The following blog post was originally posted here: The Unthinkable…Matthew 24 pt 6
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? (Matthew 24:1-3)
Immediately after declaring to the Teachers, leaders and Shepherds of Israel that the Holy House of God was now empty, and that Israel would not see him again until they humbly acknowledged the national sin and confessed that Jesus was and is the Messiah of Israel sent by God and meeting the prophetic criterion in every detail, The Messiah left the Temple of the Lord for the final time.
Jesus virtually duplicated Ezekiel’s vision, of the Glory leaving the Holy Place, going out the Eastern gate and then Lingering over the Mount of Olives, until the cloud ascended to heaven. Jesus too left the Temple, through the eastern gate and went to the Mount of Olives, the site which he would eventually ascend to Heaven from, and to which He is prophesied to return.
On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. (Zechariah 14:4)
It was at this point that his disciples marveled at the beauty of the Temple, it’s majestic and massive stones and architectural features. The second Temple was built in the days of Zechariah, Joshua the High priest and the Governor Zerubabbel, but had been remodeled by Herod, who was a despot indeed, but one of the greatest builders of the period.
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.
Forty years after Jesus said this, a siege was erected around Jerusalem, in April, corresponding to Jesus’ trial and death, by the Romans. By August, the walls of jerusalem were breached and on Tisha Ba’Av, (the ninth of the month of Av) fighting broke out in the temple, a fire was started, vast amounts of Gold stored there melted and in the frenzy after the fight, Roman legionaries pried one stone off of another, (seeking melted gold) , thus fulfilling the Words of Jesus.
Josephus, Wars, Chapter 5 #7 Describing the burning of the temple and the Roman’s motives: “their hatred of the Jews, and a certain vehement inclination to fight them too hard for them also. Moreover, the hope of plunder induced many to go on; as having this opinion, that all the places within (the Temple) were full of money: and as seeing that all round about it was made of gold.”
One can still go to Jerusalem to this day and see the piles of massive Stones thrown down from the mount in fulfillment of Jesus words.
The disciples couldn’t fathom it, it was unthinkable that the House of God, the glorious Temple would be destroyed! They were astonished at Jesus words.
It was at this point, on the Mount of Olives that the disciples asked Jesus three questions , which form the structure of Matthew 24, Jesus’ teaching on the end times;
Tell us, when shall these things be?
and what shall be the sign of thy coming,
and of the end of the world?
These are three very distinct questions and the answers to them cover time, from 70 Ad to our very present day.
*When Shall These things be? Refers to the destruction of the Temple, and pall of it’s attendant horrors.
*What shall be the sign of thy coming? This is a question about Jesus’ glorification and exaltation. The disciples had no idea that Jesus would soon die, rise again and that there would be a two thousand year church age, after which Israel would be restored, and thatJesus would come to reign.
But Jesus had told the disciples all along , that though he would be humiliated and despised, one day he would be exalted and glorified, and would come to receive the Kingdom that is His.
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.(Mark 10 :35-37)
What Shall be The Sign of the End of the Age? The Jews looked at time as being Two Aged; ‘this age’ and ‘the age to come’. The Apostles held the same view, (as we all should). Paul said ,”the Suffering of this present time, is not worthy to be compared to glory of the Age to Come”. Jesus called it ‘the Regeneration of all things’, because in it all would be made new.
The present age is the age of death and decay, yet it is also the ‘day of salvation’ an age in which grace and forgiveness are offered to mankind. The Age to come is the age of righteousness,and of the realized Kingdom of God and of the Son of man.
The two Ages briefly overlap, the one passes as the other emerges, like the Sunrise;
But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.(Malachi 4:2)
The Disciples wanted to know the answer to these three questions, seemingly thinking they are all parts of a whole,and tied up in each other. Surely the destruction of the Temple portends the dawning of a new age, and will eventuate in the vindication and glory of the Messiah, Jesus! But they had no idea the length of the span, and that the events of 70 Ad would only be the beginning of a long night for the Jews, and a partial type of the events at the end of the world.