There’s an intriguing passage in Matthew 24 which can easily be overlooked as you read on to see what Jesus said was going to happen as we approach the Last Days.
Matthew 24:1-3 “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
The question in my mind as I think through this passage is why were the Disciples so keen to point out the buildings to Jesus? It’s intriguing because I assume that the Disciples and Jesus had been there a number of times before and they were not on a sight-seeing trip! No, there’s a reason for the Disciples’ insistence on Jesus looking at the buildings in the Temple area. My conclusion is that the Disciples had cottoned on to the part of Jesus’ message that implied he was going to turn everything upside-down and they were really saying to him, “Don’t forget the heritage that we have. Don’t mess with our history and traditions.”
Jesus gives a very simple, but pointed response by saying that it was all going to come down - implying that he was going to bring it to the ground. He’d already said “Destroy this Temple and I will rebuild it in three days.” although they misunderstood him because he was actually talking about his own body rather than the physical Temple. What I think he was getting at was that, at the end of the day, he alone will stand; all of our history, our theology, our denominations and traditions (things that for some of us have become our security) will have to come down for him to have his way.
You will notice that Jesus didn’t say, “Let’s go and tear down these buildings.” He had only required of the Disciples that they come with him when he threw out the challenge to “Follow me.” The entire way in which Jesus related to his Disciples shows the importance of knowing him and being in his presence; with an emphasis on being, not doing.
I wonder if he was really warning them not to prop up what’s coming down - as if it’s our natural tendency as human beings to do so. I wonder if he was also saying, “I define you - you don’t define you and neither are you defined by your other people’s past experience of me.” Without this kind of vision of the spiritual realities around us, we won’t catch a glimpse of who Jesus really is. Neither will we be able to give Jesus the genuine adoration that he so longs to receive from us. It seems that it’s this kind of preparation he wants us to take on board before things start coming down around us. That makes it all the more important that we make room for the prophetic spirit to be released amongst us; the past is blessed, but we need a new vision
In the aftermath of this exchange, the Disciples approach Jesus to enquire what this is all about. He begins a shocking account of the events that will usher in the end of the age. One of the most horrific events he describes is what he describes in v.15 as, “the sacrilegious object that causes desecration.” (NLT) standing in the Holy Place. It’s as if he’s warning them that something would come against his people that would deceive them and defile them by taking residence in the place that’s only reserved for him. To fast-forward that into the church age it implies that there could even be false Christs in the church itself; and that we could even see endorsements of the antichrist in the church. That’s why we need fresh vision for our season in the church - and it might not look like anything we’ve seen thus far!
There have been times when I’ve looked at the vast landscape of the church in the world and concluded that God is wanting to turn everything upside down, but we’re trying to do our best to keep it all the same way up! God has made us for himself and he is always more ready to speak that we are to listen, but it’s presumption when we think we know what God is saying without being really sure that he has said it.
We are all familiar with the traditions that we have become familiar with, but now it seems vitally important to hear the Lord and hold very loosely onto what we’ve depended on from the past. What we know has got us to where we are, but it may not get us to where we need to get to.
So, what were the stones that Jesus was referring to? Maybe not so much just traditions themselves, but rather the manmade things that had roots in God, but could become obstacles to what he is presently doing, or the things that have become a false security for us instead of what he wants - that we find our security in him.