In looking at the Olivet Discourse we see that the disciples are still without understanding concerning the death, burial and resurrection; and they are still looking for Him to set up an earthly kingdom at that present time. The thought of the temple being destroyed was beyond their thinking and curious minds. The temple; to the people of Israel represented a security, and the presence of God.
As I study this portion of Scripture a question comes to my mind. What of the ark of the covenant? Historians have told us that the ark of the covenant was hidden by Jeremiah in Egypt, or other such stories. In Jerusalem, in the time of Jesus, however, there is a temple, and there is a Holy of Holies within the temple. There is a “veil” which was torn during the crucifixion of Jesus (27:51). The ark of the covenant always represented the presence, power and glory of God. During the time of Jesus was the ark of the covenant behind the veil that was torn from the top to the bottom? Does it matter?
For the temple to be destroyed would be catastrophic for the Jewish people. In the hearts of most of the leaders of Israel, the presence, power, and glory of God seemed to be of little significance; after all, they had their temple, their sacrifices, feast days, Sabbaths, and special days.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:1-8 (KJV)
In verse one as we saw in the last study/message Jesus departs from the temple. Again, this is Matthew’s last mention of Jesus in the temple, and now he has Him departing from it. Even if the ark of the covenant is present behind the veil, the real glory of God has left. The ark of the covenant was only a shadow of the Lord Christ. Made of wood, representing man. Covered in gold representing the purity and deity of God; and within was the law of God – the Ten Commandments – given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai, Aaron’s rod that blossomed (Numbers 17:10), and a sample of the manna (Exodus 16:33). Many probably do not, nor will they want to see it; but this event of Jesus departing the temple is a very sad event; but one which speaks loudly of a coming judgment upon those who rejected Him.
Without God in the temple it was being left desolate (23:28), just as Jesus had said. Being left desolate the temple, then, would become subject to defilement, desecration, and destruction. Always evidence of God’s displeasure and departure.
In A.D. 70 the destruction of the temple was fulfilled. There was not one stone left upon another. These gleaming white marble stones were cut with precision, where each one fit perfectly as the building was being erected. The largest stone which was cut out measured 40 feet in length, by 12 feet wide, by 12 feet high, and weighed up to 100 tons. The East side of the temple was plated with gold, and as the morning sun rose it could be seen from many miles away. The temple had been forty years in the building and it was not completed at the time it was destroyed.
To see these massive stones, and hear the words of Jesus, it would be hard to imagine that that temple could be destroyed, and not one stone be left upon another. However when the temple fell, almost forty years later, it was just as Jesus said. Not one stone was left upon another.
A Study Bible note says,
“24:2. not one stone shall be left here. These words were literally fulfilled in A.D. 70. Titus, the Roman general, built lare wooden scaffords around the walls of the temple buildings, piled them high with wood and other flammable items, and set them ablaze. The heat from the fires was so intense that the stones crumbled. The rubble was then sifted to retrieve the melted gold, and the remaining ruins were ‘thrown down’ into the Kidron Valley. See notes on 22:7; Luke 19:43.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, NKJV, p. 1438.
It goes to show, when God says something is going to happen; it will happen; and just as He has said.
We are all somewhat curious about the future. We have that curiosity and the only way we know the future, or at least a part of it is by God’s revelation. The disciples were curious, and so asked Jesus, “When will these things be?”, and this was after they were the one’s showing Jesus the temple (v. 2); probably because they were in awe of its beauty and size. I am somewhat amazed by the architecture of the old European variety. There is an old church building in France which was started in its construction in 1100 A.D., and was completed around 1500. It is a massive piece of art, and craftsmanship. It still stands today, but for how much longer only God really knows. It is much greater to be in awe of the One who has shaped and formed and built all things from nothing.
The disciples asked Jesus three questions. Question 1: “When shall these things be?”; Question 2: “What shall be the sign of thy coming?”; and Question 3: “…of the end of the world?” When the disciples, awed by the glory of the building, saw that Jesus was not; they asked Him, “When shall these things be?” With psychics giving people false hope for the future just to gain a few dollars, people still reading their horoscopes, and some flocking to seminars where they can learn how to build their own future by building on themselves; we need a clear word from God on the matter of what the future holds. As has been said, “I don’t know what the future holds; but I know who holds the future.” We can trust and know; when we know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior; that anything that is in our future is in the hands of the Almighty God, our Creator.
