A Veil Torn & A Temple Destroyed

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses thirty-two through fifty-six of the twenty-seventh chapter of this New Testament gospel. “And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross” (Matthew 27:32).

 

            “And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, they parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there; and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left” (Matthew 27:33-38).

 

            “And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth” (Matthew 27:39-44).

 

            “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him” (Matthew 27:45-49).

 

            “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice,  yielded up the ghost” (Matthew 27:50).

 

            “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children” (Matthew 27:51-56).

 

            When you come to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will be brought face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the carrying of the cross as well as the death upon the cross. You cannot read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely astonishing truth surrounding Jesus being compelled to carry His own cross unto the place of the Skull where He would ultimately be crucified. What’s more is that as you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter the Roman centurions and soldiers compelling another man—Simon the Cyrenian—to help Him carry His cross unto the place of the skull. What we must needs recognize concerning the narrative that is found in this passage of Scripture is that it is the first account of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew was and is the first gospel presented within the New Testament and as such it would be the first depiction and representation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. With this being said it is important to recognize that the first narrative and account of the Lord Jesus Christ within the New Testament was indeed written by one of His own disciples who had not only walked with and followed Him for three and a half years but had borne witness to all His words and His works. It is within this gospel narrative—and specifically within these chapters—where we find the first presentation and representation of the gospel of the suffering and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage and I can’t help but think about the words presented here and how they are incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about them. The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture call and draw our attention to the absolutely incredible truth surrounding the narrative of the suffering and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross. After the Law and the prophets had prophesied and foretold of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ we would find within this passage of Scripture the incredibly powerful narrative of those events. After everything the Law and the prophets had prophesied and after everything they had presented concerning the Lord Jesus Christ not knowing His name or even His identity we find the first representation and presentation of the suffering and death of the Messiah being painted and written by the apostle Matthew. It is within these chapters we encounter and come face to face with the incredibly astonishing and powerful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and His suffering and ultimate death upon the cross. Oh there is something we absolutely must needs recognize concerning this passage of Scripture and how the words and language found within it call and draw our attention to the wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus and how this would be the first account of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the suffering and death upon the cross.

 

            It is important for us to recognize and understand that within this gospel narrative we are not encountering nor are we reading THE gospel concerning the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus but rather a portion and a part of the gospel of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus. The gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew—although it is first among the four gospel narratives—is not the ultimate gospel concerning the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is not the only gospel concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must needs recognize and understand when reading the words presented in this passage of Scripture how it brings us face to face with the powerful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and the gospels which were written concerning His life, His ministry, His words, His works, and ultimately His suffering, His death and resurrection from the grave on the third day before ascending unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. How absolutely remarkable it is to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and encounter the first of four gospel accounts and narratives concerning the life of the Lord Jesus Christ and how these chapters would indeed be the first account of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ before ultimately being raised from death to life on the third day and ascending unto the Father after giving commandments unto His remaining eleven disciples.

 

            As I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but find the need to begin in what might seem like an unusual place. While it would be incredibly easy to begin with the thirty-second verse of this chapter and with a man from Cyrene named Simon whom they compelled to carry the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ I find it absolutely necessary to begin with the thirty-ninth verse. Here in the thirty-ninth verse we find Jesus’ hands and feet having already been nailed to the cross and the cross upon which He was nailed being raised in the Place of the Skull as His physical body hung there suspended between earth and sky. What we find here in this passage of Scripture must needs be absolutely understood and considered for while Jesus hung there naked, bruised, bleeding and broken there would be those who would pass by and wag their heads against and at Him. It would be beginning with the thirty-ninth verse of the twenty-seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find. Jesus hanging upon the cross and those who would continue to mock, scorn and ridicule Him. Here in this passage of Scripture we find those who passed by reviling the Lord Jesus Christ and wagging their heads against Him. What’s more is that not only did they wag their heads as they passed by but they would also speak one very important phrase and message unto the Lord Jesus Christ. Upon reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find those who wagged their heads at the Lord Jesus saying unto Him, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself.”

