|Rome's siege and destruction of Jerusalem under Titus|
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (Matthew 24:21-22)
Here Jesus prophesies of the most tragic and horror filled siege of Jerusalem by the merciless Romans in 70 AD. Only 37 years earlier the hate filled Jews had cried for the Blood of Jesus to be upon them and on their children. Josephus in his Wars of the Jews recounts the description of the most awful siege. Jerusalem’s towers composed the most impregnable fort which, if well stockpiled and guarded, no army could conquer. But the corrupt and merciless Romans were disgusted with the “rebel Jews” who would never stoop to surrender to their hated conquerors. Clarke said, “No history can furnish us with a parallel to the calamities and miseries of the Jews: - rapine, murder, famine, and pestilence within: fire and sword, and all the horrors of war, without. Our Lord wept at the foresight of these calamities.” These were days of vengeance. Over 1,100,000 persons perished, women ate their children from starvation, and 100,000 survivors were sold into slavery. But Josephus also recounts how this siege was miraculously cut short by providential circumstances. According to Vincent, “Titus himself confessed that God was against the Jews, since otherwise neither his armies nor his engines would have availed against their defenses.” And Gill states, “In all likelihood, if these days had been continued a little longer, there had not been a Jew left in all the land.” God shortened those days for the sake of His elect. Christians were there, and God wanted His church to survive and thrive. So He put a stop to the siege before all the Christians would perish.
So Jesus prophecy above was fulfilled. Some think that it might have a greater fulfillment yet to come for the Christians. To imagine worse for the church used to overwhelm me. But the more I learn of God, His Word, and how He deals with His church, I now look forward to the future, for God will advance His church. Holy Noah was preserved when the whole world perished for their wickedness. God couldn’t rain fire down upon Sodom until he had snatched just Lot from Sodom. God made beloved Daniel to pass the night in peace with hungry lions all around. And we could continue with many more stories of God miraculously preserving his elect with destruction all around.
Matthew Henry wrote sweetly comforting thoughts on this passage regarding calamity.
“Note, 1.) In times of common calamity God manifests his favor to the elect remnant; his jewels, which he will then make up; his peculiar treasure, which he will secure when the lumber is abandoned to the spoiler. 2.) The shortening of calamities is a kindness God often grants for the elects' sake. Instead of complaining that our afflictions last so long, if we consider our defects, we shall see reason to be thankful that they do not last always; when it is bad with us, it becomes us to say, “Blessed be God that it is no worse; blessed be God that it is not hell, endless and remediless misery.” It was a lamenting church that said, It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed; and it is for the sake of the elect, lest their spirit should fail before them, if he should contend for ever, and lest they should be tempted to put forth, if not their heart, yet their hand, to iniquity.”
We deserve nothing, not even one good thing from God, yet He daily loadeth us with benefits. Even wicked sinners must admit in their heart that every good and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of lights. How much more does our Father pity His children who love and fear Him, and who hope in His mercy and cry out to Him daily for his tender loving mercies. For the future and for every situation today I rest in the favor and care of our Father who lovingly chooses only the best path for His children.