How Was the Announcement of the Fall of Jerusalem the Good News of the Kingdom? #14
It was the Consummation of the Eschatological Wrath of God / It Was the Time of Redemption!
I want to take note in this installment of this series, that when Jesus foretold the preaching of the Gospel into all the world prior to the fall of Jerusalem that he was not simply predicting the preaching of the gospel into all the world, in Matthew 24:14. Unfortunately, that is how this text is normally considered. We are told repeatedly that the gospel must be preached into all the world before the end of the Christian age. But that is not what he said. He literally said that “this the gospel of the kingdom must be preached into all the world.” (The Greek is τοuto (this) to (the) εὐαγγέλιον (Gospel or good news). He was speaking of a very specific “good news.”
What was “this the gospel” he was referring to? The antecedent discussion shows that it was the message of the impending end of the Old Covenant Age, and the fall of Jerusalem. Jesus was not referring to the Gospel comprehensively considered or defined. It was a very specifically defined bit of “good news” that he was referring to.
That is not to say that the Gospel comprehensively defined was not included, because the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, crucified, buried and resurrected, meant that the New Creation had broken in. That signaled the “beginning of the end” of the Old. Thus, my comments should not, in any sense be construed as saying that the Gospel comprehensively defined was not to be – and was not – preached into the world. My main focus is the immediate context of Matthew 24 that shows that the “good news,” the very specific good news that Jesus had in mind in Matthew 24:14 was the declaration and prediction of the end of the Old Covenant age. This is important for understanding Jesus’ comments in Matthew 24:14.
In our last installment I suggested to you that the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, signified the end of the Old Covenant age, the Old Covenant ministration of Death. I shared with you how the NT writers and specifically Hebrews 9, speak of the time still future to them, but coming soon, when all hindrance to man’s entrance into the MHP would be realized and fully accessible.
Per the Hebrews writer, the end of the Law of Moses and access and entrance into the MHP, heaven, are inextricably bound together. To explore that, we go to the book of Revelation.
“Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.”
Notice that the Temple (the naos, ναος- The MHP) of God was seen to be opened. For John to be able to see into the MHP meant the Veil was gone! The implications of this are absolutely profound! One might be tempted, as some are, to jump to the conclusion that since the veil was gone, that man had full access to the MHP before the parousia, before the resurrection. But, that would be to cut short the narrative in Revelation. For brevity, let’s move to another text.
“The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed” (Revelation 15:8).
So, here is more of the story of the MHP. John, once again is privileged to gaze into the MHP. But, notice that there is an “until” to the story. That “until” tells us that although the Veil was removed, actual entrance into that Sacred Place was not yet accessible, and it would not be truly accessible “until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.” God’s wrath had to be finished before man could enter the MHP. So, the filling up of God’s wrath and entrance into the Most Holy are temporally linked.
Notice now, briefly, the perfect correlation between the consummation of the Wrath of God, redemption, and Luke 21:22-28
“For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
What is significant is that even Dispensationalists agree that Luke 21:20-24 is about the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. But, look closer at what that means. It means that the Jewish War was the time for the filling up– the pouring out of God’s wrath in fulness! And not only that, it would be at that time, the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when their redemption would be at hand.
Now, it is sometimes argured that the Jesus was using the word “redemption” (Greek ἀπολύτρωσις, apolutrosis, Strong’s #629) not in a soteriological sense, but, to refer to their physical deliverance. This word can refer to physical deliverance, but, that cannot be its meaning here.
Keep in mind that in Matthew 24:15f Jesus had given the disciples signs of his coming in the judgment of Jerusalem. He told them that when they saw the Abomination of Desolation foretold by Daniel the prophet (Daniel 9:26-27 / 12:9f) they were to flee. In other words, their physical deliverance, their physical redemption, from the horrors of the coming War would take place prior to the actual fall, prior to the destruction! Thus, their “redemption” in verse 28 is not a reference to their physical deliverance. It was the redemption mentioned in Ephesians 1:12-13 and 4:30– the redemption of the purchased possession.
Incredibly, some Dispensationalists see, or seemingly see, the incredibly importance of AD 70 as the time of vengeance, but, they fail to grasp the implications of their own comments. For instance, read what Thomas Ice says about Luke 21:22:
“Luke 21:20 must be A.D. 70 because it speaks of the days of vengeance, and this means “Those first century days are called ‘days of vengeance’ for Jerusalem is under the divine judgment of covenantal sanctions recorded in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Luke records that God’s vengeance upon His elect nation is ‘in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.’ Jesus is telling the nation that God will fulfill all the curses of the Mosaic covenant because of Israel’s disobedience. He will not relent and merely bring to pass a partial fulfillment of His vengeance. Some of the passages that Jesus said would be fulfilled include the following: Lev. 26:27-33; Deut. 28:49f; 32:19-27; 1 Kings 9:1-9; Jeremiah 6:1-8; 26:1-9;Daniel 9:26; Hosea 8:1-10-10:15; Micah 3:12; Zechariah 11:6)” (Thomas Ice, (Kenneth L. Gentry and Thomas Ice, the Great Tribulation Past or Future?, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999), 98).
Do you see what Ice says? AD 70 was the complete, not the partial, but the total fulfillment of the curses of the Mosaic Covenant! He then lists numerous texts that he posits as fulfilled in AD 70. Among those is Daniel 9:26. (I cannot take the time to examine each of the texts that Ice posits as fulfilled in AD 70, but, suffice it to say that logically, he has totally surrendered his eschatology!)