 

            Oh please don’t miss the incredible significance of the words which those who passed by the Lord Jesus Christ and who wagged their heads at Him spoke while He hung there upon the cross. I have previously written concerning the two false witnesses who came forward while Jesus was standing trial before the chief priests, the elders of the people and the high priest brought a false testimony concerning the Lord Jesus. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the twenty-sixth chapter you will find that the chief priests and elders of the people sought for witnesses who would come forward and provide means of accusing and condemning the Lord Jesus Christ. Much to their angst and surprise, however, they could find no witnesses who would actually come forward and bring against Jesus that which they could accuse Him of and condemn Him for. When these two false witnesses came forward, however, we find them bringing a false testimony and word concerning the Lord Jesus as they would accuse Him of words which He had not spoken. Upon reading the words which are found in the twenty-sixth chapter you will find these two false witnesses professing and declaring unto the chief priests, the elders of the people and the high priest that Jesus declared and professed that He would destroy the Temple and in three days rebuild it.

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs pay close attention to the words which these false witnesses would indeed bring against the Lord Jesus Christ for the words which are present here would indeed paint a powerful picture of something which I am absolutely convinced they had absolutely no clue they were doing. These two false witnesses came forward in the palace of the high priest seeking to bring a false witness and false testimony concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and yet I would dare say that what we find here instead of them bringing a false witness and testimony against the Lord Jesus was actually a powerful testimony and witness of something much deeper and much greater. The two false witnesses which came forward on this particular day would indeed be those who would speak unto the Lord Jesus Christ and would accuse Him of making the declaration that He would destroy the Temple and in three days rebuild it. What we must needs recognize and understand, however, is that these were not the words the Lord Jesus had spoken. The actual account of the words which the Lord Jesus would speak are found in the second chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John which describe Jesus initially going unto Capernaum with His mother and the disciples and how He would later go down unto the city of Jerusalem. It would be upon entering into the city of Jerusalem He would enter into the Temple and would initiate a powerful cleansing within it.

 

            If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you can and will find a powerful picture of the Lord Jesus within the city of Jerusalem—and not only within the city of Jerusalem but also entering into the Temple of the living God which stood upon the Temple Mount. Oh I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are present in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely incredible truth of the events which took place there in the midst of the Temple. What we find here in the second chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John are not merely about the actions of Jesus but also the words which the Lord would speak. I am absolutely convinced that while we read the words presented in this passage of Scripture we must pay close attention to the words which Jesus spoke as much as the actions which He would perform there in the midst of the Temple. Jesus would indeed enter into the Temple of the living God there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and after making a scourge would proceed to overthrow and overturn the tables of money. Not only would the Lord Jesus overturn and overthrow the tables of money but He would also drive out the oxen and sheep as well as those who bought and sold in the Temple. Moreover the Lord Jesus would also drive out the moneychangers before making the emphatic declaration that His Father’s house was to be a house of prayer but they had made it a den of thieves. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would also instruct them to cease making His Father’s house a marketplace—a place where they could buy and sell and engage in commerce.

 

            Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are actually presented in the second chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. There is not a doubt in my mind that in order for us to understand the words which we see here in the twenty-seventh chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we must needs recognize the words which the apostle John wrote in the second chapter of this gospel narrative. Consider now if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the twelfth verse:

 

            “After this he went down into Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (John 2:12-17).

 

            “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:18-25).

 

            I am absolutely convinced we must needs pay close attention to the words which are found here in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the actual account of Jesus’ actions and words within the Temple. It would be there within the Temple the Lord Jesus would make a scourge and would proceed to drive out all of those who were and who had been engaged in merchandise and commerce. There in the midst of the court of the Temple the Lord Jesus would make a scourge of small cords and would drive all those out of the temple whom He saw engaging in the act of buying and selling. What’s more is it would be there in the midst of the temple the Lord Jesus would drove out all the sheep and all the oxen before pouring out the changers’ money and overthrowing the tables. When speaking unto those who sold doves the Lord Jesus would instruct them to take those things hence and make not His Father’s house a house of merchandise. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it helps set the stage for that which we find in the final verses of the second chapter. Beginning to read with and from the eighteenth verse of the second chapter we find the Jews’ response to the actions which the Lord Jesus performed in the midst of the Temple. It would be after Jesus had completed all of these actions that the Jews would then proceed to ask Him what sign He showed unto them proving and demonstrating that He had the authority to do such things. That which the Jews actually asked of the Lord Jesus was what sign he showed unto them seeing that He did in fact do those things within the midst of the Temple.

