Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, “These things which you see–the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.” (Luke 21:5-6)
Ruins Of A Temple
When Solomon completed the first temple in Jerusalem, there was no building in the world that was as beautiful. Constructed without the noise of a hammer its walls glistened in the Palestinian sunlight bathing the city of Jerusalem with the warmth of God’s protection. Sin would destroy the magnificent edifice as the people turned away from the Lord and Nebuchadnezzar would raze the temple to the ground in 586BC. Following a period of seventy years, the people would return to build a second temple. Opposition to its rebirth delayed the final construction but it was finally completed in 516BC. Through the years leading up the coming of Jesus, the temple experienced times of glory and periods of desecration. Herod, the king of Judea, began an energetic rebuilding project that was finished six years before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. When Jesus began His ministry, the temple enjoyed a resurgence of its former splendor. The Jews, while hating the Romans, reveled in the beauty of its structure holding out the hope that God would restore the former days to the nation. It was not to be.
While in Jerusalem with His disciples, Jesus was asked about the temple. His disciples commented on how beautiful it was. The Lord gave a shocking observation by declaring that a day would come that not one stone would be left upon another as the temple once again would be razed to the ground. This was not what the disciples expected to hear. What they saw before them was a building of such grandeur no one could imagine anything so glorious would ever suffer harm. Especially true was the temple of the Lord. The vision of the followers of Jesus was limited by their belief that all things will continue forever. They had heard the stories of the first destruction of Solomon’s temple but this would not happen again. It happened in the lifetime of many of those same disciples. In 70AD Roman legions under Roman General Titus looted and destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple. The words of Jesus came true.
Today in the city of Jerusalem – no temple stands. Nothing remains of the temple. The lesson from Jesus is not only the power of prophetic word but the truth of the glory of this world. Nothing is lasting. Egyptian pyramids stand as stark reminders of a time when a great nation ruled the world but no more. Crumbling ruins intrigue the mind as remnants of the Roman Empire become classroom history lessons. Nations of great power rise and fall leaving dusts in the place of their heralded beauty. No stone stays upon another and what we see today will be broken down one day. Living in a world of temporary buildings is what Jesus wanted His disciples to see. The human body is the same way. It is here today and gone tomorrow. Jesus would tell His disciples to take heed to the lie of this world and not be deceived by its fragile future.
Truth is found in the teaching of Jesus as He gazed upon the temple. It was beautiful but it would not last. He still lives, His word remains and the eyes of man will never find happiness unless they come to know Him that is the same yesterday, today and forever. Life is not about the here and now. The earth itself has a due date for its destruction. All the grandeur of God’s beautiful creation will end one day. The joy of salvation tells the child of God that life will continue after death not in temples of mortar and stone; but temples of the spirit of God. Now that is something beautiful. Lord – come quickly.
Jesus knew that He had come to kindle a fire on earth … He saw that what was exalted among man was an abomination before God. (Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianity and the Social Crisis, 1907)