Pella-An Example Of The Providence Of God

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It is written:

Matthew 24:15-18-Therefore when you see the ‘ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16  “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17  Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18  And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.

In the year 33 A.D., Jesus Christ provided His followers in the Olivet Discourse several signs to watch for which would herald the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Roman armies (Matthew 24:4-34). Seeing these signs, they were to flee the city and be spared. When these signs began to come to pass in A.D. 67, the disciples recognized them and fled the city, relocating to a city called Pella. Brian Godawa provides some amazing historical backdrop to these events:

“Epiphanius “For when the city was about to be captured and sacked by the Romans, all the disciples were warned beforehand by an angel to remove from the city, doomed as it was to utter destruction. On migrating from it they settled at Pella, the town already indicated, across the Jordan. It is said to belong to Decapolis (de Mens. et Pond., 15). “Now this sect of Nazarenes exists in Beroea in Coele-Syria, and in Decapolis in the district of Pella, and in Kochaba of Basanitis—called Kohoraba in Hebrew. For thence it originated after the migration from Jerusalem of all the disciples who resided at Pella, Christ having instructed them to leave Jerusalem and retire from it on account of the impending siege. It was owing to this counsel that they went away, as I have said, to reside for a while at Pella” (Haer 29: 7)… “For when all who believed in Christ had settled down about that time in Peraea, the majority of the emigrants taking up their abode at Pella, a town belonging to the Decapolis mentioned in the Gospel, near Batanea and the district to Basanitis, Ebion got his excuse and opportunity.” Epiphanius This heresy of the Nazoreans exists in Beroea in the neighbourhood of Coele Syria and the Decapolis in the region of Pella. . . . For from there it took its beginning after the exodus from Jerusalem when all the disciples went to live in Pella because Christ had told them to leave Jerusalem and to go away since it would undergo a siege. Because of this advice they lived in Perea after having moved to that place, as I said. There the Nazorean heresy had its beginning. (Epiphanius, Pan. 29.7.7-8; similarly 30.2.7—’Ebion’s preaching originated here’) When the city was about to be taken by the Romans, it was revealed in advance to all the disciples by an angel of God that they should remove from the city, as it was going to be completely destroyed. They sojourned as emigrants in Pella . . . in Transjordania. . . . (But after the destruction of Jerusalem, then they had returned . . . they wrought great signs.) (Epiphanius, Treatise on Weights and Measures 15) “Those who believe in him will be led, through the wisdom of God, to a fortified place of the land, as if to life, and preserved because of the battle that will afterwards come to destroy those who have not been persuaded because of their doubt.” (Pseudo-Clementine, Recognitions 1.37.2) James D.G. Dunn, Beginning from Jerusalem (Christianity in the Making, vol. 2) (Eerdmans, 2008), 1097. Pseudo-Clementine, Recognitions 1.39 Subsequently also an evident proof of this great mystery is supplied in the fact, that every one who, believing in this Prophet who had been foretold by Moses, is baptized in His name, shall be kept unhurt from the destruction of war which impends over the unbelieving nation, and the place itself; but that those who do not believe shall be made exiles from their place and kingdom, that even against their will they may understand and obey the will of God.” 13”. (Brian Godawa, Matthew 24 Fulfilled: Biblical and Historical Sources (Chronicles of the Apocalypse), 2484-2509 (Kindle Edition); Los Angeles, CA; Embedded Pictures Publishing).

The historical facts remind us of several important lessons.

First, the fact of prophecy and fulfillment provides us with a powerful evidence that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Some deny that the prophecy is true, and these events were written after the fact. However, those who so claim that Matthew was written after the destruction of Jerusalem must contend with the fact of the Magdalene Papyrus, which places the Gospel of Matthew squarely back to around 40 A.D. Further historical evidences also corroborate these words of Jesus.

Second, the Lord provides knowledge for His people to save them. He is the God Who is near at hand, and not a God who is afar off (Jeremiah 23:23-24). What a blessing to follow and serve this one true God, the joy of Whom is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Third, these events are also likely described by the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation. Keeping in mind that the phrase “time, times, and half a time” equals three and 1/2 years (the same time frame that the siege of Jerusalem lasted), consider:

Revelation 12:13-17-Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14  But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15  So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16  But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17  And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

John describes the “woman” as those who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,” I.e., Christians. (This was all prefigured by the star constellations of Revelation 12:1-4). Notice that these Christians fled to the wilderness (an apt description for Pella) during the 3 1/2 years Jerusalem was sacked by the Romans.

Finally, these facts remind us yet again that God sometimes employs supernatural beings (I.e., angels) to help communicate His Word and carry out His will. The writer of Hebrews also remind us of this fact:

Hebrews 1:14-Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

Christian, when you face some obstacle that threatens to destroy and overwhelm you, rest your cause on Jehovah God and trust in Him. He will provide!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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