A while back, a regular viewer of my YouTubes emailed me and shared some thoughts, particularly on Josephus. I want to share his correpondence here.
In addition, just recently, on the Internet radio program “Two Guys and the Bible,” William Bell and I were discussing Josephus and how his history of the Jewish War corroborates scripture. The response to our discussion has been fascinating and enlightening. I have had several people tell me that they had never read Josephus before, but, after listening to the program they had done so, and were just amazed at what they were seeing. Let me recommend that you do the same! That show, “Two Guys and the Bible” airs each Tuesday evening at 6 PM central, and is very popular. Tune in and join us! Go to www.ad70.net). You can listen to past programs as well.
Don K. Preston
Here is the email I received>>>
My name is Paul **** and I am ***** on Youtube. I have certainly enjoyed reading your articles and have (I think) finally caught up on all of your Youtube videos. I have previously not been grounded in any specific echatological position, mainly because the options were so completely convoluted and confusing so as to prevent even understanding all the options. I have recently began studying eschatology and I find your scriptural understanding and presentations of Covenant Eschatology to be very enlightening and coherent, not to mention very much in-line with the scriptures, in so far as I am able to discern. I have also gone to a few of your detractors’ sites to see their arguments against your position and I have seen MUCH ERROR on their parts on the contrary. Most error seems to emanate from the “physical” expectations they almost unanimously hold to in the prophetic fulfillments.
I wanted to bring something I found in my own studies to your attention regarding the Seventh Seal Opening spoken about in Revelation 8:1. I have been reading the works of Josephus, particularly, The Wars of The Jews. In book #6, chapter #5, paragraphs #3-#4, I found a very interesting passage that speaks of several supernatural signs that were reported in and around Jerusalem before and during the rebellion and ensuring war with the Romans. Josephus says a great light was seen emanating from the Temple in Jerusalem which lasted for half an hour. As I read that passage for the first time, I was immediately reminded of the opening of the Seventh Seal in Revelation 8. There are some other similar events recorded by Josephus and I have copied the entire passage here for your review and convenience.
3. (288) Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend, nor give credit, to the signs that were so evident and did so plainly foretell their future desolation; but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see, or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. (289) Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year.d (290) Thus also, before the Jews’ rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicuse [Nisan], and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which light lasted for half an hour. (291) This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. (292) At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. (293) Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner [court of the] temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. (294) Now, those that kept watch in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it: who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty, was able to shut the gate again. (295) This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. (296) So these publicly declared, that this signal foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the twenty-first day of the month Artemisius [Jyar], (297) a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, (298) and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen (299) running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the innerf [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, (300) and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.” But, what is still more terrible there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for everyone to make tabernacles to God in the temple,g (301) began on a sudden cry aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!” This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city. (302) However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say anything for himself, or anything peculiar to those that chastised him, but still he went on with the same words which he cried before. (303) Hereupon our rulers supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator; (304) where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet did he not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” (305) And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him who he was, and whence he came, and why he uttered such words; he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him. (306) Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, “Woe, woe, to Jerusalem!” (307) Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. (308) This cry of his was the loudest at the f
estivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; (309) for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, “Woe, woe, to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!” And just as he added at the last,—“Woe, woe, to myself also!” there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages, he gave up the ghost.
4. (310) Now, if any one consider these things, he will find that God takes care of mankind, and by all ways possible foreshows to our race what is for their preservation; but that men perish by those miseries which they madly and voluntarily bring upon themselves; (311) for the Jews by demolishing the tower of Antonia, had made their temple foursquare, while at the same time they had it written in their sacred oracles,—“That then should their city be taken, as well as their holy house, when once their temple should become foursquare.” (312) But now, what did most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, “about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.” (313) The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now, this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea. (314) However, it is not possible for men to avoid fate, although they see it beforehand. (315) But these men interpreted some of these signals according to their own pleasure; and some of them they utterly despised, until their madness was demonstrated, both by the taking of their city, and their own destruction.
It is purely speculation on my part, but it would seem possible that the event described by Josephus might bear some earthly correlation to the opening of the Seventh Seal in heaven. I don’t think there is any way to conclude this with much certainty, but I would be interested in hearing any additional thoughts you have on it, if any. In any instance, Josephus’ account of all these events would, if for no other purpose, serve to display there actually WERE supernatural signs that were physically visible in the heavens which were viewed by “they also which pierced him” and many others.
I look forward to much more study on Covenant Eschatology and will be ordering some of your books as soon as I am able.
In Christ Alone!