“As he went out of the Temple, one of his disciples said unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” —Mark 13:1,2
The Birth of Roman Emperor Titus, December 30, AD 39
he lives of the Roman Emperors have always been of interest to historians of Western Civilization. They remain a cornerstone in classical education and of certain interest to Christians in the study of Church history, especially as it relates to the martyrs. Although not mentioned by name in the Bible, Titus should be accorded a special place in history for fulfilling many biblical prophecies which came to fruition in the capture and destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. He rode his military conquest to succession of his father as the Roman Caesar. The record of his triumphs figures prominently in the great historical work by one of his generals and close advisor, the Jewish-born Titus Flavius Josephus.
An unknown artist’s depiction of what is thought to be historian Titus Flavius Josephus (AD 37 – c. AD 100)
Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus (AD 39-81)
Titus was born to an upper class family. His grandfather had married strategically for wealth and position, eventually rising to the patrician class. His son, Vespasian became a consul in AD 51, when his son Titus was just eleven. The family barely managed to dodge being caught up in the intrigues and assassinations that accompanied the ambitious rulers of Rome.
In AD 66, a Jewish rebellion in the Middle East broke out over a number of issues, from taxes to profaning the Temple. Vespasian was dispatched by Nero to Judea to quell the “Great Revolt.” The Jews had been troublesome from the beginning of Roman rule and the empire had to keep two legions in the area on a regular basis. The Roman XII Legion was virtually destroyed by the Jewish rebels and more than 6,000 massacred. Romans always responded in kind and to greater measure. The V, X, and XV Legions—the first two led by Vespasian and the third by his son Titus, a total of 60,000 men—laid siege to Jerusalem after a bitter two-year campaign across the region.
Emperor Vespasian (AD 9-79), father of Titus
The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem
Jerusalem was no ordinary citadel. It had served as the religious center and political capital of the nation of Israel for centuries. Seventeen times it has been sacked or destroyed, the most terrible being the overthrow of the “City of David” by General Titus in AD 70. Josephus left a detailed record of its apparently impregnable heights and walls situated on four major hills, the highest being Mount Moriah on which the Temple stood. Jesus himself had predicted the utter destruction of the Temple, and that people living in his time would be there to witness it: “This generation shall not pass away until all be fulfilled.” And so they were. Matthew 24 and a significant number of Old Testament prophecies presented a harrowing account of what could be expected. Titus was given overall command and in AD 70 he took the city.
The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70
Titus offered peace to the inhabitants several times and was ambushed and attacked for his efforts. The succession of walls were attacked with battering rams and siege engines. The Roman army raised banks and towers. The Jews sallied out from the gates a number of times to destroy the siege weapons, and did score some limited successes. The desperate defenders repaired breaches and built new defensive lines as the legionnaires penetrated the suburbs then broke into the city proper. They razed the Temple, leaving no stone standing on another. Josephus claims there were over a million defenders, Tacitus says 600,000, with women joining the men in the barricades to fight to the death. There were many different factions among the Jews, but they all perished alike. Hundreds of thousands were killed, prisoners were crucified or enslaved, and many tortured and killed later. The multiple prophecies of this historic event were fulfilled in bloody massacre.
Map indicating progress of the Roman army during the siege
The Arch of Titus in Rome can be seen today with the triumphal parade of captives and loot from the Temple carved in relief. They were marched in chains through the streets of Rome. Titus’s father Vespasian ruled the Roman Empire from AD 69-79, founding the “Flavian Dynasty.” He built the Coliseum and expanded the territory of the Empire. Titus was the first natural son to succeed his father as Roman Emperor, but served only two years before dying of a fever. Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying Pompeii in the first year of his reign. Titus likely never knew he was the instrument of Providence to bring about the fulfillment of biblical prophecies that had forewarned the Christians of the early church, helping their survival in the time of greatest danger in Judea.
The Arch of Titus in Rome
Detail of the Arch of Titus depicting the spoils of the Jerusalem Temple
The Judgement and Destruction of Jerusalem, by Patton and Hofford
“It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.” —Daniel 2:21
John C. Calhoun Resigns as Vice President, December 28, 1832
ew U.S. Presidents have been more controversial than Andrew Jackson. He still stimulates debate, anger, and admiration, as he did in his own day, although today primarily among academic historians, rather than members of Congress, his own cabinet, and the movers and shakers of the D.C. social set. Along with the President of “the Jacksonian Era,” the political power brokers of the nation featured three of the most renowned senators in American history, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun—the “Great Triumvirate.”
