The Prophet Daniel stated that Jerusalem was destroyed in 586/587 BC because of the Israelites’ wrongdoing and sin (Dan. 9:16). In the Book of Ezra, we read that the ancestors of the Israelites had “provoked the God of Heaven to wrath” (Ez. 5:12), and as a consequence, God handed His people over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who destroyed the Temple (586/587 BC) and deported many of the people to Babylon (605 BC to 586 BC) (Ez. 5:12 -14). Ezekiel explained that God’s wrath came upon His people because they rebelled against God and His laws (Eze. 20:21). Ezekiel further wrote, “As I live,” declares the LORD GOD, “with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I assuredly shall be [K]ing over you” (Ezek. 20:33). In 539 BC, the Persian King Cyrus issued a decree allowing the Jews to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. However, later, similar to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586/587 BC, Jerusalem was destroyed again in AD 70 by the Romans.
The wrath of God is a potential reality for all humans, whether believer or unbeliever. Many, if not most, modern humans prefer to dismiss the possibility of God’s wrath, however. The Apostle Paul taught that the “wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Rom. 1:18-19). Psychologically, we have the power and inclination to suppress the truth and push the possibility of God’s wrath out of our thinking.
In both the Old and New Testament, the word “wrath” was used by Biblical writers to describe God’s anger or displeasure directed at human sin, disobedience, and stubbornness. As most of us have experienced, human anger is often marked by an element of irrationality or lack of control. In contrast, God’s anger should be understood as “a principle of rational retributive justice” or righteous judgment. It is the humans who are often irrational, stubborn, and out of control, with each pursuing what is right in his or her own eyes.
God explains, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9). In fact, because we are finite and God is infinite, there is an infinite distance between the thoughts of God and the thoughts of man. We do not know God’s native language, and therefore, out of necessity, God must reveal Himself to man through vocabulary and ideas that are familiar to humankind. We humans are also highly emotional creatures. If God seeks to warn humankind, He must deploy language that has an emotional edge. God must use language that will be the most potentially effective in communicating His message. Said differently, God often uses anthropomorphisms when communicating with humans. An anthropomorphism is “the manifestation or depiction of God in human terms or as having the characteristics of man.” For example, the Bible may describe God (who is spirit, John 4:24) as possessing human body parts like eyes, hands, or arms. The Bible also describes God in terms of human feelings like joy, anger, or sorrow. Descriptions of God’s emotions are also sometimes called anthropopathisms. In fact, it is impossible for a finite being to know exactly how an infinite God experiences His creation. Inevitably, God must accommodate His message to the inferiority of humans. This accommodation is most dramatically seen in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. For the last 2000 years, God has revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus – the God-man.
As stated above, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. God’s raison d’etre for the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was provided at Matthew 23:37-38. Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold your house is being left to you desolate!”
However, in the years leading up to Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70, God gave warnings to anyone willing to listen. Around AD 30 Jesus prophesied, “Therefore, when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place – let the reader understand – then those in Judea must flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24:15-16). Luke provided additional clarification as to the meaning of Jesus’s words. Luke wrote:
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are inside the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of punishment, so that all things which have been written will be fulfilled. Woe to those women who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land, and wrath to this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
As I explained in my book Eyes to See the Revelation, the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 unfolded over several years. The final critical years began after Emperor Nero appointed Gessius Flores as Procurator of Judea (AD 64-66). In May of AD 66, Flores set his legionnaires loose to kill civilians (which included women and children) in the upper market in Jerusalem. About 3600 civilians died. The cycle of violence had reached a whole new level of extremism.
Thereafter, a Jewish priest named Eleazar persuaded the other priests to stop the obligatory sacrifices in the Temple to Emperor Nero and Rome. The Romans naturally interpreted this as an act of rebellion. The Jewish rebels then attacked Roman-controlled Fort Antonia, which was located adjacent to the Temple. Around August or September of AD 66, the Romans at Fort Antonia surrendered. However, after the Roman soldiers laid down their weapons, they were savagely butchered by the Jewish rebels. The Roman Governor of Syria (Cestius Gallus) then ordered and led his troops in a retaliatory military campaign against the Jerusalemites. Jesus referred to this military campaign of vengeance in His above-mentioned prophecy when He said, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that her desolation is near” (Luke 21: 20).
