30 AD – 70 AD: “The Crimson Thread Remained Crimson”


In about 30 AD, Jesus said something to the scribes, Pharisees, and people of Jerusalem which must have been earth-shattering to His audience at the time: “See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).  This mirrors what happened in the days of Jeremiah: “I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hands of her enemies” (Jer. 12:7).

Notice that Jesus didn’t say the temple belonged to His Father, but instead He referred to it as “your” house (speaking to the people of Jerusalem). As we will see, even secular history provides a stark depiction of the desolation of the temple and the once holy city of Jerusalem during the next 40 years, before they were destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

The Talmud is an important text within Rabbinic Judaism, made up of both oral teachings and interpretations of these teachings. The earlier collection is known as the Jerusalem Talmud and the later collection, compiled between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD, is known as the Babylonian Talmud. Both of them have fascinating things to say about the 40 year period between Jesus’ ascension and the temple’s destruction in 70 AD:

[1] Jerusalem Talmud:

“Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the western light went out, the crimson thread remained crimson, and the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand. They would close the gates of the Temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open” (Jacob Neusner, The Yerushalmi, p.156-157). 

[2] Babylonian Talmud:

“Our rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ‘For the Lord’ did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel [Temple] would open by themselves” (Soncino version, Yoma 39b).

The Crimson Thread

There was a Jewish tradition tied to the Day of Atonement, when a scapegoat bearing the sins of the people would be released into the wilderness (see Leviticus 16). Of course, for those who trust in Jesus, this ritual no longer bore any meaning after 30 AD, as Jesus took our sins upon Himself on the cross. According to the Babylonian Talmud, though, the scapegoat would wear a crimson (red)-colored strap, and it would become white once it reached the wilderness, indicating that God had forgiven their sins:

“How do we know that a crimson-colored strap is tied to the head of the goat that is sent to [the wilderness]? Because it is said, ‘If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow’ (Isa. 1:18). By a miracle, this crimson-colored strap turned white, thus showing the people the people that they were forgiven of their sins. Rabbi Ishmael says, ‘Now did they not have any other sign? There was a crimson thread tied to the door of the sanctuary. When the goat had reached the wilderness, the thread would turn white…'” (Tractate Shabbat Folio 86a).

This miracle took place every year, it was said, but not after 30 AD. It was clear that this ritual was no longer acceptable to the Lord, because Jesus was the acceptable sacrifice: “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).

The Western Light Didn’t Shine

There were seven lamps on the Menorah in the temple, with the westernmost lamp being the most important. Every day the other six lamps would be lit from the Western Lamp. For a long time, it burned continuously, which was seen as a miracle. It was known for being a perpetual fire. However, from 30 – 70 AD it went out every single day. As Ernest Martin explains:

“This ‘western lamp’ was to be kept lit at all times. For that reason, the priests kept extra reservoirs of olive oil and other implements in ready supply to make sure that the ‘western lamp’ (under all circumstances) would stay lit. But what happened in the forty years from the very year Messiah said the physical Temple would be destroyed? Every night for forty years the western lamp went out, and this in spite of the priests each evening preparing in a special way the western lamp so that it would remain constantly burning all night!”

(Ernest Martin, “The Significance of the Year CE 30,” 1994; as quoted in “The Coming Messiah” by Mark E. Jeffries, p. 86

For the believer, this light was unnecessary, for Jesus is the light of the world and so are His followers:

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life‘” (John 8:12).

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

The Lot Did Not Come Up in the Right Hand

Each year on the Day of Atonement, one goat was chosen “for the Lord” and the other to be the “Azazel” (the scapegoat sent into the wilderness). They were chosen by lot, as the priest would reach both hands into an urn, selecting both a white stone and a black stone and placing them on the heads of the two goats. The people always hoped that the white stone (“for the Lord”) would be in the priest’s right hand, and this happened about half the time (as one would expect).

During the 40 years between 30 – 70 AD, however, the white stone never once turned up in the right hand of the priest. It turned up in the left hand every single time. Perhaps the significance of this is that Jesus “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2; see also Acts 2:34, Ephesians 1:20, Heb. 1:3). 

