Something to reflect on when studying the word of God, is how important a role prophecy has played. In my Christian fiction, The Last Saint, I allude to what could be a tremendous study:
“Fulfilling prophecy is one of the most compelling ways the Bible has demonstrated
that it is the word of God. It has uncannily and accurately predicted future events, often in minute details. Christ fulfilled many Himself; from where He was born to how He died. Specific prophesies are conspicuously absent from the twenty-six other religious books that claim to be scripture, including the Muslim’s Koran, the Book of Mormon, the Hindu Vedas, and Buddhist writings.”
One of my favorites is the prediction that the Messiah would be born in the inconsequential town of Bethlehem. In Micah 5:2 it says, – But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.-
These words were written over 700 years before Christ was born! That fact alone, if dwelt upon with the proper understanding, should move any heart to fear the Lord.
But there was another prophecy, from Christ’s own mouth. A warning, given in Luke 21. He said, 20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.
The event that took place 40 years after the death and resurrection of Christ was called the Flight to Pella. 40, the number used by God to denote longsuffering, sacrifice, tumult, waiting, spiritual growth, patience, was also the exact amount of years given to Israel before it’s destruction, and the decimating of its temple. Strife between the Romans and the Jews was escalating, leading from revolts up to full blown rebellion. To squash the rebellion, Titus entered the city in 70AD, and during the assault, killed over 1,000,000 Jews. The Sanhedrin was disbanded, the temple was no more, and the Jewish way of life would never be the same.
But the Christians of Jerusalem? They were gone. Some had left before as uprisings grew in intensity. But many fled just before, based on the warning of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. They fled over the river Jordan to Pella, and there, remained safe from the invasion of Rome.
This event not only tipped the balance of power and momentum towards gentiles, and the Christian church, but prevented the Jews from being able to produce a verifiable messiah from that day forth. The records were burned, and destroyed, and the lines of David were lost. One of the line of David had already fulfilled God’s purpose, and now there was officially no way for the Jewish leaders to prove anyone who came after was in fact of the correct lineage. Ironic that the very destruction of that lineage was foretold by the one who already fulfilled that particular prophecy.
And so, with the heeded advice of their savior, the new Christians of Jerusalem would jettison the city before Roman invasion, saving the truth of the word from being snuffed out before it ever got underway. And with Christ’s words from Luke, we can ascertain that this was most definitely prophetic, and by design, so that the world might come to know the Lord, Jesus Christ. Without that warning, the Christian movement may have been destroyed with the city of David, and the power of the Kingdom of God may have been compromised. But He holds the pillars of the earth firm, and all works towards His good will.
It is interesting to contemplate the “what ifs”. To be awestruck at the perfect wonder of fulfilled words of our Lord. But one thing we cannot do, once knowledge of the word has reached our ears, is deny that a marvelous work was done, and done for our sake, so that the good news of Christ could be spread to the ends of the earth despite barriers, even such barriers as a Roman army. To deny this, is intellectually dishonest, and is turning your back on true history. The truth, the real truth, is scary; but hiding from it is worse.