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Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.
In Luke 13:34, 35 Jesus laments over Jerusalem, saying,
34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! 35 Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
This passage is also recorded in Matthew 23:37-39. However, Matthew includes more details in the previous verses that give us greater understanding. Beginning in Matthew 23:29, we read,
29 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, “If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.”
It is characteristic of the hypocritical city that they would reject and kill the prophets and then honor them posthumously, claiming them as their own. In this way they made themselves appear righteous in the sight of men. Jesus, however, implied that they had no right to claim the prophets as their own, for they had rejected them and had killed them.
The fact was that the religious leaders had continually rejected the word of the prophets, even while they claimed to accept them. Their “acceptance” of the prophetic writings in the canon of Scripture was only possible by misunderstanding their writings, twisting them to suit themselves. Their man-made interpretations, now recorded in the Talmud, caused Isaiah to say (as Matthew 15:8, 9 records),
8 This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.
Inasmuch as the religious leaders of Jerusalem were about to commit murder again against the Son, it is clear that their opposition to the prophets was about to manifest itself again.
Matthew 23:31-33 continues,
31 Consequently, you bear witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell [gehenna]?
To be “the son of” someone or something was a common Hebrew metaphor indicating that the sons followed in the footsteps of their fathers. Children of light, children of wisdom, children of Abraham, children of the devil—none of these terms were to be taken literally as biological offspring. The people commonly referred to past generations as “our fathers,” so Jesus points out that they truly were the sons of their fathers in that they still rejected the prophets unto that day. The murderous spirit of their fathers was still in them, though they claimed to be righteous.
Jesus then concedes in Matthew 23:32 that they would fill up the cup of wrath that their fathers had begun. The result would be the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus asks, “how shall you escape the sentence of gehenna?” It is not gehenna giving the sentence, but rather the divine court sentencing Jerusalem to destruction in gehenna.
As I have already shown, this sentence came primarily through the prophet Jeremiah, when he broke the jar in the valley of the Ben-hinnom (gehenna in Greek). This is recorded in Jeremiah 19, where the prophet gives no word of hope for Jerusalem. In fact, in Jeremiah 19:10-12 we read,
10 Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you 11 and say to them, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Just so shall I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial.’ 12 This is how I shall treat this place and its inhabitants,” declares the Lord, “so as to make this city like Topheth.”
The valley of Ben-hinnom, or gehenna, was originally the place just outside of Jerusalem where their fathers had done human sacrifice (Jeremiah 19:4, 5). Topheth means “fireplace, hearth, burning-place” and was the open-air shrine in gehenna where the fireplace for human sacrifice had stood.
By the first century, the practice of literal human sacrifice had long been abolished, but yet the religious leaders had continued to sacrifice the prophets on their spiritual altars, and soon they were to reach a climax with the sacrifice of the Son of God Himself. For this reason, both Jeremiah and Jesus bore witness against Jerusalem, telling us that it would not escape being cast into gehenna.
The city was indeed destroyed in 70 A.D., but it was repaired in later years. Hence, the prophecy of Jeremiah 19:11 has not yet reached its final fulfillment. In coming days, Jerusalem will again be destroyed and figuratively cast into gehenna, as “a potter’s vessel which cannot again be repaired.”
So in Matthew 23:34-36 Jesus continues His indictment upon Jerusalem, saying,
34 Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35 that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation [gennea, “offspring,” that is, the sons of their fathers].
The “prophets and wise men and scribes” that Jesus was sending to Jerusalem would be the Pentecostal believers, who were persecuted, killed, or driven out of the country, as recorded in the book of Acts. When Stephen was killed (Acts 7:59), “on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered” (Acts 8:1).
Jesus said further “that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth.” How could such guilt be put upon Jerusalem? Were they not accountable only for the death of those killed in Jerusalem or in that vicinity? How could they be held accountable for the blood of Abel and for all blood shed on earth? Is this unjust?
The key is found in Revelation 18:24, where we read of the fall of Mystery Babylon in the latter days—that is, in our own time.
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.
