Matthew 23:37+38; 24:1+2
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! “For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”
Does Jesus have two distinct people with two distinct plans? When reading this text do we get a sense of that? How does this text factor in to our “end-times” beliefs? Or is it possible that Jesus is not referring to the end of the age as we have been taught but as they (first-century audience) understood it to be? Unless you are learning for yourself, you only know what you have been taught. Therefore, when we read the Bible we should use a hermeneutical tool such as the CAGED method to unlock the caged Scripture. We must consider the Context, Author’s aspirations, Genre, Examples and Divide.
““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” notice the sorrow, sadness and yet the love and compassion, “who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” Despite their crimes, and killings, Jesus continued to send them prophets to change their minds. That’s love, that’s mercy, that’s compassion and his compassion does continue to this day. Yet we also see the justice in this statement, “you were unwilling.” From Abel to Zechariah, as we have read, they rejected and killed many of those who have followed the Lord, especially the prophets.
Jesus has sent them many prophets and will send them over a dozen more. The continuing context and sublime string must be considered as we ascertain the author’s aspirations. We remember that in the final woe to the Pharisees, Jesus said, “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city.” We know that 11 of the 12 would be soon called, “apostles” and that at least two others were added. We also find that the word “apostle,” means, “one that is sent,” and can observe the fulfillment of these words by reading the book of Acts, where we are introduced to another apostle, one sent to gentiles, named Saul, aka, Paul. This arises the everlasting, effervescent question which keeps bubbling up to the surface; are there apostles today? No, their are no more eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus. I am sorry, there are no more prophets, no more apostles and the Scripture is complete–gifts may remain but the offices have expired, much like the office of Pharisee. Lord willing, we will explore this enigma with exposition and explanation in the future. For now, we have enough overwhelming context to consider.
Look at the love, the longing, the longevity and the literary device; “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” Reading these words, the first-century audience observed the arrangement of the words and would recall the number of prophets sent to speak God’s words and seek out his people. Time after time, Jesus sent prophets to not only point to himself, but to gather them like a hen gathers her chicks, it is a simile and it is foreshadowing.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! “For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’”
I believe Jesus to be using more literary language than meets the eye. We clearly see the simile of Jesus gathering the children of Jerusalem as a hen gathers her chicks, close to her, protected lovingly, under her wings. We also see the metaphor made by calling the people, children of Jerusalem. This is not to be taken literally but figuratively, for the apostate Israel. Anyone who has the faith of Abraham has been gathered like a chick to its mother but Jesus refers to those unwilling, the context is clear. Jesus also uses irony and other wordplay. The Greek word Jesus chose to use for “sent” is the word from which we get our word, “apostle.” And ironically, Jesus uses a word for “gather” that is derived from “synagogue,” the Jewish gathering place and not “ecclesia,” the New Testament gathering; the word we erroneously define as “church.” The Lord promised the apostles, that they would scourge in their synagogues, or “gatherings,” and that their “house” is being left desolate. The choice of words used by Jesus in this chapter is nothing short of a metaphorical masterpiece. Even with cross-cultural contamination and the English translation, we can clearly see the author’s aspiration to his audience. This chapter in Matthew ushers in the new and expels the old. The new beginning comes at the old beginning’s end. However, what we have here is a horrible chapter break because the context continues along with the sublime string.
“‘Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, “BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'”
And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.'”
Where do we find the chaper break? It is right before the word–the conjunction, “And.” Notice that the context and sublime string continue. This chapter break doesn’t fit, neither do any added headings–the context flows. We cherish chapter and verse breaks for ease of reference but we have corrupted them in the West and sent missionaries out to corrupt the rest of the world. Because of this wave of corruption the coasts of context are being eroded. Our culture and climate of peace and prosperity have watered down the Scripture like wine at weddings in the book of John; “Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now.” We in the West, myself included, have proclamed the gospel as, “just pray a simple prayer and Jesus will save you.” Save us from what; poverty, persecution, pestilence? We pray a prayer but keep our culture, how is that being born again? We quote John 3:16 and expect new birth, not considering the context. We teach traditions and culture rather than the original intention of the word of God, ripping verses, which were neither intended to stand alone, nor be verses at all, and string them together based upon the precepts of men. See the Divine double-entendre of the desolate house.
