The end of the Temple and the world.

There’s something reasuring about Malachi saying the baddies will get their come-uppance.  It fits nicely with the notion of the Last Battle (as those men of the Inklings Lewis and Tolkein both saw it) and the happy ending we are all hoping for. 

The Lectionary has, (it seems to me) been carefully put together so that the Old Testament Reading with Psalm fits nicely with the New Testament reading and Gospel.

So I am a bit stumped by the Pauline message about those who don’t work should not be allowed to eat – unless it’s an oblique reference to the terrible famine that preceeded the fall of Jerusalem and the complete destruction of the Temple. Is it those who undermine the Church through idleness and interference can’t be fed with His Body and Blood??

Jesus stands in the Temple with the apostles who are all taken in by it’s sheer beauty and splendour. The roof of sky and  stars arching over the carved collonades; the gold glowing and the sweet incence wafting the scent of prayer. Scholars speak of how the Temple was a model of the Cosmos where the Holy of Holies, stood as a perfect cube at the centre of creation, with the Garden emboridered on it’s massive 24″ curtain that hung from a giant stone lintel. The Court of Israel, lead out to the Court of Women and further yet the Court of Gentiles with it’s gates that barred the gentile believers from getting too close to the Holy of Holies. [It was the Court of Gentiles that Christ cleansed]. There were signs to threaten gentiles should they try and come beyond their court.

Standing amidst the splendour Christ tells his apostles that a time was coming (within a generation He tells them elsewhere: Matthew?) when not one stone would stand upon another. And He tells them what dreadful signs there were to be preceeding this end of the Cosmos.

As it happens, the first Christians took Christ at His word. They sold up, shared what they had and moved out of Jerusalem. By the time the terrible famine came and the false Messiah that brought the wrath of Rome down on Jerusalem, there were no Christians left there.

The army of Titus arrived to find a city that had already succumbed to famine, disease and death. The destruction of the Temple was so complete that, I think it is Josephus who tells us, the gold melted in the fire. And indeed not one stone was left upon another.

The Cosmos came crashing down; the world had ended.

Much later Julian the Apostate tried to rebuild the Temple, but earthquakes came and undid his work. [The Wailing Wall was finally built; but I can’t remember when or how. I need to re-read a lot of Bible study- Fog-brain rules sadly].

I wonder if the Church will be as ready for the next Parusia as She was for the First one.

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2 responses to “The end of the Temple and the world.

  1. Good old Paul. You’ve got to love him. He was carrying out the most herculean task of managing communities he had set up, remotely, sometimes even from a prison cell.
    This one made me chuckle, just as the first reading made me shudder. I could just imagine those who were so new and evangelical becoming a little too relaxed and claiming food without earning it. Paul never tells us who has written to tell him that there are some naughty people in his community who let everyone else do the work, and still take their share. Humanity can be so slack.

  2. My addled brain was wandering down the same paths as yours on Sunday. I still find the second reading a bit of a mystery and can’t quite see what it has to do with the other two.

    Thess 3:7-12 seems to be offering practical advice for a very specific reason. Is it given simply to stop us getting too excited by Malachi’s prophecy? Is St Paul telling us to just keep on being boring and doing what you’re supposed to be doing, because that is all we’ll ever really know anything about…..

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