This indictment is also seen earlier in Revelation 16:5, 6 in connection with the third bowl of wine poured out in judgment upon Babylon.
5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous art Thou, who art and who wast, O Holy One, because Thou didst judge these things; 6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink. They deserve it.”
So we see that the same evidence that condemned Jerusalem to gehenna also condemns Mystery Babylon. If these were two distinct cities, how could both be responsible for the blood of “all who have been slain on the earth”? Perhaps the key is found in Revelation 11:8, which says of the two witnesses,
8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically [pneumantikos, “spiritually”] is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.
Here we see that Jerusalem is spiritually connected to both Sodom and Egypt. Jerusalem is Sodom insofar as its immorality is concerned, and it is Egypt because it is Hagar, the bondwoman (Galatians 4:25), and the house of bondage.
The Statue of Babylon
In Jesus’ parable of the vineyard, which we discussed earlier, He said that the Kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to a fruitful nation (Matthew 21:43). In the next verse Jesus warned the religious leaders not to be identified with the “feet” of the Babylonian statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his dream in Daniel 2. Jesus said in Matthew 21:44,
44 And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.
This is a double prophecy. The first half of the verse refers to “the stone which the builders rejected” (Matthew 21:42). In other words, the people had rejected Christ, according to the prophecy in Psalm 118:22, because Christ crucified became a stumbling block to them (1 Corinthians 1:23).
The last half of Matthew 21:44 refers to the stone that will strike the statue on its feet and grind all Babylonian empires to dust, according to Daniel 2:34, 35,
34 You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time, and became like chaff [dust] from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
Hence, Jesus warned the religious leaders of Jerusalem not to sit on the feet of this Babylonian statue—that is, not to become the last kingdom in the succession of beast empires. Was that warning real? Yes, of course. The final beast of Babylon is not Rome, but the little horn that is established after the fall of Rome in 476 A.D.
Further, Revelation 13 tells us that the little horn is really two beasts, the first from the sea and the second from the earth. The first is the religious beast, which received a fatal wound after 42 months (or 1,260 years of prophetic history). The beast from the earth is the financial beast created by various Jewish families in Europe, most notably the Rothschild family. It arose at the time that the religious beast received its fatal wound when Napoleon took the Pope captive in 1798. That was the year that Nathan Rothschild was sent to London, whereupon he soon took power over the Bank of England.
A century later the Rothschild family was instrumental in establishing the Federal Reserve Bank, thus taking control of the money supply of the entire world. They also brought about the establishment of the Israeli state. There is much history involved in this, which we cannot record here, but it is clear that these Rothschild bankers not only invented modern banking but also took control of the world through the final beast in Revelation 13.
Therefore, Jesus’ warning to the Jewish leaders that they would be in danger when the great “stone” crushed the statue on its feet. They did not take heed to Jesus’ warning, of course, because they did not believe any of the prophets when they warned of the coming destruction of Jerusalem.
The point is that the Babylonian statue was to be judged fully and completely at the end of the age. But since most of the beast empires had already run their course, the brunt of judgment would be felt by the leaders of the final beast—that is, the banking system. When that system is brought into judgment, the governments of all past beast kingdoms would also be destroyed—the religious system of Rome, the democracy of Greece, the constitutional monarchy of Persia, and the absolute monarchy of Babylon.
In fact, this divine judgment against Babylon will go back even to “the blood of Abel,” who was the first martyr, for his blood too was attributed to Jerusalem. Jerusalem, then, is to be held accountable for all the righteous blood shed upon the earth back to the beginning of human history. This alone proves that the final beast system is centered in Jerusalem, directing the banking systems of Rome, London, and New York. Hence, Jerusalem will be held accountable for the actions of all the beast empires before it.
That is the legal basis for divine judgment upon Jerusalem. The city will be destroyed as a potter’s vessel that can never be repaired. That house will become desolate, and the individual people will not see Christ until they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 13:35).
In other words, those who repent of their rejection of Christ and join His Kingdom will be blessed in the New Jerusalem. Those who do not repent during their life time will be raised from the dead at the Great White Throne judgment, where every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him as Lord (Philippians 2:9-11).
Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.