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A HEAP OF RUBBLE
"One day people were standing around talking about the temple, remarking how beautiful is was, the splendour of its stonework and memorial gifts. Jesus said, 'All this you're admiring so much -- the time is coming when every stone in that building will end up in a heap of rubble.'
"They asked Him, 'Teacher, when is this going to happen? What clue will we get that it's about to take place?'" Luke 21:5-7 (The Message).
Amazing, isn't it, how things that seem so permanent and indestructible can disappear without warning in a moment!
The Israelites had put such confidence in the durability of their temple that they could not believe that it would ever be destroyed.
Jeremiah warned them, centuries before, about putting false hope in their temple. "Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says: 'Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place.
"Do not trust in deceptive words and say, 'This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!' If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless and the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.'" Jeremiah 7:2b-8 (NIV).
The Babylonians came and did exactly what Jesus predicted was about to happen again -- they reduced their temple to rubble and plundered all its treasures. Perhaps the people who commented to Jesus on its beauty had forgotten its history.
There are lessons for us to learn from this incident as well. God places no value on things if they do not serve the purpose of enhancing our relationship with Him and the fruit of that relationship. How many people foolishly put their confidence in inanimate things like crucifixes, St Christopher images or even a rabbit's foot or family photograph to keep them safe instead of trusting in the living God! Even our money is not infallible!
Of course we have to remember that we live in a world where "stuff" happens. No one is immune from the problems and tragedies that affect all human beings. Jesus warned us that these things are inevitable (John 16:33), but He also promised that in Him we have a place of refuge - peace - that will protect us from the effects of these adversities.
Sometimes bad things happen just because we are part of an imperfect world; sometimes we are the victims of other people's choices and sometimes we bear the consequences of our own poor choices. In this case, destruction was coming on Jerusalem because God's people had rejected their Messiah and called down His blood on their own heads.
We may not escape the troubles that inevitably happen but we can have an eternal safeguard that carries us beyond the confines of this life. God's promise to those who love Him is infallible: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers." Romans 8:28-29 (NIV).
We must never be caught up in foolish superstition that trusts in things and not in God. God and His word are reliable in a world that is fragile and transient. "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:17 (NIV).
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