Book Plunge: The Destruction of Jerusalem

What hath 70 A.D. to do with Christianity? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Awhile back I posted on Jehovah’s Witnesses and Doomsday and stated that I am an orthodox Preterist in that post. What that means I believe that much of prophecy has been fulfilled, including the Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. I look forward to the bodily return of Christ and the bodily resurrection from the dead. It’s my thinking that God will redeem the Earth for man to live on forever with Christ ruling as king.

Being an owner of a Kindle now, one advantage is that old books are so easy to come by. You can get several for free. The one I’m reviewing today is not free, but recently a Christmas gift didn’t work out and I was told in exchange “Get on Amazon and buy within this price range.” So I did. One book I got was one that my friend DeeDee Warren, of the Preterist Podcast, recommended to me. It’s called “The Destruction of Jerusalem: An Absolute and Irresistable Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity”, by George Holford

Something else important about this book. It wasn’t free. Many old books are, but it wasn’t. I suspect it’s because it is reprinted a number of times. In fact, the original one was written in 1805. This is not a new idea that is being presented. If anything, the futurist idea that is most common today is the new kid on the block. In responding to objections even, Holford doesn’t even mention anything about not taking the text literally or something of that sort. There is no mention of a futurist idea.

What do we have instead? We have a description of the destruction of Jerusalem. Our main source if Josephus, but Holford gives a good basic run down. I can warn people that if you are squeamish, this is not the book for you. In fact, if you are really that bad, this might not even be the blog post for you. We can look and say “Jerusalem got destroyed. Was it really that bad?”

Let’s see. Blood pouring through the temple. Trees being cut down just so everyone could be crucified. Bodies being cut open just so that thieves could get to the precious metals that people swallowed hoping to pass out through their system later. Mothers having to cook their children just so that they could have something to eat.

Yes. It was that bad.

And that’s just a minor sample of it.

So what has this to do with Christianity being true?

All of this was prophecied by Jesus. Jesus was seen as just a carpenter’s son. He was not a statesman or a politician. He was a teacher and yet, he made this prophecy. What it says about Him then is that He had divine knowledge about what would happen, which was never amended with “Thus says the Lord.”

Instead, Jesus spoke as if in the place of God. Why was the temple destroyed? Because Jesus was the Messiah and in rejecting Jesus, the Jews at the time broke the covenant with YHWH and thus, He abandoned the temple and left it to be destroyed by the Romans.

This would mean that Jesus was who He claimed to be and the charge of rejecting Him was incredibly serious. Of course, Holford deals with objections to his idea such as maybe Jesus was just fortunate or maybe the accounts were written after the events took place. For the latter, we today have the blessing of further scholarship which can make a powerful case that the accounts are indeed written before the fall of Jerusalem.

A negative point is that Holford does make a point about Israel not being reinstated until they repent. Unfortunately, they have been reestablished as a nation. It is my contention that this has zip to do with prophecy. Why? Check the OT. The requirement for returning to the land and restoring the covenant was national repentance. Has anyone seen repentance on the part of Israel on a national level and them turning to their Messiah?

As an aside to this, I will stress that I do support the nation of Israel still, but not for theological reasons. I support them for political reasons. I see Islam as a threat and I see Israel as a buffer to them over there. I don’t center all my policies on Israel, but I certainly don’t think America should abandon such a strong ally.

Also, I think if you have a good defense of the resurrection, that would be an excellent supplement to this book, but I would hope something like this could at least open the door to the possibility that maybe Jesus had some divine insight and maybe if Jerusalem was destroyed in this way, the claims should be taken seriously.

Skeptics need to read this book in order to get an understanding of what exactly happened and consider the possibility that maybe prophecy be real. This is especially true in a day and age where so many skeptics say “Jesus could not have been the Messiah since He even got wrong the time of His return.” (I would contend He said zip about His return. He was talking about His coming to His throne.)

Futurists should read this book in order to consider the possibility that maybe the Preterists have a point. I meet too many futurists who think they don’t need to read anything on Preterism because we don’t take the Bible literally there and so it’s ipso facto absurd. (For interpretation, the best resource is Last Days Madness by Gary DeMar.) If you have a view you think is true, you should have the courage to read one who disagrees.

Preterists need to read this in order to have a good explanation of why this is so important. One blessing with this is our futurist friends can read this book in a day. I did. In fact, it’s just 69 pages long. You could read it in a couple of hours. Also, if you are unfamiliar with DeeDee Warren who recommended this book, I will include a link to the Preteristsite which also has a link to the Preterist Podcast.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a good short read that would be a complement to any library.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The book can be found for sale here

The Preteristsite can be found here

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19 Responses to “Book Plunge: The Destruction of Jerusalem”

  1. beholdaphoenix Says:

    Thanks for the review Nick. I’m going to purchase the eBook and read it. As you remember, you were the reason why I became an Orthodox Preterist by encouraging me to read up on it. I would say the books, Last Days Madness by Gary DeMar (your recommendation) and The Apocalypse Code by Hank Hanegraaff were instrumental in my changing course from a Dispensational Futurist to an Orthodox Preterist. I have never looked back since.

