Jerusalem surrounded (Lk 21:20-21:20)

“When you see Jerusalem

Surrounded

By army camps,

Then know

That its desolation

Has come near.”

 

Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων Ἱερουσαλήμ, τότε γνῶτε ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that when they would see Jerusalem (Ἱερουσαλήμ) surrounded by military army camps (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων), then they should know (τότε γνῶτε) that its desolation was near (ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς).  Luke was the only Greek biblical writer that used the word στρατοπέδων that meant a military camp, an army, or an encamped army.  Perhaps, this was a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 24:15, and in Mark, chapter 13:14.  Mark said that Jesus warned them that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing or set up in the place where it should not be (ἑστηκότα ὅπου οὐ δεῖ), those reading this should understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening.  Matthew indicated that Jesus warned that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing in the holy place (ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ), they would understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening.  Only Matthew explicitly and specifically mentioned the prophet Daniel (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου), chapter 9:27 and chapter 11:31, talking about the desolating abomination in the Temple.  In 175 BCE, the prince, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to destroy the high priest Onias III, and the city of Jerusalem with its sanctuary during the war against the Maccabees uprising.  During that time, the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple.  Instead, they had these terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols.  Thus, the reference to Daniel is both eschatological, about the end times, as well as a reference to the political religious revolt of the Maccabees nearly two centuries earlier.  Have you ever seen a religious shrine or church destroyed?

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The punishment (Zech 7:12-7:14)

“Therefore,

Great wrath

Came from Yahweh of hosts.

‘Just as when I called,

They would not hear,

So,

When they called,

I would not hear.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I scattered them

With a whirlwind

Among all the nations

That they had not known.

Thus,

The land they left

Was desolate.

Thus,

No one went to and fro.

A pleasant land

Was made desolate.’”

Thus, Yahweh sent punishments to these stubborn Israelites.  Great wrath and anger came from Yahweh of hosts.  Since they would not listen to Yahweh, he was not going to listen to them.  He decided to scatter them to the winds among the various other countries.  Many of these countries, they knew nothing about them.  Thus, the great land of Israel was left desolate.  No one was moving about in this pleasant land that became a desolation.

The distressed city of Nineveh (Nah 2:6-2:9)

“The river gates

Are opened.

The palace trembles.

It is decreed

That the city

Be exiled.

Its slave women were

Led away,

Moaning

Like doves,

Beating their breasts.

Nineveh is

Like a pool

Whose waters

Run away.

‘Halt!

Halt!’

They cry.

But no one turns back.

Plunder the silver!

Plunder the gold!

There is no end

Of treasure.

There is an abundance

Of every precious thing.

Devastation!

Desolation!

Destruction!

Hearts faint!

Knees tremble!

All loins quake!

All faces grow pale!”

Nahum painted this picture of chaos in Nineveh.  He said that the river gates were opened, so that the palace and the people in it were trembling.  The people of this city were going to go into exile.  The slave women were led away, moaning like doves and beating their breasts.  The whole city of Nineveh had become like an overflowing pool.  People were saying stop, but no one was listening.  No one turned back as they keep on fleeing.  Meanwhile, there was a great plunder of their treasures of gold, silver, and the other abundant precious things.  Everywhere there was devastation, desolation, and destruction in this great city.  Hearts were fainting, while kneels were trembling.  Their faces grew pale as their loins shook.

The second campaign against Egypt (Dan 11:29-11:31)

“At the time appointed,

He shall return.

He shall come

Into the south.

But this time,

It shall not be

As it was before.

The ships of Kittim

Shall come against him.

He shall lose heart.

He shall withdraw.

He shall be enraged.

He shall take action

Against the holy covenant.

He shall turn back.

He shall give heed

To those who forsake

The holy covenant.

Forces sent by him

Shall occupy the temple.

They shall profane

The temple.

They shall occupy

The fortress.

They shall abolish

The regular burnt offering.

They shall set up

The abominations

That make it desolate.”

The second time that King Antiochus IV attacked Egypt, he was not as successful as the first time. The ships of Kittim, or the ships of the Romans, came against him. Kittim was the name for Cyprus and thus applied to all western troops. Once again, on his way home, in 167 BCE, he attacked Jerusalem. This time, there was a clear explanation of what he did. He turned against the people of the covenant. He even helped those who had forsaken the covenant, taking sides in a dispute there as explained in 2 Maccabees, chapters 3 and 4. He occupied the Temple and the fortress citadel in Jerusalem. He even profaned the Temple by abolishing the regular burnt offerings. These invaders even set up abominations in the Temple to make it a desolation.

This true vision (Dan 8:26-8:26)

“The vision

Of the evenings,

Of the mornings,

That has been told,

Is true.

As for you,

Seal up the vision!

It refers to many days

From now.

Gabriel indicated that this vision about the evenings and mornings of desolation in the Temple was true. He wanted Daniel to seal this vision for future reference, since it pertained to days in the future.

The king of Babylon will attack Egypt (Ezek 30:10-30:12)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I will put an end

To the hordes

Of Egypt,

By the hand

Of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon.

He,

With his people

With him,

The most terrible

Of the nations,

Shall be brought in

To destroy the land.

They shall draw

Their swords

Against Egypt.

They shall fill

The land with the slain.

I will dry up

the channels

Of the Nile.

I will sell

The land into the hand

Of evildoers.

I will bring desolation

Upon the land

With everything in it,

By the hand

Of foreigners.’

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that he was going to put an end to Egypt, through the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the most terrible of all the nations. This king was coming to destroy the land with drawn swords against the Egyptians so that he would fill the land with dead bodies. Yahweh was going to dry up the river channels of the Nile also. Then Yahweh was somehow going to sell the land to some evildoers, whoever they were. Yahweh, with the hand of foreigners, was going to bring desolation to the land of Egypt with everything in it. Yahweh had clearly spoken.

Your sister’s cup (Ezek 23:31-23:34)

“‘You have gone

The way

Of your sister.

Therefore,

I will give her cup

Into your hand.’

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘You shall drink

Your sister’s cup!

It is deep!

It is wide!

You shall be scorned!

You shall be derided!

It holds so much!

You will be filled

With drunkenness!

You will be filled

With sorrow!

It is a cup of horror!

It is a cup of desolation!

It is the cup

Of your sister

Samaria!

You shall drink it!

You shall drain it out!

You shall gnaw its sherds!

You shall

Tear out your breasts!

I have spoken.’

Says Yahweh God.”

This seems to be a poem or oracle about a cup of wrath. Jerusalem has gone the way of her sister Samaria. Thus she will be given her sister’s cup, the Samarian cup. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that Jerusalem would drink her sister’s deep and wide cup. Thus she was going to be scorned and derided. Jerusalem would drink from this large cup. She would be filled with drunkenness and sorrow because this was a cup of horror and desolation. Jerusalem was to drain this big cup by drinking from it. She would then gnaw and eat the glass pottery sherd pieces of this cup. Finally, she would tear out her breasts. This is what Yahweh, God, had spoken. This did not sound like a good experience.