Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
February 28, 1998
Last Updated :
February 18, 2012
Letter Of The Law But No Spirit, Written Law Oral Tradition And Period Of Prophetic Silence, The Spirit Of Commercialism Jesus Prophesies Destruction Of Jerusalem And Second Temple, General Titus And First Jewish–Roman War, Second Temple Is Destroyed In 70 AD, Jesus Is The Rejected Cornerstone, Jesus Prophesied Wrath Of God Against The Jews, First Temple Period Ended With Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar's Destruction Of Solomon's Temple, Seventy Years Of Captivity In Babylon, King Cyrus Liberates The Jews, If God Allows A Third Temple What Will Happen?, Jesus The Great Liberator, Ministry Of John The Baptist, Jesus The Light Of The World, Children Of Darkness, False Church Persecutes The True Church, Messianic Jews, The Great Tribulation, Blessed Is He That Cometh In The Name Of The Lord, Stephen's Martyrdom, Unbelieving Jews Are Children Of Hell, Synagogue Of Satan, True Jews Of The Spirit, True Body Of Believers vs False Religionists, Primary Criteria Is Faith In Jesus Christ, Not Everyone Is Really A Child Of God
Tragically, the Israelites became no better than the heathen nations around them, whom God had commanded them to destroy. As if the widespread idolatry which pervaded the land wasn't already a serious enough problem, Israel's spiritual leaders at that time -- the Scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees -- became overly legalistic, and were simply following the letter of the Law, instead of really being led by the Spirit. Adhering to and preserving rituals and traditions became the order of the day. Several hundred years later, Jesus would quote from the Prophet Isaiah, and tell them that they had made the Laws of God of none effect by their many traditions, as we see by the following verses:
"Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition."
Matthew 15:1-6, KJV
"He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye."
Mark 7:6-13, KJV
Following the ministry of the Prophet Malachi, tradition holds that there was a period of several hundred years during which the Gift of Prophecy was shunned upon by the religious leaders of Israel. Similar to what occurred during Jesus' own time, it seems that those self-satisfied false shepherds simply did not want to be reminded of their waywardness from and sins against the Lord. This occurred during the latter part of the Second Temple Period at the time of the Maccabee brothers. I will be explaining why it is referred to as the Second Temple Period later on in this series.
As we learn in the Book of Jubilees -- which is an apocryphal work that was written by a Pharisee in approximately 100 BC -- during this period, greater emphasis was placed upon the Written Law and Oral Tradition, which was esteemed as being eternal and unchangeable. It is because of this censorship of God's true Prophets by the legalistic spiritual leaders of Israel, that we have this period of silence which endured for several centuries prior to Christ's arrival on Earth. Some theologians suggest that God was simply tired of speaking to a nation which had hardened its ears and heart to the Truth. Others point to the apocryphal Pseudonymous Writings, and propose that due to pressure and the threat of persecution and excommunication from the Temple, God's Prophets, while they continued to record their prophecies, were forced to write under assumed names. I am not certain which of these two schools of thought is the correct one. Perhaps it is a little of both.
However, one thing that we do know with absolute certainty, is that Jesus was very much opposed to the greedy spirit of commercialism which had corrupted and pervaded the religious worship which occurred at the Temple in Jerusalem. I discuss this subject in such articles as "Mondex and the Mark of the Beast", "Money-Making Bible Hucksters and Mammon" and "MP3's, Commercialized Christianity and Christian Hypocrisy". Jesus did not hesitate to rebuke and expose the Jewish Elders who knowingly polluted the Temple of God, by turning it into a house of merchandise. Furthermore, as I amply explain in the aforementioned articles, I am convinced that Jesus is just as upset about the rampant commercialism which has polluted our faith today, as He was two thousand years ago. The following verses clearly reveal His displeasure with such practices:
"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, KJV
Jesus was paraphrasing a rebuke He had first spoken by the Spirit through the mouth of the young Prophet Jeremiah over six hundred years before. Just as Jesus stood in the Temple and rebuked the Jewish religious Elders and the merchants, Jeremiah had done the same thing prior to the invasion of Jerusalem by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, when he said the following:
"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 7:11, KJV
So as you can see, the Lord strong disapproved of the greedy commercial spirit which pervaded the Temple compound, and it saddened Him that Judaism had become such a cold, spiritless and very legalistic religion which emphasized self-righteous works over the Love, Grace and Mercy of God. In his bid to win the favor of his subjects, Herod the Great undertook a project to greatly enhance the Temple at Jerusalem. When His Disciples became awed by the beauty of this symbol of man's pride and vanity, Jesus was quick to point out their error by declaring to them what would be the terrible fate of this spiritual center of Israel, as we see by these verses:
"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."
