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?

The importance of Daniel (Mt 24:15-24:15)

“When you see

The desolating sacrilege

Standing in the holy place,

As was spoken of

By the prophet Daniel,

Let the reader understand!”

 

Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ, ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω,

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 13:14, and in Luke, chapter 21:20, but only Matthew specifically mentioned the prophet Daniel.  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.  Matthew explicitly named 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 coming to destroy the high priest Onias III was probably King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who came to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary during the war against the Maccabees uprising.  During this 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 2 centuries earlier.

Robbing Yahweh (Mal 3:8-3:10)

Will anyone rob God?

Yet you are robbing me!

But you say.

‘How are we robbing you?’

‘In your tithes!

In your offerings!

You are cursed

With a curse!

You are robbing me!

The whole nation of you!

Bring the full tithes

Into the storehouse!

Then there may be food

In my house.

Thus,

You put me to the test.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘See!

If I will not open

The windows of heaven

For you!

See!

If I will not pour down

For you

An overflowing blessing.’”

Yahweh asked them why they were robbing God.  They responded that they did not know that they were robbing God.  Yahweh answered by telling them that they were robbing him by not bringing their full tithes and offerings.  Thus, the whole nation would be cursed.  To rectify this, they were to bring their full tithes, so that the Temple storehouses would be full of food.  They were going to be put to the test.  Yahweh had the option of opening the windows to heaven for them.  He could pour down his blessings on them, if they stopped robbing him by withholding their tithes and offerings.

Profanation of the name of Yahweh (Mal 1:12-1:14)

“But you profane it

When you say

That Yahweh’s table

Is polluted.

Thus,

The food for it

May be despised.

‘What a weariness this is.’

You say.

‘You sniff at me.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘You bring what has been taken

By violence,

Or is lame,

Or sick.

This you bring

As your offering!

Shall I accept that

From your hand?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Cursed be the cheat,

Who has a male in his flock!

If he vows to give it,

Yet sacrifices to Yahweh

What is blemished!

I am a great King!’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘My name is revered

Among the nations.’”

These priests have profaned the name of Yahweh.  They have polluted Yahweh’s table.  They have brought despised food to Yahweh’s altar.  They were tired, weary, and sniffing at Yahweh.  They brought offerings that had been violated, lame, or sick.  Should Yahweh accept these blemished offerings?  No, he should curse those who vowed to bring sacrificial offerings, but instead cheated him by bringing blemished animals.  Yahweh was a great king whose name was revered throughout the whole world, among all the countries.

Yahweh would not accept these gifts (Mal 1:9-1:10)

“‘Now implore

The favor of God!

Thus,

He may be gracious to us.

The fault is yours.

Will he show favor

to any of you?’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Oh!

That someone among you

Would shut the temple doors!

Thus,

You would not kindle fire

Upon my altar in vain!

I have no pleasure in you!’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I will not accept

An offering

From your hand.’”

Yahweh wanted them to implore God’s favor, so that he might be gracious to them.  However, it was their own fault.  Why should Yahweh show favor to any of them?  They might as well shut the doors to the Temple, because they have lit fires on his altar in vain.  Yahweh was not pleased with these priests.  He was not going to accept any offerings from their hands.

The conversion of other people (Zeph 3:9-3:10)

“At that time,

I will change

The speech of the people

To a pure speech.

All of them

May call

On the name of Yahweh.

They will serve him

With one accord.

From beyond the rivers

Of Ethiopia,

My suppliants,

My scattered ones,

Shall bring my offering.”

Yahweh, via Zephaniah, seems to indicate that there will be a universal conversion to Yahweh.  He was going to change the varieties of speech into one pure language, so that all would call upon the name of Yahweh and serve him together.  This was a very utopian ideal.  All his scattered people would come from beyond the Ethiopian rivers to bring offerings to him.

No sacrifices in the desert (Am 5:25-5:25)

“Did you bring to me

Sacrifices?

Did you bring to me

Offerings?

You were forty years

In the wilderness!

O house of Israel!”

As if to emphasize his point, Yahweh, via Amos, reminded them that during the 40 years in the wilderness desert, there were no sacrifices or offerings brought to him, since there was no Temple. This was always considered the golden age or the perfect time for the Israelites.