Can you escape it? Along with other sensational views of prophecy is one involving a
"great tribulation." Many debate the question: Will believers have to endure
this "great tribulation" or will they be raptured" before it comes?
Christ spoke of a time of great tribulation in His answer to questions concerning the fall
of Jerusalem. The disciples were admiring the Temple, which was idolized by the Jews for
its majestic beauty. Jesus shot down their idol with His statement, "Verily I say
unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown
down." (Matthew 24:2) Then the disciples asked two questions; one about the time of
the destruction of the temple, and one about His coming and the consummation of the age.
In answering the first question Jesus predicted the fall and destruction of Jerusalem and
said, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning
of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be." (Matthew 24:21)
The prophecy WAS COMPLETELY FULFILLED in 70 A.D., and is graphically described by Flavius
Josephus, who was an eye-witness to the events and wrote a detailed account of them in his
"Wars Of The Jews," which was published about 75 A.D., while the events were
still fresh in the memory of the survivors.
Goaded on by the militant Zealots, forerunners of modern Zionists, the Jews began
widespread rebellion against Caesar in 65 A.D. Cestius Gallus marched the Roman army into
Judea, subduing a number of towns and laying siege to Jerusalem. When the Jews were
already defeated and about to surrender, Gallus suddenly withdrew his troops, as Josephus
says, "Without any reason in the world." This withdrawal gave the Christians the
opportunity to flee from the city, in compliance with Christ's warning.
Jesus had told them that when they should "see the abomination of desolation, spoken
of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place, then let them that be in Judea flee
unto the mountains." Luke's record reads, "When you shall see Jerusalem
compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which
are in Judea flee to the mountains." (Luke 21:20-21; Mark 13:14)
Christians recognized the Roman armies as the "abomination of desolation," and
when the armies temporarily withdrew, the Christians fled the city to Pella and other
places beyond the Jordan. This advice to flee to the mountains was for those disciples
living in Judea at that time and not to any Christians today.
Nero then appointed Vespasian to take command, but before he could do so other events took
place and Vespasian was hailed as emperor of Rome, and his son, Titus, took control of the
armies. He immediately renewed the siege with vastly superior forces. It was then that the
great tribulation began. The Jews who had never believed the prophets or Christ, that
their nation would be taken from them because of unbelief and disobedience, suddenly found
themselves under a total siege and with supplies completely exhausted.
The rebellion was widespread and Jews were being slaughtered all over the country. In
Caesarea alone over 20,000 were killed in one day. Josephus wrote, "Galilee was all
over filled with fire and blood."
In Jerusalem the Zealots were in violent conflict with the conservative element so that
the city was filled with bloodshed among brethren. Zealots "fell upon the people as
upon a flock of profane animals, and cut their throats." (Josephus) More than 12,000
prominent citizens died in this way. "The terror that was upon all the people was so
great, that no one had courage enough either to weep openly for the dead man that was
related to him, or bury him...those that mourned for others soon underwent the same death
with those for whom they mourned." (Josephus IV 5:3)
Famine was so complete that "the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of
the aged; a kind of deadly night had seized upon the city." Food was snatched from
the hands of the aged by the children and from the mouths of babies by the mothers. The
disagreeing factions invented horrible and unmentionable means of torture to discover
where any food was hidden. One woman of prominence killed and roasted her own infant son,
and there was evidence of other acts of cannibalism in the city.
The atrocities were a fulfillment of God's warnings given centuries before: "Jehovah
shall bring a nation against thee from far...which shall not regard the person of the old
nor show favor to the young...and they shall besiege thee in all thy gates until thy high
and fenced walls come down...And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of
thy sons and of thy daughters..." (Deuteronomy 28:49-57)
When the Roman armies entered the city they slaughtered the starving citizens without
money. A soldier entered the temple with an unborn baby on the tip of his spear, and the
temple was set afire. All the gigantic stones were thrown down in order to extract the
gold that had melted and run into the cracks. There were over 1,100,000 that perished and
97,000 taken as slaves, many of them being sold in Egypt.