Today I learned something very interesting from a portion of Gary DeMar’s book, “Last Days Madness.” Gary demonstrates from the book of Leviticus why Jesus, as our great High Priest, was qualified to pronounce the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. This is a fascinating connection, and brings added covenantal meaning to the words Jesus used in Matthew 23 and 24:
The Jews of Jesus’ day had turned the temple into a “house of merchandise” (John 2:16) and a “robbers’ den” (Matt. 21:13). When a priest inspected a house and found it leprous, the house was to be torn down (Lev. 14:33–47). Jesus, as the High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5:6), inspected the temple twice, found it leprous, and issued His priestly evaluation: “And Jesus came out from the temple” (Matt. 24:1), as the priest “shall come out from the house” (Lev. 14:38), and declared it “desolate” (Matt. 23:38), as the priest declared a leprous house to be “unclean” (Lev. 14:44).
A leprous house could be cleansed in only one way: “He shall therefore tear down the house, its stones, and its timbers, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall take them outside the city to an unclean place” (Lev. 14:45). When Jesus’ disciples pointed to the temple buildings after hearing of its desolation, Jesus answered: “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down” (Matt. 24:2).
-Gary Demar, Last Days Madness, 1999, page 108
The collapse of the temple was most devastating to the Jews of that day who didn’t believe in Jesus. The Jerusalem temple was not only considered one of the great wonders of the world, but it was seen to be God’s central dwelling place. For the people of God, thankfully, God’s temple was already established in His Son, Jesus, and those who belong to Him:
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16)
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (I Corinthians 6:19)
“For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make My dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'” (II Corinthians 6:16)
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)