Matthew 24:1-2, KJV
Just as the First Temple had been destroyed in about 587 BC by the forces of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, after the Old Testament Prophets had warned Judah for years to repent of her idolatry and whoredoms, Jesus' prophetic words were also fulfilled some forty years later when Titus -- who was the son of Emperor Vespasian, and also a future emperor of Rome himself -- invaded Jerusalem. After an extended siege, he totally destroyed the city and the Temple at the height of the First Jewish-Roman War -- 66-73 AD -- which is also known as The Great Revolt. If you are interested in gaining a basic understanding of these events, consider visiting the following Wikipedia web page:
According to some historical records -- such as "The Annals" of the Roman historian Tacitus -- over 600,000 Jews dwelt in the city of Jerusalem at that time. It is said that many of them fled into the Temple compound seeking refuge, believing that God was going to protect them there. Instead, many Jews were burned alive as the Temple burned to the ground. It has been said that in order to retrieve all of the gold which had melted as a result of the intense fire, the Romans tore down the Temple stone by stone -- in fulfillment of Jesus' very words -- in order to scrape off the gold that had seeped down between the blocks. Furthermore, during the time of the siege, thousands of Jews were crucified on the walls that surrounded Jerusalem when they tried to escape.
With the catastrophic destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple compound in 70 AD, God graphically emphasized in a very clear way, His rejection of the false, legalistic, self-righteous religion of the Scribes and the Pharisees; just as they had rejected His Son -- Jesus -- and refused to acknowledge Him as the one true Foundation Stone of God's eternal Spiritual Temple. Of course, the fact that Jesus would be rejected by many of His own Jewish brethren, was revealed by many of the Prophets of the Old Testament era, was announced by Jesus Himself, and was later preached by the Apostles, as we see by the following verses:
"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
Isaiah 53:3, KJV
"Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?"
Matthew 21:42, KJV
"And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."
Mark 8:31, KJV
"Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day."
Luke 9:22, KJV
"But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation."
Luke 17:25, KJV
"He came unto his own, and his own received him not."
John 1:11, KJV
"This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner."
Acts 4:11, KJV
"To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed."
1 Peter 2:4-8, KJV
Because of their knowingly rejecting Him -- they obviously were familiar with the prophecies regarding the Messiah who was to come -- Jesus warned the Jews of the coming Wrath of God against them, as we can determine by verses such as the following:
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
Luke 21:20-24, KJV
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
John 3:36, KJV
Thus, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple at the height of the First Jewish-Roman War, what is referred to as the Second Temple Period came to an abrupt end; just as the First Temple Period had met its end by the invading forces of King Nebuchadnezzar, when he destroyed the First Temple -- or Solomon's Temple -- in approximately 587 BC.
For those of you who may be a little confused, allow me to offer a brief explanation. As I explain in other articles, following the various Babylonian sieges and invasions that ultimately resulted in the destruction of Solomon's Temple, in accordance with the prophecies of Jeremiah, thousands of the Jews were taken as captives to Babylon where they were forced to endure seventy years of servitude. In fulfillment of other Old Testament prophecies, when the time of their punishment came to an end, the Lord used Persian King Cyrus -- or Koresh -- to liberate the Jews, so that they would be able to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and the Temple. It was at this time that the Second Temple Period began. The Second Temple compound was later expanded by King Herod the Great.
