Matthew 24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
2 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.
There is much taking place in our world that is very interesting to witness. It is also important to gain a proper perspective on what is taking place.
Matthew 24 and 25 are known as the Olivet Discourse. Most of these two chapters are eschatological. They deal with future events. They are passages that are very intriguing to many, however they are also misunderstood by many. As we have noted in all of our studies, it is always necessary to pay attention to the context of what is being written. God’s Word is not like a daily newspaper or even any other book. God’s Word is given to us in an orderly manner and it is necessary to follow God’s order. Many false doctrines have been developed because people take a passage out of its context and try to make it say something they want it to say, rather than accepting it in the context within which it is written.
The focus of the Olivet Discourse is with regard to Israel during the Tribulation. There are several important facts to keep in mind as we look at these chapters. First of all we need to understand that God directed Matthew to write this Gospel record for the Jewish mind. Secondly we need to understand that the church is not the focus of the Olivet Discourse. The church will not be on this earth during the Tribulation. Notice that we talk of “the church” here as one body. All the saints which make up the members of the true local churches will be “caught up” at the sound of the Trump of God. Those who are left behind at that moment are all lost people. There may be some people who would want to visit some true local church after the moment of the Rapture, but there will be no true local pastor around and there will be no true local church member around after that moment.
Thirdly, as we have already mentioned, the Rapture has already taken place prior to the events spoken of in the Olivet Discourse. Those references of the coming of Christ in this Discourse are to the second coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation. Jesus Christ’s second coming will happen in two stages. The first stage is at the Rapture where He does not set His feet on the ground. The saints will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air. That will be those who are alive at that moment and those who are saved but have died in the New Testament era. The second stage is where Jesus will come down to the earth and the mount of Olives will be split in two at that time. He will come with power and great glory at that time.
As we have already mentioned, the key to understanding this passage correctly and Biblically is to keep in mind that the majority of this text is dealing with events happening during the Tribulation and it involves Jewish converts. Revelation 19:11-19 is a helpful passage to help to understand what Jesus talked of in these passages.
There may be those who will read these devotionals who have their minds made up as to what they believe. It is important to know the truth and not to waver from the truth. It is important to make sure that what you believe is the truth, not your opinion nor someone else’s opinion. God’s Word does not teach confusion. As we have noted in other studies, the doctrines of the Bible are absolute and they are consistent. God does not say one thing somewhere and then contradict that somewhere else. All of God’s Word fits together.
In Matthew 24:1 we have the introduction to what will be explained further in the discourse. We read in verse 1 that Jesus departed from the Temple. The opening verses help us to see that the context here is to Israel. The Temple spoken of was not a reference to some generic houses of worship. The Temple spoken of was the Temple at Jerusalem. Jesus honoured the place of the Temple because that was His Father’s house. That Temple would be destroyed in 70 AD and there would be no Temple in Jerusalem until the time of the anti-christ. Jesus had already declared that He would build His church in Matthew 16. True local churches are defined as “the house of God” in I Timothy 3. Jesus Christ referred to Himself as the Temple in Mark 14:58 and John 2:19. The Temple spoken of in our text would soon be destroyed because it had become a monument to Judaism, rather than the true house of God. The sacrificial system that was to be upheld in that place would be done away with in the death (including the shed blood), burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The vail of the Temple would be rent in twain from the top to the bottom indicating access to the Mercy Seat in Jesus Christ.
It is important to note in verse 1 that Jesus departed from the Temple. Its place was soon coming to an end. God would remove His blessing and His protection from that building and the Romans would plunder it.
