“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple:” Matthew 24:1 (KJV).
Beginning chapter 24 one must go back to view a little bit of chapter 23. Chapter 23 is a discourse Jesus had with the Scribes and Pharisees, condemning their legalistic, condemning practices of the people. Jesus refers to them as “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites” seven times, and one of the “woes” pronounced Jesus calls them “blind guides” (v.16).
These were the ones who secured the temple and loved to be called “Rabbi” or in our area it would be similar to a PHD. or a doctorate in theology. Arrogance of their education, and wanting, desiring it above even, a right attitude with the Lord.
Chapter 23 ends with a lament from Jesus over the city of Jerusalem.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Matthew 23:37-39 (KJV)
There are a few things we need to see concerning Jesus leaving the temple. This phrase “Jesus went out, and departed from the temple” seems almost permanent. In Matthew’s Gospel this would be the final time Jesus visited the temple, before His cross in Jerusalem. Luke’s account of Jesus’s lament over the city does not mention all that Matthew records; they are different (Luke 19:41-44). Following Matthew’s account Jesus leaves the temple not to return again until He comes in His glory as King of kings (23:39).
Let’s consider why Jesus left the temple. He departed because He, His life, His message, and His Father had been rejected by the one’s to whom He first came. “He came unto His own; and His own received Him not” (John 1:11). Two times Jesus had came to the temple and found it to be full of profiteers, who were gouging the people out of their mammon and means; and He drove them out. Matthew’s gospel (chapter 21), Mark’s gospel (chapter 11), and the gospel of Luke (chapter19) has Jesus driving the “money changers” out of the temple in the latter part of His ministry; the apostle John records Him driving out the money changers early in His earthly ministry. The only plausible explanation is that Jesus cleansed the temple twice, and they never received the message. He very strongly, without wavering, was saying to them, “My house is to be a house of prayer for all people, but you have made it a den of thieves.”
Jesus spoke very strongly to all who came to Him. He did not withhold what He should say for fear that someone might be offended. Some were, especially those who were guilty of the charges; those were mostly the religious leaders who were given to their systems of belief, and refused to hear the message of Jesus. These so called spiritual leaders were angered by the clear, simple, and direct teaching of Jesus. He spoke with authority; as though He knew what He was saying and that He had it on direct authority from heaven. He did.
Jesus knowing that He had been rejected by His own and that the time of His crucifixion was drawing near; looked out over the city and pronounced this lament toward Jerusalem. The lamentation was from a broken heart, grieved that for many years and at many and various times they had rejected the prophets of God, even killing them. They were basically refusing the comforting, sheltering, loving of the Father. The warning preaching of the prophets were God’s call to gather under the sheltering wings of God, “but you would not”.
Very much unlike their favored, God annointed king of old, they would not flee to the wings of God, “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wing.” Psalms 17:8 (KJV). “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” Psalms 57:1 (KJV). “I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.” Psalms 61:4 (KJV). By these few verses from the heart of David we see that they were far from having the heart of king David, and far from the heart of God.
Jesus’s departure from the temple was very similar to the capture of the ark of the covenant in 1 Samuel 4. The ark of the covenant was a symbol of the power and presence of God. There was great and grave evil in the camp of Israel, and were foolish in sending the ark out to the battle in the first place, because they were attempting to use God in their evil. When the ark was taken, and did not come back with the defeated troops of Israel, as “his heart trembled for the ark of God” (1 Samuel 4:13), Eli died when he received the news of the captured ark. His sons Hophni and Phineas also died, and then Phineas’ wife had a son, and she died in child birth, naming the son “Ichabod” meaning “the glory is departed”. When Jesus left the temple that day; the Glory of God was departed from it, and would only return to it when they would look upon the One whom they pierced.
There are other places of Scripture which mention the departure of the glory of God from the temple. Ezekiel mentions the glory of God much in the closing chapters of his prophecy. Chapters 43-48 mention much about the return of the glory of God to the temple; speaking of the Millennial Temple; when Jesus returns in all His glory to set up His reign upon the earth. However, nearer the beginning of the prophecy, Ezekiel mentions the departure of the glory, because they have departed from God, as the nation, and gone into captivity. The prophet wrote, “Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.” Ezekiel 10:18 (KJV). Jesus Himself was the physical manisfestation of the Glory of the LORD, as the writer of Hebrews says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” Hebrews 1:1-3 (KJV). The apostle John mentions Jesus being the glory when he wrote, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (KJV)
The glory incarnate was rejected by His own people. They crucified the Glory, buried the Glory, thinking the Glory was finished. The work was finished. The work which the Father had given His Son to do, was finished. He died to live again. He died that all who believe in Him might be saved. Jesus rose again. Now, the Glory of God lives in His temple; which temple we are, who profess Jesus as our Lord and Savior.