Against the Jews. Homily 5
St. John Chrysostom
HOW IS IT THAT we have a larger throng assembled here today?
Surely, you have come together to demand that I keep my promise;
you are here to receive the silver tried in the fire which I pledged to pay over to you. For as the Psalmist says:
"The words of the Lord are pure words: silver tried by the fire, purged from the earth."
Blessed be God because Ire has put in your hearts the yearning to hear words good for your souls.
When wine-tipplers get up each morning, they start their meddlesome probing to discover where they will find the day's drinking-bouts, carousals, parties, revels, and drunken brawls;
they busy themselves searching for bottles, mixing bowls, and drinking cups. But when you get up each day, you go around asking where you will find exhortation and counsel, encouragement, and instruction, the kind of discourse which draws you to give glory to Christ.
This makes me the more eager to hold fast to my topic and, from the fullness of my heart, to keep the promises I have made.
My battle against the Jews did come to a fitting end. The monument marking their rout has been set up, the victory crown belongs to me, and I have captured the prize I sought from my previous discourse. For the task I had undertaken was to prove that what the Jews now do by way of ritual transgresses and violates the Law. It was my desire to show that in these rites we have men doing battle with God, creatures waging war against him. And with God's help, I did give precise proof of this. For even if the Jews were going to recover their own city, if they were about to return to their old commonwealth and way of life and see their temple rebuilt-an event which will never come to pass-even so, they have no defense for their present practices.
The three boys in Babylon, Daniel, and all the others who spent their days in captivity kept expecting to recover their own city and, after seventy years, to see the soil of their fatherland;
they kept looking forward to living again under their ancestral laws They had a clear pledge and promise that this would come to pass. However, until the promise was fulfilled, until they did return, they did not dare to perform any of the prescribed rites the way the Jews of today do.
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This is the way you, too, can silence and gag the Jews. Ask the Jew why he observes the fast when he has no city. If he shall say:
"Because I expect to recover my city,"
you say to him:
"Stop fasting, then, until you do recover it. Certainly, until the holy ones of old returned to their own fatherland, they practiced none of the rites which you now practice. From this it is clear that you are violating the law, even if you are going to recover your city, as you say;
you are transgressing your covenant with God and outraging that old commonwealth and way of life."
What I have said to your loving assembly both here and in my previous discourse is enough to silence and gag the shameless arguments of the Jews and to prove that they are transgressing the Law.
It was not my sole purpose to stitch shut the mouths of the Jews. I also was anxious to give you more extensive instruction in the teachings of the Church . Come now, and let me give you abundant proof that the temple will not be rebuilt and that the Jews will not return to their former way of life. In this way you will come to a clearer understanding of what the Apostles taught, and the Jews will be all the more convicted of acting in a godless way. As witness I shall produce not an angel, not an archangel, but the very Master of the whole world, our Lord Jesus Christ. When he came into Jerusalem and saw the temple, he said:
"Jerusalem will be trodden down by many nations, until the times of many nations be fulfilled."
By this he meant the years to come until the consummation of the world. And again, speaking to his disciples about the temple, he nude the threat that a stone would not remain upon a stone in that place until the time when it be destroyed. His threat was a prediction that the temple would come to a final devastation and completely disappear.
But the Jew totally rejects this testimony. He refuses to admit what Christ said. What does the Jew say?
"The man who said this is my foe. I crucified him. so how am I to accept his testimony?"
But this is the marvel of it. You Jews did crucify him. But after he died on the cross, he then destroyed your city;
it was then that he dispersed your people;
it was then that he scattered your nation over the face of the earth. In doing this, he teaches us that he is risen, alive, and in heaven.
Because you were not willing to recognize his power through his benefactions, he taught you by his punishment and vengeance that no one can struggle with or prevail against his might and strength. But even so, you do not believe in him, you do not recognize that he is God and Master of all the world, but you consider him just another man.
Come then and let us conduct a test as we would in the case of a man. How do we test human beings?
If we see that a man tells the truth in all things and never ill any way lies to another, we accept his word, even if he happens to be a foe. At least we do so if we have any sense. In the same way, when we see that a man is a liar, even if he tells the truth in some instances, we do not readily accept his word.
Let us look, then, at the character and habits of Christ. Not only did he predict and foretell the destruction of the temple but he also prophesied during his life many other things which were going to come to pass a long time afterwards. Let us, then, bring these predictions into the open. If you see that he is lying in these predictions, then do not accept his prediction about the temple, nor consider it deserving of your belief. But if you see that he tells the truth in all things and that this prediction has been fulfilled, if you see that long years have passed but still testify to the truth of what he foretold, let us have no more of your impudence and stubbornness in matters which are clearer than the light of the sun.
Let us see what else he predicted. There once came up to him a woman with an alabaster jar of precious ointment and she poured it on him. His disciples were indignant at what happened and said:
"Why was this not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?"
He reproved them, however, and said
"Why do you trouble the woman. She has done a good deed. For I say to you, wherever on the whole earth this gospel is preached, this also that she has done shall be told in memory of her?
Did he or did he not tell the truth?
Was his prediction fulfilled or did it fail to come true?
Put these questions to the Jew. Even if he counts his shameless acts in the tens of thousands, he will not be able to look at this prophecy in the face and stare it down.
Certainly we do hear her story told in all the churches. Consuls have stood listening to it, and generals, too;
men, women, the renowned, the distinguished, the famous ones in every city. Wherever in the world you may go, everyone respectfully listens to the story of her good service;
her action is known in every corner of the earth.
How many kings brought many and great blessings on their cities, how many kings waged successful wars, set up many trophies of victory, saved nations, built cities, and in addition, acquired countless revenues?
Yet they, for all their great exploits, are buried in the silence of oblivion. Many queens and great ladies have conferred benefits beyond number on those subject to them. Yet some people do not even know them by name. But this worthless woman, who only poured out her ointment, is praised everywhere in the world;
the long passage of years has failed to blot out the memory of her, and the time to come will never quench her fame.
And yet hers was not a deed of renown. For what renown was there in pouring out some ointment?
Nor was she a distinguished person, for she was a low woman and an outcast. Nor was there a large audience to see, for only the disciples were gathered around her. Nor was the place one where she could be easily seen. She made no entrance onto a theater stage to perform her service but did her good deed in a house with only ten people present.
Nonetheless, even though she was a lowly person, even though only a few were there to witness it, even though the place was undistinguished, neither these facts nor any others could obscure the memory of that woman. Today, she is more illustrious than ally king or queen;
no passage of years has buried in oblivion the service she performed.
Tell me, now. How do you explain this?
Who brought this about?
Is it not the work of the God to whom this service was paid?
Is it not God who has spread the story of her deed to every corner of the earth?
Is it within the scope of human power to predict such things as these?
Who in his right mind could say that?
We marvel and are astounded when Christ foretells what he, himself, will do. But when he predicts what others will do and then makes these actions of others clear to all the world and worthy of every man's belief, it is still more astounding and marvelous.