    I want to make two points. I think a Skeptic, even if he or she doesn’t believe in prophecy, can respect that Jesus had at least a keen sense that his people were going in the wrong direction. It was only a matter of time that a frustrated, downtrodden people with nationalistic aspirations and hatred toward their conquerors would clash with the Romans culminating in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Even if the Skeptic doesn’t believe in prophecy, they can agree with you on that point.

    I see your point that you support Israel because Islam, particularly radical Islam, is a threat. One can say that it goes both ways because various Arab countries see our country as a much bigger threat. Now Israel is here to stay and is not going anywhere. On those grounds, I support Israel. However I cannot support Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. When Israel became a nation in 1948, many homes and villages of the Palestinians were uprooted and destroyed. Many of them were exiled and became refugees. There’s a reason why Palestinians call this event the “Nakba” or the Catastrophe. Israel builds settlements in the West Bank in clear violation of International Law and treats the Palestinians as second-class citizens. Many of these Palestinians are Christians and many are leaving the Holy Land. While terrorism is wrong, it is an unfortunate fact when there are a people under occupation. I don’t think Hamas today or the Sicarii in the first century are much different. Good thing there are both Israelis and Palestinians that are fighting together for peace and justice nonviolently.

  2. ChazIng Says:

    The book can be downloaded free @ http://archive.org/details/destructionofjer00holf

  3. apologianick Says:

    Thanks Chazing for that link!

    BeholdaPhoenix (And I love that name my friend). Thanks for the comments! I agree with you about Palestine. It was terrible about what happened, but what’s done is done unfortunately. Past wrongs cannot be righted, but we must make the most of all that has happened.

  4. Jeff Says:

    This book sounds interesting and worth reading, but I’m sure you realize that a futurist would concede that Jerusalem was destroyed and that Jesus predicted that destruction. The sticking point for a futurist pertains to whether some of the language in, e.g., Matt 24, etc, are talking about Christ’s future return.

  5. apologianick Says:

    Holford does argue that when Jesus said that it was “This generation” he meant it. There’s no break in there when it talks about the signs in the heavens and such and the Son of Man taking His throne. I honestly don’t see how a futurist interpretation can work.

  6. Jeff Says:

    The only mention of the Son of Man seating on his throne comes later, in Matt 24:31, the parable of the sheep and goats, which I had always though was a picture of the final judgment; is that not your view?

  7. apologianick Says:

    That’s 25:31 and I think it’s implicitly understood in the passages about the sign of the Son of Man and other parts in the Discourse. Note that it was asked about the end of the age and the next age would be the age of the Messiah ruling.

    I think the sheep and the goats is going on right now.

  8. Jeff Says:

    Thanks for the catch on the typo. My point is simply that the passage doesn’t talk about the Son of Man taking his throne — you /interpret/ the passage to be saying that. In the same way, futurists interpret different elements of the passage differently from you. For example, futurists would agree that when Jesus said “this generation”, he meant it. But who is the referent of “this”? That’s a question that a futurist would answer differently from you.

  9. apologianick Says:

    Every other time where we find the phrase “This generation” in Matthew, it refers to the current generation. Why should I think that it will be different in Matthew 24? What basis is there for thinking that it refers to an event in the distant future, especially since the end of the age was connected to the temple and the conversation was about a coming, not a return, something the disciples had no clue about?

  10. Jeff Says:

    I suppose the basis for thinking that would be that the events that Christ predicts in Matt 24 don’t in all cases line up very well with the actual events of 70 AD, so apparently he was talking about something else; that’s what a futurist would say, anyway. There’s no need for us to regurgitate every argument for and against preterism in the comments of your blog post. The salient point for me was just that you claimed that the book you referenced was one that futurists should read the book to consider preterism as a viable system, but I don’t think that futurists dispute that the destruction of Jerusalem was a terrible event or that Jesus predicted the destruction, so I don’t think either of these are evidence in favor of preterism.

    To avoid having this dialogue be absolutely pointless, I will express one of my central objections to preterism, for you to think about and perhaps respond to. The reason preterism is problematic is because it turns the entire message of Christianity on its head. The whole point of the Christian message is that the central events play out in the real world, in full view, with eyewitnesses who are transformed by the events and can attest to the reality that the events occurred, as well as interpret their significance. To say that Christ’s “coming” would consist of his enthronement in an invisible heavenly realm, despite His assurance that it would be visible and unmistakable to the entire world, is to make the Christian message entirely spiritual, where heretofore it had contained an explicitly “earthly” character.

  11. apologianick Says:

    Did the Jews see God’s presence leaving the temple in 586 B.C.? Only Ezekiel did in the vision, but the Earthly event spoke a heavenly message. Why should I think the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. would be any different?

