The Destruction of Jerusalem – By George Peter Holford (1805)

Under the section inside the dashboard we’re able to see the most viewed posts of the day. Over the years I’ve noticed one of the most viewed posts has been one concerning the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. It’s understandable as I too find it an interesting topic: not only because of the facts surrounding the event but because, 1- It’s a topic very few preachers or pastor cover, and 2It’s a topic which which is covered prophetically within each of the four Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all commonly believed to have all been written prior to this final, complete destruction, extensively (one or more, more then others) covered this by including Jesus’ many predictions and warnings to the people of Israel who “rejected their God” (John 1:11), and as a consequence faced judgment within their lifetimes. 

From Luke’s Gospel alone we can choose (but) three of many, and read;

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came, and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me *until the time (ἥξει) comes (*may also be translated as “unless”) you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”  Chapter 13

41 And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, 44 and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Chapter 19

20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfil all that is written. 23 Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; 24 they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Chapter 21  

This post is shared for those who have continued to show a continued interest in this topic. 

During my time recuperating from surgery, I read a classic booklet on the topic, written in 1805 by George Peter Holford. I found it both fascinating (for it showed this topic was of great interest within the Church prior to the wide-spread teachings of dispensationalism) and frankly, heart-wrenching. At certain points within the booklet, I found myself in tears. It’s not an “easy” thing to read. It also takes awhile to become accustomed to the flow of the author’s writing…remember it was written over 200 years ago. I can say I have learned from not only reading the account of this destruction, but more importantly it has also enabled me to understand the four Gospels (and book of Acts) and their authors, in a new light. To grasp, in part, what the authors must have went through, for their ideas and hopes (for a restoration) were turned upside down by the word’s of the one they followed: Jesus.

They were being told the Temple alone, which had been and was, the “center” of their world and all that was Holy, was to be destroyed, replaced by the “True Temple”- Jesus. To be able to grasp this concept (that the old must go for the new to “arise” to take it’s place) must have been one thing, of many, they all four wrestled to understand. Once understanding this, the book of Acts become an even more amazing book! For by the time Peter stood up to address the crowd (after being filled with the Holy Spirit) we can see “he got it”.

Anyway, forgive me, I ramble…My hope is those who take the time to read this account will be blessed: that it will “perform” all in the heart of the reader which God desires. 

The Destruction Of

An Absolute and Irresistible

So far as they tend to verify
Relative to that event.

By George Peter Holford
(Written in 1805)

THE goodness of God stamps all his proceedings. It has please Him not only to communicate to mankind a revelation, which, to the pious mind, bears in its internal texture its own evidence and recommendation, but also to accompany it with such external proofs of a sacred origin, as seem calculated to strike, with irresistible conviction, even those who are least disposed to admit the truth of the Holy Scriptures. In order to evidence their divine authenticity, God has done as much as man could possibly have required. [1] For, supposing that it had been referred to mankind to have prescribed for their own satisfaction, and that of their prosperity, the credentials which His messengers should bring with them, in order to authenticate the divinity of their mission, could the wisest and most skeptical amongst men have proposed, for this purpose, any thing more conclusive than,

1st. Demonstrations of power, surpassing every possible effect of human skill and effort — and

2dly. Intelligence relative to the future events and circumstances of nations and individuals, which no human sagacity would ever pretend to foresee or predict ?

If such had been the evidences demanded, what addition to them could possibly have been suggested ? Is it in the human mind to imagine any tests of divine authority better adapted, sooner or later, to expose the artifices, and frustrate the designs, of an imposter ? In vain will the profoundest policy attempt to discover means more suitable to this purpose, and, with respect to the reception of the revelation itself, more perfectly fitted to banish all reasonable doubt on the one hand, and to invalidate the charge of credulity on the other. Now these, precisely, are the credentials with which it has pleased God to sanction the testimony of his inspired messengers, as recorded in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. THEY WROUGHT MIRACLES : THEY FORETOLD FUTURE EVENTS. Thus all that man himself could demand has been given, and objectors are left entirely without excuse.