Now, Ice and other Dispensationalists, as well as representatives of other futurist views, sometimes object to the idea of AD 70 being the time of redemption because, they say, AD 70 was the time of judgment and vengeance, not the time of salvation. This attempted dichotomy between the time of salvation and the time of judgment is extremely unfortunate, and it is un-Biblical. See my book, Elijah Has Come: A Solution to Romans 11:25-27 for an extensive discussion of this issue.
Meredith Cline addressed this. In an excellent article, he pointed out how Daniel 9 foretold the time of destruction of Jerusalem but, that Daniel 9 is dependent on Isaiah chapter 10:20f. He demonstrates the power of that connection, showing that for both Isaiah and Daniel, the time of judgment was in fact to be the time of the salvation of the remnant:
“Particularly significant for the meaning of higbir in Daniel 9:27 is the use of gibbor in Isaiah 9 and 10. Isaiah identified the Messiah, the Son of David, as “the mighty God” of the covenant formula by declaring His name to be ‘el gibbor (Isa. 9:5). Then in Isaiah 10 this messianic ’el gibbor is mentioned again in the very passage from which Daniel 9:27 derives its thought and wording alike (see verses 21-23). Isaiah spoke there of God’s mighty messianic fulfillment of covenant blessing and curse: a remnant of Jacob would return unto ’el gibbor, but in overflooding (sotep) judicial righteousness the annihilation (kalah) that was determined (neherasah) would befall the land. Daniel 9:26b, 27 echoes Isaiah’s prophecy: the covenant would be made to prevail (higbir), as a blessing for the many who were the faithful remnant, but as a curse in the form of the determined annihilation (kalah weneherasah) which would be poured out on the abominations of apostate Israel like a flood (setep). The unmistakable dependence of Daniel 9:27 on Isaiah 10:21 ff. points directly to the ’el gibbor of Isaiah 10:21 as the inspiration for the higbir of Daniel 9:27.This confirms the conclusions that the subject of higbir is not antichrist or any other than the anointed one whose name is ‘el gibbor and that the object of higbir, the covenant made to prevail, is the redemptive covenant sealed by the reconciling blood of Christ [i.e. the New Covenant].” (Meredith G Kline, “The Covenant of the Seventieth Week,” in The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies in Honor of Oswald T. Allis (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1974), 8-9).
Now, when we realize that the time of the overwhelming flood of destruction of AD 70 was also the time for the bringing in of everlasting righteousness (Daniel 9:24) i.e. the New Creation, are absolutely tied together, we are better equipped to understand how the message of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70 could have been – and was – called “this gospel (this good news) of the kingdom. And to return to Revelation, we can see there that exact conflation of concepts.
Notice again that in Revelation 11 and 15-16, the wrath of God had to be poured out, in full, on the Great Harlot City Babylon, for entrance into the MHP to be open for all men. This conflates redemption (Luke 21:28) with the judgment of that Harlot City that had slain the prophets and was where the Lord was crucified. In fact, Revelation 19 emphatically posits that time of Babylon’s destruction as the time of salvation:
“After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! 2 For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” 3 Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!”
And of course, this agrees perfectly with what Revelation 11:15f anticipated with the destruction of that city where the Lord was crucified:
“Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.”
So, we have in Isaiah, in Daniel, in Luke and in Revelation (in fact, throughout Scriptures), the conflation of salvation and judgment. As we have seen, the time of Israel’s destruction would be when the New Creation would arrive. Is the New Creation wonderful news? Who would doubt that? But, was it “bad news” that the Old Covenant form of Israel had to be destroyed in order to bring in that New Creation? Of course! After all, Jesus said that time would be the greatest tribulation of all time. But, the fact that the destruction of Jerusalem was an awful, horrendous time, does not mean that we can divorce that time and those events from the birth of the New Creation, the everlasting kingdom of Christ!
Thus, when Jesus foretold the impending dissolution of the Old Covenant age, with the attendant destruction of Jerusalem, there is no doubt that it was considered “bad news.” But, it was also wonderful, awesome news! It means – and means – that the never ending kingdom of God is now with man. It means that all men are now invited to participate in the salvation that flowed from Israel to the nations. The Old Covenant kingdom was transformed. The earthly house of this tabernacle was “dissolved” (from kataluthe, καταλυθe, Strong’s #2647). And now, The tabernacle of God is with man!” How is this not “the gospel of the Kingdom”?
What we have seen in this series is that according to the consistent testimony of Scripture, throughout the Tanakh and the NT, the end of the Old Covenant age was to be a traumatic event. It was in fact to be horrific, because it entailed bringing on Israel a holocaust of destruction:
“Just as they have chosen their own ways, And their soul delights in their abominations, So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.” Hear the word of the Lord, You who tremble at His word: “Your brethren who hated you, Who cast you out for My name’s sake, said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, That we may see your joy.’ But they shall be ashamed” (Isaiah 66:3-5).
The Lord would slay the Old Covenant rebels, but save a remnant (Isaiah 65:8-13–> Romans 9-11). The Old Covenant form of the nation and people would no longer be “remembered” i.e. covenantally binding. The Lord would create a New People, with a New Name, in the New Creation (Isaiah 65:15-19). It is in this New Creation that God’s people now dwell in His presence, and enjoy eternal life.
So, in light of all of the evidence we have adduced for properly understanding Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:14, I hope the reader can better understand how and why he could and did call the message of the impending destruction of Jerusalem and Temple, “This Gospel of the kingdom.” We will conclude this series with our next installment, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, be sure to order my book, Into All the World, Then Comes the End, for a great study of the completion of the world mission in the first century.