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then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the
world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” —Matt. 24: 21.
this chapter, we have in mind to give a brief story of the Jerusalem
Tribulation, and then point out the fact that said tribulation can not be The
Great Tribulation. There are
those who hold that the above text refers to the Jerusalem Tribulation, and
that on this account we are not to expect The Great Tribulation to come at
some future time. A brief study
of the Jerusalem Tribulation, and a comparison of the facts with the
prophecies of The Great Tribulation will show that the former falls far short
of the latter. In giving account
of the Jerusalem Tribulation, I can hope only to mention merely a few thoughts
in connection with it.
was a man whose name was John, who was a very treacherous fellow.
In the Jewish wars he plotted against Josephus, Governor of Galilee.
He had a great and wonderful desire for wealth and honor, and wanted to
take the command of the war from Josephus, and make himself leader of the
Jews against the Romans. He
persuaded Josephus to intrust him with the repairing of the walls of
Gischala, his native city. John
soon succeeded in getting a few hundred men as a following.
When the Roman army came against Gischala, it was taken, and John fled
to Jerusalem. When he entered
that city thousands gathered about him to enquire how the war was getting on
abroad. He pretended that he had
not fled from the Romans because he was afraid of them, but that he had just
come to Jerusalem in order to fight them from a stronger
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city. He soon persuaded thousands
of the young Jews to join with him against the Romans.
The older Jews saw the matter differently from the younger ones, and
tried to persuade the latter not to join in with John, but to no avail.
Thus divisions were brought about among the Jews in Jerusalem.
Josephus regards this as the real beginning of the downfall of that
city. Thus before Titus ever came
against the city, there were great slaughters among the Jews occasioned by
their own hand.
came Titus and beseiged the city, and thereupon the calamities and troubles in
the city were increased. The Jews
contrived snares against the Romans, and for such things the Romans punished
the Jews. Josephus pleaded
earnestly with the people to get them to do right.
He told them that these distresses had come upon them on account of
their sins. He told them that the
only hope of their safety was in the laying down of their arms and the
repenting of their sins. He told
them that they were acting very foolishly, and were bringing death and
destruction upon their own homes and city.
Still, the rebellious Jews would pay not attention.
affairs in the city were growing worse and worse.
The people who were not in the rebellion began to desert to the Romans,
and Titus let many of them go away into the country, and thus they escaped.
John, and one Simon also, who was leader of one of the factions in the
city, forbade others deserting to the Romans, and began to watch them going
out more closely than they did the enemy; and if anyone afforded the least
suspicion of deserting, his throat was cut immediately.
famine in the city now became alarming. Those
men who had joined the sedition committed fearful and disastrous robbery.
They rushed into the homes of the wealthier class, and laid their hands
upon whatever food they could find. If
they found food in a house they would torment the inmates because they had
denied that they had any; and if they failed
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to find food therein, they would torment them the more because they claimed that the inmates had it, but that they kept it hid from them. Many of the people sold all the property they had for a small amount of grain; and then shut themselves in the innermost rooms of their houses, and ate their bread. The miserable sights that followed would justly bring tears to any one’s eyes. Often children would pull the very bread out of their fathers’ mouths; and what is more pitiful, the mothers would take the bread out of the mouths of their children; and often when those who were near and dear to them were perishing under their own hands, they were not ashamed to take the bread from them that they might sustain their own lives. Then under these circumstances, the robbers would often come upon them and take the food away from both parents and children, even almost out of their very throats. If they saw a house closed, they took it as a sign that there was food within, and so they would break into the house and shake the food even out of the children’s mouths. If those within resisted, they would treat them the more cruelly. Now others began to desert to the Romans, so that the Romans caught every day five hundred Jews. These Jews they nailed to crosses. The number became so multiplied that there was not enough room for the crosses, and there were not enough crosses for the bodies. The famine within the city became so fierce that it consumed the people of whole houses and families together. Afterwards the Romans turned to the slaughter of the people. Jews were slaughtered by the thousands. Blood ran the streets in streams. The temple was destroyed, the city set on fire, and there was a great conflagration.
above description, I have gathered from the words of Josephus.
Much more indeed could be said; but I have said enough to serve
properly my purpose here. There
are many who think that Josephus exaggerated in his statements concerning
the Jerusalem Tribulation. As to
that matter, I am not prepared to say. I
prefer to accept what he says about it.
