All the history in this journey through the captivity of Judah to life after the captivity is ultimately about Messiah. As we examined in the previous weeks, the return of God’s people to Jerusalem after their captivity in Babylon, and the reconstruction of the temple, Messiah Himself was the point behind everything.
Why the temple? Why the many sacrifices? How did we get here?
The Remission of Sins
One of the reasons for Messiah’s birth was that He grow to have a ministry of teaching and healing that convicted and drew many to Himself. Why? Because He chose to take on the weight of the sins of all who turn to Him in faith, offering Himself as the final sacrifice.
He eliminated any need for us to pay for our sins by offering sacrifices, as were the ways of the ancient Jews at this time, because Christ Himself voluntarily took on our sins.Jesus eliminated any need for us to pay for our sins by offering sacrifices, as were the ways of the ancient Jews at that time, because Jesus Himself voluntarily took our sins. Click To Tweet
Crucifixion was invented by the Persians between 300-400 B.C. It is quite possibly the most painful death ever invented by humankind. The English language derives the word “excruciating” from crucifixion, acknowledging it as a form of slow, painful suffering. Read The Science of the Crucifixion.
To be right with God, we must turn around and go the opposite direction (repent) from our sinful lives of selfishness, hard heartedness, and other harms done to others and to ourselves, asking for God’s forgiveness, and committing our lives into His hands.To be right with God, we turn and go the opposite direction from our lives of selfishness, hard heartedness, and harms done to others and to ourselves, asking for God's forgiveness, committing our lives to Him. Click To Tweet
The outcome of this commitment to Christ is deep love and gratitude toward the Savior. As we talk to Him (pray) daily, our love, affection, and gratitude increase with each additional year that we seek to live according to His instructions in the Bible, becoming ever closer and more in love with Him.Our commitment to Christ inspires deep love and gratitude. We talk to the Savior daily. Our love, affection, and gratitude increase as we live according to His instructions in the Bible, growing more in love with Him. Click To Tweet
To establish the Kingdom of God
“The Kingdom of God is at hand,” Messiah often said, for He also came to establish His kingdom.
“Kingdom of God, also called Kingdom Of Heaven, in Christianity, the spiritual realm over which God reigns as king, or the fulfillment on Earth of God’s will. The phrase occurs frequently in the New Testament, primarily used by Jesus Christ in the first three Gospels.” (Source)
The restoration of Jerusalem had occurred in 538 B.C.
“A record. 3 In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king issued a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices were offered, and let its foundations be retained. Its height shall be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits, 4 with three layers of great stones and one layer of timber. Let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. 5 And also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought back to the temple that is in Jerusalem, each to its place. You shall put them in the house of God.” (Ezra 6:1-5 ESV).
Pagan kings who worshiped other gods had showed the most concern for the restoration of the temple in the form in which it was before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it.
The rebuilding was overseen by Cyrus, Artaxerxes, and Darius, three pagan kings who seemed to understand the need to respect the God of Israel.
The people who returned had much to learn, however. Their people had been gone from Israel for seventy years, meaning that most of the people who were elderly and middle-aged when they were taken away to Babylon had died in Babylon. Those coming home were the offspring of these.
If their parents and grandparents had done a good job teaching their children, they would have been prepared. If their parents and grandparents had not taught them well, we would discover these younger ones marrying unbelievers, rather than choosing girls from other Jewish families. They would have lapsed in their worship of the Lord as well.
Ezra had to deal with these issues quickly. He had discovered during the return that many of the Jews had fallen away from their love and their worship of the Lord while they were in Babylon. These needed to return to the Lord. The priests and Levites who were faithful to the Lord would have to deal with this. They had also married pagan women, a challenging issue for Ezra to deal with as well. He sorted it out.
Then had come the Legalistic Pharisees in 165-160 B.C.
The Pharisees (Hebrew: Perushim) emerged as a distinct group shortly after the Maccabean revolt. They were, it is generally believed, spiritual descendants of the Hasideans.
The Pharisees were rigid and strict, those who memorized the Law, lived it, and expected everyone around them to do the same. They became the morality police, weighing out each statement letter by letter. However, legalism does not get us into heaven. Legalism does not make us right with God.
In 30 – 33 A.D., Jesus stood against the Legalism of the Pharisees
If He was crucified in 33 A.D., perhaps on April 3, His ministry occupied 30-33 A.D.
Jesus butted heads with Pharisees more than He did with sinners like us in need of repentance and forgiveness. The typical sinner seeking Christ was more correct than the Pharisee who rejected Him, because He ate with tax collectors and sinners.
This made it clear that God’s arms, like Jesus’, were opened wide toward the repentant sinner.
The apostle and beloved disciple John wrote, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV).
When facing old age and imminent death, we hope our love for the Lord has been faithful and true and our faith solid so that we may be admitted to an eternity with the Lord.
With reverential fear and deep longing, we await the precious face of Christ welcoming us. Our lives are in His hands. Come, Lord Jesus! Come!With reverential fear and deep longing, we await the precious face of Christ welcoming us. Our lives are in His hands. Come, Lord Jesus! Come! Click To Tweet
Joseph and Mary modeled love and reverential fear of the Lord through their yielded obedience to the task to which God had called them, their reliance upon God, and their pious lives as they raised Jesus. (One example: Luke 2:41-52)
How can we not love and revere Messiah Jesus, who took on flesh though He is Eternal God?
Messiah/Eternal God endured the months in His mother’s womb and His birth as all human beings are born. Messiah/Eternal God grew up in poverty. We know because His parents were ever always and only able to offer the minimal offerings for sins and for purification and for a place to stay the night Jesus was born. In choosing to live in poverty, Eternal God showed the immense love He has for humanity.
Messiah was born in a stable surrounded by farm animals. Messiah lived in Egypt and then in Nazareth. Messiah worked as a Galilean carpenter and stonemason during the time when Romans were building walls, roads, and structures in that region, all the while patiently waiting until it was His time.
And yet, He took on the above indignities so that He could gain our hearts to love Him, to seek Him, and to entrust ourselves to Him.
Zerubbabel’s temple, which Herod had embellished, is the temple where Messiah’s feet would trod, where He would throw out those trying to keep Gentiles out of the Court of the Gentiles by turning it into a marketplace with money changers, making large profits as they sold the animals for offerings.
Messiah sat on the steps of this temple, in fact, and told his disciples of its coming destruction:
“Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:1-2 ESV).
Consider how much time and space I’ve spent over the past year writing about the destruction of the first temple, the captivity, the return to rebuild the temple, the persecution they experienced because they tried to rebuild the temple, and the release of those who had been captive, all of them coming back in three separated large groups as refugees.
Well now, Jesus is telling them that Zerubbabel’s temple (Jesus’ ancestor), with the swanky embellishments added by Herod to beautify and to glorify the temple in a way that he thought would please the Jewish people, well that temple embellished by Herod was going to be torn down.
Signs of the End of the Age
“3 As he (Jesus) sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Matthew 24:3-8 ESV). (entire chapter)
This Temple stood for approximately 585 years before its destruction in 70 A.D./C.E. by the Roman Empire as retaliation for an ongoing Jewish revolt.[a] Jesus had foretold this event to his disciples.
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