Matthew 24:1 (Jesus Forsakes the Temple)

What is the significance of the first words from Mat 24:1 in light of the preceding context?  See Mat 23:38-39 and recall that Jerusalem’s “house” refers primarily to the temple.  Having departed from the temple, did Jesus ever return to it again?  What happens to any habitation when God’s presence forsakes it?  See Mat 23:38, 24:2; cf. 1Sa 4:19-23, 2Ch 24:17-20, Jer 6:8, Lam 2, Hos 9:12.  Consider how seemingly insignificant Jesus’ departure from the temple would have appeared at the time: He had departed from the temple in such manner many times before, but this time He was forsaking it, having been driven from it by those who wanted it for themselves and for their own purposes, not as a house of prayer for all nations but as a robber’s den, a house of merchandise from which they could make a worldly profit.  They wanted their own spirit to fill it, not the true Spirit of a Holy God, and so God’s Holy Spirit in the presence of Christ was leaving it to them; cf. Luk 13:35.  Although it seemed insignificant and His enemies would from that time have inwardly rejoiced that His presence was gone, what was the bitter significance to them and their children—to their temple and their city and their nation—that the Holy Spirit of God in the person of Christ was leaving them?  Is it possible that same thing could happen to churches today whose “church bosses” resist God’s Spirit of holiness in favor of a more worldly spirit that attracts more worldly people in order to experience more worldly growth and success?

Past that seemingly insignificant event, although little seemed to change at first and things appeared to continue as they always had, was there any turning back from the path their hardened hearts had chosen?  What does this remind us about the great deception and danger of a hardened heart that continues to resist God’s Holy Spirit?  Will God tarry forever with those who are bent on having their own way and pursuing their own course?  Or will the time come—a time that to their darkened understanding may seem insignificant and like any other—when God forsakes them, giving them up to their own heart’s desire to “pursue the road that seems so clear” but which leads to destruction and from which there is no turning back?

C.S._Lewis_PoemAlthough Christ’s departure from the temple marked that point past which “being once crossed forever unawares denies return”, how long would it be before the desolations would actually overtake them which His departure portended and assured would take place?  Considering that it would be an entire generation of 40 years before Jesus’ words were fulfilled, what does this teach us about the way God’s judgment comes upon people?  Although it eventually manifests itself in a cataclysmic destruction as it did with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, is such destruction completely unexpected and does it happen out of the blue, or rather, does it come as the culmination of a progressive rottenness that has long been at work destroying from within?  See Rom 1:18-32; cf. Isa 51:7-8, Hos 5:12.  In what way is this true both of nations and individuals?  In what areas do we see such rottenness at work in our own nation, destroying it from within, and what does that portend for its future?  Is it possible that there are areas of rottenness at work within our own lives that will culminate in a cataclysmic destruction if we continue to ignore and justify our sins and do not repent of them before it is too late to do so?  Cf. Heb 10:26-31.  Shall we then, whether as nations or individuals suppose that because a cataclysmic destruction has not already overtaken us for our sins that it never will and we must have gotten away with them, either because they really aren’t that bad, or God hasn’t seen or doesn’t care—or is this just the deceitful nature of sin?  Cf. Rom 2:1-6.

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