Recall that the magnificent glory of God hidden within the humble earthenware vessel of Christ has just left Herod’s temple for the last time, having been driven from it by those who would have it filled with the spirit of their own worldly religion rather than the Holy Spirit of God. In this context, what is the geographical and historical significance that Jesus now repairs to the Mount of Olives where He will begin His discourse about the temple’s future desolation of which He has just spoken (Mat 23:38, 24:2)? See Eze 11:23; cf. Luk 19:37, 41-44, Act 1:9-12, and consider that from the Mount of Olives one had a panoramic view of the entire city of Jerusalem and especially the temple mount.
Consider the time and energy expended to build the temple—or any other great edifice—as each and every stone had to be laid one upon another in its own time and according to a carefully determined plan; cf. Hag 2:15. Although begun by Herod, it was still incomplete 46 years later during the time of Jesus’ ministry (Joh 2:20), long after Herod had died, and would not be completely finished for almost another 40 years. What is the significance then of Jesus’ words in Mat 24:2 that the time would come when there would “by no means be left a stone upon a stone which would not be torn down” (literal)? I.e., what do His words indicate about the extent of the judgment that would result from God’s Spirit having forsaken and left it to themselves? Cf. Mic 3:9-12. What does this remind us must be the end result of anything we might build in our own strength and power, however great and glorious it might be, that is or becomes devoid of His Spirit? Cf. Gen 11:4 and contrast Zec 4:6 and its context that speaks prophetically of the building of God’s spiritual temple.
What is the temple today, and what are the stones from which it is built, one upon another, in their own time and according to God’s carefully predetermined plan? See Mat 18:20, 1Co 3:16, Eph 2:19-22, 4:11-13, 1Pe 2:5, Rev 3:12, and cf. Exo 25:9,40, 26:30, 1Ch 28:11-19, Act 7:44, Heb 8:5. Is it possible that as today’s physical representations of God’s spiritual temple also become defiled with the spirit of this world and the Spirit of Christ is driven from them so they become devoid of God’s Holy Spirit, that they too could be torn down so that not one living stone is left upon another? What evidence do we have that this has happened to the churches in Europe, and is now happening to the churches in America? See note, and consider the difficulty true seekers have in finding godly fellowship; cf. Amos 8:11-13. Does this mean that God’s promises have failed in regard to the Church, any more than they failed in regard to the nation of Israel? Cf. Mat 16:18, Rom 9:6, 10:21, 11:1-5,11-12,25, and consider that while the Church has declined in Europe and the U.S., it has grown in other places. How does this help us to understand that while God’s promises are sure and certain in regard to Israel and the Church as a collective body, for individuals within those bodies His promises are also conditional upon their obedience? Cf. Heb 3:12-19.
What word in Mat 24:3 describes how Jesus’ disciples came to Him to inquire about the destruction of the temple that He has just foretold? What is the significance that they came to Him privately? See Psa 25:14, Amos 3:7, Mat 13:3,10-11,36, Mar 4:34, Act 10:9. What does this remind us about there being some hidden spiritual truths that people in general are not privy to? Cf. 1Co 1:18, 2:6-14. What does this also remind us about those with whom the Lord is intimate to whom He will further reveal Himself and what we too must do if we would understand His secret counsel? Cf. Mat 6:6, 14:23, Luk 5:16, 6:12. Is it publicly or privately that a man is intimate with his wife and plants the seed that allows them to be fruitful and multiply? Shall we suppose it is any different with the Lord and His Bride the Church? Do we then go to the Lord privately and seek Him in our prayer closets in order that the seed of His word might be sown in our hearts and take root, so that knowing Him intimately we might be fruitful and multiply spiritually? What disciples in particular had come to Jesus to inquire of Him privately? See Mar 13:3. Can it be said of us that we are part of Jesus’ inner circle who go to Him in private to understand His words? What is the significance that Mark does not list them by family as Peter, Andrew, James and John? Cf. Gal 2:9.
1. Only 2-4% of the population of Europe regularly attends church (at least twice a month), and the rate in the U.S has been steadily decreasing so it is now under 20%. Over 4000 churches in the U.S. close each year compared to 1000 church starts, so that there is less than half the number of churches today that there were 100 years ago. In 1900 there were 27 churches for every 10,000 people; in 2000 there were 11 churches for every 10,000 people. (See http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=42346&columnid=4545; http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2013/10/26/why-we-are-losing-so-many-churches-in-the-united-states/.↩
The Atonement of Christ's Blood: Understanding How the Blood of Christ Saves and Reconciles us to God
- What is the relationship between Jesus’ sacrifice and our redemption, forgiveness and receiving an inheritance per the terms of the covenant / will that was effected by His death?
- From what, and to what, are we saved? Is it Jesus’ death alone that saves us? What part does His resurrection have in our salvation?
- Does the justice of God demand the satisfaction of blood before He will forgive, similar to what pagans throughout history have believed?
- What was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices?
- Does blood alone atone for sin?
- How does Christ’s death render powerless the devil?
- To whom was Christ’s life given as a ransom? From what are we ransomed?
- Why did Jesus not only die, but suffer and die? If all that was necessary was His shed blood, why didn’t God sovereignly ordain a more merciful death for His own dear Son?
- What is the relationship between a will or testament, and a covenant? What was willed to Jesus as an inheritance from His Father, and what was willed to us through the new testament in His blood?