Jesus paused as he came to the top of the Mount of Olives. The early morning sun was shining directly off the gold and silver covered east gates of the temple complex. The glare was so intense, so blinding that our Lord had to put the palm of his hand in front of his eyes.
Jesus looked intently at the first gate into the inner court. It was very massive, completely covered with gold but had no doors as it represented the universal visibility of heaven that the heavens declare the glory of God. The entire temple complex was built with large alabaster limestone blocks that reflected the sun’s radiant warmth and brightness which depicted God’s glory.
Beyond this inner gate and just inside the first room of the temple was the Holy Place. In it stood the golden candlestick, the golden table, and the golden altar of incense. Behind a very large, heavy and extremely thick veil was the Holy of Holies. This sacred room now stood desolate but before the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, God’s glory had been known to rest above the solid gold of the mercy seat between the two solid gold cherubs “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.” Exodus 25:22
Jesus reflected on how the ark of testimony and God’s presence were missing from the Holy of Holies, how disobedient men had become and the legalistic way in which they carried on their traditions. The Lord began to weep as He spoke out loud “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I have wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say, ‘blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”Matthew 23:37
As the sun continued to rise, the blinding glare eventually faded and Jesus was able to lower his arm. Behind Him His disciples, who had followed him up from the temple to the Mount of Olives, began asking about what might take place in the future. Jesus stood up and began pointing to the temple complex and all the buildings it contained saying “Do you 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
As Jesus wept He knew that the destruction of the walled city and sanctuary was looming in their near future. Thirty-eight years later, Titus, a Roman General, along with a large army began a siege against 3 rebellious factions operating inside Jerusalem. Unfortunately, a large majority of innocent people were trapped and being victimized by these robbers, gangs and zealots.
The Romans intended to wait it out, starving the city into submission, but attacks on several Roman positions caused the escalation of the siege. Titus, on command, was ordered not to touch the temple complex but one of his soldiers intentionally threw a torch into an open temple window kindling a blaze that burned the entire temple from the inside out. Gold and silver overlays began melting in the intense heat generated by the fire as the precious metals disappeared into the cracks of limestone that comprised the walls and floors. In the end the only way for the Romans to recover the gold and silver was to literally tear down the huge limestone blocks, so when they had finished there stood not one stone left upon another.
With the destruction of the temple there was now no longer any place for the high priest to atone for the sin of the nation of Israel, nor could any good Jew make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for three mandatory, annual feasts. They had only to wait for their Messiah to come and restore true worship to the temple mount.
Jesus once said “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19 The religious leaders thought Jesus was talking about their beautiful temple that had taken forty-six years to build when actually he was prophesying that He would come back from death. When Jesus was finally laid in the garden tomb, it only held Him for three days as life returned to His body. In His resurrection we too have life and this is indeed good news for all men.
Now, our bodies are the third temple of God where the Holy Spirit lives.