The Urantia Book-- Part IV. The Life And Teachings
PAPER 176: Section 1.
The Destruction Of Jerusalem
In answering Nathaniel's question, Jesus said: "Yes, I will tell you about the
times when this people shall have filled up the cup of their iniquity; when
justice shall swiftly descend upon this city of our fathers. I am about to leave
you; I go to the Father. After I leave you, take heed that no man deceive you,
for many will come as deliverers and will lead many astray. When you hear of
wars and rumors of wars, be not troubled, for though all these things will happen,
the end of Jerusalem is not yet at hand. You should not be perturbed by
or earthquakes; neither should you be concerned when you are delivered up to
the civil authorities and are persecuted for the sake of the gospel. You will
be thrown out of the synagogue and put in prison for my sake, and some of you
will be killed. When you are brought up before governors and rulers, it shall
be for a testimony of your faith and to show your steadfastness in the gospel
of the kingdom. And when you stand before judges, be not anxious beforehand
as to what you should say, for the spirit will teach you in that very hour what
you should answer your adversaries. In these days of travail, even your own
kinsfolk, under the leadership of those who have rejected the Son of Man, will
deliver you up to prison and death. For a time you may be hated by all men for
my sake, but even in these persecutions I will not forsake you; my spirit will
not desert you. Be patient! doubt not that this gospel of the kingdom will triumph
over all enemies and, eventually, be proclaimed to all nations."
Jesus paused while he looked down upon the city. The Master realized that the
rejection of the spiritual concept of the Messiah, the determination to cling
persistently and blindly to the material mission of the expected deliverer,
would presently bring the Jews in direct conflict with the powerful Roman armies,
and that such a contest could only result in the final and complete overthrow
of the Jewish nation. When his people rejected his spiritual bestowal and refused
to receive the light of heaven as it so mercifully shone upon them, they thereby
sealed their doom as an independent people with a special spiritual mission
on earth. Even the Jewish leaders subsequently recognized that it was this secular
idea of the Messiah which directly led to the
turbulence which eventually brought
about their destruction.
Since Jerusalem was to become the cradle of the early gospel movement, Jesus
did not want its teachers and preachers to perish in the terrible overthrow
of the Jewish people in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem; wherefore
did he give these instructions to his followers. Jesus was much concerned lest
some of his disciples become involved in these soon-coming
revolts and so perish
in the downfall of Jerusalem.
Then Andrew inquired: "But, Master, if the Holy City and the temple are to be
destroyed, and if you are not here to direct us, when should we forsake Jerusalem?"
Said Jesus: "You may remain in the city after I have gone, even through these
times of travail and bitter persecution, but when you finally see Jerusalem
being encompassed by the Roman armies after the revolt of the false prophets,
then will you know that her desolation is at hand; then must you flee to the
mountains. Let none who are in the city and around about tarry to save aught,
neither let those who are outside dare to enter therein. There will be great
tribulation, for these will be the days of gentile vengeance. And after you
have deserted the city, this disobedient people will fall by the edge of the
sword and will be led captive into all nations; and so shall Jerusalem be trodden
down by the gentiles. In the meantime, I warn you, be not deceived. If any man
comes to you, saying, `Behold, here is the Deliverer,' or `Behold, there is
he,' believe it not, for many false teachers will arise and many will be led
astray; but you should not be deceived, for I have told you all this beforehand."
The apostles sat in silence in the moonlight for a considerable time while these
astounding predictions of the Master sank into their bewildered minds. And it
was in conformity with this very warning that practically the entire group of
believers and disciples fled from Jerusalem upon the first appearance of the
Roman troops, finding a safe shelter in Pella to the north.
Even after this explicit warning, many of Jesus' followers interpreted these
predictions as referring to the changes which would obviously occur in Jerusalem
when the reappearing of the Messiah would result in the establishment of the
New Jerusalem and in the enlargement of the city to become the world's capital.
In their minds these Jews were determined to connect the destruction of the
temple with the "end of the world." They believed this New Jerusalem would fill
all Palestine; that the end of the world would be followed by the immediate
appearance of the "new heavens and the new earth." And so it was not strange
that Peter should say: "Master, we know that all things will pass away when
the new heavens and the new earth appear, but how shall we know when you will
return to bring all this about?"
When Jesus heard this, he was thoughtful for some time and then said: "You ever
err since you always try to attach the new teaching to the old; you are determined
to misunderstand all my teaching; you insist on interpreting the gospel in accordance
with your established beliefs. Nevertheless, I will try to enlighten you."