ARTIFACTS is a series on the art and history of Bible times. See other articles in this series.
In 2020 my wife and I visited Rome and walked all around the city, viewing art from antiquity. Near the famed Coliseum, the site of many Christian martyrs, stands the Victory Arch of Titus, telling the world of Jesus's fateful prediction come true.
In Mark chapter 13, after Jesus taught in the Temple courts and was departing, one of his disciples remarked how massive the stones and magnificent the buildings were. The buildings might have reached up to 150 feet in height and they were adorned with gold, silver, and other precious items. As they looked, Jesus had a prediction of the future.
"Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."Mark 13:2
The disciples must have been amazed at what Christ was saying to them. Later they were sitting at the Mount of Olives when Peter, James, and John asked him privately a follow-up question about this stunning statement. "Tell us, when will these things happen?"
As Laurie and I stood by the Roman Coliseum, looking at the famous Arch of Titus, there for all the world to see, over these past two thousand years was the answer. Depicted in ba-relief marble, sculpted in amazing craftmanship is the prediction of Christ proven. Emperor Titus Flavian of Rome brought to his city the implements of worship from Herod's Temple. This event is recorded as happening around 70 CE as the conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the second Jewish Temple.
The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, AD 70, by David Roberts
On the panel of the Arch of Titus, the story of the returning soldiers is displayed. They march into Rome hauling the holy elements from the great Temple. The seven-candled lampstand called the Menorah is held high and was originally painted yellow on the sculpture in Rome. Next, the Table of Showbread is seen on the right, lifted high in celebration, along with silver trumpets and many talents of gold. Josephius the historian recorded a commentary about the scene, saying that the Torah, or rolled scriptures were there also. Missing in the scene is the Arc of the Covenant, which remains a mystery to this day. Other records from Rome suggest that the gold from the Temple helped pay for the Coliseum.
Roman Triumphal arch panel copy from Beth Hatefutsoth, showing spoils of Jerusalem temple 81 ap. J.-C.
What a price the people of Jerusalem paid for rejecting the Messiah. The destruction of their beloved Temple and city, along with dispersion. It stands as a sober reminder of the price of sin and rejection of God. But, although they rejected Him, His plan to redeem Israel for His Kingdom will come about. As we see that day approaching, let's keep looking at art like the Arch of Titus which gives us another glimpse that the Biblical narrative is true and is supported by historical archeology. Every month new discoveries are being uncovered that bring validity to the scriptures through archeology. Let's keep digging.