Yes, the house is certainly a metaphor for the temple. But the temple is a metaphor in itself and only a shadow to the substance of Christ. The ultimate metaphor that the Master makes is that their covenant is coming to a close. Not because God breaks his promises, he doesn’t, he’s actually fulfilling his promises, but because they were not willing–it is right there in the context. I can’t write, “mega-church pastors, ‘your house is being left to you desolate.'” That would, ironically, be doing that which they do. Taking a part of a verse and stringing it together with my own precepts. Nevertheless, my precepts are based upon Biblical context and the sublime string, what do they base their teachings on, God’s provision for their prosperity and huge houses of worship? The Pharisees too were well off and had a huge house of worship. Shout out to those meeting secretly in a dank, dark, deserted dungeons of a church, hiding from the authorities–you will be in the front row in heaven.
What were the woes and folly of the Pharisees? Ultimately, they didn’t listen to the prophets and taught the precepts of men. They had the appearance of righteousness on the outside but inside were earthly and corrupt and led others astray, swearing by the gold of the temple but not honoring the one who dwelled in the temple, figuratively speaking.
Because of this, and not because God breaks his promises, it is quite literally, out with the old way and in with the new, Christ being the conerstone and the apostles building and being built on that foundation, have made for us a foundation on which to build–there is no other foundation (1+2 Peter). There is no longer a temple in Jerusalem, it case you didn’t know. And if there ever is another temple in Jerusalem, which there very well could be, it will not be the house of the Lord. That would be going back to the shadows when we have the substance, Jesus Christ. Even if with future technology, and archeological digs, that makes our modern gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and ground-penetrating radar look like the rubbing of two sticks together to make fire, we find for certain the actual conerstone of the first temple, in place, it’s nothing but a shadow to Christ the conerstone. They could build upon the hypothetical cornerstone found of Solomon’s Temple, “However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: ‘HEAVEN IS MY THRONE, AND EARTH IS THE FOOTSTOOL OF MY FEET; WHAT KIND OF HOUSE WILL YOU BUILD FOR ME?’ says the Lord; ‘OR WHAT PLACE IS THERE FOR MY REPOSE? WAS IT NOT MY HAND WHICH MADE ALL THESE THINGS?’”
Notice the context; “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! ‘For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, “BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!”‘ And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.'”
Jesus prophesized the destruction of the temple, literally, but the context is clear, their is a double meaning, it’s not only that the house is left desolate and destroyed, that would be redundant, but that the Old Covenant, that they couldn’t fulfill, is now being fulfilled by the true Israel and he is bringing about a New Covenant. Enter our Vitamin E, expository exegesis of examples.
We have discussed the conerstone Jesus, the true Israel and the hypothetical cornerstone that could be found in the future. I don’t write about this in spite of the context but precisely because of the context and the sublime string found in an expository exegesis of examples. “BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” For the repeat offenders, you will remember Psalm 118 and the Triumphal Entry To Typically Tragic Times.
“The LORD has disciplined me severely, But He has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; The righteous will enter through it. I shall give thanks to Thee, for Thou hast answered me; And Thou hast become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, do save, we beseech Thee; O LORD, we beseech Thee, do send prosperity! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”
The house of the Lord is mentioned as is prosperity. Problem; persecution is promised, not prosperity. Another problem; the conerstone is Jesus and the house is being left desolate and destroyed is the temple. We have to let Scripture interpret Scripture. Jesus is the true Israel, the house, the temple the cornerstone, the context won’t allow for any other interpretation. Matthew records Jesus saying, “Something greater than the temple is here.” This passage is not intended to illustrate that after the church is raptured, Israel will be given a second chance at their religion, of which they failed. We cannot read, “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD,’” and infer that Jesus will reinstate temple sacrifice so that he can ride into Jerusalem again only this time, find them doing it correctly. Nor can we assume that Jesus isn’t taking about the near future, the greater context reads, “Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.”
We didn’t come up with this on our own, we had to be taught to think this way, due to the erosion of the contextual coast by the waves of unspiritual, Scriptural synthesis. God hates admixture, if Israel wasn’t to mix their clothes or their culture with the culture of those that were to be dispossessed, do we think that we should mix up and manipulate the words of God? Or should we consider the context and the sublime string?
Therefore, what does Jesus mean when he says, “For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD?’” I think he means exactly what he says. Consider the context and the example given. The Lord is salvation, the Lord is the rejected stone. Only when one, from Israel or any other tribe or tongue, calls on the name of the Lord, the true Lord, Jesus, will one see him. This passage does not point to the far future, but to their present time and their near future. Think pragmatically if you wish–they are all dead. Either they died in Christ or in their sins. “Behold he is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him;” and, “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Very true but I don’t believe that this is exactly what Jesus said, it is certainly an allusion to these things, but more precisely, I simply believe Jesus is pointing to himself as the only way of salvation. Consider the context of Matthew and Psalm 118. Stay tuned, the context continues.