Luke Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern

chapter 21
1. Then Yeshua looked up, and as he watched the rich placing their gifts into the Temple offering-boxes,
2. he also saw a poor widow put in two small coins.
3. He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others.
4. For they, out of their wealth, have contributed money they could easily spare; but she, out of her poverty, has given all she had to live on.”
5. As some people were remarking about the Temple, how beautiful its stonework and memorial decorations were, he said,
6. “The time is coming when what you see here will be totally destroyed — not a single stone will be left standing!”
7. They asked him, “Rabbi, if this is so, when will these events take place? And what sign will show that they are about to happen?”
8. He answered, “Watch out! Don’t be fooled! For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time has come!’ Don’t go after them.
9. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, don’t panic. For these things must happen first, but the end will not follow immediately.”
10. Then he told them, “Peoples will fight each other, nations will fight each other,
11. there will be great earthquakes, there will be epidemics and famines in various places, and there will be fearful sights and great signs from Heaven.
12. But before all this, they will arrest you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons; and you will be brought before kings and governors. This will all be on account of me,
13. but it will prove an opportunity for you to bear witness.
14. So make up your minds not to worry, rehearsing your defense beforehand;
15. for I myself will give you an eloquence and a wisdom that no adversary will be able to resist or refute.
16. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends; some of you they will have put to death;
17. and everyone will hate you because of me.
18. But not a hair of your head will be lost.
19. By standing firm you will save your lives.
20. “However, when you see Yerushalayim surrounded by armies, then you are to understand that she is about to be destroyed.
21. Those in Y’hudah must escape to the hills, those inside the city must get out, and those in the country must not enter it.
22. For these are the days of vengeance, when everything that has been written in the Tanakh will come true.
23. What a terrible time it will be for pregnant women and nursing mothers! For there will be great distress in the Land and judgment on the people.
Here Yeshua predicts the destruction of Yerushalayim by the Roman armies in 66-70 C.E. The days of vengeance (v. 22) are spoken of in Deuteronomy 32:35 as the time when Adonai "will judge his people" for being wicked and forsaking him; however, the context there is that ultimately God will "forgive his land and his people" (Deuteronomy 22:43). Such vengeance is also spoken of in Jeremiah 46:10 and Hosea 9:7.

Although the historical evidence is not absolute, it is widely thought that the Messianic Jews of Jerusalem heeded Yeshua's words here and moved in 66 C.E. to Pehel (Pella), east of the Jordan River. It is also understood that this act of foresight based on the Messiah's own warning and instruction was taken by the non-Messianic Jews as an act of disloyalty to the nation in time of war, and it became a major cause for resenting Jewish believers and taking sanctions against them.

One such sanction was the Birkat-HaMinim ("blessing relating to the minim"), twelfth of the nineteen blessings in the 'Amidah. In its present form it says nothing about Messianic Jews:
"For the slanderers let there be no hope. Let all wickedness perish in an instant. May all your enemies be quickly cut off. Uproot, break, throw down and humble the kingdom of arrogance speedily, in our days. Blessed are you, Adonai, who breaks enemies and humbles the arrogant."

But the Talmud says that the original form of this blessing had. instead of "lamalshinim " ("for the slanderers"), the term "laminim" ("for the sectarians"), understood to be heretics in general or Messianic Jews in particular (see Mt 22:31-32N):

"The Birkat-HaMinim was instituted in Yavneh [in the general council of rabbis around 90 C.E.I! was composed by [Rabbi] Shmu'el HaKatan.... M&chazan [leader of synagogue prayers] makes a mistake in any other of the blessings they do not remove him, but if he makes a mistake when saying the Birkat-HaMinim they remove him because he is suspected of being a min himself." (B'rakhot 28b)

The Talmud is clear and explicit about how the Birkat-HaMinim could be used against Messianic Jews. A Messianic Jew could gladly ;ind gratefully pray the other eighteen blessings of the 'Amidah. but he could hardly invoke a curse on himself. Persons not reciting the Birkat-HaMinim were suspected oi'minut and subject to cherem (exclusion from the community; see Yn 9:22&N).

The Encyclopedia Judaica (4:1035f.) says that Shmu'el HaKatan revised a previously existing blessing that had been used aguinsl ihe Gnostics, the Sadducees and the Roman Empire as well as the Messianic Jews.

24. Some will fall by the edge of the sword, others will be carried into all the countries of the Goyim, and Yerushalayim will be trampled down by the Goyim until the age of the Goyim has run its course.
Many believe the prophetic message in the final part of this verse has been fulfilled in our own days, after nearly two thousand years. If so, it constitutes a powerful argument for believing in Yeshua.

