When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.(1Co 15:54-57)
Moving on from the last post we will continue our look at the significance of 70AD and the destruction of the temple. In the first post of this series we showed that God’s desire to tabernacle, dwell with humanity has been around from before the foundation of the world and most certainly was evident in creation, and in the last post we took a look at the above text and Paul’s meaning of overcoming death.
In this post it would serve us well to spend some time looking through the eyes of the first century Jews both believers and non-believers as well as the believing gentiles. The message of the Torah, both the first five books of the Old Testament, and subsequently, the entire Tanakh… the thirty nine books of the Old Testament was a very important part of the Jewish story. Because of that, there was a deep seated mindset that would place a great deal of importance on the Old Covenant… the Mosaic Covenant. Still, at the beginning of the first century CE there was also a great anticipation of the end of the age and the beginning of the age to come. The Jews called it Olam Ha Bah. The thing that is very clear from all the writings of the time including the Talmud, the expectation of the end of the age was imminent. They were not expecting the end of the age to be more than a few years away at the time of Christ.
This in large part was due to the prophecies of Daniel; specifically Daniel’s seventy sevens prophecy found in Daniel 9:24-27. A timetable was specifically spelled out in that passage to the end of the age which was to fall within three and one half years after the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Daniel had given a specific timeline to the end of the age and the beginning of the age to come. This was linked to all of the references to the day of the Lord found in the Old Testament Prophets. A careful read of the New Testament documents attests to the fact that all of the first century believers, and most of the non-believing Jews held to this timeline.
Further to the point, the Jews had been taught that the tabernacle/temple was the dwelling place of God on the earth from the time of Moses forward. This would explain why there was so much debate and disagreement among the believing and non-believing Jews when Jesus began to speak of himself as the tabernacle… temple. It was offensive to non-believing Torah observant Jews to have Jesus speak of himself as being the dwelling place of God on the earth. Stephen made it abundantly clear in his sermon found in Acts chapter seven that God was no longer dwelling in the temple (Acts 7:48.) It was this part of his sermon that got him stoned.
And yet, there were so many thousands of sincere Jews that believed wholeheartedly in the Torah and in the Mosaic Covenant; But, there was a transition going on in their midst. The transition was from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. To the first century observer it would appear that God had two confusing programs. (1) The Jews, the Mosaic Covenant and the temple and (2) Christ Jesus and his followers, a new temple built with living, breathing stones. This was the reason for setting a deadline. There was to come a time in the future whereby God would judge between his people and establish his true covenant once and for all. It would be synonymous with the day of the Lord, and the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. According to Daniel, the deadline was 30AD, three and one half years after the resurrection of Jesus…. However, God and his marvelous grace allowed a forty year grace period whereby he allowed the two Covenants to exist side by side, limping along… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance 2Peter 3:9.