The Coming Conflagration
December 21, 2021
And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Matthew 24:2).
The Temple in Jerusalem was the one great monument to Israel’s glory as a nation. It was the symbol of God’s presence, power, provision, and protection for the Jews. They believed as long as the Temple stood in Jerusalem, God stood with them as a nation. For Jesus to prophesy the destruction of the Temple was blasphemous. No nation could conquer God.
The Temple complex was large, lavish, and magnificent. It was the pride of the nation, and the nation was at peace. Yet in 40 years His prophecy came to pass. Jerusalem was destroyed by General Titus and the Roman army on September 8, A.D. 70. The account of the siege and destruction of the city is recorded by Flavius Josephus, a Jewish priest and historian of impeccable accuracy. He was captured by the Romans and remained with them during the siege and destruction of the city. He wrote, Titus “gave orders that they should now demolish the whole city and Temple,” except three towers, which were to remain standing. But everything else on the Temple Mount, even the walls, were leveled to the ground by those who “dug it up from the foundation,” so that nothing was left to cause one to believe it had ever been inhabited. Maimonides, a Jewish Rabbi, recorded that “Terentius Rufus, an officer in the army of Titus, with a plowshare tore up the foundations of the Temple, that the prophecy might be fulfilled, ‘Zion shall be plowed as a field,’” (Micah 3:12). Jesus’ prophecy was spot on.
During the siege, General Titus wanted the Temple left untouched and frequently sent Josephus to the Jews to urge them to surrender and save the Temple and city. But the Jews refused and the Temple was destroyed. The Jews were the first to set fire to its porticoes. A Roman soldier then threw a torch through the golden window, and soon the Temple was in flames. Titus gave orders to extinguish the fire, but it was too late. After the fire died out, the soldiers marched up to the Temple area and tore down any remaining structures. All of the blocks of marble were scattered so that no block of marble stood on top of another. Their hatred of the Jews moved the Romans to so completely destroy the Temple Mount that you could not tell a building had ever existed there (“Jewish Wars”, book 6, chapter 4, section 5-7).
Why? Adam Clarke gives 3 reasons: (1) justly - because of the sins of the Jews, (2) mercifully - to take away from them the occasion of continuing in Judaism, and (3) mysteriously - to show that the ancient sacrifices were abolished, and that the whole Jewish economy was brought to an end, and the Christian dispensation introduced.
“Lord Jesus, Your words throughout the Gospels ring true today. Our sin brings judgment, our occupation with religion robs us of fellowship with You, our sacrifices to You cannot match Your great sacrifice for us. Thank You, Lord, that in You we have a new beginning that fulfills the old and inadequate types. Amen.”