Again, he said to Peter:
"Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
You Jews tell me how you can attack this prediction of his. How can you show that this prophecy is false?
The testimony of the facts will not allow it, even if you are obstinate and dispute it ten thousand times. low many conflagrations of war have been kindled against the Church?
Many armies have taken the field, many weapons have been used, every form of' punishment and torture has been contrived. There were frying-pans, racks caldrons, ovens, cisterns, cliffs, fangs of wild beasts, seas, confiscations, and ten thousand other means of torture, unmentionable and unendurable?
And these were used not only by foreigners but by our own countrymen. Indeed, a sort of civil war held everything in its grip;
rather, it was more bitter than ally civil war. Not only did citizens do battle with citizens but kinsmen with kinsmen, members of the same household with each other;
friends fought friends. Yet none of these things destroyed the Church nor made it weaker.
Certainly, the wonderful and unexpected thing about this is that all these attacks were made against the Church when it was just beginning.
If these dread persecutions were let loose against it after it had taken root and after the Gospel message had been planted everywhere in the world, it would not be so strange that the Church had resisted these attacks. But it was at the beginning of her teaching mission, when the seed of faith had just been sown and the understanding of those who heard the word was still somewhat weak, that these violent wars broke out in all their fury. The fact that they did not weaken our position but even made us prosper all the more is the miracle that surpasses all miracles.
You may say that the Church now stands firm because of the peace granted to it by the emperors. To keep you from saying this, God permitted the Church to be attacked and persecuted at a time when it was smaller and seemed to be weaker. God wanted you to learn that the security the Church enjoys today does not come to it from the peace granted by emperors, but front the power of God.
To help you see the truth of this, consider how many men wished to introduce their teachings among the Greeks and to establish a new commonwealth and way of life. Think of such men as Zeno, Plato, Socrates, Diagoras, Pythagoras, and countless others. Yet they fell so far short of success that many people do not even now know them by name. But Christ not only wrote a constitution but even brought a new way of life to the whole world. How many miracles do they say that Apollonius of Tyana worked?
But all his deeds were a fraud, a vain show, and devoid of truth. And you may learn this from the fact that, in an instant, they vanished and disappeared.
Let no one consider it an insult to Christ that, while speaking of him, I mentioned Pythagoras, Plato, Zeno and the man from Tyana. I am not doing this of my own choice but out of consideration for the weakness of the Jews, who see in Christ a mere man. This is what Paul did when he came to Athens. On entering the city, he took the topic for his exhortation not from the prophets or the gospels, but from the Athenians' altar to the unknown God. He did not consider their altar more deserving of faith than the gospels, nor did he account the inscription on it more worthy of honor than the prophets. But he was speaking to pagan Greeks, who believed in none of our sacred books, and so he used arguments from their own beliefs to subdue them. He did the same thing at Corinth when he said:
"I have become to the Jews a Jew, to those without the Law, as one without the Law (though I am not without the law of God, but am under the law of Christ).
The Old Testament does this, too, in speaking to the Jews about God. It says:
"Who is like to you among the gods, O Lord?"
What do you mean, Moses?
Is there any comparison at all between the true God and false gods?
Moses would reply:
"1 did not say this to make a comparison;
but since I was talking to the Jews, who had a lofty opinion of demons, I condescended to their weakness and
brought in the lesson I was teaching in this way."
Let me also say that since my discussion is with the Jews, who consider that Christ is mere man and one who violated their Law, I compared him with those whom the pagan Greeks admire.
If you wish me to make a comparison with men from among the Jews themselves, men who tried to do what Christ did, men who gathered disciples and were proclaimed as leaders and chiefs but who were immediately forgotten, let me try to prove it in this way. Surely this was what Gamaliel did to stop their mouths. When he saw the Sanhedrin in a rage and eager to shed the blood of the disciples, he wished to put a stop to their ungovernable anger. So he gave orders for the apostles to be put outside for a little while and then had this to say to the Jews.
"Take care what you are about to do to these men. For some time ago there rose up Theudas, claiming to be somebody, and four hundred men followed him, but he perished and all his followers were scattered abroad. And after him there rose up Judas the Galilean, who drew a considerable crowd;
he too died and his disciples perished. So now I say to you, Take care, for if this work is of men, it will be overthrown;
but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it. Else perhaps you may find yourselves fighting even against God."
Where, then, is the proof that if this is the work of men, it will perish?
You had proof of this, said Gamaliel, from the cases of Judas and Theudas. So if the man whom the Apostles proclaim is a leader such as Judas and Theudas, if Ire does not do all Ire does by the power of God, wait a little while, and the outcome of events will give credibility to what you say. You will know from the way things turn out whether he is a deceiver, as you say, and one who violates the Law, or the God who rules all things and, with ineffable power, orders and arranges our affairs.
And this did come to pass. They did wait. The very outcome of events did prove that his power was divine and unconquerable. That trick which had deceived many men was turned around and back on the devil's own head. When Satan saw that Christ had come, he wished to cover up the reality of his coming and to hide the true purpose of his Incarnation. So he brought on stage the rogues whom we mentioned, so that Christ might be considered one of them. And he did this on the cross, too, when he had two thieves crucified with Christ;
he did the same thing in the case of Christ's coming when he strove to conceal the truth by putting it alongside the false. But he failed in both cases, and his very effort provided the strongest proof of Christ's power.
Tell me this. If three men were crucified in the same place, at the same time, by the same judges, wily have the two thieves been lost in silence, while He alone is worshipped?
Again, if many men introduced new governments, got themselves adherents, and today not even their names are known, how is it that Christ is paid divine service throughout the world?
Comparison makes facts especially clear. You Jews make this comparison, then, and learn how the truth has prevailed. What deceiver has gotten for himself so many churches all over the world, what rogue extended his worship to the ends of the earth, what imposter has every man bowing down before him, and this in the face of ten thousand obstacles?
No one did. It is clear, then, that Christ was not a deceiver: he has saved us, he confers blessings upon us, he takes care of us, he protects our lives.
Let me add one more prediction before I return to the topic on which I proposed to speak. Christ said:
" I did not come to send peace upon the earth, but a sword."
However, he did not speak of what he would himself desire but he was foretelling the end to which things would come. He went on to say:
"For I have come to set a man at variance with his father, and a daughter-in-law with her mother-in-law, and a daughter with her mother."
Tell me this. How did he foretell this if he was a mere man and one of the crowd?
For this is what he meant. It sometimes happened that in one and the same house one person would believe, and another would not;
then the father would want to lead his own son to deny his faith. This is why Christ predicted this very thing. What he was saying was this:
"The power of the gospel will be so strong that sons despise their fathers, daughters their mothers, and parents their children. For they will choose not only to scorn members of their own household, but even to lay down their lives, to endure and suffer all things rather than deny their religion."