 

            Found within the second chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John is an absolutely incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and the words which He would speak AFTER He had driven out those who bought and sold along with all the merchandise. The Jews would ask the Lord Jesus what sign He showed them seeing that He wrought such works and actions within the Temple and He would emphatically respond by saying, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand just how significant these words truly are for they would come back a second and third time within the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is these words would not come forward and present themselves until the trial of Jesus as Jesus stood in the house of religion before the religious leaders. These words would indeed come forth and be re-presented before and unto the Lord Jesus—first when he was in the palace of the high priest and secondly when he was actually hanging upon the cross. The words which the Lord Jesus had spoken unto the Jews here in the Temple would indeed be such that would later be used as a means of accusing Him—and not only as a means of accusing Him but also as a means of seeking to tempt Him while upon the cross. These words—although they would be taken out of context and not at all what He had originally said—would be used by two false witnesses to accuse Him before Caiaphas as well as by all those who passed by Him as He hung there upon the cross suspended between earth and sky.

 

            I have previously written concerning the two false witnesses who came forth in the palace of the high priest and how they would indeed come forth before the high priest as well as the chief priests and religious leaders seeking to accuse the Lord Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth of these two false witnesses and how although they sought to bring false testimony and witness against the Lord Jesus they would actually stand and serve as means to accuse the Lord Jesus. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for they call and draw our attention to the wonderful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and the words which He had spoken in the Temple earlier—words which two false witnesses would attempt to use against Him in the palace of religion. Pause for a moment and consider how these two false witnesses would attempt to take that which the Lord Jesus would speak in the Temple of the living God and use it against Him in the house of religion. There is something we must needs recognize and understand concerning this passage of Scripture and how the Lord Jesus would speak of the destruction of the temple of His physical body and His being able to raise it up again in three days and how the Jews thought He was speaking of the physical Temple which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Jesus would speak concerning the temple of His physical body and yet the Jews themselves thought He spoke of the temple in which they were standing.

 

            The more I think about and read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome reality of these two false witnesses who did indeed come forth and forward seeking to bring a false testimony against the Lord Jesus. As I continued to read the words which were found in this passage of Scripture I was brought face to face with the truth surrounding these two false witnesses and how despite their attempt and effort to stand as those who would accuse the Lord Jesus before Caiaphas the high priest and the religious leaders they would actually serve as a second and third witness concerning the words which the Lord Jesus had previously spoken. I have to admit in all the years of I have spent reading and studying the Scripture I have never viewed these two false witnesses as actually being those who would be mouths of a second and third witness who would actually provide testimony concerning that which the Lord Jesus had actually spoken. What’s more is that the words which we find here in the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew presents a powerful picture of two false witnesses who attempted to bring forward a false testimony concerning Jesus and yet that which they did was actually stand as the mouths of two or three witnesses who would provide further confirmation of that which the Lord Jesus had spoken. The Lord Jesus Christ had previously and indeed declared in the Temple that [if] the temple was destroyed in three days He would raise it up again in three days.

 

            It is with all of this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the twenty-sixth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. The words presented here in the twenty-sixth chapter are incredibly necessary to read and understand for they would not only be linked to that which we find and read in the second chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John but they would also be linked to the words which we would find presented in the twenty-seventh chapter of this same New Testament gospel. We must needs realize and understand that Jesus would indeed speak similar words while in the Temple as it was written and recorded within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John, however, those same words would be used as means of accusing Him before religion and tempting Him while upon the cross. What we must needs understand and recognize, however, is that while these words were indeed meant to accuse Him while in the house of religion and tempt Him while He was on the cross they would actually serve as a witness and testimony—not only concerning the words which He had actually spoken but also the mission and the assignment for which He had been sent in the flesh by the living and eternal Father which was in heaven. With this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew concerning Jesus’ standing in the palace of Caiaphas the high priest before the chief priests and the elders of the people:

 

            “And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; but found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? What is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, he hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?” (Matthew 26:57-68).

