In my last post, we started looking at Jesus’ warning about the fall of Jerusalem. The disciples knew what was coming and could prepare accordingly. But there was one more aspect of this that they needed to know.
“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect — if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.”
The Lord also warned His disciples about false Messiahs. During times of great crisis, there are always those who want to rise to power. They convince the masses that they have the solution to all the problems. I find it amazing that the real Author of peace and life was rejected, while society will accept anyone else who promotes himself as the hero of the day.
Jesus reminds the disciples that no matter how wonderful this messiah sounds, they will not live to see the return of Christ, so there’s no question that this person is false. Their signs and miracles would be so convincing that the apostles themselves would be fooled – if Jesus had not told them ahead of time that they would not see His return.
What many Christians never hear is that this second fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy has already occurred. Even though the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the Jews still regarded this site as holy. Around 132 AD the Roman emperor Hadrian decided that Judea needed to be Romanized. He put many policies into effect that were intolerable to the Jews.
He made it illegal for Jews to enter Jerusalem except for one day a year. He banned the rite of circumcision. He made it a crime to practice or teach the Jewish religion. The most detestable change of all, however, was that he established a pagan temple to the god Jupiter on the former Temple site.
At this point in history, two men came onto the scene in Israel. One was named Akiba Ben Joseph and the other was Simon Bar Kokba. Bar Kokba was a Jewish leader who incited the people into violent rebellion against these hateful policies of Rome. Today, he would be labeled a terrorist.
Akiba Ben Joseph was a rabbi who was imprisoned for teaching and practicing the Jewish religion. When he saw what Bar Kokba was doing, he proclaimed this leader as the long-awaited messiah, giving him the title “son of the star”.
Akiba taught that Bar Kokba was sent by God to restore Israel and to reign in righteousness over the entire world. With Akiba’s support, Bar Kokba was able to raise a huge army of Jews who were willing to fight the Romans.
The Romans in Caesarea eventually killed Akiba. Bar Kokba then attacked the Romans. He defeated them and captured Jerusalem and over 50 towns and villages. When the emperor Hadrian sent an army to stop this rebellion, Bar Kokba defeated them as well. Things were looking good for Israel. Unfortunately, trying to be a messiah without the power of God can prove fatal.
In 135 AD Hadrian was at the end of his patience. He sent his best general, Julius Severus. It was a long campaign, but eventually, the Jewish army was annihilated at the town of Bethar, near Jerusalem, in August of that same year. It’s interesting to see the result of this false messiah in the light of what Jesus said would happen.
The Temple had been destroyed in 70 AD, 65 years earlier, but the city of Jerusalem was still intact. But, when Hadrian polluted the Temple grounds (the abomination that causes desolation), a false messiah rose up to deceive many and bring about the final destruction of Jerusalem.
On the day of Bar Kokba’s defeat, over 500,000 Jews were killed. Thousands of Jewish women and children were sold into slavery. Others were forced to leave Israel and settle throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa.
This was the final dispersal of the Jews spoken of by Christ when He said that they would be taken as prisoners to all nations. It turned out just like Jesus said. From that point on, the Gentiles held Jerusalem for almost 2,000 years.
It’s important for us to see, as believers, that this part of Jesus’ teaching has already been fulfilled. The prophecy of the book of Daniel ended up pointing to two different events. Some say it will happen again.
They teach that the Jews will rebuild the Temple, and in the last days, we will see this take place. Those who teach this are only speculating. There’s nothing in Scripture that directly supports this. Only time will tell how it will all turn out.
What we shouldn’t do is get caught up debating what the end-times will look like. The important thing is to be preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. We need to be working to bring in the end-time harvest, knowing that the Lord’s return is imminent.
Question: How are you preparing to reach the lost in these Last Days?
© 2018 Nick Zaccardi