John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), seventh Vice President of the United States
Calhoun served as Vice President under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson from 1825-1832, and was a legitimate candidate for President, until his break with Jackson. He served in the House of Representatives beginning in 1810, and built a reputation as the “most elegant and stately orator in the House.” He later served as Secretary of War, Secretary of State, and United States Senator from South Carolina. Calhoun was a man of iron clad principles and patriotism, as well as a constitutionalist of the deepest dye. One modern historian, (and he is not the only one), describes Calhoun as the “most important thinker to follow the Founders on matters of the Constitution and the Union.”
Men like Calhoun create dedicated and ambitious enemies as well. Unfortunately, the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, said he would like to “hang him as high as Haman,” and he was not kidding. Henry Clay described Calhoun as “a rigid, fanatic, ambitious, selfish partisan and sectional turncoat with too much genius and too little common sense, who will either die a traitor or a madman.” (He did neither, of course.)
Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), seventh President of the United States
Henry Clay (1777-1852), U.S. Senator from Kentucky
Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), eighth President of the United States
In 1832, a number of personal, social, and political kerfuffles came together over the head of Calhoun, resulting in his resignation from the Vice-Presidency, return to the Senate, and ascension to foremost Southern champion and defender of the Constitution, in the swirl of legislative controversy inspired by the War with Mexico. He and Jackson were never close friends. People commented that they looked alike, were both of the Southern planter class, and were similar in political philosophy on many occasions. Nonetheless, they differed strongly on several political points. Another politician, Martin Van Buren, also in Jackson’s cabinet, manipulated the circumstances of disagreement to his own advantage and to the detriment of Calhoun.
The incident that finally severed relations between the President and Vice-President occurred when Jackson reacted to Calhoun’s wife’s social snubbing of Peggy Eaton, the new spouse of another cabinet member. Jackson’s beloved wife Rachel had recently died, and he blamed her demise on scandalous treatment in the press. Jackson chose to defend the Eatons and made it known that the Calhouns were persona non grata, as far as the President was concerned. This “Petticoat Affair” coupled with Calhoun’s opposition to the huge tariff increase passed by Congress and signed by the President, the South Carolina statesman resigned from the Vice Presidency, only to be appointed Senator and return to Washington to carry on the fight against Jackson.
Peggy Eaton (1799-1879), wife of U.S. Senator from Tennessee John Henry Eaton
Calhoun in 1849, the year before his death
Calhoun is best known as the defender of the Tenth Amendment, the doctrine of the “concurrent majority” and the belief in “interposition”—that lesser magistrates of a state had the right to disobey or nullify national law when those laws were proven unconstitutional—that they could interpose themselves between the people and tyranny. When South Carolina threatened secession, Jackson breathed out threatenings of invasion and of hanging Calhoun for treason. Eventual compromise in the Congress tempered the tempers and war was averted. Because of Jackson’s popularity, Calhoun could never succeed to the presidency, but he continued to make his mark in Constitutional expertise in the Senate. Some call him the Father of the Confederacy, though he died some ten years before secession became a reality.
The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay, and Calhoun, by Merrill D. Peterson
Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832, Vol. II, by Robert V. Remini
“Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.” —Daniel 11:36
Antiochus Epiphanes Profanes the Temple, December 16, 156 BC
number of important historical events occurred in the period between the Old Testament and the New Testament (c. 420 B.C.—1 A.D.), called by Protestants the “intertestamental” period and by Roman Catholics the “deuterocanonical” era. During those four centuries, one of the greatest warrior kings of history arose—Alexander the Great, and his Not-So-Great successors, the Diadoche—four of Alexander’s generals who divided up his empire for themselves, after his death in 323 BC. One of the most aggressive and successful leaders, Seleucus I Nicator, ruled over a province that would eventually contain the area of the modern nations of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, central Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan, which collectively became known as the Seleucid Empire, which lasted to 63 BC. The Seleucids (pronounced Sel-oo-sids) brought Hellenistic (ie. Greek) culture to the Middle East, maintaining and expanding the cultural continuity of Alexander’s conquests. One of the most brutal of the post-Alexandrian rulers acquired the name of Antiochus Epiphanes, and in his reign fulfilled a prophecy made centuries earlier in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Antiochus Epiphanes (c. 215 BC -164 BC), Hellenistic king of the Seleucid Empire
For most of their rule, the Seleucids followed Alexander’s policy of using local satraps and princes to help rule the vastly diverse tribes of the Levant. Jews were permitted to maintain their religious ways and culture as long as they paid the required tributes. In 187 B.C. Antiochus III was succeeded by his eldest son, Seleucus IV Philopater, and then by his youngest son Antiochus IV Epinphenes. The kingdom he inherited contained resistance and rebellion in enough measure to warrant a crackdown, and Epiphanes was just the man to crush dissent.
Antiochus determined to unify the religions of the region by compelling everyone to worship him as the paramount god—the Greek god Zeus—in human form. For the first time, his image appeared on the coinage to remind the people he was “Theos Epiphanes” the “manifest god.” Wise guys live in every culture, and someone changed one letter in his name for it to read Epimanes—the “madman,” a most popular public joke.
