04 April 2012

Diary of a Disciple: Day 1003 (Afternoon)

by Dr Mark Keown

After a spot of lunch and the midday prayers it was back to the Temple, this time to the Court of Women. We sat beside the Temple treasury with its thirteen trumpet shaped receptacles into which people make their various offerings. Passover is a great time for people to show the world their generosity to the Holy One. We observed people of great wealth placing in huge amounts of gold and silver coins – I was impressed at their piety.

As we watched, an old woman dressed in black, clearly a widow, shuffled over to the freewill offering chests. We watched as she drew two small leptons from her bag, looked skyward with reverence and placed them in. It would take 100 of these to make up a day’s wages. I wasn’t impressed after seeing all the generosity of the others. Yeshua spoke, telling us that she had given more than the others for she gave out of her poverty, all she had to live on. I felt rebuked, but said nothing. He’s right of course. I wondered if there was a link to the earlier mention of the sort of widows that the scribes devoured earlier. I was reminded of Yeshua’s teaching on wealth – wealth is a gift to be used for God and his purposes – we cannot serve both the Father and money. But I like money!

Yeshua made to head back to Bethany. As we turned, the sun caught the Temple, and its radiance burst forth over the valley. I couldn’t help myself, and said “Look Rabbi! What huge stones! What glorious buildings!” I truly love the Temple, it is a wonder, worthy to be the centre of the world!

Quick as a flash, Yeshua spoke, “Do you see these great buildings. Not one stone will be left on another, every one will be thrown down!” I gasped audibly; shocked and dismayed. What was this teaching? He had already debated the destruction of the Temple with the Jewish leaders – here we go again! What event could possibly cause this? Surely, this Temple will never fall again! There would be no Babylonian or other invasion, as at the time of the exile! Messiah has come, Zion will reign, the nations will flow in and like the widow, bring their wealth!

We walked and sat and rested on the side of the Mount of Olives, enjoying some shade in the heat of the spring-day. He sat with Peter, James and John – I sat at a distance and listened. They too had been stunned like me at any thought of the destruction of the temple! They asked when it would happen? – hoping to decipher the parable. Yeshua then gave one of the longest speeches I have ever heard him give. He spoke of wars, earthquakes, false Messiahs; of his people persecuted and hated, tried and imprisoned before Jews and Gentiles; of the gospel preached to all nations; of families torn apart. He spoke of the desecration of the Temple, as in the days of the horror Antiochus Epiphanes (may he be cursed!) who tried to set up his altar of Zeus Olympios in the Temple – may such desecration never happen again! He warned of a time of horrific suffering, even the elect deceived, signs in the sky, and the Son of Man coming in glory on the clouds – my mind went to Daniel 7 as it often did when Yeshua used that name. He spoke of angels gathering God’s people. He told us to watch for the signs. He warned us not to try and predict the day – even he didn’t know when this would occur. Finally he told us to keep watch, speaking parables to reinforce the point.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. Was it all just like the words of the writings of our times, full of symbolism or imagery? If so, what did it point to? Was it a prediction of another attack on Jerusalem – would the war for the world involve its destruction again? The writings of Zechariah spoke of such things perhaps. What is this coming of the Son of Man? Is it his elevation to his glory? Yet again I was at a loss. Time to head back to Bethany.

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