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A Response To Asher Norman’s Book: ‘26 Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe In Jesus’

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Reason 6: Was Jesus a false prophet?

 

Asher Norman correctly says that the New Testament describes Jesus as a prophet (often this is actually seen as other people’s assessment of him).  He quotes Matthew 14.5: ‘They (the multitudes) counted him as a prophet’, and John 4.4: ‘A prophet has no honour in his own country.’   There are a number of other references in the New Testament to Jesus as a prophet, including Matthew 21.11: ‘This is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee’ and Luke 24.19: ‘Jesus of Nazareth … a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.’   

 

Jesus is also referred to as ‘that Prophet’ or the Prophet like unto Moses as described in Deuteronomy 18.15-19:  ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me (Moses) from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’   After the feeding of the 5000, we read in John 6.14:  ‘Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’  In Acts 3.23 Peter quotes the passage from Deuteronomy about the Prophet like unto Moses and applies it to Jesus.

 

Apart from this, the Gospel writers referred to Jesus as the fulfilment of the words of the Hebrew prophets: ‘When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘ He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.’’  Matthew 8 16-17.

 

After the resurrection Jesus speaks to the disciples about the events that have just taken place:  ‘Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.’  Luke 24.44-45.

 

So the New Testament claims that Jesus is not just a prophet, but the Prophet like unto Moses and also that His life, death and resurrection fulfils the words of the Hebrew Prophets who came before Him.    The writers of the New Testament believed that Jesus was more than a prophet, and is in fact the Messiah.  However if he is a false prophet as Asher Norman claims, then indeed all of this is null and void.

 

Asher Norman correctly says that a prophet is one who communicates God’s words: ‘I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.’  Deuteronomy 18.18.  Those words must come to pass or He is a false prophet.  ‘And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’   When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.  Deuteronomy 18.19-22.

 

He then gives three examples of prophecies of Jesus which allegedly did not come true.

 

1.  Jesus prophesied that he would be in the earth three days and three nights.  

 

‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’  Matthew 12.40

 

The context of this is a dispute the Pharisees have with Jesus over his miracles.  He has just produced a miracle, which they themselves had said was a Messianic miracle, healing a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute.  The response of the crowd was ‘‘Could this be the Son of David?’ (i.e the Messiah).  The response of the Pharisees was  ‘This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.’  Matthew 12.22-31. Jesus’ response to this was to point out the illogicality of ‘Satan casting out Satan’ and to say ‘But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.’  Many commentators say that his following rebuke on those who sin against the Holy Spirit applied to those who saw a clear miracle of God and attributed it to the devil.

 

He then went on to refuse to give them a sign to satisfy their curiosity, and said the only sign that would be given to them is ‘the sign of Jonah.’  Clearly He meant that the sign of Jonah was a sign of death and resurrection.   Leaving aside arguments about whether Jonah is a parable or a literal account of something that really happened (and I believe the latter), the reason why Jesus would refer to the experience of Jonah as a type of death and resurrection is clear from the book of Jonah.  

 

After Jonah has been swallowed by the ‘great fish’, he cries to the LORD: ‘Out of the belly of Sheol (the place of the dead) I cried, and You heard my voice.’  Jonah 2.2.  He then proclaims ‘I remembered the LORD; and my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple. … I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.’  Jonah 2.7-9.  So he goes from the place of the dead to proclaiming that he will offer sacrifices to the LORD in the Temple (i.e. he will be alive again).  Then ‘the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.’  Jonah 2.10.  Jonah 1.17 tells us:  ‘And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.’    

 

The verse in Matthew 12.40 is actually the only reference in the New Testament to three days and three nights.  All the other references to the coming crucifixion and resurrection which Jesus makes in the Gospels refer to ‘the third day.’ Jesus prophesied that He would rise again on ‘the third day’ in Matthew 16.21, 20.19, Mark 9.31, 10.34, Luke 9.22, 18.33, 24.7,46.  Paul speaks of Him being raised on the ‘third day’ in 1 Corinthians 15.4.  

