UFOs Reported Over Jerusalem

Jesus has called Jerusalem desolate and lamented over the city. The disciples pointed out the buildings, and Jesus predicted that not one stone would be left upon another. In response, His disciples asked when the end of Jerusalem would be and what would be the signs that Christ was coming in judgment, so as to remove one stone from another in the city. In Matthew 24, Jesus has been answering their question by predicting everything that would happen leading up to the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70. So far, Jesus’s predictions match the historical record. He was correct in all His predictions. Jesus continues:

But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other (Matthew 24:29-31).

Jesus gives the disciples a few more signs. They come after the tribulation of those days, in conjunction with destruction of the Temple. Christ has a plan following the destruction of the Temple. Jesus predicts that the sun will be dark, the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky. The powers of the heavens will be shaken. With the destruction of the Temple, the pride of Israel is demolished. Sacrifices are made impossible. The place of atonement is no more. Everything that God built through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is undone—or seemingly so. Remember, Jesus is talking to Jews. Matthew is the most Jewish of the Gospels. Jewish imagery from Genesis 37 onward refers to Jacob’s family as the sun, moon, and stars together. If they are darkened, there is a new light dawning that goes beyond national Israel and the Jewish religion. God has purposefully destroyed the Temple and (in our time) ensures it is not rebuilt because that light is darkened. A new light is dawning. The Temple prepared the way, but with the crucifixion of Christ, the Temple is no longer needed for atonement or as a center of peace between the world and God. I once believed that this text was about a period of blackness following a great tribulation in the future because that is what I was taught growing up. But, such an interpretation doesn’t fit a literal reading of the text because this event must take place within the generation Jesus is talking to (Matthew 24:34). I also once held that this event was the darkness that overcame the world when Christ gave up His spirit on Calvary. That interpretation also does not fit the text because Jesus is clear about it happening after the tribulation leading up to the stones of the temple being toppled from the others. People have to do a tremendous amount of work to twist the words of the text in favor of either of those interpretations–which is not goo for biblical accuracy. Our only accurate option, here, is to say that this sign, in light of the imagery given to us in the Old Testament, is the destruction of the Temple and the toppling of the old paradigm under Israel’s sun, moon, and stars–the 12 patriarchs. Thus, Jesus’s statement, “… and the powers of the heavens will be shaken,” makes sense. There is a new paradigm. I believe this paradigm a fulfillment of the old. This also helps us to understand why the parable of the fig tree is situated like it is in the text. It’s not a random parable. This does not mean there won’t ever be a period of darkness following a tribulation in our future. It doesn’t negate the fact that the sky went dark at Jesus’s crucifixion. It simply means that Jesus is not referring to those events in Matthew 24–He is referring to the destruction of the Temple His disciples asked Him about.

After the tribulation of those days, the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Josephus, a Roman historian later quoted by both Tacitus and Eusebius, recorded what many eyewitnesses saw in the sky and began to preach in Jerusalem:

So these publickly declared that this signal foreshewed the desolation that was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable; were it not related by those that saw it; and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals. For, before sun setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost; as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple,10 as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said, that in the first place they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise: and after that they heard a sound, as of a multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.” But what is still more terrible; there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian, and an husbandman, who, four years before the war began; and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity; came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, (17) began on a sudden to cry aloud, “A voice from the east; a voice from the west; a voice from the four winds; a voice against Jerusalem, and the holy house; a voice against the bridegrooms, and the brides; and a voice against this whole people” (Josephus, The Jewish War, 6.5.16, Havercamp’s accurate Edition).

In the same chapter, Josephus described meteors falling from the sky and one cow giving birth to a lamb in the Temple. From the historical record, we see that there was such a sign in conjuction with the event that leads to the destruction of the Temple. Moreover, Josephus recorded this spectacular sign as having happened at dusk, a time of day that the sun is darkened and the stars are barely visible, and is accompanied by other signs that Jesus mentions in Matthew 24–primarily earthquake tremors. At the time, the Jews, particularly one preacher named Jesus (not to be confused with Jesus of Nazareth) preached this sign as the fulfillment of Jesus of Nazareth’s prediction and warned about the destruction of Jerusalem even though the city seemed prosperous at the time.

Next, Jesus uses Old Testament apocalyptic language to state that, at that time, all the tribes of the earth will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky (or of Heaven) with power and great glory—a phrase meant to convey the judgment of God upon a city or nation. It is the same language used when God talked about judgment upon Babylon (cf. Isaiah 13:9-13), Egypt (cf. Isaiah 19:1), and Tyre (Isaiah 23:11). Notice, Jesus does not say that every single person will witness His judgment firsthand. All the tribes of the earth will see it, a Greek word meaning “will see, experience, become aware of.” Even the Romans wrote of God’s judgment upon Jerusalem as seen in Josephus above. It is permanent in the historical record. Separated by 2,000 or so years and 6,470 miles, I am reading and writing about Jesus coming down on Jerusalem in judgment like He did on Old Testament cities and nations. Jesus was not wrong.

After the tribulation of those days, Jesus will send out His angels, a Greek word simply meaning “messengers.” Jesus’s messengers go out with a great trumpet, an instrument used for war, celebration, and to usher in a King. Christ’s messengers will gather together Christ’s elect (His chosen) from the four winds and from one end of the sky to the others–both phrases which refer to the whole earth. There’s the paradigm shift. The Temple is destroyed. It is time for Christ’s people among all nations, not only Israel, to gather under King Jesus–an unparalleled event that is still in progress. We are evidence of this. We still practice evangelism. We are still gathering Christ’s people together among all nations. We will not stop. Jesus has won and will continue to win.

So, take great courage, brothers and sisters. The paradigm shift we see as a matter of fulfillment profits all people. Gentiles who are in Christ are just as much people of God as Jews who fear God and trust their Messiah. Christ was given for all nations. He made that very clear for us. Gather together, and don’t be in the habit of forsaking the assembling together of yourselves like so many are in the habit of doing. For, Christ is bringing us together with His great power for His great glory. Be encouraged, Amen.

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