The verse's opening passage, "Some will fall by the edge of the sword," was initially fulfilled in the rebellion of 66-70. when over a million Jews may have perished (see below). Moreover, its fulfillment was grievously repeated throughout history, often by those who called themselves Christians and claimed to be acting in the name of the Jewish Messiah. The phrase, "the edge of the sword." is found also in Jeremiah 21:7 and Sirach 28:18 (in the Apocrypha).

The second clause, "Others will be carried into all the countries of the Goyim" could stand as a heading for a history of the Jewish Diaspora. Josephus {Wars of the Jews 6:9:3) states that 1,100,000 Jews were slain and 97,000 carried away captive as slaves by the Romans in the war of 66-70. The Diaspora is predicted as early as in the words of Moses (Deuteronomy 28:63-68) and dates at least to the Assyrian conquest of Israel (722 B.C.E.) and the Babylonian Captivity (586 B.C.E.; see Ezra 9:7). But the Roman slaughter and destruction brought the Jewish nation to an end: the Diaspora, in a national sense, had previously been partial; now and in the Second Rebellion (132-135 C.E.) it became all bul total.

And Yerushalayim will be trampled down by the Goyim until the age (literally, "seasons") of the Goyim has run its course. Consider this prophecy in the light of Psalm 79:1 ("O God, Goyim have come into your inheritance: they have defiled your holy Temple; they have laid Yerushalayim in heaps"). Isaiah 63:18 ("...our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary") and Daniel 9:26 ("After sixty-two sevens Messiah will be cut off, with nothing left to him; and the people of a prince yet to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary....").

The Romans permitted Jews to continue living in Jerusalem after 70 C.E., but in the wake of the Second Rebellion under the false messiah Shim'on Bar-Kosiba all Jews were expelled, and the city, now entirely Gentile, was renamed Aelia Capitolina. (However, Jews continued to live in B'nei-B'rak, Yavneh, Tzippori, Tiberias and other locations throughout the Land of Israel. In fact, there has been a Jewish presence in Eretz-Israel continuously since the time of King David.)

Roman rule continued until 324, the Byzantine Empire controlled Jerusalem until 614 and the Persians governed briefly until 629. In 638 Muslim Arabs conquered the Holy City; and the Ummayads, ruling from Damascus, built the Dome of the Rock mosque on what was believed to be the site of the Jewish Temple, completing it in 691. The Abbasid Arabs took over in 750; their capital was Baghdad. The Egyptians imposed their rule in 878. The Crusaders, thinking they were acting in the name of Yeshua, came to the Holy Land in 1096 "to reclaim it from the infidels." In 1099 they not only defeated the Muslims but massacred all the Jews they could find. The Crusaders in turn were driven out in 1187 by the Kurdish Ayyubid leader Salach-ed-Din (Saladin).

Batlles between Crusaders and Muslim Arabs continued until 1244, with dominion being established by the Egyptian Mamluks in 1250; formerly military slaves of the Ayyubids, they had overthrown their masters. Suleiman ( = Solomon) the Great displaced them in 1517, and his Ottoman Turks held sway in the Holy Land for 40() years until they were defeated by Britain's General Allenby in World War I. The British Mandate given by the League of Nations lasted until 1948, when, in the wake of the Na/i Holocaust, the world's conscience was momentarily pricked enough to permit the State of Israel to be established by a just-over-two-thirds vote of the United Nations General Assembly. By the U. N. plan of 1947 Jerusalem was to have been an internationalized city, but when five Arab countries attacked Israel within hours of her independence she fought back and conquered the western, more modern part of Jerusalem. Nevertheless the Old City of Jerusalem, the portion the present verse speaks about, which includes the Temple site, was occupied by Jordan until the Six-Day War. On June 8, 1967. the Israeli army entered the Old City and converged on the Western ("Wailing") Wall, liberating Yerushalayim at last.

Many regard that as the moment when Yeshua's prophecy was fulfilled — 1,897 years of Gentile rule over Yerushalayim came to an end, and she is no longer "trampled down by the Goyim" because "the age of the Goyim has mn its course"; at last Yeshua's words have come true. Others date the fulfillment from Israel's 1980 proclamation that Jerusalem is a united city under Israeli sovereignty. Still others will not consider it fulfilled until Muslims no longer control the Temple Mount.