How could he have managed to know this if tie was just another man out of the crowd?
How did it occur to him to reach the conclusion that sons would pay greater veneration to him than to their fathers, that parents would find him dearer than their own children, that wives would have a more ardent love for him than for their own husbands?
And how did he know that this would happen not in one home only, nor in two, nor three, nor ten, nor twenty, nor a hundred, but in every corner of the world, in every city and country, on land and sea, in populous places and in those with few, if any, dwellings?
No one can say that he foretold this and then failed to fulfill his prediction. Certainly it was not only at the very beginning but it is true even today that, because of their religion, many are hated and cast forth from their fathers' houses. However, they pay no heed to this;
the fact that they suffer it for the sake of Christ is consolation enough for them.
Tell me this. What human being ever had the power to do this?
Yet this man made all these predictions about that woman, about the Church, and about the wars which would be waged against it. He also predicted that the temple would be destroyed, that Jerusalem would be captured, and that the city would no longer be the city of the Jews as it had been in the past.
If he was wrong and deceived you in all those other predictions, and they did not come true, then refuse to believe what he foretold of Jerusalem and the temple. But you do see those other predictions gloriously fulfilled and their truth waxing stronger with each passing day. The gates of hell did not prevail against the Church, after so many years the story of what that woman did is still told all over the world, and men who believed in him did pay greater veneration to him than to their own parents, wives, and children. If this is true, tell me, why do you reject this one prediction about the temple, especially since the testimony of time puts the gag of silence on your shameless words?
Suppose a mere ten, twenty, thirty, or fifty years were to have passed since the capture of Jerusalem. Even then you would have absolutely no right to show your impudence by rejecting his prediction, but if you wished to be obstinate, you might have had some pretext for protest left to you. But not only fifty years but many more than one, two, or three centuries have passed since Jerusalem was captured. And never has there been seen a single trace or shadow of the change for which you are waiting. Why, then, are you so rash and foolish as to keep up your shameless objections?
We have said enough to prove that the temple will never be rebuilt. But since the abundance of proofs which support this truth is so great, I shall turn from the gospels to the prophets, because the Jews put their belief ill them before all others. And from the words of the prophets I shall make it clear that the Jews will recover neither their city nor their temple in days to come. And yet the need was not mine to prove that the temple will not be restored. This was not my obligation;
the Jews have the obligation to prove the opposite, namely, that the temple will be rebuilt. For the years that have elapsed stand by my side in the combat and bear witness to the truth of my words.
Even though the outcome of events defeats them, even though they cannot prove in deeds what they maintain in words, even though they are simply making a rash boast, they have a right to present their testimony. The proof for my position is that the events of which I speak did actually occur: Jerusalem did fall and has not been restored after so many years. Their position rests on their unsupported words.
Yet the burden of proof was on them to show that the city would rise again. This is the procedure for giving proofs in courts of law. Suppose two people are in dispute over some matter and the first party presents the claim for his position in writing, while the second party attacks his statement. The second party must then bring forward witnesses or other proofs in refutation of what is said in the written deposition;
but the plaintiff need not do so. This is what the Jews must now do. They must produce a prophet who says that by all means Jerusalem will be rebuilt. For if there was going to be an end to the present captivity for you Jews, there was every need for the prophets to foretell this, as is clear to anyone who has even so much as glanced at the prophetic books. For it was the custom of old among the Jews that. under inspiration from above, their prophets would foretell the good or evil things which were going to befall the people.
What was the reason for this?
It was because the Jews were so arrogant and obstinate. They immediately forgot what God had done for them, they ascribed his kindness to demons and reckoned that his blessings had come from them. Even when the sea was divided for them, as they went forth from Egypt, and while other wonderful things were happening to them, they forgot the God who was performing these miracles and attributed them to others who were not gods. For they said to Aaron:
"Make for us gods who will be our leaders?"
And they said to Jeremiah: 'We will not listen to what you say in the name of the Lord. Rather we will continue doing what we had proposed: we will burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her, as we and our fathers, our kings and princes have done. Then we had enough food to eat and we were well off;
we suffered no misfortune But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, we are in need of everything and are being destroyed by the sword and by hunger. The inspired prophets, then, foretold what would happen to the Jews so that they would ascribe none of the events to idols, but would believe that both punishments and blessings always come from God: the punishment came for their sins, and the blessings because of God's love and kindness.
So that you may learn that this is the reason
for the prophecy, hear what Isaiah, the most eloquent of prophets, had to say to the Jewish people.
"I know that you are stubborn and that your neck is an iron sinew"
(that is, unbending),
"and your forehead bronze"
(that is, incapable of blushing)."
We, too, make a practice of giving the name 'bronze-faced to those who cannot blush. And Isaiah went on to say:
"I foretold what things would come upon you before they took place and I let you hear of them.
"Then he added the reason for the prophecy when he said:
"So that you may never say: 'My idols did them, my statues and molten images commanded them.'
At another time some of the Jews who were quarrelsome and boastful and, even after the prophecies were fulfilled, were acting as impudently as if they had never heard them. Then the prophets not only foretold what would come to pass but even had witnesses of what they were doing. Again it was Isaiah who said:
"Make reliable men my witnesses, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah, son of Jeberechiah."
And this was not all Isaiah did. He set his prophecy down in writing in a new book so that, after his prophecy was fulfilled, what he had written might bear witness against the Jews of what the inspired prophet predicted to them a long time before. This is wily he did not simply write it in a book, but in a new book, a book capable of staying sturdy for a long time without easily falling apart, a book which could last until the events described in it would come to pass.
I shall prove that this is true, and that God foretold everything which was going to befall the Jews. I shall do so not only from what Isaiah said but from all the things which happened to them, both good and bad. Indeed, the Jews three times endured bondage, very harsh and most severe: but none of these came upon them unpredicted. God saw to it that each captivity was prophesied. He carefully foretold the place, the duration, the kind, the form of their misfortune, the return from slavery, and everything else.
First, I shall speak of the prediction of their slavery in Egypt. Surely, in speaking to Abraham, God said:
"Know for certain that your posterity will be strangers in a land not their own;
they shall be subjected to slavery and shall be oppressed four hundred years. But I will judge that nation which they shall serve, said God. And in the fourth generation they shall return here with great possessions."
Do you see how he mentioned the number of years?
Four hundred. The nature of their slavery?
He did not simply say:
"They shall be subjected to slavery,"
"They shall be oppressed."
Listen to Moses' explanation of their misfortune. He said:
"No straw is supplied to your servants, and still we are told to make bricks."
And each day they were flogged so that you may learn the meaning of the words:
"They shall be subjected to slavery and shall be oppressed."
When He said:
"I will judge that nation which they shall serve,"
He was speaking of the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, which Moses described in his canticle when he said:
"Horse and chariot he has cast into the sea."
Then he also mentioned the manner of their return when he said that they will return here with great possessions:
"Each of you take from his neighbor and comrade gold and silver vessels."
