Volume. XXXIV, No. 13
Sunday, 29 September 2019


From the Pastor’s Heart: Jerusalem (15) – Final


Now we are coming closer to the last scenes of the destruction of Jerusalem.  The rebels hid themselves within the Temple premise, and they did not honor the sanctity of the holy things in it.  They melted down many sacred utensils.  The sacred oil and wine the priests used for burnt offerings were distributed amongst the evil ones. (Book 5, chapter 13.6)

As a few eminent people deserted to the Romans, they told Titus about the miseries within the city.  One of the reports said that “no fewer than six hundred thousand were thrown out at the gates [they were dead bodies], though still the number of the rest could not be discovered” (chapter 13, 7).  There were countless numbers of corpses on heaps.  When people could not find food any longer, they searched the “common sewers and old dunghills of cattle, and to eat the dung which they got there; and what they of old could not endure so much as to see they now used for food” (Ibid.)

Finally, the walls of Jerusalem gave in and the Romans attacked the rebels inside.  The rebels retreated into the Temple site and fought fiercely, which deterred the Romans from making any easy advance on them.  When they were desperate, they started a fire, which made “a beginning in burning the sanctuary” (book 6, chapter 2, 9).  Then the Romans set fires from their end, and then the Jews set more fires, which advanced to the temple. 

The Temple burnt down

Titus was not in favor of burning the Temple down.  He said, “although the Jews should get upon that holy house, and fight us thence, yet ought we not to revenge ourselves on things that are inanimate, instead of the men themselves” (book 6, chapter 4, 3).  While there were scuffles between the Romans and the rebels around the Temple site, one soldier took some materials already on fire and “set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy house, on the north side of it” (chapter 4, 5).  Titus ordered his soldiers to stop the fire but they did not hear.  They were consumed by their passion to defeat and destroy the Jews.  They set an even bigger fire in the Temple.  So many were killed, their dead bodies were heaped around the altar, and the steps going up to it ran with their blood. 

Having realized that he could not stop the angry soldiers, Titus went into the holy place with his commanders.  The following is the aftermath.  “But as the flame had not as yet reached to its inward parts, but was still consuming the rooms that were about the holy house, and Titus supposing what the fact was, that the house itself might yet be saved, he came in haste and endeavored to persuade the soldiers to quench the fire, and gave order to Liberalius the centurion, and one of those spearmen that were about him, to beat the soldiers that were refractory with their staves, and to restrain them; yet were their passions too hard for the regards they had for Caesar, and the dread they had of him who forbade them, as was their hatred of the Jews, and a certain vehement inclination to fight them, too hard for them also. Moreover, the hope of plunder induced many to go on, as having this opinion, that all the places within were full of money, and as seeing that all round about it was made of gold. And besides, one of those that went into the place prevented Caesar, when he ran so hastily out to restrain the soldiers, and threw the fire upon the hinges of the gate, in the dark; whereby the flame burst out from within the holy house itself immediately, when the commanders retired, and Caesar with them, and when nobody any longer forbade those that were without to set fire to it. And thus was the holy house burnt down, without Caesar's approbation” (Chapter 4, 7).  It all happened in the second year of the reign of Vespasian. 

There were more people slain than the slayers that day.  There was no discrimination against age, or professions.  Some priests threw themselves into the fire and died.  They were burnt together with the house of the Lord.  When the Romans came to the outer court where they found women and children, they did not wait for their commander, Titus’ order, but set them all on fire in anger.  The siege commenced on the 14th of Nisan, 70 AD, and ended on the 8th of Elul, a total of 134 days. 

False prophets

Even at this treacherous time in Jewish history, false prophets were actively working.  One example is mentioned in book 6, chapter 5, 2 as follows: “A false prophet was the occasion of these people’s destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day that God commanded them to get up upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance.  Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such deliverance.”  Josephus also ridiculed such false prophets and said that there were many signs shadowing the coming destruction of Jerusalem.  I won't introduce you to those signs here, but you may want to read about them for yourselves (book 6, chapter 5, 3).   

Delivery of sacred objects to Titus

When Jerusalem fell, Titus was given lots of sacred objects from the Temple.  Josephus testified of this as follows: “… one of the priests, the son of Thebuthus, whose name was Jesus, upon his having security given him, by the oath of Caesar, that he should be preserved, upon condition that he should deliver to him certain of the precious things that had been reposited in the temple came out of it, and delivered him from the wall of the holy house two candlesticks, like to those that lay in the holy house, with tables, and cisterns, and vials, all made of solid gold, and very heavy. He also delivered to him the veils and the garments, with the precious stones, and a great number of other precious vessels that belonged to their sacred worship.  The treasurer of the temple also, whose name was Phineas, was seized on, and showed Titus the coats and girdles of the priests, with a great quantity of purple and scarlet, which were there reposited for the uses of the veil, as also a great deal of cinnamon and cassia, with a large quantity of other sweet spices, which used to be mixed together, and offered as incense to God every day. A great many other treasures were also delivered to him, with sacred ornaments of the temple not a few; which things thus delivered to Titus obtained of him for this man the same pardon that he had allowed to such as deserted of their own accord” (chapter 8, 3).  If we google “The Arch of Titus,” we will find quite a large sum of information about Titus, his father Vespasian, and his bother Domitian.  This arch was built as an honorific monument by Domitian.  There are two panel reliefs on the arch, and one depicts key triumphal episodes following the fall of Jerusalem.  In one scene, the Romans carry spoils from the Temple in Jerusalem, including Menorah, sacred trumpets, and the showbread table.  It testifies the writing of Josephus’ writings. 

Lovingly,

Your Pastor


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

  • Deepest condolences to Bro Richard & Sis Margaret Pearson & family on the homegoing of Mrs Margaret Pearson.
  • Daylight Saving starts next Lord’s Day, 6 Oct. Please turn your clocks an hour forward.
  • Q & A Session regarding Church extension/ renovations will be held on 13 Oct. All members are encouraged to attend.
  • Holiday Bible Club begins tomorrow. If you can help or contribute, please see Dn John or Sis Josephine Wong.
  • Adult & Junior Daily Manna (Oct-Dec) available in the Foyer. Gold coin donation.
  • Women of Hope: Mrs Debbi Minnick will be speaking to all ladies today at 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 tomorrow.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: Men Volunteers. Next week: VFG.  

  

Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily providence, protection & guidance.
  • Church visitors & activities in the past week.
  • Journey mercies: Rev Tracy & Sis Debbi Minnick;  & others who have travelled.

 

Prayer

  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); and others who are afflicted.
  • God’s comfort for Bro Richard & Sis Margaret Pearson & family as they grieve the passing of Mrs Margaret Pearson.
  • Missions – Sis Ang Liang & ministry (Filadefia BPC; island mission trip-7 Dec; & school fence project).
  • 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: Rev William Yap; interstate campers (Adl); & others who are travelling.

 

 

 

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