 

            The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture present us with the first of two times the words which Jesus spoke on that day in the Temple would be re-presented to Him. What we must needs realize, however, is that although these words were essentially recounted before Jesus in the hearing of the high priest and the religious leaders which were present they weren’t actually the words the Lord Jesus had spoken. We have already seen and witnessed the actual words which the Lord Jesus spoke which never made the declaration that He Himself would destroy the Temple but rather placed the destruction of the temple upon the Jews themselves. The words the Lord Jesus spoke unto the Jews on that particular occasion in response to their question regarding a sign called into question themselves destroying the temple. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the astonishing reality of the words which Jesus used and something we need to understand about accusation. Perhaps one of the greatest trust we must understand concerning accusation is that more often than not it can be based upon a false narrative. What’s more is that not only can accusation be based on a false narrative we tell ourselves but it can also be based on a misconstruing of that which we think we heard. Scripture is not clear whether or not these two false witnesses were present within the Temple when Jesus spoke these words or if they heard of this event from others. We are left to speculate whether or not these false witnesses attempted to accuse the Lord Jesus based on that which they heard with their own ears or that which was repeated and presented unto them by others.

 

            One of the most astonishing and captivating truths found in this passage of Scripture is when you consider the power of witness and how more often than not the power of witness must needs be rooted in reality.  What’s more is that not only must witness be rooted in reality but it must also be rooted in accuracy. You will recall in the opening chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle John how he wrote of those things which he heard with his ears, those things which he saw with his eyes and those things which he touched and handled himself. At the very heart of witness is this same truth for we dare not and must not think we can provide an accurate witness if it is based on inaccurate information. Concerning these two false witnesses it is unclear whether or not they truly believed that Jesus had spoken the words they accused Him of or whether they deliberately and intentionally sought to misconstrue his words that they might present them as means of accusing him. This is something which we have a great need of recognizing and paying close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to these two false witnesses and how they were indeed and were in fact brought forward to bring a false testimony and accusation against the Lord Jesus. We must needs recognize and understand this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it brings us face to face with the undeniable truth concerning these witnesses and how that which they presented unto the chief priests and the religious leaders was something they thought would and could be used as means to accuse the Lord Jesus. What makes their words so incredibly unique, however, is when you think about the fact that what they sought to provide as false testimony and witness against Jesus actually served as a powerful witness for the Lord Jesus and the words He had previously spoken.

 

            I have to admit that I find the words presented in this passage of scripture so incredibly intriguing and captivating when you take the time to think about it for these two false witnesses attempted to raise themselves up to bring an accusation against the Lord Jesus. The accusation and testimony they brought against the Lord Jesus would indeed be directly associated with words which He had spoken earlier while in the Temple. It’s interesting to note that the words which these false witnesses spoke in the presence of the religious not only pointed back to Jesus’ actions in the Temple but they would also point to the words which He would speak when the Jews asking Him what sign He gave them for doing such things. What’s more is I would dare say that what we find here in this passage of Scripture is the witness of these two false witnesses not only bearing record to Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple but they would also point to the physical destruction of the Temple. What I find interesting is to consider the fact that although Jesus would speak of the temple of His physical body being destroyed the physical and actual temple which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed as well. In fact when speaking unto the disciples concerning the Last Days the Lord Jesus would declare unto them that there would not be a single stone that would sit upon one another. Moreover the beloved physician Luke would record the Lord Jesus as describing the days coming when Jerusalem would be compassed round about by armies that would lay siege to it and bring destruction. It’s truly astonishing to think about the fact that Jesus’ actions in the Temple would indeed be a precursor to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in the year 70 A.D.

 

            In addition to this dialogue and narrative concerning the destruction of the Temple by the Romans and Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple prior to that is a powerful reminded of Josiah’s own cleansing of the Temple during his days and generation. It would be during the days of Josiah when he would order the Temple of the living God to be repaired that it might honor and bring glory to the living God. It would be in the process of the Temple of the living God being repaired that the book of the Law of Moses would be found by Hilkiah the priest. It would be Hilkiah the priest who would bring forth the book of the Law of Moses out of the Temple and would read it in the hearing of the king. Upon hearing the words which the priest would read in his hearing Josiah would rend his garments and would humble himself in the sight of the living God. What’s more is that not only would Josiah rend his garments in the sight and presence of the living God but he would send certain of his servants unto the prophetess to inquire of the LORD concerning what was read in his hearing. Upon hearing the words which Josiah the king would speak unto her the prophetess would not only declare that Josiah would die in peace during his days but he also would not see the devastation and destruction that would come about during his days. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning these words is that Josiah was promised peace during his days and promised he would not see the devastation and destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem and yet he would still have it within his heart to bring about a powerful cleansing in the midst of the land. Josiah would launch a powerful campaign of holiness and righteousness in the land as he would destroy and purge it of all the idolatrous images and practices which were present in the midst of it. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the Old Testament book of Second Kings beginning with the twenty-third chapter:

