"However, when you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near." Luke 21:20
There is so much history to see in Rome that people often walk by monuments of enormous Biblical importance without realising their significance. Here is a good example found on the second level on the Colosseum by the gift shop exit. We don't go inside the Colosseum on our tour so here is a top tip if you choose to brave the lines and go inside on another occasion.
This unassuming block of marble is in fact a monumental inscribed piece of architrave of the Colosseum as seen by the Romans citizens as they walked into the building 2000 years ago. This piece was discovered in 1813 during excavations of the arena. The block was inscribed in 80A.D. to celebrate the opening of the Colosseum but the latin text was added hundreds of years later to commemorate the restoration of the arena floor by Rufius Caecina Felix - Prefect of Rome. IGNORE THE LATIN TEXT!
Look closely and you'll notice ancient drill holes covering the face of the block. These holes held pins for securing bronze lettering. Archaeologists set about tracing and measuring the spaces between the dowel holes to decode the inscription, join the dots and the results were fascinating!
As reconstructed by Professor Géza Alföldy of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, the inscription reads: “The Emperor Titus Vespasian Caesar Augustus had the new amphitheater erected with the proceeds of the booty.” What booty or plunder was this? Consider the timing. Jerusalem fell to Titus in 70CE. Titus returned with the plunder of Jerusalem in a triumphal procession a year later in 71CE. The building of the Colosseum began shortly after in 72CE. Could it be that the treasures taken as plunder from Jerusalem by Vespasian's son and General, Titus, provided the necessary funds to build the Colosseum? Professor Alföldy believes that this is exactly the case. “We are talking about the immense booty [plunder] taken by Titus in the war against the Jews,” says Alföldy, “and in particular, the gold furnishings” of the temple in Jerusalem. (g96 2/22 31)
More convincing evidence of a link between the funding of the Colosseum and the plunder from Jerusalem's destruction comes from the Arch's inner relief designs and positioning of the Arch of Titus in relation to the amphitheatre.
The relief on the inside of the Arch of Titus shows the 'plunder' from Jehovah's temple - the holy place. You can clearly see the golden Menorah lamp stand (Ex 25:32), the silver trumpets of Moses (Num 10:1), the table of showbread (Num 4:7) and the golden bowls for frankincense (Lev 24:6). The victorious Roman soldiers can also be seen carrying the Roman standards or banners. The presence of the Roman armies and their disgusting standards in Jehovah's temple in 66CE fulfilled Jesus' prophecy stated 4 decades earlier.
"Therefore when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken about by Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place (let the reader use discernment), then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains." Matt 24:15
When the Romans under Titus returned in 70CE and defeated Jerusalem, the scene in the relief above was enacted.
Bear in mind the relief on the arch when considering how people walked to the Colosseum. This journey had a certain processional feel about it - a celebration even. At a certain time in the day, the games in the Colosseum would begin and many people would approach on the Via Sacra (The Sacred Way) from the city centre (Forum Romanum) towards the Colosseum. Every citizen who took this path was obliged to pass under the arch of Titus and in doing so, bless the victory over Jerusalem. As the picture above shows, when citizens passed under the Arch of Titus and could see the relief artwork depicting the plunder of Jerusalem, the eagle-eyed may well have been able to simultaneously see the inscribed marble architraves to the Colosseum with the large bronze letters glimmering in the morning sun - '...MADE FROM THE PLUNDER...' Whether the lettering was directly visible or not, after passing under the monumental triumphal arch celebrating the fall of Jerusalem and arriving at the Colosseum, the Roman citizens would have been left in little doubt as to which plunder was being referred to as they thought back to the relief work inside the vaults of the Arch of Titus. It appears that just like this triumphal arch, the Colosseum itself unashamedly celebrated the destruction of Jerusalem in 70CE - a destruction that Jesus had prophesied in considerable detail some 4 decades earlier.
Further reading: If this topic interested you, please follow the link to the wonderful article on the Arch of Titus in the Number 2 Watchtower 2018 - The Arch of Titus in Rome - A Silent Witness to Accurate Prophecy.
Ref: Hopkins, K & Beard, M (2006) Wonders of the World - The Colosseum, Profile Books