The Temple Doors Opened By Themselves

Both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds also spoke of the temple gates opening by themselves each night between 30 – 70 AD. According to the Jerusalem Talmud (Sota 6:3), Jewish leaders knew this was a sign of impending doom for the temple:

“Said Rabban Yohanan Ben Zakkai to the Temple, ‘O Temple, why do you frighten us? We know that you will end up destroyed. For it has been said, “Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars” (Zechariah 11:1).'”

Jesus had prophesied that the temple’s downfall would take place in His own generation (Matthew 24:1-34, Mark 13:1-30, Luke 21:5-32). Scripture also reveals that God’s temple is Jesus and His followers, both individually and corporately:

“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days? But He was speaking of the temple of His body'” (John 2:19-21).

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16).

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (I Corinthians 6:19).

For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make My dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people‘” (II Corinthians 6:16).

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

The Christian Zionist movement is excited over the prospect of a rebuilt temple in modern Jerusalem, with some Christian organizations even raising large amounts of money to see it happen. No Biblical prophecy says this must happen, and since Christians are God’s temple it’s odd, to say the least, to see Christians on the edge of their seats watching for it to happen. God’s people, wherever we dwell in the world, are His dwelling place. For a deeper study on how God made His dwelling place in the new Jerusalem instead of earthly Jerusalem, see these two posts: [1] Jerusalem, a Dwelling Place of Demons and [2] New Jerusalem, God’s Dwelling Place.

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20 thoughts on “30 AD – 70 AD: “The Crimson Thread Remained Crimson”

  1. What a coincidence! I’m in the process of re-reading Philip Mauro’s book, The Seventy Weeks, and the last chapters relate to the last years on up to 70AD. He quotes from sources some of the peculiar happenings/signs which occurred in the Temple prior to the final destruction. Its all certainly fascinating Adam…all of it.

    It does make one wonder what the Jewish people, especially the religious leaders, made of all this. Did they even connect it to Jesus’ death and reported resurrection, or was their blindness so complete it never entered their minds?

    We, as followers of Jesus, walk by faith and do not require signs, etc. But it is still amazing to read of all those you mentioned (and others!). I “talk” to a number of Jews every day, when im at facebook….usually under posts, articles, etc. It dawned on me just today that you will never (or rarely, for me personally its been never) hear them bring up that period in time for Israel (30-70ad). It’s like they totally ignore it, or (perhaps) younger Jews know nothing about it! Wonder if it’s taught (about) in their school history curriculums? Perhaps not…

    I just re-read today how the majority of those who died (such horrible deaths) in 70AD were killed by their fellow Jews….that “Jew on Jew” slaughter accounted for the majority of deaths, not the Roman army.

    Yes it is a total mystery how CZ can be excited about a third Temple, to the degree, many are helping to finance it. What an abomination it would be for it would “fly in the face” of the entire New Testament.

    Christian Zionists are as blind today as the Jews have been for 2000 years.

    (Great message Adam!)

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    • Hi PJ,

      That’s neat that you were just reading about similar things. Philip Mauro sure does have some valuable writings.

      I came across one Jewish website where someone wrote an article about the quotes from the Talmud that I have in this post. The writer was saying that “missionaries” are way off if they tie those happenings to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Instead, said the writer, those things happened in the temple because of a marked decline in morality, and a rise in murders and other inhuman acts, among the Jewish people during the last generation before the temple fell.

      When I first saw how strongly the writer came against the view of “missionaries,” I thought he was going to debunk the quotes themselves (from the Talmud), saying they were misquotes, taken out of context, or something like that. He didn’t do that. Instead, he basically said that they overlooked rapid moral decline as being the reason for why those things happened, and that they grasped at straws to tie it all in with Jesus’ death and resurrection.