 

            “And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD. And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant” (2 Kings 23:1-3).

 

            “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove. And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city. Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren. And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the five to Molech. And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the enterin in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomnination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men” (2 Kings 23:4-14).

 

            “Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchures that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchures, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el. And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria. And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the LORD to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el. And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem” (2 Kings 23:15-20).

 

            The words which we find in this passage of Scripture are absolutely astonishing when you take the time to think about them for although Josiah would not behold with his eyes the devastation and destruction the LORD had promised and spoken of through the Law and the prophets he would still bring about a cleansing of the land. Josiah was promised peace during his days and would not see all the LORD had intended to bring upon the land of Judah, the city of Jerusalem and even the Temple of the living God. Even though He would not see with his own eyes the devastation and destruction that would come upon the city together with the Temple he would still launch a campaign of holiness and righteousness throughout the land. Josiah the king of Judah would be so moved with holy and righteous reverence for the living God and for His words that he would move throughout the land and remove anything that would be an abomination in the sight of the living God. Just as the Lord Jesus would enter into the Temple and remove that which would be an abomination in the sight and presence of His Father which was in heaven so also would Josiah go throughout the land and completely and utterly cleanse it of everything that was an abomination in the sight and presence of the living God. How absolutely incredible this actually is when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the reality of the actions of Jesus and how Jesus would Himself enter into the Temple and bring cleansing to it. What’s more is Jesus would enter into the Temple and bring cleansing to it knowing that the days were coming when not one stone of the Temple would remain upon the other—all would be cast down. Jesus’ actions within the Temple would indeed be a powerful precursor and portent of what was to come when the Temple would in fact be destroyed.

 

            If there is one thing I can’t help but find incredibly captivating about this when you take the time to consider it is when you find that although Jesus would speak of the Temple being destroyed and being raised in three days the physical Temple which was present in the midst of Jerusalem would indeed be destroyed. The Jews thought the Lord Jesus was speaking of the physical and natural temple which stood in the midst of the Temple Mount being destroyed and yet that which He was speaking of was the temple of His physical body. We must needs recognize and understand this for although Jesus was not speaking of the physical and natural temple which stood upon the Temple Mount being destroyed there would come the days when it would indeed be destroyed. The destruction of the Temple would be spoken of and foretold in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and it would be in the gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke where we find the words of the Lord Jesus concerning the siege that would come upon the city of Jerusalem. It would be during the days which were ahead the Roman army would surround the city of Jerusalem laying siege to it before they would ultimately bring destruction and devastation upon it. Pause for a moment and consider this and how absolutely incredible it truly is as it calls us to truly think about the destruction of the Temple as well as the city of Jerusalem which was present in the midst of the land of Judaea.

 

            As you continue reading in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will come to the twenty-seventh chapter and specifically to the account of the Lord Jesus hanging there upon the cross. It would be as Jesus hung there upon the cross those who passed by would wag their heads at Him and mock Him. Not only would they wag their heads at Him and mock Him but they would also speak words that would look back to the accusation before the religious leaders and the words which were spoken by the Lord Jesus in the Temple when He brought cleansing to it. It’s truly unique to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and to consider how the Lord Jesus would hang there upon the cross suspended between earth and sky and those who passed by would not only wag their heads and mock Him but they would also use similar words as the two false witnesses who stood to accuse Him in the house of religion. There in the house of religion the Lord Jesus would be falsely accused of declaring that He would destroy the Temple and in three days rebuild it and now here we find Him in the place of the Skull hearing similar words to that which was spoken in the house of religion. Here as Jesus hung upon the cross we find those who passed by using these words as means of insulting Him—and not only as means of insulting Him but also as means of somehow tempting Him to come down off the cross. The apostle Matthew writes how those who passed by would declare concerning Jesus that He who had declared that He would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days should come down off the cross.

