Is Rome God’s army to punish Israel? Yes and no. When Jesus came on the clouds of heaven during the Parousia the army He led is mentioned in Rev 19:14: “The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” Notice that Jesus’ army was “[t]he armies of heaven” who rode “white horses” while being “dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” Does this sound like the Roman army? Is the Roman army an army “of heaven” dressed in white linen riding white horses? No. Jesus’ army is the angels or saints.
Rome and Jerusalem both participated in Jesus’ death. The Jews persuaded the Romans to kill Jesus. Thus the Romans were like hitman contracted to kill Jesus. Is the person who puts out a hit the only party guilty in a murder? No. A hitman is also guilty of murder. And this is exactly what Jesus says to Pilate in John 19:11: “Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” In this verse we see Jesus justifiably attributing some of the guilt of His death to Rome.
But what about Matthew 23:35: “And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar”? Does this v. contradict John 19:11 by attributing all the guilt over the murder of Christ and His people to the people of Jerusalem? No. In Revelation, the “earth” is Israel and the “sea” is Gentile Rome. See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations. The same meaning appears intended in Matthew 23:35. “[A]ll the righteous blood shed on the earth” is all the righteous blood shed in Israel, the earth, only. The Jews are not responsible (or at least exclusively responsible) for all the righteous blood shed by Nero during his great persecution of A.D. 64. For this crime, Rome, the beast, is culpable. And largely for this transgression, God punished Rome in Revelation 16:10.
At the end of the age, God used both Rome and the Zealots to exercise His judgment on those rich people of Jerusalem referred to in Mt 23:35 who killed Jesus (Jm 5:1-6; Lk 11:39, 16:13-15) and the saints (Jm 2:1-7). Recall that both the Romans and the Zealots killed the rich people of Jerusalem who killed Jesus and the saints (Josephus The Wars of the Jews 2.13.6; 4.5.3; 4.9.10; 5.10.2; 6.6.3). But in truth, the Zealots and Romans were not completely innocent either. Both Rome and the Zealot rebels were also wicked people and both were punished in the Jewish War itself as war is a curse to everyone involved win or lose. And to somewhat even things out God added more punishment to the Romans in A.D. 68-69 in the civil war following Nero’s death in fulfillment of Rev 16:10. Thus, just like Babylon (Jer 50:18-19) and Assyria (Is 10:5-6) who were used by God to punish the wicked of Israel, God later also turned on Rome in A.D. 69 just as he had done to Babylon and Assyria (Jer 51:7-8, Is 10:12) as well. Thus the fact that God used Rome to punish Israel does not mean Rome is “good,” in fact, if we follow the precedent set by Assyria and Babylon, it implies the opposite.