The Romans, in their campaign of vengeance, did not arrive in Palestine until September/ October of AD 66. As the Romans marched toward Jerusalem, they destroyed any civilians or rebel resistance in their path. Cestius Gallus established his operating base on Mount Scopus, overlooking the Temple. Cestius Gallus offered the rebels an opportunity to be pardoned, but they refused. Ultimately, the Romans fought their way into Jerusalem, subjugating much of the city. As Governor Cestius Gallus prepared to break through the gates of the Temple, without having suffered any significant setbacks, he inexplicably retreated. At this critical point, the Jewish rebellion could have been crushed. However, the Roman retreat only fed the arrogance and stubbornness of many Jewish rebels. On the other hand, the retreat of Cestius Gallus gave some reasonable people an additional opportunity to escape Jerusalem’s forthcoming siege and ultimate destruction.
As Governor Cestius Gallus retreated to the coast, the rebels reorganized and pursued the retreating Romans. The Roman military was mercilessly attacked in the narrow passages through the hills surrounding Jerusalem. The Roman soldiers were easy targets for the Jewish rebels. The Romans lost 6000 soldiers, and the Jewish rebels captured extensive war materiel.
In February of AD 67, Emperor Nero appointed Vespasian to lead the ongoing campaign of vengeance. First, Vespasian annihilated rebel resistance in Galilee and the rest of Palestine before his final siege of Jerusalem. In the meantime, the Jewish rebels prepared for the siege of Jerusalem. However, the preparation did not go smoothly. Within Jerusalem, rebel fought against rebel. Initially, the Jewish rebels were divided into three competing military camps.
Meanwhile, the Roman Empire started to unravel after various military legions revolted in several provinces of the Roman Empire. In response to the rebellion and chaos, Nero committed suicide on June 9, AD 68. A Roman civil war ensued for one year. Ultimately, Vespasian prevailed over his enemies, became Emperor, and consolidated his power. Again, during the Jewish infighting and the Roman Civil War, additional time was given to any clear-minded people to escape Jerusalem’s impending destruction.
Emperor Vespasian assigned his son, Titus, the task of executing the final destruction of Jerusalem, which began in the Spring of AD 70. During the Passover, thousands entered Jerusalem for the last time to celebrate the sacrifice and share in the eating of the Passover lamb. The Romans surrounded Jerusalem and built a wall circling Jerusalem to keep people from escaping. Unknowingly, these celebrants entered into a death trap of unspeakable suffering. The historian Josephus reported that more than one million were trapped inside. The final siege lasted 5 months with much suffering, disease, starvation, and death. Thousands were crucified on the hills and in the valleys surrounding Jerusalem. Josephus reported the death of one million. Ninety-seven thousand were taken prisoner as slaves. The great wealth of the Temple and Jerusalem was transferred to Rome. With the destruction of the Temple in August/September of AD 70, all sacrifices came to an end, and such has been the reality for nearly two thousand years.
The destruction of Jerusalem in 586/587 BC and AD 70 serves as a warning to all Christians and all of humanity. Finally, please note that Jesus’ prophetic warning about Jerusalem’s destruction occurred around AD 30. God is patient and long-suffering, not wanting any to be destroyed. The Israelites were given 40 years to repent. Instead, the Advocates of the Old Covenant continued to persecute the burgeoning Church. To disregard and/or disrespect the Creator God, His agents, or His laws invites the wrath of God upon all people and nations, to include the United States.
The featured artwork on this page is titled “The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70” by David Roberts, c. 1850 CE.
 “Wrath.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Volume Four: Q-Z, Gen. Editor Geoffrey W. Bromiley, et al., William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988.
 “Anthropomorphism.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Volume One: A-D, Gen. Editor Geoffrey W. Bromiley, et al., William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988.
 Smith, T. Kenan. Eyes to See The Revelation: A Spiritual Journey. WestBow Press, 2019, pp. 81-83.
 As a reminder to the reader, the “Advocates of the Old Covenant” is the name that I apply to First Century Christians and Jews who put an undue emphasis on continuing the ritual practices of the Old Testament law. The Advocates of the Old Covenant included Jews that believed in Christ and Jews that did not accept Christ as the Messiah. Also included were Gentile believers who put an undue emphasis on the Old Covenant.