|Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem
by Francesco Hayez
When discussing the historicity of the Resurrection and the validity of Christianity in general, one piece of evidence Christians frequently use is Jesus’ alleged prophecy of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem which occurred in 70 AD. If Jesus had the power to prophesy the destruction of the Temple, doesn’t that support his claim that he was the Son of God, and if he was the Son of God, doesn’t that strongly suggest that the four Gospel’s Resurrection claim is most likely true?
Let’s look at the evidence.
If the Gospel of Mark (the first gospel written as per the overwhelming majority opinion of New Testament scholars) was written before 70 AD, and Jesus really did make this prediction, then Jesus predicted correctly. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Jesus had fortune telling powers; it might have been just a lucky guess. But bottom line, if the Gospel of Mark was written before 70 AD, it is possible that Jesus prophesied this event.
But if the Gospel of Mark was written after 70 AD, then it is possible that the author of Mark invented this prophecy after the event had already happened. It is possible that the author of Mark wrote his story as if Jesus had prophesied this event in the 30’s AD when in fact Jesus’ hadn’t. If this is what happened, then the “prophecy” was not a prophecy but an act of fraud. The author was simply purporting a prophecy of an event which had already happened.
So it is a big deal for a lot of Christians when the Gospel of Mark was written. The majority of NT scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was written sometime between 65-75 AD, so that doesn’t help either side of this debate. We really can’t be sure if the prediction of the destruction of the Temple was a prophecy or an act of fraud; the author inventing a story of Jesus in which he foretells an event that had actually already happened.
But if we look closer at this “prophecy”, in the Gospel of Matthew for example, we see something very curious. Here is how Matthew chapter 24 begins:
“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another;<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23960B" data-link="(B)”> every one will be thrown down.” 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives,<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23961C" data-link="(C)”> the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23961D" data-link="(D)”> and of the end of the age?”
Note in this passage Jesus “prophesies” the destruction of the Temple, and immediately, the disciples want to know when this will occur. Jesus then goes into a long sermon about the signs that will occur to demonstrate when the destruction of the Temple will occur. And here is what Jesus said:
“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NIV-23988c" data-link="[c]”>[c] will mourn<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23988AE" data-link="(AE)”> when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven,<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23988AF" data-link="(AF)”> with power and great glory.<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NIV-23988d" data-link="[d]”>[d] 31 And he will send his angels<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23989AG" data-link="(AG)”> with a loud trumpet call,<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23989AH" data-link="(AH)”> and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. 32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NIV-23991e" data-link="[e]”>[e] is near, right at the door.<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23991AI" data-link="(AI)”> 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23992AJ" data-link="(AJ)”>
Question: So how will the disciples of Jesus (Christians) know when the destruction of the Temple will occur?
Answer: When Jesus comes back in the Second Coming which will occur before the generation of the twelve disciples passes away!
Conclusion: If Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple, then he inaccurately predicted when it would happen! If the author of Matthew correctly records the statements of Jesus regarding the destruction of the Temple in chapter 24, then according to Jesus, prior to or simultaneous with the destruction of the Temple, he (Jesus) will come back riding the clouds, accompanied by angels blowing trumpets (the Second Coming). In addition, Jesus tells the disciples when these events will happen: they will occur during the life times of the generation of people living at the time that Jesus spoke these words.
Christians may try to “spin” this story by saying that Jesus correctly predicted that the Temple would be destroyed in 70 AD but the rest of his prophecy in Matthew chapter 24 is about the end of the Age, which obviously has not yet happened…going on two thousand years! But there is a problem with this spin. Jesus’ long discussion in chapter 24 is preceded by the disciples asking when the Temple will be destroyed and when the Age will end. If we are to believe the Christian explanation, then Jesus never answered the disciples’ first question about the timing of the destruction of the Temple; he skipped this topic and immediately began to describe the events of the end of the Age.
I don’t believe it.
If you read the entire chapter it is clear that the destruction of the Temple and the events of the Second Coming are all predicted to occur at the same time, prior to the passing away of “this” generation.
-Jesus didn’t come back during the generation of the disciples.
-Jesus’ prophesy was therefore wrong.
-Jesus made a mistake.
JESUS WAS NOT GOD!
<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-23961E" data-link="(E)”>