 

For us, three days and three nights generally means 72 hours, but we must understand the Bible historically and culturally. For the Jewish mind, three days could mean any part of the first day, all of the second day, and any part of the third day. This lines up with the traditional view that Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon and was in the grave part of Friday (Luke 23.54-55), all of Saturday (Luke 23.56), and part of Sunday, the first day of the week (Luke 24.1).  So He was raised ‘on the third day.’

 

But what about ‘three nights’?  It is interesting that in the Tenach there are passages which speak of periods of ‘three days and three nights’ when it actually means the event was concluded ‘on the third day.’  

 

In Esther 4.16 we read: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’’ And then in 5.1: On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. ‘ In this case, ‘on the third day’ is equivalent to ‘for three days, night or day’.

 

1 Samuel 30.12: ‘He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights. 13 David asked him, ‘To whom do you belong, and where do you come from?’ He said, ‘I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. ‘ In this case ‘for three days and three nights’ somehow was fulfilled when his master left him ‘three days ago’.

 

In these cases ‘three days,’ ‘the third day,’ and ‘three days and three nights’ are used to signify the same period of time.’

 

Interestingly Rabbinical literature also manifests the measuring of time whereby a day and a night can refer to a portion of that time frame:  Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, tenth in the descent from Ezra was very specific: ‘A day and a night are an Onah [‘a portion of time’] and the portion of an Onah is as the whole of it [J.Talmud, Shabbath 9.3 and b.Talmud, Pesahim 4a]

 

Matthew uses this Jewish idiom:  ’’Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, `After three days I will rise again.’  So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day.’ (Matthew 27.63-64).   Note that ‘after three days’ was somehow equivalent to ‘until the third day’ not ‘until the fourth day’.  

 

Therefore this is not an example of a ‘false prophecy’ by Jesus.   We could also point out two issues on this subject showing Jesus as a true prophet and ask the question if there is anyone else in history about whom the following claims could be made.  

 

Jesus correctly prophesied the place and manner of His death and that He would be resurrected from the dead (Matthew 16.21).  After the resurrection He appeared to His disciples and convinced them that He really was alive and that all that had happened to Him was itself the fulfilment of the words of the Hebrew Prophets (Luke 24.44-48).  They then laid down their lives to spread this message, which has now gone to the ends of the earth and been believed by millions, itself a fulfilment of prophecy (Isaiah 45.22-23, 49.6, Matthew 24.14, 28.18-20).   

 

For more on this subject go to our articles

Crucifixion accounts  

Resurrection accounts

 

2.  Jesus prophesied that He would return during the lifetime of his disciples.

 

Asher Norman’s claim here is based on these sayings of Jesus:

 

  1. ‘Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.’  Mark 13.30 (also Matthew 24.34).
  2. ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.’  Matthew 16.28.

 

‘This generation.’

 

We have to look at these verses in context.  Both Mark 13 and Matthew 24 (along with Luke 21) are found in what is described as the ‘Olivet Discourse.’  Here Jesus, seated on the Mount of Olives, deals with two issues of prophecy.

 

  1. The coming destruction of the Temple.
  2. His second coming to the earth.

 

In both Matthew and Mark the discourse follows the disciples’ observations about the Temple, the magnificent building which would be clearly visible to them as they sat on the Mount of Olives.  Jesus as a prophet tells them that the Temple will be destroyed.  ‘Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’ Matthew 24.2.  

 

Jesus then goes on to answer another question of the disciples; ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’  Matthew 24.3

 

Jesus’ answer in all three accounts of the Olivet Discourse describes both events, the fall of the Temple and the end of the age, when once again armies will surround Jerusalem and there will be a time of great tribulation.  In Luke’s account Jesus gives details of the coming fall of the Temple, the worldwide dispersion of the Jewish people and the deliverance of Jerusalem from Gentile rule which will happen at the end of this age (more on this later in this article).  

 

He even gives instructions to those who will be alive at the time of the destruction of the Temple by the Romans to flee the city when they see the armies coming to surround it, which history records was followed by followers of Jesus at the time: ‘But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.  For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations.  And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’ Luke 21.20-24.