Approximate geographical area of the Levant, a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia
Coin depicting Antiochus IV Epiphanes
A dispute over who should be the high priest of the Jews in Jerusalem resulted in a war of bribery, won by the pro-Greek Jason over his traditionalist brother Onias. A couple years later one Menaleus, not a descendant of Aaron, paid a higher bribe to Antiochus and was installed as the new high priest. Menaleus plundered the temple, causing riots in Jerusalem, and Jason returned to lead the revolt. Antiochus took it all personally and entered the city with an army, finished the temple plundering, and established martial law. Always suspicious of Ptolemaic Egypt, he converted Jerusalem into a fortress city and announced that it would be Greek in religion, abolishing Jewish rites, burning all the Torahs, and requiring the worship of “the manifest god.”
Model of the Second Temple in Jerusalem
The Triumph of Judas Maccabeus, by Sir Peter Paul Rubens
The ultimate breaking point came when Antiochus erected an altar to Zeus on top of the altar of burnt offerings, and sacrificed a pig on December 16, 167 BC. The events of the raging Antiochus Epiphanes are foretold—many Bible scholars believe—by the accounts recorded in Daniel 11, including the military strikes on Egypt and the outrages perpetrated in Jerusalem. The details of the Jewish revolt are recorded in the books of the Maccabees found in the Apocrypha, the non-canonical, mostly history, books placed between the Old and New Testaments in most Bibles, up to and including Luther’s Bible and the original King James Version.
The Punishment of Antiochus, as recounted in 2 Maccabees Chapter 9, by Gustav Doré
The perpetrator of the profanation of the Second Temple, Antiochus Epiphanes, contracted a most painful wasting disease while on a military campaign in the east, and died in agony. God’s preservation of His people from that particular period is remembered in a Jewish holy day known as Hanukah. The state and its leaders down through history have demanded worship, but The True and Living God will only be truly worshipped in the ways He has specified in the Scriptures, and will ultimately put a painful end to idolatrous usurpers.
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:” —1 Corinthians 1:26
The Birth of Lottie Moon, December 12, 1840
harlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon came into the world as the fourth daughter of a family that eventually produced eleven children on a 1,500 acre Virginia tobacco plantation. She left the world twelve days after her seventy-second birthday, having spent the previous thirty-nine years as a single Southern Baptist missionary in China. In an announcement last week, it was revealed that the current communist regime in that country, which has been closing Christian churches and cracking down on believers on a broad scale, has declared the church Lottie Moon helped found and attended in Shandong Province a historical and cultural protected site. It cannot be torn down, and the Baptists can continue meeting there. What did a 4’3” Southern girl accomplish in China that would resonate even today among a nation hostile to all she stood for two centuries ago?
Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon (1840-1912)
The Cocke building of the former Roanoke Female Seminary (now Hollins University)
Lottie attended the “Roanoke Female Seminary” (later Hollins College) from the age of fourteen. She later admitted she was a girl careless of her spiritual condition and proud of her innate intellectual abilities. She was awarded the first Master’s degree earned by a woman, but stayed at home to help her mother hold things together during the Civil War, as her brothers fought in the army and her oldest sister served as a Confederate doctor. She made a profession of faith in Christ in 1858 after hearing a sermon by the greatest of Southern Baptist preachers of her day, John Broaddus. When the war ended, she began a teaching career which carried her first to Kentucky, then Georgia. Believing that God called her to China as a single female missionary, a possibility only recently permitted by her denomination, Lottie left America at the age of thirty-two.
Penglai City, China, where Lottie first served, joining her sister Edmonia
Lottie at first joined with her sister Edmonia in teaching at a boys’ school run by missionaries. She travelled with missionary wives to other parts of China and discovered her “real passion is evangelism.” Lottie had mastered four foreign languages in college and, with that facility for learning other tongues, she mastered Chinese quickly. Lottie disagreed with a number of policies of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, and she never tired of trying to change their minds through letters and on furloughs back to the United States. She constantly pleaded for more missionaries to come to bring the Gospel to the millions of people who would never otherwise hear the message.
Shandong, China street market, circa 1890
Lottie Moon realized quickly that women could best reach Chinese women with the Gospel message, and her witnessing to women bore great spiritual fruit. The last half of the 19th Century and first years of the 20th, were characterized in China by wars, massacres of Christians, famine, plague, and revolution, and Lottie persevered through all obstacles. On top of that, she had to grapple with the theological compromise of fellow missionaries and close friends in the United States. Her letters home were published in the denominational press and her inspiration brought about the founding of the Women’s Missionary Union, and the raising of funds to send more missionaries. She suggested that Christmastime would be a good opportunity to ask for contributions, and so it turned out. Since 1888 the Lottie Moon missionary offering has raised more than 1.5 billion dollars for foreign missions.