Since they had been subjected to slavery a long time and had received no pay, God permitted them to make this demand of the Egyptians even though their masters might be unwilling to pay. And the prophet exclaimed and said:
"And he led them forth laden with silver and gold, with not a weakling among their tribes."
So here we have one bondage which was precisely predicted.
Come now and let us turn our discussion to the second captivity. What one is that?
The bondage in Babylon. Jeremiah certainly foretold it exactly when he said:
"Thus says the Lord: Only after seventy years have elapsed for Babylon will I visit you and fulfill for you my promise to bring you back to this place. I shall change your bondage;
I shall gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you, says the Lord, and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you."
Do you see how here again he spoke of the city, the number of years, and the places from which and to which he was going to lead them?
This explains why Daniel did not make his prayer for the Jews until he saw that the seventy years had elapsed. Who says so?
It was Daniel himself, when he said:
"I, Daniel, took care of the king's affairs. But I was appalled at the vision, nor was there anyone to understand it."
"And I understood in the Scriptures the counting of the years of which the Lord spoke to the prophet Jeremiah: that for the ruins of Jerusalem seventy years must be fulfilled. I turned to the Lord God, seeking to pray and entreat him with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes."
Did you hear how this bondage was foretold and how the prophet did not dare to bring his prayer and entreaty to God before the appointed time?
He feared that his prayer might be rash and in vain. He was afraid he would hear what Jeremiah had heard:
"Do not pray for this his people, and do not make demand of me for them for I shall not hear your voice."
But when he saw that the sentence pronounced against them had been fulfilled and that the time was summoning them to return, he did pray for them. And he did not merely pray, he made his entreaty with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
The prophet acted toward God in a way quite common among men. When we see that a master has cast his slaves into prison for many serious crimes, we do not make a plea for them immediately, nor at the outset, nor at the beginning of their punishment. We let them be punished for a few days;
then we go to the master with our plea and we have time working on our side. This is exactly what the prophet did. Although the penalty the Jews paid was not as severe as their sins deserved, nonetheless they did pay it. And it was only then that the prophet went to God to plead on their behalf.
If you would like to hear it, let us listen to the prayer he made for them. He said:
"I confessed and said, 'Lord great and awesome God, you who keep your covenant and your mercy toward those who love you and observe your commandments!' What are you doing, Daniel?
When you intercede for those who have sinned and quarreled with God, are you talking about men who keep God's laws?
Do those who transgress his commandments deserve pardon?
What did Daniel say?
"I am not making this prayer for their sake but for the sake of their forefathers, for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The promise and pledge was made to those who kept God's commandments. These men, then, have no just claim to salvation;
this is why I mention their forefathers.
Daniel was not speaking of the Jews in bondage when he said:
"You who keep your covenant and your mercy toward those who love you and observe your commandments."
That is why he immediately added:
"We have sinned, acted lawlessly, done evil, and departed from your commandments and your laws. We have not obeyed your servants the prophets."
For there is one defense left to sinners after they have sinned: to confess their sins.
Do you now please consider the virtue of the just man and the arrogance of the Jews. He who is conscious of no evil in himself pronounces a most severe judgment on himself when he says:
"We have sinned, acted lawlessly, done evil."
But those who were fulfilled with ten thousand evils did quite the opposite when they said:
"We kept your commandments;
and now we call strangers blessed and evildoers are exalted. Just men usually act modestly after they have done just deeds;
the wicked generally exalt themselves after they have sinned. The man who was conscious of no wickedness in himself said:
"We have acted lawlessly, we have departed from your laws";
those who are aware of the burden of ten thousand sins say:
"We have kept your commandments."
I tell you this so that we may shun the sinner and emulate the just.
After he ran through their lawless acts, the prophet next spoke of the penalty they paid, because he wanted to use this to win God over to pity them. For he said:
"And there came upon us the malediction recorded in the law of Moses, the servant of God, because we sinned."
What is that malediction?
Do you wish us to read it?
'"If you will not serve the Lord your God, I shall lead forth against you a shameless national l, a nation whose tongue you will not understand, and you will be few in number."
The three boys in Babylon also made this same point clear when they showed that the kind of punishment visited upon them came about because of what they had done. They made confession to God for the sins of all Jews when they said:
"You have handed us over to our enemies, lawless and hateful rebels;
to an unjust king;
the worst in all the world. Do you see how God fulfilled the curse which said:
"You will be few in number?"
And the one which said:
"I shall lead forth against you a shameless nation?
This is the very thing which Daniel was hinting at when he said:
"There came upon us evils such as never occurred under heaven according to what happened in Israel."
What evils were these?
Mothers ate their own children. Moses foretold this, but Jeremiah shows that it came true. For Moses said:
"The refined and delicate woman, so delicate and refined that she would not venture to put her foot upon the step, shall put her hand to the unholy table and eat her own children."
But Jeremiah shows that this came true when he said:
"The hands of compassionate women boiled their own children."
But even after he had spoken of the sills of those who had sinned and after he brought into the open the punishment they endured, he did not ask that this should save them. See, then, the prudence of the servant. For after he had made clear that they had not yet paid the penalty their sins deserved, nor had their sufferings discharged the debt for their offenses, he then fled to the mercy of God and the loving-kindness of his way and says:
"And now, O Lord, our God, who led your people out of the land of Egypt, and made a name for yourself even to this day, we have sinned and acted against your law."
What he is saying is:
"You did not save the Jews of old for their good actions
but because you saw their affliction and distress, because you heard their cry. In the same way, free us from our present evils because of your loving-kindness and because of that alone. We have no other claim to salvation."
So he spoke and, after many a lament, he brought forward the city of Jerusalem, like a captive woman, and said:
"Let your face shine upon your sanctuary. Give ear, O my God, and listen, open your eyes and see our ruins and the ruins of your city, in which your name is invoked."
For when he looked among the men and saw no man who could make God propitious, he turned to the buildings and brought tip the city. He showed its desolation and, after he completed his discourse on these things, he made God propitious. And this became clear from the events which followed.
But back to what I was talking about. For I must return again to the topic I proposed. Yet I had good reason for bringing in these digressions: I waited to give your minds a brief breathing space, since they were growing weary from the constant conflicts with the Jews. But let me return to the point where I departed from my topic to speak of these matters. Let me prove that the evils which were going to overtake the Jews had been accurately predicted by God's inspiration. My discourse had already shown that those two captivities came upon the Jews neither by chance nor unexpectedly.
It remains for me now to bring up the third captivity. After I have done that, I must speak about the bondage which now encompasses them;
I must give clear proof that no prophet ever predicted that there would be any freedom or escape from the ills which now encircle them.
What, then, is this third captivity?