  12. Jeff Says:

    Because the “heavenly message” that you’re asking the temple destruction to communicate is one that the Disciples were already perfectly well aware of, and had been for decades, having witnessed the Resurrected Christ, the ascension, Stephen’s vision of Christ seated on the right hand of the Father, and having worked numerous miracles in Christ’s name. (And remember, the Matt 24 audience was the Disciples). And, because (in the view of futurists) some of the things that Christ predicted would characterize and accompany His “coming” don’t have a good correspondence with the ground truth of the 70 AD events.

  13. apologianick Says:

    Jeff: Because the “heavenly message” that you’re asking the temple destruction to communicate is one that the Disciples were already perfectly well aware of, and had been for decades, having witnessed the Resurrected Christ,

    Reply: Did this take place before or after the Olivet Discourse?

    Jeff: the ascension, Stephen’s vision of Christ seated on the right hand of the Father, and having worked numerous miracles in Christ’s name.

    Reply: Same question.

    Jeff: (And remember, the Matt 24 audience was the Disciples).

    Reply; Yes they were. They also knew the destruction of the temple meant something about the status of Israel. They did not ask Jesus about His return. They asked Him about His coming. Either He came or He didn’t, and coming is a message of judgment. They knew from the OT that the Messiah would take the throne of David and wanted to know when that would be, realizing the destruction of the temple would mark Christ’s rule beginning, especially since He’d just pronounced judgment on it. Yes. The immediate audience was the disciples, but the signs Jesus gave were universal.

    Jeff: And, because (in the view of futurists) some of the things that Christ predicted would characterize and accompany His “coming” don’t have a good correspondence with the ground truth of the 70 AD events.

    Reply: And which things are these? What didn’t happen that Christ said would? Also, have you checked before hand the Preterist Podcast to get DDW’s take? Try to do this without the Purple Cow Fallacy.

  14. Jeff Says:

    Nick, they had witnessed those things decades before /the 70 AD destruction/, as you perfectly well know. Beyond that, I’m quite familiar with Dee Dee’s opinions on these subjects, and I think the basic point I was trying to establish is sufficiently established, so I’m content to leave it at that.

  15. apologianick Says:

    Yes. They witnessed all of them, and they witnessed them on Earth, still aware of what it means in the Heavens.

    So Preterism again kept the pattern.

  16. Jeff Says:

    That’s not quite it; preterism says that the destruction is the “sign that the son of man is in the heavens” — ie it’s the sign that attends Christ’s enthroning, or that confirms that Christ has been enthroned. But the Disciples already witnessed many such signs well before the 70AD events, so it’s weird that, if Jesus was really talking about how the Disciples would know He was seated in glory, He would say “wait 40 years, then Jerusalem will be leveled, and then you’ll know I’m in heaven” instead of just telling them “you’ll basically see it for yourselves in a few weeks.”

    I know, I know, I know; “but they hadn’t asked about the ascension, they asked about the destruction, so that’s what Jesus told them about.” A shame for the Disciples that they didn’t know how to ask better questions, and that Jesus was so shackled that He could only answer the specific question He was asked!

  17. apologianick Says:

    No. They asked about the end of the age. The people of Israel were given a generation to repent before being immediately judged. They still had some time under the old covenant. The destruction of Jerusalem was a statement not just for the disciples, who were likely dead then, but for the world. They knew where He was then. They were waiting for the rest of the world to see it.

  18. Jeff Says:

    Actually, I think we’re getting somewhere here.

    So, there’s a separate question we can raise which can help us to understand how we’re supposed to think about this passage. There are several other passages in the NT that also have something to say about Christ’s “coming”, and one characteristic that many of them share seems to be an anticipation and expectation; the writers appear to be hoping for it to take place, and perceive an obligation to be prepared for it. With which view of Jesus’ “coming” does this seem most consistent?

    It’s not incompatible with the view that the coming means “Jesus’ enthronement in the heavens”, but as we’ve already established, that had already taken place and believers were already aware of it, so there’s no reason they would be looking forward to it in that sense.

    It’s not quite as compatible with the view that the coming means “coming in judgment”. Although some of the passages do have a bit of an imprecatory quality, the overall tone is optimistic, and it’s hard to see why they would be eagerly anticipating the destruction of Jerusalem; that’s not a happy, fun thought. And additionally, there’s no sense in which the destruction would benefit them.

    So a third possibility is that they have in view a coming in the sense of a /second/ coming. It’s easy to see why this would be something to look forward to and await, particularly in light of the belief they express, that the coming will include the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and the opportunity to see Christ. Both of those things are good news and easy to get excited about.

    Now if we look back at the Olivet Discourse, we see a lot of these same characteristics. So it makes more sense to me that Jesus is talking about the same thing that the rest of the NT writers are talking about, then that they’re talking about completely different things. But it also doesn’t make as much sense to me that the NT writers are talking about the 70 AD destruction or Jesus’ enthronement. So the most economical conclusion is that Jesus, and they, are talking about a coming in the sense of a return. (Of course that’s not to say Jesus isn’t also talking about the 70 AD destruction)

    Sorry this was a bit long.

  19. apologianick Says:

    How about bringing up a couple of those passages and how you think they should be read.

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