Gary, to all of the brethren scattered abroad in this Laodicean age. I have a few thoughts to share with you about what prompted Christ to declare to his disciples that the temple in Jerusalem would be totally destroyed.
You have heard many teachings about the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew; but not much about why Jesus was inspired to foretell the destruction of the Temple to his disciples.
Certainly, the prophecy of Christ foretelling the complete destruction of the temple at Jerusalem was a witness of encouragement, and a faith builder to those Christians who would many years later see the fulfillment of this prophecy; but what was the real motivation that led Jesus to tell his disciples of this prophecy?
Jesus was at the temple and had just given a very strong indictment and verbal chastisement of the Jews gathered there. This is recorded through the whole chapter of Matthew Twenty-three. Then at the beginning of chapter twenty-four; Matthew records that Jesus went out and departed from the temple, but his disciples came to him for the purpose of showing him the buildings of the temple.
It seems obvious that the disciples were still carnal-minded enough that they were excited about the physical buildings of the temple. Maybe there had been some new renovations done or some other things that had captured the interest of Christ’s disciples. They wanted to share their excitement and interest with Christ; but he obviously didn’t share their same enthusiasm, for he began to let them know that this temple was going to be totally destroyed with not one stone left upon another that would not be cast down. (Matt. 24: 2)
Christ was and is the temple of God. At that time before the death of Christ, he by his self was the temple that God dwelt in on earth. Notice what Jesus said in John Chapter two: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2: 19) John then records how the Jews said that it took forty-six years to build that temple, and he was claiming that he would raise it up in three days. (Verse 20) They were trying to mock Christ, because they didn’t believe or understand what he was talking about. The next verse John understood and tells us that Jesus was referring to his own body as being the temple. (John 2: 21) The following verse 22 then lets us know that the three days was referring to the time that Christ would be in the grave before his resurrection. When Jesus Christ was put to death, was when they destroyed the temple that Christ was talking about in John Chapter Two. When Jesus Christ was raised from the grave three days later, that was when he raised up the temple in three days as he said in (John 2: 19).
Again I ask the question: Why did Jesus tell his disciples that the stone temple in Jerusalem would be utterly destroyed with no stone left on top of another one? Jesus saw how that his disciples were putting too much emphasis on the stone temple, and not realizing that the real temple that God was dwelling in among the Jews was his own body.
Men today also seem to think that some physical building such as a temple, church building, or synagogue is the “House of God”. They are like the Disciples of Christ were before they received the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus was letting his disciples know that the stone temple is not where our hope is at; but in Christ the true and living temple. If the temple in Jerusalem where Jesus actually taught and prayed was not where our hope is at; how much less any other building that men could build!
God, our Father dwells in Jesus Christ, and they both have come to dwell in those people whom God has called, that have surrendered to Christ and God, and have been baptized. (John 14: 10-23) You should study carefully the whole chapter of John 14. In this chapter, Christ teaches us about how we first-fruit Christians are also the temple of God because God and Christ dwell in us by the Holy Spirit. Notice what Paul tells us in (1 Cor. 3: 16): “Know you not that you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Isaiah was inspired to write that God says the heaven is his throne, and the earth is his footstool; then he asked, “Where is the house that you will build unto me? And where is the place of my rest?” God continues on to tell us through Isaiah’s writings, that “all of those things has my hands made, and all of those things have been, but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.” God is letting us all know that he will dwell in a humble person that has a contrite spirit, and that believes and trembles at God’s word. That is his desired temple. (Isaiah 66: 1, 2)
It is the temple that is made up of the truly called and converted Christians in whom God and Christ dwell by the Holy Spirit that Christ will come to at his second coming in great power and glory. Those who have already died in Christ will be resurrected and rise up to meet Jesus at his coming; and those that are still alive will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of the eye, and they also shall rise up to meet Christ at his coming. (1 Thess. 4: 15-17) We should not expect for there to be another physical temple built on the temple mount in Jerusalem. If there were such a new stone temple built; it would not be the temple that Christ is coming back to dwell in. All of these fancy buildings that men are building, thinking that they are building a “house of God,” are only the work of men. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” That church that Christ has been building is the true temple that Christ and God, has and will dwell in forever.
Your brother in Christ,