It is the bondage that came upon them in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes. After Alexander, king of the Macedonians, conquered the Persian king, Darius, he took over the kingdom. After Alexander died, four kings followed him to the throne. Antiochus was the son of one of Alexander's four successors. Many years later Antiochus burned the temple, laid waste the holy of holies, put an end to the sacrifices, subjected the Jews, and destroyed their whole state.
Daniel foretold all this with the greatest accuracy, even to the very day. He foretold when it would be, how, by whom, the manner of it, where it would find all end, and what change it would bring about. You will understand this better after you have heard the vision which the prophet set forth in the form of a parable. The ram is Darius, the Persian king;
the goat is the Greek king, Alexander of Macedon;
the four horns are Alexander's successors;
the last horn is Antiochus himself. But it will be better for you to hear the vision itself.
"For I saw in a vision and I was silting at the river Ubal."
(The spot ill question he calls by a Persian name.)
"And I looked up and saw standing by the Ubal a ram with his horns held high;
and the one horn was higher than' the other, and the high one mounted to the very heights. And I saw the ram butting toward the sea, north, and south. No beast will stand before it, nor was there anyone to rescue a beast from its grasp;
it did what it pleased and became very powerful. And as I sat, I understood.'"
He was speaking of the Persian power and domain which overran the whole earth.
Next he spoke of Alexander of Macedon and said:
"Behold, a he-goat came from the southwest across the whole earth without touching the ground. And the goat had a horn to be seen midway between his eyes."
He then spoke of Alexander's encounter with Darius and the victory won by Macedonian might.
"The goat came up to the horned ram, grew savage, struck the ram,"-I must cut short the account-"broke both his horns and there was no one to rescue the ram from his power."
After that Daniel spoke of Alexander's death and the four kings who succeeded him:
"And at the height of its power the great horn was shattered, and in its place there came up four others, facing the four winds of heaven."
Daniel then passed from this point to the reign of Antiochus and showed that he came from one of those four when he said:
"Out of one of them came one strong horn, and it became very powerful toward the south and the east."
Daniel then went on to show that Antiochus destroyed the Jewish commonwealth and way of life when he said:
"And through him the sacrifice was disordered by transgression;
and it came to pass. that he prospered. And the holy place will be laid waste and sin replaced the sacrifice. After' the altar was destroyed and the holy places trampled underfoot, he set up an idol within and offered unlawful sacrifices to the demons;
righteousness was cast to the ground. He both did this and prospered.
Then again, for a second time, he spoke of the same reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, the bondage, and the capture and desolation of the temple;
this time, however, he gave the date of these events. He again began, toward the end of the book, with the empire of Alexander and described all the intervening accomplishments of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies in their wars against each other, the exploits of their generals, the strategies, the victories, the armies, the battles fought on land and sea. When he came to Antiochus he ended by saying:
"His armed forces shall rise up, defile the sanctuary, and remove the continuity"
(and by the continuity he meant the uninterrupted daily sacrifices)
"and in its place they will put an abomination. By treachery they will lead off those who violate the covenant"
(that is, the transgressors among the Jews whom they will remove and keep with themselves);
"but the people who know their God shall take strong action"
(he means the events in the time of the Maccabees: Judas. Simon, and John).
"And the wise men of the people will have understanding of many things but they will fall by the sword and by fire"
(here again he describes the burning of Jerusalem)
"and by exile and the plunder days. And when they fall, they will receive a little help"
(he means that, in the midst of those evils, they will be able to draw a breath and rise from the dread things which have overtaken them),
"but many will join them out of treachery. And they shall fall from the number of the wise?° He said this to show that even many of those who stood firm will fall.
Next, Daniel gave the reason why God permitted them to be involved in such trials. What is the reason?
"To purge them, to choose them, and to make them white until the time of the end."
This is why, said Daniel, God permitted these evils so as to cleanse them and to show who among them was genuine and approved. In telling of the same king's power and might
"He shall do as he pleases, he shall exalt himself and become very powerful. In speaking of the king's blasphemous spirit, he went on to say:
"He shall utter excessive haughty thoughts against the God of gods: he shall prosper until the wrath be accomplished."' Daniel was here making it clear that it was not of Antiochus' own will but because of God's wrath against the Jews that he was so victorious.
After Daniel told in many other passages what evils the king would bring on Egypt and Palestine, how he would return, at whose bidding, and under the pressure of what cause, the prophet then recounted a change of fortune and said that, after enduring all these evils, the Jews would find some aid from an angel sent to help them as
"At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian over the sons of your people. It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began on earth until that time. At that time your people will escape, everyone who is found written ill the book."
By that he meant those deserving to be saved.
But I have not yet given a proof for the question I am investigating. What is that question?
That God set a time limit for those involved in these trials, just as he set a limit of four hundred years for the exile in Egypt and seventy years for the bondage in Babylon. Let us see, then, if he set any time limit for this third slavery. Where can we find the answer to this?
In what Daniel said in the verses following those I discussed. (2)
Since he had heard of the many great evils which would befall the Jews -the burning of Jerusalem. the toppling of their state, the bondage of his people he then wanted to learn what would be the end of these trials, and if there would be any change in their disastrous condition. So he asked the angel who had appeared to him and said:
"Lord, what is to be the outcome of this?
.... Come here, Daniel,"
"because the words are to be kept secret and sealed"
(indicating the obscurity of the words)
"until the time of the end. Then the angel mentioned the reason why God consented to these evils:
"As long as many are chosen, made white, and purged, as long as the lawless act lawlessly, as long as all the unholy ones shall not understand and the holy ones do understand."
Next, ill predicting the length of time these evils would last, Daniel's angel said:
"From the time of the changing of the continuity."
The daily sacrifice was called the continuity, for what is continuous is frequent and unceasing. And among the Jews it was customary to offer sacrifice to God in the evening and about dawn each day;
this is why they called that daily sacrifice a continuity.
But when Antiochus came, he completely did away with this practice. That is what the angel meant when he said:
"From the time of the changing of the continuity"
(that is, from the time the sacrifice was abolished)
"there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days,"
that is, three and a half years and a little more. Then to show that there will be an end and deliverance from these woes, the angel went on to say:
"Blessed is the man who stands firm and attains one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days,"
adding forty-five days to the one thousand and two hundred and ninety days. He did this because it happened that the conflict lasted a month and a half and in that time the victory became complete, as did also the deliverance of the Jews from the evils which weighed heavy upon them. And when he said:
"Blessed is the man who stands firm one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days,"
he revealed their deliverance. He did not simply say,
"the man who attains,"
"the man who stands firm and attains."
The reason for this is that many of the unholy ones saw the change, but he does not call them happy;
he calls blessed only those who gave witness during the time of troubles, who did not desert their religion, and who then found abatement of their ills. This is why he did not simply say:
"the man who attains,"
"the man who stands firm and attains."
What could be clearer than this?
Do you see how very carefully the prophet foretold their captivity and release from bondage?
He gave the time not in terms of years, or months, but to the very day. That you may know that my words are not based on mere conjecture, come, let us bring in another witness to what I have said, a witness whom the Jews regard with the highest trust, I mean Josephus, who has made their disasters a subject of tragic history and who has paraphrased the entire Old Testament. He was born after Christ's coming and, in speaking of the captivity predicted by Christ, he also discussed this captivity and set forth Daniel's vision about the ram, the goat, the four horns, and the last horn which arose after the others. I do not wish anyone to be suspicious of what I have said;
come, then, and let us compare his words with mine.
Josephus praised Daniel and showed exceedingly high admiration for hint, setting him above all the other prophets. When he came to the story of Daniel's vision, he had this to say. Daniel left us a book in which he made clear the accuracy and fidelity to truth's of his prophecy. For he tells us that after he and some companions had gone forth to a plain at Susa, the metropolis of Persia, suddenly the earth quaked and shook violently. His friends fled and he was left alone. He fell face down and was fixed fast to the spot leaning on both hands. Then someone touched him and at the same time ordered him to get up and see what would happen to his people after many generations
Daniel then arose and was shown a large ram with many horns growing from his head, but the last horn was the highest. Then he looked to the west and saw a goat borne through the air. The goat rushed at the ram, struck him twice with his horns, knocked him to the ground, and trampled on him. Next he saw the goat grown larger and putting forth a very large horn from his forehead. This born was broken off, but four others grew up, turned to the four winds. As Josephus told the story, Daniel saw a smaller
horn rise up from these and it grew strong. God, who showed Daniel the vision, was telling him that war would come upon his nation, that Jerusalem would be taken by storm, the temple would be pillaged, the sacrifices would be hindered and cut short, and that this would last for one thousand two hundred and ninety days?
Daniel wrote that he had seen these events in the plain at Susa;
he also made it clear that God explained to him what he had seen in the vision. God said that the ram signified the empire of the Persians and Medes, and the horns, those who would hold royal power. He further said that the last horn signified that there would come a king who would surpass those others in wealth and glory. God then explained that the goat would be a ruler from among the Greeks who would twice clash with the Persian king, defeat him in battle, and take over all his empire. The first large horn on the goat's forehead signified the first king. After this fell off, the growth of the four horns and the turning of each of these to the four regions of the earth was a sign that, after the death of the first king, who had neither sons nor family, his successors would divide the empire among them and would rule the world for many years.
And from these successors, the explanation continued, there would arise a king who would make war on the Jewish laws, take away their from of government, pillage their temple, and prevent their sacrifices from being offered for three years. And it did happen that the nation of our fathers underwent these sufferings under Antiochus Epiphanes just as Daniel had seen many years before and had written would come to pass.
What could be clearer than this?
Now it is time, unless you think I am making you weary, now it is time to come back to the question we proposed for investigation, namely, the Jews' present slavery and their bondage of today. This was the reason for going through all their exiles. Pay careful heed to me, for our contest is not concerned with ordinary, everyday matters. At the Olympic contests people have the patience to sit from midnight to noon waiting to see who will win the crown;
they take the hot rays of the sun on their bare heads, and do not leave before the winners are decided. Our contest today is not for an Olympic prize but for an incorruptible crown. It would be a shame, then, for us to grow weary and give in to our fatigue.
What I have said has sufficiently proved that the three captivities were predicted, the first lasting for four hundred years, the second for seventy, and the third for three and a half years. Now let us talk about the present bondage of the Jews. To show that the prophet also predicted this one, I shall offer as my witness that same Josephus, who is on the side of the Jews. Listen to what he says subsequence to his account of Daniel's vision. He said:
"In the same manner Daniel also wrote about the empire of the Romans and that they would capture Jerusalem and devastate the temple."
Please consider that even if the man who wrote that was a Jew, he did not, on that account, let himself emulate the obstinacy of you Jews. After he said that Jerusalem would be captured, he did not dare to go on to say that it would be rebuilt, nor to mention a definite time for its restoration, because he knew that the prophet had not fixed a definite time. Yet when Josephus spoke previously of the victory of Antiochus and his devastation of Jerusalem, he did state how many days and years the captivity was going to last.
But Josephus said nothing of this sort about the bondage under the Romans. He wrote that Jerusalem and the temple would be despoiled, but he did not add that what had been devastated would be restored. For he saw that the prophet had not added anything about such a restoration. Josephus did say:
"All these things, as God revealed them to him, Daniel left behind in his writings, so that those who read them and observe how they have come to pass must wonder that Daniel was so honored by God."
But let us consider where it was that Daniel said that the temple
would be despoiled. After he had made his prayer in sackcloth and ashes, Gabriel came to him and said:
"Seventy weeks are cut short
for your people and for your holy city. Look,"
the Jews will say,
"he did mention the time."
Yes, but the time is not the time of the captivity;
what is mentioned is the length of time after which the captivity is going to come upon them. It is one thing to speak of how long the captivity will last and another thing to state the number of years before it will arrive and be upon them.
"Seventy weeks are cut short for your people";
no longer does God say:
"for my people."
And yet the prophet said:
"Let your face shine upon your people,"
but God thereafter was estranged from them because of the bold crime they were going to commit. Presently the prophet gave the reason:
"Until transgression will stop and sin will end?
What does he mean by the words:
"Until sin will end?"
What the prophet is saying is that the Jews are committing many sills, but the end of their evil deeds will be the day they slay their Master. Christ also said this:
"Fill up the measure of your fathers."
"You killed your servants,"
"Now add to that the blood of your Master."
See how the thoughts of Christ and Daniel agree, Christ said:
the prophet says:
"Until transgression will stop and sin will end."
That no sin thereafter is left to commit.
"And until everlasting justice will be introduced."
But what is everlasting justice except the justification given by Christ?
"And until the sealing of the vision and the prophet and a holy of holies be anointed,"
that is, until prophecies shall cease. For this is what is meant by
namely, to bring anointing to an end, to bring vision to an end. This is why Christ said:
"The law and the prophets until John."
Do you see how this threatens utter desolation and the payment for sins and acts of injustice?
For God did not threaten that he will forgive the sins of the Jews but that he will execute vengeance upon then.
And when did this happen?
When were prophecies completely done away with?
When was anointing ended so as never again to return?
Even if we be silent, the stones will shout out, because the voice of the facts is so clear. For we could not mention a time at which these predictions were accomplished other than the long and many years already past and the years which are going to be longer and more numerous still. Daniel put it more precisely when he said:
"And you will know and understand that from the going forth of the word of the answer that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt until the coming of an anointed leader, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.
Pay careful attention to me here, because here lies the whole question. The seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks make four hundred and eighty-three years, for he is here speaking not of weeks of days or months but weeks of years. From Cyrus to Antiochus Epiphanes and the captivity there were three hundred and ninety-four years. However, Daniel makes it clear that he is not talking about the destruction of the temple under Antiochus but the subsequent destruction under Pompey, Vespasian, and Titus. He further extends the time and instructs us from what point we must start counting by showing us that our reckoning is not to start from the day of the return from captivity. From what point must we reckon?
"From the going forth of the word of the answer that
Jerusalem was to be rebuilt."
Jerusalem, however, was not rebuilt under Cyrus but under Artaxerxes, who was called the Long-handed. For after the return of the Jews, Cambyses was ruler, then the Magians, and after them Darius Hystaspes. Next came Darius' son, Xerxes, and after him Artabanus. After Artabanus, Artaxerxes the Long-handed, ruled Persia. During the twentieth year of his kingship Nehemiah returned and restored Jerusalem. Ezra has given us an exact account of this. So then, if we count four hundred and eighty-three years from this point, we will surely come to the time of the last destruction. And so it is that the prophet said:
"It shall be rebuilt with streets and a surrounding wall."
Therefore what he says is this: after the city has been rebuilt and has recovered its own appearance and form, count the seventy weeks from that point and you will see the slavery which has not yet come to an end.
To make still more clear this very point, namely, that the evils which now grip the Jews will not come to an end, he goes on to say:
"After the seventy weeks
the anointing will be utterly destroyed and there will be no judgment on it;
he will destroy the city and the sanctuary with the help of a leader who comes and they will be cut off as in a deluge?
There will be no remnant left, nor a root to grow up again,
"until the end of a war which is brought to an end by the vanishing of the people."
And again, in speaking of this slavery, he said:
"The incense and the oblation will be abolished and, furthermore, on the holy place will be the abomination of desolation: and accomplishment shall be given to the desolation until the end of time."
When you hear him say:
"Until the end of time,"
what else is left for you Jews to look forward to?
What does this mean?
that is, in addition to what he has said, that is, in addition to the destruction of the sacrifice and the oblation, there will be some other greater evil. What is that evil?
"On the holy place will be the abomination of desolation."
By the holy place he means the temple;
by the abomination of desolation he means the statue set up in the temple by Antiochus, who destroyed the city.
And he went on to say:
"Desolation until the end."
It is true that Christ came into the world according to the flesh long after the day of Antiochus Epiphanes, but when he prophesied the captivity to come, he showed that Daniel had predicted it. This was his reason for saying:
"When you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place-let him who reads understand.' The Jews called every image and statue made by man an abomination. So by his veiled reference to that statue, Daniel showed both when and under whom the captivity would take place. As I showed before, Josephus also assured us that these words were spoken about the Romans.
What is there for me to say to you now that has not already been said?
When the prophets predicted the other captivities, they spoke not only of the captivity but also of the length of time it was appointed for each bondage to last;
for this present captivity, however, they set no time but, to the contrary, said that the desolation would endure until the end. And to prove that what they said is true, come now and let me offer as witnesses the events themselves.
If the Jews had never attempted to rebuild the temple, they could say:
"If we had wished to set our hands to the task and to begin to rebuild it, we could by all means have completed the task."
But now I shall show that not once, nor twice, but three times they did attempt it and three times, like wrestlers in the Olympic games, they were thrown to the ground. Therefore there can be no dispute or question but that the Church has won the victory crown.
Yet what kind of men were they who set their hands to the task?
They were men who constantly resisted the Holy Spirit, revolutionists bent on stirring up sedition. After the destruction which occurred under Vespasian and Titus, these Jews rebelled during the reign of Hadrian and tried to go back to the old commonwealth and way of life. What they failed to realize was that they were fighting against the decree of God, who had ordered that Jerusalem remain forever in ruins.
But it is impossible for a man to wage war on God and win So it was that, when these Jews made their attack against the Emperor, they forced him again to destroy Jerusalem completely. For Hadrian came and utterly subdued them;
he obliterated every remnant of their city. To prevent the Jews from making such an impudent attempt in the future, he set up a statue of himself. But he realized that, with the passage of time, his statue would one day fall. So he gave his own name to the ruined city and, in this way, burned on the Jews a permanent brand which would mark their defeat and testify to the impudence of their revolt. Since he was called Aelius Hadrianus, he ordained that from this name the city was to be called Aelia and to this day it is called by the name of the Emperor who conquered it and destroyed it.
Do you see the first attempt of the impudent Jews?
Now look at the next. They tried the same thing in the time of Constantine. But the Emperor saw what they tried to do, cut off their ears, and left on their bodies this mark of their disobedience. He then had them led around everywhere, like runaway slaves and scoundrels, so all might see their mutilated bodies and always think twice before ever attempting such a revolt.
"Yet these things happened very long ago,"
the Jews will say. But I tell you that the incident is well known to those of us who are somewhat on in years and are already old men.
But what I am going to tell you is clear and obvious even to the very young. For it did not happen in the time of Hadrian or Constantine, but during our own lifetime, in the reign of the Emperor of twenty years ago. Julian, who surpassed all the emperors in irreligion, invited the Jews to sacrifice to idols in an attempt to drag them to Iris own level of ungodliness. He used their old way of sacrifice as an excuse and said:
"In the days of your ancestors, God was worshipped in this way."
They refused his invitation, but, at that time, they did admit to the very things I just lately proved to you, namely, that they were not allowed to offer their sacrifices outside Jerusalem. Their answer was that those who offered any sacrifice whatsoever in a foreign land were violating the Law. So they said to the Emperor:
"If you wish to see us offer sacrifices, give us back Jerusalem, rebuild the temple, show us the holy of holies, restore the altar, and we will offer sacrifices again just as we did before."
These abominable and shameless men had the impudence to ask these firings from an impious pagan and to invite him to rebuild their sanctuary with his polluted hands. They failed to see that they were attempting the impossible. They did not realize that if human hands had put an end to those things, then
human hands could get them back for them. But it was God who destroyed their city, and no human power could ever change what God had decreed.
"For what God, the Holy One, has planned who shall dissipate?
His hand is stretched out;
who will turn it back?"
What God has reared up and wishes to remain, no man can tear down. In the same way, what he has destroyed and wishes to stay destroyed, no man can rebuild.
I grant you that the Emperor did give you Jews back your temple and did build you an altar, just as you foolishly suspected he would. But he could not send down to you the heavenly fire from on high, could he?
Yet if you could not have this fire, your sacrifice had to be an abomination and unclean. This is why the sons of Aaron perished;
they brought ill a foreign fire.
Nonetheless, these Jews, who were blind to all things, called on the Emperor for help and begged him to aid them in undertaking to rebuild the temple. The Emperor, for his part, spared no expense, sent engineers from all over the empire to oversee the work, summoned craftsmen from every land;
he left nothing undone, nothing untried. He overlooked nothing but worked quietly and a little at a time to bring the Jews to offer sacrifice;
in this way he expected that it would be easy for them to go from sacrifice to the worship of idols. At the same time, in his mad folly, he was hoping to cancel out the sentence passed by Christ which forbade the rebuilding of the temple. But tie who catches the wise in their craftiness straightway made clear to him by His action that the decrees of God are mightier than any man's and that works get their strength from the word of God.
They started to work in earnest on that forbidden task, they removed a great mound of earth and began to lay bare the foundations. They were just about to start building when suddenly fire leaped forth from the foundations and completely consumed not only a great number of the workmen but even the stones piled up there to support the structure. This put a stop to the untimely obstinacy of those who had undertaken the project. Many of the Jews, too, who had seen what had happened, were astonished and struck with shame. The Emperor Julian had been madly eager to finish the work. But when he heard what had happened, he was afraid that, if he went on with it, he might call down the fire on his own head. So he and the whole Jewish people withdrew in defeat.
Even today, if you go into Jerusalem, you will see the bare foundation, if you ask why this is so, you will hear no explanation other than the one I gave. We are all witnesses to this, for it happened not long ago but in our own time. Consider how conspicuous our victory is. This did not happen in the times of the good emperors;
no one can say that the Christians came and prevented the work from being finished. It happened at a time when our religion was subject to persecution. when all our lives were in danger, when every man was afraid to speak, when paganism flourished. Some of the faithful hid in their homes, others fled the marketplaces and moved to the deserts. That is when these events occurred. So the Jews have no excuse left to them for their impudence.
Are you Jews still disputing the question?
Do you not see that you are condemned by the testimony of what Christ and the prophets predicted and which the facts have proved?
But why should this surprise me?
That is the kind of people you are. From the beginning you have been
shameless and obstinate, ready to fight at all times against obvious facts.
Do you wish me to bring forward against you other prophets who clearly state the same fact, namely, that your religion will come to an end, that ours will flourish and spread the message of Christ to every corner of the world, that a different kind of sacrifice will be introduced which will put an end to yours?
At least listen to Malachi who came later than the other prophets. Let me not at this time bring in the testimony of Isaiah and Jeremiah or the other prophets who came before the captivity. I do not want you Jews to say that their predictions came true during the bondage. Let me bring forward a prophet who came after the return from Babylon and after the restoration of Jerusalem, a prophet who clearly predicted what was to happen to you.
The Jews did return from Babylon, they did recover their city, they did rebuild their temple, and they did offer sacrifices. But it was only after all this that Malachi predicted the coming of the present desolation and the abolition of the Jewish sacrifices. This is what he said, speaking in God's behalf:
"Shall I for your sakes accept your persons?
says the Lord Almighty. For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is glorified among the nations;
and everywhere they bring incense to my name, and a pure offering. But you have profaned it."
When do you Jews think that this happened?
When was incense offered to God in every place?
When a pure offering?
You could not mention a time other than the time after the coming of Christ. Suppose Malachi did not speak of our time, suppose he did not speak of our sacrifice but of the Jewish sacrifice. Then his prophecy will be opposed to the Law. Moses had forbidden the Jews to bring their sacrifice to any place other than that which the Lord God would choose, and then he confined their sacrifices to one particular place. If Malachi said that sacrifices were going to be offered everywhere and that it would be a pure offering, he was contradicting and opposing what Moses had said.
But there is no contradiction nor quarrel. For Moses spoke about one kind of sacrifice, and Malachi later predicted another. What makes this clear?
It is clear both from the prophet's words and also from many other indications. The first indication has to do with the place. For Malachi predicted that the sacrifice would be offered not in one city, as in the time of the Jewish sacrifice, but
"from the rising of the sun even to its setting."
The second indication has to do with the kind of sacrifice. By calling it
"a pure offering,"
he showed the kind of sacrifice of which he spoke.
A further indication deals with those who are going to offer this sacrifice. He did not say
"among the nations."
He did not want you to think that the worship given in this sacrifice would be confined to one, two, or three cities;
therefore, he did not simply say
but from the rising of the sun, even to its setting. By these words he showed that every corner of the earth seen by the sun will receive the message of the gospel. He called it a
as opposed to the old sacrifice, which was impure. And it was-not by its own nature but because of the disposition and intention of those who offered it. This is why the Lord said:
"Your incense is loathsome to me."
And yet, in other respects, if you should put the two sacrifices side by side to compare them, you will find that the difference between them is so great and unmeasurable that, according to the nature of comparison, only this new sacrifice is properly called pure. Paul contrasted the old Law with the new Law of grace and said that the old Law had been glorified but is now without glory, because of the surpassing glory of the new Law. I, too, would make so bold as to say in this case that, if the new sacrifice should be compared to the old, only this new sacrifice would properly be called pure. For it is not offered by smoke and fat, nor by blood and the price of ransom, but by the grace of the Spirit.
Now hear another prophet who made the same prediction and said that the worship of God would not be confined to one place, but that the time would come when all men would know him. It is Zephaniah who said:
"The Lord shall appear to all nations, and will make all the gods of the nations waste away;
then each from its own place shall adore Him. Yet this was forbidden to the Jews since Moses commanded them to worship in one place.
You hear that the prophets foretold and predicted that men will no longer be bound to come from all over the earth to offer sacrifice in one city or in one place, but that each one will sit in his own home and pay service and honor to God. What time other than the present could you mention as fulfilling these prophecies?
At any rate listen to how the gospels and the Apostle Paul agree with Zephaniah. The prophet said:
"The Lord shall appear";
"The grace of God our Savior has appeared to all men instructing us,
"To all nations";
"To all men."
"He will make their gods waste away;"
"Instructing us, in order that rejecting ungodliness and worldly lusts, we may live temperately and justly."
Again, Christ said to the Samaritan woman:
"Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. God is spirit, and they who worship
him must worship in spirit and in truth.
" I so When Christ said this, he removed from us for the future the obligation to observe one place of worship and introduced a more lofty and spiritual way of worship.
These arguments would suffice to establish that, for the future, there will be no sacrifice, no priesthood, no king among the Jews. Above all, the destruction of the city has proved all these points. But I could also bring forward the prophets as my witnesses, and they distinctly said the same thing. But I see that you have become weary with the length of my discourse;
I am afraid that you may think I am foolish and rash to keep annoying you. For this reason I promise that I will speak to you on this same subject at another time.
Meanwhile, I ask you to rescue your brothers, to set them free from their error, and to bring them back to the truth. There is no benefit in listening to me unless the example of your deeds will match my words. What I said was not for your sakes but for the sake of those who are sick. I want them to learn these facts from you and to free themselves from their wicked association with the Jews. I want them then to show themselves sincere and genuine Christians. I want them to shun the evil gatherings of the Jews and their synagogues, both in the city and in the suburbs, because these are robbers' dens and dwellings of demons?
So then, do not neglect the salvation of those brothers. Be meddlesome, be busybodies, but bring the sick ones to Christ. In this way, we shall receive a far greater reward for our good deeds both in the present life and in the life to come. And we shall receive it by the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom be glory to the Father together with the Holy Spirit, the giver of life, now and forever, world without end. Amen.
Early Church Fathers.