There was only one true temple and that was located in Jerusalem. God chose Jerusalem to be His dwelling place in the days of king David. David was not allowed to build the temple, but his son, Solomon was tasked with the building of the temple. It took 7 years to build the first temple. That temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. 70 years later, God directed Ezra to lead in the rebuilding of the temple. It was that second temple that was in place at the time of the Lord Jesus Christ on this earth. It was that temple that king Herod spent some 46 years rebuilding. Herod was a politician. He was not elected. The Roman government was not a democratic government. However, king Herod wanted to please his subjects where he could, so that they would not give him trouble. Thus he organized the rebuilding of the Temple to placate the Jews and keep them on his side. The Jews were anxious to have their assumed king come and overthrow the Roman government some day. They rejected Jesus Christ in part because He did not come to do that.
We read in verse 1 that the disciples were quite impressed with the buildings of the Temple. There was the Temple proper but there were other buildings that were associated with the Temple. The entire Temple compound covered some 35 acres of land. According to Josephus (a well respected Jewish historian), the main structure of the temple was completed in 9 1/2 years and the other buildings took longer adding up to a total of 46 years.
Jesus was not impressed with any human structure. The first Temple, built in the days of king Solomon was a very impressive building. We have the description of that Temple given to us in I Kings 6&7. There was much detail in the building of that Temple. We know that the gold was stripped off of parts of that Temple several times by kings who used it to buy off some foreign enemy or to gain the support of some foreign enemy against another enemy.
The second Temple did not have the same significance as the first one. The people did not see the importance of that Temple as God intended it to be. We know that by the time of Jesus Christ that Temple had become a house of merchandise. Two times Jesus had to cleanse that Temple. The Pharisees and their friends had lost sight of the purpose of the Temple. As we see in our text, even the disciples had lost sight of the purpose of the Temple. They were impressed with the structure. Jesus was far more concerned with the spiritual nature of the nation of Israel.
In verse 2 Jesus took the wind out of the sails of the disciples. He reminded them that the Temple would be destroyed to the point where not one stone would be left upon another. All that effort that king Herod was putting into that temple was going to be for naught. As we mentioned, Jesus is far more concerned with the spiritual health of the people, than He is with a building. There was much gold in that Temple and when that structure caught fire during the Roman attack against Jerusalem in 70 AD, the gold melted and ran down into the rubble of the Temple. The soldiers later literally tore every stone apart to try to retrieve the gold that had melted and run between them. Not one stone was left upon another and the stones were cast off the Temple mount in their pursuit of that gold.
The Temple was completely destroyed and there will not be another one built until the time of the anti-christ. His temple will not be blessed of the Lord. It will be defiled by the anti-christ at the mid-point of the tribulation.
Jesus was helping the disciples to see that it is not the building that is of utmost importance. Jesus Christ was the replacement to that Temple and His dwelling place is in the hearts of repentant sinners. It is the hearts of the people that are important. A building can be useful but a building does not need to be fancy in order to be used as a house of God.
Jesus introduced the teaching of the local church. He is the Head of the true local church. The book of Acts speaks of different local churches that were established in the first century. In Revelation 2&3, Jesus addressed 7 local churches that were in existence near the end of the first century AD. Most of those churches were lacking some important spiritual structures.
Today it is helpful to have a building where God’s people can meet together and where others can come to learn the truth. For the past two years it has been very helpful to have our own building. The ungodly government restrictions would have hindered our ability to meet if we were in a rented facility. Most building owners are lost and fearful of the virus and in a panic mode and thus bow to the whims of the wicked government system. Should the Lord tarry His coming, we may find that true Christians may need to meet in secret locations to avoid the wicked designs of the government. As we can see from our world right now, it will be very difficult to meet in secret as Christians did during the years of the Inquisition. We are so tied to electronics today that it is very easy for the government to know where we are and what we are doing. This should not scare off God’s people. God’s people are commanded to meet together and they will do that. God will make a way for His people to be blessed by fellowshipping with Him and with other saints until the time of the Rapture.
As we study God’s Word, we need humble hearts that will allow God’s Word to dictate what we believe. God’s Word is truth. It is not a book of suggestions. It is the truth and God has given it to man to help man to know Him and to know how to know Him.