Temple is Judged

Before his final departure from the Temple, Jesus fielded challenges from the “scribes and Pharisees.” These were confrontations that set the stage for his arrest and trial, as well as his execution by the Romans. As he left the building, he pronounced its impending judgment and destruction.

Jesus came into conflict with the religious authorities of Israel, most often, the scribes and Pharisees. From start to finish, priests, scribes, Herodians, Sadducees, and Pharisees resisted him.

In the end, the high priest and his compatriots conspired in his judicial. After his arrival in Jerusalem, these confrontations took place in and around the Temple.

The gospel of Matthew includes a lengthy denunciation by Jesus of the “scribes and Pharisees” that culminates in a judicial pronouncement on the Temple. It includes literary links to his subsequent teachings given on the Mount of Olives, and to Daniel’s prophecy of the “abomination that desolates.


  • (Matthew 23:36-38) – “Verily, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! that slays the prophets and stones them that have been sent to her, how often would I have gathered your children like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate.

Outwardly, the Pharisees appear righteous but “within they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Their practices render them ritually unclean.

They adorn the tombs of the prophets, claiming that if they were alive in the “days of our fathers” they would not have slain them. But their very boast affirms their descent from the men who murdered Yahweh’s prophets.

He then warns Israel’s religious leaders to “fill up the measure of your fathers.” This alludes to Daniel’s prophecy of the “seventy weeks” that “consummated transgression and summed up sin.” And so, in the plot to murder the Messiah, the sins of the nation reach their zenith, and its destruction becomes inevitable – (Daniel 9:24).

The Mosaic Law warns that “desolation” will result if the nation breaks its covenant. Yahweh will “desolate” its sanctuaries and land because “they despise my judgments and abhor my statutes.”

In the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible, these warnings use the Greek verb erémoō for “desolate” - (Leviticus 26:22-35 [“and your ways will become DESOLATE”]).

In Christ’s pronouncement, “desolation” translates the same Greek term used by him on the Mount of Olives for the “abomination of desolation” or erémōsis. It is related to the Greek verb erémoō, “to desolate.”

And the noun erémōsis is the same term used several times in the Septuagint version of Daniel for the “abomination of desolation.” This is not coincidental. Jesus wants his audience to take note of these scriptural allusions - (Daniel 8:13, 9:27, 11:31, Matthew 24:15).


This judgment will leave their house “desolate.” In this context, “house” refers to the Temple building. The sense of the Greek term rendered “desolate” does not point directly to its destruction, but to its abandonment.

And ironically, that is precisely what Jesus does when he departs from it for the last time. His departure represents the abandonment of the Temple by God, whose presence will no longer dwell there.

And this judicial sentence is on the “generation” of Israel that heard but rejected Jesus. Though it might include future generations, the words are addressed to “that generation,” the one contemporary with Jesus that refused to accept him as the Messiah of Israel.

The warning of this coming “desolation” is developed further in the subsequent discourse on the Mount of Olives, especially in Christ’s warning to his disciples to flee Jerusalem when they see the “abomination of desolation.”


Second Trumpet

Third Temple?