The New Temple

In Mark ch.13 is a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, and with it, the magnificent Herodian temple. This prophecy had its literal fulfillment when the Roman armies laid waste Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Are there spiritual truths beyond the literal fulfillment of the prophecy, that is relevant to our situation today?

Look at the background. Jesus had resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem. Ch. 10 of Mark records the beginning of the journey and the events and teachings associated with it, and follows Him to the gates of the Holy City. Ch. 11 and 12 records His entry into the city, and tells how He went into the Temple and "Looked around at everything." then gives an account of the events centered in the Temple. The concern of Jesus was for His Father's House. It was here in the Temple that He came into mortal conflict with the religious leaders of the Jews, and spoke the parable of the wicked tenants.

Then ch. 13 begins, "As He came out of the Temple." Jesus would never physically enter the Temple again. He had subjected it to His piercing scrutiny and judgment, and He, who was the Glory of the Temple, walked out never to reenter. One cannot but be reminded of Ezekiel's vision of the Glory of the Lord departing from the Temple in Jerusalem. (Ezekiel ch. 10 ) The Temple functioned for another 45 years or so, but in God's economy its relevance ceased on the day Jesus came out of it. On that day the Glory departed and "Ichabod" was written over it.

Jesus, I believe, knew the significance of that "coming out", but His disciples did not. They were still deeply impressed with this massive and splendid structure before their eyes. It spoke of permanence, of the venerable religious traditions of their fathers, of wealth and earthly influence and glory. "What wonderful stones ! What wonderful buildings!" they exclaim. They were proud of it. They could not then perceive that the Glory had just left it.

Jesus came out of the Temple, a Temple which had failed. He walked out of something that had once been of God, but was now a sterile religious system, a monument to formalism and ritual without life. Would He walk out of much of what is called "Church" today?

We are so like those disciples. We do not perceive what is happening. We do not realize when the Glory has gone, but we are impressed and awed as they were, by what we can see; the mega-churches, the fastest growing churches, the opulent buildings, the big budgets the evident success.

How great the surprise and shock of the disciples to hear Jesus respond to their exclamations of wonder and amazement by these devastating words, "There will not be left here one stone standing upon another that will not be cast down." Jesus verdict on the Temple and the whole system it represented is also His verdict about all our man-made religious institutions, denominations and organizations. "The Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands." (Acts ch.7 v.48.) "The haughtiness of man shall be humbled and the pride of men (and how proud we are of our churches and denominations, our flourishing organizations) shall be brought low, and the Lord alone shall be exalted on that day." Isaiah ch.2 v.17. Shock, surprise, disbelief may be our reaction, as it was of the disciples, as they heard that fateful pronouncement of the Lord. We cannot imagine that those things which we see, admire and even love are destined for destruction.

What the disciples were unable to see then was that another, and very different Temple, was about to be built, not a visible physical building, not a humanly conceived and planned organization or institution, but "A Spiritual House" ( 1 Peter 2.vs.4-5.) , built by God by His Spirit, composed of "Living stones", a Temple of people, joined together in and by the Lord Himself, who would dwell amongst. them.

The death knell of the Old Covenant, with its "Earthly sanctuary", had sounded, and the New Covenant, which was all from heaven, was about to be inaugurated by the Cross, the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus, and that little group, as of yet, un-perceiving disciples was to be the nucleus of the New Temple.

The Church. "Made with hands" in all its multifarious systems, denominations and organizations, its "Wonderful stones. Wonderful buildings", or the "Spiritual House", not made with hands, but created and built by the Lord Jesus Himself through the Spirit. We have our choice. But know, that twixt the former and the latter stand suffering, rejection by religious leaders, the Cross and the dark night of the tomb before glorious resurrection joy, and a fresh infusion of the Spirit's power, and a New Temple for the habitation of God in the Spirit.

Where will you stand ? In the "Wonderful buildings", under the prophetic sentence of the Lord, or outside with Him as forerunners of the renewed Temple of the latter day.

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