know was that the Romans were not the only threats to their survival.  There was a serious problem of famine in the city.  Many people had already died for lack of food, while the evil ones were not much affected by it yet because they robbed the people of their means.  “Many there were indeed who sold what they had for one measure; it was of wheat, if they were of the richer sort; but of barley, if they were poorer. When these had so done, they shut themselves up in the inmost rooms of their houses, and ate the corn they had gotten; some did it without grinding it, by reason of the extremity of the want they were in, and others baked bread of it, according as necessity and fear dictated to them: a table was nowhere laid for a distinct meal, but they snatched the bread out of the fire, half-baked, and ate it very hastily” (Chapter 10, 2). 

The following describes what the famine was like: “children pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths, and what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do as to their infants; and when those that were most dear were perishing under their hands, they were not ashamed to take from them the very last drops that might preserve their lives: and while they ate after this manner, yet were they not concealed in so doing; but the seditious every where came upon them immediately, and snatched away from them what they had gotten from others; for when they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they broke open the doors, and ran in, and took pieces of what they were eating almost up out of their very throats, and this by force: the old men, who held their food fast, were beaten; and if the women hid what they had within their hands, their hair was torn for so doing; nor was there any commiseration shown either to the aged or to the infants, but they lifted up children from the ground as they hung upon the morsels they had gotten, and shook them down upon the floor. But still they were more barbarously cruel to those that had prevented their coming in, and had actually swallowed down what they were going to seize upon, as if they had been unjustly defrauded of their right. They also invented terrible methods of torments to discover where any food was, and they were these: to stop up the passages of the privy parts of the miserable wretches, and to drive sharp stakes up their fundaments; and a man was forced to bear what it is terrible even to hear, in order to make him confess that he had but one loaf of bread, or that he might discover a handful of barley meal that was concealed; and this was done when these tormentors were not themselves hungry…” (Chapter 10, 3).

Titus, a tactful general, did not press the siege of the city too hard.  He at times relaxed the siege for a little while with the intention that the rebels might think twice about their rebellion during this peaceful moment and would surrender to him.  However, they thought differently.  They thought it much better to die in war (Book 5. Chapter 9, 1).  On the one hand, Titus prepared more attacks on them, and on the other hand, he sent Josephus to persuade them to surrender.  The following is his own record: “So Josephus . . . besought them, in many words, to spare themselves, to spare their country and their temple, and not to be more obdurate in these cases than foreigners themselves; for that the Romans, who had no relations to the those things, had a reverence for their sacred rites and places, although they belonged to their enemies, and had till now kept their hands off from meddling with them; while such as were brought up under them, and, if they be preserved, will be the only people that will reap the benefit of them, hurry on to have them destroyed” (Chapter 9, 3).  People in the city refused to listen to him.  Some threw their darts at him.  When Josephus realized that they would not listen to him, he lamented: “O miserable creatures! are you so unmindful of those that used to assist you, that you will fight by your weapons and by your hands against the Romans? When did we ever conquer any other nation by such means? and when was it that God, who is the Creator of the Jewish people, did not avenge them when they had been injured? Will not you turn again, and look back, and consider whence it is that you fight with such violence, and how great a Supporter you have profanely abused? Will not you recall to mind the prodigious things done for your forefathers and this holy place, and how great enemies of yours were by him subdued under you? I even tremble myself in declaring the works of God before your ears, that are unworthy to hear them….”

I must write one more article to give you a full description of the destruction of Jerusalem written by Flavius Josephus.  It is a terrible thing to be under the wrath of God!



Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Holiday Bible Club: Registration forms and flyers available in the Foyer. Parents please register your children & invite many friends.
  • Holiday Bible Club: Roster for HBC lunch available in the Foyer. If you are able to contribute to & help with lunch, please fill in the roster.
  • Holiday Bible Club: Helpers meeting today at 1:30pm at the Sanctuary. Many helpers are needed. Please let Dn John Wong know if you are available to help & for more details.
  • Combined Senior’s & Ladies’ Fellowship lunch & share & prayer on Sat, 28 Sep in the rectory. Please contact Dn Boong Atijatuporn for more details.
  • Women of Hope: Mrs Debbie Minnick will be speaking to all ladies on Sun, 29 Sep @ 1.45pm in the Sanctuary. All ladies are invited.
  • Missions trips to Batam (16-21 Jan) & Phnom Penh (24 Jan–6 Feb) in 2020. If interested, please see Elder Michael D Lee or any Missions Committee member by 30
  • Lunch Duty: This week: YAF. Next week: AFG.  


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily providence, protection & guidance.
  • Church visitors & activities in the past week.
  • Journey mercies: Elder Michael D Lee; Dn Jason Tan;  & others who have travelled.



  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); and others in affliction.
  • Missions – Bro Jose Mangco & family; House of Hope (Cebu).
  • HBC: speaker & family; organisers, all helpers & participants.
  • IF Retreat: speaker; organisers, all helpers & participants.
  • Pulpit Committee: finding a suitable pastor for our church.
  • Journey mercies: Those  who are travelling.





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