JESUS CHRIST, the principal of those messengers, like his illustrious types and predecessors Moses and Elijah, proclaimed and attested his divine mission at once by miraculous acts, and by prophetic declarations. His miracles were numerous, diversified, and performed in various parts of his native country ; they were not frivolous tricks, calculated merely to excite wonder and gratify curiosity, but acts of substantial utility and benevolence. They were publicly, but not boastingly and ostentatiously, displayed — in the presence not of friends only, but also of enemies — of enemies exasperated to malignity against him, because he had censured their vices and exposed their hypocrisy, and who were actuated by every motive which a spirit of revenge could suggest to incurable prejudice, to induce them to detect the imposition of his miracles, if false, and to deny and discredit them, if true. To deny them they did not attempt, but they strove to sink them in disrepute, and thereby furnished a striking specimen of those embarrassing dilemmas, into which infidelity is continually betraying her votaries. They ascribed them to the agency of Satan ; thus representing him, “who was a liar from the beginning,” as contributing to the diffusion of the truth — “the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience” as promoting the cause of holiness and as co-operating in the overthrow of his own kingdom, with HIM who “was manifested to destroy the works of the Devil!!!”

The prophecies of our Lord, as well as his miracles, were many, and of great variety. They were not delivered with pomp and parade, but rose out of occasions, and seem to have resulted, for the most part, from his affectionate solicitude for those who then were, or might afterwards become, his disciples. While the fulfillment of some of these predictions was confined to the term of his mission and the limits of his country, the accomplishment of others extended to all nations, and to every future age of the world.

Of the prophecies which have already been fulfilled, few, perhaps, are so interesting in themselves, or so striking in their accomplishment, as those which relate to the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple, and the signal calamities which every where befel the Jewish nation. The chief of our Lord’s predictions, relative to these events, are contained in Matt. 24 ch. Mark, 13 ch., Luke 21 ch., Ib. 19 ch. 41-44 ; Ib. 23 ch. 27-30 : and we may with confidence appeal to the facts which verify them as conclusive and incontrovertible proofs of the divinity of his mission. Before, however, we enter upon this illustration, it may be gratifying to the reader, and add considerably to the interest of many of the subsequent pages, to give in this place a brief description of that renowned city and its temple.

Jerusalem was built on two mountains. Three celebrated walls surrounded the city on every side, except that which was deemed inaccessible, and there it was defended by one wall only. The most ancient of these walls was remarkable for its great strength, and was, moreover, erected on a hanging rock, and fortified by sixty towers. on the middle wall there were fourteen towers only ; but on the third, which was also distinguished by the extraordinary merit of its architecture, there were no less than ninety. The celebrated tower of Psephinos, before which Titus at first encamped, was erected on this latter wall, and even excelled it in the superior style of its architecture : it was seventy cubits high and had eight angles, each of which commanded most extensive and beautiful prospects. In clear weather, the spectator had from them a view of the Mediterranean sea, of Arabia, and of the whole extent of the Jewish dominions. Besides this there were three other towers of great magnitude, named Hippocos, Phasael, and Mariamne. The two former, famed for their strength and grandeur, were nearly ninety cubits high ; the latter, for its valuable curiosities, beauty and elegance, was about fifty five cubits. They were all built of white marble ; and so exquisite was the workmanship, that each of them appeared as if it had been hewn out of an immense single block of it. Notwithstanding their great elevation, they yet must have appeared, from the surrounding country, far loftier than they really were. The old wall, it has just been remarked, was built upon a high rock : but these towers were erected upon the top of a hill, the summit of which was itself thirty cubits above the top of the old wall ! Such edifices, so situated, it is easy to conceive, must have give to the city a very great degree of grandeur and magnificence. Not far distant from these towers stood the royal palace, of singular beauty and elegance. Its pillars, its porticoes, its galleries, its apartments, were all incredibly costly, splendid and superb ; while the groves, gardens, walks, fountains, and aqueducts, with which it was encompassed, formed the richest and most delightful scenery that can possibly be imagined. The situation of these structures was on the north side of Jerusalem. Its celebrated temple, and the strong fort of Antonia, were on the east side, and directly opposite to the Mount of Olives. This fort was built on a rock fifty cubits in height, and so steep as to be inaccessible on every side ; and to render it still more so, it was faced with thin slabs of marble, which, being slippery, proved at once a defense and an ornament. In the midst of the fort stood the castle of Antonia, the interior parts of which, for grandeur, state, and convenience, resembled more a palace than a fortress. Viewed from a distance it had the appearance of a tower, encompassed by four other towers, situated at the four angles of a square. Of these latter, three were fifty cubits high, and the fourth seventy cubits.

