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IS THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE IN 70 AD A FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY?

IS THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE IN 70 A.D. A FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY?

We read in Matt. 24:1-2, “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple; and His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, ‘See ye not all these things: verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down'”. Was this prophecy fulfilled in 70 AD?

We will consider the following topics in order to come to a correct view of this prophecy:

“THE BUILDINGS”

THE CONTEXT

PROPHECY AND THE DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY

MAN’S REALITY AND GOD’S REALITY

“THE BUILDINGS”

We read in Matt. 24:1 that the disciples showed Jesus “the buildings of the temple”. And our Lord told His disciples that “there shall not be left here one stone upon another“. But the western wall, also known as “the wailing wall” proves that some stones were indeed left upon others, proving that this prophecy was not fulfilled in 70 AD.

Some have suggested that the western wall was not part of the temple. Strictly speaking that is true, the western wall was part of the retaining wall that surrounded the temple. But I believe a careful study of the phrase in Matt. 24:1 is called for. That phrase is, “for to shew Him the buildings of the temple”. The Greek word translated “buildings” in this phrase is “kubia”. It is indeed a very interesting word. It is used eighteen times and is translated “building(s)” six times and “edify” or “edification” twelve times. It is clear that the basic meaning of the word is “edification”. The archaic definition of the English words “edify” and “edification” means “build or construct“. The noun form then is “structure”

In fact, if we look again at Matt. 24:1 I think we may see that definition more clearly. “…..His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the temple”. Note that we do not read that they showed Christ “the temple” but the “buildings of the temple”. In my opinion, because the Greek word is so often translated “edify” or “edification” this indicates the structures of the temple as that is what “edify” means. (I never cease to marvel at how God used the exact word so that we might know exactly what He intended us to understand.) Let us continue with this phrase “the buildings of the temple” with a consideration of the word “of”. In my opinion the “of”  is the Genitive of Relation which the Companion Bible defines as “equivalent to ‘pertaining to'”.

In other words, the phrase “the buildings of the Temple” may be understood as “the structures pertaining to the temple”.

So the Greek word  tells us that it means a structure. In that case, I believe that, as used in Matt. 24:1, the word includes the retaining wall. Therefore, we must conclude that this prophecy was not fulfilled in 70 AD. It is as simple as that. God’s prophecies are always fulfilled exactly, not approximately. It is not true that there are no stones left upon another in the structures pertaining to the temple, therefore this prophecy was not fulfilled in 70 A.D. But let us continue in this study in order to be as thorough as possible.

THE CONTEXT

Let us consider verse 3 of Matt. 24, “And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (The Greek word translated “world” is “aion” and should be translated “age”.)

First our Lord tells His disciples that the temple buildings will be destroyed and then they ask Him about the sign of His coming and of the end of the age. In other words, the questions concerned the end times. Note the question, “when shall these things be?”. “These things” refers to the destruction of the temple buildings and their questions are associated with the events of the end times. If nothing else this tells us that the entire conversation concerning the destruction of the temple buildings was of the end times.

Indeed we see three passages in Daniel that tell of the destruction of the temple in the end times; “…..and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary....” (Dan. 9:26b, see also Dan. 8:11 and 13 and 11:31). Because the questions in particular, and the entire conversation in general, were of the end times, it is most natural to conclude that the destruction Christ spoke of concerns the destruction of the end times.

PROPHECY AND THE DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY

When Israel was set aside at the end of the Acts period prophecies concerning Israel were put in abeyance. In other words, during the dispensation of the mystery no prophecies that are centered on Israel are  being fulfilled. That being the case, the prophecy of Matt. 24:1-2 could not have been fulfilled by the Romans because that was accomplished after Israel had been set aside, therefore after the beginning of the dispensation of the mystery, i.e.  in a dispensation in which no prophecy centered on Israel  is being fulfilled.

MAN’S REALITY AND GOD’S REALITY

The argument is made that our Lord was speaking of those very stones that would be destroyed and those very stones were destroyed in 70 A.D. But as we have seen above, those stones were not totally destroyed because the western wall still stands.

I suggest that because the destruction of 70 A.D. was not recorded in God’s Word, it did not happen in God’s eyes. That is to say, in man’s reality the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., but in God’s reality it never happened. There is a precedence for this suggestion in what we read of Melchizedec.

We read of Melchizedec in Heb. 7:3 that he was, “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life……”. Let us consider the oft repeated verse that Christ was made “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec” (Ps. 110:4, Heb. 5:6, and 7:17). The phrase “after the order of” tells us that Melchizedec was a type of Christ. Melchizedec was therefore a man. As is true of every other man, Melchizedec did indeed have a father, he did indeed have a mother, and he did indeed have a beginning and an end to his life. But Heb. 7:3 tells us that he did not have any of those things. How are we to understand this apparent contradiction in God’s perfect Word?

I suggest that because there is no record in God’s Word of Melchizedec’s parents or his birth and death, that in God’s sight, i.e. in God’s reality, Melchizedec had none of those things.

So too, because the destruction of 70 A.D. is not recorded in God’s Word, in God’s sight, i.e. in God’s reality, it never happened. The fact that even though it is obvious that there will be a temple in the tribulation (see II Thes. 2:4) there is no record of it having been built lends, in my opinion, great weight to this suggestion. That is to say, because the temple was, in God’s sight, never destroyed there is no reason to record the building of it in or before the end times.

This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail be at: janjoyce@aol.com

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