Those who adhere to Replacement theology — also called Covenant theology, Dominion theology, Kingdom Now theology, Christian Reconstructionism, and (in England) Restorationism — hold that the Church is the "new" or "spiritual" Israel, having replaced the "old" Israel, the Jews, as God's people. According to this view the Jewish people no longer have promises from God, only curses; therefore they deny any significance after 70 C.E. to the "times of the Gentiles." The falseness of this interpretation follows logically if Replacement theology itself is refuted — for which see references in Mt 5:5N.

In the Talmud a lengthy series of speculations on when the Messiah will come includes the following paragraph, which resembles Yeshua's prediction in the present verse:
"Rabbi Chama bar-Chanina said, "The Son of David will not come until own the pettiest [hazola] kingdom stops having power over Israel, for it is wi nim. "He will cut off the shoots \hazalzalim, a related word, understood ben 111 I metaphor for "petty kingdoms"] with pruning hooks, and he will hew down and remove the branches." And this is followed by, "In that lime shall Adonal of heaven's armies be presented with the gift of a people scattered and peeled" (Isaiah 18:5, 7)."'(Sanhedrin 98a)

What follows may seem a digression, but it is tied to the present VCfM by the concept of waiting two thousand years to see something happen. Messianii l( WI hold that Messianic Judaism is the modern continuation of a Jewish stream whi< h began in the first century with the Jewish followers of Yeshua. Opponents i laii the intervening centuries of historical conflict between the Church ;uxl the people — as Israel High Court Justice Meir Shamgar wrote in the Bethel Dorflingei verdict:

"For this purpose [to convince the Court she was a Jew entitled to nuke aliyah (immigrate) under Israel's Law of Return] she made exaggerations with long and tortuous arguments concerning the possibilities of her being a lew who believes in Jesus' being the Messiah, as if we are still living in the beginning i if the first century of the Christian Era, as if since then nothing had occui red In all that relates to the crystallization ofthe religious frameworks ;iiul the separation from Judaism of all those who chose another path." (Israel High ( foultoi hiatl< e Case #563/77)

I have two comments. First, the entire Zionist enterprise has had I Viltuall) identical premise. For two thousand years the Jews had no home in I,in. Israel I hi «< who opposed Zionism criticized its "long and tortuous arguments conceminj the possibilities of recreating a Jewish state, "as if we were still living in the first century of the Christian Era, as if since then nothing had occurred in all that relates i<> the crystallization of political, social and "religious frameworks." Fortunately, the and Zionists were wrong — as is Justice Shamgar. (My thanks to Israeli Messianic Jews Menahem Benhayim and Ari Sorko-Ram, who both suggested this parallel.)

Second, if "religious frameworks" have "crystallized" in a way that separates "from Judaism all who chose another path," then it is a task ol'Messianic Judaism to pemadc Christians and Jews alike to decrystallize the frameworks so as to bring them into line with reality. Jews who honor Yeshua remain Jewish. It is God who made us Jewish. and neither the rabbis, the Jewish people nor Israel's High Court of Justice can overrule God's reality and de-Jew us.

25. “There will appear signs in the sun, moon and stars; and on earth, nations will be in anxiety and bewilderment at the sound and surge of the sea,
Signs in the sun, moon and stars. Understand thus to refer to the Great Day of Adonai (Joel 3:1-5(2:28-32), Isaiah 13:9-10).

26. as people faint with fear at the prospect of what is overtaking the world; for the powers in heaven will be shaken (Haggai 2:6, 21).
27. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud (Daniel 7:13–14) with tremendous power and glory
Son of Man. See Mt 8:20N. At his second coming Yeshua will fulfill the remaining unfulfilled prophecies of the Tanakh concerning him.

28. When these things start to happen, stand up and hold your heads high; because you are about to be liberated!”
29. Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, Indeed, all the trees.
30. As soon as they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves that summer is near.
31. In the same way, when you see these things taking place, you are to know that the Kingdom of God is near!
32. Yes! I tell you that this people will certainly not pass away before it has all happened.
This people. See Mt 24:34N.

33. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.
34. “But keep watch on yourselves, or your hearts will become dulled by carousing, drunkenness and the worries of everyday living, and that Day will be sprung upon you suddenly like a trap!
35. For it will close in on everyone, no matter where they live, throughout the whole world.
36. Stay alert, always praying that you will have the strength to escape all the things that will happen and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man.”
37. Yeshua spent his days at the Temple, teaching; while at night he went out and stayed on the hill called the Mount of Olives.
38. All the people would rise with the dawn to come and hear him at the Temple courts.

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