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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jesus and the Destruction of Jerusalem

I know that people don't like history much of the time because there are many dates involved, but certain years are engrained in our minds. The year 1776 with the forming of our country and September 11, 2001, unfortunately, are examples among many that will not be forgotten. There are also dates in scripture that are important to know.

70 A.D. with the destruction of the temple by the Romans is important for a few reasons:
It changed Judaism forever.
Jesus prophecies that it would be destroyed.
Jesus points us to a New Temple.

Jerusalem was the political, religious, and economic center in the life of every Jew.
Imagine Wall Street, Washington D.C. and Rome wrapped into one city.
The temple, in particular, was the center of Jerusalem where sacrifice was offered daily.
Several feasts each year called all the Jews of the world back to Jerusalem to celebrate these feasts.

When Jerusalem was destroyed, this ended those sacrifices prescribed by Moses even until today. Jews stopped having a priesthood and a sacrificial system the day that Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed.

Sometimes, Jesus is very blunt about it like in Matthew 24:1-2.
Matthew 24:1
  And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down."
Other times, though, He is cryptic about it like when he says in Matthew 12:39-40: But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Well, what people don't usually understand is that Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh because he knew that God might be merciful to those wicked people and use them to bring judgment on his own sinful people back in Israel.
So Jonah was afraid that if Assyria did in fact repent, God would then use them to destroy the Israelites who would not repent. This is exactly what happens.
And 40 years after Jonah preached to those people, the Ninevites came and destroyed his people and spread them throughout the world, and now they are the ten lost tribes of Israel.
The same thing happens in Jesus’ day, 40 years after He rises from the earth, the Romans come and destroy Jerusalem.
Another example is when Jesus cleanses the temple.
Matthew 21:13 He said to them, "It is written, `My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you make it a den of robbers."
Now Jesus is in fact quoting Jeremiah here and Jesus knows that the hearers know the context of the quote.
Jeremiah 7:11-13 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, says the LORD. Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things, says the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer.

Jesus calls himself the new temple in John.
John 2:19-21 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?" But he spoke of the temple of his body.
John 19:33-35 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.
This is significant because during some of the temple sacrifices both blood and water would be poured out over and the altar and they would run as a stream out of the side of the temple. Out of Jesus’ side flows blood and water.

Revelation 21:22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own.

So again this significance is that, first, it is in the person of Christ himself that we go to meet God.
Secondly, Christ is the place of sacrifice. We are to be united in Him and with Him with our own sacrifices.
And finally, it is in Christ that we participate as a temple builder. We help build the temple of God here on earth and then later in heaven.

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