Author: Ron Graham
Was the Jewish 'World' Destroyed in AD70?
—No, it was not.
Those who hold to the "AD70 doctrine" may claim that the end of the world, prophesied in the Bible, was the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Jewish religious system.
The Jewish World Today
Judaism today is one of the great world religions. We know it as one of the three main religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) that recognise one true God to the exclusion of all "other gods" (Exodus 20:1-3).
Although it took until the 20th century, the Jews regained a portion of their homeland and again became a nation. Whilst they cannot yet call Jerusalem entirely their own, nor yet rebuild and worship in their temple, the fact remains that Jews and Judaism survive. There have been many efforts to destroy the Jews, both in Bible times and since. The Jews have withstood and remained.
Jews Survived AD70
The destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in AD70 was a great setback, yet may have been a great step forward. Why would Judaism not receive an impetus from their persecution, as Christianity did some years earlier? Certain aspects of the Jewish religion depended on the temple in the holy city.
But just as Daniel had remained a true Jew in exile, so could the Jews after AD70 — more so because they had already migrated and settled in many parts of the world. The Jewish "world" was by no means limited to Jerusalem, nor was the Jewish heart.
If the New Testament's teaching about the end of the world refers to the end of the Jewish system of things, then the New Testament was wrong. The Jewish way continued to have enormous influence and power in the world, as it does even today. The Roman siege and attack on Jerusalem in AD70, however terrible, was a local holocaust. The great city, its temple, and its citizens were destroyed. But many Jews of the diaspora and their synagogues in other cities survived.
Preterism Falsely Opposes Judaism
Some oppose Jews today by claiming that the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 was the last Jewish holocaust, and it exterminated the Jews. The Jews today are called impostors in whom there is no seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at all. In spite of all this, the Jews have sustained their cultural and religious "world". It was not destroyed, nor is it ever likely to be while the earth remains.
According to the theories of Preterism (the AD70 Doctrine), we should identify this Jewish system as the "world" whose destruction is foretold in the Bible —not planet Earth or the world sometime in the future, but rather the "world" of Judaism supposedly abolished when the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem in AD70 about forty years after Christ died.
In our previous lesson we have already considered the question, What World Would God Destroy? Now in this lesson we point out that, whilst the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and its temple in AD70, and this fulfilled certain prophecies in the Bible, it was by no means the end either of Jerusalem or Jewry or Judaism. Jewish life, religion, and culture survived, and even thrived.
When we examine certain strong elements of the Jewish nature and system of things, we find that the Jewish "world" was not really destroyed at all. Let's look at three such elements which are still alive and well among Jews today.
1 The Jewish Blood Not Destroyed
A key element of Judaism is the "blood" or ancestry going back to Jacob (Israel). We are not here talking about pure blood, for even David and Jesus had in them the Moabite blood of Ruth who became a Jew.
Jews have been persecuted beyond measure, including attempts at genocide. This has caused them to be scattered everywhere in the world (diaspora), as indeed they were in the time of Christ (Acts 2:5,9-11).
Although many scattered Jews intermarried, and they have some irreparable gaps in their genealogies, one could hardly view them as an endangered species, or aver as some do that all who claim to be ancestral Jews today are impostors.
True descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob abound according to God's promises to those patriarchs, "Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth... the stars of the heavens... the sand on the seashore... too many to count" (Genesis 13:16, Genesis 22:17, Genesis 28:14 etc).
It was never God's intention that the Jewish people become extinct, or even indistinct. On the contrary, God's desire is that "all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26) by believing in one of their own, Jesus of Nazareth, as the Christ the Son of God.
2 The Jewish Scriptures Not Destroyed
Another major element of the Jewish system of things is their scriptures. Those scriptures preserve the outstanding history, prophecy, poetry, and law, so fundamental to the Jewish "world".
God's has preserved those Old Testament scriptures that they might never be lost. He did not do this for the Jews' sake only, but for the whole world's sake because the Jewish scriptures are able to make people "wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (1Timothy 3:15-17).
However these same scriptures which testify of Christ also preserve the seed of the Jewish "world". If God intended to destroy the Jewish "world" then he frustrated himself by having to preserve the seed of what he intended to destroy.
The indestructible constitution
The Law of Moses is the constitution of the Jewish "world". One could destroy Jerusalem and its temple a thousand times without destroying one jot of the Law. When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and its temple centuries earlier, they did not abolish the law of Moses did they?
Nor did the Romans destroy the Jews in AD70. The Jews had to make do without their beloved city and its temple, and some aspects of their worship there, but their law and their religion was by no means defunct.
When Jerusalem was destroyed in AD70, the situation was no different. The desolation "put a stop to sacrifice" (Daniel 9:26-27), but it did not stop the Jews from pursuing their religion. They carried on, just as they had done in former times when their enemies destroyed their religious artifacts and places of worship.
It is easy to mistake an artifact of a religion for the basis of that religion, however an artifact proved not to be the religion itself. It is evident that even an idol is not the basis of idol worship. Much less would the temple and its artifacts be the basis of Jewish worship. Therefore destroying the temple did not destroy the basis, namely the covenant.
It is worth noting that the temple that the Romans destroyed in AD70 had always lacked the most important of all Jewish artifacts, namely "the ark of the covenant". This ark had been in the holiest room of the tabernacle and of Solomon’s temple (Hebrews 9:2-5).
One might have thought that to build a new temple when you did not have the ark of the covenant to furnish its inner sanctum, would be to build a hollow temple indeed. This was not so, however, and Jewish religion went on without the ark of the covenant and the tablets of stone it contained. That's because the covenant itself still existed in the words of the law and the prophets.
Even when the new temple itself was destroyed, the scriptures of the covenant, the real basis of the religion, remained.
I do not mean to imply that the covenant was still in force. God himself set the old covenant aside and replaced it with the new covenant when Jesus died on the cross. The words of the covenant were never destroyed however, and until this day many Jews still follow them, not recognizing that Jesus Christ became the mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 8:6-7, 9:15).
3 The Jewish Synagogue Not Destroyed
Another element is the synagogue, the "local church" of the Jews. There has never been any great shortage of synagogues in the world, and every once in a while we see a new one established. These synagogues are wonderful institutions of flourishing religious life "at the grass roots".
If God wished to destroy the Jewish "world" he should have left the temple, the church of the priests, to its own corruption. He should have destroyed instead the real Jewish church, the church of the people, the hundreds of local synagogues.
Of course God never intended any such destruction. Christianity does not require the closure of any synagogue. Nor does it oppose the opening of more synagogues. Rather it invites the synagogue to embrace Jesus the Messiah, and to embrace his "other sheep" whom he has brought into the fold (John 10:14-18).
The idea that the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 could be the prophesied end of the world, does not stand up to examination. The Jewish "world" is based in its blood, its scriptures, and its synagogue. None of these was destroyed or abolished in AD70.
To make prophecies in the Bible about the second coming of Christ, and the end of the world, refer to events of AD70 misrepresents these prophecies, because nothing was destroyed that had not been destroyed in times past, and nothing was destroyed that was essential to the Jewish world's continuance into the future.