      Yes, it’s wild to read about how so many Jews slaughtered one another during the final years before the temple fell. I believe this was foretold in Revelation 6:3-4. “When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ And another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth [or ‘land’], and that people should kill one another, and there was given to him a great sword.” Here’s the commentary I have in my post on Revelation 6 (Part 1) regarding these verses:

      ————————————————

      Mark A. Copeland says of this passage that it “[r]epresents civil war, in which people would kill one another, such as God used in His judgment against Egypt (Isa 19:1-4).” This certainly fits the language used here. As a historical fact, in the fall/winter of 67 AD a brutal civil war broke out in Jerusalem and Judea between the revolutionaries and those who wanted to maintain peace with Rome. Jerusalem was eventually divided into three factions led by [1] Eleazar, who was over the Zealots [2] John of Gischala, who was over the Galileans, and [3] Simon, who was over the Idumeans. It remained this way until the city was destroyed. The conditions were awful. In one night 8500 people were killed, and their bodies were cast outside of Jerusalem without being buried. The outer temple was “overflowing with blood” and the inner court even had pools of blood in it. Homes and gravesites were looted (For more information, see Footnote #1).

      Steve Gregg, in his book “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary),” quotes from J. Stuart Russell, who says (p. 106),

      The Jewish war, under Vespasian, commenced at the furthest distance from Jerusalem in Galilee, and gradually drew nearer and nearer to the doomed city. The Romans were not the only agents in the work of slaughter that depopulated the land; hostile factions among the Jews themselves turned their arms against one another, so that it might be said that “every man’s hand was against his brother.”

      Gregg also quotes Josephus (from Wars, 2:18:2): “Every city was divided into two armies encamped one against another…so the daytime was spent in shedding of blood, and the night in fear.” Gregg himself adds (p. 108) that these verses in Revelation 6:3-4 substantiate the words of Jesus when He wept over Jerusalem:

      The Jews had rejected the Prince of Peace, who had said, while weeping over Jerusalem, “If you had known…the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). The next words Jesus spoke predicted the Roman armies invading the land and leveling the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19:43-44). What could speak more directly to the fulfillment of this threat than for Revelation to speak, as here, of one sent to take peace (v. 4) from the land? Zechariah also had predicted this as a consequence of the Jews’ rejection of Christ (Zech. 11:10-14).

      Source: http://kloposmasm.com/2009/09/04/revelation-chapter-6-part-1/

      Liked by 1 person

    • We could also add to this Revelation 16:19. “Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell…” Here’s what I wrote about this:

      This is a reference to Ezekiel 5:1-12, when the prophet was required to shave his head and divide it into three parts, and was told by God: “This is Jerusalem” (Ezek 5:5). One third was burned, one third was chopped up by the sword, and the last third was scattered into the wind. This happened in 586 B.C. (some were burned inside the city, some were slain by swords by the Babylonians, and the remaining were scattered among the nations). The city was again divided like this in 70 A.D. Josephus, and also the early church writer Eusebius, tell us that at least 1.1 million Jews were killed in the burning of the Second Temple and Jerusalem, some due to the fire, and some due to the sword (see quotes from the section on the Third Bowl Judgment above). Just as in 586 BC, those who survived were sold into slavery:

      All above the age of seventeen were sent in chains into Egypt, to be employed there as slaves, or distributed throughout the empire to be sacrificed as gladiators in the amphitheatres; whilst those who were under this age, were exposed to sale.

      Philip Carrington (in 1931) noted an additional means of fulfillment for this vision,

      This refers to the division into three factions, which became acute after the return of Titus. While Titus was besieging it from without, the three leaders of rival factions were fighting fiercely within: but for this the city might have staved off defeat for a long time, even perhaps indefinitely, for no great army could support itself for the long in those days in the neighborhood of Jerusalem; there was no water and no supplies. The fighting within the city delivered it quickly into the hands of Titus (Gregg, p. 393-94).

      The three factions were led by [1] Eleazar, who was over the Zealots [2] John of Gischala, who was over the Galileans, and [3] Simon, who was over the Idumeans. It remained this way until the city was destroyed.

