The Fall of Jerusalem Was the Time of the Fulfillment of All Things– #9- This Was the Gospel of the Kingdom!
In our examination of Jesus’ statement that the announcement of the impending fall of Jerusalem was “the good news of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14) I am asking the question of how that message of catastrophe could be called “the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom.” How could an event and the events leading up to it, which Jesus described as the worst tribulation ever, be considered “good news” and especially “the gospel of the kingdom”?
In the previous installment I noted how the events of AD 70 would bring about the fulfillment of all things written (Luke 21:22). That alone was good news, because of the soteriological implications of the end of the Old Covenant age. But, there is more, much more reason for calling the end of the Old Covenant age “the gospel of the kingdom.” Before developing those “good news” tenets, I am answering some objections to the claim that “all things written” were fulfilled. One of those objections, the second we are examining, is that AD 70 was “merely” the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Day of Vengeance on Israel.
Remember that when a person takes it upon themselves to “redefine” the meaning of words that it is their responsibility to prove that their definition is what is demanded by context. What I mean by that is that the objection that “all things written” in Luke 21:22 must refer only to “all things written” concerning the fall of Jerusalem, or, in the case before us, “all things written concerning the Day of Vengeance against Jerusalem”- must prove that Jesus was using “all things written” in a limited manner.
The objection seeks to mitigate the force and application of “all things written.” What is being affirmed, to express the objection another way, is that the fall of Jerusalem was a local judgment, not a “universal” judgment. So, the burden of proof demands that the objectors be able to prove that “all things written concerning the Day of Wrath” against Israel had no implications or application beyond Jerusalem of the first century. The Biblical reality is that while the “Wrath” was focused geographically on Judah and Jerusalem, that Day of Wrath was far, far more “extensive” than is normally granted. The implications of that Day of Wrath were not strictly “local” at all, as the objectors seek to say.
It is interesting to me that even futurists often “slip up” and admit to the incredible meaning of AD 70. For instance, Thomas Ice, who I have debated, wrote the following, clearly not realizing the force of what he had said:
“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 catch the power of what Ice has admitted here? He is admitting that AD 70 was the fulfillment of “all the curses of the Mosaic Covenant.” AD 70 was not a partial fulfillment of God’s vengeance. It was the total fulfillment! Just take some time to examine the OT prophecies that Ice lists as fulfilled in AD 70, and consider the implications of his stunning admission. It is incredible. Although one could write a volume on the meaning of his admissions, I will refrain. I just wanted to take note that even some futurists point to the incredible significance of AD 70 as the fulfilling of God’s wrath.
Now, as to the issue of the fulfillment of all things, consider the issue of the judgment of the nations. We are told that Matthew 25:31f must refer to an “end of time” scenario, because it speaks of all the nations being gathered for the great Assize. But, look a little close, and particularly, look at what Jesus had to say about the judgment of the nations in Matthew 12:
“The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.”
What do we have here? We have the judgment of Nineveh– a pagan city. We have the judgment of “the queen of the south”- another “pagan.” And when would that be? At the judgment Jerusalem / Israel of that generation!
In addition, consider Matthew 11:20-24:
“Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”
Now, Tyre and Sidon were pagan cities. They were truly “Gentile / pagan.” And, surely no one would argue that Sodom was an Israelite city. There is simply no way to properly, truthfully consider these cities as “Israelite” cities. (There were no Jews or Israelites in the days of Sodom!) Only the most radical, presuppositional, desperate individuals would deny this or assert otherwise.
So, what is our point here? Follow along.
There is no question that the judgment of the nations is at the end of the age– in all futurist paradigms. That is beyond dispute. We are told that Matthew 25:31f is proof of this. And it is, when properly understood. Likewise, we are told that the judgment of the nations is the time when all prophecy would be fulfilled; all things written would be fulfilled.
Well, it is indisputably clear that the nations were to be judged at the end of the age- and that included the non-Jewish nations, even nations that extended centuries in the past from the first century! Nations that existed before there was even “Israel!”
In light of these facts, consider the following words of Jesus in Matthew 23:31-36:
“Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”
Jesus said that Jerusalem would be judged in that generation. No one denies this. But, that is not the whole story. All of the blood, of all the righteous, all the way back to Creation would also be judged in that event! So, just how local was the judgment of Jerusalem? This text effectively negates the “argument” that is often given that the AD 70 judgment was too local to matter.
So, what we find then is that when Jesus said “these be the days of vengeance in which all things that are written must be fulfilled” it is totally inappropriate to limit the extent of that fulfillment of Vengeance to Israel and Jerusalem. That vengeance spanned the time back to Creation. It encompassed the pagan nations! It truly was the fulfillment of all things written!
In out next installment, I will examine the claim / objection that when Jesus said “all things written” would be fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem, that all this meant was that all things that had been written prior to when Jesus spoke those words, in other words, all things in the Old Testament, were to be fulfilled, but, that does not mean that all things in the NT were to be fulfilled.
In the meantime, be sure to get a copy of my book, AD 70: A Shadow of the “Real” End? This book investigates whether the end of the age events of AD 70 were simply a foretaste of the real end of the age, the end of time. The book shows that the fulfillment of the prophecies of the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the Old Covenant world truly was “the gospel of the kingdom.“