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Daily Devotional • December 5

David Baumann
A.D. 70
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 21:20-28

20 “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; 24 they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the times of the nations are fulfilled.
25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Solomon’s Temple, built about a thousand years before Jesus was one of the most lavish and inspiring structures of all time. Its destruction in 586 B.C. was a tragedy of immeasurable loss, but even that was only part of the decimation of the entire land of Judah. When the temple was rebuilt a century or so later, it was a triumph that prophets had foretold against all hope. Persistence against enemies, and strong leadership by God-inspired governors, ensured a rebuilt house of worship for the Jews. 
The temple was the heart and center of Jewish identity and religious observance. It could be located in only one place in the world, and there could be only one. The infamous King Herod renovated and expanded the Second Temple. It was here that Zechariah received the promise of the birth of a son, and it was here that Jesus was presented at the age of 40 days; here he was found teaching the elders when he was 12 years old. It was on its pinnacle that Satan tempted Jesus, and it was here that Jesus often taught. 
The entire Jewish sacrificial system and its priesthood found its life and meaning here. The synagogue system was ancillary and supportive of the temple, but could not replace it. So Jesus’ prediction that the temple would be destroyed must have been heart-stoppingly chilling. He described it as a time of “punishment,” “great distress,” “anguish and perplexity,” a time to “flee to the mountains.” And the temple was indeed destroyed in A.D. 70 by a Roman army. Nothing now remains but the Wailing Wall, left by the Romans as a sneering concession, a site now of deepest devotion. And yet, Jesus surprisingly tells his followers that this enormous upheaval would be time for them to “lift up their heads.” 
The destruction of all that is familiar, big, and best, even the sun and the moon, is required for the revelation of the eternal and invincible Kingdom.

David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of el-Obeid – Province of the Episcopal Church of Sudan
Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, Waco, Texas
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