The tower last mentioned commanded an excellent view of the whole temple, the riches grandeur, and elegance of which it is not in the power of language to describe. Whether we consider its architecture, its dimensions, its magnificence, its splendor, or the sacred purposes to which it was dedicated, it must equally be regarded as the most astonishing fabric that was ever constructed. It was erected partly on a solid rock, which was originally steep on every side. The foundations of what was called the lower temple were 300 cubits in depth, and the stones of which they were composed, more than sixty feet in length, while the superstructure contained, of the whitest marble, stones nearly sixty-eight feet long, more than seven feet high, and nine broad. The circuit of the whole building was four furlongs ; its height one hundred cubits ; one hundred and sixty pillars, each twenty seven feet high, ornamented and sustained the immense and ponderous edifice. In the front, spacious and lofty galleries, wainscoted with cedar, were supported by columns of white marble, in uniform rows.In short, says Josephus, nothing could surpass even the exterior of this temple, for its elegant and curious workmanship. It was adorned with solid plates of gold that rivaled the beauty of the rising sun, and were scarcely less dazzling to the eye than the beams of that luminary. Of those parts of the building which were not gilt; when viewed from a distance, some, says he, appeared like pillars of snow, and some, like mountains of white marble. The splendour of the interior parts of the temple corresponded with its external magnificence. It was decorated and enriched by every thing, that was costly, elegant and superb. Religious donations and offerings had poured into this wonderful repository of precious stores from every part of the world, during many successive ages. In the lower temple were placed those sacred curiosities, the seven branched candlestick of pure gold, the table for the shew- bread, and the altar of incense ; the two latter of which were covered with plates of the same metal. In the sanctuary were several doors fifty-five cubits high and sixteen in breadth which were all likewise of gold. Before these doors hung a veil of the most beautiful Babylonian tapestry, composed of scarlet, blue, and purple, exquisitely interwoven, and wrought up to the highest degree of art. From the top of the ceiling depended branches and leaves of vines, and large clusters of grapes, hanging down five or six feet, all of gold and of most admirable workmanship. In addition to these proofs of the splendour and riches of the temple, may be noticed its eastern gate of pure Corinthian brass more esteemed even than the precious metals — the golden folding doors of the chambers — the beautiful carved- work, gilding, and painting of the galleries — golden vessels, &c. of the sanctuary –the sacerdotal vestments Of scarlet, violet, and purple –the vast wealth of the treasury– abundance of precious stones, and immense quantities of all kinds of costly spices and perfumes. In short, the most valuable and sumptuous of whatever nature, or art, or opulence, could supply _ was enclosed within the consecrated walls of this magnificent and venerable edifice.

So much concerning this celebrated city, and its still more celebrated temple. We shall now consider our LORD’s prophecies relating to their destruction.

