Summary: The disciples marveled at the architecture of the Temple and Jesus prophesied that it would be destroyed. What do we know about the Temple and it's predecessor, the Tabernacle. As they marveled at the Temple they neglected the One who was greater!
Matthew 23:37-24:2 (please open your Bibles as we read this passage)
Here Jesus is prophesying the destruction of the second temple.
First temple built 960 BC – destroyed by Babylonians 856 BC
- Materials gathered by King David
- Constructed by King Solomon
- Idolatry enters into Israel even before the end of Solomon’s reign
- Babylonian exile – why?
- Israel had abandoned their God and were committing spiritual adultery with idols
Second temple built 516 BC
- This temple was smaller than the first temple
- This temple was alternately used by the Jews and pagan conquerors depending on who was in control at the time
- Herod’s temple could either be considered a refurbishing of the second temple constructed under Nehemiah or a third temple
- The reason it could be considered a third temple is because Herod tore down much of the second temple before he rebuilt it
- He did this in order to restore it to the original specifications
- Herod was not interested in being a good Jew
- Herod was interested in building a monument to Himself
- Herod was interested in keeping the Jews pacified – (Behave or I’ll take away your temple!)
- Herod’s temple was not completed until AD 63 – just seven years before it was torn down
There was something very important about the Temple … it contained an inner chamber called the Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place and was supposed to be where the Lord would reside and meet with Moses, Aaron and Joshua in the beginning and with the High Priest later on.
In Exodus 25 the LORD Himself describes the form and the function of the cover to go over the Ark of the Covenant
Exodus 25:18-22 HCSB
“Make two cherubim of gold; make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end. At its two ends, make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat.
“The cherubim are to have wings spread out above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and are to face one another. The faces of the cherubim should be toward the mercy seat. Set the mercy seat on top of the ark and put the testimony that I will give you into the ark.
“I will meet with you there above the mercy seat, between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony; I will speak with you from there about all that I command you regarding the Israelites.”
Now we know that Moses met with the Lord often before the Mercy Seat and that later on the meeting was reduced to just once a year and then only by the High Priest.
Hebrews 9:3-7 HCSB
“Behind the second curtain, the tabernacle was called the most holy place. It contained the gold altar of incense and the ark of the covenant, covered with gold on all sides, in which there was a gold jar containing the manna, Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. The cherubim of glory were above it overshadowing the mercy seat. It is not possible to speak about these things in detail right now.
“With these things set up this way, the priests enter the first room repeatedly, performing their ministry. But the high priest alone enters the second room, and he does that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.”
This Most Holy Place was so holy that if any maintenance needed to be done in there, workers would be lowered by ropes from above in order to do the work but would never be allowed to touch the floor.
Now, just try to imagine with me what it must have been like to be the High Priest and to enter into the Most Holy Place with the blood of the atonement knowing that the Ark of the Covenant isn’t even there! It hasn’t been there since the Babylonians destroyed the first temple!
I never even thought about that until this past week. They were going through the motions but the Ark of the Covenant and the Atonement Covering with the Mercy Seat were gone! That was supposed to be where the Lord would meet with the representative High Priest of Israel!
That was a shocking thought to me, but, Jesus says something very curious in:
Matthew 12:6 NIV
“I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.”
We know from many Biblical texts that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
However, from reading many Bible and historical scholars it is clear that there is a difference of opinion as to whether Jesus was sacrificed at the same time as the Passover Lamb would be sacrificed or at the time of the perpetual sacrifices. Either way there are some amazing things we can observe.