By Brooke Holt
“And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.’ And they asked him, ‘Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?’ And he said, ‘See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am he!” and, “The time is at hand!” Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.’” (Luke 21:5–9)
Some buildings and entities seem eternal to our human minds. Whether you marvel at the Sistine chapel or Mount Rushmore, these structures are significant. They are beautiful, solid, and seemingly secure. So was the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. This temple was not just massive; it was beautiful. People came from all over to marvel at this temple that occupied thirty-six acres of land and took more than eighty years to complete. For the Jewish people, this temple was their pride and joy, even to the extent of becoming an idol.
In Luke’s account, Jesus once again addressed a crowd and challenged the people. As they marveled at their temple and spoke of it, Jesus declared that the Jewish temple would be destroyed, “there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Luke 21:6). Jesus’s listeners would be completely shocked by this declaration of Jesus—but not for the reasons you might expect.
As they continued to question Jesus about the timing of the temple’s destruction, their minds were racing towards the kingdom of God being established on the earth. This is what they had been waiting for—the Messiah who would usher in the kingdom of God and destroy all of God’s enemies. They were ready and anticipated that it could be any day. Turn back in your Bibles a couple of chapters. In Luke 19, Jesus told the parable of the ten minas for this very reason: “As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately” (Luke 19:11). Today, Jesus? Tomorrow, Jesus? Next week, next year? When will this happen?
The Jewish temple was destroyed just as Jesus predicted, but it was not immediate. In 70 AD, Titus and the Roman army overtook Jerusalem and did indeed destroy the temple so that not one stone was left. Jesus does not work according to human expectations or agendas, does he? The curious thing is that Jesus’s prophecy didn’t just predict the destruction of 70 AD; it also predicted that Jesus would return to earth as the King, the Messiah, and the Judge. At that time, he will fully establish his kingdom (Revelation 11:5).
For more than two thousand years, people have been waiting and anticipating the second coming of Jesus. We don’t know the Lord’s timing, but we know his character, and we can trust his promises. For now, the words of Jesus in this text still apply. We must be alert and aware. Instead of trying to understand every sign, focus on your relationship with Jesus so that you will not be led astray. Finally, don’t be afraid. Jesus is trustworthy and true. What he said will come to pass. There is nothing in this world that can thwart his plan or his timing.
Are you heeding these words of Jesus as you await his second coming? What might you put into practice today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Christmas is the festival of rejoicing at Christ’s first coming—the beautiful, unlikely start of our salvation! As the season ends each year, we pack up the decorations. Advent, on the other hand, is a bigger celebration—one we can’t box up and store in the attic. It celebrates the grace of Christ’s first coming, and then it reaches with restless anticipation for the fuller grace of his second appearing and the completion of our salvation! For 28 days, celebrate Advent. In Prepare the Way, join with St. Paul, King David the Psalmist, Zechariah, Gabriel, Mary, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist, along with the crowds as they rejoiced in the good news of Christmas, and then look beyond it for the holiday that never ends!
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