I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. – John 5:43
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 who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. – Matthew 24:15-16
But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. – Mark 13:14
"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 in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. "Woe to those 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. – Luke 21:20-24
Picture this scene: Jews in Jerusalem are excited about renewed hopes that their beloved temple will be rebuilt. A powerful world ruler has expressed support for the idea of rebuilding the city of Jerusalem to its former grandeur, and some Jews are taking this also to mean the rebuilding of the temple. But just as hopes begin to rise, it becomes clear that the city is to be rebuilt and renamed in honor of the ruler’s own family and a shrine erected to his own god. What’s more, edicts are issued forbidding certain traditional Jewish practices. Outraged Jews gather around a leader who promises to vanquish the ruler’s armies and rebuild the temple. With the aid of a popular spiritual leader, he gains great support from most Jews, who begin to refer to him as their Messiah. A three-year war ensues and the armies of the world ruler finally prevail. He orders the pagan shrine to be erected on the temple mount, and all Jews are banished from Jerusalem.
Does this sound like some end-time novel or book on biblical prophecy you have read? Actually, this all occurred from A.D. 132-135!
Forty-seven years after the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrian acceded to the throne of Rome. He was a versatile, ambitious man who sought to restore the grandeur of the ancient cities of the Roman Empire. He rebuilt the Pantheon in Rome, built temples to Venus and Roma. In Megara he built at temple to Apollo, and in Athens, one to Zeus. So when, during tours of Egypt and Syria, Hadrian gave orders to rebuild the great city of Jerusalem, some optimistic Jews might have hoped it would include rebuilding their temple, as well. That was never Hadrian’s plan. His plan was a new city named Aelia Capitolina, and the shrine was to be devoted to the chief of the Roman gods – Jupiter.
Outraged Jews rallied around an audacious, charismatic leader named Simon ben Kosiba, whom they renamed Bar Kochba (also spelled Bar Kochva), “Son of the Star,” a reference to Numbers 24:17, a Messianic prophecy. Bar Kochba also referred to himself as N’si Yisrael, Prince of Israel (see Ezekiel 34:24). Jewish Christians did not support the rebuilding of the temple, and they rejected this revival messiah. Bar Kochba gathered a large army and received the enthusiastic support of popular Rabbi Akiva, who encouraged the rebellion on religious grounds.
For a time the rebels prevailed, and it looked like the dream of a rebuilt temple would come true. Bar Kochba took Jerusalem and erected an altar on the temple mount. He also began rebuilding the city wall. Coins were minted in honor of Bar Kochba and the liberation of Jerusalem. But eventually the Romans committed a total of twelve legions to Judea, overwhelming the defenders in Jerusalem and capturing Rabbi Akiba. The rabbi was tortured to death in a most heinous manner. The remaining Jewish army took refuge in a mountain fortress called Bethar. When the Roman army, after a year of fighting, finally overran the stronghold, Bar Kochba along with all the Jewish defenders in the fortress, was killed.
It is estimated that 580,000 Jews were killed during the war, which lasted (According to historian Emil Schürer) three and a half years. Fifty fortified towns and 985 villages were destroyed. Historian Ivor J. Davidson describes the aftermath of Bar Kochba’s rebellion:
Jerusalem was rebuilt as a Hellenistic Roman colony and was renamed Aelia Caplitolina, after the family name of the emperor, Hadrian, Publius Aelius Hadrianus, and the god Jupiter, whose temple stood on the Capitoline in Rome; a shrine to Jupiter was dedicated on the site of the former temple. The city was to be an entirely Gentile place into which, officially, no Jew was permitted to enter. (See Matt. 24:15-16, Mark 13:14, and Luke 21:24) The Roman territory of Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina – it was now formally (for the first time, in fact) “Palestine,” named for the Philistines, not the Jews. Hadrian ordered fierce reprisals against the inhabitants of Judea, destroying hundreds of settlements and slaughtering very large numbers of people – the worst atrocities ever committed against the Jews in the Roman world.
The Jewish Talmud renamed Bar Kochba, Bar Koziba, “Son of the Liar” or “Son of the Deceiver.”
Just how does all this fit into biblical prophecy? That’s a bigger subject that I will try to tackle at this point. But facts are facts, and many of the facts regarding the Bar Kochba Rebellion of A.D. 132-135 look very similar to prophecies Jesus pronounced shortly before going to the cross for our sins. It is amazing to me that so few Bible commentators and theologians give any attention to this crucial event. They focus exclusively on A.D. 70 and the destruction of the temple as the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies, yet that event, terrible as it was, was only the beginning of sorrows for Judea and Jerusalem.
The Bar Kochba revolt, also known as The Third Jewish War, was a definitive turning point in redemptive history. Jewish Christians, who did not support the revolt, were no longer welcome among the mainstream Jews. Hostilities solidified. “The times of the Gentiles” officially began, by Roman decree, and Jerusalem was “trodden down by the Gentiles.”
What comes next?