 

The answer to the first of Asher Norman’s objections based on Mark 13.30 and Matthew 24.34 is as follows.  In this prophecy Jesus was speaking to both to His own generation which would see the destruction of the Temple and the final generation before His second coming.  There would be people alive listening to Him who would see the destruction of the Temple (forty years later) but not the Second Coming.  Concerning the date of His Second Coming He made it clear that no one would know this date: ‘But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.’  Matthew 24.36.  

 

When he said ‘this generation’ will not pass away until all these things take place, there are two possibilities to consider:

 

  1. That generation did not pass away until the Temple was destroyed as Jesus prophesied.
  2. The word used for generation is the Greek word ‘genea’ which usually means generation, but can also mean ‘race.’  So Jesus could have been assuring the disciples that despite all the terrible events which would befall the Jewish people following the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion amongst the Gentiles, ‘Am Israel hai’, the people of Israel lives.  There will be an identifiable Jewish people until His second coming.  In fact He makes it clear that the Jewish people accepting Him as the Messiah is also a requirement of the Second Coming: ‘For I say to you (Jerusalem), you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’  Matthew 23.39.

 

‘Some standing here’.

 

To find the answer to the second of Asher Norman’s objections based on Matthew 16.28 (‘Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom’) we have to carry on reading into Matthew 17:

 

‘Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’
 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’ When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.’  Matthew 17.1-8.  

 

This event, known as the Transfiguration, gave the disciples a revelation of the glory of God in the person of the Messiah Jesus.  For the time of His incarnation He had laid aside His glory ‘taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men’ (Philippians 2.7).  

 

In this Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy of Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 53.2: ‘For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.’  This means that the Servant would not look different from others and would not have any special appearance to mark Him out.  Obviously if Jesus had walked around Nazareth or Jerusalem looking as He appeared to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration it would have been a little difficult to miss the fact that there was something different about him.  However Isaiah also says that He would be ‘despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.’  It is hard to imagine this happening if He appeared as God in the flesh.  

 

On this unique occasion the disciples had the opportunity to see who Jesus really was, the Son of God appearing in human form.  So they saw the kingdom coming in power a few days later.  Significantly all three Synoptic Gospels give the same sequence of events at this point (which does not always happen in their accounts).  They all have Jesus saying that some of them will not see death until they see the Kingdom come in power, followed by the account of the Transfiguration (Matthew 16.27-17.8, Mark 8.38-9.8, Luke 9.26-36).

 

A period of time before the Second Coming.

 

If we look the Gospels as a whole we see that on numerous occasions Jesus speaks of a long period of time between His departure (ascension) and His coming again (e.g. Matthew 24.45-51, 25.1-13, Luke 17.20-35, Luke 19.11-26).  In Luke 19.11-12, which introduces the parable of the Minas he says: ‘Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: ‘A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.’   

 

The concept of a departure and a long period before the date of His return ties in with a number of Scriptures in the Hebrew Prophets, in particular in the book of Hosea where we read: ‘For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.’  Hosea 3.4-5.  A time of being set aside for Israel during which time they have no king, sacrifice or priesthood is implied in this passage which ties in with Jesus words about the coming dispersion of the Jewish people.  The passage ends with a turning to the LORD and ‘David their king’ in the latter days.  ‘David their king’ is clearly the King Messiah, Yeshua who will bring deliverance to Israel in the latter days of this age.  Hosea goes on to ‘I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offence. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.’ Hosea 5.15.  There is even a hint at this being a period of roughly 2000 years. ‘Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.’  Hosea 6.1-2.  Psalm 90.4 speaks of a 1000 years being like a day in the Lord’s sight.   

 

The concept of the Messiah coming, being rejected by the majority and then returning ‘when they acknowledge their offence’ ties in with New Testament prophecy about the return of the Messiah after a long period of time (see Romans 11).  This also ties in with the concept of two appearances of the Messiah, as the Suffering Servant (Messiah ben Joseph) and the Reigning King (Messiah ben David).

