The Dwelling of God: Matthew 24:1-35
The disciples were probably dumbstruck at this statement, after all Herod had rebuilt the temple and had made it at least as magnificent as Solomon’s. It was monumental and had taken decades to build. So they asked Jesus, what exactly do you mean Jesus? That’s when things in the text get murky. While I do think it can be understood, in this short space I want to paint broadly and will not go into all the detail.
First, Jesus' prophecy had a purpose: To warn and encourage his disciples. The warnings are all throughout: There will be Christ-pretenders who come and lead people astray, there will tribulation and war, the earth itself will shake, the temple will be destroyed, and generally things will be bleak for the elect of God. But there are also encouragements interspersed: The one who endures will be saved, the Gospel will go to the nations, The Son of Man will come in glory for all to see and will gather the elect from all the earth, the Summer of God’s kingdom is coming, and though this world is passing away his eternal word will endure.
Second, there are some clearly defined things that will happen in the near term. Most significantly, Herod's temple would be destroyed. In fact it would happen in the disciple’s lifetime; in A.D. 70. Rome would squash a rebellion and level the temple. It was important because Jesus wanted to be clear that the physical earthly temple is not what is ultimate. Throughout the Gospels Jesus declares that he himself is the temple and that his people are the temple. God’s dwelling place on earth is with his people – not in a physical building.
And this temple is eternal. In John 2:19 Jesus declared “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Not only was Jesus raised up and seated on high preparing for his return, but we too will be raised up on that day when Christ returns in glory. The earthly temple was temporary; but the true temple – Christ with his people – is eternal. Therefore, Jesus’ warnings and encouragements are for us as well. We live in the midst of the turmoil, war, and false Christs. But we have hope in the summer of God’s kingdom to come; in Christ’s return when we will be raised up in glory as the monument of God’s grace.
Where is your hope? Is it in things that are passing away? Put your hope in these eternal, never fading, promises of God and future glory. This is the glory of the Resurrection. -RG