      Source: http://kloposmasm.com/2009/12/13/revelation-chapter-16/

      Liked by 1 person

      • This was the “great” tribulation which Jesus foretold of.

        21 For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again! (Matt. 24)

        It was not the number which died that made it so (for more perished during WW2) but the manner in which this occurred: The civil wars, as you pointed out (Jews slaughtering Jews) and the unspeakable things which occurred (cannibalism, etc.).

        Because of this being so, all the authors, like Lindsey and other dispensational authors, who teach of this being a future event which is still to come, are totally wrong. When its said this is the most neglected event pertaining to Church history, that is certainly true. In 35 years i don’t believe i have ever heard a preacher or teacher preach and/or teach on the significance of this in any Church i’ve attended. Knowing the circumstances surrounding this time in Israel’s history, blows a giant hole in many dispensational doctrines. Especially how one views eschatological events.

        quote,

        All above the age of seventeen were sent in chains into Egypt,….

        I seem to recall that this was prophesied. Am i right?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes. In Luke 21:24 we read that “they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations…” I believe that’s what you’re thinking of.

        I have the same experience – never once hearing, in the church settings I’ve been a part of, about Jerusalem’s fall in 70 AD and the significance of those events.

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    • Thanks for the insight; but you missed one essential point. Yes, salvation is in Jesus Christ alone for both Jews and Gentiles. But Canaan was deeded to Abraham and his (physical) descendants from God’s Real Estate office and the document signed and stamped with divine seal (Genesis 15:7-21). God has invested His name as the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the land will forever be linked to their descendants we call “Jews” today. Please distinguish the two and your allegation of ‘Christian Zionists as blind’ will bring healing to your soul. God still has a purpose for the LAND and He will fulfill it with Jews rightfully occupying Land promised to them. Remember, Galatians 3:26-29 refers to spiritual standing, not physical distinction… female still female in the physical, Jews still Jews in the physical (all Jews must circumcise as claim to the race and claim to the land, Gen 17:8-12, nothing to do with spiritual salvation …. ) (Gentiles need not circumcise).

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      • God is interpreting His own word who declares that Isaac and his descendants, the Israelites, functioned as a temporary ” picture” of what was the true fulfillment who is Jesus Christ. ( Galations, Romans, Hebrews) New heaven, new earth…, New Jerulsalem.
        It is only those who have embraced Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord who are the true promised children to Abraham. Bless you

        Liked by 1 person

      • “….your allegation of ‘Christian Zionists as blind’ will bring healing to your soul”

        Kevi, if i ignored the truth, this would be sin on my part. Many of the beliefs held by Christian Zionists, which have been spread throughout the Church in the West for the last 100 years, have caused spiritual blindness; Christian Zionism promotes viewing the Bible through an Israel-centric lens, instead of the correct theological Christocentric position. This has promoted idolatry. Adam (as well as at my blog) has posted a great number of posts on this topic which explains the many errors which CZ believe, teach, and which have blinded them to the truth. All of these are excellent, but may i recommend “Why I abandoned Replacement Theology?” http://kloposmasm.com/christian-zionism/

        There is so much “wrong” concerning this movement it’s difficult not to fill an entire page,
        🙂 Not the least being, it cannot even be referred to as a theology, but is instead a political movement “hiding” behind Christianity. It’s roots can be found in Dispensationalism. It has spawned a flawed understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, resulting in a flawed understanding of the importance of The Church.

        I also recommend (at my blog) “The God of Christian Zionism” https://pjmiller.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/the-god-of-christian-zionism/

        And, “How “Christian” is Christian Zionism?” https://pjmiller.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/how-christian-is-christian-zionism/

        God bless you…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Quote,

    I came across one Jewish website where someone wrote an article about the quotes from the Talmud that I have in this post. The writer was saying that “missionaries” are way off if they tie those happenings to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Instead, said the writer, those things happened in the temple because of a marked decline in morality, and a rise in murders and other inhuman acts, among the Jewish people during the last generation before the temple fell.