One of the things Jesus said would happen in this age (i.e. before His second coming) was the spread of His message to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28.18-20).  Clearly this could not have happened within the generation of the disciples since there were parts of the earth that were unknown to the inhabitants of the world Jesus and the disciples inhabited in the first century.  

 

From all of this we can conclude that Jesus neither taught nor believed that His second coming would take place during the lifetime of His disciples.  For further information on  this see our articles:

The Messianic Programme

Why the Second Coming

 

3.  Jesus falsely applied Zechariah 13 to himself.

 

Asher Norman says that Mark applies Zechariah 13 to Jesus which he says is a blunder, because he associates Jesus with the fulfilment of a verse by Zechariah which describes God’s punishment of false prophets.  The verse in Mark he refers to is:

 

‘Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written; ‘ I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’  Mark 14.27 quoting Zechariah 13.7.

 

Asher Norman writes, ‘Mark’s quote did not include the balance of Zechariah’s verse which explains that God will strike the shepherd who should not live because he will be a false prophet who will speak lies in the name of the LORD,  It is highly ironic that Mark’s Jesus identifies himself as Zechariah’s false lying prophet who should not live.’  (page 36-7).

 

Actually it is Asher Norman who has blundered here.  When we read Zechariah 13 we discover that it follows the passage in Zechariah 12.10 where Israel looks on ‘Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.’  Following this in Zechariah 13.1 we read: ‘In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.’  This means that after Israel looks on one who has been pierced (the Suffering Servant Messiah) a fountain of cleansing for sin is opened to them.  In other words the looking to the Messiah brings the cleansing from sin (which is exactly what the New Testament says about looking to Jesus for salvation).  Zechariah 13.2-6 then describe the cutting off of the false prophets and the unclean spirit from the land: ‘‘It shall be in that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.’

 

In Zechariah 13.7 there is a change in the subject from the false prophets and the unclean spirit to the true Shepherd, who is described as the ‘Man who is My Companion’ by the LORD.  So this verse cannot possibly be referring to the false shepherd as Asher Norman erroneously claims: ‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion,’ says the LORD of hosts.  ‘Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’

 

Jesus could rightly apply this verse to Himself as the Shepherd who would be struck and following this the disciples would be scattered.  The verse also has an application to the end times when the terrible events of the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30) will take place.  Zechariah 13.8-9 goes on to describe a slaughter of two thirds of the people with one third coming through this time of trouble to call on the name of the LORD.   Following this Zechariah 14 prophesies the coming of the LORD in person to Jerusalem to save His people.  In that day He will stand on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14.4) and establish the Messianic Kingdom (Zechariah 14.9).  This ties in with the New Testament which says that the point of Jesus’ return will be the Mount of Olives (Acts 1.11-12) in power to bring in the Messianic Kingdom (Matthew 24.29-30, Revelation 11.15, Revelation 19-20).

 

Therefore Zechariah is not at all a good witness for the prosecution’s view that Jesus is a false prophet.

 

True prophecies of Jesus.

 

Asher Norman does not refer to the prophecies, which Jesus actually made.  As we have already indicated these mainly deal with two events, which would occur after His death and resurrection.

 

1. The destruction of the Temple and dispersion of the Jewish people.

2. The Second Coming – events that would precede and follow it.

 

Concerning the destruction of the Temple we find these words in Luke’s Gospel:

 

‘Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.’’ Luke 19.41-44.

 

‘But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.  Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’  Luke 21.20-24.

 

If we look carefully at Jesus’ words we discover that in relation to Israel, Jesus functioned as the Hebrew prophets did, Jeremiah in particular.

 

1. He warned of the coming catastrophe.

2. He gave a reason for it.

3. He gave a promise of restoration.

 

Jesus prophesied the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.  He told those who believed in him to flee from the city when they saw the armies gathering, because this was going to lead to a time of terrible slaughter and destruction.

 

In these verses Jesus warned of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jewish people into the lands of the Gentiles.  He also gave a reason for it: ‘Because you did not know the time of your visitation’.  In other words the dispersion happened because Jesus was not recognised as the Messiah.  Jesus goes on to allude to the restoration of Jerusalem in the Messianic Age when He says ‘Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’  The end of the times of the Gentiles is the same event as the Second Coming.  We can relate this to the stone smiting the image (which represents the Gentile rule) in Daniel 2.  For more on this go to our article:

Jerusalem and the end of the Times of the Gentiles.

