Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.(Matthew 23:38-39)
We have been looking at what I consider to be essential elements of context, in order to more fully understand Jesus’ definitive teaching on the end times, i.e. Matthew 24.
Jesus’ sermon in the temple, in Matthew 23, very much in the character of Jeremiah’s temple sermon,(Jeremiah 7), an address to the leaders of the doomed nation, calling them out on their specific apostasy, and passionately pointing out how they had become “blind guides” leading a blind nation away from God and into the Pit, and that they were the same God defying “brood of vipers” spoken of in Genesis 3 when God warned of the enmity between the woman and her seed and the Serpent and his seed.
In his last official capacity as Messiah, in the Temple of the LORD, and to the leaders of Israel, and by proxy to all of Israel, jesus ended his remarks with two devastating sayings;
“Your House is left to you desolate”. and
“You will not see me again, until you say, blessed is He that comes in the name of the LORD!”.
As for the first saying, Jesus warned the nation that God no longer inhabited the Temple, it was empty. He had vacated it.
Harkening back to Jeremiah’s sermon, the Jews in Jesus day were in a similar position to the Jews of Jeremiah’s day. They were on the verge of devastating national judgments, Jeremiah and Jesus both warned of them, and included this detail, that the Temple would be destroyed.
But the nation took a false confidence in the mere existence of the temple in their midst, as though as long as the Temple was there, the nation was inviolable.
Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these.(Jeremiah 7:7)
Jeremiah warned the nation not to trust in “lying Words” and thus to make the Temple into a den of robbers.
Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord.(Jeremiah 7:8-11)
The idea of the Temple as a den of robbers is often misunderstood. Robbers do not do their crimes in their den, they do them outside the den and then flee into the den for security. Backsliders and Apostates felt secure that the Judgment of the Babylonian invasion would never come upon them, for they had the Temple in their midst, they were safe and secure to do as they pleased.
Jesus cited Jeremiah in the days leading up to Matthew 24, when He cleansed the Temple, ( a prophetic action, depicting the coming destruction of the same temple),
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.(Matthew 21:12-13)
In the case of Jeremiah, it was the Babylonians who were lining up, and in the case of Jesus , the Romans, both of which would inevitably be used to destroy the Temple of God. How could Pagans destroy the Holy House of God?
Only if God leaves, can the Temple be destroyed. “Your House is Left to You Desolate”.
Ezekiel saw the glory of the LORD depart from the Holy House. The Glory lifted from the Holy of Holies and lingered, then proceeded to the Eastern gate and lingered and finally went out to the Mt of Olives, eventually ascending from there.
Then the glory of the Lord departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims. And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above…And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city. (Ezekiel 10:18-19, 11:23)
Hosea predicted that the time would come when God himself would tell Israel he was going back to where he came from, and would not return again until Israel confessed her national sin.
I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.(Hosea 5:15)
In what sense could the Omnipresent God “go back to where he came from”? Only in this way; He sanctified a piece of real estate, and gave a plan to a holy nation, to build a Holy House which He would inhabit, for them to worship Him and be animated as a nation by his glory. But now, because of the depth of their idolatry, He would go away from them and not return until they admitted their offense.
What good is an empty temple? How could a ‘Holy People’ be of any use when God is no longer among them? Who are they without Him?
Furthermore what will it take to get them to repent and confess the national sin? Hosea gives us a clue, when he proclaims that “in their affliction” they will seek Him earnestly. Nothing less than ‘their affliction’, a’ time of Jacob’s trouble’, will bring them to the point of humble confession of sin and restitution as a Holy Nation, and Priestly people.
“You will not see Me again until you say, ‘blessed is He that comes in the name of the LORD”.
All is not lost, for in this second saying a promise is implied….He did not say,”You will not see me again.”, He said “You will not see me again until you say…”. The nation must be brought to a true confession of the line in the long sung Passover Hymn, Psalm 118, “Blesses is He that comes in the name of the LORD!”.
It was part of a processional drama; the King Messiah comes on the long anticipated day, the “Day the LORD has made”, and with his retinue of followers, ascended the Holy mount to the Temple gates. The other part of the drama is the “builders” of the Nation, the Shepherds, Priests and Leaders, from within the temple walls were to “open the gates of Righteousness” and to Receive the King Messiah, on behalf of the whole nation, “We welcome you from the house of the LORD”, and to proclaim to one and all,
“Blessed is He that comes in the name of the LORD!” which is a way of confessing that this one, Jesus of Nazareth, is actually the one who meets all of the prophetic criteria, and who has performed the works, and who speaks not for himself but in the name of God, He is the Messiah we have been waiting for.
As we all know, It didn’t work out that way. In fact the other obscure verse of Psalm 118 , the alternate ending was fulfilled, “The stone which the builders rejected is become the chief cornerstone”. The builders rejected King Messiah, the vital piece of the Holy Nation. They rejected Him and cast him aside.
This was what killed the “fig tree” and at this point the nation died. When the High Priest of Israel stood before the pagan Roman representative, and confessed to Him,(on behalf of the nation) “we have no King but Caesar”, Israel died, was plucked out the land and has been preserved in state, for all of the World to see, awaiting the final chance to acknowledge Him and to be raised again from the dead.
Israel will be visited by him one more time, in the midst of the greatest pressure and tribulation, Messiah will come to them, and this time they will recognize Him.
(If their casting away was blessing to we gentiles, what shall be their resurrection? Nothing short of the resurrection from the dead of the whole World!) Maranatha!