There is a certain irony in these two catastrophic historic events which relates to our present time. As we have already seen, the destruction of Solomon's Temple -- the first Temple -- in 587 BC was the result of God's Wrath against the Jews in Jerusalem. The reasons for this Wrath were various. The Jewish political leaders were corrupt; the Jewish spiritual Elders were corrupt; and the common people themselves were also corrupt, because they were worshipping and sacrificing to the heathen gods. In short, basically everyone in Judah had abandoned the one true God.
Regarding the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, the level of corruption was just as bad, if not worse, because both the Jewish political leadership, as well as the Jewish spiritual leadership, were in bed with the Romans. But what made it even worse is the fact that they really poked God in the eye when they murdered His own dear Son in cold blood, and then proceeded to persecute His followers as well. On top of all of that, the self-righteous religionists of that day oppressed the common people by using the Mosaic Law as a bludgeon, and took financial advantage of them as well by way of mandatory Temple offerings and sacrifices.
The irony lies in the fact that today, not quite two thousand years later, the vast majority of the Jews still reject Jesus Christ. Furthermore, as many of you may already know, radical Orthodox Jewish groups -- such as the Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful Movement -- are intent on regaining control of the Temple Mount -- or Mount Moriah -- in East Jerusalem, and building a Third Temple there, despite the very serious problems that such events would create with the Palestinians, as well as with other Muslims. This is because Muslims view Mount Moriah -- or "Haram Ash-Sharif"; that is, the "Noble Sanctuary" -- as the third holiest site within the Islamic religion, and they will not easily surrender it to the Jews.
Whether or not God will actually allow the religious Jews to build a third and final Temple on Mount Moriah is a heavily debated topic in both Jewish and Christian circles, and the position that one adopts is influenced in large part by his personal understanding of the Scriptures. However, allow me to remind you of something that the Apostle Paul wrote in his first Epistle to the Corinthians:
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
1 Corinthians 10:11, KJV
My point in sharing the previous Scripture with you is this: If God destroyed the Jewish Temple two times in the past due to the gross disobedience of the Jews, it doesn't take much logic to figure out what would happen if they were to attempt to build a Third Temple; particularly while most modern Jews remain in denial of Jesus Christ.
But let us momentarily return to events of two thousand years ago. Taking into consideration the dismal spiritual condition that existed in Israel during the First Century, is it any wonder that the Jewish Elders hated Jesus and sought to kill Him when He arrived preaching spiritual freedom from the Law, and from the oppressive system of the Temple priests? As you may recall, when Jesus first began His public ministry, this is exactly some of the things He said He had come to do. In fact, the Lord read from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, and informed His listeners that, that day, the prophecy had been fulfilled in their very ears. The Gospel of Luke records the following:
"And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
Luke 4:17-21, KJV
As John the Baptist had proclaimed, Jesus was like a bright Light shining upon the sins of the world. Some people were able to accept that Light, while others stubbornly rejected it, preferring instead to walk in spiritual darkness, and thus condemning themselves. Speaking of John the Baptist's ministry to prepare the way for Jesus, John the Beloved had this to say in his Gospel:
"The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:"
John 1:7-12, KJV
Several chapters later in the same Gospel, the Lord revealed the ongoing spiritual battle that is occurring between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, when He said the following concerning those people who reject the Truth, Light and Freedom which He freely offers to everyone:
"And this is the condemnation, that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the Light, neither cometh to the Light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the Light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
John 3:19-21, KJV
From the Old Testament clear through the New Testament, it is plain to see that the false church has always persecuted the True Church of God. The jealous, legalistic children of Satan have persecuted and killed the true Children of Light. In one of His final denouncements of the false spiritual hierarchy which held power in Jerusalem, the Lord ended His fiery discourse by saying the following to the hard-hearted Scribes and Pharisees:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 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 23:37-39, KJV
As we saw earlier, this is exactly what happened forty years later when their house was indeed left unto them desolate. In other words, God's Wrath was felt when Jerusalem -- as well as their glorious Temple -- were utterly destroyed by General Titus and the Roman legions. God was sick and tired of their false, oppressive, religious system which enslaved people, instead of liberating them. I discuss this topic much more at length in "Abomination of Desolation" Explained!" and "Jesus Christ's Return: Have We Been Deceived?".