 

This subject is actually a problem to Judaism.  The destruction of the Second Temple was an event of enormous significance for the Jewish people:  Rabbi Ken Spiro writes:  ‘The destruction of the Second Temple is one of the most important events in the history of the Jewish people, and certainly one of the most depressing.  It is a sign that God has withdrawn from (though certainly not abandoned) the Jews. Although the Jews will survive in accordance with the promise that they will be an ‘eternal nation’, the special relationship with God they enjoyed while the Temple stood is gone … Why was the Second Temple destroyed? Because of sinat chinam, causeless hatred of one Jew for another (Talmud – Yomah).’ Aish.com  ‘Crash Course in Jewish History Part 35 – Destruction of the Temple by Rabbi Ken Spiro.

 

Apart from this there is no explanation in Judaism for this event which was so terrible.  However before the destruction of the first Temple God sent prophet after prophet to warn of this event and to give the reason for it.  The main prophet who spoke of this was Jeremiah but before him God had sent many warnings of this event (Jeremiah 26.4-5).  Most of the book of Jeremiah is taken up with warnings of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and the reason for it, worshiping false gods and rejecting the commandments of the LORD (Jeremiah 7.8-10).  Jeremiah also gives a promise of restoration after 70 years of captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29.10-11).   But before the destruction of the Second Temple there is an absolute silence from God, apart from the words of Jesus recorded in the New Testament. All we have is a teaching that there was ‘causeless hatred’ which has no record in any passage of scripture and seems a minor issue compared to the major rebukes to the people which we find in the prophets, especially Jeremiah.

 

In this sense there is a certain truth in the ‘causeless hatred’ theory of Judaism, but not as it is understood today.  The question has to be asked, ‘Who is the object of the causeless hatred’?  Today the Jewish answer to this is that ‘causeless hatred’ meant the hostility of different Jewish factions defending Jerusalem, which allowed the Romans to break through and take the city.  But Jesus spoke about his coming rejection and crucifixion and used exactly this phrase to describe the opposition to himself:  

 

‘He who hates me hates my Father also.  If I had not done among them the works which no one else did they would have no sin; but now they have hated both me and my Father.  But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’  John 15.23-5, quoting Psalm 69.4.

 

On the subject of Jesus’ prophecy concerning the Temple the counter argument is often that Jesus got it wrong when he said there would not be ‘one stone standing on another’, because the Western Wall is obviously still standing.  However the Western Wall is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Temple’s courtyard, not a part of the actual Temple. The building which would have been in view when Jesus made this prophecy from the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24.2 and as He rode down the Mount of Olives from a point half way down it in Luke 19.41-44 would have been the Temple. There was no doubt in the minds of His hearers that he was talking about the destruction of the Temple with not one stone left standing upon it, which was its fate once the Romans had finished with their destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. In this Jesus was not only a true prophet, but the only prophet who warned Israel of what was to come.

 

For more on this subject go to our article:  The Fall of the Second Temple

 

Prophecies of the Second Coming.

 

Jesus made a number of prophecies about His second coming.  In the days that precede this event He says that the following will happen:

 

  1. There will be an increase in wars, famines, plagues and earthquakes leading to a time of great trouble on the earth.  ‘Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom and here will be great earthquakes in various places and famines and pestilences.’  Luke 21.10-11
  2. The earth will be full of violence and many people will be afraid of what is going to happen.  ‘As it was in the days of Noah so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.’  Luke 17.26-27.  The Bible says that in the days of Noah ‘the earth was corrupt before God and the earth was filled with violence.’ Genesis 6.11.  See also Luke 21.25-6.
  3. There will be great sexual immorality causing a breakdown of family life and disease.  ‘Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot’ Luke 17.28-8.  ‘Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.’  Genesis 19.1.  ‘Lot was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked.’  2 Peter 2.7.  See also Matthew 24.12, Romans 1.24-27, 2 Timothy 3.1-9.
  4. There will be many false cults bringing religious confusion while organised religion will form a union known as Babylon which will persecute true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  ‘Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many’  Matthew 24.11.  ‘And you (believing Christians) will be hated by all for my name’s sake’  Luke 21.17.   See also Matthew 24.23-27, Revelation 17.1-6
  5. The message of the Gospel will reach all nations despite opposition and persecution.  ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … and lo I am with always even to the end of the age.’  Jesus speaking in Matthew 28.18-20.  See also Matthew 24.9-14.

