Deception in the Church
Israel & Middle East
Jesus the Messiah
One World System
One World Religion
Science & Evolution
We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching
the Bible and understanding our time in
the light of Bible prophecy
The fall of the Second Temple
So what about the animal sacrifices today? There are some Orthodox Jews in
Jerusalem who wish to rebuild the Temple and bring in the animal sacrifices
again. This is very much a minority concern, encouraged to a certain extent
by American Christians who for prophetic reasons want to see a rebuilt
Temple. One small problem is that the Temple area is under Islamic control
at present and any attempt to rebuild the Temple where the Dome of the Rock
mosque now stands would cause an uproar (Armageddon even) in the Islamic
world. Apart from this there are massive problems about any reconstituting
of the sacrificial system, which would also involve setting up the Priesthood
and the Sanhedrin again. As a Jewish friend once said to me, We’ve got enough
problems agreeing on a Chief Rabbi. You want us to agree on who should be
So why did God permit the destruction of the Second Temple? This raises a
fascinating question which is relevant to this issue. The answer from the
point of view of Judaism is to be found in the Talmud (Yomah): Why was the
Second Temple destroyed? Because of sinat chinam, senseless hatred of one
Jew for another. This was an event of enormous significance for the Jewish
people. According to an article on the Aish website by Rabbi Ken Spiro: The
destruction of the Second Temple is one of the most important events in the
history of the Jewish people, and certainly one of the most depressing. It
is a sign that God has withdrawn from (though certainly not abandoned) the
Jews. Although the Jews will survive -- in accordance with the promise that
they will be an eternal nation - the special relationship with God they
enjoyed while the Temple stood is gone.
>From the point of view of the Bible there has to be a reason why God
permitted this calamity to happen to Israel. Rabbi Spiro is right that the
destruction of the Temple is one of the most important events in the history
of the Jewish people. But the answer given in the Talmud is not
satisfactory. As the Rabbi says, the Jewish people today are not in the
relationship with God which they enjoyed in earlier days when they
experienced the kind of divine protection and victory over their enemies
under such leaders as Moses, Joshua, Gideon and David. Rather they have
experienced the fulfilment of Moses prophecy in Deuteronomy 28.64-66:
And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth
to the other… And among these nations you will find no ease, and there shall
be no rest for the sole of your foot; but the Lord will give you a trembling
heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul; your life will hang in doubt
before you; night and day you shall be in dread, and have no assurance of
Why is this? A reading of the whole of Deuteronomy 28 gives a very clear
answer. Verses 1-14 record all the blessings of Gods peace, prosperity and
protection given to Israel on the condition that you obey the voice of the
Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments. The remainder of
the chapter (verses 15-68) records Gods judgements on Israel if they
disobey. The whole history of Israel recorded in the Bible can be seen as
the outworking of this chapter in the direct experience of the people of
Israel. When the people turned away from God they experienced his judgments
in terms of foreign invasion, drought, social disintegration and confusion.
At these times God raised up prophets and leaders who spoke His message and
showed the people the way back to Gods blessing as He led them to victory
over foreign invaders and back to peace. But when they refused to listen He
allowed the Gentile nations to punish them.
As Rabbi Spiro says by far the greatest suffering in Israel’s history began
with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 and the beginning of
the dispersion. Could it be coincidence that this happened just one
generation after God spoke through Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth, not only
through His words, but also through His death and resurrection? God spoke to
Moses and said:
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and
I will put my words in his mouth and he shall speak to them all that I
command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak
in my name I myself will require it of him. Deuteronomy 18.18-19
If Jesus was that Prophet whom Moses was pointing to we have an explanation
for the fall of the Temple in 70 CE which makes much more sense than the
reason given in the Talmud. The people, especially the religious leadership,
did not give heed to Jesus words and so God required this of them. This is
a much more plausible reason than the causeless hatred theory. If
causeless hatred was so serious that it was going to lead to the
destruction of the Temple and the scattering of the Jewish people into the
nations and the subsequent holocaust, why did God not send a Prophet
beforehand to tell people to love each other and so avoid this coming calamity?
If we look at the fall of the first Temple at the hands of the Babylonians
we find that God sent prophet after prophet to warn of the coming event.
Jeremiah was the main prophet who God raised up to speak to the generation
before the fall of the Temple and the deportation of the Jewish people to
Babylon. As a prophet he did three main things:
For forty years Jeremiah warned his generation that the Babylonians were
going to invade and destroy Jerusalem and the Temple and take them into
captivity unless they repented of their sins. The reason why it was going to
happen was the worship of idols and the breaking of Gods commandments:
Behold you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder,
commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other
gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before me in this house
which is called by my name and say We are delivered to do all these
abominations? (Jeremiah 7.8-10).
Far from repenting, Jeremiah was mocked and rejected as the people preferred
false prophets who said they were going to have peace and safety. But
Jeremiah was not just a prophet of doom. He also promised a return from Babylon:
For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I
will visit you and perform my good word toward you, and cause you to return
to this place. For I know the thoughts that I have towards you says the
Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope
This promise was fulfilled when the Persians overthrew the Babylonian Empire
and the Persian Emperor Cyrus issued a decree that the Jewish people should
return to the Promised Land and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra
1.1-4). In this way the covenant was being fulfilled as the descendants of
Abraham returned to the land God promised to Abraham.
Jeremiah also looked beyond the return of the Jewish people to a time when
God would make a new covenant with the house of Israel. The terms of this
covenant would be different from the covenant God made with Israel when he
brought them out of Egypt:
This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those
days, says the Lord: I will put my law in their minds and write it on their
hearts: and I will be their God and they shall be my people. No more shall
every man teach his neighbour and every man his brother saying Know the
Lord for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest of
them says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will
remember no more (Jeremiah 31.33-34).
The new covenant points to the Messiah who was to come to deal with the
problem of the sin nature, which causes us all to break Gods commandments.
When Jesus came in fulfilment of Isaiah 53 as we have seen and many other
prophecies he brought in the new covenant, through dying as a sacrifice for
the sins of the world at the time of the Passover. At the time that the
Jewish people were offering the Passover lambs to remember the blood of the
lamb, which protected them from the Angel of Death (see Exodus 12), Jesus
was put to death by crucifixion in fulfilment of Psalm 22, Daniel 9.26 and
Zechariah 12.10. He was the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world
(John 1.29). He saves all those who come under the protection of his blood
from eternal death.
Did the coming of the new covenant mean that God was finished with the
Jewish people and that the covenant made with Abraham no longer applied?
Much of the church actually teaches this in so called replacement theology
which means that the promises to Israel are now given to the church. But it
is significant that after God gave his promise of the new covenant he said
that as long as the sun, the moon and the stars exist, so long will Israel
be a nation before the Lord (Jeremiah 31.35-36).
If we look carefully at Jesus words we discover that in relation to Israel,
Jesus too functioned in the same prophetic way that Jeremiah did.
As Jesus was riding into Jerusalem at the beginning of the week which would
lead up to his crucifixion and resurrection he stopped half way down the
mount of Olives and wept over the city. He said:
If you had known even you especially in this your day the things that make
for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will
come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you,
surround you and level you and your children within you to the ground; and
they will not leave on you one stone upon another, because you did not know
the time of your visitation (Luke 19.41-44).
Jesus prophesied the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the
Romans in 70CE. He told those who believed in him to flee from the city when
they saw the armies gathering, because this was going to lead to a time of
terrible slaughter and destruction:
For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword and be led away captive into
all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of
the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21.20-24).
In these verses Jesus warned of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, and the
dispersion of the Jewish people into the lands of the Gentiles. He also gave
a reason for it: Because you did not know the time of your visitation. In
other words the dispersion happened because Jesus was not recognised as the
Messiah. In this sense there is a certain truth in the causeless hatred
theory of Judaism, but not as it is understood today. Today it is understood
to mean the causeless hatred between different Jewish factions, which
allowed the Romans to break through the Jewish defences and take the city.
Jesus spoke about his coming rejection and crucifixion and used exactly this
phrase of the response of his opponents to Himself:
He who hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the
works which no one else did they would have no sin; but now they have hated
both me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled
which is written in their law, They hate me without a cause. John 15.23-5,
quoting Psalm 69.4.
It is fascinating to note that there is a warning of coming destruction of
the Temple in the Talmud. Although this is generally the last place one
would look to in order to find some indication that Jesus is the Messiah,
there is a passage which implies that something happened 40 years before the
destruction of the Temple which pointed to its coming destruction and even
to the fact that it had become spiritually desolate in a sense 40 years
before it became physically desolate. It was 40 years before its destruction
that Jesus gave his prophecy of its coming destruction and made the
sacrifice of himself for the sins of the world which rendered the animal
sacrifices useless from then on.
At the time of the Second Temple the practice on Yom Kippur, the Day of
Atonement, was to take two goats and sacrifice them to the Lord according to
Leviticus 16. The first goat was for the Lord and the second goat was l
azazel for the scapegoat. The High Priest would choose the goats by lots
and it was considered a good omen if he brought out the goat for the Lord
with his right hand and a bad omen if he brought it out with his left hand.
The first goat was sacrificed in the Holy of Holies, and the second goat was
sent out into the wilderness, after having the sins of the people placed
upon it in accordance with Leviticus 16.21. A scarlet sash was tied around
the neck of the scapegoat and it was then taken to a precipice in the
wilderness about 12 miles from Jerusalem. In his book The Fall Feasts of
Israel Mitch Glaser describes what happened next:
When the goat finally arrived at the precipice, the attending priest
removed the red sash from its head and divided it, returning half to the
animals horns and tying the other half to a protrusion on the cliff. He
then pushed the animal backwards over the cliff to its death.
In connection with this ceremony an interesting tradition arose, which is
mentioned in the Mishna. A portion of the crimson sash was attached to the
door of the Temple before the goat was sent into the wilderness. The sash
would turn from red to white as the goat met its end signalling to the
people that God had accepted their sacrifice and their sins were forgiven.
This was based on the verse in Isaiah where the prophet declared: Come now,
and let us reason together says the Lord, though your sins are as scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will
be like wool (Isaiah 1.18). The Mishna tells us that forty years before the
destruction of the Temple, the sash stopped turning white.
In fact there are four signs recorded in the Talmud of events which happened
during this 40 year period before the destruction of the Temple:
The lot for the Lords goat did not come up in the right hand of the high priest.
The scarlet cord tied to the door of the Temple on the Day of Atonement
stopped turning white after the scapegoat had been cast over the precipice.
The westernmost light on the Temple candelabra would not burn. It is
believed that this light was used to light the other lights of the Candelabra.
The Temple doors would open by themselves. The rabbis saw this as an ominous
fulfilment of Zechariah 11.1, Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that fire may
devour thy cedars. The opening of the doors to let in the consuming fire
foretold the destruction of the Temple itself by fire.
The fact that two of these signs relate to the sacrifices on the Day of
Atonement and that all of them took place over the 40 year period before the
destruction of the Second Temple cannot be a coincidence. It must point to
the real reason why God permitted its destruction which was to do with the
rejection of the Messiah Jesus by the Sanhedrin and the continuation of the
animal sacrifices after the one final and perfect sacrifice for sin had been
offered. Once Jesus had offered himself as a sacrifice for sin and atonement,
God never accepted the animal sacrifices offered on Yom Kippur which explains
why during the 40 years before the destruction of the Temple the sash never
turned white and the goat for the Lord was always taken with the left hand
(statistically this is virtually an impossibility).
Apart from this passage in the Talmud there is one major prophecy in the
Tenach which shows that the Messiah will come before the destruction of the
second Temple and points to the reason for its desolation. In Daniel 9 we
have an encounter Daniel had with the angel Gabriel after he had prayed for
the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem after the 70 years of desolation
prophesied by Jeremiah had been fulfilled. He is given the famous 70 weeks
of years prophecy which speaks of the rebuilding of Jerusalem in
troublesome times and then has this extraordinary verse:
After the sixty two weeks Messiah shall be cut off but not for himself; and
the people of the prince to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
And the end shall be with a flood and till the end of the war desolations
are determined. Daniel 9.26.
There is a famous story of a young man called Rachmiel Frydland who was
studying at a Yeshiva in pre war Warsaw and came across this verse. He asked
the Rabbis at the Yeshiva whom it was referring to and could not find a
satisfactory answer. Eventually he came to the conclusion that there is only
one person who can possibly have fulfilled this verse, someone who came as
Messiah, was cut off, dying a violent death, not for himself, but for the
sins of others at some time before the Romans came and destroyed the city
(Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the Temple). Jesus the Messiah.
Jesus also prophesied the desolations of Jerusalem, at the same time as
pointing to a hopeful future when this desolation will be reversed at his
second coming. He said, Your house (the Temple) is left to you desolate;
for I say to you (i.e. Jerusalem), you shall see me no more until you say
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord (Matthew 23.28-9).
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord is not just any old
phrase. In Hebrew it is Baruch ha ba be shem adonai, the traditional
greeting for the coming Messiah. This corresponds to the prophecy recorded
in Lukes Gospel when Jerusalem will no longer be trampled (ruled) by the
Gentiles (Luke 21.24). What will cause this change in the fortunes of the
city? The recognition of Jesus as the Messiah and the resulting outpouring
of the Holy Spirit on those who call on His name, welcoming him as the
Messiah with the words, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.