As I mentioned a moment ago, to this very day, the majority of the Jews continue to reject their one true Savior, Jesus Christ. Thankfully, at least a small minority of Jews have begun to see the Light, and are coming to the knowledge of the Truth, due in part to the work of such organizations as the "Messianic Jews" and the "Jews For Jesus".
Continuing our discussion regarding the persecution of God's True Church by the false church and its false religionists, following Jesus's Death on the Cross, the jealous leaders of the false religious system of the Jews continued to persecute the true Children of God. The reason why they pursued such a violent course, is simply because they could not bear being exposed for the hypocrites and deceivers that they were, by the powerful truths that were being openly preached by God's true Children of Light. For example, consider the final words of the martyr Stephen, as the angry Jewish mob stoned him to death in the seventh chapter of the Book of Acts:
"But Solomon built him an house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul."
Acts 7:47-58, KJV
Stephen's words continue to ring true today just as they did two thousand years ago when he first spoke them. As Jesus so clearly pointed out in the twenty-third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the blame fell squarely on the shoulders of the spiritual leaders of Israel; because they were the ones who were promoting a false religious system that not only led men astray, but which also denied them entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Consider this powerful verse that was spoken by the Lord:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."
Matthew 23:15, KJV
If you are at all familiar with the various interactions that Jesus had with the Jewish religious authorities, then you will no doubt know that He had absolutely nothing good to say about them. Time and time again He referred to them as hypocrites, serpents, vipers, blind leaders of the blind, the children of Hell, children of the Devil, the spiritually dead and more. Similar to His remark in Matthew 23, perhaps Jesus' strongest rebuke of the unbelieving Jews is found in the following words that are recorded in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John:
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
John 8:44, KJV
In the last Book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, the Lord again very pointedly exposes the lies and hypocrisy of the false religious system of the Jews. In his letters to the Seven Churches which were in Asia Minor, John was moved by the Spirit of the Lord to write the following concerning the Body of Believers which was in Smyrna:
"I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."
Revelation 2:9, KJV
In the very next chapter, in his letter to the Church which was located at Philadelphia, John was again led of the Lord to expose the subtle deception which pervaded the false religion of his own Jewish brethren. Thus John wrote:
"Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee."
Revelation 3:9, KJV
As I explain in the series, "Is God a Racist?", the Apostle Paul, as well as other writers of the Epistles, also shed light on this issue. In his letter to the Disciples at Rome, Paul wrote very clearly concerning the nature of the true Jews. He said:
"For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
Romans 2:28-29, KJV
As should be abundantly clear to you by now, there exists a marked distinction between the true Body of Believers, and those people who claim to be the church, temple or religion of God. Let me again remind the reader that while I have emphasized the sharp contrast between ancient Judaism and Jesus' own teachings, the inadequacies of organized religion with its man-made buildings, dry spiritless ceremonies, and wayward doctrines and traditions is not limited to Judaism alone.
The primary criteria for being a member of the Lord's true spiritual Church, is that a person has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. Any religion which does not embrace the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for the sins of the world, cannot possibly claim to be the true religion of God. Obviously, this includes not only Judaism, but also Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, and so many other false religions which exist in the world today.
Likewise, any individual who does not embrace Jesus Christ as the Son of God and only Savior of the world, cannot possibly claim to be a true Child of God. Contrary to the false belief which has become so popular in the world today, as Jesus made abundantly clear, not everyone is a Child of God. If we were all already Children of God, then obviously there would be no need for us "to become the sons of God" as we are told in the verse John 1:12. Please think about this carefully. We cannot become that which we already are. Therefore, we must conclude that we do not truly "become the sons of God" until we choose to accept Jesus Christ. As the verse states, "But as many as received him . . ." Now doesn't that make perfect sense?
Please go to part three for the continuation of this series.
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