A short meditation on some prophecies of Jesus and the fall of Jerusalem and its temple in AD 70.
“”Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”” Matthew 7:24-27 ESV. This, again, is the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This is timeless truth for all believers. We will either listen to the words of Jesus Christ and respond appropriately to the Son of God as Savior of the World (and our own personal Messiah), or we will not. We will either learn to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength in such a way that it will be manifested in loving our neighbors as ourselves, or we will not. We will either believe in Jesus’ ethics of mercy and justice or we will not. We will choose to live here and now in and for the Kingdom of God which Jesus announced and enacted, or we will not. We will build our houses upon the rock of Jesus Christ the cornerstone, or we will build it upon shifting sand, and when the floods come we will be swept away.
Jesus, during his life and ministry on earth, had pronounced judgment upon the corrupt temple in Jerusalem. Though it clung to a form of ritualistic godliness, the Jews there had forgotten the ethics of the God of mercy and justice. The ethics of the Kingdom of God as pronounced by Jesus Christ, the same ethics which were always to define their covenantal identity. The result? In AD 70, 40 years after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the Jerusalem temple fell in the Roman Jewish War, a fall of catastrophic proportions. …And great was the fall of it.
The significance of the fall of the temple in Jerusalem in AD 70 can not be overstated. Jesus had repeatedly warned that if Israel continued to define the Kingdom of God in nationalistic terms and seeing it as coming through their own violent revolutions, the result would be disastrous. Forty years after his own crucifixion, all that Jesus foretold concerning the temple happened.
“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”” Luke 19:41-44 ESV
“”But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Luke 21:20-24 ESV
“And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”” Luke 23:26-31 ESV.
Along with his own resurrection, the second primary way Jesus’ life and teachings are vindicated was the fulfillment of his numerous warnings that because they had rejected the peaceful ways of their Messiah, Jerusalem and its temple would be destroyed.
Jesus vision on earth was the establishment of a new kind of kingdom and the construction of a new kind of temple. This vision was to be carried out through what Jesus was building – “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 ESV. In AD 70, Herod’s temple came to an end. But the new temple Jesus was building lives on. This is the temple “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,” Ephesians 2:20 ESV. If we as the church take seriously the teachings of our Christ, we will always be that shelter from the storm around us. If we do not, the rains will fall, the winds will blow, and great will be the fall of our house.