The Scriptorium

The End of the Temple

The destruction just keeps coming. Jeremiah 52.17-23

Jeremiah Envoi: Jeremiah 52 (4)

Pray Psalm 102.1-4
Hear my prayer, O LORD,
And let my cry come to You.
Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble;
Incline Your ear to me;
In the day that I call, answer me speedily.
For my days are consumed like smoke,
And my bones are burned like a hearth.
My heart is stricken and withered like grass,
So that I forget to eat my bread.

Sing Psalm 102.1-4.
(Leominster: Not What My Hands Have Done)
Lord, hear my prayer and cry; hide not Your face from me!
In my distress and tears I sigh – Lord, hear my earnest plea!
My days like smoke blow past; my bones are scorched with sin.
My heart, like wilted, withered grass bends low to earth again.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 52.17-23.

Prepare.
1. How thorough was the destruction of God’s temple?

2. What happened to the ministry utensils?

Meditate.
When Babylon finally fell to the Medes and Persians, the king and his cronies would be cavorting and drinking from the temple vessels, which the Chaldeans carried away from Jerusalem (cf. Dan. 5.1, 2). In judgment God had those articles taken away, and in judgment He would begin the process of their return (cf. Ezra 1.7, 8).

I wonder if the people were at all distressed by seeing the temple razed and plundered. True religion had not existed in Jerusalem for some time now. The temple was just a place for going through the motions of religion, more as a matter of tradition than vital faith. The temple had been compromised with kiosks and altars for false gods. Much of its great beauty had already been stripped away (2 Kgs. 18.16); but Nebuchadnezzar made sure to take whatever had value back with him to Babylon, where he would devote these articles to the worship of his own gods.

Surely some true saints remained, besides Jeremiah and Baruch, to mourn and weep over the destruction of God’s house. As glorious as was the description of the temple’s construction, so horrible is this description of its savaging by the armies of Babylon. The destruction of the temple was neither the end of God nor the end of true religion in Israel. It was simply the end of one phase of Israel’s failure to keep covenant with the Lord.

I wonder how we would fare if suddenly all our churches were bulldozed, as is frequently the case in places like China. We have become too familiar with speaking about the “church” as a building, rather than as the Body of Christ. Church buildings come and go; the true Church of the Lord endures even through hardship, as we will see when the people of Israel return from Babylon after seventy years in captivity. And as we see in China and elsewhere, even as their buildings are razed and their leaders taken into prison, the persecuted Church is thriving. Pray that God will make us His true Church.

Reflect.
1. If church buildings are not the true Church, what is?

2. Why can the true Church survive and thrive even apart from buildings?

3. Why did God allow the destruction of His temple in Jerusalem?

The Chaldean army made woeful havoc. But nothing is so particularly related here, as the carrying away of the articles in the temple. The remembrance of their beauty and value shows us the more the evil of sin. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Jeremiah 52.17-23

Lord, revive Your Church, and me in it, so that I…

Pray Psalm 102.5-21.

Pray for the rising generation, the children of believers. Ask God to give them a heart to seek Him, that they may be revived and renewed when God comes to restore His people.

Sing Psalm 102.5-21.
Psalm 102.5-21 (Leominster: Not What My Hands Have Done)
With loudest groans and cries, and leanness in my soul,
no shelt’ring place arrests my eyes, no rest to make me whole.
My enemies grow strong; I weep with bitter tears;
my days are like a shadow, long; God’s face is no more near.

But You, O Lord, abide forever in Your place.
Arise and stand on Zion’s side and lavish us with grace!
Revive Your Church, O Lord! Let all her dust and stones
Be strengthened by Your mighty Word, and compact be as one.

Then let the nations fear the glory of the Lord!
For He shall in His Church appear to heed our sighing words.
Then let our children learn to praise the Lord above.
He hears their groans and knows they yearn to dwell within His love.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore