Friday, July 23, 2010

The Sluggard

By Ray Gano
Proverbs  6:6 (KJV)  Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
Folks, if you are easily offended, then please stop right here. The following article is one of great concern, and believe it or not, one of great love.
I look out at the horizon today and the direction this country as well as the world is going, and I have to say that a storm is coming like no other.
Now I want to make very clear that I am not a prophet nor a son of a prophet. I do not stand on dreams,  visions nor "words of knowledge." What I do stand on is God's Word in knowing what the future holds.
To be honest, we view our world in two different ways.
You can look at this world and see great opportunity, or you can look at this world and see great despair. It is up to you on how you view it. I guess it depends on what sort of person you are. Do you see the glass half empty or half full?
This has got to be one of the most painful articles I have ever written, but I feel that what I need to say, is what needs to be said.
Christians, we have turned into a gaggle of slothful sluggards, and I group myself into this as well because I know that with all I do, there is still more of myself that I could give to the Lord.
 I have been feeling a conviction like no other. We as the church have failed when it comes to "occupying till HE returns," and that is a fact.
Here we are living on the razor's edge and yet we are asleep at the preverbal wheel.
Scripture says…
Proverbs 6:9 (KJV)  How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
Look at where this nation is going, the path that we are on, the direction we are being led.
People, don't we see where this is headed?
It is like 90% of the church has just given up and rolled over. The fight is gone, the battle is lost, the white flag has been given over to the enemy.
Is it just me who feels this way?
Listen, I am going to harp on something that I know that I am going to get a ton of flack for, but I feel that it needs to be said.
But before I make my statement, I need to clarify one thing. I firmly stand on the Lord's imminent return. My ears are perked  every moment in hopes to hear that triumphant trump sounding.
Thing is, that so many have used this as an excuse, instead of the impetus for action.
Yes, I am talking about the rapture.
It seems like there are many out there that have forgotten why we are here. They have forgotten the great commission and the great commandment. They have focused on things that really do not matter, over the very souls of the loved ones we could effect for the Lord.
 It is like they have rolled over and said "WHO CARES.. The rapture is coming, so let's eat, drink for tomorrow is not. Why?... because the rapture is coming."
It is like people are using this as a crutch and excuse to be complacent instead of leveraging it for strength to get out there and share the gospel in all earnest.
Folks, we hear it all the time, time is short, but it seems like we have been lulled into some sort of sluggard's stupor. We are like a deer in the headlights and don’t know what to do.
I was thinking back on the Boy Scout motto : Be Prepared.
But for what?
Be prepared for anything. Live a life of anticipation as well as urgency.
Scripture tells us to "Be Ready Always"
1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
We need to be ready always to share the gospel in good times and in bad.
But what is sad is that it seems that we have lost our "fight within us."
What we need to do is fight, fight for tomorrow, fight for that loved one across town, fight for that co-worker. We have got to shake off this complacency and we have got to stand and fight.
Now here is where I might upset some of you.
But Ray, I stand on Matthew 6: 25 & 31
Matthew 6:25  Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Matthew 6:31  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
Folks, using this verse so that you do not have to do anything is taking scripture out of context.  People are using God's Word for an excuse for laziness.
What many people are doing is making God out to be the great welfare agent in the sky and sugar daddy.
He is neither of those.
How does God provide for all our needs?  Well, He sure doesn’t plant $20.00 bill trees in the back yard, nor have I witnessed pennies from heaven. How God provides his blessings is opportunities set before us.  Because we are being diligent for Him through the work we do for the Kingdom, he will provide for all our needs.
We need to work, prepare and always be ready.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (KJV)  For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Proverbs 30:25 (KJV)  The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;
So leaning upon Matthew 6: 25 & 31 as your excuse has turned many into sluggards.
I want to speak to the men for a moment here.
Men, read the following and ask yourself, what are you doing about it?
1 Timothy  5:8 (KJV)  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
You know what really gets my goat is when I hear folks say that I am some radical survivalist gun toting nut for having the concern to make sure that my family is taken care of.
I often here "Ray - You just don’t trust God to provide and besides look around you, the rapture is coming any day now."
So is it wrong to put food "insurance" in place?
Many have home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, health insurance, renters insurance so forth and so  on. How many people are willing to give that up because the rapture is going to take place in the next few days?
Where is your faith now?
Don't YOU trust God?
Why do you have all these things in place if you are quoting  me
Mat 6:31  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
In fact,  if you quote Matthew 6:31, then also why not  "sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me?" (Luke 18:22)
Do you see what I am getting at? It seems like there is hypocrisy going on.
What guarantee can you give me that we will NOT be here this time next year?
What about 3, 5, 10 years from now?
"Oh Ray, the rapture is going to come and God will take us home!"
Yea? …When?
Do you have some sort of magic all seeing crystal ball that will guarantee that we are outta here by this time next year?
I know that I am pushing the limits with some of you. And in fact I can hear you say.. "Ray has gone off the deep end. He is turning into one of those… you know… post tribbers. "
Folks, like I have said, I stand firmly upon the Lords imminent  return.
In fact it is the doctrine of imminence that drives this fire that I have burning in my bones at this moment, and saying the  things I am saying.
I look out at the sea of people, including myself and I ask, "have I  really given my all, or am I paying lip service?"
Do I really believe that He is coming soon or am I just playing the church game that many of us play?
Folks, very hard times are coming to this nation. That is a hard core, 100% fact. You can bury your head or you can wake up and smell the coffee and do something about it.
We are on the cusp of what I believe as being something great. Others see doom and gloom. Others refuse to see anything and it is life as normal, Monday Night football, pizza on Fridays.
Folks, I see great opportunity like no other.
The problem is that about 80% of us don’t care, 20% of us are getting somewhat involved in the game, 10% of us are on the field of battle and 2% are fighting the fight.
It all boils down to we have forgotten to "Occupy Till He Returns."
But what is worse, the enemy has caught us in our complacency, and now we are having to play catch up big time.
Can you guarantee that we are not going to be here this time next year?
I know that I can't, and in all honesty, you can't either. Only God knows the time. So we need to wake up to this reality, put on our armor and fight the good fight instead of being the yellow bellied cowards we have been for the last 20-30 years.
It is time to plant the standard of God and say to the enemy NO MORE!!! 
We need to live like the next minute is our last, as well as if we will be here for the next 20 years.
With this stated, we need to ground ourselves and look at what tomorrow really brings, and folks it ain't going to be coming up all roses either, tough times are ahead.
We need to prepare and we need to be ready. This nation and this world is going down the tubes fast.
But more than that, there are so many out there who do not know the Lord and they are seeing this world go to the wolves.
These people are fearful and they do not have the answer, but we do. It is what we do with that answer that is of the utmost importance.
1 Corinthians  15:34 (KJV)  Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
I speak this to your shame…. Those are very hard words to hear.
What are these lost people to do?  Are they to go to these pitiful excuses for churches today so they can hear about their Best Life Now?  What about gaining heaven through works and have a "Purpose Driven Life?"
Let me repeat what Scripture says…
1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Christian, we have a responsibility like no other. We cannot be sitting around on some mountain top singing kum-by-ya with our eyes peered into the clouds.
That is the way of the sluggard.
What is worse is because so many have bought into this lie of doing nothing because God is going to rain pennies from heaven, has effectively  taken themselves out of the game and sitting on the sidelines doing nothing for the kingdom of God.  
They continue to make our Lord out to be our excuse for such slothfulness.
The  time is at hand now, the need to be ready to share the gospel is now. But are you ready to ALWAYS share the gospel?
How many people do you know that do not know the Lord?
What have you personally done about it? Compound that with where this nation is going and we have a responsibility to our fellow man to share the blessed hope in good times and in bad.
Answer me this, what would happen if all the banks closed for two weeks, in fact let's make it one week. Your ATM card would not work, credit card would not work and no one is taking checks.
Store shelves will be empty in just three days, more likely two.
Riots, vandalism, looting, people run amuck. In fact remember the LA riots? Imagine that taking place pretty much in every big city but worse.
But what are you doing about it to ensure that you have provided for your family and that YOU CAN share the gospel in good times and in bad?
Like I said, I am probably going to rub a lot of you the wrong way because you do not want to hear what it is I have to say. Why? Because it means we need to get out of our complacent rut and do something about it.
I  can hear it now. You are going to count me off as some kook, fool, survivalist, right wing nut case, or make excuses.  Anything to sooth your conscience so you do not have to take action and remain the sluggard sitting on your laurels.
While other ministries are out there selling some panacea idea that life is great and God has a extra special place in his heart for the American Christian. You may be sitting there saying He will never allow us wonderful Americans to see hard times, let alone persecution. Why?  Because everyone knows that God's throne is draped in the good ol' red, white and blue.
I am sorry for the sarcasm, but I am trying to drive home a point.
Yes, what I am saying are real hard words to say as well as real hard word s to hear.
It is called cold hard truth.  We as Christians have bought into the PC garbage all these years. The media has told us to be good little drones, don't store food because that is "hording." And yet it was seen as prudent when our grandparents and great grandparents had a basement full of self canned jars of food, dried hams hanging from the rafters and barrels full of salted fish or other meat.
Oh they were not hording, that was then, but this is now.
When it comes to the cold hard truth, we would rather bury our heads in the sand and make excuses.
But we can't do that anymore. The times are at hand and accountability to our Lord is here.
"Can't we just continue on and not rock the boat Ray?"
Look at what "not rocking the boat" has brought this nation.
 Because we have "not rocked the boat"  millions of innocent babies have died in the womb,
Because we have "not rocked the boat" we now have same sex marriage.
Because we have "not rocked the boat"  we have a Muslim President and a nation that is on the fast track to self destruction.
Because we have refused to "occupy till He returns" with an unwillingness to face reality.
I know that I am sounding hard and uncaring. But folks, if I did not care, I would not be saying these things. If I did not have the love I have for the church, which at times is so overwhelming, I would do nothing.
Christian,  I just cannot stand idly by and just let things go on.
We have got to reach deep down inside of us and pull out that internal fight that I know each and every one of us has inside us.
We have got to prepare and be ready for tomorrow for the literal sake of the gospel. Why? Because the Devil has the high ground and we gave it to him, that is why.
But how many of us really have the knowledge to stand on our own?
Here at Prophezine I have been working hard to try to equip you with the tools that you will need.
It is not too late, we still have time, but what you need to do is realize that we need to occupy and not live in some panacea dream.
Scripture says…
Matthew 25:26 (KJV)  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
Matthew 25:33-36 (KJV)  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
1 Timothy  5:8 (KJV)  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
What are you doing to ensure that you feed the hungry, cloth the naked, give drink to the thirsty? What self sustaining insurance have you provided to make sure you have provided for your family so that they can further the gospel as well?
If you are of the 80%... odds you have done nothing.
Just like the slothful servant Christ spoke of in the above verses.
Why? Because you lack knowledge and know how.
Hosea  4:6 (KJV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.   
Because people have forgotten what God's Word really says and have made Him out to be the sugar daddy in the sky, we are now in the position of ignorance and complacency.
Friend, this has been burning in my heart for the past 3-5 years now. We as Christians have got to stand and be counted now more than ever.  We have got to stop being the sluggard and prepare ourselves for the hard times ahead. You don’t want to believe me, I know, I was there myself. That is until the Lord dropped what felt like a 1000 lb weight called "a conviction for tomorrow."
We are losing this fight not because we have fought the good fight, but because over the years we have given up the high ground.
We do not have any guarantees that we will not be here next year. And if someone tells you differently, then run as fast as you can from them for only God knows the day and the hour.
Look at what the past 3 years have brought with this evil god forsaken administration. What is going to happen in the next  three years?
Do you think that the heathen will do the right thing and help turn this nation around? 
Or are we going to just give up because "HEY.. America ain't in Bible Prophecy anyways, so why should I care and go against what God has ordained?"
Yes, I have actually heard that too. It all boils down to complacency. That is what we have to fight. We have to care again, we have to be ready to ALWAYS share the gospel, but more than that , we need to ensure that we can share the gospel credibly.
But to do that, we need to prepare. We need to learn from Joseph who saw the storm coming and prepared not only for Egypt, but for others including Israel to weather the storm. He filled Egypt's silos full of grain, gathered the livestock, put up stores for later use.
We need to be like Noah, who worked 120 years to build the ark that would save his family.
Folks, what have you done to ensure that YOUR ark is prepared and ready for the storm?
Scripture says…
Hebrews  6:12 (KJV)  That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Who do you follow? That person who is pushing that selfish "best life now"?
Or have you bought into some purpose driven drivel that has stolen your time for real works of faith?
Time is short, but we still have time.
Folks, here at Prophezine I have tried to provide some help.
I can hear it now…" Hey Ethel… here it is… he is going to pitch something."
Yes, I am, because I believe that what I am doing is God sent and is needed in the church today.  We have become so dumbed down that we could not find our own head if it was not attached at the neck.
Do you know how much vital information we have lost in just one generation?
Look at what our grandparents knew that is totally unknown because of M-TV and Budweiser.
Folks, we are at that point in time that once again we need to know how to truly stand on our own two feet and be self sufficient.
But what has happened is that the enemy has done such a great job of steeling our birthright, that we no longer know what that birthright is any more.
It is our God through His people Christians, that made this nation great; not Muslims, Hindus, or Hare Krishna's.
But if we listen to the main stream media today, they claim it was everyone else but the Christian who helped form this country.
Folks, we need to equip ourselves with knowledge once again.
There is so much that we have lost from our great grand parents to today. But folks, I have worked at trying my hardest to bring together two DVDs worth of information.
If you want to sit out there in the internet world and throw stones, then so be it. But it is not going to stop what I believe is vitally important work.
I don’t have a 501c3 non-profit organization; Tracye and I firmly believe that this is the way God has called us to run Prophezine.  I have to work doubly hard to live in the "for profit" world , but be more transparent so that I never cast any shame on the Lord for what we do here.
 It is just me and my wife as we sit behind our computers here in our dining room doing the best we can for the Lord. So I don't have the luxury to do things for "free" for the tax write off. We barely have enough to rub two pennies together.
I do what I do because I have a fire burning in my bones and a message of hope to take to the world.
 If what I have said means anything to you,  then we have got to equip ourselves with knowledge so that we are not over taken by the coming storm.
We need to equip ourselves spiritually and personally for the times ahead.
Look at the DVD libraries we have compiled.
Go to
In getting these , you are also helping us here at Prophezine to make a stand and continue to fight the darkness that is surrounding us. But more importantly, you are going to make a difference for tomorrow because you are equipping yourself with knowledge for today.
Finally, I leave you with the following…
Ephesians 6:13 (KJV)  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
The time is now, we must do all so that when that evil day comes, and it is coming, we can stand, and we can occupy till He returns.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Daniel 9:26: Who Are The People of the Prince To Come?

By Joel Richardson
Perhaps the most significant supporting pillar of the European Antichrist theory is a one-line prophecy found in the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel. This small but very important prophecy states simply that:
The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. —Daniel 9:26
While varying interpretations have been offered as to the exact meaning of this passage, the majority position holds that this prophecy is telling us that the specific people (or peoples) who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD are the ancestors of the peoples who in the last days would be the primary followers of the Antichrist (the prince or ruler who is to come). So according to this position, the verse should be understood as follows:
The people (the primary followers) of the prince (the Antichrist) that will come (in the last days), shall destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the Jewish temple).
Most believe the destruction of “the city and the sanctuary” to be a reference to the destruction that occurred in 70 AD when the Roman legions under General Titus destroyed both the Jewish capital city of Jerusalem and its Temple. As such, a large majority of prophecy teachers and students have concluded that the Roman peoples of 70 AD can be identified as the ancestors of the coming followers / peoples of the Antichrist. Because the soldiers were Roman citizens, many conclude that the primary followers of the Antichrist in the last days will be Europeans in general or Italians specifically. This notion of course, is rooted in the fact that it was the Roman commanders (whose capital was in Rome, Italy) who commanded the destroying armies but also in the mistaken belief that most of the Roman soldiers were Italians or Europeans. I say “mistaken belief” because both historical testimony and the consensus of modern scholarship tell us that very few of the soldiers that destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD were Europeans. In fact, as we will see, the historical facts reveal a dramatically different picture. However, before we examine the make-up of the Roman armies in 70 AD, we need to first ask if the prophecy here is even pointing us to 70 AD at all. There is a fairly strong case that it may not be pointing us to the events that occurred in 70 AD, but rather the end times.
Of Riddles And Prophetic Enigmas
Little needs to be said about the importance of determining proper context as the basis for the proper interpretation of any passage of Scripture. When trying to determine what this verse is pointing us to, we need to look at it in light of the larger prophetic passage that it is found within; it is the somewhat famous prophecy often referred to as “Daniel’s 70 weeks.” Now, without boring you with gobs of somewhat confusing details, in brief, the passage is speaking about a time period of 490 years. This period is broken up into 70 periods of 7 years. (70 X 7 = 490 years.) Each seven-year period is called in Hebrew a shabuwa. Some call these shabuwa “weeks”; some simply call them “sevens”. Again, they are simply periods of seven-year. What the passage essentially says is that the first 69 shabuwa would come to a close at the time that the Messiah would be “cut off”. The final shabuwa on the other hand, would take place at the end of the age, just prior to the return of Christ. The problem for those who understand the “people of the prince” portion of the prophecy to be applying to 70 AD is that this was nearly 40 years after Jesus the Messiah was “cut off” through His crucifixion, death and burial. So it is possible that the events that took place under Titus in 70 AD are not the focus of the passage. Instead, it may be referring to the final shabuwa—that last seven years of world history before Christ returns. Thus the portion of the passage: “the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” may very well be a prophecy of the future, not the past. It may be speaking about the Antichrist, and not Titus. The Prince to come is the Antichrist and those who destroy the city and the Temple are his people. If this is the case, then we would expect the Bible to contain clear evidence that the Antichrist and his people will destroy the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. In fact, the Bible does speak of these things in several passages. During the final three and a half years of the Antichrist’s reign, the Bible says he will invade the land of Israel:
He will also invade the Beautiful Land. (Daniel 11:41)
Not only will he invade, he will also utterly conquer the “holy ones” which in the Book of Daniel is a reference to the people of Israel:
The holy ones will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)
He will become very strong…. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. (Daniel 8:24)
He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed… (Daniel 11:36)
He was given power to make war against the holy ones and to conquer them. (Revelation 13:7)
Under the leadership of the Antichrist, the Bible says that Jerusalem will not just be conquered, but actually “crushed” or “trampled underfoot”:
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile… (Zechariah 14:2)
I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. (Revelation 11:1-2)
The term here for “trample” (Greek: pateo) is not merely a reference to walking on, but rather a crushing underfoot. It is the same word used for the treading or stomping of the grapes in the “winepress of God’s wrath” (Revelation 14:20)
Speaking of these days of trampling, Jesus said that Jerusalem will be “desolated”:
When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. (Luke 21:20)
Speaking to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Jesus warned all who will listen to flee:
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15-16)
Certainly all that is described here concerning the Antichrist could be aligned with the prophecy in Daniel 9:26 concerning the “people of the prince to come”.
However, despite the fact that both in Daniel 9:26 and the end times, Jerusalem will be destroyed / desolated / trampled, most prophecy teachers and students continue to believe that Daniel 9:26 must be referring to 70 AD. I myself believe that either position is possible. So for the remainder of this chapter, and for the sake or argument, it will be demonstrated that even if one views Daniel 9:26 as referring to 70 AD, it still does not point us to Europe, but the Middle East. Let us examine the make-up of the Roman armies that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.
Recruits in The Roman Army
A brief bit of history is in order: Before the Roman Empire became an empire, it was called the Roman Republic. In the early days of the Republic, as it was evolving into the Roman Empire (primarily before the turn of 1st century) the majority of the soldiers (called legionnaires) recruited to serve in the Roman armies (legions) were Italians from Rome and the nearby regions. However, as the Empire expanded quite dramatically, it became next to impossible to man the entire Empire with soldiers only from Italy. There were just not enough Italian men to spread all over the vast Roman Empire, which included all of Europe, Northern Africa and a large swath of the Middle East. Thus at the beginning of the first century, Emperor Augustus made a series of sweeping reforms that led to dramatic changes in the ethnic make-up of the Roman armies. After Augustus’ reforms, the only portion of the Roman army that continued to consist largely of Italians from Rome proper was the Praetorian Guard; an elite military unit whose job was to specifically guard the Emperor and the tents of the Generals. But after Augustus’ reforms, the rest of the army was increasingly composed of anything but Italian soldiers. Instead, they were composed of what were known as “provincials” or citizens who lived in the provinces—the outer fringes of the Empire, away from the capital of Rome. The “provincialization” of the army was true for all of the Roman legions of this time period, but it was most clearly and markedly the case with regard to the Eastern legions that were used to attack Jerusalem. Both ancient historical records as well as modern scholarship clearly confirm this. Let’s examine some of the evidence.
First Witness: Publius Cornelius Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was both a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire that wrote extensively concerning the specific period that we are now examining. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—have become a vital source of information from this period of the Roman Empire. Speaking of the Roman attack of Jerusalem, Tacitus details the specific legions and the peoples that primarily composed the attacking army:
Titus Caesar… found in Judaea three legions, the 5th, the 10th, and the 15th… To these he added the 12th from Syria, and some men belonging to the 18th and 3rd, whom he had withdrawn from Alexandria. This force was accompanied… by a strong contingent of Arabs, who hated the Jews with the usual hatred of neighbors… —Tacitus The History New Ed edition Book 5.1 Editor: Moses Hadas, Translators: Alfred Church, William Brodribb (Modern Library; New York, 2003)
There are several important bits of information that we can gain from this reference. First, we learn that the Roman legions had been stationed in Judea, Syria and Egypt. Secondly, we learn that beyond the Roman legions, there was also “a strong contingent of Arabs, who hated the Jews” who accompanied the soldiers. Sadly, little has changed since the first century regarding the general regional hatred of the Jewish people. In fact, it was precisely this ancient hatred that was the driving factor in the unfolding of events that led to the destruction of the Temple, as we will see.
Second Witness: Titus Favius Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus, another irreplaceable historian from this period also confirms the report of Tacitus:
So Vespasian sent his son Titus [who], came by land into Syria, where he gathered together the Roman forces, with a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings in that neighborhood. Flavius Josephus The Complete Works of Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews Or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem Book III, Chapter 1, Paragraph 3
Once again, Josephus reveals that the Roman legions used to attack Jerusalem were stationed in Syria. This is where Titus gathered them together as he proceeded toward the Jewish capital. He also details that “a considerable number” of auxiliaries, or volunteers, from Syria and the surrounding regions were also gathered for the attack. Later, Josephus also details the specific number of Arab soldiers who joined forces with the invading armies:
Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a thousand horsemen, besides five thousand footmen, the greatest part of which were archers; so that the whole army, including the auxiliaries sent by the kings, as well horsemen and footmen, when all were united together, amounted to sixty thousand. - Flavius Josephus The Complete Works of Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews Or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem Book III, Chapter 4, Paragraph 2
While the numbers of men that composed a legion fluctuated, during this time period, a legion contained approximately 5,000 men. Here we see that there were enough Arab auxiliary / volunteer soldiers to compose more than a full legion!
The Eastern Legions
Now lets look at the specific legions that were used to attack the Jewish people as well as the regions where they were stationed during the time period leading up to 70 A.D. when Jerusalem was destroyed. Of the six legions, only one was garrisoned just outside of the Middle East; this being Legion V Macedonia. The remaining five legions were all stationed in the Middle East. Below is a list of the legions and where they were stationed prior to 70 A.D.
Legion V Macedonia: Judea or Moesia
Legion X Fretensis: Syria
Legion XV Appolinaris Syria
Legion XII Fulminata Asia Minor / Syria
Legion XVIII Egypt
Legion III Gallica Syria
All of these Legions would have consisted of a majority of Eastern soldiers; Arabs, Syrians, Egyptians etc. Even Legion V Macedonia, although possibly stationed in Moesia—or modern day Serbia and Bulgaria—also would have consisted of a majority of Eastern soldiers. By 70 A.D. not only the Eastern provincial Legions, but literally the entire army had come to be dominated by “provincials”. Lawrence J.F. Keppie, scholar of Roman History and author of Legions And Veterans: Roman Army Papers 1971-2000 (Franz Steiner Verlag, 2000) confirms this reality when he states that after 68 A.D., “the legions… consist[ed] almost exclusively of provincials.” (Keppie page 116) In other words, after 68 A.D. the soldiers in the Roman legions were almost exclusively non-Italian peoples from the provinces on the edges of the Empire.
Third Witness: Modern Scholars of Roman History
Modern Roman scholars across the boards all thoroughly validate the claim that by 70 A.D. the Roman soldiers were almost exclusively non-Italian peoples. Antonio Santosuosso in Storming the Heavens: Soldiers, Emperors, and Civilians in the Roman Empire confirms that during the first half of the 1st century, approximately 49% of the soldiers were Italians, but by 70 A.D. that number had fallen to only 22%. By the end of the 1st century, only 1% of the soldiers were Italians. Antonio Santuosso, Storming the Heavens: Soldiers, Emperors, and Civilians in the Roman Empire (Westview Press, 2001) (page 97-98).
Sara Elise Phang, Ph.D. author of Roman Military Service, ideologies of discipline in the late Republic and early Principate (Cambridge University Press, 2008) also validates these facts stating that: “Recruitment underwent major shifts from Italy in the early first century A.D. to the frontier provinces in the latter first and second centuries” (Phang page 19). In fact, as Phang reveals, Roman scholars are now in universal agreement that the overwhelming majority of the soldiers that attacked Jerusalem were Eastern provincial recruits:
That Italians were increasingly replaced in the legions during this period by provincials is in itself no longer a novelty among scholars… In the East, that is Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt, it seems clear that local recruitment was well under way under Augustus [d.14 A.D.], so that by his death only a very small number of legionaries derived from Italy or indeed any of the western provinces… Under Nero [d. 68A.D.], when the eastern legions required supplementation…it was to Cappadocia and Galatia that [Rome] looked for recruits. This was doubtless standard procedure. [The] legions of the East consisted largely of “orientals” (Middle Easterners) (Phang 57-58)
And again Phang leaves no doubt as to the Eastern ethnic composition of the legions in 70 A.D.:
To the Roman public, the army of 69-70 AD probably seemed little different than its counterpart under Julius Caesar. The legionaries wore familiar equipment, and marched behind the silver aquila, their legions bearing names and titles which reflected their origins and the exploits of earlier days. But in reality much had changed: What had been an army of Italians was increasingly becoming an army of provincials owing no particular allegiance to, or common bond with the Senate or the urbs Roma… Increasingly they began to identify their interests with those of the provinces in which they were stationed…. By AD 69 Gallica III, like other legions long stationed in the East, contained a very high proportion of men born in the eastern provinces.” (Phang page 44)
Gallica III was one of the Legions that was involved in the destruction of Jerusalem.
In his book, Soldiers, Cities, and Civilians in Roman Syria (University of Michigan Press (December 21, 2000) Nigel Pollard, Ph.D., professor of Roman History at Oxford University examines in great detail specifically the ethnicity of the Roman soldiers of the eastern provinces during the first century. After reviewing the most thorough and up-to-date scholarship on the subject, Pollard details two possible positions that reveal the ethnicity of the soldiers to which we are attempting to identify. Both positions confirm that the overwhelming majority of the soldiers that destroyed the Temple were primarily Syrians, Arabs and Eastern peoples. According to Pollard, the first position holds that after the reign of Emperor Nero (A.D. 68), the “legionaries of provincial birth outnumbered the Italians by about four or five to one.” This is with regard to the whole of the Roman Empire, not merely in the East. (page 114) The second position that Pollard examines holds that, “Legions based in Cappadocia, Syria, and Egypt were made up from of recruits from Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.” (Pollard page 115) Either way, we are left with no doubts that the overriding majority of the soldiers that attacked Jerusalem under Titus were Middle Eastern peoples and not Europeans.
Crunching the Numbers
But lets actually calculate what all of this information means with regard to the ethnic composition of the “Roman” armies that attacked Jerusalem. Josephus tells us that, “the whole army, including the auxiliaries sent by the kings, as well horsemen and footmen, when all were united together, amounted to sixty thousand” - Flavius Josephus The Complete Works of Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews Or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem Book III, Chapter 4, Paragraph 2. Remember that a legion contained roughly 5,000 soldiers. There were four full legions and two partial legions involved in the attack. This would mean that there were approximately 25,000 men who were full time legionaries with the remaining 35,000 men who were either volunteers or auxiliaries. The auxiliaries were non-Roman citizens raised up from the fringe of the provinces. Josephus confirms this when he says that the auxiliaries were, “sent by the kings” from “the neighborhood” of Syria, Asia Minor and Arabia. If Pollard’s estimations are correct as to the five-to-one margin of the Eastern soldiers versus the Western, then this would mean that there could have been no more than 5,000 Western soldiers in the whole of the invading army. The remaining 55-56,000 were all Eastern peoples. And this is allowing for the maximum estimates of Western soldiers. That would mean that there was a maximum of one Western European soldier to every eleven Middle Eastern soldiers. Eleven to one! Yet in all likelihood, the ratio was much higher; perhaps closer to twenty to one.
Further Evidence
Concluding the discussion, Pollard also offers a very interesting piece of information:
Other evidence that Syrian legions of the Flavian period were characteristically “Syrian” in some way comes from Tacitus’ reference to Legion 3 Gallica saluting the rising sun ‘according to the custom of Syria’ [ita in Syria mos est] … in A.D. 69. (page 116)
The implication is clear of course; the soldiers of that legion were worshippers of the sun or some form of sun-deity. This was typical of Middle Easterners who throughout ancient history worshipped various astral deities. Thus, these Eastern “Roman” soldiers were in fact the physical and to a measure, the spiritual ancestors of those who today bow down to Allah, the god who is most often represented by the crescent moon.
All said, the historical evidence is overwhelming. Josephus elsewhere records that under Nero, several years prior to the Jewish War, in Caesarea Maritima, a coastal city in northern Israel, a conflict broke out between the Jews and the Syrians who inhabited that city. As the conflict broke out, the Roman soldiers stood against the Jews and assisted the Syrians. The reason was, as Josephus records because the Roman soldiers were in fact ethnic Syrians, and thus they stood with the Syrians.
The greatest part of the Roman garrison was raised out of Syria; and being thus related to the Syrian part, they were ready to assist it. The Wars of The Jews History of the Destruction of Jerusalem By Flavius Josephus Trans. William Whiston BOOK II: CHAPTERPara7
Closing Arguments
And so after examining a sampling of evidence from both ancient historians as well as the most cutting-edge modern scholarship to date, we may very confidently conclude that the “Roman” soldiers in the Eastern provinces that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple were in fact Eastern peoples—the inhabitants of Asia Minor, Syria, Arabia, and Egypt. Again, they were the ancestors of the modern day inhabitants of the Middle East. When we look to the prophecy of Daniel 9:26, we can certainly understand how a hasty or perfunctory reading of this prophecy would lead one to conclude that the “peoples” were in fact Romans, but having now done proper due diligence, completed our homework, and examined the evidence, it is clear that the reality is quite different from what has been commonly and popularly understood.
One Final Objection
But old habits—and paradigms—often die hard. As such, after having brought forth this argument in our book, God’s War on Terror: Islam, Prophecy and the Bible, my co-author Walid Shoebat and myself have seen our findings strongly challenged. One such critique from Lamplighter Magazine, follows:
A good example of Shoebat’s tortuous logic can be found in his attempt to explain away the meaning of Daniel 9:26. The plain sense meaning of this passage is that the Antichrist will come from the people who will destroy the Temple. Shoebat and Richardson argue that the Roman legions that carried out the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD were composed primarily of Arabs, mainly Syrians and Turks. They therefore conclude that the Antichrist will arise from the Syrians or Turks and will be a Muslim. This is really grasping at straws in the wind! It doesn’t matter whether or not the legions were composed of Australian Aborigines, it was the Roman government that decided to destroy Jerusalem, it was the Roman government that gave the orders, and it was Roman generals who carried out the destruction. Rome was the rod of God’s judgment and it is from the Roman people that the Antichrist will arise. —Dr. David Reagan, Lamplighter Magazine January 2009
Or reworded, this writer is willing to concede that the Roman soldiers may have been Eastern peoples but he argues that this issue is irrelevant because these Eastern peoples were under the authority of Italian commanders who not only desired, but also commanded the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Thus the burden of responsibility is placed on the Roman authorities. There are two fatal problems with this argument. The first problem is that it fails to consider the actual wording used in the passage.
Examining the Wording of the Passage: What Does The Prophecy Actually State?
Let's begin by examining the problem with the original language. Again, briefly, the verse states the following:
The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. —Daniel 9:26
What we need to do is zero in on the word “peoples”. If we look up the meaning of that word in the Hebrew (am), we find that it is an ethnic denotation. It does not refer to the kingdom or empire that the “people” lived under. The Strong’s Lexicon lists the meaning of am as: “nation, people or kindred”. Wilhelm Gesenius, the Hebrew lexiconographer, lists the primary meaning of the word as “single races or tribes… race or family… the kindred, relatives”. And as Hebrew scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum rightfully states, “We are dealing here with a bloodline, and not a country.” - Radio interview with Bill Salus, author of Israelstine.
Of the nearly 1900 times that the Hebrew word am appears in the King James Version, over 99% of the time, it is translated as “people”. Only seventeen times is the word translated as “nation”. If the purpose of the verse were to highlight the kingdom, the empire or the nation to which the peoples were under, it could have used several other Hebrew words such as mamlakah (kingdom or empire) or goy (nation). This would have led the reader to look to the empire that the peoples were from, which of course would lead us to the Roman Empire. But this is simply not what the verse says. Instead, it points us to the ethnic identity of the majority of the peoples who made up the legions. Simply stated, the original meaning of the verse does not allow us to look to the leaders of the peoples, but rather the peoples themselves who carried out the destruction. If we desire to be submit to the passage, then we must draw out its true meaning (exegesis) and submit. We cannot force the passage to conform to our positions (eisegesis), despite what it actually states. So once again, for emphasis: the original meaning of the verse does not allow us to look to the leaders of the peoples, but rather the peoples themselves who carried out the destruction. Remember, Paul the apostle was a Roman citizen, but this in no way diminishes the fact that he was ethnically a Jew (Acts 21:38-39; 22:1-3).
To put this argument in a clearer light, imagine if I was walking down the city of some well-known American city late one evening and was suddenly mugged by three individuals. After the police arrive, they ask me if I can identify my assailants. “Of course, I got a really good look at all three of them,” I state.
“Good” the officer responds, “What did they look like? What can you tell us about them?”
“Well they were all Americans,” I reply.
Now, knowing that Americans come in all shapes, sizes and most importantly, ethnicities, what exactly have I told the police?
As we all know, the mere designation of “American” tells us virtually nothing about one’s ethnicity. One could be an African-America, an Anglo-American, an Asian-American, an Arab-American or perhaps a hundred other types of hyphenated-Americans. Likewise, the Roman Empire of the late first century was perhaps even more diverse than the United States of today. The Roman Empire contained numerous people groups (am)s. One could be a full-fledged “Roman” citizen yet don from any number of people groups. One could be Germanic, Jewish, Gallic, Syrian, Arab, African or any number of other ethnic groups or tribes and still be fully “Roman”. To be blunt, any claim that the mere designation of “Roman” is sufficient to identify the actual ethnic identity of the peoples as the passage calls for, is shear folly. This would be no different than claiming that the designation of American could only mean British. While such a claim might partially have been true two hundred years ago, to make such a claim today would be an obvious anachronistic error. So also does the claim that Daniel 9:26 points us solely to those from Italian or European ethnicities miss the clear wording and meaning of the passage.
The Historical Reality
Still addressing the critique above, let's examine its second problem: the historical reality. Was it in fact, “the Roman government that decided to destroy Jerusalem”? Was it really “the Roman government that gave the orders, and [the] Roman generals who carried out the destruction”? Once again, just a bit of homework will reveal that just the opposite is true. Josephus’ records makes this all too abundantly clear:
And now a certain person came running to Titus, and told him of this fire… whereupon he rose up in great haste, and, as he was, ran to the holy house, in order to have a stop put to the fire; after him followed all his commanders, and after them followed the several legions, in great astonishment; so there was a great clamor and tumult raised, as was natural upon the disorderly motion of so great an army. Then did Caesar, both by calling to the soldiers that were fighting, with a loud voice, and by giving a signal to them with his right hand, order them to quench the fire. - Josephus War of the Jews, Book 6, Chapter 4
Like the classic stereotype of an Italian, Titus is seen to be frantically using both his mouth and his hands to speak. But despite the great alarm of their General, despite his frantic shouting and hand waving, the soldiers did not obey Titus or any of their commanders. They were absolutely hell-bent on fighting the Jews. The following passage from Josephus’ Wars of the Jews reveals exactly why this was the case:
Titus supposing what the fact was, that the house itself might yet he saved, he came in haste and endeavored to persuade the soldiers to quench the fire… yet were their passions too hard for the regards they had for Caesar, and the dread they had of him who forbade them, as was their hatred of the Jews, and a certain vehement inclination to fight them, too hard for them also… And thus was the holy house burnt down, without Caesar’s approbation. - Josephus, Wars of the Jew, Book 6, Chapter 4
The last line, “thus was the holy house burnt down, without Caesar’s approbation.” Could not be more damning to any claim that the Roman leaders desired or commanded the destruction of the Temple.
Isaac and Ishmael: The Ancient Hatred
There is an ancient reality that is emerging here. The specific reason that the soldiers did not obey their commanders was because of the passionate hatred that they possessed for the Jews. It overwhelmed them. Then, as today, the various Middle-Eastern peoples were possessed with a demonic hatred for the Jewish people. Please take note of this: Hatred was the primary motivating factor behind the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., it is the overriding sentiment of the surrounding Islamic nations today and it will no doubt be the primary driving factor when the armies of the Antichrist invade Israel. This hatred is seen perhaps most markedly in the gruesome episode recorded by Josephus. As the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem, many of the citizens were choosing to surrender and desert the city. As they did so, many would swallow whatever gold or silver coins they possessed hoping to be able to retrieve them after they had escaped the city. But as they came out to surrender to the Roman soldiers as non-combatant supplicants, they met a terrible fate. The Syrian and Arab soldiers that made up the Roman armies would have none of it. Instead, Josephus tells us that the soldiers killed those who were desiring to surrender, hoping to find any gold or silver that may have been swallowed:
…the multitude of the Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night’s time about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected. - The Wars of The Jews, History of the Destruction of Jerusalem By Flavius Josephus Trans. William Whiston BOOK V: Chapter 13: Para 4
In conclusion then, the overwhelming evidence, not only from ancient historians but also modern day scholarship points us to ethnic identity of the “Roman” peoples that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. They were the ancestors of the Muslim peoples that dominate the entire region today.