 

            There at the Place of the Skull as Jesus hung there suspended between earth and sky those who passed by would insult and ridicule Him—and not only insult Him but would use words similar to those false witnesses who stood to accuse Him in the house of religion. I mentioned how the two false witnesses would actually accomplish something they had absolutely no idea that were accomplishing—namely that they would provide a witness concerning that which the Lord Jesus had previously spoken. They would accuse Jesus of declaring He would destroy the Temple and in three days raise it up again and yet what they would actually do is confirm the words Jesus spoke concerning the destruction of the temple of His physical body and even His resurrection. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand that out of the mouth of two or three witnesses a matter is confirmed. If this is indeed the case according to Scripture then you have to consider how many of those who passed by Jesus as He hung there upon the cross would have potentially spoken those same words. The two false witnesses would use these words to wrongly and falsely accuse the Lord Jesus not knowing they would actually be standing as testimonies and witnesses for the Lord Jesus and the destruction of His physical body through death and His subsequent resurrection from the dead three days later. Now here we have those who passed by the Lord Jesus while He hung their upon the cross serving as witnesses themselves concerning the same act of death and resurrection.

 

            It’s quite telling to read the words which are found in the twenty-seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and consider how the destruction of His physical body had not only begun but was continuing to take place. It would be there upon the cross that the continued destruction of the physical body of the Lord Jesus would indeed continue after the Roman centurions and soldiers had scourged Him with whips laced with chips of bone and glass. This is something we must needs recognize for as Jesus hung there upon the cross He was not only naked and beaten to the point of death but He was barely recognizable. We will never know what the Lord Jesus looked like as He hung there upon the cross and Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ might be the closest thing to this we will ever see. I have to admit I wonder what the Lord looked like as He hung there upon the cross and what those who passed by thought about Him. What we do know for certain is that those who passed by Him wagged their heads at Him and would use the same words which the false witnesses used in the house of religion. Those who passed by the Lord Jesus as He hung there upon the cross would indeed speak of Him as the One who made the declaration that He would destroy the Temple and in three days raise it up again. Of course we know the Lord Jesus never said this and yet here we find all those who wagged their heads in a sense confirming the message which the Lord Jesus had spoken earlier on in the Temple of the living God. The Lord Jesus would hang there suspended between earth and sky and would hear the words which all those who passed by would declare unto Him and I can’t help but wonder if those words would indeed be such that would further confirm the work which He would accomplish upon the cross.

 

            The further I delve into the twenty-seventh chapter the more I can’t help but see how the physical temple of the body of the Lord Jesus was intrinsically linked and connected to the actual Temple which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It’s important to note that within and throughout Jewish history there have been two Temples which have stood upon the Temple Mount and both have been destroyed. With this being said we must needs understand that within a forty year period of time—not only would the physical body of the Lord Jesus be destroyed through suffering and death before being raised from death to life but so also would the physical Temple which stood in Jerusalem be destroyed. Just as the physical body of the Lord Jesus was destroyed through suffering and death on this fateful day so also would the physical Temple which stood upon the Temple Mount also be destroyed. This is something we have a great need to recognize and pay close attention to for when Jesus yielded up the ghost and His physical body became lifeless there was something that happened within the actual Temple which stood upon the Temple Mount. When Jesus yielded up the ghost the apostle Matthew writes and records how the veil of the temple would be destroyed and rent in twain from top to bottom. Pause for a moment and consider that at the same time the physical body of the Lord Jesus became lifeless as He experienced death the actual veil within the Temple which separated the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place would be rent in twain from top to bottom. The simple fact that the apostle Matthew was able to write about this suggested that there were priests within the Temple at the time the veil was indeed rent in twain.