She addressed the problem of missionary burn-out by lobbying for furloughs home at ten year intervals. She herself made it back twice, which she believed extended her ability to persevere as long as she did. Today, such practices are standard operating procedure for most foreign missionaries. The geographical area of Lottie’s last service experienced widespread famine. She spent her mission money on food to help Chinese people survive, but her own weight fell to fifty pounds. Fellow missionaries insisted she return to the United States in 1912, but she died aboard ship in a Japanese harbor at the age of seventy-two. Her remains were shipped to her family and she is buried in the cemetery in Crewe, Virginia. She is certainly one of the most effective and renowned of the women God has used to expand his kingdom in the world.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” —Titus 3:4-7
The Birth of Mitsuo Fuchida, December 3, 1902
“The sunrise in the east was magnificent above the white clouds as I led 360 planes towards Hawaii. I knew my objective: to surprise and cripple the American naval force in the Pacific . . . Like a hurricane out of nowhere, my torpedo planes, dive bombers, and fighters struck suddenly with indescribable fury. . It was the most thrilling exploit of my career.”
nd so the Second World War drew in the United States with the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan, four days after Mituso Fuchida’s thirty-ninth birthday. On that occasion, he radioed back to the carrier the code that the attack was successful and the enemy caught unaware: “Tora Tora Tora!”
Mitsuo Fuchida (1902-1976) Japanese captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service and lead airman for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Mitsuo Fuchida was three years old when the Russo-Japanese war came to an end. He grew up hearing the stories of how Japan had wiped out the Russian fleet and humbled a mighty European army and navy. The Land of the Rising Sun still received little respect or parity among the great nations of the world. In the 1920s and 30s Fuchida learned to fly fighter planes, and, by the time he received the orders to lead the attack on Pearl Harbor, had logged thousands of hours of preparation and developed the highest skill of any Japanese pilot in the Empire.
Siege of Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)
He participated in the rather inconclusive Battle of the Coral Sea and was picked to lead the air squadrons, in what Japan hoped would be the decisive blow against the Americans in the Pacific at Midway Island. He fell ill on the voyage to Midway and turned over command to another pilot. He was evacuated from his carrier during the Battle of Midway, the high water mark of the Japanese offensive in the Pacific War.
Explosion on board the USS Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea (May 4-8, 1942)
Through the rest of the Second World War, Fuchida trained airmen, especially instructing the teenaged suicide pilots of the Kamikaze squadrons, who crashed their planes into American ships, strapped into their seat with a non-releasable bomb underneath. His request to join them in a suicide attack was rejected by the high command. With the end of the war, Fuchida, Japan’s most famous combat pilot, bought a rice farm in which to make a living, though he knew nothing but flying planes.
With the capture and demotion of the Emperor of Japan, the religious devotion to Hirohito as the Sun God, the heart of the Japanese worldview, received a mortal blow. Fuchida himself had begun to reconsider his beliefs when studying the heavens on his rice farm. The testimony of an army friend, captured by the Americans, but presented with the Gospel in the POW camps in the United States, instead of torture or beheading, also impressed the hero. Finally, he was given a Gospel tract written by an American airman captured and tortured by the Japanese—Jacob DeShazer—in which he forgave his enemies and returned to Japan as a missionary.
Fuchida in training for the attack on Pearl Harbor
The USS Arizona burns after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor—December 7, 1941
Fuchida, Japan’s greatest living WWII hero, came to faith in Christ and sought out DeShazer, with whom he then travelled across Japan, drawing large crowds, and evangelizing for his new Faith. Mitsuo Fuchida traveled to Europe and the United States in the 1950s and 60s, lecturing to the Air Force high command in Germany, Great Britain, and the United States, explaining the thrill and technique of leading the attack on Pearl Harbor, his providential survival of the war, and about how Jesus Christ changed his life: “I can see now that the Lord had laid His hand upon me so that I might serve Him.” His children married Americans and lived in the United States. An inscrutable Providence once more teaches us that no man or woman is too far from the reach of God’s saving Grace. Mitsuo Fuchida’s “flight to worlds unknown“ took place in Japan in 1976.
Jacob DeShazer (1912-2008) Doolittle Raider and Japanese POW
During a return visit in 1966, Fuchida points with his back to Pearl Harbor to where he led the Japanese planes through the mountains of Oahu Island and down on the the crowed Harbor
The in-depth story of Fuchida’s life is told in the book entitled God’s Samurai: Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor, by Donald Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon, and in several books about Jacob DeShazer, the Doolittle Raider who endured four years of captivity and returned to Japan after the war to preach the Gospel.