On the 2d. day of the week, immediately preceding his crucifixion, our blessed SAVIOUR made his public and triumphal entry into Jerusalem, amidst the acclamations of a very great multitude of his disciples, Who hailed him KING OF SION, and with palmbranches, the emblems of victory, in their hands, rejoiced and gave praises to GOD for all the mighty works they had seen, singing “Hosanna! blessed be the KING that cometh in the name of the LORD ! peace in heaven, and glory in the highest !” But While the people thus exulted, and triumphantly congratulated the MESSIAH, he struggling with the deepest emotions of pity and compassion for Jerusalem, beheld the city and wept over it, saying, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy peace ! but now they are hid from thine eyes; for the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee around, and keep thee in on every side ; ‘And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee and they shall, not leave in thee one stone upon another ; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” [2]

On the 4th day of the week following, being only two days before his death, he went for the last time into the temple to teach the people : while He was thus employed, the High Priests and the Elders, the Herodians, the Sadducees, and Pharisees, successively came to him, and questioned him with subtly, being desirous to “entangle him in his talk ; ” to whom, with his accustomed dignity and wisdom, he returned answers which carried conviction to their hearts, and at once silenced and astonished them. Then, turning to his disciples, and the whole multitude, he addressed to them a discourse of very uncommon energy, in which, with most exquisite keenness of reproof, he exposed and condemned the cruelty and pride, the hypocrisy and sensuality of’ the Pharisees and Scribes.

Having next foretold the barbarous treatment which his Apostles would receive at their hands be proceeded to denounce against Jerusalem the dire and heavy vengeance, that had for ages been accumulating in the vials of divine displeasure, expressly declaring that it, should be poured out upon the then existing generation, adding that inimitably tender and pathetic apostrophe to this devoted city, ” 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them- which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children tog-ether, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,, and ye would not ! Behold ! your HOUSE is left unto you desolate ; for I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord !” [3]

Having said this, he went out of the temple, and, as he departed, his disciples drew his attention to the wonderful magnitude and splendour of the edifice. — They spake, “how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts ;” and said unto him, “Master see ! what manner of stones and buildings are here ! And Jesus said unto them , See ye not all these things ? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.” When we consider the antiquity and sanctity of the temple, its stupendous fabric, its solidity, and the uncommon magnitude of the stones of which it was composed, we may, in some measure, conceive of the amazement which this declaration of our LORD must have excited in the mind of his disciples. Nevertheless, this remarkable prediction,. as. we shall see in the sequel, was literally fulfilled, and, as our LORD had foretold, even during the existence of the generation to which he addressed it.

Our Lord now retired to the Mount of Olives, to which place the disciples followed him, in order to make more particular inquiries relative to the time when the calamitous events, foretold by him, would come to pass. We have already intimated, that, the Mount of Olives commanded a full view of Jerusalem and the temple. No situation, therefore, could have been better adapted to give energy to a prediction which related chiefly to their total ruin and demolition.; and if we suppose (and the supposition is highly probable) that our LORD, While in the act of speaking, pointed to the majestic and stupendous edifices, whose destruction he foretold, every word which he then uttered must have been clothed with inexpressible sublimity, and derived from the circumstances of the surrounding scenery a force and effect, which it is not possible adequately to conceive.

Continued Here




2 comments on “The Destruction of Jerusalem – By George Peter Holford (1805)

  1. PJ, I can relate to what you said about the book of Acts becoming even more amazing once realizing that Peter and Stephen really “got it” concerning the Jerusalem temple being rejected and replaced by Jesus, the true temple (and how they also “got it” concerning the hope of an ethnocentric, earthly, national restoration being turned completely upside down). I thought your “ramble” was well put. 🙂

    • Aha…thanks Adam. You know by now i tend to ramble when trying to explain. 🙂

      And yes, amen! I believe their entire world and belief system was turned upside down by the teachings of Jesus; rather it was once they “saw” and understood. Which i think only really came about at the coming of the Holy Spirit. How astounding that must have been Adam. They must have thought back to everything Jesus did, (the implication surrounding the cleansing of the temple, for instance) and taught about the Kingdom of God, pouring over it in their hearts with excitement and a new “true” understanding.

      It’s caused me to re-read the Gospels and the book of Acts in a new light.

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