 

            I sit here right now thinking about and considering this reality and I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like for those who were in the Temple as the veil which separated the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place was rent in twain. What was the sight and sound of that like as the veil would indeed be rent in two from top to bottom as it would potentially come crashing down? What’s more is I can’t help but wonder what it would be like for those who were present in the Temple to look up and see the veil being literally torn apart from the top all the way to the bottom. Is it possible that those who were present within the Temple and heard and saw this event unfold would also see the veil hanging there in two pieces with the Holy of Holies being exposed. How do you respond when that which separated that which is holy from that which is not? How do you respond when that which represented separation between the living God and man is no longer present and literally hangs suspended on two different parts between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place? Imagine how those who were in the Temple reacted and responded when they came out of the Temple and spoke of what had happened. Imagine the witness and testimony of those who were present in the Temple and how they would have described the sight and sound of the veil being rent in twain from top to bottom without any human hands laying a single hand or finger upon it. There is something to be said about the precise moment when the death of the Lord Jesus occurred and the rending of the veil within the Temple from top to bottom for it powerful demonstrates a strong link between the physical Temple of the Lord Jesus which was broken and the physical temple which would stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found within this passage of Scripture—and not only this but also of Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple—for there are powerful portents to the destruction of the Temple. The Lord Jesus would cleanse the Temple and sought to restore it as a house of prayer rather than a den of thieves. What we must needs understand concerning this is how it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the destruction of the Temple that would occur less than forty years after the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Jesus would indeed speak of the destruction of the temple of His physical body when in the Temple after He had brought cleansing to it and yet that cleansing would be a strong and powerful portent of a destruction of a different temple that would occur in less than four decades. The Lord would not speak of the destruction of the physical Temple when He was in the Temple and brought cleansing to it and it wouldn’t be until the Lord Jesus would be leaving the Temple as written in the twenty-fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel where we find Him actually speaking of the destruction of the Temple. Oh there is something incredibly powerful and captivating about the cleansing of the Temple for in the cleansing of the Temple would be found a mystery concerning the actual Temple which would stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Although Jesus would not at this moment speak of the destruction of the physical temple on this particular occasion He would nonetheless recognize and understand that the Temple would indeed be destroyed.

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the cleansing of the Temple, the destruction of the physical temple of the body of the Lord Jesus and the rending of the veil in two from top to bottom. I feel the great need to pause right here and ask what purpose a temple standing in the midst of the city of Jerusalem would have if the veil which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place would have. If you stop and think about you have to consider the fact that a Temple standing on the Temple Mount with a veil which had separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place since the time of Moses would have very little to offer those who were present in the midst of the earth. I would dare say that not only would the cleansing of the Temple be a portent of the destruction that would come upon it less than forty years later but so also would the rending of the veil in two from top to bottom be a portent concerning this destruction. The Temple would indeed be cleansed by the Lord Jesus during this final week before His suffering and death and then before the week would let out the veil would be torn in two from top to bottom. What a truly astonishing and captivating this truth truly is when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the Incredible significance of the death of the Lord Jesus. It would be the death of the Lord Jesus that would not only be the catalyst for the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place being torn in twain from top to bottom but would also set in motion the removal of the physical Temple as a new and living Temple would be manifested in the midst of the earth.

 

The words which we find in this passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the death of the Lord Jesus Christ and that which it would bring. Jesus hanging upon the cross is and has been one of the most offensive realities for countless individuals. Think about how many people found the sight of the Lord Jesus Christ offensive—and not because they were offended with Him hanging upon the cross but with the man who was actually hanging there upon the tree. We must needs recognize and understand the reality of the death and the destruction of the physical body of the Lord Jesus which was the temple. What I absolutely love is that Jesus’ description of the destruction of the temple which was His physical body would indeed be a portent of a new and living temple that would be manifested in the earth in the coming days. The reference the Lord Jesus made concerning the destruction of the temple which He deliberately and intentionally did signifying that His body was indeed a temple would be a powerful witness to the creation of a new and living temple which would be the temple of the Holy Spirit—that which the apostle Paul would write about in each of his epistles written unto the Corinthian saints. Oh that we would recognize that it was necessary for the death of Jesus to bring about the rending of the veil would indeed help facilitate and bring about the creation of a new and living temple in which the physical bodies of men would house that which would previously only be present behind the veil within the Temple. Oh that we would read these words and come face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the death of the Lord Jesus, the cleansing of the Temple, the rending of the veil and how it all points to restored fellowship and the creation of a new and living temple—a temple which we are if we believe on the name of the Lord Jesus and love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul and with all our strength.

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