It is often taught that the Attack on Jerusalem, which is described in the Scriptures, is a past event that took place in 70 A.D., when Rome attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the temple. This teaching is based on a larger theory that suggests that the majority of events that are described in the Revelation have already taken place.
The primary reason for rejecting this theory is a comparison of the historical account of the attack that took place in 70 A.D. with the account of the Attack on Jerusalem, which is described in the Scriptures. When we look at history, we learn that the attack of 70 A.D. was anticipated well in advance by the people living in the city, as it followed a Jewish insurrection against the Romans that began in 67 A.D. During the time that it took the Romans to prepare an army to put down the rebellion, the cities in Judea set up defenses in anticipation of the inevitable invasion. When the Roman armies did eventually enter Judea, it was a lengthy campaign that involved the besieging of several cities leading up to the siege of Jerusalem, itself, in 70 A.D.
In contrast to the above, the future Attack on Jerusalem will come as a complete surprise to the people living in Jerusalem who will be forced to suddenly flee to the mountains when they see their city surrounded by armies.
“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.” Lk. 21:20-22
The suddenness by which the future Attack on Jerusalem will take place can also be seen in the following passages that describe how the Attack on Jerusalem will catch the people totally unaware of their impending doom.
“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.” Luke 17:30-37
We know that the above verses are describing the Attack on Jerusalem because they contain the same warning, concerning those in the field, as we saw in the previous passages, which warned them not to enter the city. In these instructions, the people are warned not to even go inside their homes to retrieve their possessions before fleeing to the mountains. This tells us that the future Attack on Jerusalem will come as a complete surprise to the residents of the city who will not have time to gather any of their possession before escaping from the destruction.
The suddenness by which the Attack on Jerusalem will take place can also be seen in the reference to Lot who had to suddenly flee from Sodom to avoid being killed in the destruction of that sinful city. Jesus used the example of Lot’s wife, who hesitated and was destroyed, to emphasize how the people living in Judea should not attempt to save their life, in the form of gathering their possessions, before fleeing to the mountains. Also, in these verses, we are told that half of the people will be taken and the other half left. This a reference to how half of the survivors of the attack will be taken into exile and is another identifier for the Attack on Jerusalem.
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Zech. 14:2
In the Gospel of Matthew, we learn further details concerning the surprise Attack on Jerusalem through a comparison to the days of Noah when the people knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” Matt. 24:36-41
In these verses, the Attack on Jerusalem is identified by the description of those who are taken and those who are left, which is also found in Luke’s description of this same event. In Matthew’s account, the people of Israel are reminded how Noah escaped from the time of punishment by entering the Ark, while those who were destroyed in the flood were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage before the flood came. This is a reference to how leading up to the attack, the people will be carrying on with their daily activities and will be completely unaware of their pending destruction. Only those who act to save themselves by fleeing from the city, before the destruction begins, will be spared, just as it was in the days of Noah.
From all of the above, we can confirm that the attack on Jerusalem, which took place in 70 A.D., took several years to accomplish and was anticipated in advance by the residents of the city. In contrast to this, the future Attack on Jerusalem will be a sudden affair that will come as a complete surprise to the people living in Jerusalem, who will be eating and drinking when the attack takes place. The two different descriptions tell us that these are two separate events, and that there is a surprise Attack on Jerusalem that has yet to take place.
In addition to the above, we know that the Attack on Jerusalem is a future event based on how we read that during this attack, the Mount of Olives will be split in two in order to allow the Remnant to flee to their escape.
“A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.” Zech. 14:1-5
In this account of the Attack on Jerusalem, Zechariah gives another description of the Remnant that will flee to the mountains when Jerusalem is attacked, with the added information that the Mount of Olives will be split in two by an earthquake, which will create a valley for them to escape through. By contrast, none of the wars that have taken place in Israel since this prophecy was given, including the attack of 70 A.D., have included an earthquake that divided the Mount of Olives in two, which tells us that the surprise Attack on Jerusalem has yet to occur.
 Gen. 19:24-26
 The Gospels also describe the attack of 70 A.D. in separate verses that explain how siege works would be used by the Romans in that attack (Luke 19:41-44). The description of the siege works that will surround Jerusalem is consistent with the events of 70 A.D. when the Romans besieged the city for several months before finally breaking through the defenses. By contrast, the future Attack on Jerusalem, which is described in the Revelation, will not involve the use of siege works, as the main objectives of this attack will be accomplished in a single day.
To read how the surprise attack will be accomplished, see Revelation Chapter 17.
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