February 2

Bible Reading: Matthew 24

Matthew 24:1-2, “Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down’.”

By all accounts, Herod’s temple was a glorious structure.  It had taken a year and a half to build the temple proper and eight years to finish the courts.  Other additions continued over time such that the entire undertaking was not finished until decades later.  The temple transversed an area of some 750 feet and was easily visible from any part of the city.  Some stones used in its construction were of massive proportion (over 60X9X7 feet).  The disciples and Jesus were there at the temple.  “Some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts.”  He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” (Luke 21:5-6; Matthew 24:1-2).

Jewish life revolved around the temple, the priesthood, and the sacrifices.  The temple was a beautiful edifice and of the highest importance to the Jews—the centerpiece of their Jewish identity.  No doubt thousands had walked by, day-after-day, admiring those beautiful stones.  But Jesus saw things from a different perspective.  He spoke of a day when it would all be torn down.  That day would not be long in coming.

The Jewish historian, Josephus, was an eyewitness of the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem and wrote of it: “Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done), Titus gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and Temple…it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it (Jerusalem) had ever been inhabited.  This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.”

As with all other warnings—given by God to man—Jesus’ prediction was fulfilled to the letter.  The glorious temple came crashing down.  Jesus’ prophecy gave rise to the disciple’s questions: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3).  Matthew Chapters 24-25 (aka, “the Olivet Discourse”) record Jesus’ response.  As with much of prophecy, this passage has its interpretative challenges.  Those, like me, who are of a dispensational persuasion, understand the passage to be speaking primarily of future events: 1) Verses 4-8—the present church age; 2) Verses 9-26—the future tribulation; 3) Verses 27-51—the future second advent and exhortation to watchfulness; and 4) 25:1-46—future judgment on Israel and the nations.  The rapture, later revealed to (and through) the Apostle Paul, is not referenced in these chapters.

But, regardless of one’s particular interpretation, there can be no doubt that judgment is coming (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 2 Peter 3:3-13; Jude 14-16).  These prophecies will likewise be fulfilled to the letter.  The temple was indeed torn down, but refuge is to be had in another.  Jesus had spoken on a previous occasion of the destruction of that temple: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).  That statement was later used to falsely accuse Him (Matthew 26:61).  But He had been speaking of His body: “When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken” (John 2:22).

Judgment is indeed coming.  Far more than a temple will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10).  How shall anyone escape?  The “glorious gospel of the blessed God” is the power of God to save (1 Timothy 1:11; Romans 1:16).  “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures… He was buried… and He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).  It is the destruction of His temple (His body) and His subsequent resurrection that serves as the basis for one’s salvation.  He’s even now building a temple that will stand for all eternity (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Judgment is indeed coming.  Far more than a temple will be destroyed.  How shall anyone escape?  Jesus alone has the power to save.

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.

Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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