The only reason people go to psychics, palm readers, fortune tellers, necromancers (People who claim to communicate with the dead), and witches is to keep control of their lives themselves. I am forever grateful that the power of the control of my future is not in my hands, but the hands of my heavenly Father. Now, don’t misunderstand me. That does not mean that I can sit down and do nothing. As a responsible man, and Christian man; I still must be vigilant to tend to my regular business affairs, spiritual life, and see that my family grows in the Lord as well. I must be a responsible steward of all that God has blessed me with, and God help me, and forgive me where I haven’t been. God will reveal as much of the future that I need to know, as He wants me to know. He most likely will not tell me when I will die; when my wife, or my children will die; or the death of anyone else for that matter. He can, and He has before with others, but there is nothing that tells us He must do so.
The disciples equate the destruction of the temple with the end of the world [age]. A question we might ask is “Why would God destroy the Temple?” It was the center of worship for the Jews. To the Jew, it was the place where God dwelt. The place where they could meet God, and for some they thought to contain Him only in the temple for themselves, leaving them free to live as they pleased.
Why would God destroy the temple? To save Israel. God will destroy buildings, houses, lands, livestock, even lives to save a soul. Jesus did not tell His disciples when the temple would be destroyed. The destruction spoken of here would take place some years in the near future; it was; and there will be another one built, sometime yet in our future. Instead of telling the disciples “When” these things would come to pass, Jesus mentioned to them some signs of things which would happen before the return of the Lord.
Then in verse four Jesus begins answering the questions when He says, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” With the world experiencing the many forms of catastrophe which we all have seen it is no wonder there are those proposing things which are really “Get rich quick” schemes and scams. Even worse though are the spiritual charlatans who propose the many ways to God; than any way is good as long as you believe. Some give you a promise: “When you send in your offerings to me, then, God will multiply for you, your offering a hundred fold”. None of these false prophets warn of sin, death, and judgment; and certainly none of them call for repentance, and faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. There are many in the world out to deceive and to get what they want from anyone who will follow them.
Jesus’s words are, “Take heed that no man deceive you”. In this world there is only one hope and His name is Jesus Christ Son of the Living God; who died on the cross for the sins of the world, was buried carrying our sins away, and rose again as evidence that He is the God incarnate who created all that there is.
There are even some of them who say they are christs, and there are some who will tell you they have the christ spirit or something like that, but what they teach and say is contrary to the true Christ – there is only one – and His name is Jesus, Son of the Living God. The teaching of these male and female charismatic speakers are indeed fascinating, even captivating, but lies meant to lead you away from the truth. Even Oprah has her own gospel now, and it may include Jesus but not the Bible Jesus who died, was buried, and rose again. For if she really believed in Him she would not be promoting other ways to God. The kind of message she and others are proclaiming are leading many souls away from the truth of Jesus Christ right into the arms of Lucifer. Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:” Matthew 24:6-7 (KJV)
If we take a look around the world of 2008 we find wars going on in many nations. Oun own nation the USA is at war with two nations – Iraq and Afghanistan – and working toward another with Iran, due to Iran’s arrogance, and their hatred for Israel and the United States, and their threat that nuclear power would bring to the world. The president of Iran has vowed to destroy Israel. We need not fear that happening; it won’t; because God has promised otherwise, and we have seen His Almighty hand of deliverance before.
Jesus tells us in the verse above, “See that ye be not troubled…”. There is a war going on in our own nation. It is not a war with guns, bullets, and bombs; but a war of thoughts and ideas; a war of right versus wrong – what is right and what is wrong – even getting where wrong is considered right, and right is considered as wrong. Let me give you a for instance; in the minds of some citizens of the USA same sex marriage is a good thing for those who want to practice that perversion of a sexual relationship, and if you are silent and will support it by your silence saying on occasion, “I see nothing wrong with it”, then you are good. On the other hand if you oppose this perversion of a sexual relationship, and warn people that it is against the norm, or against God and right, then you are bad. According to a number of these same sex marriage advocates to be against their marriage or union and speak against it is “Hate speech”. That is only one instance of wrong being right, and right being wrong. There are others. You could call it a “Culture war”, but I think it better called a “Spiritual war”.
-Tim A. Blankenship