 

Other prophecies in the Bible indicate that the following will be happening at this time:

 

  1. The Jewish people will return to Israel and make the barren land fertile.  There will be a conflict over Jerusalem which will involve all nations of the world.  ‘For I will take you (Jewish people) from among the nations, gather you out of all countries and bring you into your own land.’  Ezekiel 36.24.  ‘And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all nations.’ Zechariah 12.3.  See also Ezekiel 36-39, Zechariah 12-14, Luke 21.20-24, Revelation 16.16
  2. There will be an attack on the basic truths of the Bible, especially God as Creator, the divinity of the Lord Jesus and His death and resurrection as a sacrifice for sin and the hope that He is coming again.  ‘Scoffers will come in the last days walking according to their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’  2 Peter 3.3-6.  See also Matthew 24.10-11, 2 Timothy 4.2-5, 2 Peter 2, 1 John 2.18-23
  3. There will be widespread pollution of the earth.   ‘The earth is defiled under its inhabitants… Therefore the curse has devoured the earth and those who dwell in it are desolate.  Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men are left.’  Isaiah 24.5-6.  See also Revelation 8.6-11
  4. There will be an increase in technology and travel helping to bring the world together into a one world economic and political system.  ‘But you Daniel shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase.’  Daniel 12.4.   See also Revelation 13, 17.12-18.
  5. A world leader will emerge, known as the beast or Antichrist, who will take control of this system.  ‘All the world marvelled and followed the beast… And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue and nation.’ Revelation 13.3-10.  ‘He causes all both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or name of the beast or the number of his name... His number is 666.’  Revelation 13.16-18.  See also Daniel 7, 2 Thessalonians 2, Revelation 17.

 

Jesus said that in the days before His return there would be a time of ‘great tribulation’ unlike any that has been ‘since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.’  This time will be so bad that if God did not cut it short all life on earth would come to an end.  Matthew 24.21-2.  In this He was confirming a number of passages in the Hebrew prophets which speak of a time of unparalleled trouble before the ‘Day of the Lord’.  For example Isaiah 24, Jeremiah 30, Ezekiel 38-9, Joel 2-3, Zephaniah 2-3, Zechariah 12-14.  In Daniel 12.1 we read:  ‘At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book.’

 

I guess a natural response to this would be to hope that, on the subject of a time of great tribulation coming, Jesus was a false prophet (and the Hebrew prophets too).  However world events are lining up with these prophecies which should warn us that Jesus is in fact a true prophet and the Messiah. As more and more of the things listed above come to pass on the earth, may many people recognize that their only hope is to look to the Messiah who has come once in fulfilment of specific prophecies and will come again in fulfilment of other prophecies all found within the pages of the Bible.

 

Liberal Jewish hopes that a ‘Messianic Age’ will come in which the nations of the world work out their differences and live in peace and harmony with each other and the natural world will turn out to be false prophecies.  So too will Orthodox Jewish hopes that the Messiah will be is a great human leader, who will bring peace and knowledge of God to the nations and restore Israel.   Only the Messiah who is God himself, coming as Son of Man and Son of God will be able to do this.   

 

The prophecies of the Bible do have a hopeful end – the Millennial Kingdom of the Messiah.  For more on this subject go to our article: Will there be a Messianic Kingdom or Millennium?

 

You will also find a number of articles on the last days’ prophecies of the Bible on the website www.lightforthelastdays.co.uk   

 

We can also supply the free booklet ‘What is the World Heading for?’ which expands on the signs of the Second Coming given above.

 

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