Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Temple and Eschatology

Matthew 24:1-2 (ESV)
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."

A Matthew 24! Coupled with 25, these make for some of the greatest Eschatological texts in Scripture. And for that, they get abused and twisted beyond anything recognizable as face value to fit into the great and outlandish fantasies set up meant to scare kids to death in the name of Christ. I really hate premillenialism. In any case, it normally only operates in extreme ignorance of history, and in such a way that it needs to change Christ and the plan of salvation in order to make the rehashing of Jewish myths work.
I say Jewish Myths, Paul tells Titus to avoid these. Lest I be accused of anti-semitsm, realize Paul was a Jew, and he was familiar with the danger of these Jewish Myths also known as Chiliasm, pre or post Millenialism, all waiting for a golden age on earth lasting a thousand years inaugurated by the messiah. Paul knew the dangers because it was his and his fellow devotions to such myths of a millennial kingdom that caused him to miss the fact that Jesus was truly the Messiah, and to persecute those who said he was. He realized that these myths eclipse the gospel in the imagination of those otherwise pious. These are nothing more than an attack on the gospel itself and they have no place in the church.
But all this eschatology, the study of the last things, starts and centers around talk of the temple. Jesus says it will be destroyed. (Coincidently, this is why many liberals like to give Matthew an untenably late date. They think that it is impossible for Jesus or anyone else to have predicted the destruction of the temple. Since the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. they then assume that the book had to be written afterward. And because it is longer than Mark, they assume Mark must also have been written first and Matthew just built on it incorporating myths such as Jesus predicting the fall of the temple. Circular logic at its finest, with no concern for facts. The early church father’s attribute matthew as being written first, internal evidence suggests that it may even have been written in the 30’s just years after Christ’s death!) Jesus says the temple will be destroyed, and this will be a sign that the last days are upon us. Of course astute readers of scripture will realize that this is not the only sign of the endtimes to be heeded. First and foremost, the end is marked by the resurrection of the dead, and for the disciples this resurrection started with Christ’s own resurrection. This is what inflamed the eschatological passions of the disciples first. Their sermons were full of the eschatological hope foretold in the old Testament, read Acts Chapter 2! Peter knows the end times are upon us long before the temple is crushed. And the temple is crushed! It is destroyed! The Disciples at this time are not at all perplexed by this because they realize in short time after the resurrection of Christ, that the temple is no longer needed, and though there is a period in which he is still worshiped there even by the disciples, they also realize that he is no longer being worshiped there. God can’t be worshiped there, not in the forms of the Old Testament Temple Worship. The Final Sacrifice has come and been made in Jesus Christ. Jesus talks the same way in John 4, there will come a time when God will not be worshiped at the temple, but in spirit and truth. I suppose it is possible to have the Lord’s Supper celebrated at the Temple mount, and thereby worship God there, as place is no barrier to “Spirit and Truth.” However, Jews do not worship God at the Temple, and neither do Muslims, anymore than Samaritans worshiped God on the hill where Jesus had his conversation with the Samaritan woman. And Jesus is adamant that God had not been worshiped there. The temple building is destroyed. God will not be worshiped there anymore. There will never be another temple of God in that sense. So the temple even if it is rebuilt, will not be any sign 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 has to be fulfilled in another manner.
This is also one reason we know Mormons not to be Christians, they build temples. Jesus Christ and his body that was destroyed and rebuilt in 3 days is the temple, and there can only be one temple, God will not suffer two temples. His people will be one, this oneness is solidified in worship, and the temple in which they worship. So the body of believers, who become the body of Christ make up that temple, and are one, when they worship Christ. There is a reason God destroyed the Temple, calling in the Roman General Titus. He threw all those stones from eachother, and those stones of which Christ spoke concerning that Temple, will never be put back on eachother to be toppled once again so that Lehaye, can have his juvenile fantasies fulfilled.

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