Jesus and the Great Apostasy » Punishment of the Jews

[this teaching has not yet been illustrated]


After Jesus was crucified and ascended to heaven, his apostles in Palestine continued to receive revelations from Jesus, and were called to preach the gospel and build the Church of Christ. They prophesied, healed the sick, and performed miracles, and taught that mankind can become Gods.


During his ministry on earth, Jesus had prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed and the Jews would be scattered. The prophet Jacob explained that this would happen because the Jews would stiffen their necks against Jesus and crucify him. The destruction began in 66 AD, when the Jews revolted against the Roman Empire, taking control of Palestine.


The Roman general Vespasian was sent with an army to crush the rebellion and force the Jews back into submission. He quickly conquered the Jewish strongholds in Galilee and was preparing to march on Jerusalem when the Emperor of Rome unexpectedly died and Vespasian was summoned to the capital to succeed him. Vespasian's son Titus then assumed command of his armies.


There was still a body of Christians living in Jerusalem at this time. But as the Roman army was approaching, the church at Jerusalem was warned through a divine revelation from Jesus, and all of them fled the city.


In 70 AD, Titus surrounded the city of Jerusalem with his armies, and thus began one of the most brutal and dreadful sieges known to history. The 600,000 Jews crowded within the city's walls for protection now found themselves starving with no way to get food into the city, and in their desperation they resorted to cannibalism.


Jews who sneaked out of the city in search of roots to eat were seized by the Romans and crucified. The tortured bodies of hundreds of Jews left to die on crosses were displayed facing the city. Because those who escaped the city sometimes swallowed pieces of gold, the Romans would cut open the bodies of prisoners of war while they were still alive.


Inside the city, members of the Jewish sect known as the Zealots urged the people to resistance, saying that God would save them at the last moment. For the past several decades, the Zealots were known for being fanatical nationalists who rejected any non-Jews as rulers over the Holy Land. Their goal was to establish their land as a theocracy, and it was they who had originally led the revolt against Rome.


The Zealots murdered those among the Jews who preached surrender. Finally in September of 70 AD, Titus breached the walls of the city with battering rams. Then his army attacked the Jews in their pitiful state, weakened by starvation and infighting. The Tenth Roman Legion set fire to the city and thousands fell to the sword and to flames.


During the assault a false prophet convinced many to follow him inside the Temple of God—a building 100 feet tall with two massive columns at its front—and down into its secret chambers, promising that God would save them. But Titus's men set the Temple on fire, and it burned down to the ground. Six thousand men, women, and children died in that holocaust of destruction.


The Romans completely destroyed the entire city of Jerusalem, flattening it, such that it was plowed up. The estimated number of Jews killed in the city was 1.1 million. Not a single Christian died during the destruction of Jerusalem because Jesus had given them adequate warning to flee. Another 360,000 Jews were killed by the Romans throughout the rest of Palestine.


Many tens of thousand of Jews who survived the war were put into slavery or were fated to a grisly death at the hands of gladiators or wild beasts in the arenas of Rome. The rest of the Jews were driven out of the Holy Land and scattered among the Gentile nations. Heavenly Father allowed all this to happen because the Jews despised and crucified Jesus.


Prophets had prophesied that the Jews would suffer after the death of Jesus, and that they would become hated and vilified by all other nations. Other times throughout history besides 70 AD when the Jews have been persecuted and destroyed include the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust.



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