Walking in Truth Devotional Update
Destruction of the Temple Foretold by Jesus
(Mat 24; Mk 13; Lk 21:5-36)
As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.” (Mark 13:1-2). “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3). The disciples asked Jesus three questions and Jesus proceeds to answer them.
The first question concerned the destruction of the Temple. Jesus’ prophecy of the temple’s coming destruction, and by implication the city of Jerusalem as well, must have been surprising to many. It was magnificent and had been rebuilt by Zerubbabel and Haggai around 515 B.C., after Israel’s return from exile in Babylon. However, it had undergone a massive rebuilding program involving the entire temple mount by Herod the Great from B.C. 20 to around 63 A.D. Jesus was not awed by the “stones and offerings” of the temple. He saw beneath the surface and realized that underneath the cosmetic beauty of the temple lay all kinds of uncleanness (Matt 23:27-28). Jesus was not moved by compassion for the Temple, but for the people whom He loved and felt pity because of what they would suffer during the overthrow of the city of Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37).
History tells us, that this judgment was executed later, when the Romans under Titus sacked Jerusalem. Titus, when he took the city in A.D. 70, tried unsuccessfully to save the temple, but his soldiers put it to the torch, thus fulfilling Christ’s prophecy.
Jesus gave them signs to look for before the fall of Jerusalem would take place. These signs are given in Matthew 24:3-28. These are not the signs of the end of the world as many teach. Jesus clearly was discussing what was going to happen to Jerusalem. There would be many false Christ, wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places and these would be the beginning of sorrows. Persecution would be experienced by the righteous, lawlessness would abound, and the love of many would grow cold, and the gospel would be preached to all the nations. Paul says that this was done (Col. 1:23). His meaning is not that every creature had actually heard the gospel, but that each had been given an opportunity to hear because the gospel had been so universally preached.
Pay close attention to verses 15-22: “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” This warning was for those in Judea and their need would be to get to the mountains to be saved from the terrible destruction that would take place when Rome marched against the city of Jerusalem. He was speaking of the gates of the city of Jerusalem. If they were closed because of the Sabbath they would not be able to flee the city and get to the mountains.
There were warning signs preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, giving people who heeded the signs a chance to quickly escape and save their lives (Matthew 24:15-16). There will be no warning signs of the second coming and the end of the world (Matthew 24:35-36). “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of [f]heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:36-39).
By Guy Roberson