by Bill Nugent
We all know that during the feast of Pentecost after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples with supernatural manifestations as they waited in the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem. Did you know that a generation later, around 70 AD, there was a departure from the Temple which was also accompanied by supernatural manifestations?
First Corinthians 6:19 says to Christians, “your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.” The body of the believer is the New Testament dwelling place of God’s Spirit. This fact made the temple in Jerusalem obsolete in God’s plan of redemption.
The Jews had a temple of stone which they were commanded to build under the Old Covenant. Solomon built the first temple around 950 BC and this was destroyed under God’s judgement by the Babylonians around 587 BC. The Temple was rebuilt by Zerrubabel around 500 BC and enlarged by Herod the Great (circa 19 BC and forward).
If, as we’ll soon see, the presence of God departed from the temple just prior to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, why did God wait so many years after the death and resurrection of Christ to leave the old temple? I believe God gave the Jews a grace period of about a generation in which Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity functioned side by side so that the Jews could make a clear choice.
This grace period could be a fulfillment of the parable of the fig tree of Luke 13:6-9. In this parable, a man has a fig tree which bore no fruit and he ordered it cut down. The dresser of the vineyard, however, intervened and said “let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” The one year reprieve for the fig tree could be a prophetic picture of the one generation reprieve for the unbelieving Jews who had rejected Jesus around 30 AD.
The Jewish historian Josephus (AD 37 – 101) in his book, History of the Jewish War, describes the testimony of what Jewish priests heard during a feast of Pentecost about 40 years after the Pentecost described in Acts chapter two. “Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence’ “(Jewish Wars, VI-V-3). That particular Pentecost, at which there was a departure from the temple, was not long before the temple’s destruction in 70 AD.
I will mention in passing that during the 30 AD to 70 AD time period there were many other strange phenomena, including signs in the clouds, recorded by Josephus. Even the Jewish Talmud records some strange phenomena that occurred at the temple during those years. I wrote about the unusual events recorded in the Talmud in my Defending the Faith article #221 titled“Jewish Talmud Gives Unintended Proof of Jesus Being the Messiah” which is available at my ministry website (www.bnugent.org).
If we give 30 AD as the year of Jesus’s death for our sins and acknowledge that 70 AD is the year the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans then we have a 40 year transition between the ages. It reminds me of another time of 40 year transition. Moses and the Israelites were in the wilderness wandering for 40 years. That 40 year period was a time of testing, a furnace of affliction that tried the souls of the Jews before they entered the promised land west of the Jordan River. A 40 year transition is therefore not without precedent in the scriptures.
I’m happy to say that many Jewish people did turn to Jesus as Messiah to receive forgiveness of sins during the 30 AD to 70 AD timeframe. God is gracious and He moved upon the hearts of many Jewish people. The early church was at first, mostly Jewish.
The Old Testament Levitical animal blood sacrifices offered in the temple of stone after 30 AD were obsolete. Jesus fulfilled the animal blood sacrifice system when He offered His own blood; when He suffered in our place on the cross at Calvary just outside the city walls of Jerusalem.
Jesus came in fulfillment of over 300 Messianic prophecies written in the Old Testament hundreds of years before His birth. No other figure in all of human history can match this claim! Some of the clearest prophetic words are contained in the 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah. Isaiah 53 contains several clear references to the fact that the Messiah would be “wounded for our transgressions” and be “bruised for our iniquities.”
Jesus suffered for our sins so that we don’t have to suffer in hell. We can now receive forgiveness of sins through Christ. Call upon the name of Jesus today to receive the salvation He bought for us!