Israel – Part 6
We continue in ‘End Time Delusions’:
He saw the city and wept over it. –Luke 19:41
“Then came Peter to Him, and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-22). Christ’s response to Peter’s question is quite interesting. While He obviously was not saying that human forgiveness toward offenders should have a limit, “seventy times seven” equals 490, which just might have been a subtle reference to the 70 week prophecy of Daniel 9!
As we have seen, the 70 week period represented another opportunity for the chosen nation to demonstrate faithfulness to God. Israel’s first temple had been destroyed and her children carried to Babylon because she had rejected God’s warnings through His prophets. Yet through divine love and mercy, another opportunity was granted her “to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins” (Daniel 9:24). Israel returned to her land and built a second temple.
Though Israel had sinned more than “seven times”, God’s forgiveness toward the nation was extended to “seventy times seven”. Near the close of this period, One greater than the prophets would come. Then Israel’s destiny as a nation would be determined by her response to God’s Son.
Near the end of our Messiah’s earthly life, He beheld Jerusalem “and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation’” (Luke 19:41:44).
When Jesus spoke to Peter about forgiveness being extended “until seventy times seven”, He knew the 70 week prophecy was soon to end. He also knew its awful significance to Israel as a nation, to Jerusalem, and to its second temple. Chapters 21-23 of Matthew reveal the sad, final, and explosive encounters between Jesus Christ and the leaders of His chosen people. It’s now time to see the true meaning of those encounters.
During the week before His crucifixion, Jesus “went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” but you have made it a “den of thieves”’” (Matthew 21:12-13). At this point, Jesus still called the second temple, “My house.” But a change would come.
“In the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.’ Immediately the fig tree withered away” (verses 18-19). Here the fig tree was a symbol of the Jewish nation. The “seventy times seven” countdown was nearing its close.
“When He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching” (verse 23). Their plan was to expose the humble Nazarene as a false Messiah and have Him put to death. Jesus then told those leaders a parable that outlined the entire history of Israel in one panoramic sweep, culminating with their murderous designs.
“There was a certain landowner [God] who planted a vineyard [Israel] and set a hedge around it [God’s love], dug a winepress in it and built a tower [the temple]. And he leased it to vinedressers [Israel’s leaders] and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants [the prophets] to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first [continued mercy], and they did likewise to them. Then last of all [notice the word, “last”], he sent his son to them [near the close of “seventy times seven”], saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him [their final sin]” (Matthew 21:33-39, emphasis added).
Jesus asked those leaders, “’Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?’ They said to Him, ‘He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons’” (verses 40-41). Did they realize what they were saying? Hardly! They had pronounced their own doom.
Looking His antagonists squarely in the eye, Jesus declared in words of burning truth, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (verse 43). The Master Himself said it. The kingdom of God would be “taken” away from unbelieving Israel in the flesh and given to another “nation”. Why? Because of their horrific sin of crucifying “the Son” (see verses 38-39).
In His next parable, Jesus outlined the same historical sequence but added details of the destruction of Jerusalem and the call of the Gentiles.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king, who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, “Tell those who are invited. ‘See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city” (Matthew 22:2-7).
This literally took place in 70 A.D. Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled: “The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Daniel 9:26). Continuing the parable, Jesus said, “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding’” (Matthew 22:8-9). Thus Christ represented the call of the Gentiles at the end of the “seventy weeks”.
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). Matthew 23 contains the Savior’s final words of agony over Israel, His chosen nation. Eight times during His last public exchange with Israel’s leaders, our Messiah cried out, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Finally, with a broken heart, the Son of the Infinite God declared: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37-38). This time God was not saying: “You blew it. Let’s try again.” Israel’s decision to crucify Christ would have permanent consequences. The result would be a searing separation – a painful, divine divorce. As a Jewish Christian myself, I want to stress that the pain was on God’s side. It was unbelieving Israel that divorced herself from Christ, her Faithful Lover, not vice versa.
Then “Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down’” (Matthew 24:1-2). In A.D. 70, the second temple was destroyed by Romans and more than one million Jews perished. Such was the terrible results of that divine divorce.
Based on Daniel 9 and the teaching of our Messiah, we discover that the prophecy of “seventy times seven” represented the limits of national forgiveness for the Jewish nation – as a nation (this does not apply to individuals). When Stephen was stoned by the Sanhedrin in 34 A.D., that moment was fraught with awful significance. It was so weighty that Stephen, “being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” “Look!” the holy martyr cried, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55-56)
Jesus didn’t “stand up” without reason. A seismic shift was occurring. A new day was dawning. What would happen next? It was time for the wall to come tumbling down.
This is the last excerpt from Steve Wohlberg’s book ‘End Time Delusions” that I will use on this blog. The remainder of Steve’s book details additional prophecies about Israel and other prophecies in the Book of Revelation that I have also discussed on this blog. I highly recommend that you purchase Steve’s book. There are not many books on bible prophecy in today’s world that are accurate – this is one of them.
I realize that this is difficult to believe if you are Jewish. As Steve and I have both learned, God’s truth is the truth – regardless of what we think the truth is. Steve is Jewish and could see God’s truth – and made the decision to follow God – not his own version of God’s plan. I considered myself a Christian – but realized that I was deceiving myself. Many of the things I was told about bible prophecy and Christianity my entire life – were not true. It also became clear to me that I was not following Jesus Christ, but our enemy. I came to that place that Steve and everyone else who knows the truth comes to – that place of humility and repentance. That place where you realize the world is full of lies and deception – and you seek God with all of your heart because you know you need Him to cleanse you. That place where you place everything you have at His feet and tell Him that you will give up everything in the world to know Him – and gain salvation.
While much of the world will continue to reject Him and His truth – each one of us must choose who we will follow. Will we believe in God and His truth – even if it contradicts what we’ve been told throughout our lives? Will we follow the Lord – even it if costs us our wealth, our relationships with relatives and friends? Are we prepared to give up everything to know Him? Will we seek the truth when others refuse and try to lead us away? You must ask yourself – will I give up everything to know and understand the truth? If you choose to seek God and His truth and leave the world and its deception behind – you will have chosen life – for eternity.