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it must be certain that that tribulation was no worse than he pictures it.
So accepting all that he says about it, I still purpose to show that
that tribulation fell far short of what is prophesied concerning The Great
That the Jerusalem Tribulation was not The Great Tribulation may be
gathered from the following points:
1. Jesus said that The Great Tribulation exceeds any tribulation
preceding or following it. There
certainly have been wars both before the Jerusalem Tribulation and following
it in which greater numbers of men lost their lives than there were in that
case. The army of Xerxes
consisted of three to four millions and there are reasons to believe that a
much greater number of them perished than did at Jerusalem.
The history of the wars of the Babylonian and Persian monarchies
reveals greater tribulations than were ever enacted at Jerusalem.
As to the cruel manner in which the Romans treated the Jews, they did
no more to them than they were accustomed to do to other nations and cities
that they conquered. The Roman
army can be traced through its history by the blood of its enemies.
Everywhere they went they inflicted the most awful cruelties upon those
who attempted to resist them. Surely the Jerusalem Tribulation did not exceed
all the cruelties of all Roman wars besides.
2. As to the famines, there have been greater sufferings resulting from
famines elsewhere than have ever been in Jerusalem.
What shall we say to the China and India famines of modern times?
As many as thirteen millions are said to have died in a single Indian
famine. During the famine in
India about the beginning of the twentieth century many more are said to have
perished than did in Jerusalem from both war and famine.
3. The Great Tribulation is to reach from one end of the earth to the
other (Jer. 25: 33), whereas the Jerusalem Tribulation touched only one
city. There are now more than one
and a half billion of people in the earth; and we are clearly
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that in the very beginning of The Great Tribulation one-fourth of the
population of the earth will be killed. (Rev. 6: 8.)
This will mean the perishing of near four hundred times as many as
perished at Jerusalem.
4. Let us remember the days of Noah.
Surely, there must have been more people living on the face of the
earth in the days of Noah than were gathered in Jerusalem at the time Titus
came against it. In the flood all
the human family except eight persons perished.
So the tribulation of Noah’s day was greater than that of Jerusalem.
5. Jesus said that The Great Tribulation would be attended with the
darkening of the sun, the turning of the moon into blood, the falling of the
stars, and the shaking of the powers of the heavens.
Moreover, in the sixth chapter of Revelation, we read it as follows:
“There was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of
hair, and the moon became as blood: and the stars of heaven fell unto the
earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a
mighty wind. And the heaven
departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island
were moved out of their places.” There
were no such things as these connected with the Jerusalem Tribulation.
6. It is stated that in connection with The Great Tribulation there
will be a personal appearing of the Son of man, coming in the clouds with
power and great glory. No such a
sign was seen at Jerusalem, and hence that Tribulation could not have been The
7. In connection with The Great Tribulation the angels are to go forth
and gather, the elect from the four quarters of the earth.
Since this was not done at the Jerusalem Tribulation, we have every
reason to suppose that The Great Tribulation is still in the future.
8. The description in the Book of Revelation of tribulation days far exceeds the description of any past tribulation. Read in the eighth chapter of Revelation of the voices, thunderings,
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lightnings, earthquakes, hail and fire mingled with blood, the bitter waters killing many men, and the sun and moon and stars being so strangely affected will likely bring upon the inhabitants of the earth, affliction, fever, and all kinds of death dealing plagues. Read in the ninth chapter of this same Book of the creatures like Locusts from the bottomless pit of hell with stings in their tails with power to sting like that of a scorpion, and these turned loose upon the inhabitants of the earth with the commission to stay here and hurt men five months; and read also of the two hundred thousand horsemen, blowing smoke, fire, and brimstone from their mouths upon the people. Read further in this Book of the tyrannical reign of Antichrist, and of the plagues that are to come upon his kingdom and upon all those who worship him, even while they live on earth. Read, I would say, all the Old Testament prophets and New Testament Gospels and Epistles have to say of The Great Tribulation, and see if all these things were fulfilled in the Jerusalem Tribulation.
So while the Jerusalem Tribulation was horrible, and perhaps the greatest one that has ever come to the Jews, yet it fell far below the horrors of The Great Tribulation, and was really only typical of it