    While im sure conditions did exist as he said (decline in morality, etc) what has struck me was the idolatry of Nationalism which existed at the time. This had been building up for over 40 years. It existed when Jesus was there and only continued to grow after His ascension. What is striking is we see the same thing today in Israel, concerning Zionism.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Quote: Yes. In Luke 21:24 we read that “they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations…” I believe that’s what you’re thinking of.

    Amen. I was actually trying to recall a warning of this from the Old Testament which i had come across recently. I located it in Deut. 28:68

    “The LORD will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you”

    Does this also pertain to 70AD too Adam?

    Like

    • PJ, that’s an interesting parallel in Deut. 28:68 (to Luke 21:24). Yes, I believe that pertains to 70 AD, as does much of Deuteronomy 28-31. For instance, Deut. 28:52-53 speaks of Israel’s “high and fortified walls” coming down and a time of siege during which some would eat the flesh of their sons and daughters. Josephus wrote of this happening during the five-month siege in 70 AD. Several times in these chapters Moses makes reference to Israel’s “latter days” (e.g. Deut. 31:29).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great article Adam!
    It runs chill down my spine thinking about the warning signs that continued up to the destruction. This would have provided anyone with doubts an opportunity to “see the light” and be saved from the terrible destruction. God is so loving and compassionate!
    I agree with you – there is no physical temple in bible prophecy, only the spiritual one in the New Jerusalem built with living stones who are those born again with God’s spirit. Sadly those that are seeking a physical temple don’t recognize Christ or his kingdom so they are trying to re-establish things as they were under the old covenant.
    Another component of this is the modern Sanhedrin which has been re-established to be the legal system that enforces the “Laws” http://www.thesanhedrin.org/en/index.php?title=Jerusalem_Court_for_Issues_of_Bnei_Noah . As it states in this article the Gentile laws are called the Noahide Laws http://unitedwithisrael.org/the-noahide-laws/ . The Noahide Laws were recognized into law in the US in 1991, but they have been dormant hence they are called sleeper laws.
    If we look at the 7 Noahide Laws which Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David quotes from the Talmud – Sanhedrin 56b “Our Rabbis taught: seven precepts were the sons of Noah commanded: social laws; to refrain from blasphemy, idolatry; adultery; bloodshed; robbery; and eating flesh cut from a living animal” http://www.betemunah.org/noachide.html . In describing idolatry he says “Worshipping Yeshua is a form of avodah zarah, the worship of a false G-d”. Thus it appears Christianity is in danger from these Laws because he quotes Sanhedrin 57a which states “One additional element of greater severity is that violation of any one of the seven laws subjects the Noachide to capital punishment by decapitation”. I am concerned that my worship of Christ is a violation of the Noahide Laws which will result in my decapitation even though they claim they are not a threat.
    Of course God’s people have his law in their hearts and minds (Romans 2:29) and don’t wish to be enslaved to the Law of Moses (Romans 7:6) which could never remove our sins (Hebrews 10:11).

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    • Where in the New Covenant, or even the entire Bible, does it teach Christians are under Sanhedrin Law 57a?

      The new Will, Testament or Covenant of God provides the Law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which is greater than both the law of sin and death as well as the Torah, or the law of Christ which is the Law of love!
      If you are sincerely concerned about Sanhedrian 57a perhaps asking the author of the article you read who might provide you with answers you are looking for!

      Like

    • Thanks, Kate. Yes, those signs do seem like last minute divine warnings, given by God out of compassion so that those who were about to face judgment and destruction might instead run to Him and find mercy. I wonder how many did turn and repent during those months as a result.

      We certainly are seeing a modern wave of (futile) attempts to re-create the old covenant. I believe that today’s Judaizers are overplaying their hand. For one thing, this movement began before the internet age, but now that so much information and so many articles are just a click away, the false and unbiblical foundations of today’s Judaizing movements are being exposed like never before.

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    • Quote: The Noahide Laws were recognized into law in the US in 1991, but they have been dormant hence they are called sleeper laws”

      Just a quick question. How did these laws ever get passed? And why is it the general population is not aware of them?

      Like

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